A travel journal
to Hong Kong by travel2000
Quote: Having grown up in Hong Kong, this city holds a special place in my heart. Hong Kong is constantly changing, whether political, architectural, or something as simple as road changes, I find myself surprised during each visit. My journal comprises of recollections and my personal favourites.
Hotel | "The Park Lane"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 12, 2000
Park Lane Hong Kong
310 GLOUCESTER ROAD
Hotel | "Conrad International Hong Kong"
I was able to stay here as my trip coincided with my father''s business trip and thus my hotel room was paid for. However, I thought the room was well worth its price and there are sometimes promotions through the hotel at off-peak times. (Do check on their internet site, listed at the end of this entry.)
My room was on a high floor (the hotel totals 61 stories) and had a panoramic view of the harbour. I believe the price would be lower if you opt for a land view of the hills. I was most impressed by the size of the room, incredibly spacious and comfortable. The windows were nice and wide, spanning the width of the room. The decor is classic modern, not stuffy at all. The mable bathroom had both an oversize tub, a separate shower and two sinks (plus a rubber duck for a light touch!) Again, very spacious. For the business traveler, a fax machine with your personalized fax number, two phone lines, dataport and voice mail are included. Another personal touch is the teddy bear on your bed at night.
The best thing about the hotel was the convenience of Pacific Place. I visited in the summer (it was only May but already hot and humid) and it was nice to be able to walk to the shopping center while staying in air conditioning. The stores at Pacific Place are not for bargain hunters as prices are high and the quality upscale. However, it makes for good window browsing and people watching as a cross-section of Hong Kong makes it indoors especially after hours and on weekends.
There are many restaurants to choose from, both at Pacific Place and between the three hotels. I''ll focus on Conrad's selections. Nicholini's serves Northern Italian food and our meal there was quite good (and quite expensive). You can expect the attentive service and luxurious settings as with other upscale hotel restaurants. There is a more casual setting at Garden Cafe. It is in a wonderful open space with windows facing the pool (did I mention there is a heated outdoor pool? Pure bliss in the summer heat). Sometimes the Cafe offers buffets, and the menu serves both Asian and Western dishes. I have not been to Brasserie on the Eighth (French food) nor the Golden Leaf (Cantonese food), nor two lounge/bars in the hotel. I''ve been told they are comfortable and are ideal settings to meet up with friends or unwind after a long day.
Link to their website:
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 5, 2001
+852 2521 3838
121 Peak Road
Restaurant | "Soho Area"
Shelley, Staunton and Elgin Streets
+852 2807 6543 (HK T
32-40 Wellington Street
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
5 Connaught Road, Central
Restaurant | "The Peninsula"
Restaurant | "Yuen Kee"
During lunch hour on a typical weekend, expect to find more business lunches and the occasional ladies-who-lunch crowd. I recommend making a reservation as the place tends to fill up quickly. Dinners and weekends may be easier to get into without a reservation but unless you are staying nearby, I would recommend a phone call ahead to avoid disappointment. However, there are many choices within Pacific Place in case you find yourself without a table here.
Sink into one of the large comfortable leather chairs and browse the short menu. I almost always start with the lobster bisque, which is excellent and one of the best I've had. Then I move onto the seafood platter, which comes in three sizes. This include a selection of lobster and raw oysters, clams and mussels. It comes in an elegant three-tiered platter and and the quality is always top-notch. Order the size according to how voracious your appetite is! Do keep in mind that the quantity verges on the plentiful side.
If you choose to avoid the lobster and the raw selections, there are choices of other seafood such as grilled fish and a few pasta dishes. There is usually a seasonal dish available as well. If you still have room after your meal, try the crème brulee, which I think is excellent. It is creamy with a slight hint of vanilla, with a light caramel crust.
On some evenings, there is a live band and on Sundays, a seafood buffet. I like this place because of the lounge-like atmosphere and the noise-level is conducive to conversation with friends and family. This is also another example of the excellent restaurants in hotels in Hong Kong.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 23, 2001
Island Shangri-La, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway
+852 2877 3838
Attraction | "The Peak"
128 Peak Road.
+852 2807 6543
Attraction | "Mongkok Markets"
Since Hong Kong is so densely populated, the expansion is logical. What amazes me is the speed of expansion. I often go on drives with my parents on my visits and all I hear is them saying..."This used to be paddy fields/farms and now it's a shopping center/housing complex/industrial plant!"
