It was time to leave my AMAZING family in the Philippines and be a solo traveler again in Hong Kong. It was kinda sad, but I was ready to be alone again and needed that prep as I’ll be all by myself in South America.
Note: All pics taken from my iPhone 6
Day 1: Hello HK
In the morning, my wonderful Aunt Chelo and Uncle Jess had Benigno drop me off at the airport in the Philippines to make my flight to Hong Kong. I am totally going to miss them as they’ve been SO good to me and I feel so blessed to have them in my life! I took Cathay over to Hong Kong and arrived around 3pm. I was SUPER hungry and jetted over to a crowded Chinese restaurant, looked around and ordered what everyone else is having! It was basically these spicy dan dan noodle soup which was quite yummy and I also ordered a side of onion pancake! I finished as much as I could then proceeded over to the Airport tram which was pretty darn nice! Like seriously good job Hong Kong! The airport tram stops over at Central and from there, I took a cab to my hotel which was west of central (its easier that way instead of hauling luggage on the MTR.) I was pretty exhausted and just knocked out so I can get ready for my day tomorrow.
Day 2: Burr its cold in hurr
I arranged a general tour of Hong Kong at my hotel and for this, I would have to head over to the main Marriott hotel over at Central. I first had some brunch at a local dumpling house and the woman started speaking Cantonese to me. UGH its so sad when I have to respond in English, wish I knew how to speak Cantonese (or Mandarin at least!) I also decided to take the MTR because I’m a huge fan of amazing public transportation and HK did not disappoint! So easy to navigate, safe and clean (similar to Bangkok’s awesome system). On my way to the sister Marriott hotel, new friend Franck (connected through Instagram in Cambodia) hit me up and asked if I wanted to grab a quick bite for lunch. I previously mentioned to him that I’ll be in HK and it’s cool to finally meet and chat about our travels (he was born in the states, grew up in France and lived in HK for about 5 years). He met me up at the exit close to his work and he was much taller, broader and more rugged looking in person. JESUS. And here I am, looking like a total tourist in my hoodie, sweatpants and scarf (did I mention it was COLD in Hong Kong?!)
He walked me over to some famous Hong Kong restaurant Tsui Wah, but it was super packed for lunch. We opted for the sharing table option and shared with a group of locals. Franck was having a hard time trying to flag down the staff to take his over (need to brush up on that Cantonese, yo!) The restaurant had a large variety of meals, but unfortunately I wasn’t hungry as I downed some dumplings about an hour before. I did have some milk tea though (with lactaid) and he ordered a bread appetizer to share (which I didn’t eat, but he killed). It was cool meeting him, he thought about moving out of HK but is just 2 years away to receiving his residency. He does want to quit his job, take a month or 2 off to receive his scuba license (which I told him he totally should do). Meeting different people, I’m very encouraging of them following their dreams and if that means quitting your job and walking away from things, then please proceed! He also brought up a cool point that moving to HK made him a more active person as he took up all tons of water sports, rowing and hiking. I mean, he looks great so awesome for him! After lunch, he walked me back to the station and had to head back to work. Too bad he was so busy training, would have been cool to hang out again.
Anyway, back to my main route and I hit up the fancy Marriott off the Admiralty exit on the MTR. I waited about 15 minutes and my tour was ready to pick me up and go. I looked inside and the bus consisted of mostly older people. Our tour guide Amy, spoke great English and would talk through anything special as we drove by. Our first stop was at The Peak and Amy mentioned that all the fancy rich people live on the drive up. We arrive and have about 20 minutes to roam around and take pictures. Man was it cold. I mean, I was in flaming hot heat for the past 2 months so suddenly jumping to cold/overcast weather was quite a trip. Thank goodness I bought some pants and a sweater in the Philippines prior. After taking some pics, we then proceeded to our next destination: Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter. Upon arrival, we took some boats (what is left of the floating taxis) and toured around. It was ok considering how many boat tours I’ve been on the past 2 months!
After leaving Aberdeen, we went to some jeweler (such a tourist trap) to check out how they make jewelry with jade and pearl. Seriously it was so expensive I wanted to laugh out loud. I sat at the lobby and waited for the others as some of the husbands got suckered into buying some bling for their wives. Our next stop was Stanley and I was pretty excited to check it out. Upon arriving, we have an option to stay at the market to shop or walk over to the beach. Of course I select the latter and the beach was COLD and super overcast. I kept thinking this is SUCH a contrast from my warm SEA beaches and how the hell can Franck and others enjoy this water when its so damn cold?! I took some great pics, walked around the ice cold area they call a beach then headed back to meet up the group again.
