Sweet: With just a glance at Hong Kong’s skyline, it’s easy to see that this is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. I can’t help but wonder, where are all these people from, and what do they do here? The people here are primarily Chinese from the province of Guangdong. Cantonese and English are both spoken in this east meets west city. Start your day right by having breakfast at the Ritz Carlton and enjoying the view of Hong Kong island from the 102nd floor.
Sour: People in Hong Kong regard themselves differently than those from mainland China. There are several advantages to living here, including great real estate investment opportunity for those who can afford it, excellent public transportation and modern efficiencies, freedoms, safety, and a relaxed visa policy, which brings many expats live in Hong Kong. There is also a large growing number of wealthy and middle-class from Mainland China, who can sometimes cause friction in the already crowded city. The gap between rich and poor can be very evident (note: google Coffin Apartments), and many of the poorer immigrant workers generally find jobs servicing the upper class.
Sweet: There are several easy ways to get around Hong Kong. The MTR mass transit is very neat and efficient, the Airport Express is a high speed train that will take you from Central or Kowloon to the airport in 24 minutes with wifi – and its easier and cheaper than taking a taxi.
Sour: Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive, and their body styles are unique to Hong Kong. The Star Ferry will take you across Victoria Harbour and is a fun way to see both the Central and Kowloon skyline for only $2.50. If you have the time, take a ride on an old Junk boat.
Sour: While walking around the urban landscape, you may feel a few drops of mystery fluid. The drip is likely from the air conditioning units that hang outside of the windows of towering sky scrapers.
Sweet: Hong Kong is easy to explore on foot. There are many markets to see, Jade market, Ladies Market, Temple Street, the Flower and the Bird markets.
Sour: We visited friends living in the lower peak area, and really enjoyed the view from their patio. The winding streets along the lower peak can be confusing, but a knowledgeable driver can maneuver these roads and even bring you to Repulse Bay on the back side of the island where you can enjoy a quieter and more peaceful side of Hong Kong.
Sweet: A trip up to Victoria Peak offers one of the most iconic views of Hong Kong! From the top of the hill its hard not to be we in awe of the endless skyscrapers that capture the horizon.
Sour: The air in Hong Kong can be hot and smoggy in the summer. Fortunately, it’s easy to take comfort inside one of the many mall’s air conditioning! Hong Kong and shopping go together like dumplings and vinegar. Just remember that unlike the states, there are no returns on items purchased.
Sweet: The Mong Kok MTR station was one of the busiest, and when we emerged, we saw how many people live, stacked above each other in small modest units.
Sour: Here we visited the Ladies Market, a row of connected walking streets where vendors sell everything from knock off designer bags, cds, knickknacks, and cell phone cases. We took a lap down the humid street, and practiced bargaining for things we were interested in buying. On the walk back up the street we knew what the best prices were, and then made our purchases possibly saving a few bucks.
Sweet: There are many places to spend money in Hong Kong! Popular malls include Landmark, Times Square, Harbour City, and Fashion Walk in Causeway Bay. Malls aren’t the place to bargain, but offer a cool reprieve from hustle and bustle. Stop for afternoon tea, and explore the surrounding few blocks.
Sour: The best Chinese dinner was at Mott 32. The Barbecue Prime Iberico Pork with Yellow Mountain Honey may have been the best thing I’ve ever eaten.
Sweet: You can find a vast array of cuisine in Hong Kong. Some expected, and some on the traditional or herbal side. Dried seafood is a common commodity in stores, along with dried fruits and nuts. When wandering around Sheung Wan, a district of stores selling birds nest and shark fin can be explored.
Sour: My local friend also brought us to Fu Sing, a Michelin starred dim sum restaurant located in Causeway Bay. My girlfriend enjoyed the deep fried diced tofu, and said that the consistency was like a softly melted cheese. Common dim sum dishes of siumai, har gow, and char sui bao were also enjoyed. In Chinese restaurants, and those outside of the states in general, the wait staff will generally leave you alone, there is never a rush but a true relaxed environment for sipping tea.
Sweet: We also had dim sum at Luk Yu Tea House, which was not as refined and more like home cooking. It felt as if time had stood still. While visiting other restaurants, I was surprised to see the infiltration of western focused dishes such as sweet and sour . Japanese food is a favorite cuisine among Hong Kongers, and we went out of our way to eat at a hole in the wall sushi counter that my friend had just visited, a small stand in Tsim Sha Tsui selling the freshest hand rolls.
Sweet: For twilight drinks, we visited Sevva, a restaurant and trendy rooftop lounge in Central where business people and expats wind down a long day of work, and take in the views of the surrounding financial district with a much needed night cap so that they can wake up early, and hit the ground running tomorrow.
Sweet: My favorite area to wander around is the Mid-Levels, they’re easier to maneuver when you find the escalators. On the way down you may want to stop for a coffee, dan tat, ice cream, or at a farmers market for flowers, vegetables, and freshly butchered meat. Many westerners have set up shop, and live in this area which even has a little bit of a hipster feel to it.
Sour: I always enjoy visiting Hong Kong; but for me, the best part of being in this city is meeting up with friends to reminisce, and help me reflect upon myself and my place in the world.
Sweet: There are many places in Hong Kong that I would still like to see, so I look forward to a return trip, and to take in more of everything that Hong Kong has to offer.