hongkong o4 :: of modern central + kowloon friday nights

9:47 PM Sian Mei Yeoh 0 Comments

day o4. 
the bustling pace of progressive chung wan ("central")

{ day o4 } victoria peak tram • victoria peak • ding ding tram • mid level escalators • starbucks at duddell street  • markets exploring • ifc mall picnic • times square • ladies street (mongkok) 

#sianstakesonhk part four has finally brought me upclose and personal to what left me breathless at victoria harbor (re: kowloon entry) - the iconic skyline of 'chung wan' or better known as central, hong kong island. we've had a previews of hk island from the previous two days after the evening star ferry ride and also during our en route to macau

however, this was a day dedicated to explore the other side of hong kong (both literally and figuratively) - the business hub within the modern progressive city of hong kong that reminded me very much of downtown singapore with its own twist.

and my hong kong friend and i finally managed to coordinate our schedules in the midst of her busy graduation month prep!

--- {AWESOMESAUCE travel snippets of day o4} ---

one | a MUST have in hong kong -- the preserved century egg. what better way to savor it (besides having it on its own) than to slurp it down with a bowl of smooth, warm congee. after my extensive research on this local favorite that leaves your insides fuzzy, wong chi kei was the top pick among the masses.. the high quality preserved century egg may have been the best one i've ever tasted..so far.... yum! :)  (more on a separate entry)

two | view the hong kong skyline from a different perspective -- from hong kong's highest point at 582 meters, victoria peak!

there are multiple ways to get up there (i.e. bus/car/taxi) but you wouldn't want to miss the ride on the 125 year old victoria peak tram, which is a trolley that is pulled up the very steep slope by a single steel cable. an interesting 10 minute climb that occasionally had us at the edge of the seat at a 45 degree angle.

[#protips] :: victoria peak tram 
o1. go on a clear, beautiful day. avoid weekends or public holidays.
o2. nearest mtr to the peak tram lower terminus station : central station or admiralty station (10 minute walk)
o3. the peak tram is less crowded in the mornings. in fact, operation starts at 7am.
o4. get seats on the right of the tram carriage going up to get better view. 
o5. ticket price for adult is hkd 28 (single); hkd 40 (return)

the panaroma of the dense population of skyscrapers that filled the clear blue skies, where the central district ends at victoria harbor to arrive at the view of tsim sha tsui across the water. the best photo spots are outside of the peak market/peak galleria, which are of pretty short walking distance. take your time to explore where the peak was flanked by nature -- a stark difference from the city itself -- a green escape from the concrete jungle within the metropolitan.

[#protip] there are also nature trails for leisure walking that can be completed within an hour --hartech and luggard roads, which loop around victoria peak.

three | the coffee chain giant, starbucks on duddell street pays homage to the 'bing sut' concept by juxtaposing the decors of old against the modern -- the back half of the store's theme was dedicated to the downmarket cafes from the 60s, adding character to its typical and unassuming usual front of the store, making it somewhat an endearing space.

four | instead of indulging roast goose at the world's famous yung kee, there is another counterpart that has made a name for itself -- yat lok restaurant. it may not have received a star by michelin but earned the status as a bib gourmand restaurant and was featured in anthony bourdain's 'no reservations' when he visited the original shop in tai po. he quotes "that's worth flying all the way to hong kong for" -- pretty much testifies to the must try aspect of this restaurant (more on a separate food entry)

five | rest your aching feet (maybe just for a tad) as you ride on the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world that spans 800 m in distance, the mid level escalator. the escalator brought us across some parts of the town where the scene changed from the central business district to hipster/artsy streets with several petite cafes and shops and luxurious apartments.

[#protip] take the mid level escalators as it goes in the ascending direction (it was at going up during the afternoon hours) since it will be a lot easier to walk down the stairs once you reach the upper point. also, look out for the hkd 2 refund machine (only valid when used at central/hk mtr stations) somewhere along the escalators where you can tap your octopus card.

six | my most favorite part of the day -- taking the ding ding tram, which in my opinion is best way to experience and be a small part of the local lifestyle, the traffic, the people, the hustle and bustle of this very busy city -- all from the upper deck of the double decker tram. i wished we had taken this from one end to the other and probably would have been better if we took it first thing in the morning after the first wave of rush hour.

[#protip] :: ding ding tram
o1.  enter the tram from the back, pass the revolving "gate" up the stairs. exit at the front and pay with octopus card or you'd need exact change. move towards the exit before you get to the stop. 
o2. most lively portions will be between sheung wan and north point.
o3. get on board starting at the terminus and get a great front seat in the top deck. 
o4. tripadvisor tips: take #120 and take it from central to western market direction. 
o5. the tram route spans roughly an 8 mile stretch - which will take about an hour and a half.

seven | discover the unexpected great photograph spots in central, hong kong island. after several different photos, it does seem that stairs and narrow roads are the main features in most of these locations. hehe.

*                            *                                *               

while we spent most of the day part in hong kong island, we ended up spending the evening, traversing along some parts of kowloon that we missed on day o2, completing some of our last minute souvenir shopping.

eight | two words. street food.

after many char chaan tengs and restaurants, i wouldn't wanna miss out on the local delicacies sold at stalls along dundas street. especially at the ever crowded and endorsed by the typical long lines at fei jie street snacks for snacks on skewers.

[#protip] do not take photographs at fei jie stall which you may get yelled at unless you're really good at ninja photography. ;)

or try out kai kee street snacks at the corner for my first "chow tofu" aka stinky tofu -- where its flavors were really muted to a milder version to suit the tourists' tastebuds, who may be put off by the stinky odor.

[#protip] nearest mtr :: yau ma tei station, exit a2.

nine | revel in the boisterous liveliness of sai yeung choi and fa yuen streets while haggling for bargains on local souvenirs at ladies street night market on a friday evening. the streets are lit by colorful billboards, echoed by calls of street vendors as they try to attract the bandwagon of tourists and locals welcoming the start of the weekend.

ten  | "stand out" from the sea of people or be a part of the crowd in kowloon -- whichever your preference may be. btw, i'm in the below photo somewhere - "catch" me if you can ;)

{ travel notes }

o1. ifc mall was covered in the itinerary (that is building ifc two) for the picnic at the rooftop but when we found out it was closed for our reservation...my heart sank. oh, remember that passports are required for registration. it is worthwhile for rooftop view of the city, within the city. probably best to go on early evening and you could get some snacks from the stores in the mall before heading up top.

o2. temple street night market wasn't quite my cup of tea and it paled in comparison to the exciting tung choi street. however, there were a lot of dai pai dongs if you fancy an al fresco meal by the side of the street for local stir fry dishes.

our adventure in hong kong island was a lot more relaxing though it left me wanting to do a little more. i'd love to go for another of the ding ding tram rides, taking from one end to the other while watching hong kong go by. friday nights at the heart of kowloon at tung choi and sai yeung choi streets are definitely THE place to be. despite my earlier indifference towards the city due to the very many similarities to home and its familiarities, hong kong grew on me over time.

after sharing my four days in hong kong, #sianstakesonhk series will end with #sianseatshongkong entries for coverage on my food tasting throughout the different parts of hong kong and macau. those will get started very soon. :)

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experience and taste buds may vary for others.