Hong Kong 2014 Day 1

The prelude:

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This was a rather spur-of-the-moment kind of a trip, where the Whatsapp conversation basically went…

  • Me: Scoot having $20 one way ticket sale today and tomorrow.
  • Ms. W: Oooo go where?
  • Me: Got HK, China, Australia.
  • Ms. W: Where u like? U interested?
  • Me: Huh? I all like? Lol
  • Ms. W: Then must chop chop make decision liao.

And so, in less than 3 hours, we booked tickets for 5 pax, including Ms. Y, who first announced that she could make it, and then asked where we were going and who were going -_-”

We also decided to stay at Royal Plaza Hotel 帝京酒店 since it was rather difficult to find big rooms for 3 pax and we had a good experience with this hotel previously.

The Day:

The flight was scheduled to take off at 0150 hrs and the check-in counter was to open 3 hours earlier, so being the typical Singaporean, we decided to meet at 2230 hrs, in our attempt to be the first in the queue, in the hopes of getting seats next to one another. The counter staff was very considerate and gave us a 3+2 seating! Happiness! 😀

After clearing customs, we went to get some food and did some pre-trip shopping. This was when Ms. W’s shopping spree began. She wanted to buy a bottle of perfume. She ended up with at least 2 bags and definitely more than just perfume… 😛 We all were betting that the SGD400 that she exchanged was going to be insufficient for the trip… Haha!

Since we had plenty of time to spare, we also explored Changi Airport Departure Transit Lounge, and well, so did the rest of the world! The Entertainment Deck was fully occupied but it looked like an amazing place to chill out, and the seats looked oh-so-comfy! We were very impressed with the huge sunflowers at the Sunflower Garden, but less so with the cigarette smell enveloping the area… Apparently one of the corners was a smoking zone. We also took a quick nap at the very relaxing snooze corner, where there were plenty of reclining snooze chairs and the area was kept dark, which was very conducive for sleeping! Gotta say that I am really proud of our airport! Shall make it a point to go to the airport earlier the next time to check out the rest of the facilities 🙂

A relatively smooth flight, except for a toddler who screamed at an unimaginable high pitch during landing and take-off. Poor kid and poor us! The flight stewardess was trying her best to get the kid to follow safety procedures and to calm her down. The dad was trying his best to pretend that he didn’t know the kid as he kept looking at the other direction and did not even attempt to help his wife for a long while… Sheesh! While we were mentally prepared that there would usually be crying young children on board, it was really difficult to empathise with parents who did not even bother to try to calm their children, or attempt to make the travelling more comfortable for their children… *sigh*

HKIA is already waking up at 5:30am

HKIA is already waking up at 5:30am

We touched down at 0525 hrs, ahead of schedule! It was a cooling 16 degree Celcius with low visibility, so we decided to scrap our plans of visiting Tai-O and Big Buddha… I know, I know, we always make great plans to visit these places and always end up not going in the end…

We took our time to re-freshen up before taking the Airport Express Service to Kowloon MTR Station, where we transferred to the free bus shuttle K5 to Royal Plaza Hotel. I love taking the Airport Express! Very clean, spacious and comfy, it took us to the city centre in less than 30 min.

Checking in at the hotel was a breeze and we quickly dumped our luggage at the concierge to go in search for breakfast (Part 1)! Kam Wah Cafe 金華冰廳, here we come!!! One of our must-go for the past few trips, the Po Lo Butter 菠蘿油 (Pineapple Bun with Butter) here is really heavenly when served pipping hot! The crunchiness of the crispy crust at the top of the bun, and then your teeth will sink into the hot and fluffy bun before hitting the cold slab of melting butter…

Lost our directions for a while, and finally found our way after making a few turns. It wasn’t as crowded as before, probably because the breakfast crowd had left and the second outlet was just next door. The staff asked one of the diners to shift to another table so that we could sit together. What impressed me was that the diner shifted immediately with all his food without fuss, which I imagine would have been quite a difference scenario if this was to happen in Singapore… Heh…

