20 August 2009

Hong Kong in One Day (With Jetlag)

Hong Kong - now with 80% less racism!

I think that to truly see everything that Hong Kong has to offer you would need a whole week (and that would include a visit to the happiest place on yadda yadda.) But I had one day. A day. A jetlagged, tired-ass day. And it was do-able - even without a map!

Stop Number 1 - You Gotta Eat! Serenade Restaurant

Alright, I rolled out of bed at 6am raring to go.....but then dicked around online writing this and reading my stories. By 10am I was finally out the door and ravenous. I headed straight from Mongkok, the slightly dodgy neighbourhood I was staying in, to Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade (MTR station by the same name - 5 HKD.) Following the signs was monkeyballs simple, and I easily made my way to the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. Inside is a highly recommended restaurant called Serenade. It may not be the grittiest or Anthony Bourdain-iest, but the view was spectacular and the Dim Sum was great. My meal (3 Dim Sum orders, Chinese tea and a coke) set me back 100 HKD including tip (about 15 CAD) - high, but worth it.

3 little 3 little 3 little veggie BBQ buns.....

Shrimp and crab roe steamed dumpling. My toes curled on this one... like, in a good way.

Remote tea leaf reading, anyone? Cuz I think it looks like (clockwise) a hockey stick, a mermaid with a snorkel (worst mermaid ever) and a winged dragon sticking his tongue out.

Stop Number 2 - Go Take a Walk: Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

This is a really lovely boardwalk that winds it way along Victoria Harbour from the Star Ferries Dock up past the Intercontinental Hotel. I must admit, not knowing what to expect from Hong Kong's iconic skyline, the amazing bulgy realness of it gave me a start. There is something about the way that all of the buildings on Hong Kong Island jump out and rise up into the hills that is dystopic and eerie.

Futuristic 'Children of Men' like skyline. Shudder.

Tsim Sha Tsui has also been made into HK's version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame - stars and statues representing famous local actors line the boardwalk. I saw Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Chan and my personal favourite - Wong Kar-Wai, director of Chungking Express, In the Mood For Love and Happy Together. Yay!

Movie goddess - her dress is made from film. Me too?

Dear Bruce: please tell your son that I am pretty much over my embarrassing Crow-era crush on him. Almost. Thx.

Stop Number Three - Attempt to visit: Hong Kong Museum of Art

Which my little print out itinerary said was open every day except Tuesday. Wrong. It is closed on Thursdays, people. I have heard it is really good, and it looked cool. Even with an hour or so here, you would still have plenty of time on this day tour.

If you get started earlier that I did, head here first and switch it up with the Dim Sum - they are next door to one another.


Stop Number Four - Go Soak Your Head: Star Ferry To Hong Kong Island

Since 1898, Star Ferries have been making the 5 minute journey back and forth from Victoria Harbour to the Central Pier on HK Island. To get there, follow the multitude of signs on Salisbury.

The ferry smells like they all do - the Vancouverite's nostalgic pong of tar and salt and gas mixing in the water. It is a lovely trip - well worth the 1.80 HKD per direction.

How do you say "Ahoy Mateys, arrrrr" in Cantonese? Oh, you don't?

Old meets New, East meets West, Violet Dear meets Hong Kong. 3 way tie.

Stop Number Five - Get High: The Peak Tram and Peak Promenade

Completed in 1888, the Peak Tram is one of those HK must sees that you would feel like an asshole if you didn't see. The tram is easily accessible from the Central Dock - just hop on the 15C bus (which runs from the bus loop at the bottom of the stairs and costs 4.20 HKD) and you will be there within 10 minutes.

Once there, pay your 47 HKD (I know, I know) for the roundtrip tram and Peak Observation Deck. It really feels like a rollercoaster, lurching out of the station at a 45 degree angle and creepily faltering a few times up the impossibly steep hill.

At the top there is a gag-worthy mall complete with Madame Tussauds, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (I did not even know that this was a thing) and a Burger King - but the real draw is the view from the top. Pay the 12 HKD extra for the 360 degree deck and just do it.

On top of Hong Kong-y. Not covered in cheese.

The Peak Promenade building reminds me of an alien in War of the Worlds, and then I think of this.

Stop Number Six - Flashback: Hong Kong Museum of History

This modern museum is about a 30 minute walk from the Star Ferry Harbour - just walk straight down Salisbury, and then straight up Chatham South (there is only one way you can go on each - piece a' cake.) The entrance fee is 10 HKD, with an optional audio tour for another 10.

