Travel: Hong Kong


 Think Hong Kong, and you’ll think of crowded narrow alleyways with a dazzling array of neon signs, roadside stalls with crazily cheap bargains, dim sum restaurants with mouth-watering food, and amazing views from mountain trails.

We left for Hong Kong International Airport from Changi Airport and reached Hong Kong at around noon.

It wasn’t much of a hussle with our luggages then, since it was in December, and the temperature there was around 16 degrees Celsius. A simple long-sleeved shirt and a jacket/hoodie/pullover would be sufficient to keep you warm and cozy.

Check out the fluffy white clouds from about 10,000 feet in the sky!

Honestly speaking, Hong Kong is easily navigable if you go on a free-and-easy trip (and you can speak or understand Cantonese). Unfortunately for my family, I know nuts about Cantonese, and my parents could only understand some Cantonese. I think Hong Kongers harbor this deep-seated dislike for Mainland Chinese, and I doubt they’ll be hospitable if you start speaking Chinese. They aren’t really good in conversing in English, and I don’t think knowing Japanese helps either. Gosh, I feel so useless. For convenience’s sake, we decided to just follow a tour group under WTS Travel. It would even save us the trouble of finding our way around the city, searching for hotels and places of interests on our own! (Alright, I have to admit that I’m too lazy to do research.)

Upon reaching the airport, our tour guide whisked us away on a city tour.

We visited the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, with the Golden Bauhinia Square, and true to the nature of typical tourists, we snapped dozens of pictures of the “Forever Blooming Bauhinia”, a gift from the Central Government.

Fact of the day: Hong Kong is a special administrative region, which meant that although it is recognized as part of China, it has a high degree of autonomy in all matters except for those pertaining to military or foreign relations.

Then, we headed to Repulse Bay (浅水湾), where almost all Hong Kong dramas with a beach scene are filmed. The sand was really beautiful and fine, and the entire place emitted a resort-like vibe.  There were extensive shower spots, bathrooms, and many other facilities. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike due to the panoramic views of the ocean and horizon. I actually liked Repulse Bay more than Sentosa’s beaches for it seemed a lot more open and spacious!

Our tour guide said that residences in the area have extremely good Fengshui, what with the houses facing the sea, and backed by mountains. Hong Kongers are VERY obsessed with Fengshui, so much so that they have unique buildings, such as the one with a hole in the centre, at Repulse Bay. Many celebrities like Andy Lau own properties there!

Our tour group wasn’t very lucky and it started drizzling while we were at the beach. We had to scurry to Tin Hau Temple (at Repulse Bay) and take photos while wearing our hideous brightly coloured ponchos.

Tin Hau temple is dedicated to the protector of fishermen (Goddess of the Sea) and is one of the oldest temples in Hong Kong, with a rich history and many devout followers. The beauty of the statues, sculptures and Chinese style gardens awed me. They were really photoworthy!

This is the Longevity Bridge at Tin Hau Temple Repulse Bay. It is said that everytime you walk across the bridge, your life would be prolonged by 3 days. What are we waiting for? Time to do repeated shuttle runs across the bridge!

This is the Kwan Yin Shrine at the temple.

The temple’s entrance.

Hong Kong is known for its scenic views of the bay, so here’s a mandatory tourist shot of Hong Kong’s skyline from the bay. The weather wasn’t favourable during our time in Hong Kong, so the lighting in my pictures is pretty screwed up.

We had a pretty decent dim sum brunch, with awesome crystal prawn dumplings, beeancurd rolls, carrot cake, char siew pau, congee, siu mai, xiao long bao, and etc. My siblings didn’t even bother to wait for me to take pictures of the food. They swept it up once the dishes reached our table, so here’s a picture of dim sum to compensate for it.
(Photo credits to tommyooi)

Our tour guide knew that as Singaporeans, we’re obsessed with good food, and told us a whole list of recommended food haunts in Hong Kong. I’m sorry to say I forgot to ask our tour guide for the list. =(

Still, I’m sure you could find it online, like from Daniel Food Diary’s recommendations!

Our next stop would be Aberdeen fishing village.
Doesn’t this remind you of all those filmed-in-Hong Kong movies about drug lords engaging in shady businesses in their boats, far away from prying eyes?