Initially, we wanted to have a Po Lo Butter each. However, the staff recommended that we try the Char Siew Po Lo Bun 叉燒菠蘿 as well, so we replaced 2 of the Po Lo Butters with the char siew version instead.. Despite the buns not being pipping hot, the Po Lo Butter won all of our hearts. We recommend that you skip the char siew one. Haha! Milk tea 奶茶 today was excellent!! Very smooth and just the right strength, it was neither bitter nor sour, totally loved it! The yuan yang 鴛鴦 was also very delicious, and we left the place with our spirits lifted by caffeine and tummies filled with Po Lo Buns. (Total damage: HKD135)

Bird Garden

Bird Garden

Ms. W kept reminding us that we have only one stomach each, so we decided that we had to work off some calories before having our next meal 😉 So after getting our Hong Kong SIM cards from a 7-11 convenience store, we walked to the Flower Market 花墟 and Yuen Po Street Bird Garden 園圃街雀鳥花園 nearby.

There seemed to be some kind of protests going on at the Flower Market, with banners complaining that the government was turning a blind eye to the plight of the tenants at the market, and telling tourists to stay away because there were no flowers. Well, we did see flowers, though not all shops were opened. There were also creative bouquets of teddy bears and chocolates, as well as pretty garden decorations for sale, so it was quite a pleasant walk.

As we continued to the Bird Garden, we kept stopping for pictures, until we saw uncles walking back with their birds… So we hurried to the garden, before all the birds were gone! It was a rather quiet morning, and most of the shops in the “garden” were not open. Sparrows were flying low, going in and out freely. There were also some structures built to allow birds to rest. A couple of stalls selling birds were opened, so we still got to see some interesting species, including some birds which apparently came from Singapore, but none of us have seen them before…

Next stop was Tim Ho Wan 添好運 for breakfast Part 2! Still quite full from breakfast Part 1 (the Po Lo Buns were quite huge), we strolled to the Sham Shui Po 深水埗 outlet (the only outlet with One-Star Michelin), enjoying the cooling weather and just walking in and out of shops that caught our eyes along the way. We also saw people gathered at one of the streets doing a traditional activity – Petty Person Beating 打小人!

We reached Tim Ho Wan before 11am, and ordered 7 items to share. Of worthy mention is the Osmanthus Cake 桂花糕 that won the hearts of us gals, while the Char Siew Bao 酥皮焗叉燒包 remained the top favorite of hubby. I think the pig liver in Hong Kong was fresher than Singapore, and enjoyed the Liver Chee Cheong Fun 黃沙豬潤粉 here better. But perhaps since we often go to Tim Ho Wan in Singapore, it has kinda lost its magic. Nonetheless, it was still an enjoyable meal 🙂 (Total damage: HKD129)

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Now, we were really full… So we decided to go for more sight-seeing and it was off to the Avenue of Stars 星光大道! Uh… Before we reached our destination, we side-tracked to many other shops, including a local supermarket to grab some instant Hong Kong Milk Tea 大排檔奶茶, as well as a late lunch at Tai Ping Koon Restaurant 太平館餐廳… Oh yes, we needed to have lunch, since breakfast was just breakfast 😛 We only ordered 4 items to share, but oh my, it was probably one of the best meal we had for this trip!

The staff recommended Fried Rice Noodles (or Hor Fun) with Sliced Beef in Swiss Sauce  瑞 士汁炒牛河 (HKD105) and it was indeed very good. The beef was very tender, and the sauce was super addictive! The hor fan was cooked just right, not soggy or hard. We weren’t even really hungry but we wiped the dish clean within minutes 😮

Everyone loved the Chicken Wings in Swiss Sauce 瑞 士 雞 翼 (HKD160). The lovely delicious Swiss sauce made the tender chicken wings finger-licking good! Ms. V couldn’t resist having another one, so you could tell just how good it was, especially when she is such a small eater 😉 Well, I loved this dish, but I love most braised chicken wings, and my mum had a great recipe from grandmother, so it was not my most favourite…

The Roasted Pigeon 燒 乳 鴿 (HKD135) was the ultimate dish for me. The soy sauce (with the pigeon’s heart and liver in it) was served by the side, and when we ate the pigeon with this extra soy sauce, it was so flavourful! Sweet and salty, with a hint of bitter-burnt taste; all these amazing flavours were bursting out and so complementary to the tender meat. This was the best pigeon that I have ever had in my life! It was also totally wiped out, including the head 😛

