March 28-April 2, 2017
Alright everyone, Chris and I are off again, from one big Asian city to another. Chris is ready to eat his way around Hong Kong and I’m coming along to see Mickey Mouse. Plus, at the end of our trip there’s a big surprise for everyone!
We land Tuesday night and we’re starving! Right after checking in we go forage for food, which isn’t difficult in Hong Kong. A couple streets over we come across Takagi Yakitori, a Japanese restaurant. We sampled just about everything! Pufferfish, eel, stuffed chicken wings, and beef tongue. I would order it all again if I had the chance.
A successful day of travel is in the books and our bellies are full. I should sleep well tonight but I’m just so excited for the next day’s agenda…
Chris is a good sport and indulges my need to go to Disneyland our first day in Hong Kong. For a girl who grew up in Orlando, not seeing The Mouse for several months causes withdrawal symptoms and excessive giddiness builds up.
I could almost write a whole post just on Hong Kong Disneyland, but I’ll spare you with the understanding some people, somehow, just aren’t that into it.
(If you are a fan of the house of mouse, feel free to start a discussion in the comments!)
I had a blast. So did Chris. The park is much smaller than its US cousins, but just as fun. The lines were short and they have my favorite ice cream treat so I was the happiest camper in the land of ultimate happiness.
We went on all the rides (aside from Winnie the Pooh with the exceptionally long wait), a few more than once. I loved every minute of our time there. However, Mystic Manor is no match for the Haunted Mansion. Nice try, but quite skippable.
We only spent a few hours at the park, which was plenty of time. Chris said we could stay for the fireworks, but I was feeling tired and ready to go back to the hotel. Really out of character for me, but I suppose a day with all my favorite characters was a lot of emotional overload.
A short taxi ride from Disney on Lantau Island to Kowloon and we’re back to the Intercontinental in the Tsim Sha Sui district. The hotel has one of the best views of Hong Kong island and the famous harbor skyline. Plus, the food is top notch. After Chris let me run around like a child all day, I owed it to him to have something more substantial than theme park hot dogs for dinner. The hotel lobby lounge was easy and the food is excellent. We ate here a couple times not just because of the convenience, but because we couldn’t get enough of the spicy chorizo and octopus! The wagyu meatballs with foie gras didn’t hurt either.
This hotel stay was a bit of a splurge, but totally worth it. The staff anticipate your every need and the location is super for anything you could want to do while staying in Hong Kong.
Like eat. More.
Look no further than DimDim Sum. A few friends insisted we couldn’t miss this place while in Hong Kong. After eating there, it reinforced why we are friends with them. I’ve never been so uncomfortably full after a meal but I would do it all over again.
You may have gathered from the name their specialty is dim sum. So we put it to the test.
While everything was amazing, the pineapple buns were a standout and I think the little piggy buns (filled with egg custard) are my favorite things to eat. Adorable AND delicious? C’mon these are almost too cute to eat.
We wake up the next day and first thing we do? Eat. Another highly rated spot, Chris and I check out Tsui Wah. They have several locations around Hong Kong and we’ve been told their macaroni soup is a must try dish, along with the crispy buns with sweet condensed milk.
Both were tasty, but not the most flavorful foods you can find with a plethora of other options at every turn in Hong Kong. Regardless, we’ve got some fuel to start the day, so we’re off to check out Avenue of the Stars— or at least the portions that are open and unaffected by the ongoing construction.
As they say here, Hong Kong is the “Hollywood of the East” and the various statues, plaques, and exhibitions pay tribute to the actors and cinematic successes over the years.
Some of these icons are more recognizable to westerners than others (hello Bruce!), but the all these cute piggies in Hong Kong make me happy.
Most of the Avenue has been temporarily relocated or closed while construction efforts are underway along the water, so you can hit this area pretty quickly until the projects are finished in 2018. After a quick stroll around Chris and I headed over to Hong Kong island to take the funicular tram to the highest peak in HK.
The weather wasn’t cooperating at first. The wind was whipping and ravaged the umbrella immediately following this picture. You can’t see anything– it looks like I’m in a cloud!
A little patience (a few cocktails later) was all we needed and the clouds began to clear, revealing the famous city skyline.
