First trip to Asia (part 6: Hong Kong)

Thursday

We arrived around 6:30pm, in plenty of time to get to our hotel in Kowloon and see the nightly light show from across the bay. Immigration and the taxi ride were both very easy, except that I mismanaged the payment. It was HK$250 for the taxi, and I gave him two HK$100 bills and what I thought was a HK$50 from the taxi we took in Macau. It turned out that last bill was in Macau currency, which isn’t taken in Hong Kong. One of the people in the hotel helped sort it out and changed out a large bill for me in the process. Everyone wins.

From here forward, this is pretty much a tale of how Virginia and Chris live a life of luxury. Be forewarned, there’s a lot of bragging.

Virginia used points to get us into the InterContinental Hong Kong, which is on the bay staring at Hong Kong Island. The service is top-notch, and we were quickly checked in and taken up to our room. Frankly, our view is absurdly good. ABSURDLY GOOD. Tipping in Hong Kong is basically non-existent due to the culture, so I actually feel a little guilty with how much service we receive.

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Our room with a view. A stunningly awesome view.

Virginia had previously made reservations at Yan Toh Heen, a Michelin two-star Chinese restaurant in the hotel. After watching the light show from our room, we headed downstairs to feast on pre-ordered Peking duck. Normally, you need to pre-order 24 hours in advance, but we were told at check-in it was available, and we decided to go that route. Paired with a 2009 Nuit-Saint-Georges, the duck was perfect. And filling — we couldn’t even contemplate dessert.

Friday

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Our breakfast spot.

We woke up around 7am, fairly late given we’ve both been waking up very early (4-5am local time) so far. Clearly the Peking duck and wine did their jobs. After staring out the ABSURDLY GOOD VIEW for a few minutes, we headed out for a day on Hong Kong Island. We took the ferry across (HK$4 for the two of us, which is about US$0.50) and walked up to possibly the oldest dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong, Lin Heung Tea House. We did the whole foreign tourist thing, not knowing what to do or where to go, but eventually we understood where to sit (at a table that already had someone there) and how to get food (be very obvious about wanting a trolley or just getting up to get something). Four dishes and a lot of tea later, we were full for the morning.

We didn’t really have much of a plan from here to lunch. Virginia remembered she had read about the Central-Mid Levels Escalators, a series of covered outdoor escalators and moving walkways that let people more easily go up (or down, during morning rush hour) the island’s hilly terrain. We went up for a while, stopping periodically to just look around.

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The escalators take you up, up, and away! (and above the streets.)

We stopped at Caine Road and walked east past the zoo before heading down through Hong Kong Park. After checking our bearings, I found a coffee shop very close to our lunch destination, so we kept heading downhill into the Wan Chai district. The coffee shop, Mansons Lot, turned out to be a very small café with comfortable seating, good coffee, and the Beatles’ greatest hits. In other words, a nearly ideal spot to rest before lunch.

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The chef had plenty of ideas for his menu.

And then to the crown jewel of the day — lunch at Bo Innovation. Each course of our seafood-driven set menu was magnificent, from exquisitely seared toro to foie gras with caramel ice cream and apple to the langoustine with cauliflower risotto. We paired this with an Oregon chardonnay, which ended up working well with most of the menu. And like pretty much everywhere we’ve been on this trip, the service was outstanding and friendly.

By the time we finished lunch, we were more tired than expected. So we headed back across the bay to our hotel to rest for a bit. Virginia wanted afternoon tea, so we visited the Peninsula Hotel for their tea for two. The Peninsula dates back to the 1920s and definitely has the feel of British colonialism as you sip tea and nibble on a scone with clotted cream and jam. This ended up being our dinner, and we even brought some back to our room for breakfast.

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Even when cloudy, looking across Victoria Bay is worth doing a lot.

After tea, we wandered a bit up Nathan Street, a main shopping area. But neither of us were really feeling it, and everyone wanted to sell me a tailored suit for some reason (it’s not like I’m wearing suits on this trip). So we headed back to our hotel for a couple of rounds of drinks and the amazing view from the lobby.

Saturday

Time to go home. But first, one more time enjoying the view from our room. After packing, we made tea and had a simple breakfast while staring across at Hong Kong Island. Even when covered with fog, it’s quite a sight.

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Who’s that in the background?

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