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After being away from Asia for almost 3 years Dave and I hit off our latest backpacking adventure with a non stop flight from Boston to Hong Kong. Knowing that Hong Kong was going to be an expensive destination we opted to keep our visit short and sweet – 6 days seemed like a good enough amount of time to explore this amazing city and the area around it .
In our 6 days this is what we had time to fit in:
When you land at 6am after a 15 hour flight – what’s the first thing you want to do? Is it take a local cooking class? Because that’s exactly what we did with Local Cooking Experience Hong Kong . We had a blast learning how to cook a few dishes with Edith and fully enjoyed our market tour and walk around the Aberdeen neighborhood – in the southern part of Hong Kong Island. This is a part of Hong Kong we never would have seen without the tour so was a great was to start our trip — and prevent us from taking a 5 hour mid afternoon nap which would have kept the jet lag going for days.
For dinner we made our way to One Dim Sum – a well known dim sum place that was cheap and delicious. Dave’s cousin happens to be doing an internship in Hong Kong right now so we got to meet up with her and enjoy an evening out. Then it was bedtime at 9pm – makes sense after being on our feet for about 40 hrs.
Highlights of day two included a ramen lunch, going to see the avenue of the stars (where you can see the Bruce Lee statue and Jackie Chan’s handprints), taking the Star Ferry over to Hong Kong island and seeing the Symphony of Lights 8pm show. The light show was a bit underwhelming. You basically watch the high rise buildings on the Hong Kong Island side light up and have a bit of display with music going. Seemed a bit overrated to me, but if you keep your expectations low you are bound to find this mildly amusing.
We started our day with a visit to the National Museum of History. After skipping a few galleries with the prehistoric history of the island we made our way into the more recent history – starting with the opium wars and the British role in Hong Kong. With free admission this museum was a great way to learn all about the history of Hong Kong.
From there we went straight to a Kowloon Mongkok area food tour. We had a blast with Eating Adventures making our way around the neighborhood and sampling all the different local delicacies including tofu pudding, dim sum, snake soup, fish balls, etc. Hong Kong is a super interesting foodie destination and having a local guide take you around to the tiny old shops that have been around for decades is truly a magical experience.
After the tour we were pretty stuffed and tired so unfortunately did not make our way to the Happy Valley horse races which happen in Hong Kong every Wednesday night. If sports betting is your thing and you want to see some horse races making sure to be in Hong Kong on a Wednesday night. Or if you don’t happen to make it to the races there are plenty of betting sites like bettingTop10 where you can get your fix, instead. If you’re still jet lagged that might be a better option.
This was our wander around Hong Kong island day. We started with a free walking tour led by our friend Virginia which provided us with a bunch of historical info as well as lots of feng shui fun facts. From there we headed off to lunch with Dave’s cousin at Tsim Chai Kee, a famous wonton noodle soup spot which had a quick moving line outside the restaurant. What I noticed in Hong Kong is that turnover is key in the small tiny restaurants. Once you’re done eating you are asked to vacant the table to let the next party enjoy their meal. Nothing personal – they just have to keep things moving in order to be able to order the high rents everywhere. After lunch we had planned to hike to the top of Victoria Peak, yet stuffed full of soup, going up the gondola train seemed like a better option, and so we waited in line for the hour it would have taken us to hike up. The views of the city were amazing from the peak. A real expansive view. To finish off the day we went out for Vietnamese food with Dave’s cousin in the Wan Chai neighborhood before having drinks at a roof top bar with an amazing view of the night time city.
Since we were in the area we couldn’t pass up a ferry ride to Macau to see the former Portuguese colony. While the weather wasn’t too good – dreary and cloudy we enjoyed our day of walking around the old district of Macau and sampling the all too famous egg tarts (which we deemed a bit too eggy for our taste). The highlight was a walk around the A-Ma temple – a truly magnificent sight.
On our last day in Hong Kong we made the trip over to Lantau Island with Dave’s cousin. On the island we enjoyed the walk up to the Big Buddha as well as a vegetarian meal by the monastery and a great walk around the Tai O fishing village. In this village the houses are traditionally built high on stilts, and as a local said to us “here we are very poor but very happy” – something we were all delighted to hear. We finished our day on the island with beers at Triple Lanterns Cafe a great little cafe right on the water with a super pleasant owner who even treated us to a free pot of tea.
Overall we had a great time over the course of our six days in Hong Kong. The city is nothing short of impressive and overwhelming all at once. The high rise buildings are everywhere, huge crowds of people at every turn and many narrow streets and lanes, it is simply a sight to see. I was nothing short of mesmerized by the beat of the city. Hong Kong is truly a modern busy city which also still has all of the intricacies and small details of an Asian city including local markets selling everything you can imagine, tiny storefront that have been serving snake soup for decades to regulars, etc.