For the night, I checked out some yummy sushi place which had a modern style of ordering (similar to Singapore where you order through the iPad) and it was KILLER! Way better than Singapore and super affordable! My fav was the truffled hamachi.. so YUMMY! I’ll give you that– Hong Kong has AMAZING killer food at real affordable prices. I also walked over to the Avenue of Stars to check out the “light show” and the skyline. It was super packed and honestly, I didn’t even know that the light show started and ended LOL It was like a couple of laser lights that flashed by, music playing and BOOM it was over. I wasn’t expecting World of Color kinda performance but they shouldn’t even call it a light show because it was pretty dim to me. Once the crowd of people left, I took some great pics of the skyline and thank goodness I did because the next 2 days were so grossly overcast that the skyline disappeared in a sea of fog.
I took the MTR back at night to the hotel and felt completely safe and comfortable. That’s one plus about HK, I felt like I really blended in and super comfortable walking around and taking the MTR at night.
Day 3: Holy Egg Tart!
This day started off with me taking the MTR (my new best friend) over to Causeway Bay to see what the shopping was all about. I supposed this is like the Time Square of Hong Kong with its endless shops and bustling amounts of people. Once there, I walk a few blocks around, check out the malls and realized that they have ALL these stores in the states! Like there was NOTHING specific to Hong Kong which really bummed me out. I then decided to hop on to the ding ding (as recommended by Singapore friend, Conrad) to get lost around Hong Kong island and explore. Since my hotel was west of central, I decided to hop on the ding ding that is going east. The ride was ridiculously cheap and it was cool just sitting there and exploring the non-tourist parts of the city. Whenever I coughed, the person next to me would stand up and sit in another seat! lol If that works all the time, I need to cough more often! After going way east, I decided to get off the Ding Ding and take the MTR back to Causeway Bay to get some Portuguese Egg Tarts!
I read that Lord Stow’s Portuguese Egg Tarts are pretty awesome, so I head over to the EXpresso at The Excelsior to claim these bad boys and make them all mine! Lord Stow’s is originally from Macau and is only available at The Excelsior in Hong Kong. I basically dash in (just the thought of them being sold out!) and see they have quite a few left! I order 4 (I can eat the rest tomorrow) and then take my box over to the table and open it. I swear once I opened the box, a beam of light emitted and I heard holy music from the sky! I take one of the egg tarts out and it was still warm! The top was perfectly scorched and once I took a bite, I almost fell out of my chair. It was THAT GOOD! Like if you placed a box of Lord Stow’s egg tarts in one corner and Chris Hemsworth, Channing Tatum and Ryan Gosling bunched together topless in another corner, I’m running straight for the egg tarts! The delicious custard and flakey buttery crust.. I’m salivating thinking about it, seriously the best!
Ok after my orgasmic egg tart experience, I decide to head back to the hotel to drop my precious darlings off. I even considered placing them inside the safe so no one can touch them! lol After the drop off, I took the MRT over to Tsim Sha Tsui to checkout the night life over there and walk over to Temple Street Night Market. Tsim Sha Tsui has a ton of shopping (but again, all brands you can get in the states), but they do have beauty products from Korea and Japan. I then walk over to The Temple Night Market which is supposed to be one of the best night markets in the world. OK, in general I feel that all night markets I’ve been too are similar (Bali, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam). They all sell a ton of cheap junk (hey, just being honest!) And if buying electronics made in China that will either break or electrocute you is your thing, then by all means! Actually, night markets can be good for small gifts/souvenirs and Cambodia to me had the best. Not only are their products (cotton in particular) good quality, but they also offer a ton of hand made options at killer prices!
So after darting through the narrow aisles, I then land into gypsy land. This is the area where there are a ton of tarot card reader, face readers and palm reader. I walk through observing and then at the end, I see a long long line of people waiting for a woman to read their cards. I decide to go with the flow and wait as well, then it started getting cold. I started coughing a bit and someone graciously hands me a SARS mask! lol I thought all the coughing would scare all the people in line away! So I get impatient then see a face reader who had a bit less people and opted to wait for him. When it was close to my turn, he told me that he already is busy and brought me over to his friend who spoke better English than him. I was fine with that because his stall was next to the public bathroom so I had to use my SARS mask as I waited.
The reader was a man probably in his 50s and he started reading my face. I can’t recall, but I think the top of your face starts with when you were born all the way to the bottom of your face which is basically you at your oldest. The reading went fine, nothing too crazy. I don’t want to go over all the points he told me (you can ask me in person), but he did say I’m a lot like my grandfather which really struck a cord because I had just visited his grave in the Philippines last week. Prior that, I have not seen my grandfather since he passed away 14 years ago. Overall, I enjoyed my reading and will remember the main points the reader told me in the future (and to see if its for real!)
