Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hong Kong: Getting familiar with the trams and trains, the busy streets and the merry eats

Hong Kong - Central Capitol Statue of Justice
HK Legislative Council building and the iconic IM Pei Bank of China Building
I seldom take a trip without an itinerary but on this occasion, I left town without one. 1) I was superbusy to do one in the weeks leading up to the trip, and 2) it would be swell to travel spontaneously even for the first two days for a change.  Besides, it's nice to sleep a little longer, enjoy the accommodations a bit more, slow down and follow one's instincts, and remember that hey, this isn't an episode of Amazing Race after all.

Hong Kong - Mallory Street Art
Breakfast + art along Mallory Street
Hong Kong - Mallory Side Street Breakfast of Coffeetea and Pork Noodles
Rice noodles & Coffeetea
With the good weather holding, it was a fine day to try and learn the transport system in and out of Kowloon and Central. But first things first: breakfast. Our gut instincts led us to quiet, upscale Mallory street where intriguing larger than life art catches our eyes and an impromptu outdoor (read: sidewalk) cafe offering good rice noodles with coffeetea catches our fancy.

From tram to temple.  We caught the tram along Henessy Road to the park across the Legislative Council Building, a popular hang-out place for Filipinos working in HK.  We took our time, hanging around for free Wi-Fi to FB and Plurk as well as ogle our kababayans chit-chatting and picknicking on a fair Saturday morning. 
Hong Kong - Man Mo Temple Silent Signage
Man Mo Temple Signages
Afterwards, we caught the bus headed for Hollywood Road, no, not to see a temple to the stars but rather to the deities -- Man Mo Temple. Dwarfed by high-rises and surrounded by upscale shops and establishments, the temple seems to me a spiritual oasis in the hilly, undulating terrain.  The wonderful details of the temple catch our attention as with the cutesy caricature signages.
Hong Kong - Mongkok Tim Ho Wun Outside Crowd
Crowd mills outside Tim Ho Wun for a taste of one-of-a-kind dimsum fare
Finding the best siopao in Dundas.  We set off for Dundas street in the Mong Kok area to look for Tim Ho Wun, a hole-in-the-wall dimsum place Nina recommended and was written about as serving supremely sumptuous dimsum in a land full of these treats.  We found it alright, along with a bevy of hungry locals and tourists eager to see/taste for themselves what the buzz was all about.  We were given a number and told to wait an hour.  Incredibly, we managed to entertain ourselves during the hour-long wait.  To make up for it, we ordered so much dimsum until the steamer baskets piled high on our tiny table to the delight (quiet laughter?) of the servers.  Was the food worth the wait? Well, the baked siopao (listed in the menu as Char Siu Baau) with its melt-in-your-mouth crust and sweet pork filling was just, should I say intoxicating, we had to place another order as soon as we ate them. (More on Tim Ho Wun in www.happyfoodies.com very soon)
Hong Kong - Light Show II
Symphony of Lights happens every 8pm
Window-shopping and gawking at lights. As we were in the vicinity, we couldn't pass off the chance to window-shop for gear so off we went to Mong Kok Road where on an early Saturday evening, vendors and shoppers alike spilled into the street.   Venturing to SIM City was like being a kid going inside a candy factory with all sorts of electronics -- camera gear, accessories, mobile phones and the likes -- tempting the eyes and teasing the pocket.

Taking the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui (HK$5), our triumvirate met up near the clock tower.  At 8pm, the buildings along the stretch of Kowloon and Central put on a dazzling pyro-musical display best viewed on the deck across the Performing Arts building near the harbor.  Afterwards, we float across the bay to Kowloon on board the Star Ferry (HK$3) and walk back to Henessy Road to a fishball noodle dinner (HK$25) and our favorite stop -- 7-Eleven for midnight snack provisions -- before calling it a night.
HK Disneyland - Mickey Silhouette on the Train Floor 
Next: Disney!  Finally!


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