After ten days in Thailand we were all ready to get home, but through some unexpected travel events, we found ourselves headed to Hong Kong for a few days. Hong Kong was always very high on my Asian bucket list and was our next planned trip anyway, so the stop made perfect sense. I really enjoyed the cab driver's "flair". Luckily for us, he could apparently still see out of the curtained back windows, too!
We arrived late, so after some sleep we were ready to hit the streets. I loved that the "vegetarian" selection on the breakfast menu was Cocoa Krispies. Sign me up!
Hong Kong had some beautiful coins! After years of English rule, they still have their own currency, separate from the Chinese Yuan.
First order of business for the day was to head to Victoria Peak and take in the view. We rode a double-decker bus which was big excitement for the girls.
The bus let us off at a big mall, then it was just a short walk to the lookout point.
The view was absolutely breathtaking!
No wonder Hong Kong is known as the Vertical City! Hong Kong even surpasses New York City in density and population.
You can actually hike to the peak, there was a lovely trail, but we didn't have time to do that. Too much to see!
We did happen upon a beautiful park, though.
The homes and property near the top of the peak looked extremely expensive!
We hopped on the Peak Tram for the ride down, which looked like a trolley. At times the angle was so steep it felt like we were going straight down, literally!
Built in 1888, the tram was the first cable funicular in Asia, and helped to unite transportation in the city.
We spent the rest of the afternoon on a quest to find Tim Ho Wan, the least expensive Michelin Star rated restaurant in the world.
We saw this dim sum restaurant featured on several travel/food shows, so we knew that finding it would be a must. We were also prepared in advance that there would be a wait to be seated- anytime of day! Luckily for us, the wait was only about 20 minutes. You order what you want while in line, and you hand them your order as you are seated- NO ordering from the table.
By the time we were seated our order had arrived. These were fried barbequed pork dumplings, which were amazing!
But, THIS is the reason we came. The baked pork buns.
I cannot even describe their goodness. Instead of a regular steamed pork bun, (which I liked up until this point!), they were baked with a sweet, sugary glaze on top that gave the perfect crispness to the crust. Inside, was a doughy melt-in-your-mouth bread and the sweet barbequed pork. Scrumptious!
We are all still dreaming of this- seriously! It's like nothing else I've ever eaten.
We also ordered some shrimp dumplings and "egg cake", which was kind of like banana bread minus the banana's? It was interesting.
But the pork buns were the best reason to come, hands down. In fact, after we had all eaten our fill, I turn around and Matt was in the take-out line for one more order. They were THAT good!
Hong Kong was such a sophisticated and cosmopolitan city. Since we had made such an unexpected visit, I was not prepared. I felt so shabby in my dirty beach clothes, dressed in a shirt that might have been on its third wearing!!! Oh well.
Forget about exiting through a gift shop, everything in Hong Kong seemed to exit through a fancy, upscale mall!
After an amazing lunch we took the ferry across the bay to Kowloon, the China side of the bay.
(The British owned the lighter yellow area of land from 1843-1997, when it was given back to the Chinese. )
After spending the morning at the peak, it was fun to see the view from the bottom, too.
As we were exiting the ferry, we saw this man, "performing" for tips. The girls were just beyond fascinated with this display and were full of so many questions. (Note the black blanket behind him, and I will get back to this....)
The picturesque Hong Kong from across the bay.
We really liked these lounging areas in a public plaza.
Also, the creatively painted steps of a city park.
Randomly wandering a city, with no set agenda, is one of my favorite activities.
After a long, full day, it was back to the hotel, which had a fabulous view of the bay,
AND the peak!
(Side note***Matt is a master at finding travel deals. We stayed at the beautiful Grand Hyatt, a five-star hotel, for free! Also, our total bill for 9 days in Thailand, for a family of four, was around $850. If there is a deal to be found, he will find it! He really should blog his travel hacks.)
This was the BEST hotel amenity EVER! An operable phone that you could take out and about with you. Usually, we've always been limited to finding wi-fi in order to look anything up. Genius!
I also loved this feature for my future home. A plug for the hair dryer in the back of the drawer!
The last and final day, it was back to the ferry to find the Hong Kong Museum of History.
Remember the "monk" performing for tips? Well, we happened upon him just as he was setting up. The girls were fascinated and wanted to stay and watch him prepare. He was SO annoyed that we kept standing there as he was trying to be so discreet and I loved it!
Eventually, he got all the way under the black blanket and we finally left, but it was fun for the girls to see the process and learn not to believe everything they see.
The museum was very well done and interactive. We learned lots about Hong Kong, and its history. I enjoyed learning more about the Opium War and how the British came to acquire Hong Kong in the first place.
Known as Sea Gypsies, the Tanka people lived on boats, and only came to land to sell their fish. The girls liked the boat replicas.
We learned that salt preserves lots of different foods,
and that in the past, most Chinese marriages were arranged. And the bride was carried in a carriage such as this, to her husbands family on the wedding day.
I also didn't know that Hong Kong was attacked on the same day as Pearl Harbor, thus beginning a three year Japanese occupation in the area. So interesting!
All of that learning made us hungry. Time for lunch! Ella had been doing lots of trip research on her own using the phone from the room. She discovered this award winning egg tart place in the area so we were on a mission to find it.
You know how we love our egg tarts! Ella learned through her research that this place was a favorite of the King, and dad was happy that they were also on sale that day! (In general, we found that aside from the price of accommodations, Hong Kong was a very reasonable city, even cabs were cheap.)
Good enough for a king, and for us! Yum!
We couldn't bear the thought of leaving Hong Kong without one, or three(!) more pork buns, either. So it was back to Tim Ho Wan for some take out.
Matt also tried the turnip cake, which got great reviews. Not my favorite, but he liked it.
We had lunch with a view!
And made it back to the hotel just in time for tea.
We spent the afternoon relaxing at the rooftop pool. After a week at the beach, Ella had a bad case of swimmer's ear, so she just hung out with me on the lounge chairs.
Meanwhile, Eva took advantage of the beautiful pool.
After all that relaxing, it was time for a proper British gin and tonic with a view.
Doesn't get much better!
And the view at night.
We had a few hours to kill before our flight home, so we walked around the financial district of the city.
I loved the architecture of the Legislative Council Building.
And lastly, a quick trip up Pottinger Street.
Apparently, we were too early. This street is usually a vibrant market for costumes of all kinds, but not many vendors were set up yet.
And with that, our unexpected visit to Hong Kong came to a close.
Luckily, we caught the last Narita Express train out of Narita International Airport, which greatly decreased our long trek home. (Even though it is considered a Tokyo airport, Narita is still about 2-3 hours from our home, which makes for a very long day.)
Hong Kong had been on my bucket list for so long, and it was everything this city girl had hoped for! I can't wait to return!