The museum is wonderfully designed and almost Disney-esque in its scale and aesthetic, featuring a lot of reproduction living environments and cultural scenes. Beginning 400,000,000 years ago and finishing up right about now, it's span alone makes it worth the walk and the money. Make sure to stop at some of the 53 interactive video kiosks to learn more - I watched a mini-doco about Chinese Royal Opera.

Chinese Opera Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. Ohmigod. Shoes.

Amazing Design. Japanese Navy-issue sake bottle from the occupation of Hong Kong during WW2. I want this tattooed on me.

Sweet little recreated Boat Dweller home.... History can be so cute.

Stop Number Seven - Til You Drop: Shopping on Nathan Road

From the museum, walk across the skybridge to Granville St (Ha!) Meander as slowly as you wish over to Nathan - you will not be able to stop yourself from shopping. Amazing shopping. Cheap, fun, exciting shopping. Shopping!!!!

Due to my backpacker budget (and unforeseen trip back to Vancouver) there were not too many purchases on my horizon. Other than the squishy hyper-lifelike BBQ Pork Bun keychain that I bought (no kidding) my purchases are detailed below.

The most famous street in HK. Get ready - this shopping will kick your ass.

This is actually in Mongkok, but illustrates the hectic mayhem of HK shopping. Addicted!

Are you as obsessed with this as I am? The reusable bag says "Mister Fat " and the shirt has a dude playing a lyre- I am gonna cut off the arms and neckband. Laid out on the shirt are tiny sparrow earrings and on the bag is an awkward long legged fawn necklace. Swoon.

Optional: Supper and/or Night Market

If you are not jetlagged as f&@% like I am, you would easily have time to head to the Temple Street Night Market. Afterward, stay in the Nathan Road area for supper at a sit down restie or for street food. Or, if you are like me, you can retire to your room at 6pm and eat Babybel cheese that you brought from Vancouver because you are too tired to put your pants back on. Your choice.


Despite my tired bones and my muddled thoughts, HK was amazing. From the delicious food, the modern architecture and the insane shopping - this is a city I can get behind. I will be back!

Enjoy Hong Kong!!! Bring me a souvenir! (I already have a pork bun keychain, remember....)


The Bug said...

You were exactly right about the tea leaves! I totally saw the hockey stick, mermaid & dragon. Glad you enjoyed Hong Kong!

Violet Dear said...

Thanks! I didn't notice til I looked at the photo later.....

Eureka said...

Ola! Belo passeio, é sempre bom ver culturas diferentes.

Roberta said...

OK, you don't know me, but I love reading about your travels. We lived in Hong Kong for two years in the early 1990's and did a bunch of sightseeing. Loved the Star Ferry. My children were small and would only eat the sticky barbecue buns when we ate out. We loved riding the upper level of the bus to Stanley on the twisty road and ducking our heads when the bus hit a tree limb. I miss the cold refreshing soy drinks from the vendors, but I don't miss the stinky stuff the vendors made in Sham Shui Po which my husband said is "rotten tofu". We visited temples, hiked along the mountain and on other islands, ate at the Jumbo Floating Restaurant after a junk ride through the waters and boat people of Aberdeen, and of course shopped the markets. Your blog brought back good memories for me. Thanks.

kanmuri said...

You'll have to go back again!!! I spent 5 days in Hong Kong and it wasn't enough! You missed the walled villages and junk rides!
The night markets really are amazing! Of course, jet lag can be a big party pooper... Are you back in Mumbai?

The Wanderer said...


I recently chanced upon your blog and liked it. I read a lot of your previous posts. I am from Pune (near Mumbai), India. So I read the ones about India with special interest. It was interesting to see my country from a different perspective.

I like your writing. I now read your blog regularly :)

Keep writing ! And, more importantly, Keep travelling ! Bon Voyage !

phyllis m nobles said...

i think you packed A LOT into 1 tired-ass day! thanks for opening the window to the world xo

Ash said...

I've stumbled upon your blog entry and it sounds wonderful. I will be having a very quick trip of 2 days in Hong Kong in January, and your itinerary sounds great!
Thanks for the tips! Hope you're over the jetlag now.
- Ash

Melissa said...

Thanks for the info. I have one day in Hong Kong today and am taking your advice. Cheers!

Carter Watson said...

I'm a backpacker and on a budget. My plane will stopover in this city. Could you point out the best places to see in half a day?