Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Deeper Discoveries, Best(?) of Hong Kong

[DAY 2]

Gooood morning! Despite sleeping late after Day 1, I got up the next day at 6 AM ahead of my friend who was still sleeping soundly. I fought my grogginess, washed my face and grabbed my jacket.

Kwun Tong

I walked out to a quiet, dusky street, a speck of moon above me. The sun hadn’t taken over the morning sky.

I walked the empty streets until I found Kwun Tong Promenade not far from our hotel. I hung around and took in the freshness of the morning, with only a few joggers that went by. This is what I like about waking up and going out early – it feels like I have the world to myself.

A piece of gem on the corner of the street

Near Newton Place Hotel, I discovered a little gem called 41 Cafe. It was small and not especially striking, but this was exactly what I was looking for. A modest place that offers a genuine experience that represents Hong Kong living.

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First customer at 41 Cafe! (click for more pictures)

The menu was in Chinese, but after realizing I was a foreigner, the kind waitress offered to translate them. I ordered spicy meat noodle with toast, ham and egg, and of course a hot cup of coffee (36 HKD for the set). The coffee was smooth, not sweet, with enough milkiness. Having a sweet tooth, I added a packet of sugar, then it was perfect! I ate up my meal as I watched the waitress casually attend to local customers who came after me.

I enjoyed walking around for a few more minutes until I came back to my still sleeping friend.

Breaking: Babyccinos are cream-based! (at Cafeholic, at least)

We checked out of the hotel around lunchtime and stopped over for lunch at a cafe beside Newton Place Hotel before setting off for Hong Kong Disneyland. Cafeholic apparently had a lot of patrons, even if the headwaiter seemed a bit grumpy. I, being a coffeeholic, ordered a caramel babyccino (38 HKD), and immediately after it was served, I regretted it. Most of the menu was in Chinese and I could only read “babyccino,” not knowing it was actually cream-based instead of coffee-based. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of cream-based drinks. I enjoyed Cafeholic’s prawns and scallops spaghetti with porcini sauce (92 HKD), though. Looking around, it seemed that their pasta dishes are the best sellers.

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Menu of Cafeholic, mostly in Chinese (photo from Cafeholic’s Facebook Page)
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My caramel babyccino (click for more pictures)

Googling and mingling the way

Getting around Hong Kong is not so hard after all, as long as your mobile is connected to the Internet, that is. We used Google Maps to find our way and get directions here and there, although of course mingling with locals is a whole different human experience. Asking for directions was sometimes even more efficient.

Going to Hong Kong Disneyland, we opted to take a bus first (Kwun Tong to Mong Kok) instead of the MTR. While the trains are faster, a bus ride lets us enjoy sightseeing while getting to our destination.

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Afternoon snack c/o a beautiful lady seller (click for more pictures)

Although it was already afternoon, we were not in a rush to go to Disneyland. We even stopped over in Mong Kok to do a bit of shopping; there are lots of fashion stores on every street! Even if it was against my will, I bought a cute dress (50 HKD) and a coat (80 HKD, too cute, couldn’t help it!). It was my friend who did most of the shopping while I was also eyeing some street food. We found a snack store along the way and again bought my favorite egg puff (11 HKD), plus iced milk tea (11 HKD). We stopped by our second hotel in Mong Kok to drop off the stuff we bought before finally heading to Disneyland.

Fantasy in real life: Hong Kong Disneyland

We reached Disneyland at around 5 PM. We spent 20 minutes taking photos at the entrance and the park promenade before we actually entered the theme park. The park was pretty, giving off a vibe that’s just like in most Disney movies – dreamy and fantastical, perfect for kids and kids at heart. We only got to try two attractions – Iron Man Experience and Toy Story Land. Iron Man was great. It reminded me of Universal Studios’ (Singapore) Transformers 4D ride, although personally I was more thrilled with Transformers. Toy Story was enjoyable for kids, letting them shoot enemies with light guns.

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Ready to enter Hong Kong Disneyland! (click for more pictures)

For me, the three highlights of our visit in Hong Kong Disneyland were the shopping, the parade and the fireworks. I enjoyed looking around the Center Street Boutique on Main Street USA. There were a lot of cute Mickey Mouse items from key chains to watches to apparel and kitchenware. Of course, there were other Disney character items, such as Monsters Inc., Lilo & Stitch and Disney princesses. There were also Avengers merchandise.

We took a break from shopping when the parade started. Everyone else went out of the gift shop to watch. Different Disney character mascots, floats and performers took over Main Street USA. I especially cheered for Slinky Dog (Toy Story) and Lightning McQueen (Cars). Mickey Mouse and his gang were the finale of the parade.

