How to spend a few days in bustling Hong Kong for non-first-timers
When we got invited to attend the wedding of a friend in Hong Kong some time ago, it didn’t take us long to book our tickets. Hong Kong is always fun, and what better reason to go than to be a part of my friend’s big day there? If you’ve been to Hong Kong before, you can always shop and eat your way around town. In this post I share a few tips on what to do beyond the obvious sights and experiences.
I love Hong Kong, and so does my husband Titus. I’ve been to Hong Kong quite a few times before, sneaking in a stop-over whenever I could. This time, we are staying in Kowloon because it is convenient for the wedding. There are a lot of dodgy accomodations in Kowloon, especially around Nathan Road, so be careful when you book to make sure it is a legit hotel instead of a converted broom closet. On this trip we spend a lot of time walking. One day in Kowloon, and one day on Hong Kong Island. Here, I share some suggestions on how to spend a long weekend in Hong Kong for non-first-timers.
We arrive early in the morning. Our hotel room is not available yet, so we go for breakfast and walk around Kowloon’s south. The waterfront area is being renovated at the moment, so the Avenue of Stars is not accessible. Instead, a few of the statues have been moved to a little park (Tsim Sha Tsui East Waterfront Podium Garden) nearby, which is known now as the Garden of Stars. We sleepily watch people take selfies with Bruce Lee’s statue and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Then we go to one of the many shopping centers for a coffee and some cake to kill the time until we can nap.
In the evening we meet a friend for dinner at a hot pot restaurant, The Drunken Pot. It is located in a highrise building on Observatory Road (Tsim Sha Tsui – TST). In Hong Kong, you have to look up to find gems like this one. It is not always easy if you don’t read Cantonese, though usually you will be able to figure it out by looking at the pictures or even the style of font and colors used.
The hot pot soup base we order comes with four types of broth (beef, seafood, chicken and a Sichuan-style spicy one) and to cook in it we order beef, mutton, shrimp, vegetables, several types of dumpling, and mushrooms. The shrimp startle me because they are still moving! Titus points out that with a stick pierced through your body, you don’t stand much chance and that it must have been one last convulsion, and also: “This is as fresh as it gets.”
After dinner we go for cocktails at Butler, an exquisite Japanese cocktail bar located on the fifth floor of a building on Mody Road (TST).
Today we walk around Kowloon: from Tsim Sha Tsui to Prince Edward via a lot of shopping malls and shops. Someone told us: “Hong Kong is one big shopping mall.” It kind of is. You can find everything here! We visit Mong Kok’s Goldfish and Flower Market, as well as Bird Garden, just a bit further down in Prince Edward.
In the afternoon we hop on the metro to go to Second Draft cafe in Tai Hang and taste a few local beers. For dinner, we enjoy amazing noodle soup at nearby Sister Wah: beef brisket for Titus and shrimp wontons for me.
Winnie and Mike’s Big Day!
We go to a hotel in Sha Tin to meet the happy couple with some friends and family. Mike, the groom, has to go through several challenges to prove he is fit to be Winnie’s husband. He and his groomsmen have to perform a dance, play a few games and solve a riddle before the bride, Winnie, makes her entrance. The bridesmaids review Mike’s abilities and when he is given the go-ahead: tadaa! The couple is united and may kiss. A tea ceremony for Winnie’s parents and other relatives follows. The bride and groom then head out to Mike’s parents for the same ritual while the rest of the party goes for yum cha (lunch).
At lunch, we are seated at the table with Winnie’s parents, two aunts, a nephew and his wife. I’m sitting next to the eldest auntie, and it turns out to be the best seat in the house. She keeps feeding us! I really like this lady. The whole family makes sure we are well fed before we head out to the church ceremony.
We don’t follow much of the ceremony since it is in Cantonese. There are prayers, songs and anecdotes. We do understand the most important part: when Winnie and Mike exchange rings and say “I do.” It’s a lovely ceremony and the just-married couple is beaming with joy. Congratulations!
In the evening we enjoy the multicourse wedding banquet. Titus is thrilled as he gets to eat duck’s feet. We enjoy ourselves stuffing our faces and chatting to the other guests.
On our last day, we go to Hong Kong Park on Hong Kong island. It is a pleasant green space among the concrete jungle of the city. We then go for a walk around Soho and Sheung Wan, have some more dumplings for lunch and take it easy before we continue our vacation in Japan.
Hong Kong is an utterly vibrant city. Since we only stayed briefly, we didn’t head out to any of the outlying islands to escape from the hustle and bustle. Should you have the occasion to venture out a bit further, I recommend Cheung Chau and Tai O. Never a dull moment in Hong Kong!