So my sister and I have this pact to try our best to travel together at least once a year — just the two of us. This little tradition of ours is actually only two years old lol, beginning with our first trip together to Alice Springs, back when we were both still studying in Australia. But it took on greater meaning after she started work and our languid days together in Sydney came to an end. Since I spend most of the year away, travelling together became a nice and rather valuable time, really, that we got to spend together. In 2015, we chose to go to Japan, and this year, after much contemplation and consideration, Hong Kong was the grand prize winner.
We chose Hong Kong mainly because the sister could only afford three days of leave, giving us five days to travel, including a weekend. With that time limitation, we were forced to pass over Taiwan, sadly, and choose somewhere that we could cover reasonably within five days.
By virtue of the fact that I am the lazier of us two, all the planning was relegated to my sister, and all I did, really, was give nonconstructive comments like “this room is prettier”, or “hmm that doesn’t look appetizing let’s not eat that”. But to be fair, my sister didn’t really want my help in planning either because the last time I planned our time in Tokyo, we spent a good half hour walking around in a drizzle because I couldn’t find the building we were supposed to go to, heh. So.
Also, I must say that my sister really does have a knack for planning itineraries and I thoroughly enjoyed myself 🙂 So how could I take away her opportunity to shine? But anyway, without further ado, here’s our five days in Hong Kong!
42-44 Connaught Road West, Goldfield Bldg., Sheung Wan Suite 302-C, Third Floor
While airbnb in Hong Kong is not as established in comparison to Australia, we managed to rummage through the numerous less-than-ideal options and found this gem in Sheung Wan (unfortunately, this place could not be found anymore, at time of writing). It was a short three-minute walk from the Sheung Wan MTR station, and had relatively good security — the building had a security guard and we had to go through a security door on our level before coming to the apartment.
Well, if you can call it an apartment, that is. It was more like… a room with a bathroom? Knowing the land constraints of Hong Kong, however, this place wasn’t too bad. And for SGD329 for 4 nights, it was really decent, too! As you can see from the photos, the room is tiny — but! At least it has a window. We were really surprised to find out that there are many apartments in Hong Kong that don’t have windows — so, again, brownie points to this place! And for two rather petite girls (neither of us are above 160cm in height) with not much luggage, this place worked just fine 🙂 The bathroom was tiny as well, but perfectly functional and most importantly, it had a constant, reliable flow of hot water. The room was also equipped with an extension board, a kettle, a hairdryer, and hangers. All in all, not shabby at all!
While most people will look into buying a temporary sim card, my sister, the queen of research, found this amazing deal: the i-Sim Card.
So how this card works is that it is basically a free sim card, with a validity of ten days, and you can use it across three regions — Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. You get 3G of data, and unlimited local calls (ie. my sister and I could contact one another). All you need to do is download their app (search i-sim on your app store), and head to one of their pick-up locations, with your passport, to pick up your sim card. The attendant at the store/stand will handle all the registration and set-up for you.
So how could it be free, you ask. Here’s the catch — you have to watch advertisements in order to ensure a constant source of data (up to 3GB). Also, make sure you top-up (by watching adverts) before your data supply goes to 0% because it doesn’t work anymore if that happens and you have to get a new card. While watching the adverts was a little annoying, we didn’t mind it that much since it gave us free data! Plus, we didn’t have much to do while travelling on the MTR anyway 🙂
So here’s the thing about Hong Kong, right, the food is its greatest attraction. So like most other travellers, we, too, planned most of our itinerary around eating. The actual places of attraction that we visited were mostly to give us time to digest before hitting the next chow spot haha.
Since it had been a good five years since we were in Hong Kong, we decided to include various tourist favourites — Australian Dairy Co., Yee Shun Milk Co., Tsim Chai Kee Noodles, Tai Cheong, and LKK Eggette. And these places are tourist favourites for a reason! Especially LKK — most other eggette places (especially if you just walk into random stores) pale in comparison.
Of all the places that we went to, though, the most interesting dish we had was definitely snake soup! We hadn’t actually planned on eating this, but we were on our way back to the apartment from Ap Lei Chau one evening, and decided to stop by Causeway Bay for dinner. Being tourists, we googled “restaurants in Causeway Bay”, and the first thing that came up was snake soup! Intrigued, we decided to give it a go, and headed towards the recommended place, She Wong Yee (蛇王二).
She Wong Yee (蛇王二)
Address: 24 Percival St., Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Opening Hours: 1130am – 11pm daily
We knew we had found the right place when we saw the long line snaking (ha ha ha) out the door. We waited in line in the cold for about half an hour and were handsomely rewarded with a delicious bowl of snake soup and a bowl of rice with roasted sausage! Honestly, the soup didn’t taste strange at all. The meat had a similar texture to that of chicken, and the broth was really fragrant! In fact, I just googled this place and it has been included in the 2017 Michelin Guide for Hong Kong! 🙂 So if you’re ever in the vicinity of Causeway Bay, this place is definitely worth the wait!
