When we first started looking into flights from the States to Bali, we noticed that many of the airlines allowed you to book multi-day layovers in their hub cities. I call these “stay overs” as utilizing this option allows trans-Pacific travelers to catch-up on jet lag and to visit a place that you may have never been before. We booked the Le Meridien for four nights (one before we arrive) because our flight landed at 6am. This would give us three whole days to spend in Hong Kong. But when we missed our flight out of SFO that pushed everything back 24-hours giving us only 2-days in Hong Kong.
As we read and talked to people about Hong Kong, a couple of different themes kept coming up. Aside from it being the financial and business center of Asia, Hong Kong is known as one of the most delicious cities in the world. You can find an unbelieveable bowl of noodles with your choice of protein for until $3.00 (which we did) or you can spend upwards of $2,000 on seafood delicacies (which we did not!). The other theme we latched onto was the idea that you can buy quality stuff cheap in Hong Kong. I am sure this is true but the gravitational force of finding “a deal” on the other side of planet turned into an effort in futility and to my disappointment we missed out on some of the rich cultural amenities Hong Kong has to offer.
One of the things my wife wanted to do was have some palazzo pants made for her and my daughter. We found a really nice pair in San Francisco that my daughter wanted but my wife told her that we can surely get five pair made in Hong Kong for the price that we would pay in San Francisco. The hotel concierge gave tips on which markets to go to and where the most reputable tailors could be found. One was the Lord’s Tailor near the Central Station on the main Hong Kong island. This was our destination until we asked the fateful question “what market can we go to to find the real deals?” We were then directed to Mong Kok district. On the map it showed bazaars featuring electronics, womens clothes, mens clothes, sporting goods. “That’s the place for us” we thought.
Getting there was the fun part. We traveled by taxi to the Star Ferry building on the northern tip of Hong Kong Island and then we traveled by ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui. Using the Star Ferry was the only thing we did that made the Time “Hong Kong: 10 things to do” list. Here you will find find people from all over the world who have come to take in Hong Kong’s energy. The skyline view of central Hong Kong from the harbor is a popular place for tourist to snap memories.
The Clock Tower sits in the center of the Tsim Sha Tsui square. There are a number of cultural attractions here that are probably well worth seeing like the Hong Kong Museum of Art and the Cultural Center. We did go to the Hong Kong Space Museum and if you have ever been to a space museum in the States do not waste your time going here. We live in Florida and our kids grew up going to the NASA Kennedy Space Station, so we really should have known. But after dragging our son aimlessly through bazaars in Mong Kok, it was the only thing he wanted to do.
We traveled from Tsim Sha Tsui to Mong Kok by subway. This was a fun experience for us. Keep in mind that since Hong Kong was a British colony for so many years that most of the signs are in both Chinese (de facto Cantonese) and English. My kids have only been to NYC once, so I wanted them to experience this. When we emerged from the station everyone was hungry so we found our way to a “food court” type environment and quickly noticed that we were the only tourists. We spotted a place called Viet’s Choice serving a number of Vietnamese dishes including one of my favorites, fish cake noodle soup. We knew we were in the right place when the waitresses (who could not speak a word of English) were fighting over who would be forced to wait on us. We pointed at menu items and made some rudimentary hand gestures to get our order across. It was a big oversight on our part not learning some basic Chinese. Everywhere I have traveled, people really appreciate it when tourists at least attempt to speak the native tongue.
After a day running around the streets of Hong Kong it was great to make our way back to Le Meridien Cyberport. We had first class service and food at this hotel, and getting the Starwood Prefered Guest upgrade was a great added bonus. In my Mini-Retirement post I talk about how we accumulated enough points to get both the upgrade a free hotel stay.