I am a big fan of HK Tourist Association because they do a good job with their tours, promotions and information. Every year, the organization picks 100 or so university students who study abroad and put them through a program called "Student Ambassadors." It educates them about all facets of HK so the students can spread the word. I was part of that program and I joined the "Land Between" tour at that time. Since then, I have recommended this tour to visitors and here is the approximate itiniery.
The tour takes about 6 hours and transportation is on comfortable air-conditioned coaches. It picks passengers up at various hotels and then goes on to drive through the New Territories. You will pass through "satellite" towns (self-sufficient concrete jungles!), small villages, the occasional farm before making a stop at a Buddhist monastery. You will also make a stop at a lookout point from one of the mountains, see a rural market, a bird sanctuary, a fishing village and the Sha Tin horse-racing track. In between, there is a Chinese lunch.
This is a good cross-section and if you don't have much time, a great way to see something different. There are other off the beaten path tours offered by HKTA. Check their website for more details or your hotel front desk.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 6, 2001
"Land Between" Tour
Tea is taken very seriously here, especially with the upsurge in recent interest around the globe. There is an entire ritual as to how to brew and serve certain kinds of tea, on a more practical level compared to the Japanese ceremony. Water temperatures, brewing times, type of teapot, all are taken into consideration with the type of tea.
In addition to tea, there is an interesting collection of teapots. The most famous and expensive pots are made with clay from the Wuxi area in China. There come in various sizes and with some interesting shapes and decorative details. Although delicate, they travel well when packed with care.
As a bonus, Wing Kut Street is lined with stores selling fashion accessories, anything from brooches to hair pins to necklaces. Some of these are for export only as the signs on the doors will tell you. That means they will only sell in large quantities and not individual pieces. However, the majority welcomes shoppers and there are some good quality pieces at bargain prices.
Ying Kee Tea Shop
Siu Ying Commercial Building, Wing Kut Street
Attraction | "Shanghai Tang"
The entrance to the store on Theatre Lane is a replica of old boutique facades with elaborate signage and decoration. The store itself is reminiscent of the old days and the staff well trained and attentive.
The main floor is where the gift section resides. Here you can find Mao motif cufflinks, silver dim sum baskets, silk covered photo albums etc. You will notice that lime green, violet purple, bright red and blue are the signature colors.
Mensware is also on this floor, but I would recommend going to Chinese Arts and Crafts for the traditional silk pajamas or shirts.
On the second floor, there is women's fashion. There are ready-to-wear cheongsams and other clothing, as well as scarves and accessories. There is also a couture division for custom made items. I would probably buy the fabric somewhere else and go to a local tailor for better pricing.
On the same floor, there is a small area for sitting and waiting. There are nicely placed tables, tables and some song birds in bamboo cages. Sit down and pretend you are in an old Chinese tea house.
Some of the novelty has worn off the store's concept, especially since there is now a small branch in New York city plus sales over the internet. However, this store is still worth a visit and you may be able to find some bargains during sale times.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 6, 2001
Shanghai Tang Mansion
1 Duddell Street
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2525 7333
Younger kids tend to gravitate towards the Dinosaur Discovery Trail, with lifelike replicas of dinosaurs, rides, playgrounds to entertain. They also like the pair of pandas An An and Jia Jia. Another highlight is the Marine Land, a wave cove with sea lions, penguins and an aquarium with lots of sharks.
The cable car ride is one of the highlights here. The bubble shaped cars go up a steep hill and then around the coastline to the other side of the hill. You are quite high up and the rocks below with the crashing waves are scary. But the view is incredible and the ride very peaceful. It takes about 8 minutes.
The biggest highlight is the Atoll Reef. This is huge, and bills itself to be one of the biggest in the world. There are four levels of viewing areas, which are really tunnels that weave through the aquarium. This is alot of fun and educational for both adults and children.
Of course, there are the thrill rides. The roller coaster is quite fun. Since you are perched on top of the hill, there are several instances when you feel you are thrown over the cliff and out to sea! However, the rides are quite standard and not really the main attraction here. In headland, there is also the Park Tower, which has a revolving platform at the top and has good views of nearby Aberdeen and the islands.
