Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hong Kong: Sights, Food, Shopping

The notorious HK skyline

Hong Kong was a delightful little dreamland, and I can't get it out of my mind. I liked how laid-back it was, whilst being completely exuberant and animated all at once. Whereas Tokyo tends to be quite rigid and structured, Hong Kong is more relaxed, and there are less rules to follow, and I felt less conspicuous. Hong Kong is the financial centre of Asia, and it's undoubtedly reflected in the skyscraper-heavy architecture, and the free trade and low taxation makes it a shopping mecca.

Yet, it also displays Chinese culture, in its delectable cuisine and in the way feng shui concepts are integrated in daily life, which create a perfect balance between traditional practices and a modern, fast-paced city. After living in other cities like Seoul and Tokyo, I found Hong Kong to be the quintessential blend of how I always had imagined Asia would be like.

The Sights
Hong Kong is relatively small, and the major sights are located on the island as well as on the Kowloon Peninsula across the bay. The best sight is Hong Kong is undeniably the skyline, especially at night: rows of modern skyscrapers, which are all lit up, giving a neon glow to the water. Ascending Victoria Peak is another great way to catch a glimpse of the marvel that is HK, if you're not afraid of heights.

My favourite part was the Chungking Mansions, which were epitomized in Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express. It's an area "where Chinese literally brush shoulders with Westerners, and is uniquely Hong Kong" (Wong Kar-wai). It's also a hotspot for the HK police, as much illegal traffic takes place there. The Chungking Mansions feature cheap guesthouses, curry shops, foreign exchange offices, and is the largest gathering place for ethnic minorities in HK. Imported goods, pirated DVDs, electronics, and lots more dodgy merchandise is for sale. It's a pretty dirty place in all senses, but I find it fascinating.

Busy street in Causeway Bay

Lounging by the roof top pool
Chungking Mansions, looking not-so-grim

The gold sign for Chungking Mansions

Inside the madness

You can pose in front of the skyline, like I did

... or like my sister did
But you can also do a split, like he did.
I thought of the 9/11s when I saw that.

View from atop the Peak

I love mountains 

The Star Ferry, making the connection between the island and Kowloon

Crossing the Bay- I want to do that daily

Inside the HK subway, bit small and dark

Temple street market at night... filled with goodness
and counterfeit

My sister and the entrance of Temple street market

The Shopping
Hong Kong is a haven for fashionistas. Wide variety, tax-free luxury brands, shops open late into the night or even all night, and enough cosmetics and beauty treatments to make your head spin. I stocked up on items and brands that are difficult to locate or overpriced in Japan, and filled my bag with enough chocolate to last me a month give away.

Street posing in front of the posh Peninsula

Sasa has all the makeup and skin care you could dream of

And so does Bonjour, which is found on every corner

Busy Times Square street in Causeway Bay

Apparently you can buy bunnies

Rows of colourful potions

And the best of all, Chanel...
where two nail polish bottles cost less than a single one in Japan.

The food
The food! Scrumptious, inexpensive, readily available. HK cuisine is a fusion of East and West, the flavours are layered and nuanced, and every meal is a perfect balance that pleases the taste buds (and wallet). And the fruit! Oh I had missed thee: fresh, delicious, and cheap. I ate lots of fruit every day. It sounds trivial but it was one of the best parts, as fruit is absurdly high-priced in Japan, and I usually can only afford bananas (sad). I've decided to splurge on fruit from now on, as it's essential and not a luxury. I barely tackled a small fraction of what HK cuisine has to offer.

First HK meal: delicious pork ramen

Shrimp Yum Cha (dumplings)

Fresh fruit! Variety! Everywhere! ME!!

Egg tart by the pool
why not.

Best noodles and wonton in town
at Mak's in Causeway Bay

Little brownie bite.
And oh I got a manicure, color is "Dim Sum Plum"
from OPI's Hong Kong collection.
I'm officially a nerd.

Although originally from Taiwan,
tapioca milk tea is available everywhere
in HUGE portions. Yum!

VLT was a popular sweet lemon tea box

Beef brisket at Mak's, again.

Not from HK but I love this chocolate

Hong Kong you were such a treat. I heart HK!


LH said...

Looks like a great trip! This post made me want to go back to Hong Kong. You tried Maks! How good were those noodles & dumplings? The owner from Hong Kong actually opened a Mak's in Hongdae last year!

Melanie said...

I love Hong Kong so much... I haven't been in a long time but like you said, it's kind of how you imagine a perfect blend of Asia to be... My mum took me to the Chungking Mansions and told me all these crazy stories about when my dad and her first married and went traveling and stayed there.
On another note, I'm excited that next month I will be visiting Japan if all goes to plan... I saw the link you put up in an earlier post about what to do if you're going to Japan for 2 weeks so I'll be using that. I'm also excited that in January I will be living in Tokyo for 3 months for work! So I will definitely be studying your blog even more closely to get some ideas of where to explore!

Eric Lemire said...

That food looks amazing!

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