hongkong o2 :: the old soul of hk

11:11 AM Sian Mei Yeoh 0 Comments

day o2.
reminiscing hong kong's old soul in kowloon. 

{ day o2 } market hopping :: jade market • shanghai street • nelson street wet market • bird park • flower market • fa yuen street market • goldfish market • tsim sha tsui promenade • museum of art • space museum • clock tower • star ferry 

finally back to my entries on #sianstakesonhk after a couple of food review inserts that i just couldn't wait to share. speaking of which - food reviews from from my november hk trip have yet to be written.

hong kong is divided by victoria harbor where the north is the soul of kowloon, capturing the old charm of the "real hong kong" and as we travelled towards the south to find the modern, progressive urbanization in hong kong island. our day two itinerary was a tad ambitious & a LOT packed, to cover as much ground as we could.. oh but the achievement of the day our food pit stops that totalled to six! (find them in my travel snippets!

--- {AWESOMESAUCE travel snippets of day o2} ---

one | start the day right with a pre-breakfast snack in the form of pineapple bun! returning to our first char chaan teng experience from the night before, kam wah restaurant is famed for its fresh out of the oven polo baos - fresh, still warm from the oven, soft that contrasts the crispy top with just a light honey-like sweetness. 

two | brunching on hong kong dim sum at tim ho wan, a restaurant synonymous to this local speciality. located in sham shui po in kowloon, it is best known for being the cheapest michelin one starred restaurant. delicately intricate and freshly steamed,  delicious dumplings served, this was ranked as the top food i've had in hong kong - a definite list topper for must-eat in hong kong (certainly worthy of a separate entry!)

three | market hopping - plan out the best route to cover as many markets as you can. 

[#protip] start from prince edward mtr station if you are planning to start from north making your way towards south for an early evening stroll at tsim sha tsui promenade.

get a whiff of the fresh fragrance of the many colorful blooms that lined the streets along flower market and enjoy listening to the chirping of different bird species for bird watching at yuen po street bird garden

[#protip] when taking photos of the birds, be wary of the owners and no flash photography since it may scare them birds. 

we walked our way towards the south, we found a mix of different things from cheap clothings to accessories sold at little stalls and the shops that lined fa yuen street. just one road down later, name brand sneaker shops were aplenty down the stretch of street aptly called sneaker street

fa yuen street market was also our pit stop for our in between breakfast-lunch "snack" - for mui kee's pork meatball & sliced fish congees (hkd 29 each) at shop 12 in the food court on the third floor. 

my personal favorite of the markets is probably the goldfish market where a variety of neon bright fishes are packed in little bags set up in front of stalls. or even find the occasional locals fishing out their lucky goldfish from the tanks.

another favorite of mine is having a quick walk through the ladies market (the street where i was staying at) reminded me of our very own chinatown at petaling street - a street full of petite stalls, selling souvenirs, accessories and clothing in bulk as well as many people crowding the street. gear yourself with your haggling skills to put it to the test on mustering the best deals. for the lowest prices, you may have to walk to whole stretch that spans at least two blocks.

four | take a moment to immerse in the charming 'old' hong kong culture and architecture. some of the scenes that i have only seen in hong kong shows, i was finally breathing it all in. 

the streets that house the very many old flats/apartments, the few community parks where locals people watch or even bamboo construction stilts that you often see fighting scenes are shot in action movies!

five | art appreciation in the local art scene. kowloon is the hub for many emerging artists - however, we've only had enough time for the most conventional venue - the hong kong museum of art. exhibitions of the historical chinese antiques alternating with the modern contemporary art. a change of pace for a more relaxing and mind boggling art pieces. 

[#protip] free admission wednesdays for both hong kong museum of art and space museum. both are also closed on thursdays. 

six | spending several hours at tsim sha tsui promenade to cover most of the attractions located within walking distance of the victoria harbor such as the clock tower, avenue of stars, hong kong museum of art and space museum. 

lookout for the ice cream truck - mobile softee, reminscent of our childhood years, chasing after the ice cream truck for a soft serve vanilla ice cream on the cone (hkd 9) to just top off your day. personally, it was a bit too sweet for my liking but satisfying for those with a sweet tooth.

to top it all off, the biggest highlight to my day was marvelling at the dramatic architectural spectacle that is the hong kong island concrete jungle skyline, towering over the busy waters of the victoria harbor even during the hazy late afternoon as the sun makes its way to the west to make for dusk.

as dusk slips into night, the cool november breeze becomes an inviting welcome to the illuminated skyline that brightens the otherwise clear dark night skies. i paused and inhaled the ambiance, trying to take in the view. it was simply breathtaking. photos just do it no justice.

[#protip] be slightly early to get a front seat for the nightly laser light show - the symphony of lights. 

seven | sail on the star ferry. the view is more dramatic in the direction of kowloon to central to the left of the direction of travel - the 9 minute ferry ride is a MUST to do during a clear night. even the national geographic traveller agrees with me by naming it as one of the  'must-dos' in its 'place of a lifetime' series.

[#protips] :: star ferry sailing
o1. upper decks have the best views
o2. fees: hkd 2.50 on weekdays; hkd 3.40 on weekends
o3. best seats are the ones in the middle of the boat (windowless). seats at the front and back are bound by windows
o4. octopus card works here! may want to pay by token for the experience ;)
o5. there are two routes - kowloon - wan chai & kowloon - central

i've read from my research that the ferry should be riden just before 8pm for the symphony of lights, which we attempted but might have taken the wrong route resulting on us missing out on the show. >.<

eight | my first taste of central in hong kong island, staring at the illuminated skyscrapers up-close while experiencing the modern progression of the commercial district, exuding a dissimilar atmosphere from kowloon. 

nine | slurping on famed steamed milk pudding in two films (hkd 29) from yee shun dairy company. a quick mtr ride to jordan, we found ourselves in a old school cafe having an post-dinner dessert/supper on the two of their signature dishes. more on yee shun dairy company on a separate entry. 

{ extra travel notes }

one "moon walk simulation" at the space museum that may earn it a quick visit. i still can't decide what i think of it but i could say i've done it! :) 

two i've grown to love sending postcards from my travels as souvenirs. but what i thought was exciting was the discovery of their stamp machine (nerd moment alert!). it was an awesome old-school stamp dispenser that doubles as a mailbox - make sure you have enough coins to purchase your stamps!

three the connection within the underground subway stations from central mtr to hong kong mtr is via underground walking passage. AND after what felt like a marathon (felt like it after a whole day of walking and not a lot of sitting), it still costs hkd 3.20 for using the underground passage, which i guess, to be fair had some travelators along the way. 

kowloon possesses a special charm that was reminiscent to the older parts of kl city that i grew up in, capturing the essence of the urban city i recalled from tv shows, of the hustle & bustle of its people, of its culture and architecture and of its many night markets and stalls. 

the upcoming part three of this series ventures further out of hong kong just a bit for a departure to another part of the country - macau. that will be in the works soon! and it's back to hong kong island for another kind of hong kong experience. 

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