Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Things To Do, Places To Stay - Hong Kong

Hong Kong isn't all high rises and shopping. We headed over to Lantau Island on a cable car to have a gaze at an enormous Buddha.

We got on the Ngong Ping cable car, the 'crystal' version with a glass bottomed floor. Not for the faint hearted, this one, and a good 45 minutes at that. Once on Lantau Island, we ooh'd and aaah'd at the massive Buddha. Some weren't so entranced.

A short bus ride away is Tai O, a traditional fishing village. The streets are lined with people selling dried seafood.

Dried sea cucumbers
Yup, that's a dried shark

Pig skin & fish balls in curry sauce. Seriously chewy.

There are also plenty of places to find snacks. Things on sticks seem to be popular, as well as barbecued dried seafood. It's rustic and it's punchy stuff. 

Back on Hong Kong Island, The Peak is one of those must-do attractions. A short tram ride at a harrowing 45 degrees uphill, the view is outstanding, even in the haze. 

It's a tourist dream (nightmare?), with souvenir shops and chains like Starbucks everywhere you turn. But go for a walk around The Peak (there's a designated trail) and you'll be rewarded with some cracking views.

Going to Hong Kong without sampling the breakfast dim sum tradition would be an error, I feel. Though we get some pretty good stuff in London, trolley services are rare and Lin Heung Kui is as traditional as you can get. Located in Sheung Wan above street level, trollies billowing with steam are pushed around; lids are cocked from the steamers to show you what is within for you to either accept or reject. Tea is drank traditionally, with leaves brewing in a pot for you to decant into your teacup. It's a messy business. Other more trendy places like Tim Ho Wun (I visited last trip) are more refined and user-friendly - you probably won't get the red-braised pork knuckles or beef tripe with liver there, though you may have to queue.

In the Winter in Hong Kong a lot of people go out for hot pot. Also known as steamboat, broths bubble at the table and raw meats, fish and vegetables are ordered for you to cook in the broth. The broth gets more flavoursome the more you cook in it, culminating in some noodles flung in for a noodle soup to finish with. We went to Dong Lai Shun, but there are plenty all over Hong Kong. 

The hotel we stayed in was Langham Place, part of the same group as The Langham in London. It was pretty pimp. The lobby was huge, sleek and scented with jasmine, the staff helpful and accommodating  A pillow menu greeted me from my enormous bed, and lavender-scented pillows calmed my jet lag.

The hotel pool was on the roof, the 41st floor, heated to body temperature. I fell in love with the hot bubbling jacuzzi. I spent at least 12 whole minutes sat in the steam room in the calming spa. I wish I'd spent more time at the breakfast buffet; omelettes are cooked to order, with plenty of dim sum on offer. Fried breakfasts, fruit and sliced meats are tempting but after a pretty major night on the beers in Lan Kwai Fong (basically the Leicester Square of Hong Kong), all I could manage was a bowl of congee. But then, who eats at a breakfast buffet when there's so much eating elsewhere to be done?

Although some people prefer to stay on Hong Kong Island, I'd grown up on it so it's location in Mongkok was a refreshing change (and in reality only about 4 MTR stops). I don't know how much my stay cost, but I would imagine it wasn't cheap. Chungking Mansions is round the corner should you run out of cash though. 


Mr Noodles said...

I can't believe you didn't mention the giant Buddhist vegan restaurant by the giant Buddha on Lantau Island! You could've contined Veganvember there....

PlumLeaf 李葉 said...

I agree with Mr Noodles - they do very tasty fare there too!

Jerry Fishbiscuits said...

I love dim sum for breakfast.

But glass walls in hotel bathrooms... whose idea was that? Did a bunch of people sit down and think "yeah, this hotel room is really nice, but it would be even better if you could watch your partner take a crap"?

Christopher Phillips said...

Liked your reviews for Hong Kong..Last time when i was there i climbed to the Top of Big Buddha, I loved the food there and enjoyed my everyday till i was there. Want to be there again but this time with family and i will eat dried shark.