A Travellerspoint blog

Vices of Hong Kong

Victoria Peak, Happy Valley

This morning I had a little time to myself for breakfast and classic me, I decided to buy enough food for three people. I initially had wanted to try Mcdonalds Twisty pasta with sausage and egg but then also found out a good dim sum place was also nearby called Sun Hing. I went to order my dim sum in Cantonese and they fulfill take out orders the minute you order. My kind of service. I ordered spareribs over rice, ha gow (shrimp dumpling), Siu mai, and a runny egg custard bun. The spareribs rice was on point with the soy saucey goodness and slightly oily spareribs. The buns were good but tasted too much like egg yolk for me. The other two items were okay and I would eat it if I was in the area and needed dim sum but nothing to write home about.
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Then I walked to McDonald's and the best thing about Hong Kong ones is that they have automated screens that also include English!!! I tapped in my order and paid. I have to say the pasta was interesting, not better than Cafe de coral but decent. I decided to try the cheese one because why not. The broth wasn't heavily salty but didn't have a lot of flavor. The classic McDonald's sausage patty was really good in it. The value meal also comes with a drink (I got milk tea) and hash brown.
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After I was happily full and disgusted with myself, Gavin came back and ate some. Food is really a terrible Vic's to have. We then headed to Victoria Peak so I could work off my disturbing eating habits.
We took the tram up the mountain. If you have an octopus card, you can walk to the left and enter and skip a rather huge line of people buying tickets. It cost HK$32. Worth the money to take it up the steep slope. If you are standing on the ride, they carved little trenches to help you stay upright at the steep angles so you are basically parallel to the floor. Pretty crazy. There are also a couple stops along the hillside for residents or hikers to board on or off. When you get to the top, there's a huge mall called Peak Galleria. You can pay money to go additionally further to the top of the mall but you can actually get an equally awesome view on the 3rd story of the smaller adjacent mall building. They even have telescopes you can see through for free and you can look at the penthouses and imagine you are rich. The weather was really good but there was still a layer of smog and mist in the air.
View from the mall
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We then decided to do a hike towards Lugard Waterfall. We took the popular Victoria Peak Circle walk. The Peak Circle Walk is a flat 2.2 mile walk along Lugard Road and Harlech road. We started by heading clockwise but I think most people do counterclockwise and just look at the view. I think the entire walk is actually really nice and enjoyable given there is plenty of shade and no slopes. While we were hiking, we heard a helicopter overhead and for some reason it just hovered right near the radio towers for like 15-20 minutes. It was so close my ears definitely suffered but it was worth watching a helicopter fly so close to my head. We took tons of videos and pictures and then continued hiking. A huge thing in the parks here are the outdoor "gym" equipment. They are these fun structures that you can use and have instructions on them like a pull up bar or jump up and over Or monkey bars. We explored many of them and decided this would be a great place to work out. Around the Pok Fu Lam country park area there's also a decent public bathroom, in case you are worried about needing to urinate on this hike. We then circled around through these amazing India rubber trees that swing down branches to soak up nutrients and then grow from the sky into the ground. As we circled on Lugard road, you also get to see these amazing residential complexes that you can rent for a mere HK$180k a month. I don't know why you would live here because getting home or leaving would be such a nightmare...but the views would be crazy awesome. We started nearing the end of the circle and came out to the expansive lookout over all of Hong Kong. It was stunning and well worth the hike even if you just come here and come back. I realized how small and minuscule I am compared to the world and we headed back to hike down the mountain. The trail down is actually all paved and I ran half the way just because it was less stress on my knees. It spits you straight into the mid levels.
Lugard falls
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The most still grasshopper
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The helicopter that we don't know what it was doing or why it hovered for so long
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India rubber trees
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Views for days
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We hopped in a cab and headed to Wah Fung for super late lunch. Mainly because it was in central near Sunny Hills and because Yat Lok was closed on the one day out of the month it closes (last Wednesday of the month--we saw some pretty disheartened tourists). We ordered all the meats and I have to say it was pretty good. The squab was the most tender and juicy one I have ever tasted and although I would have liked some lemon and five spice salt, I was delicious without it. The roast duck was decent and deliciously fatty. The roast pork had a really crispy crunch but the rest of the meat wasn't anything special.
Roast pork
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Roast duck
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Squab (baby pigeon)
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We then headed to sunnyhills to pick up the special request my mother had made and to compare chiate to sunny hills. The shop itself was really cool and minimalistic and would be a great place just to enjoy some tea and pineapple cakes but we had to get going so I bought a bunch and they came with cute little sunny hills canvas bags!
Sunny hills
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We then headed home to change and head to Happy Wednesdays at Happy Valley! I definitely recommend going to check this horse track out if you are in Hong Kong on a Wednesday night. It's MASSIVE and feels like the place to be. Literally tons of people come to enjoy the scenery, the beer, the food, the people, and the gambling. It's like a huge party if you go to general admission HK$10 and walk around the beer gardens. The fences also put you super close to the completely grass track and horses! It's a way different culture than the racetracks in the USA. Very much so a night time scene. You can buy pitchers of beer or pints as well. And if you want to bet on a few horses, the workers are SUPER helpful and help you fill out the betting slips. The first race starts around 730 and the last one is around 1030-11z we watched the last 4 races but if we had been there earlier I don't think we would've waited for the last race. It's so entertaining to cheer and yell with the crowd and we even WON one of the many bets we placed. But we definitely lost money. But considering the entertainment value, the money was well spent.
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We quickly headed on to a ding ding and headed to central to meet up with my sister who was just getting off work. :( we are some late night eats at the Chinese equivalent of a Denny's, Tsai Wah. We ordered some fish balls, hainan chicken, and minced pork chow mein. The noodles were the only thing worth getting but they were really crispy and had a lot of flavor.
We finally headed home after a full day of activities.
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Posted by E.M.N 17:55 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged victoria valley happy peak Comments (0)

