Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fragrant Harbour (HK)

Due to visa issues, I have to leave Taiwan. So I chose Hong Kong as it's one of the cheapest plane ticket available out of Taiwan. Also, instead of wasting a plane ticket to Hong Kong, I decided to stay for the weekend. After my trip, I now have a complete different impression of Hong Kong. Before living in asia, I often compared Hong Kong and Taipei to be about the same. They were both vey large cities with an active night life compared to the boring suburbs of California. Hong Kong is really completely different than Taipei in three main areas. HK has more money, larger density of high rises and is a real harbor city. It's more bustling, with a more active night life, better malls and is much more of an asian manhattan than Taipei is. The harbor is beautiful and life in Hong Kong really revolves around water. Humans naturally feel more comforted when near water, and I cannot deny I have the same feelings. It's human nature. Not to say Taipei doesn't have it's traits either. In contrast, Hong Kong reminds me more of western culture though. Less polite, more materialistic, and more complicated. And that's what makes Taipei so special, it's a growing city this still has roots in traditions, politeness, service and maintaining a simplistic life. But don't get me wrong, if given the chance, I'd still love to experience what it would be like to life in Hong Kong too. It should be easier to adapt too. Although they do not know Mandarin, people that understand and can speak fluent English is abundant and valued. Food wise, I love Yum Cha (飲茶)! To this day, I still have not found a good Yum Cha restaurant in Taipei. Outside of that though, HK still has a wider range of good foreign food. Because of the amount of international business HK does, the number of ex-pats are ever increasing and thus it's effect on the need for western markets and restaurants. Hong Kong also has such a unique history of a blend of western and eastern cultures. While Taiwan has a history with Japan (and a dash of dutch), Hong Kong has a rich history with the Portuguese and British. So visiting Macau's historic district, I got to see the colorful pastels and dramatic mix of Portuguese architecture in a sea of older chinese cement buildings. I also got to savor some of the famous pastéis de nata (egg tarts). You can have versions of these egg tarts in just about every china town around the world. I thought the crust was supposed to be light, crispy and flaky, but the ones in Macau, the one's i would consider the original, have a more chewy layer of crust. They are also slightly burnt, in comparison to the perfect yellow tart I would eat in the US. Although I have to say, 90% is still true to taste, I'm happy I got to enjoy it in the original form from Macau. Back to the island of Hong Kong, Yuki wanted to visit the many malls that litter the city blocks. I have to say that the malls in Hong Kong blow the one's in Taipei out of the water. I may be biased, because I've gotten used to the malls in Taipei, but no where in Taipei is there a mall with 29 stories of shopping. I'm speaking of The ONE in Tsim Sha Tsui district. It's 29 stories of all shopping! There's also Knutsford Terrace. Although not a mall, it's a shopping area with an adjacent small alley of restaurant bars. It's dark, loud, posh and bussling with rich hipsters drinking with friends after work. Other notable magnificent shopping malls are K11, 1881 Heritage and Elements. A note about Elements while we're on the topic. Through Elements, you can do early airport baggage check-in and discounted 2-person airport express tickets. $140 for two one-way tickets to the airport. The ride is about 25 minutes compared to the hour it took on the bus. The early check-in on my way back to Taipei also let me skip the airport lines and head straight to airport security, while letting me walk around Elements mall instead of duty free shops at the airport. Taipei needs to hurry up with it's direct train to the airport and attach a magnificent mall to it like Hong Kong has. It's such a genius idea! My good friend in Hong Kong, Howard, turned me on to this and I appreciate it! Meeting him was also the last thing on my to do list in Hong Kong. I guess I left the best for last. So I'll leave this segment with that. Thank you Howard and Farah! See you in Taipei!

P.S. If you take a trip to Macau from HK, bring your passport, expect a 1 hour boat ride and long lines at the customs entrance to Macau. We went on a busy day, so it took me about 3 hours to go from buying a ticket to actually entering Macau.

Portuguese Chicken from Restaurante Platao. Nice upscale restaurant in Macau's Historic District with prices ranging from $140-$300 HKD.
Restaurante Platao‎ (九如坊葡國餐廳)
3 Travessa de S. Domingos
Se, Macau

Very common and famous Hong Kong waffle street food. There's also a belgian waffle folded with sweet peanut paste in the middle. Very Very tasty! A must during a HK visit!

Cafe e Nata Margaret's (egg tart)
G/F, 17A Rua Alm Costa Cabral R/C, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro


  1. did you find the presence of English signages, and the use of written English 'everywhere' made it that much easier to navigate and get around, in restaurants, etc?

    In Taiwan, you have to know Chinese or be comfortable reading some characters.

  2. Yes, HK has more English signage and usage. Taiwan has a lot of English usage too. Like the MRT system, most restaurants, warning signs, even governmental paperwork.

  3. 29 stories of shopping...! O.M.G. I can't wait to check that mall out haha and it looks like our hotel is about a 5 minute walk away!