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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
- 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.
- 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.
- Go again? For sure. Next time I’ll be adding some of Hong Kong’s famed fine-dining experiences.