2014-03-13 20.40.08Finally for dessert, we had the made-to-order Baked Souffle 焗梳乎厘 (HKD128), which took about 20min to prepare. This was also Ms. V’s advanced birthday cake, so we sang the birthday song and made her cut the cake 😛 It was G I G A N T I C. Sweet and fluffy inside, while slightly crispy on the outside, it was a great dessert to end the meal! Now, we were really bloated… (Total damage: HKD581)

We had not forgotten that we were supposed to go the Avenue of Stars 😛 That was our next destination, and it was good that we were all wrapped up, because not only was the weather getting colder, it was also raining mist. Add on the freezing sea breeze, and we had our most freezing moment for this trip! This very interesting rain-mist made us feel like someone was holding a spray bottle to our faces; umbrellas were not useful at all! Nonetheless, we still managed to take lots of photos and walked almost the entire stretch. Ms. W got to take photo with Mak Dou 麥兜, so she was a happy gal. We also tried some grilled dried squid (HKD30), which was rather fragrant and very chewy. Quite overpriced I think, but it gave us a bit of warmth 🙂

We ended up at Starbucks near the end of the stretch, where Ms. V and Ms. Y had some hot drinks, while the rest of us dozed off. Very tired and cold! So cold, we decided that we needed to have hotpot tonight. We wanted to go somewhere nearby, but alas, at 5.15pm, the shop that we wanted to try was not yet opened. Since we were too tired to travel all the way to Temple Street to check out the hotpot scene, we decided to go to Little Sheep 小肥羊火锅店, a hotpot chain where Ms. W, Ms. J and I had a great time 2 years back. There is something special about people gathering around the table and throwing food items into bubbling hot soup, and this feeling is even better on cold days 🙂

Hotpot on a cold day

Hotpot on a cold day

We ordered the half and half 鴛鴦鍋 hotpot, which came with both spicy and non-spicy soup base. The spicy soup base was filled with chilli 😮 Not all of us were very good at eating super spicy foods, and we didn’t want to risk having a bad tummy especially when we were just into our first day of the trip, so after we threw in the food items for the first round, we decided to remove the chilli bits from the soup… Which piled up into one red mountain on the plate 😮

There were certain items that were more delicious in the spicy soup base, e.g. pig’s blood cubes and luncheon meat 😀 The meat were sliced very thinly and were cooked within seconds! Ms. V enjoyed the fried fish skin and shabu meat very much! Ms. W and hubby especially loved the lamb slices, but I found the smell quite overpowering. Ms. W and I also particularly enjoyed the Emperor’s vegetables (that seemed to be some form of Rockets). There was also this interesting white intestines that was kinda tasteless but yet quite bouncy and chewy, very nice to bite 😛

However, I think that standards have dropped and the price has increased compared the the previous visit 😦 Still quite nice, but probably not worth the price. We spent close to HKD1000 for this ala-carte 2-hour buffet dinner. The pricing was also complicated; drinks and appetisers were compulsory add-on items, and you had to pay more if you wanted certain items. It was difficult to get the staff’s attention, despite the restaurant being almost empty. They also did not inform us when the items we had ordered were not available; the items simply failed to appear at the table. Since we didn’t exactly expect good service, and we were too tired to care much, we just self-entertained and enjoyed the food, as well as one another’s company 😛

2014-03-06 19.36.32Next, we made our way to Temple Street to check out the night scene. After exiting Jordan MTR station, we walked past LKK North Point Egglets 利強記北角雞蛋仔, with many people queuing for the famous egglets (HKD16)… and we could not resist queuing. Freshly made and pipping hot, it was so, so delicious! We had fun plucking off the “eggs” and eating the slightly chewy and eggy snack. So nice!