Ding ding!

Free rides for all

Today was free tram and ferry rides day! So naturally we decided to ride on the ding ding trams.

We started today like I have been with a hearty breakfast. Today it was at LAN Fong Yuen. We all ordered the chicken chop with noodle soup. The noodle broth was delicious and the noodles reminded me of the cup noodles. The chicken was super delicious and they somehow crisp the skin to perfection. We all devoured our breakfast. I was so full and have no idea how people eat this for breakfast and then go to work.
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We then headed back home to shower and prepare for the day. We then walked to The Belchers so I could scope out the Wellcome superstore. The produce and meat section is impressive. I documented what I wanted to get later and came back later that night to stock up. Heavy but worth it late night jaunt. We then continued to walk around the city towards Queen's road where we hopped on to the famous ding dings! They remind me a lot of the Harry Potter Knight Bus!! We quickly grabbed some seats on the second level and I took in the Hong Kong scenery as we switch from dirty and old to new and hipster. It's really interesting to see the disparity even if you look at a super nice store on the first floor and then look at the high rise above, it can be completely different. There are also so many crooked and crowded alleyways with numerous vendors that people swarm at lunch time and after work.
The ding dings pass each other SO CLOSELY
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The streets are so confusing. Also, this looks like Hong Kong "Flatiron" builiding
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We got off at Times Square and immediately got a snack of curry fish balls (these were so delicious and had a strong kick!) and warm eggettes (just okay).
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Then we walked around to admire the craziness of the malls here where escalators shoot diagonally and skip floors. Also, all these places are decorated heavily for the holidays! We then continued to walk around Causeway Bay, looking at and exploring all the different shops like Nike lab and Gentle Monster. We then headed to KOK for an afternoon tasting menu (lunch for us). They gave us a ton of food and a drink for HK$48. The laksa noodles were creamy and spicy in a warm your soul kind of way.
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We then headed to the Excelsior to walk underground to the Noon Day gun which apparently is only visible during the firing at noon and one hour after.....but I did get to see some cool old water taxis.
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After that, we headed to Cafe Grey Deluxe at Upper House in the JW Marriot at Pacific Palace ("PP" haha).
Cool design of snowflakes!
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The views up here are on point and if you are lucky enough to get a window table, you get to enjoy it fully. The cocktails here are really delicious and mixed well. I got a Palma fizz, vodka, orange, lime, ginger, rose, orange blossom, and soda. Nomz! Best part is enjoying the super fancy bathroom. Haha
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We then headed towards central to enjoy happy hour at Meo. Cool hipster bar with free arcade games and foosball. Mainly expats here though. At happy hour, they put out small appetizers for people to enjoy free and beer and wine is a little cheaper. The snacks weren't terrible but not the greatest. It was a good place to chill at though and we played a little fighting game and a little pinball. Then it was time for dinner and to meet up with Er.
We headed over to Kwan Kee, famous for their hot pot and clay pot rice. I had already made a reservation in my broken Cantonese earlier in the day for 830p. This is the only way to eat dinner here and they don't take reservations by phone, they take it in person and write it down on white pieces of paper taped to the wall. Anyways, we were seated promptly at 830p. We ordered a pork bone broth hot pot, a white eel and sparerib clay pot, and a preserved meat and Chinese sausage clay pot. The pork broth was clean and flavorful. The eel rice was salty and deliciously filled with black bean sauce. The preserved meat was good but nothing compared to what I'm used to in SF, mainly because it was on the sweet side and not the salty side. The burnt crispy rice on the bottom was sooooo good and came off the pot so cleanly. Honestly, I think SF clay pot wins but maybe that's just the nostalgia speaking. With our stomachs fully and hearts happy, we went to acquire my snack goods and headed home.
Pork bone broth
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Eel clay pot
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Preserved meats clay pot
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Posted by E.M.N 19:22 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged dingding kwankee Comments (0)

