Chris and I had been had been desperately waiting for this holiday for months. It was amazing. It was expensive. I came home fat. All the makings of a great holiday.
It all started with four days in Hong Kong.
We flew BNE-HKG on a Cathay Pacific Airbus A350. It was only 18 months old and was a spectacular aircraft. The Premium Econdomy seating was decent, but it was definitely no business class. The service was definitely more economy than business. The meal was the same as what was being served at the back end of the plane, just with real silverware.
In addition to this, unless you’re in the front-most Premium Economy seat, the recline from the seat in front will well-and-truly enter your personal bubble.
Wow. Hong Kong. What a shock to the system. The only other Asian country I had been to before this was Singapore. Singapore was great: it was so clean, and English-speaking. It was easy.
In contrast, Hong Kong blew my face off. We caught the Airport Express from the airport to Kowloon. It was lovely and civilised. Then I got off the train.
There were people. Everywhere.
Sheraton Hong Kong
We were staying at the Sheraton in Tsim Tsa Shui–TST for short–right on the edge of Victora Harbour. And what a spot. Close to the shops on Nathan and Canton Roads, and the Harbour–right near everything Kowloon had to offer.
We hit the ground running on our first day in Hong Kong. We arrived at about 0600, and headed straight from the airport to the hotel. We were incredibly lucky I think that when we arrived at around 0730 there was a room ready for checkin. We were on the 17th floor facing south: we had a view out to Victoria Harbour. And it was spectacular.
If I had a dollar every time I was asked if I wanted a custom-tailored suit, or a counterfeit watch, or a “very good” hand bag while we were walking around, I would have many, many dollars.
Tsim Tsa Shui East Promenade
We left the hotel and explored the waterfront, the Promenade, right near the hotel. There was an amazing view across the harbour to Hong Kong Island. We could watch the ferries and the Junk boats bob around.
I remained unconvinced that I wanted a “copy-watch” or a “custom suit”.
The promeade had some pretty significant works being undertaken: we were able to walk the ? star garden / star promenade, which allowed some even better views of the city.
From the promenade, we headed inland towards [Kowloon Park](): an expanse of green space in the middle of Kowloon.
After the park we headed back towards Canton Road. As we were crusing past all (literally) the high-end stores, we found a massage place. Literally, it was just a sign on the street advertising massage. HKD$210 (AUD$35) each for a neck, shoulder and foot massage–exactly what we needed after a long flight and a big day of cruising around Kowloon. And it was great. It was kind of weird though, because we were escorted up to the 9th floor of the building by one person, who handed us over to another person who sat us in chairs, then shouted on the phone for like six different calls. Then, two new people arrived to do our massage.
After our massage we went back to the hotel and enjoyed the jacuzzi overlooking the harbour and Hong Kong island, before we began the expedition for the evening.
Temple Street Night Markets
And what an expedition it was: it was a short walk from the hotel through the back streets of Kowloon towards Temple Street. Hong Kong is such a melting pot of cultures: all of whom wanted to ask me if I wanted a watch or a suit. Stil, no.
We eventually made it to Temple Street, and it was not what I expected. It was more of a laneway than a street, restaurants lined the roadway, with stalls on either side of the footpath. And there were people. Everywhere.
We found a stall that sold dog clothing, which was great: we bought a couple of costumes for Rusty The Moodle.
Something we do in every city is look for an art. We found an art, and it fits our taste and style. It was only HKD$, but I think it was made in a factory where hundreds of underaged slaves produced the same art for hours at a time.
Regardless, I liked it.
After an amazing sleep in we made a plan for our first full day in Hong Kong.
Chris found a café not far from the hotel: N1. It served a “Western” breakfast with good coffee. It was pretty cramped, especially on a Sunday, so we had to sit against the wall with what felt like a paddlepop stick as tablespace. But the coffee was amazing, and the food hit the spot: we both had bacon and egg bagels.
Bubbly Brunch at the W
We walked from Tsim Sha Tsui to West Kowloon. It was a bit of a trek, not really helped by the huge amounts of construction going on around West Kowloon and the high-speed rail station. I’m keen to come back and see what it looks like when it’s all finished: there is so many elevated walkways, it would have made our journey so much easier.
Once we made it to W, wow. What an amazing hotel. KITCHEN, where their Bubbly Sunday Brunch is served, is on the sixth floor with an stunning view out over the harbour. And the buffet was spectacular. They had western food, Chinese food, Japanese food. Lobsters, prawns, oysters, suckling pig, crispy skin duck, fresh sushi, chocolate fountain. Amazing.
As well as the amazing food, there was free-flow Veuve. Chris and I definitely took advantage of that!
Star Ferry and Wan Chai foreshore
In the evening we caught the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Wan Chai. It cost all of HKD$2.70 (about AUD$0.50) to get across Victoria Harbour, and it provided some pretty spectacular views. The ferry we caught stops at Wan Chai, near the convention center. There looked to be a dog show on that day, and there were lots of dogs being walked around the area.
We walked along the Wan Chai foreshore towards Central: it all seemed brand new. There was some amazing views back over the harbour towards Kowloon.
As we got closer to Central there was a bit more going on. There was the AIA European Carnival near the Central Ferry Pier which looked like a bit of fun. But, we were literally dying of hunger so we continued our walk in search of food.
Because of Hong Kong’s colonial history, there are heaps of gastropubs on the island. We headed to The Globe. They had an amazing selection of beer and the food was pretty good too.
We caught the Star Ferry from Central back across to Tsim Sha Tsui. I got a Mobile Softee. It was nice.
Once again we caught the ferry to Central, and wandered up towards the Peak Tram. It was a beautiful day, and subsequently the line for the tram took literally forever. One of the biggest regrets of my life was not buying the tickets online.
The tram itself was pretty cool–it took less than ten minutes to get to the top, but because it was full and Chris and I are slow, we had to stand. I swear, at one point, the tram was damn near vertical–I thought I was going to fall out the back window!
At the top of the peak is The Peak Tower: definitely a tourist trap. We elected not to buy the Sky Terrace pass, which in the end seemed like the right decision. The views were great.
We took the tram back down, and returned to Kowloon via another park on Hong Kong island.
We needed another foot massage, so we went back to the same place we got the first one. This time was definitely not as good. It was different group of staff this time, unsurprisingly. I had three different staff members massaging me at one point. The third one tried to sell us a “Chinese girlfriend”, then showed us photos on her phone of all the different girlfriends she could have meet us at our hotel for “full body massage”. We declined with thanks.
On our first day in Hong Kong, while we were exploring, we found Scarlett, a cafe and wine bar, and said we would like to go. So tonight, we did.
And it was worth it. The food was amazing. The service was amazing. The atmosphere was amazing. Five stars.
Our last day in Hong Kong! We went for breakfast again at N1 (yes, it’s that good!) and did our last bit of exploring.
When we checked in at the Airport Express station we got a lot of bad news.
Firstly the flight from HKG-JFK was oversold. But, there was an upgrade available. But, it was only for Chris. Bless, he didn’t take it.
Then, we saw his boarding pass was marked with the dreaded SSSS. But it really didn’t make much difference in Hong Kong–there was just a explosives swab test.
We managed to relax for a few hours at the Cathay Pacific Wing first class lounge. It was pretty luxe. I had a shower–not because I needed to, but because I could–and the shower suite felt like it was bigger than my bedroom and ensuite combined.
Then, I had the (twenty-second) longest flight in the world.