The one nice thing about jet lag flying from US to Asia is one generally wakes up early. So, on Sunday morning, Mom and I were in a taxi to Victoria Peak before 9AM, bypassing the popular tram to the top in favor of trying to beat the crowds. It turned out to be a good decision. The ride up was quick and the Peak was still pretty calm.
It’s always a bit of question mark as to whether or not it’s really worth going to tourist spots – be they peaks or tall buildings – whose primary attraction is a view. In this case though, I think it was worthwhile – not just because the views are pretty spectacular, but I also felt like I had a better grasp of Hong Kong’s geography (at least the parts north of Victoria Peak).
It certainly looks like one could make a whole morning of a visit, thanks to trails that circle the Peak – but Mom and I took in the views and posed for photos with our feet in the fetid, ringworm-infested pretend Nikes in front of Bubba Gump’s (no we did not) before taking the tram down the hill.
The tram was great fun – not least because there was no line to board and only about a half dozen other passengers headed down the hill with us. And what a hill! I’m a semi-regular rider of the California St. cable car back home in SF and I think the Peak Tram has it beat in terms of how steep some portions of the ride are.
Upon arriving at the terminus, we were even happier with our decision to get an early start, as the line was already huge to ride the tram up. I love feeling like a smart tourist!
Took the subway over the Causeway, primarily so I could visit the basement food hall at Sogo, home to an outpost of Bake, one of Japan’s more well-known cheese tart purveyors. The food hall was fun to see (though rather unassuming compared to some I’d seen in Tokyo #humblebrag) and I got us a couple of cheese tarts to go.
We went off in search of lunch at Times Square mall. I guess I was expecting something more akin to my favorite malls in Bangkok – namely a huge and tempting food court and wide variety of restaurants. This was not the case. There were a few cafes and restaurants, but pretty limited in scope. I did find another place on the map and they had a good selection of restaurants up on the top several floors – though sadly it was only 11AM and most hadn’t yet opened. But we found a place serving dim sum and had a reasonable meal before heading back to the hotel.
Oh, and about those Bake cheese tarts? We ate them back at the hotel and they were sublime. Tangy, creamy filling; not too sweet; and the crusty like the happy offspring of a cookie and a pie crust. Delicious! Thankfully they have an outpost in Bangkok, so I’ll be able to find another one this trip.
Our afternoon was taken up with our last walking tour. I’ve included some of the photos I took during the tour – but I’m not going to go into much detail about the tour itself other than to say Mom and I were extraordinarily disappointed, particularly considering its exorbitant price (though we did have a good lunch and I loved my beef brisket noodle soup). Of the three tours we took in HKG, this was by far the least enjoyable – and with a price tag more than triple the others.*
But we did visit parts of Hong Kong away from the center, so it was nice to see a different part of the city. We also stumbled across a dragon boat race competition, which was fun to watch.
Later that night, we had drinks at tiki bar I’d read about called Honi Honi. It’s up on the third floor of one of Hong Kong’s many non-descript looking office buildings – but inside is like a little slice of ersatz Polynesia and even includes an outdoor terrace. We really liked this place – and my favorite drink was the Maori Spring Punch: vodka, watermelon, lemongrass, Thai chile. Yum!
Dinner was at Little Bao. I’d heard about it in my research for this trip and Yvonne, our guide from the other day, pointed it out to us on our walk and said it was really good. She was not wrong! Started with a plate of brussels sprouts, prepared Thai style with fish sauce and chiles – really delicious.
We got a fish sandwich and a fried chicken sandwich for dinner. Very tasty! I was pretty full but forced myself to have some dessert – a fried bao sandwich filled with match ice cream and topped with condensed milk. Oh man… I was super-full, but glad I made room for it.
Made another early night of it and hopped on the tram back to the hotel. Tomorrow we visit Lantau Island and the Big Buddha!
* I contacted the owner of the tour company once I was back home in SF and provided a detailed account of all of the things that made for a sub-par tour. I’m happy to report that she refunded the entire price immediately (over US$500) with no questions and an apology that she hadn’t done a successful job matching us with a guide. I was very happy with this response – though even if we’d had an excellent guide, I didn’t see how there’d be much to differentiate this company’s tours from those offered by other companies. Certainly not enough to warrant a price more than triple any of the others I took in Hong Kong – or anywhere else in the world for that matter.