So I had a lot I wanted to see on Monday, and after relaxing all weekend I was ready to go. So much to see that I’m going to break it into two posts, so you’re hopefully still awake at the end. (Side note: I’ve been awake for nearly 24 hours at this point, with a lot more to go, prepping to get back onto New Orleans time, which is 14 hours behind without too much jet lag. Keep your fingers crossed for me.) So as you’ve seen in my previous posts, Hong Kong is mountainous. Partially as a result of that, and partially as a result of the sheer quantity of people constantly in the city there are raised walkways. They’re a couple floors above ground and connect all sorts of buildings, ferry terminals, MTR stations, etc. They’re not always the most direct, sometimes you have to go up and over and back down when it would’ve been easier to just walk straight across the street, but they’ve got pretty decent signage so it’s not hard to find your way around. Also, escalators. I’ve never taken or even seen so many escalators in my life. At almost all intersections there’s an up escalator. I’ve been trying to take the stairs when I can (to burn off some of that delicious Hong Kong style tea with condensed milk) but I’m always the only one going up them. There might be someone coming down them, but never up.
To get from the Lantau ferry to the Star Ferry, I had to walk through a mall, surprise!
The Star Ferry has been running since 1888, connecting Hong Kong Island with Kowloon. It’s as much a tourist destination as a mode of transport, and I could see why. Plus for 2HKD, it’s the cheapest attraction in town.
After a beautiful weekend, Monday morning was kinda chilly, especially on the water. I bought a hot rose tea at this little stall in the ferry terminal.
I’m still astounded by all of the expensive shopping in Hong Kong (and Singapore!) The malls are filled with stores like Gucci, Prada, Miu Miu, etc. But as soon as I walked out of the mall, I turned a corner and ended up in this “temporary market.”
I thought about getting lunch but wasn’t quite hungry yet, and also, I was kinda intiimdated by the entirely Cantonese menus, and hustle and bustle. I didn’t know where or how to jump in.
Chinese New Year is huge, and besides all of the chickens adorning everything, I kept seeing red envelopes for sale. Chinese people use them to give money for the holiday, and the envelopes themselves are obviously a popular and important item. They were the only thing this store sold.
While wandering around I found a place with a sign saying they were Michelin rated, and a line. I was finally feeling a bit peckish and I figured whatever they were selling had to be good.
They were incredible! The texture was just perfect, crispy and soft, all at once. And the filling was the shrimp and dumpling meat (pork?) but also the most flavorful broth! It was almost like this little soup inside. An order was 36HKD, so about $4.75 US. From there I just wandered and shopped a bit, checking out the neighborhood.
My original intention had been to go to Victoria Peak, but since the weather was so gray and hazy, I had been headed towards the Hong Kong History museum instead. Just after lunch though the sun started to burn through so I changed plans again, and headed to the tram station. When I got there, it seemed like everyone else had been thinking the same thing. The Peak Tram is a big draw in and of itself, it’s been open since 1888, and was quite the feat of engineering at the time. The line was long and there was a lot of jostling but I eventually made it on to a tram without having to stab anyone.
While it still wasn’t totally clear, the view was pretty spectacular. There’s a building at the top with a rooftop that allows you 360 degree views.
One of the things I’ve been loving about Hong Kong is the Octopus card. You buy them in the MTR stations, and it’s similar to a Metrocard, you preload it with money and use it for transportation, but it does much more. In addition to being able to use it on the bus and MTR and ferries, lots of stores, 7-11, Starbucks, some groceries, pastry shops, etc. all take it. And not only can you use it all over, but it’s a proximity card, so no need to swipe or insert or sign. And you can top it up at 7-11s or at MTR stations or link it to a credit card so it auto refills. Plus, it means I don’t need to deal with change or trying to figure out the tiny unmarked coins in a foreign currency. Just wave it in front of the reader and go! Brilliant!! I wish we had them at home. I love them so much I thought about making an entire post just about them. Maybe I’ll write a poem instead. I’ll call it Ode to the Octopus.