The Hong Kong Story

Learning new things about an old place

My schedule is pretty off so I woke up pretty early today and was super hungry for some classic Chinese macaroni soup. So we went to Cafe de Coral which is a huge chain that sells food in like a cafeteria style.
Oxtail soup macaroni. Comes with that yummy milk tea.
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We then got ready for the day and headed to TST to see the Hong Kong Museum of History. We took the Star Ferry over to Kowloon (HK$2.50). Super worth taking to see the views on Hong Kong island and Kowloon.
Museum of Art
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The permanent exhibit at the museum of history, The Hong Kong Story, is free for all! Apparently, this place was built in the early 2000s and the government spent HK$190 million. This museum is definitely worth a visit because you really learn about how Hong Kong developed to be the place it is today and why it is such a huge melting pot that is truly unique from the rest of China. I also didn't really realize that Hong Kong style cafes are driven largely by the British who occupied Hong Kong during their 155 year rule. (I had always assumed the ones in SF were Chinese people creating American dishes with Chinese influences.) Despite all the wars and turmoil, Hong Kong really benefited from the British Colonial rule and advanced greatly in part of that.
Diorama of a Junk
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Bun Mountain! I wish this festival hadn't been stopped because someone fell off bun mountain. I would have loved to see a huge pile of buns!!!
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After educating ourselves for 4 hours, we were starving and headed to Xin Dau Ji for suckling pig. I cannot tell you how delicious this pig was so I'll let the picture speak for itself. We ordered a 1/4 body but easily could have eaten 1/2. We also ordered "Juhu" lettuce in clay pot and garlic crab fried rice. Both were also really good but it's the suckling pig that is important!
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We then walked around TST and enjoyed the scenery at Kowloon Park (which has an aviary and a bird lake!) and at Pierside (a bar in Royal Pacific Hotel). We stayed to watch the sunset and then headed back on Star Ferry to see Hong Kong at night, which I have to say is electric. haha. I cannot decide what is prettier, Hong Kong in the daylight or lit up at night.
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We then met up with my sister to eat dinner. We headed to Kau Kee to wait in the super long line. The line is worth the wait but also was super fast. There is the Kau Kee 5 special which is HK$160 (looks like it is just a bowl of beef brisket), but we opted for a beef brisket noodle soup (~HK$45-48). I have to say the broth was delicious and the brisket is super tender. The noodles (get the flat noodles which are egg based) are also really fresh and chewy.
These are the E-fu noodles
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We then walked like a block away to Oddies Foodies to try some hipster eggettes and gelato. The gelato here is super creamy and really unique flavors. I really liked the gelato on its own but you are supposed to try the Night Wolf, which is a chocolate chip eggette with a swirl of soft serve, a scoop of the gelato of the day (pistachio), and passionfruit panna cotta. We ordered this but I have to say I was pretty disappointed. Eggettes are better hot off the presses and the chocolate chips didn't add much. That gelato was pretty delicious though and my sister loved the panna cotta. It is a pretty photogenic dessert though. Got to find some more delicious desserts before the week is over....
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Posted by E.M.N 17:57 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged history of museum hong ferry kong star kee oddies kau Comments (0)

Hong Kong

clockenflap

Long flights are always so tiring. I do have to say that international airlines treat you a lot better than American ones.

It's really easy to get into the city from Hong Kong airport if you take the airport express. It costs HK$100. Inheaded straight for Hong Kong station to meet up with my sister and Gavin. Since I was starving by that time, we headed straight to Tim Ho Wan, the cheapest Michelin star. Dim sum is always a great way to start a day and the baked BBQ pork buns are unrivaled.

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We then headed home to freshen up and rest until it was time to eat again. We headed to a small hole in the wall porridge place where they are also known for the lotus rice cakes and Chinese donuts wrapped in rice flour but since we got there at like 1p they were already sold out of the latter two. We all got preserved egg and pork porridge. It was delicious. Make sure to bring your own napkins!
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We then headed to Clockenflap. Apparently, this is a huge 8 year old music and arts festival in Hong Kong. Sort of like the family friendly version of an Asian Coachella. We listened to random artists from U.K., Hong Kong, America, France. It was also a great place to see the huge differences in Hong Kong culture and people. It really is a huge melting pot of expats and native Hong Kong. I really enjoyed the Sugarhill Gang who was throwing it back old school. We also tried some festival eats and by far the winner was this porchetta and pickled cauliflower sandwich by NOM. Man, it was so tasty. By the end of the day, I was so tired from the flight, terrible sleep, and standing all day that I started to fall asleep listening to Crystal Castles so we headed back home to pass out and eat another day.
Acorn Stage
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Posted by E.M.N 15:19 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged clockenflap Comments (0)

Last Day in Taipei

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Shida Night Market

Thought of the day: if I haven't had anymore new bug bites, does that mean I ate the creature biting me?!??!

