Show-off Holiday Post: Hong Kong

I’ve had a mad, mad few weeks – a stupid amount of work for uni, a house move, and a trip to Hong Kong. I won’t bore you with details about essays, word counts, packing boxes and utilities but I will bore you with dumplings, temples and spectacular city views.

We spent a week in Hong Kong, staying in Kowloon. Last time I was in Hong Kong the planes were landing between the buildings, so needless to say things had changed considerably.

Exploring the City

Our first couple of days were spent exploring various city sights – the markets (the goldfish market was a favourite), the parks (flamingos!), temples tucked next to skyscrapers, the Star Ferry and the promenades.

The Man Mo Temple was a highlight – a beautiful little spot of calm in the middle of the bustling city.

From the ceiling hung hundreds of coils of burning incense. It was truly amazing.

Views

I always love a view and fortunately, the day we visited the Peak, it was clear.

I think it’s the best city view I’ve ever seen. We waited until the lights began to twinkle.

Ocean Park

The big question – Disneyland or Ocean Park? We decided on Ocean Park, the impressive aquarium and pandas proving too difficult to resist. Ocean Park includes lots of rides and although my kids had a few quick spins on the roller-coasters, it was the various aquarium displays where we spent our time. The jellyfish were incredible – room after room of these wonderful morphing creatures. We queued for ages to see the pandas and thankfully we saw one enjoying a snack before retiring to his cave. You really just want to squeeze the panadas when you see them…

By the end of the day at Ocean Park we were getting the distinct feeling that we were one of the attractions. The Park was crowded with tourists from mainland China, many of whom were pointing at my family, openly discussing us, and taking photos. Thanks to my son’s limited Mandarin, we were able to work out that the fascination lay not in the fair hair and blue eyes, but in the fact that we had four children – a curiosity for the mainlanders.

Tin Hau

I have a theory – if you’re visiting somewhere and there happens to be a festival or celebration happening, go. This strategy has never failed me and I’ve seen some great things as a result. So when I was investigating harbour cruises in Hong Kong I discovered that there was a celebration for Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea, when we were there, and specifically, boat trips to the oldest Tin Hau Temple in Joss House Bay. Excellent.

And it was spectacular. Our junk (all foreigners aboard) joined dozens of locals paying tribute to Tin Hau. Incense and offerings; dragon dances; paper fortunes and money blown from the back of boats like confetti; and a beautiful temple made the day.

Lantau Island

Despite friends advising that we give Tian Tan a miss because the cable car that gets you there was closed for maintenance, we decided that a day of sight-seeing on Lantau Island was achievable by bus. It was an ace day. Tian Tan holds the honour of being the tallest seated bronze Buddha in the world and it’s certainly impressive (as are the views of surrounding islands from the top). Practically broke my Fitbit walking the 200+ steps to the base.

After Tian Tan we headed to the other side of Lantau to the fishing village of Tai O. Much of the village is built on stilts in the water, and there’s a brisk trade in dried seafood, shrimp paste and many things we could not identify.

What We Ate

On our first day in Hong Kong, we did a street food tour. It gave us a good idea of what to look out for and introduced us to refreshing chrysanthemum tea, fish balls, surprisingly delicious salted lemon and pineapple rolls (which have no actual pineapple in them – the name comes from the pattern on the crust). I passed on the pig uterus.

So there was lots of wonton noodles, dumplings, Chinese BBQ (with a particularly memorable BBQ goose) and egg tarts. The highlights – our meal at BBQ Lobster (7 Man Ying St, Jordan). The surrounds may have been basic but the food was insanely good – lobster with XO sauce, shrimp and chicken balls, and a grilled Chinese cabbage that I’m still thinking about. Also, breakfast one morning at Australia Dairy Company (nothing Australian about it, but their slabs of French toast are a Hong Kong institution).

Mention must be made of the Hello Kitty Cafe – my daughter’s choice (although her brothers weren’t complaining as much as I anticipated). It was basically Hello Kitty to the power of Hello Kitty.

