Sweet: Hong Kong’s skyline shows that this is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. I couldn’t help but wonder, where are all these people from, and what do they do here? The people here are primarily Chinese from Guangdong, and speak Cantonese and English in this east meets west city.
Sour: People from Hong Kong regard themselves differently than people from Mainland China, or “Mainlanders”. Due to a relaxed visa policy, many expats live in Hong Kong, and a growing number of wealthy and middle-class Mainlanders have been flooding into Hong Kong, sometimes causing tension and resentment from Hong Kongers. The gap between rich and poor in Hong Kong is very evident, and many of the poorer immigrant Filipinos and Indonesians workers generally find jobs servicing the upper class.
Sweet: There are numerous easy ways to get around Hong Kong. The MTR mass transit is very efficient, and offers a high speed train from Central HK to the airport.
Sour: Taxi cabs are plentiful and inexpensive, but the body styles are very outdated, as if they had come straight from the 80’s. There are also ferries that will take you across Victoria Harbour, the most popular and economical at $2.50, being the Star Ferry.
Sour: While walking around the surrounding buildings, we often felt drops of mystery fluid. The drip is likely from the air conditioning units that hang outside of the windows.
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 enjoyed the view from their patio. The winding streets along the lower peak can be confusing, but fortunately my friends had a knowledgeable driver who was able to drop us off at the Peak Tram station to get to the famous Victoria Peak.
Sweet: A trip up to Victoria Peak offers an iconic view of Hong Kong! We rode the Peak Tram up to the plateau, and at the top we were awed by view of skyscrapers that captured the horizon.
Sour: The air in Hong Kong was hot and smoggy. I enjoyed a break from the heat and humidity in the comfort of the mall’s air conditioning!
Sweet: The Mong Kok MTR station was full of people, and when we emerged, we saw how a large percentage of the population lives, 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, to clothing, and iPhone cases. We took a lap down its 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 made our purchases.
Sweet: There are many places to spend money in Hong Kong! The popular malls are Landmark, Times Square, Harbour City, and Fashion Walk in Causeway Bay. Malls aren’t places to bargain, but there are an abundance of street markets, mini malls, and night markets for finding a good deal.
Sour: The best Chinese dinner was at a great restaurant, 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 diverse array of food in Hong Kong. The local food in Hong Kong was good, but it can be weird, and some of it takes an adventurous palate. Dried seafood is a common commodity in stores, along with dried fruits and nuts. Over in Sheung Wan, there is a district of stores selling birds nest and shark fin.
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 soft cheese. We ordered common dim sum dishes, like siumai, har gow, and char sui bao. In Chinese restaurants the wait staff generally leaves you alone, so you just have to flag them down when you need anything.
Sweet: We also had dim sum at a local place, Luk Yu Tea House, which felt as if time had stood still. While visiting other restaurants, I was surprised to see the infiltration of sweet and sour dishes in Hong Kong. Japanese food is a favorite cuisine among Hong Kongers, and we went out of our way to eat at a hole in the wall 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 chat over a glass of wine, and take in the views of the surrounding financial district.
Sweet: My favorite area to wander around was the Mid-Levels. We rode the escalators up and stopped for an ice cream break at Honey Creme. Many westerners have set up shop, and live in this area. While locals are primarily friendly, sometimes westerners can still face resentment by locals.
Sour: I enjoyed visiting Hong Kong; but to me, the best part of being in this city was meeting up with friends who have helped 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.