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Sleeping Beauty Castle highlighted by fireworks (click for more pictures)

The pyromusical show was perhaps the best part. I enjoy fireworks in general. Fireworks bursted and flickered in the sky in tune with famous Disney theme songs. Although I was recording the show with an iPhone, I made sure I was holding it aside so that I could watch the show instead of staring at the recording. Because what’s the point of being there if I was just watching through the screen?

Local eats, old streets and kung fu hustlers

We left Hong Kong Disneyland at 9 PM. Our flight was in the morning the next day, so we wanted to make the most out of our final night. We stopped by a local restaurant near Mong Kok MTR Station, the name I couldn’t read. Again, I was impressed by how quick a local restaurant’s service was. A few minutes, maybe less than five, after we gave our orders, I got my “special sauce handmade noodle” (34 HKD) and iced milk tea. The noodle was like a Chinese version of spaghetti, with a taste of peanut butter or something. And then, just as how I loved the local coffee, I enjoyed my milk tea! It was milky and not too sweet. I was heartily satisfied.

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A simple yet nice place to eat (click for more pictures)

We left the restaurant at half past 10 but we refused to go back to our hotel. We walked around aimlessly while hoping to find a late night cafe to pass time and chill. Walking around Hong Kong’s older streets at night, in Mong Kok at least, greatly reminded me of Jackie Chan movies. The kind of neighborhood in most of his films. Looking at the residential buildings with laundry hanging outside the windows, I imagined kung fu hustlers would burst out of the windows in combat. I was really amused by my surroundings. This was exactly the experience I wanted. I didn’t want to just go to theme parks or casinos or museums; I wanted to experience the streets, talk to locals, and get lost.

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Hong Kong street at daytime (click for more pictures)

The hotel we transferred to in Mong Kok was not as classy as Newton Place Hotel in Kowloon, but it was also a good experience. Geo-Home Holiday Hotel is one among many other hotels that share Kingland Apartment Building. This was another interesting discovery for me as I would expect a hotel to have its own building. Our “hotel” was on the 9th floor, and there were at least two other “hotels” that occupied the floor. Our room was small, with only one bed for us to share. At least, it had a shower and a heater, although the heater only worked for a few minutes after turning it on. But the temperature was tolerable. The man at the front desk, who looked like the owner, was hospitable.

We concluded the night with coffee at Mcdonald’s at 1 AM. Even Mcdonald’s coffee amazed me as it was slightly different than what we have back in Manila. The roast was different and coffee came with milk instead of powdered creamer.

A strange thing we noticed at that particular Mcdonald’s branch was that a couple of people were sleeping on some tables. One was even wrapped in a blanket, and we found a pair of shoes under our table. We’re not sure if they’re homeless or just burned-out overtime workers. They didn’t seem to be part of the crew nor students (there were older men). Anyway, it didn’t bother me that much, just got me curious if this was a common thing? Edit: Apparently, this has been an ongoing issue in the recent years and a side of Hong Kong that is not so pleasant but is all too real. These people have been dubbed McRefugees – homeless people who seek shelter at 24-hour McDonald’s, who can sometimes only afford to ask for a cup of water. More recently, Hong Kong also hit the headlines for the growing trend of so-called coffin homes, where people squeeze in because they can’t afford the increasing cost of housing. I hope for the best for these people and that someday Hong Kong will just be full of awesome discoveries.

I think we went back to our hotel at 2 or 3 AM. Once again, we lay on the bed with some Chinese TV show on, fiddling with our phones until we finally dozed off.

The next morning was going to be full of sepanx. ✈️

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Discovering and Loving Hong Kong

[DAY 1]

Finally. After 5 years, I finally obtained a second stamp on my Philippine passport.

Last February 16, I boarded a plane bound to the original and a big contender of Singapore in being the Asia’s World City. Incidentally, the first country I ever went to was Singapore. But I won’t be going on comparing SG and HK, as both are, although similar in a lot of ways, boasting specially unique experiences.

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Touchdown Hong Kong!

Awe-inspiring discoveries

The eager tourists that we are, I and my friend excitedly hopped on the A22 bus going to our destination, Kwun Tong, and went straight for the front seat on the upper deck. It was a smooth and chill ride. The bus wasn’t going too fast.

The first thing that I noticed and that filled me with awe is the realization that Hong Kong is actually surrounded by mountains. Honestly, I didn’t know that! Did you? So, you can imagine how excited I was turning my head left and right, up and down, mouth agape the whole time, admiring the scenery unfolding before me. To add more to this childish newcomer excitement, we passed over at least three bridges that offered a wonderful view of the city, the water, and the mountains.

