Hong Kong, Kowloon, Tai O, and Macau.


I spent some time in Hong Kong, Kowloon, Tai O, and Macau. Here I summarized where I stay, ate, shop, and looked around.

Lodging

I’ve stayed at several places in Kowloon: MetroPark, Oriental Lander, and Pop Hotel. I preferred MetroPark because others were extremely cramp with no spaces between the beds and shower stall instead of tubs. They also have paid and free shuttle to the Airport and Tsim Sha Tsui, respectively. Only downside was that Wi-Fi was only available in the lobby (Pop Hotel was the only one with in room Wi-Fi). Prices were comparable at the time at about $100 USD/night.

I also stayed with family in Kowloon and Macau but unless you have rich friends and family, then they’ll probably also have very small spaces. I felt like I was intruding no matter how much they tell me otherwise.

Kowloon from a high rise in Tseun Wan.

Kowloon from a high rise in Tseun Wan.

Food

You’re probably here for Dim Sum, there are plenty of places on Nathan Street. We went to London Restaurant near Shan Tung Street. If you are staying at MetroPark, there is also a decent Dim Sum place across the street. Note that most of these grandeur restaurants are located on the 2nd or 3rd floor because rent is cheaper than the ground floor.

You may have heard of Hong Kong style cafe, where you will find more people eating than sipping coffee. They put eggs and tomatoes to almost everything in these cafes which I didn’t like. I preferred the bakeries where I always get something with Yuk Sung (finely shredded dried pork loaded with MSG).

For street food, vendors and food courts usually set up in the smaller streets at night. I went to Temple Street at Nanking Street near the Jordan Station on the MTR. If you find yourself at the end of the MTR redline at Tseun Wan Station, there’s another food court near the intersection of Tai Ho Road and Sha Shui Road.

Temple St. at Nanking St., vendors and food court set up shop here at night.

Temple St. at Nanking St., vendors and food court set up shop here at night.

A variety of street food.

Mysterious Street food at Tseun Wan.


Durian Dessert. Looks good but still disgusting.

Durian Dessert. Looks good but still disgusting.

Some local dishes include fishballs, rice porridge, and various bits of animals not normally used in the western world. Hearts, kidneys, liver, intestines are all fair game. They usually have a rubbery or chewy texture. Highly aromatic (read stinky) food is also popular like stinky tofu and durian.

Two cultural advise: 1) In many southeast Asian area where water quality is questionable they will give you boiling water before your meal, not for drinking, but for you to rinse your tableware before eating.  2) Whereas in the U.S. we eat on plates, most people there eat in bowls and if they give you a plate then it is for spitting out your bones.

"时间就是金钱 (Time is money)" said Dad holding a watch I bought him from Ladies' Market.

Dad with watch from Ladies’ Market.

Shopping

As far as I can tell, the closer to Downtown Hong Kong, the bourgeer the shops are. If you want extravagant, shop in the Hong Kong side. Want nice shopping malls, try the ones near Tsim Sha Tsui on the Kowloon side. Want dirt cheap, go to the Ladies’ Market in Mong Kok (as in buying ladies’ purses, not prostitutes). That is where you would go to get your Bolex watches among other counterfeit things. 

I know a lot of people take advantage of the cheap clothes here, just keep in mind everything is much smaller, a shirt labeled large there is smaller than the standard small in the US and don’t count on return policies so caveat emptor.

Sightseeing

Hong Kong skyline shot from the ferry.

Symphony of lights shot from the ferry.

Above: 1984. Below: 2012.


Tsim Sha Tsui is the southern waterfront on the Kowloon peninsula where you will find the Avenue of the stars, several museums, and the landmark Clock Tower. The avenue of the stars has sculptures, plaques, and some vendors pitching the usual crap to tourists. The only museum I visited was the Space Museum, although the outside looks renovated, the exhibits inside looks unchanged from the 80’s. The Clock Tower is not much to look at either but from there you can board a ferry to the Hong Kong side. The best reason to come to Tsim Sha Tsui was the view of the Hong Kong skyline. Come here at 8pm and you can see the symphony of lights if the weather is good.

On the Hong Kong side, you can take a walk to a tram that will take you up to the Peak Tower. The tower itself is a shopping center/food court but view from the surrounding it is really the reason to be there. I took the bus down the hill and there were superb views about halfway down even on terribly foggy day I was there.

View of the Peak.

View of the Peak.

View from the Peak on a foggy day.

View from the Peak.

One of the oldest form of transportation in Hong Kong is the tramway. I took the historic wooden double decker tram to the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Horse racing is a huge activity there and is quite a sight even if you are not into betting. Even though I went on a rainy night, people continue to show up and the horses keep racing.

Panoramic of the race track.

Panoramic of the race track.

Nearby Tai O and Macau

Photographing the sunset at Tai O.

Photographing the sunset at Tai O.

One place a lot of tourists visit is the Buddha at Lantau which is covered ad nauseam in other blogs. I went a little off the beaten path to the nearby Tai O, a small fishing town adjacent to Lantau. You can get there by bus after taking the MTR to Tung Chung Station. There you will find temples, an old police station turned hotel, and shrimp paste being made on the streets. Despite how foul shrimp paste smells, it’s actually quite delicious on greens. The rural town can be appealing for those looking to get away from the bustling metropolitan.

Pastel de Nata

Pastel de Nata

A little further via TurboJET speed boat is Macau. The obvious thing to do here is gamble, but if you’re not into that you can hike up to the Ruínas de São Paulo, one of the most well known landmarks. On the way up you will unavoidably pass by numerous beef jerky peddlers offering you free samples, should you choose to buy any be advised it may be snatch through customs.  Another local treat is Pastel de Nata (or Portuguese Tarts), which taste basically the same as egg tarts from Chinatown to my unsophisticated palate.

Hella people at the Ruínas de São Paulo.

Hella people at the Ruínas de São Paulo.

For videos of my trip to these places and Taiwan, visit From the Sky to the Sea and Cats and Cameras. I talked a lot of shit about the various places but that’s just me being an asshole. These are actually fun places to be. Got some shit to add? Please comment below.

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