Another place that we ate at that has also been included in the 2017 Michelin Guide is Ah Chun Shandong Dumplings (阿纯山东饺子).
Ah Chun Shandong Dumplings (阿纯山东饺子)
Address: G/F, 60 Lai Chi Kok Rd., Prince Edward
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm (Closed on Wed)
The most convenient thing about this place is that they actually reply you in mandarin when you speak to them in mandarin haha. The thing about most Hong Kong eateries is that even if you speak mandarin to them, it’s highly likely that they are going to reply you in Cantonese — but not this place!
We ordered a bowl of chicken noodle soup (sorry I can’t remember the exact name!) and a plate of dumplings — both of which were amazing! So much so that we forgot all about taking photos and only remembered when the dumplings were completely gone, and the noodles were half-eaten. Definitely worth a visit, especially in winter.
Continuing on the theme of Michelin Guides, One Dimsum (一點心) is a one-star Michelin restaurant that was awarded this accolade a couple of years back. For a michelin-star restaurant, its prices are surprisingly affordable, and you aren’t constantly surrounded by yelling waiters.
One Dimsum (一點心)
Address: Shop 1 & 2, G/F, Kenwood Mansion, 15 Playing Field Rd., Prince Edward
Opening Hours: Weekdays 11am – 1am; Weekends 10am – 1am
Again, given its fame, we were there at about 6pm for dinner, and waited about 10 minutes in line. Yummy, yummy dimsum! And after stuffing ourselves with dimsum, we headed for dessert at Auntie Sweet (甜姨姨).
Auntie Sweet (甜姨姨)
Address: 13 Tsing Fung St., Tin Hau, Hong Kong
Opening Hours: Weekdays 12pm – 2am; Weekends 3pm -2am
This was really good. I’m not usually a fan of durian-flavoured things; I only eat the fruit in its original form. But! My sister is a huge fan of all thiings durian and so we meandered our way here after dinner. And I have to say, this place does it right.
We were pretty stuffed from dinner and so we only ordered their durian tofu dessert to share — but boy, was this durian tofu great. I’m not 100% sure, but it definitely did not taste durian-flavoured; it tasted like they actually put durian in there and it was really yummy! They’re also famous for their Ultimate Durian Dessert, but we were too full to give that a go, plus we were also slightly worried that that might have been a bit of an overkill.
And finally, one of the yummier (less known? maybe not, I don’t know) places that we went to was Little Bao! I found out about this place courtesy of Jemma Wei’s 24hr Guide to Hipster Hongkong, whose blog I am an avid reader of.
Address: 66 Staunton St., Central, Hong Kong
Opening Hours: Weekdays 6pm – 11pm; Weekends 12pm – 4pm, 6pm – 11pm
We headed there for dinner after exploring the (very interesting!) PMQ, since it was just across the street. We ordered the truffle fries, pork belly bao, and szechuan fried chicken bao — all of which were good! The truffle fries deserve special mention, though. On top of being truffle-oiled, it also came with truffle mayo! And little crunchy bits that were apparently shiitake tempeh, as well as pickled daikon. Although it comes with a slightly pricey tag of HKD98, the portion given was really rather generous; we were stuffed! So stuffed we had to skip dessert (how sad is that?!) despite their very enticing dessert menu. Definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re looking for something slightly more westernized after days of dimsum-ing and wanton mee-ing your way through the city 🙂
Sights and Attractions
Again, taking into consideration the fact that the last time we were in Hong Kong was in 2010, we decided that various touristy places were going to make the list. Even though most of the places we visited were tourist attractions, the time spent travelling from place to place still gave us ample opportunity to soak in the sights and sounds of local Hong Kong 🙂
Of all the places we visited, my favourite might just be the PMQ (Police Married Quarters). It used to be a housing estate for police(wo)men and their families, but has now been converted into this rather modern-looking complex occupied by very interesting businesses/exhibitions.
PMQ (Police Married Quarters)
Address: No.35 Aberdeen Street, Central
Opening Hours: 7am – 11pm
These tenants range from bookstores to clothing stores to craft stores — the only thing that they have in common is that they’re all very expensive so all we could do was browse, marvel at the lovely, lovely items, and try to ignore the scary price tags. Nevertheless, we spent a good two and a half hours just walking through the complex, and it was well worth our time!
If you’re into manicured gardens, you might want to check out the Nanlian Gardens and the Chi Lin Nunnery. Otherwise, hiking Dragon’s Back is a great idea! I would say that almost anyone can do this hike — really! My sister and I are definitely not the fittest people around, but Dragon’s Back was just fine. According to most hiking info sites, it’s an entry level hike, and the path is really easy to follow 🙂 And the views are definitely worth the hike!
And so this concludes the highlights of our five days spent in Hong Kong! Part 2 is of my lonely self spending another five days in Hong Kong, featuring some lovely friends from Sydney — till then!