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Helpful mr. driver checking directions for us!
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Mountains unfolding (click for more pictures)

Avenue of Stars (almost)

We got off at Kwun Tong Town Centre. We got a business meeting over and done with before we dove for our hotel beds at Newton Place Hotel. We didn’t waste much time relaxing. After a few hours of refreshing, we set off for Tsim Sha Tsui to find the iconic Avenue of Stars and some good food. From Kwun Tong, we took the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui.

We reached an esplanade and excitedly assumed it was the Avenue of Stars – hurray! Only later to find out that we were taking photos and selfies at Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. It wasn’t bad. The view of the cityline was great, especially as the sun set and city lights gleamed.

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Beautiful Hong Kong cityline view (click for more pictures)

Discoveries on foot: shopping and good food

We walked to find Ashley Road and had a filling dinner at Delicious Kitchen. I was impressed with the crew’s quick and helpful service. Only a few minutes after we gave our orders, a big serving of sliced pork with garlic pepper cabbage (72 HKD) was served for me and a big plate of yang chow (45 HKD) for sharing. Ah, I got my stomach so full!

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Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui (click for more pictures)

Still, I had space for a post-dinner snack of yummy egg puffs. We stopped at a snack shop on the side of the street, and there I found my favorite HK street snack. Egg puffs are like empty round cookies with a creamy surprise inside.

We rode the MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui Station to Mong Kok, and after that we were full force on foot! To burn some of the calories we consumed, we walked the long stretch of Ladies Market, filled with bargain items from clothing to accessories and lots of HK souvenirs! I thought “I ❤️ HK” shirts were cliche so I got “I ❤️ HK” bags (55 HKD for 2) instead!

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Walking at Ladies Market (click for more pictures)

An interesting thing I learned about Ladies Market is that the sellers are very! persistent. They drive a really hard bargain! At the first stall I stopped to look at chopsticks, the lady offered me a set of ten for 120 HKD and I thought, nah, it’s over my budget. As I began to walk away, the lady held on to me and offered it for 110 HKD, 100 HKD, until I finally gave in to 80 HKD thinking, wow, that’s a great deal from the original price! Only later for me to find out that there was another stall that offered the same set of chopsticks on sale for 20 HKD. Ugh! I’m not mad, though. The lady was good, and it was a funny learning experience. As you go farther, you’ll definitely meet a lot of the persistent lady. If you’re weak-hearted and poor at saying no, then you’re gonna have a hard a time. I knew I’m a bit softhearted, so it was really a struggle to look around. I just looked at items from a distance instead of entering the stalls just so I could avoid the sellers’ arm-twisting.

Late night coffee and sleepy kitties

After we got out of Ladies Market, we just walked around and along the streets of Mong Kok until we found a building that had a tiny poster that said “Cafe de Kitten ➡️” The building looked more like an old residential building than a commercial center. But the words kitten and cats rang in my ears, which compelled me to check it out. I and my friend took the elevator to the 7th floor where the cafe is located. What we found was a tiny piece of heaven for me and a loving little haven for cats.

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Entrance to Cafe de Kitten, Mong Kok (click for more pictures)

Cafe de Kitten is a small hole-in-the-wall that can accommodate no more than 20 people at once. When you enter the cafe, you will be greeted by sleepy and indifferent Garfields that will only stand up and approach you if you have cat food to offer. Their cuteness offsets their indifference. There were many cats in the cafe that I couldn’t count. All of them are healthy and well taken care of. The two owners are undeniably cat lovers and are also hospitable to their visitors. They even offered us a free taste of some of their cakes!

Cafe de Kitten lets coffee and cat lovers enjoy the place for a minimum order of 78 HKD per person. We came in at around 10 PM, and we were worried that it was closing, but thank feline gods they’re open late – until 1 AM. I sipped on my minty iced coffee while trying to lure the cats to walk to me.

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The only time it opened its eyes. Funny!
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This cat was like this for at least 3 minutes LOL

Getting home

At 11 PM, we bid goodbye to the cute kitties and the sweet owners of Cafe de Kitten and went out to the street with no idea how to return to our hotel. We walked around checking information at bus stops because we assumed MTR would be closed at that time. After asking a few helpful locals, we headed to Yau Ma Tei MTR station after being told that we can still catch the train.

We got back at Newton Place Hotel around midnight. We slept with an old Chinese series on the TV, which we enjoyed watching despite not understanding a word they said.

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View from our hotel room