The views are really spectacular from the peak. There are also a lot of tourist-oriented attractions and restaurants at the tram’s peak. It’s well worth a visit to check out the views and hopefully you have better weather when you visit. (By the way, it was also significantly cooler at the top.)
While we’re on that side of the harbor, Chris and I make our way to Temple Street, home of a large night market. I can’t pass up any city’s night market!
The market spans several streets and has just about anything you can think of. Children’s toys, adult toys, tourist trinkets, clothing, electronics, shoes, the list goes on…
… Perhaps the best find is a row of fortune tellers and palm readers. One of the hotel employee’s recommended the palm readers so we decided, “why not?”
I don’t think my fortune was very accurate but we were only there for the fun of it. Of course, there was food involved. We had some Peking duck from a hawker center and the moment I’ve been waiting for– an egg waffle from a street vendor.
Normally I’m a syrup and butter on my waffle kinda girl, but this waffle was heaven-sent simplicity. The fluffy batter dreams are made of! Made hot and fresh as you order and served in a wax paper bag, this is the perfect on-the-go treat.
While visions of egg waffles danced in my head that night, the next day Chris and I hop on the ferry to Macau. The ferry takes about an hour to arrive in the “Las Vegas of Asia”, as it’s nicknamed. An autonomous region, Macau was a Portuguese territory until 1999, and the Portuguese influence is seen and felt along the streets and cafes.
This Special Administrative Region of China is a really unique spot in the world. Operating with its own currency and three languages, Macau is best known for mega-sized casinos and egg tarts. Can you guess where Chris and I started? Yep, the food. First stop, egg tarts!
The egg tarts are a delicious creamy, custard-like treat. Smooth and not too sweet, served warm they are a perfect snack for walking around the city. They’re also a great way to tease out your appetite. If you’re hungry, one of the top spots in Macau is Mariazinha. Specializing in Portuguese dishes, they might be most famous for their Francesinha, said to be the best sandwich outside of Portugal itself.
The Francesinha is a delightfully messy sandwich with either ham or beef, lots of melted cheese, a fried egg, and some secret sauce. Your fork and knife will be busy trying to eat every bite, but do save room for their other dishes. The whole menu is mouth-watering, albeit rich.
If the richness of the food doesn’t slow you down, then head out to the casinos for a taste of Las Vegas in China’s backyard. The big names like Wynn and the Venetian are there, plus a handful of others which dot the skyline.
Boasting high-end luxury shopping, dining, and entertainment, the hotels and casinos of Macau are near replicas of their Vegas counterparts, but are easy to tell apart from their Western cousins by the sounds of the casino. While Vegas is loud and flashy, the gambling floors in Macau are notably much more quiet and calm. It’s also a lot more difficult to find a bar! Macau’s atmosphere is geared towards flashy displays of wealth and opulence, shying away from the loud and drunk party town Vegas is so (in)famous for.
The casinos and resorts are only a recent development in Macau. For history buffs or those who just prefer to see a bit of European influence in the far east, check out the Ruins of St. Paul’s.
Destroyed by fire in 1835, the front facade is all that remains of what was one of the largest Catholic churches in Asia. The intricate carvings have been preserved and are so neat to see how detailed they remain today. It’s easy to stand in the crowded square and imagine what life was like when Macau was a major trading port of the Portuguese.
As modern Macau establishes its identity in the shadow of China and the fading influence of Portugal, new cafes and vibrant street art offer a peek at Macau’s metamorphosis.
While Macau is really unique, a day trip here should be all you need to cover the whole city. Unless gambling is your thing– then you could spend a lot longer here! A bit of advice when buying your round trip ferry ticket– they will tell you that you can come back to Hong Kong at any time (most ferries leave about hourly). While this is technically true, you will be in a standby line waiting for any ferry service other than what’s listed on your ticket. This could impact you by several hours! And is not an ideal use of your time. I recommend either planning exactly how much time you want to spend and buying your round trip ticket for precise times, or buying one way tickets to offer yourself more flexibility.
Chris and I learned this the hard way. And poor Chris had to deal with an unusually tired and hungry Jenn.
When we flew back to Singapore the next day, we found out why I was so tired and hungry!