Hong Kong ( 香港 Xiānggǎng ) means “fragrant harbour” . Been there in 2010 for a week and now 2012 for a week, walked past a dozen times avenue of stars. Some interesting facts I spotted from local friends who showed me around. For westerners, some local customs strike first and that’s part of the travel experience.
Lodging alone is the biggest spending. Most tourists stay in Tsim Sha Shui area ( southern tip of Kowloon ). Personally I don’t recommend to stay at Chungking Mansions.
Hong Kong people tend to judge social status from the place you live :
– New Territories = countryside
– Kowloon ( except Tsim Sha Shui ) = normal people
– the Peak on Hong Kong Island = riches
What Hong Kong streets look like on causeway bay
Causeway Bay street on Hong Kong island
Things to see
You don’t need spend a lot to enjoy Hong Kong tourist spots. A ride on the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Shui to Central costs only 3 HKD. It takes only 8 minutes : the instant you set the foot onboard until you land a foot on the other side of the sea. There you can see Hong Kong skyline ( better at night for the light show )
Tian tan Buddha ( visited on foggy day on April , not the best timing ) on Lantau island ( airport )
Victoria Peak or simply “the Peak” on Hong Kong island .
In dim sum restaurants, an empty large bowl and hot water may be served before eating. Nope this bowl is NOT to put food by-products ( bones ) . Its purpose is to wash utensils in hot water or tea. As a safety precaution, some locals may think dishes are not clean. How to do it properly ? Pour the tea in in the large bowl. Wash the tip of chopsticks in the bowl. For tea cups, pour the tea inside first then bath in the large bowl.
There is no strict rules like the tea ceremony. But rest assured, cases of food poisoning are rare in Hong Kong. This practice arises in areas of Southern China : Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Taiwan.
In higher end restaurants , a set of two chopsticks black and white are given. Black chopsticks are used to take food from mutual dishes to one’s plate. White ones are meant to carry food to your mouth.
In Hong Kong it’s Cantonese style, the popular chinese cuisine in overseas restaurant. But it tastes different ( cannot describe by words ) on place. Here is a glimpse of “oddities”
Below is the “creamy yellow bun” and its alternate names are “steamed creamy custard bun” , 奶黃包 (Nai huáng bāo) . It’s yellow egg inside, creamy and sweet. This one is a bit oily.
There is also the HK eggball, a version of “gaufre”
Hong Kong is heaven for shopping. It’s tax free and you can almost anything. For electronics , it’s the best place to buy. For example Apple products are the cheapest in the world. I bought a mac book pro for 9088 HKD (890 eur ) at the IFC Apple Store. In my country it would be 1150 eur. That’s more than 20% discount. How come ? Shenzhen , the world factory ( remember Foxconn) , is nearby. And Hong Kong is tax free. Ironically it’s even more expensive in Mainland China for products “made in China”, because the Chinese government put purchase taxes.
There is also an electronics market for computer hardware located at Sham Shui Po.
On Landing. When you land in the airport, take the Airport Express to go either Kowloon ( 90HKD ) or Hong Kong Central (100HKD). Then take the taxi or bus to join the place you’re staying. Taxi line can be very long at station on raining days. I waited for nearly one hour for a 10 minutes ride. Probably it’s better to check if the bus is stopping at your hotel.
When leaving. HK’s airport is a model of efficiency. Luggages checkin are available at Airport Express stations (Kowloon, Hong Kong Central ) . No waiting lines. The stations themselves are shopping centers. The ride from Kowloon to airport takes 20 minutes. So after checking your luggages , there is still time to visit Hong Kong and arrive at the airport one hour before boarding. So great I’m used to arrive 3h before the flight thanks to Paris CDG airport.
check-in luggages at Kowloon Airport Express station
In the airport itself , there are plenty of shops and food in the airport. The terminals are LONG, the longest I’ve seen. For this reason alone, I advise to arrive earlier.