Sunday, 31 May 2015

Hong Kong 2015

Travelling with my friends has always been something I had been longing to tick off on my to-do list after A's. Initially I wasn't sure if my parents would actually be open to that idea considering the fact that they are so (over)protective of me. However I rather hesitantly brought the matter up anyway, and was pleasantly surprised at how cool they were with it. Well I guess part of the reason why is also because Hong Kong is pretty much a safe country, we've all been there before and it's really easy to commute around on their MTR! We had a really decent plan drawn up, with all the renowned eating places and cheap shopping places researched on, plus an idea of which attractions we wanted to venture to each day. What we did not really plan for was however, what to do in the event it rains... practically everyday. Which literally soiled our plans and dampened our spirits a little but nonetheless, it was still a good trip, it gave us LOTS of reason to be shopping every time it rained.

So off we went to the home of Dim Sum for 5 days and 4 nights!

Day 1: Singapore to Hong Kong!



We experienced some really bad turbulence on the plane at one point and it was unimaginably scary because it felt like the drop you experience on roller coasters? We were thrown off our seats and I was fervently praying that we would land safely which we fortunately did. 

It was around 2 in the afternoon when we landed in Hong Kong and we headed straight for our home for the next 4 nights, Ah Shan Hostel. We were really happy with how cheap our accommodation was; 115 SGD for a twin room I shared with Stacy, all for 4 nights. Well we did not expect much about the quality of our rooms since we managed to scrimp on so much but seeing how veritably tiny our rooms and beds were for ourselves was really hilarious. Plus the entrance to the building was very nondescript and inconspicuous that it would have been very easy to miss had we not done our research. 




Tiny as it was, we definitely got what we paid for -- the room and toilet was clean, there was air-conditioning at least and a television which mainly played programmes in Cantonese though. A communal mini fridge and hot/cold water dispenser was right outside our room and the place felt safe in general because there was double security and CCTV cameras around. The hostel even gave us a discounted rate for our tickets to the SkyTerrace480 at the Peak and the tram ride. There was barely enough space for us to unpack our luggage however but well having a taste of true Hong Kong life in small and crowded homes was fun and at least we had quite a comfortable stay. 

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It did not really settle into my mind that we were in Hong Kong as we took the train from the airport to Mongkok; the system was very much like the MRT in Singapore. It was only after we stepped out into the streets of Mongkok that it finally hit me. A chorus of crowds, decrepit buildings cluttered together, the rattling from the traffic lights, incessant honking of vehicles and gutsy pedestrians dashing across the road before the green man is on, quintessentially HK. The weather was markedly less humid than over here and I think we spoke too soon when we said that we loved the weather...

After settling in we got out to explore Mongkok and for some (alright a lot) of shopping! Langham Place was the first place we went to, it's actually just an HK version of Orchard. Luxury brands galore and international brands like H&M and Monki - prices are almost the same as in Singapore, perhaps only slightly cheaper. We decided to move on in search of a cheaper shopping place, circling around several streets till we found our second home in Argyle Centre, which is comparable to Bugis Street but cheaper! Argyle Centre is the perfect place to go on a shopping rampage and when you're overseas you gradually adopt the mentality that the money you have on hand should be spent oh no. It was actually just a turn down the street where our hostel was which was even better because after our first round of shopping we proceeded back to put down the things we bought before going off for dinner at Dim Dim Sum. 

I never actually had Dim Sum in HK before and wow the har-gao was heavenly and the stuffed chee cheong fun was so so good. We kind of overestimated the amount we were able to eat and ended up having to take away what we couldn't finish. After we finished dinner, it was back to Argyle for round two of shopping. We walked through Ladies Street and Sports Street as well, which was right opposite our hostel! Things there are not exactly very cheap to be honest, but you could haggle the prices which Ziqi is an absolute queen at doing HAHA

Day 2: Causeway Bay/Central 

It rained the entire of day 2 which threw us dreadfully off course because we were supposed to go to Repulse Bay and the Peak. We proceeded with our indoor plans still but we would be left with a big gap of time to fill all the way till dinner lest the rain forbid us to go out, and that was exactly what happened. 


Traditional HK breakfast at Matchbox Cafe! It was named something else but I can't recall, it got us a little confused but we figured it was the right one seeing the walls plastered with a range of accolades and the queue. The entire breakfast set - macaroni soup, buttered toast with scrambled eggs and condensed milk tea was really filling, we actually skipped lunch that day because we were so full from breakfast. Dining in their cafes was actually very funny because the menus were all in traditional Chinese and I think an English speaking waiter observed that we were having trouble reading the menu and so he offered us the "Google-translated menu" as he described instead. It was still raining after we finished breakfast and we were still holding on to some kind of hope that it would stop by evening so that we could go to the Peak. So we headed to Jardine's Crescent at Causeway Bay... YES for shopping again! The Forever21 there was huge, six storeys high and there was a really big range, more than you'll ever find here. We spent a few hours cooped up inside and going crazy. Causeway Bay was extremely crowded that day because there was a shopping mall having an anniversary sale, we went inside to find a bakery and had a really tough time trying to get out. It was like stepping into the IT show crowd. We wound back at our hostel again being unable to go outdoors thanks to the rain, searching for things to do and unwilling to let our time pass so unproductively like this. We eventually decided to go to the Hong Kong Space Museum because it sounded interesting. 

Here's us in front of a star display pretending to be at the Peak

It didn't turn out as interesting as it seemed, you could tell that the exhibits were rather old. There were a few interesting mini 'rides' that were amusing to be on though, like some huge gyroscope thing I was on but I didn't really understand the instructions so it just looked like I was spinning aimlessly around. There was a moonwalk simulation that I really wanted to try but couldn't because I was wearing a dress sigh. 




It was dinner time by the time we came out, so we headed to Central to find the famous Tsim Chai Kee Wanton noodles! And also in our initial plan was to go to Tai Cheong bakery to buy eggtarts and 'walk around Central eating eggtarts'. 




The piping hot bowl of wanton noodles was perfect for the weather and our ravenous selves after last eating at 10am. The wantons were huge and fat and delicious - stuffed with prawns. Finding the eggtarts however was more difficult than we anticipated because the GPS was pointing in different directions at different times, and it was located at a very sketchy part of Central, which we later found out was near one of the red-light districts. We got harassed by some people which was a frightening experience and the worst thing that happened when we finally reached the bakery was that, THERE WERE NO MORE EGGTARTS D: which was an utter disappointment because the street was so scary at night. We vowed never to come back to Central again... but we returned again the next day.


Sadly we went back to Mongkok hoping to find eggtarts at some random bakeries around but most of them were out of eggtarts already. We settled for supper at Tsui Wah Concept, which has huge and amazing looking condensed milk buns!

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