Final thoughts –

  1. We picked Hong Kong because we thought it would be a good city destination. Our kids haven’t been to any Asian cities and Hong Kong was a great introduction.
  2. We were there for seven nights. Enough? I could have used a couple more days – we didn’t get to the Hong Kong museum or see any Cantonese opera. And of course, there are a million more temples to see. That said, we packed a lot into our time there.
  3. Go again? For sure. Next time I’ll be adding some of Hong Kong’s famed fine-dining experiences.

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31 responses

    • I would love to take my kids to Europe but honestly, the thought of 20+ hours in transit with four kids (two always get travel sick) is not appealing! You also lose flexibility when you’re travelling as a party of six and we do have to plan ahead. As a result, we tend to have holidays where we do one place thoroughly rather than whistle-stop tours.

      • I didn’t have to do the 20 hour flights, just a day or so in fast trains (Avignon-Milan-Naples) and the kids were angels even the 5 and 6 year olds. In between moves my daughter took houses/appartments for 5-7 days at a time and that worked really well.

      • Thankfully not so much in London, admittedly πŸ˜‰But if I venture to the coast, I may not see the big venomous ones but small, yucky, creepy squishy ones can make an appearance – I’ve given myself the creeps just thinking about it, ugh. Why do they even exist? Why??? 😬

    • I hope you do make it there. It’s popular for Australians because it’s a good ‘stopover’ if you’re going to Europe (either there or Singapore) but stopovers are usually only a day or two – we decided it needed a bit more time.

  1. I like staying in one place for a while too. I like being settled somewhere as a base and being able to forget about the suitcase.
    I bet that museum is good. The ones in Singapore are an eye-opener for Australians, seeing the history of the world from an entirely different perspective. I’ve never had occasion to visit Hong Kong as a stopover, but when I do I’ll add a few extra days like we do with Singapore stopovers and that museum will be on my bucket list.

    • I think the museum would be great – the little bit I saw of Hong Kong’s history (particularly in relation to WWII was very interesting).
      Seems most stopovers from Aus go through Singapore or Dubai now but if you can manage HK, there’s lots to see and do and it’s a really easy city to get around (the public transport system is so good, so efficient, that I could cry over what we have in Melbourne).

      • There’s no way I’d ever travel through Dubai until it gets its human rights record in better shape, so it’s Singapore for us if going to Europe. But I haven’t been to China yet so HK is an obvious transit stop, yeah!

  2. The last time I was in Hong Kong it was still under British sovereignty — yeah, I know, I’m showing my age! It was a pleasure to revisit via your words and pictures. Thanks for a fascinating post.

    • Same! (I’m showing my age too!). It’s hard to say how much it’s changed, short of the fact that there are lots of day tourists from mainland China (and equally, tourists visit mainland China for a day from HK – we didn’t but mostly because we plan to have a trip to China at some point in the future).

  3. It looks absolutely gorgeous! I’m very jealous (I also look forward to the days where travel with kids is a bit less cumbersome, it certainly doesn’t stop us, but it can be a hassle).

    • Agree – it gets a little bit easier with each year. We still have about a 10-hour limit in terms of travel (flying or driving) – after that tempers begin to fray and it’s no holiday for me πŸ˜€

      • We have about the same time limit (we once did an 18 hour drive straight through, you can guess how that went). We’re looking at a potential trip this summer that is a five hour ferry and then a 6 hour drive. I don’t know if I can do that to myself, though the upside is that there is a play room on the ferry I could send the kids to.

    • Same πŸ™‚ Love reading about people’s trips (although I don’t really follow many travel blogs… I think it’s more about ‘knowing’ the people and seeing what they’ve done rather than reading about travel for the sake of it).

  4. Oh how I loved your pictures! It sounds like you had a truly amazing time (and Ocean Park looks like it was a great pick — as well as figuring out how to see Tian Tan, that would be high on my list of things to see). Ha! That Hello, Kitty cafe is adorable. Hong Kong is one place that I never really considered visiting for no particular reason but it looks like a wonderful place. πŸ™‚ I’m starving now though. lol

    • HK is a popular destination for Australians because it’s so close – HK, Singapore, Bali and Thailand are a stone’s throw (or close by Australian standards!). It was a great place to go for a short, intense holiday – although could have done with a few days on the beach at the end to unwind πŸ˜€

  5. Pingback: Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts | booksaremyfavouriteandbest

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