Friday, 1 May 2015

Caroline vs. Hong Kong (Day 1)

The morning after arriving in Hong Kong we got up early to meet Sara, another friend of ours, for dim sum breakfast in Central.  Having local friends was great since they were able to take us or direct us to great places!  We walked from Central Station to the restaurant, which only took a few minutes, stopping along the way to snap some photos of the streetscape.

We ended up at Lin Heung Tea House, which was packed!  I'd only had proper dim sum once before, so I was excited to try the authentic stuff, and apparently so was everyone else.  We were waved in and eventually found three empty seats at a large round table.  Sara showed us how to properly wash the cups and utensils using the fresh tea; I'd never seen this done before, but apparently it's common practice.  And then came the food.  Oh man.  I gobbled up familiar dumplings and cautiously tried new ones (I drew the line at fried chicken feet, though).  The restaurant was chaotic, and filled with locals; I would definitely recommend it, but you might need help from someone who speaks Cantonese.

We walked off the dim sum around Central (those hills are killer), and eventually made a second stop for milk tea, another Hong Kong delicacy I was eager to try.  I found it too sweet so I sipped it slowly, but Clem loved it and downed it as soon as it had cooled.

After parting ways with Sara, Clem and I headed back to TST for a visit to the Hong Kong Museum of History, which had no entry fee that day (and every Wednesday).  It gives an overview of Hong Kong history, starting 400 million years ago in the Devonian period, up to reunification with China in 1997.  It took about two hours to go through the galleries, spread over two floors, but can be done in less time if you don't read all the information, or in more time if you wait for English film presentations (alternated with the Cantonese versions).  I enjoyed it because I did learn a lot about Hong Kong culture and folklore, and where it fits into the international context...but also because it was free.  Definitely go on a Wednesday to avoid the entrance fee, or skip it altogether if you are already familiar with Hong Kong history.

From the museum we took a bus back to Hong Kong Island, where we were meeting Vanessa and a couple of her other friends at Victoria Park for the Chinese New Year Flower Market.  We ended up being a little early for our meeting time, so we wandered up nearby Sugar Street to find something to eat.  We ended up at Kampoeng, a brand new Indonesian restaurant.  The food was fresh, prepared quickly, and very good.  A little expensive for a quick late lunch, but worth it.

Back at Victoria Park, we met Vanessa and dove into the crowd.  It was NUTS.  We stayed near the flower vendors, but there were stalls selling all kinds of trinkets (many of which were sheep-themed in celebration of the upcoming Zodiac year), and lot of food.  We ended up doing one loop through the crowd before calling it quits; there was barely any room to move freely, so we just kind of went where the crowd pushed us.  I'm glad we went, but the crowd was insane.

On our way back to Kowloon, Clem and I were looking for a place to have a drink.  It's hard to just wander around in search of a place, since a lot of restaurants are located above street level in pretty nondescript buildings.  We stumbled upon Berliner, a German restaurant in Wan Chai.  It was nothing special, but we both enjoyed knocking back a German beer.

Back across the Harbour, we grabbed some snacks and installed ourselves on the upper level of the Kowloon Public Pier for the nightly laser show.  To be honest, it was a little disappointing, but the nighttime view of the skyline was quite something.

The rest of our evening was spent up in Mong Kok, hanging out with Vanessa and her mom after they were done with a CNY-Eve family dinner.  We went to Langham Place and had some fun with the purikura machine there, then had some HK street pastries: egg puffs (gai dan jai), and waffles topped with peanut butter, condensed milk, and sugar.  They were so delicious I forgot to take pictures.  Oops.  After that we walked up to the Mong Kok flower market, which was infinitely more crowded than the one at Victoria Park.  We stopped for a quick tanghulu (but with strawberries instead of the traditional hawthorn) before getting out and heading home.

We snacked so much all afternoon that we just skipped dinner!  If you like street food, Hong Kong is the place for you.

Here's the post on our arrival in Hong Kong, if you missed it.  Stay tuned for Day 2!

xx, C.

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