Goodbye, Hong Kong (At Least for a While)
Alex and I have probably been to Hong Kong a dozen times (and twice from the U.S.). Even Baby M has been to HK three times (four, if you count in utero)! It’s only a three and a half hour flight from Seoul and we always stay with my mom (upside: free, we can spend lots of time with my mom; downside: an additional two adults — plus a porta-crib — make already cramped quarters even more cramped).
March 1 was Independence Movement Day in Korea, a holiday, and coupled with the fact that Alex had to use his remaining vacation days by the end of February, we were able to take a five day holiday in Hong Kong. This trip was especially bittersweet because we know that it’ll be quite some time before we make it back to Hong Kong, and it’ll be just a little harder to see my mom.
This trip started off with a fantastic bus ride. Just kidding: it was the worst bus ride ever. It started with the bus driver parking in the FAR LEFT lane (making us cross 2 lanes of traffic with a ton of luggage) and me hitting the driver in the leg with the stroller (or maybe he walked into it? Who knows). He sat down on the sidewalk, clutching his leg, cursing at me. Alex said when he looked back, he saw me kneeling on the sidewalk, awkwardly petting/rubbing the driver’s leg. It was about 80 degrees F on the bus, and we were stuck in traffic, and for the first time ever, Baby M threw up. All over the carseat that we had borrowed from a friend. This almost prompted a chain reaction of vomiting… And, unfortunately, the last thing Baby M ate was homemade mac-n-cheese, and the last thing she drank was milk. So, that made for an especially unpleasant smell.
So, that bus ride (and subsequent flight that was delayed) was the lowlight of our trip. Here are a few of the highlights:
Alex and I used to hike up to the peak (from the mid-levels) and enjoy the best cup of coffee (Pacific Coffee) with the best view (of Victoria Harbor and the HK skyline). But, up until this trip, we’d never taken the tram up to the top. Despite the 45-minute line, the tram ride was quite enjoyable (and a little scary). At some points, we were going up at a 45-degree angle! It was fun passing the little path we used to take while hiking up.
A year ago, we took Baby M to Hong Kong Park, which is adjacent to the Zoo and Botanical Gardens. It was our first time going to the Zoological and Botanical Gardens, and I was really impressed! Not only are there nice views of a few iconic skyscrapers (since this park is set up on a hill), there were lots of animals (Baby M really enjoyed the monkeys and lemurs, and so did we — there were a couple monkeys showing off on the uneven bars and it was mesmerizing to watch!! “This is better than the Olympics!” exclaimed Alex), and playgrounds, which Baby M loved.
My mom’s been to this monastery on a hill in ShaTin, but it was Alex’s and my first time. While my mom pushed a napping Baby M in her stroller at the base, Alex and I took the (many) steps up. All along the way, there were gold buddhas, in different shapes/sizes/positions. It was quite peaceful at the top, where the actual monastery is. On our walk down, we encountered wild macaques (our least favorite monkey… they are SO aggressive). Luckily, they ignored us. Afterwards, we walked around (probably) the world’s smallest IKEA. For all of us IKEA lovers: you know when you walk around IKEA’s (amazing, inspiring) showrooms, and each room has the total square footage proudly displayed, and you always wonder, “When the heck am I going to have to furnish and decorate a whole bedroom the size of a shoebox?” Well, Hong Kong is that place where IKEA showrooms actually make sense. Every square inch counts!
I had been bugging Alex to take me up on a ferris wheel for the last two years. There was a ferris wheel in Sapporo. One in Nagoya. He thought it’d be lame (yeah, well…) but I thought it’d be romantic. Well, I finally won because we paid 100 HKD (~12 USD) each and rode the Hong Kong Observation Wheel on our last date night in the city. The view was pretty good, and we got to go around three times. After the ride, we took the Star Ferry to Kowloon, got some McDonald’s soft serve, and rode the ferry back to Hong Kong. For a little more than 2 HKD (25 cents USD!), you get one of the best views of the Hong Kong skyline. It really can’t be beat!
Everyone knows that you go to Hong Kong for the food! I never leave Hong Kong weighing less than five pounds more than when I arrived!
Little Bao: Our foodie friends, who don’t have kids, highly recommended Little Bao. “Um, I think a stroller might fit?” Nope. Alex and I came to this restaurant in Central at 9 PM (after putting Baby M to bed), thinking that we’d be able to just walk right in. Nope, again. There was an hour wait. At 9 PM. I normally don’t do lines. But, Alex convinced me to get a drink first, and then head back at 10. Yes, the food is pretty good. The pork belly bao (a Chinese steamed bun) was really tasty (can’t go wrong with fatty pork). We didn’t think the Szechuan Fried Chicken bao was that great. And whoever “highly recommended” the truffle fries on TripAdvisor completely led us astray. It was much too greasy. And I don’t like soggy fries. The salt ice cream with caramel dessert bao was good. In summary, Alex and I thought this little restaurant was a little pretentious. The food arrives within a few minutes after you order it. Why was the wait so long?! And why wouldn’t they take reservations? And why can you only do takeout on dessert? It’s like they are purposely trying to keep the lines long!
One Dim Sum Chinese Restaurant: We walked past another (perfectly good, but empty) dim sum restaurant and waited in line for 30 minutes for One Dim Sum. The reviews online were amazing. The food was really good (but, then again, I’ve never had ‘bad’ dim sum before). One of the waitresses was very patient with Baby M (who, at this point, was fed up, hungry and ready for her nap), giving her candy (which Mommy immediately confiscated), and pencils and paper for drawing. Per usual, Alex and I ordered too much food.
Yat Lok: Alex and I had 30 minutes to eat dinner, before meeting my cousin’s fiancé for drinks in Central. We were immediately seated at a counter (without Baby M, all sorts of seating arrangements were available to us!). Alex ordered the roast goose over noodles, and I ordered one over rice. Delicious. I LOVE the crispy, fatty skin. I’m salivating right now, just thinking about it. And, this experience was much less stressful than when we came with Baby M and my mom six months ago — then we had to worry about a squirmy Baby M and no high chair (and no strollers allowed inside).
We also enjoyed good, quality sushi at Itaemae Sushi at Tsing Yi’s Maritime Square, as well as all sorts of good Chinese food (including XLBs — Xiao Long Bao or soup dumplings).
Alex and I have always said: we don’t like living in a city, but if we HAVE to live in a city, that city would be Hong Kong. Farewell, Hong Kong. See you again, someday.
“Hey, that looks like our neighborhood in Seoul and the Lotte World Tower… oh wait. It IS!!” We saw this advertisement wrapped around a building in Central Hong Kong. Why would they advertise for an uber-expensive highrise in another city?! “Oh the apartments are too expensive in Hong Kong. Ooooooh look! I can buy a 4 million dollar (or more) luxury apartment in Seoul, even though I live and work in Hong Kong!” said no one, ever. Also, they need to change the word “climax”…. “The most extraordinary climax of prestige life in Seoul, South Korea.” Um, what? Konglish?
To read about our previous trips to Hong Kong: