After spending Christmas in Seoul, my younger brother and I flew to Hong Kong seeking some adventure.
We stayed at the InterContinental in Kowloon off the Tsim Sha Tsui station for that perfect view of the island's light show but mostly to be in close proximity of Hong Kong's main attractions in both Kowloon and the island. We did Tsim Sha Tsui the first night upon arrival as we walked through most of the big malls in the area including Harbour City, iSQUARE, and Elements before grabbing a hearty Cantonese bite at Kowloon Tang to then hit the hay for a full day ahead.
For our first full day in Kowloon, we began the morning with an elaborate brunch the hotel had to offer. A beautiful melody of asian and western cuisine along with scrumptious pastries and sweets were lined up for our consumption. Upon filling our bellies with these wonderful things, we headed north to walk through Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok via Nathan Road, the city's main passageway where we found ourselves feeling completely lost at some points and inspired another as we walked in and out of the smaller streets to discover more of the city's rhythm and character. For lunch we had roast goose at Tai Hing, recommended by one of the locals in the area when we asked for some roast goose recommendations. I will say it was a bit greasy than we would have liked but we had to suck it up and enjoy the experience. A few blocks over was a dessert spot called HeSheEat where we then indulged in some green tea flavored sweets afterwards. We headed back to the hotel soon after for a little break from all the walking and took advantage of the infinity spa pools the hotel had to offer.
In the evening, we grabbed dinner at Nanhai One located inside iSQUARE before heading out to Mong Kok again except this time for the night markets. It's a good thing a local friend who knew the city joined us for the evening to help us with the bargaining so we weren't getting hustled. We managed to collect a few jade bracelets and some other knick knacks at the Ladies Market. Then we headed to the Temple Street Night Market, another busy night market where we mostly played spectator. Most of the night markets carried the same items but with different prices which made the bargaining game all the more interesting. A few things I learned when bargaining: start with the lowest possible amount you're willing to give for an item and never look too enthused. It seemed to help get the game going for a first time bargainer myself. Just imagine being in the shoes of these sales people who have been doing this for years...they know when they're dealing with a noob.
The next morning, we started the day with a lovely Cantonese brunch at Yan Toh Heen, the two Michelin star restaurant located inside the hotel. It was a dim sum paradise full of prawn and pork, foods that I don't normally eat but had to in this case. Their service was incredible. After brunch, we took the ferry to Central to see the island for the day. We got picked up by our lovely friend who took us around the island starting with Victoria Peak where we stood to admire the island view with a delicious scoop of Gino's Gelato in one hand. We drove around the island coast thereafter making stops to soak in the serene South Bay Beach, and to walk through the pleasant sights and shops of Stanley Market, eventually making our way back up north to the island's Eastern District where we got a good look at the modern residential buildings of Quarry Bay. By this time, the sun had already set and it was getting late so we made our way over to Causeway Bay for dinner to share some warm hot pot at Budaoweng in Times Square. We finished it off with some green tea shaved ice and mangoes rolled in rice flour and coconut shreds at Lucky Dessert before making our way back over to Central to walk Lan Kwai Fong.
The next morning before our flight back out to Seoul, we rode 101 floors up for lunch and a view at Inakaya, the exquisite japanese restaurant located inside the ICC building. Greeted with a welcome drink, a cozy interior, and a spectacular view, I fell in love with the place within seconds of entering.
After a very satisfying bento box for lunch we walked around the financial district, where I finally got to see some of the modern residential buildings I wanted to see that I had only seen digitally before.
We flew back to Seoul feeling accomplished about doing Hong Kong in the few days that we had. Accomplished but also excited to get back to Seoul.
A couple things I concluded from my trip to Hong Kong:
1) Cuisine | Cantonese cuisine is not spicy. At all. I realized how much I actually need that kick in my food whatever level of spice it is. It must be the Korean in me.
2) Race | All asians do not look the same. At all. I realized this more while in Hong Kong. If westerners were to travel more to Asia, the land that accounts for more than half the world's population, phrases like "all asians look the same" wouldn't dare to exist.