After a few amazing weeks in Cambodia, it was time for me to go back to reality: back to work, back to London. There aren’t any direct flights from London to Phnom Penh – and with the free 72-hour transit visa for Hong Kong, it seemed rude not to experience the city while I had the chance!
I had 24 hours in Hong Kong, and thanks to some careful planning I feel I managed to make the most of my time there. My fleeting visit was short and sweet, and I’m really excited to go back at some point!
I was in Hong Kong shortly after the demonstrations – I was preparing myself to witness some of the residual aftermath, but to my surprise I didn’t see any (though during my short trip I didn’t manage to get to Admiralty or Causeway Bay, where a lot of it took place).
My flight from Phnom Penh landed in Hong Kong at around 3pm. After buying a return ticket on the Airport Express, I had managed to get to my hotel on Nathan Road, drop off my hand luggage and check in at around 4.30 – leaving me with plenty of time to explore.
My first stop on my Hong Kong itinerary was to Yat Chow Pearls, on Canton Road, near the Jade Market. This little shop might not look like much from outside, but it was highly recommended by a Hong Kong local as a great place to get your hands on some high quality pearls. You can get strands of pearls, earrings and pearl rings all at incredibly reasonable prices. I bought myself a single pearl pendant, and brought back several strands as birthday gifts for friends and relatives.
Yat Chow and my hotel were on the Kowloon side of the river, and I was keen to get to Hong Kong island and up to Victoria Peak. We walked from Yat Chow to the river (around 20 minutes or so) to get the Star Ferry across – a great way to get a view of the Hong Kong skyline. Unfortunately it was for me it was fairly overcast, but spectacular nonetheless.
During my planning, I’d envisioned going up to the Peak by Tram, but once I saw the ridiculous queue I scrapped that idea as I risked wasting a great deal of time. Rather than queue for 45 minutes (or pay an extortionate amount and buy a ticket to Madame Tussauds in order to skip it), we jumped in a taxi to the top.
The taxi worked out rather nicely, but we’d agreed upon a set fee beforehand – next time, I’d run it on the meter as the driver completely ripped us off!
Despite having been ripped off like typical tourists, the skyline was pretty amazing and more than made up for it.
After an hour or so of taking in the view, we got in a cab to Wellington Street, Central to the Yung Kee Restaurant for dinner.
Our trip to Yung Kee was based on another recommendation given by a Hong Konger, and had the most incredible roast goose. You always know a place is good when you place your order, only for your waiter to correct you to the point where you’ve changed it almost completely. On his recommendation we ended up getting the roast goose, and I am so glad I did.
It might not look like much, but if you’re ever in the neighbourhood I seriously recommend it. The sweet and sour pork was pretty good too!
With a belly full of goose, after dinner I put my party pants on… and went back to the hotel for internet, Back to the Future II and some serious shuteye.
Back at the hotel, I’d been given a mission from back home, a seemingly simple one – to bring back a bamboo steamer. What was casually requested, rather offhand, soon descended into a mini frenzy of obsessed madness, as simply popping out to get a steamer in Hong Kong isn’t as quite easy as you might think it to be.
Hong Kong is no longer a place where these things are made, and had it been any city in China it might have been a fairly simple request to make.
Luckily, the hotel had fabulous internet, and I read up on a charming little local family business – the last of its kind in Hong Kong – which supplies local restaurants (and annoying tourists, like myself) with homemade bamboo wares.
And so I spent my last morning in Hong Kong trekking across town to Tuck Chong Sum Kee Bamboo Steamer Company. Much to my delight and relief, it was still there (some of the articles I’d found online were quite a few years old).
Tuck Chong Sum Kee was a charming little store full of amazing handmade bamboo steamers, moulds and other knick-knacks, making my brand new, homemade bamboo steamer the perfect souvenir to bring home – and one with a story, too!
After my morning excursion, I had my fill of dumplings and caught the Airport Express back to the airport for my flight, almost exactly 24-hours later.
My short stint in Hong Kong really won me over, and I’d absolutely love to come back one day!
Yat Chow Pearls can be found on Canton Road, near Kowloon Park.
The Yung Kee Restaurant can be found on 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong. If you go and don’t get the goose, I don’t want to hear from you.(4 / 5) for the goose alone.
Tuck Chong Sum Kee Bamboo can be found on 12 Western Street, Sai Ying Pun.