You can reach the Middle Kingdom by the long escalator down (these are very popular in Hong Kong and can also be found in the Mid-Levels going down to Central.) There is a recreation of an old Chinese Village with streets, temples, pagodas. Sometimes, there are street performances such as acrobats and magicians. The Exhibition Hall explains some history such as foot binding and the Great Wall as well as thousands of years of Chinese history.
If you only have a few days to spend in Hong Kong, then obviously you would not want to spend a day at Ocean Park. But if you are here for a longer visit or have kids who are sick and tired of sightseeing, come here for some entertainment. Beware that locals enjoy this place too and weekends and public holidays can be crowded.
Ocean Park can be reached by Citybus from Admiralty MTR or from Star Ferry (HK side) pier. Fares with round trip bus: HK$174, adults / HK$87, children
Ocean Park Road Aberdeen
Hong Kong 4000039
+852 2552 0291
Attraction | "Chinese Arts and Crafts"
There are several locations around the city, the most convenient and comfortable for browsing being this branch and the Pacific Place branch. (I believe there is another store in the China Resources Building in Wan Chai.) The Kowloon branch has multiple levels. When you first walk in, you will see handcrafted jade and other precious stones as well as delicate embroidery on display in the various glass cases. These items are very beautiful to look at and most are very expensive.
On the upper floor, there are more suitable items for purchase. Household items include placemats, tableclothes and napkins, bed linens. The quality here is high and the prices are reasonable. The range is wide from delicate emboideries to every-day use items.
For clothing, I have purchased kung fu robes and pants for my husband and male friends. They also have Mao style jackets and silk, cotton and flannel pajamas. Sizes tend to be on the smaller side so when in doubt, step up in size. Remember also that cotton tends to shrink in length (none of these are pre-shrunk) so keep that in mind as well.
For women, I have been a big fan of the flannel pajamas made in China. They come in floral and other patterns and are very soft and wearable. The silk underwear is also reasonably priced and are perfect for winters. My mother has bought her cheongsam here to wear at my wedding. They have a great selection of gowns with modern cuttings and nice details. Scarves are also a big hit here, as well as silk-filled jackets (called "meen lap".) These are incredibly warm and are cut in Chinese style with the braided buttons. Red, black and blue tend to be the traditional colors and these are available for both sexes and in all sizes including infants.
There are, of course, other arts and craft items such as paintings, porcelain, ceramics, wood carvings, furniture. These come in small well-priced items ideal for small gifts to expensive high-quality and expensive items. I have never tried this but I believe shipping is available to all parts of the world.
Some of my well-received gifts in the past include small replicas of silk shoes worn by bound feet women. These are about five inches long and have wonderful silk emboidery all around. Lace products are also popular, as are interesting chopstick rests. There are many things to choose from here and you can always depend on the high quality and reasonable prices.
Chinese Arts & Crafts (H.K.) Ltd.
+852 2735 4061
For me, the 5 minute ride across the harbour always evokes a feeling of nostalgia. So much has changed in Hong Kong and this is the best way to sit back to observe and digest these changes. There is a token booth to pay your ticket or you can just deposit the coins in one of the old turnstiles. Go up the stairs and follow the crowd to the entrance. If there is no ferry docked, just wait. When you hear a ferry starting to dock, walk over to the gates. There will be a loud whistle and the sailor will open the gates. Beware of people pushing and shoving to be the first to get on the ferry for a good seat!
Locals joke that only tourists take the upper level (called First Class and costs $2.20 HK.) The benches are nicer and you are on the higher second level. I do enjoy the lower level more (called Second Class and costs $1.70.) You can stand on the edge and watch the waves crash underneath you. Plus you also get a nicer view of the city as there are no glass windows in the bow as in First Class.
The sound of the waves crashing alongside the ferry, the coming and goings of ocean liners, fishing boats, barges and yachts in the harbour, the view of the skyscrapers and hills...it gives me a chance to sit back and take it all in. It's a great way to check out the physical changes, to note what was built since my last visit. Hong Kong is always on the go and there is never a dull moment. The ferry ride gives me a moment to look back at the city and admire her strengths and beauty. Day or night, this is a beautiful ride. For the price, you can afford to take this in as many times as you like.
On the Hong Kong side, the pier is right by City Hall. On the Kowloon side, it is by Ocean Center and the big old clock.
Hong Kong and Kowloon
+852 2367 7065
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