Today was the last full day in Taipei and per usual fashion, it was super hot and super humid. (I gave up on jeans when I thought 70s would be ok.) We headed to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. This metro station is really huge and well decorated! We headed to the main plaza and I have to say it was really gorgeous and I could definitely see why so many natives were outdoors enjoying the scenery. The only thing damper to the scenery was this huge Frozen abominable tent in the middle!!!! Way to ruin my pictures, Frozen! Sheesh. Anyways, locals were dancing, practicing martial arts, and enjoying the outdoors. We got lucky and happened to time our arrival 15 min prior to the changing of the guard which is every hour. We got our spots right in front which if you want to watch be sure to stand on the outside of the red ribbons!! I have no idea how they stand there for an hour straight...There is also an expansive art gallery to view and lots about Taiwanese history.
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Look at the monstrosity in the middle!
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We left the memorial in search of braised pork rice....we went to Jinfeng Braised Pork, which is literally a 5 minute walk away.
It was pretty crowded but the line moved quickly. I got a medium bowl and Julia got a small bowl. We also got some sautéed veggies, fried tofu, tea eggs, and Julia had chicken herbal soup. All of it was really delicious. I think next time I'd want to try the braised pork rice cause the ground rice was super tasty but not super meaty. Such a simple dish with a punch of flavor. I think we spent 200NT total. We then went to this random market right next store and Julia picked up some Chinese preserved fruits and whatnots.
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We still had a lot of shopping to do for family and friends so we headed back to Taipei Main Station. I was thirsty and so we stopped by 50 Lan and had some boba. The tapioca was perfect consistency and the milk tea wasn't too overpowering but they give you a lot.
We bought most things at Breeze but there is the K underground mall which is Eslite based (like Asian Barnes and noble), there is Zhongshan and Taipei Main Mall which are like night markets but with less cool things, and then there is Breeze which is basically a food mecca. I highly recommend going to the second floor and finding Popcorn Planet to try and buy their super delicious Kimchi Popcorn!!! We gathered our goodies and headed home to clean up and pack before our last night market!
Cool. Craving. Content.
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We decided to go to Shida Night Market because it was highly recommended and although I really wanted to see Shilin again, we felt like we should see more. So like I said before, the night markets all have different flavors and for the most part sell similar things BUT Shida is the exception! Shida is very popular among the university crowd because of all the shopping (mostly clothes and accessories) you can do here and because of that population base, everything is super cheap (jewelry for 100NT and clothes for 100-500NT). If you were looking to stock your closet or get new accessories including sunglasses, Shida is the one to visit!! First thing we did off the MRT was eating fresh and hot Mantou (plain buns) from Yong Fung Sheng. I had a brown sugar one and it was delicious and super hot! We also went to IJY Sheng bakery and acquired buns for the airplane ride back to the states. There was also this cool middle area of the night market lit up with blue lights that had local vendors selling their crafts and Julia bought a reusable metal straw! We then stumbled upon this massive stationary store next to the crepes place and blue lights. This place was AMAZING. Literally, any kind of writing utensil you could want. My favorite are the frixion pens that erase with friction! All the pens are super cheap too!!! We got multicolored pens for less that $1 USD! I high to recommend stocking up on school supplies or craft goods here.
This night market is known for the 2 lantern choose your food and they'll cook it stand. We decided to each get our own but wow it was a lot of food! Don't do that if you are going to brave this place cause it's too much food. It was 200 NT. It was pretty tasty for essentially hot pot but the chicken heart I had tasted funny and I felt not well for the rest of the night. I washed it down with the fresh watermelon juice I ordered (if you want to sit down, you each have to order a drink). We took one last look around the shops and headed home.
Buns!
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IJY Sheng Bakery
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The 2 red lanterns place
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Just a ridiculous amount of food. looks good if your stomach can handle it.
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Not enough pens.
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Taoyuan International Airport is ginormous and well stocked. If you didn't get enough shopping done, you can shop some more as you wait for your flight. There is a Sunny Hills store here but it is OUTSIDE OF SECURITY. I am super sad I didn't get to try it. Maybe next time. My last meal of the trip was a ton of food!!! The main chicken was alright but all the side dishes were delicious and kept me happily full for my United flight of gross airplane food.

Posted by E.M.N 02:19 Archived in Taiwan Tagged chiang kai-shek shida Comments (0)

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