Our First Morning in Hong Kong
We’ve been on the other side of the world for a little while now, and if nothing else, our navigational skills have greatly improved. On the schedule for our first full day in Hong Kong: absolutely nothing. The day was devoted to exploring on our own, for the first time in a while. We studied up, put on our Hong Kong Fixer hats (okay, not really)… then we stopped by the concierge desk for some final reassurance that we wouldn’t be lost forever.
Lin Heung Lau
Our first goal: get some dim sum. We had two options, both top notch, both known for their dim sum. One was frequented by the locals, one a favorite haunt of locals. You can guess which one we chose (locals, please): Lin Heung Lau. We found the place and went straight upstairs to the insanity that was the dining room. First-come, first-served communal tables from wall to wall mean it’s every man for himself–and this was just the beginning.
We spotted two open seats in the distance, bounded over a few people to grab them, and sat down, quite satisfied with ourselves. We sat there for a little while, contemplating the dirty dishes of the patrons who’d just gotten up, when someone brought over a cup of water. Something refreshing to drink, perhaps? Maybe wash our hands? Nope. The water was to wash the dishes.
We hid our initial reactions of disgust and confusion and cleaned the dishes off… no big deal. So, now we’ve got clean dishes, a place to sit, how about some food? We quickly realized that the every-man-for-himself model was applicable to food as well. We watched as a few dim sum carts were pushed out of the kitchen, only to be mobbed and cleared within a few moments.
At one point, we even managed to grab a dumpling, but were pushed, spilled on, and shoved back into submission pretty quickly. Now, so far, we’d like to think we’ve been pretty good sports. But we lose our patience when it comes to food. Frustrated and still a little disgusted, we paid up and shipped out, excited to go to a restaurant that actually wanted us to eat.
Luk Yu Tea House
Knowing that the second spot, Luk Yu Tea House, was only a few blocks away, we decided to put aside our locals-only notions and give it a shot. This one was definitely a bit more upscale, but they were more than willing to bring us plates of dumplings, BBQ spare ribs, and so on–and when you’re hungry, that’s really all that matters.
That being said, it was all pretty good, but didn’t by any means knock our socks off. We did decide to splurge on their shark fin soup, one of the most talked about dishes in Hong Kong and–let’s face it–it just sounds cool.
Mike and Chao Tour Hong Kong
Having finally gotten through lunch, we made our way outside into the significantly nicer weather (in comparison to Japan) to explore some neighborhoods:
B. CENTRAL MARKET
C. KOWLOON PARK*
*Kowloon Park is a large public park we walked through this remarkably large park on our way back to the Peninsula.
By far, Soho was Mike’s favorite neighborhood of Hong Kong. We didn’t really realize it until we’d seen more of the city, but this neighborhood was by far cleanest and was probably one of the most international areas that we’d seen. It was truly an amalgam of all walks of life, all cultures and cuisines and people.
Widely considered to be the first market in Hong Kong, Central Market is a multilevel paradise filled with a multitude of products. For us, it was a dry food heaven, like the infantry of shark fins seen below on the right.
Mongkok was, without a doubt, the most crowded area of Hong Kong… maybe the world even. “Chaos” doesn’t even begin to touch upon it. The area is famous for its street food and thriving outdoor marketplace. The street food was incredible, which we think more than translates in the photos below:
No matter how delicious the chive cakes were, however, the truly remarkable talent lies in the salespeople. There’s nothing quite like a street-side salesman pushing knockoff belts and other imitation items. They really just do not take ‘No’ for an answer. That being said, we did get some pretty good deals, so…
Post-shoe shopping, we were off to the local fish market. We’re all for fresh fish, but standing in the middle of the pulsating fish market, you start to question just how fresh the fish needs to be. It was like an edible aquarium. And then there is the unavoidable smell.
Walking through the aisles takes some caution: one false move and you might have a squid attached to your arm, or some other unnamed creature sliding down your leg. After our octopus experience, however, it takes a lot to put us off fish.
After a day of dodging people, fighting for food, and covering a lot of ground in Hong Kong, we were happy to make it back to the hotel in one piece, narrowly avoided crashing in the lobby, and hit the hay up in our luxurious room.