Day 4: You’re not the one for me
It’s my last day in Hong Kong and I wanted to check out the Art Basel exhibit as I was lucky enough to be there the weekend it was previewing! The exhibit showcases modern and contemporary art from all around the world and is held at the Hong Kong Convention Center. The show opened at 12pm I believe, but tickets can be purchased at 11am at a first come first serve basis (which means it can sell out!) So I get there after 11 and the line to get tickets looked like a line to get on to The Carsland ride in Disneyland and I’m not talking about the Fast Pass either! But the good thing was that it moved pretty fast and I was able to secure my ticket (pretty pricey, almost $40 USD). So now we all had to wait outside until they opened the doors to the public, but if you are a premiere member, you get to go in early.
Ok the doors are open and here come the herd of people! I start off at Hall C and it was pretty cool. There were some really nice pieces, but I didn’t see anything that stood out to me in particular. I don’t know if I was just picky or I was tired of being in gloomy Hong Kong, but I wasn’t WOW’d by anything. The Art in Island exhibit in the Philippines was by far the funnest and best exhibit I’ve been to in Asia. Plus, I felt a lot of people there were snooty looking (art is subjective!) I then proceeded to the next halls and felt the same thing, just not really mind blown. There was a cool Japanese artist painting a mural live which was cool and a ton of music and motion pieces as well. Maybe I’m not all about the stuffy art that people throw millions of dollars over. I like my artists more independent I suppose.
After the exhibit, I was able to connect with an old friend, Dorothy who I have not seen in 10 years! It’s so insane when you start counting years, goes by so fast! I met Dorothy through my childhood friend, Judy and remember that she would take us to all the awesome Chinese eateries in San Gabriel Valley. She was also the first to introduce me to Din Tai Fung 10 long years ago! On my way to the train station, a woman stopped me and asked if a pair of sexy black lace undies on the ground were mine. I wanted to laugh and whisper, “As much as I wish they were, I ain’t getting any!” Another girl later came by and claimed her undies. I met Dorothy at the Central exit and we proceeded to head over to Tsim Sha Tsui to grab a drink overlooking the skyline. Dorothy did warn me that its so foggy I won’t be able to see anything! And thats the thing, I felt this yucky overcast weather prevented me to go on the cable car to the Big Buddha and also take the ferry across the bay. So we arrive to the top and you guessed it, SUPER FOGGY. Hong Kong, I’m always going to remember you as a grey gloomy city and perhaps I needed to visit you when you had some sun.
After our mojitos, we proceeded to grab some snacks– more egg tarts (but not as good as Lord Stow’s), pork bun and milk tea. We walked around some more and checked out some of the shops. They had a Totoro Store and I almost fainted! I LOVE LOVE LOVE Totoro! I also was able to get some Korean makeup to try out from 3 Concept Eyes (mascara is pretty awesome and the eyeshadow palette was great too). For dinner, we went to a Shanghai restaurant to get some dumplings, cold chicken dish with red wine and onion pancake. All were great and it was cool chatting with Dorothy. I asked her how her love life has been out here and she said its so hard to meet guys in Hong Kong! They are either 2 timers or won’t have the balls to talk to you (I like to call that PAGS– Passive Asian Guy Syndrome). UGH I thought, I can never live here and I initially knew that with the weird vibe I got. As we wrapped up the night, a big THANK YOU to Dorothy for taking me out! Its awesome to see a familiar face in Hong Kong and hope to see you in California!
As a roundup, my favorite big city in Asia has been (drum roll please…) BANGKOK! Everyone told me I would love Hong Kong bc its nicer than Bangkok and not as fancy as Singapore. Oh they were wrong! Hong Kong, you’re just not the one for me (but I’ll take your egg tarts any day!)
Some shots of the exhibit (let me know what you think):
Day 5: Good Bye Asia =(
As a farewell, I was able to hit up Tim Ho Wan at the train station to try their famous BBQ pork bun since I seemed to miss that in Singapore. MAN, it was amazing! It was funny because I was 50 cents short and gave the lady a Singapore dollar and she called me out on it in Cantonese! I told her I didn’t have any HK money left and she rolled her eyes, cursed me out in Cantonese, but let me have the buns! YAY!
I was soooo sad to leave Asia (but kind of happy to leave Hong Kong). Does that even make any sense? I mean, even though I didn’t really enjoy Hong Kong, I was sad to go because that meant my journey in Asia was over. =( Two and a half months of some of the most life changing experiences that I will take with me forever. I can now reflect that all in my blog.