We took a sampan ride and managed to observe the fishermen at work up close. We even saw the authentic floating Jumbo Seafood Restaurant, and Andy Lau’s private yacht! 

I love the vintage feel of this photo. Am I artistic yet?

By then, I was really sick of travelling in the coach but no, we still have a few more stops to go.

Victoria Peak’s view wasn’t that breathtaking as the weather wasn’t good. The winds were awfully strong though. I spotted a curious building, one that was shaped like a palm, and not surprisingly, it was due to fengshui. Hmm… Seemed like fengshui really plays a huge role in shaping Hong Kong’s culture!

What is a city tour without tour guides dragging you into tourist traps? I’m quite weary of going into such shops that exist for the sole purpose of scamming unsuspecting tourists, so I totally tuned out everything the salespeople said about their “world-famous windmill fengshui jewelry” and their “miraculous Chinese herbs”. Why don’t they just boast that their products would change one’s life? Worried of failing your exams? Getting retrenched? Being unsuccessful in your career? Just buy their products and poof! Problems solved. HAH. As if it would be THAT miraculous. I’m too cynical to be bought over by their persuasive sales tactics.

Finally! We were released from the city tour and left with our own time to explore Hong Kong.

Our hotel was right beside Ladies’ Market, so immediately after dumping our luggages, we sprinted down. SHOPPING~~~

It was before Christmas, and the hotel lobby had this unique Christmas tree made of wooden frames and loaded with gifts and adorable soft toys.

From the hotel’s bubble lifts, we could see the neon signs of the streets waving invitingly at us!

It was too crowded at Ladies’ Market for me to snap pictures, so here’s an image of the night market that I took from online.

As we strolled along the alleys, the fragrance of food stalls wafted past us. We could see groups huddled around small tables, having steamboats in the chilly night. We could spot couples cuddling, sharing sticks of bbq cuttlefish and “satay-like” food. That night, I was so tempted to walk along the streets and munch on the street food but we were attracted to this particular Chinese restaurant that had a poster with a chef’s recommendation that read: “Roasted Penguin”. Curious, we decided to enter and try their special dish. It was a disappointment, for it was simply roasted chicken vertically impaled on a metal pole. How sadistic. I was slightly, no wait, correction, RATHER grossed out by the amount of oil oozing out of the chicken and pooling in the metal plate below.

The rest of the dishes weren’t spectacular. It was what we could get at a typical Tze Char stall in Singapore. The bill amounted to quite a large sum, so my family felt rather cheated. Perhaps we should have just had streetside food. At least our tummies could have been more satisfied and we could have spent a lesser amount of money.

We then wandered around the night market. It was literal heaven for me! There was a plethora of bags, shoes, clothes and trinkets on display! Even though the labeled prices aren’t low, you could always haggle with the vendors and drive prices down. However, do watch out for imitation goods. I’ve spotted quite a few counterfeit “beats” headphones and earpieces. I mean, how could genuine beats goods be sold at such ridiculously low prices?

The next day was quite free and easy, so we went on exploring more malls and shops. AND I managed to ride in Hong Kong’s famous red taxi, just like those cool protagonists in Hong Kong dramas who want to tail the villains to their hideout places! Their taxi fares were quite cheap, as compared to Singapore’s, and the passenger’s seat was spacious enough to sit 2 people!

For our Hong Kong trip, it was a short 2-day 1-night stint (We went on to Macau and Shenzhen afterwards). We didn’t go to Disneyland (Pffft. I’m too old for Disneyland! And I hate queuing.), we didn’t manage to go to the Avenue of Stars (my bad, I didn’t do research beforehand and got lost travelling around via MTR) and we didn’t go to Madam Tussauds’ wax museum (This was my greatest regret for the trip. I mentally kicked myself multiple times for wasting too much time at the night markets and forgetting about the operating hours of the museum.)

Although the visit wasn’t exactly very interesting, at least I got to try their famous Hong Kong dim sum and shop in their night market. Given that Hong Kong isn’t a big city with loads of places of interest in the first place, there really isn’t much to do there except for eating and shopping. Perhaps next time, I would go on a free-and-easy trip, just to explore the various food haunts. =)

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  1. Great post! Thanks you so much for the share. It is indeed a helpful one. I am looking forward of reading more article with the similar topic as this one..

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