Temple Street

Temple Street

Finally, we reached Temple Street 廟街  where we spent the next couple of hours roaming the street and checking out the various stalls and the line of shops next to it. USB thumb drives here were very cheap! We saw 8GB thumb drives with cute designs selling at 10 for HKD100… Not sure if they were in good working condition though. Well, they could function as nice decorative items 😛

Mango Pomelo Dessert

Mango Pomelo Dessert

We were quite tired by the time we reached the other end of Temple Street, and were about to make our way back to the hotel, when we spotted Hui Lau Shan Healthy Dessert 許留山. I guess there is always room for dessert 😛 Ms. V, Ms. W and Ms. Y shared a delicious Mango Pomelo Dessert 楊枝甘露  and a drink, while hubby and I stoned. Hubby was not a fan of dessert and I was simply too tired and too full, as my dessert compartment was filled with egglet 😛

Feeling very accomplished and satisfied, we finally returned to our hotel at 10+ pm. Hehe.. We were very pleased with the newly renovated rooms! Hubby had indicated that we were celebrating our special day during booking, and we were greeted by 2 heart-shapes made with rose petals on the bed. Very pretty sight 🙂

Located on the 17th floor, the room had a good view of the bubbly jacuzzi. The room was very clean and sleek, and the amenities were very useful for travellers who travel light. Hubby was most impressed with the many USB ports available throughout the room, so all we needed to do was to plug in our charging cable. There was also a docking station with lightning cable, so we could listen to music from our iPhone 5 while charging it at the same time. There was also an adaptor available, so we didn’t even have to bring our own. Hubby also loved the Nespresso machine and had 2 cups of coffee everyday 😛 The bed was very comfortable, since we had paid extra for the rooms with Sealy mattress. Plenty of seating available, including a bay window cushioned bench next to the small coffee table and 360-degrees swirl chair. There was also a desk area available. When we switched on the TV, it welcomed hubby! Talk about personal touch huh? 🙂 WiFi signal was also very strong and stable, so more happiness 🙂

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The bathroom was very big, and we liked that the shower area and bath tub were separate. Bath salt was available, and the shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion were all from Crabtree and Evelyn! Super nice! Both rain shower and shower head had strong water pressure and it felt great with the strong pressure massaging our bodies after a full day of walking. The only slight minus point was that the shower area and the toilet shared the same sliding door, which meant that the toilet area would get wet when we pushed the sliding door after showering.

At the other room, it was a bit strange that the 3 ladies shared a room that could sleep 4 pax in 2 Queen-sized mattresses, but the room only had 2 cups for hot coffee/tea and 1 bathrobe for all to share 😦 Shouldn’t there be sufficient amenities for 4 pax?? Luckily, everything else was in good order. The gals had great pleasure bonding over their feet-soaking session in the bath-tub 😀 Overall, we all liked our rooms, but it would have been even better if the location wasn’t so far away…

Tips:

  • If the queue to buy Airport Express tickets/Octopus Cards at the airport is very long, just pop into the train first and purchase your tickets upon reaching the destination, prior to getting out of the station, since there are no gates to go through when taking the Airport Express from the airport. There was no queue at all when we reached Kowloon.
  • There are discounted tickets if you are in groups of 2 to 4, and the staff gave us the 4-to-go plus single ticket combination, which was the cheapest option for 5 pax at HKD310, even without us having to ask.
  • Alternatively, as we realized at the end of the trip, there are cabs for 4 pax or 5 pax available. The 5 pax ones are like the old Toyota Corolla cabs in Singapore, so can squeeze 4 not-too-big-sized adults behind. It cost us HKD260, including baggage cost (we had about 11 bags in the huge car boot), from the hotel to the airport. There were no midnight surcharge, making cabs a very affordable option.
  • We recommend getting the  Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM Card. The 5-day version costs HKD 69, which comes with unlimited local calls, 1.5GB of data and HKD 25 of usable stored value for IDD calls, as well as local and international SMS. It costs only$0.45/min flat rate for IDD 0060 to 36 countries, including Singapore. We used it for hotspot (up to 3 connections) and also to call each other when we sometimes split up. It was also very useful to use it to check out Open Rice when our guidebook suggested some good eateries nearby… and Open Rice indicated that the eateries have closed! Saved us the pain of additional walking. Also very useful when we got lost… haha!
  • We found that speaking Cantonese got us the best service and bargains (thanks to Ms W!), while speaking English-mixed-with-Mandarin immediately identified us as Singaporeans and we were given quite decent service and the locals were quite friendly to us.

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Categories: Hong Kong, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Hong Kong 2014 Day 1

  1. Pingback: 蓮香樓 Lin Heung Tea House @Sheung Wan | Eat.Eat.Walk.Walk . 吃吃走走

  2. Pingback: Hong Kong 2016 Itinerary | Eat.Eat.Walk.Walk . 吃吃走走

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