Friday, July 1, 2011

Hong Kong part two

Our third day in Hong Kong was more low key - both Mr Rosanna and I were pretty tired and took it easy.  We slept in and caught the tram to Wan Chai (an up and coming area right next to Causeway Bay) where we had drinks at the very hip Pawn before heading into the city where we met Stephanie and her family.  We had lunch at Tai Ping Koon restaurant (Luk Yu tea house was booked out) which was also an experience - the waiters are still older male career professionals (most waiting staff are now young females as they're cheaper) and it's one of the oldest 'soy sauce western' restaurants in Hong Kong.
After lunch, we walked along Hollywood Road (where my dad once lived!) from Sheung Wan to Central (the city) via Cat Street where I bought some tea at the LockCha teashop and trinkets for the boys.  We also stopped at a bar along the way to rest our poor, sore feet and aching backs.

A lot of high end art galleries and antique shops abound in Hollywood Road (named after holly berry bushes not the place).  Sheung Wan is also probably one of the last areas of 'old Hong Kong' with its tradespeople (a dying breed) and shops.  There's also some lovely colonial buildings to look at on the way.

We made our way back to our hotel for a rest before heading out for our last night in Hong Kong.  Mr Rosanna and I caught the train and then walked to the pier in Central to catch the Star Ferry across to the mainland which was an awesome ride.  Harbour cities are always beautiful and the lights of Hong Kong at night are breathtaking.
We met Stephanie at Hutong where I did feel like I was on the set of a Zhang Yimou movie - similar to our first night at Cafe Deco with amazing views of the Hong Kong harbour and skyline.  Our meal was fantastic (Hutong has one Michelin star) and we had a great night talking to Stephanie about life here in Melbourne and our little patch of the world.  Mr Rosanna had her in hysterics speaking 'strine' with a full bogan accent.  It was a really special night.  After dinner, we attempted to go to the Ritz-Carlton to check out Ozone - the bar on the top floor - but the queues put us off.  We were happy to call it a night and catch the train back to our hotel.
Our final day in Hong Kong was spent checking out of our hotel and checking in our luggage on to our plane - one of the best things about Hong Kong.  You can check your cases in early for your flight (they're sent onwards to the airport ahead of time) and receive your boarding pass while still on Hong Kong island.  This gave us most of the day (without having to carry luggage) to do some last minute shopping for the boys at Ocean Terminal in TST and have dim sum at Spring Moon at the Peninsula Hotel - another Hong Kong highlight and reflective of its colonial past and life in another era.  I loved the art deco interior of Spring Moon, the amazing service (Mr Rosanna had Birkenstocks on but instead of being turned away, some closed toed shoes were found for him so we could eat there), the washroom attendants in the toilets, the Christofle silverware.  I could go on.  Truly wonderful.
We sadly made our way back to Central and onto the Airport Express train to the airport where we caught our plane back to Melbourne.  Complimentary passes to the Qantas Club had us feeling pretty relaxed before we boarded (a good thing given we got barely any sleep on the flight back).
Overall, we had a fantastic time in Hong Kong but it's not without its downsides too.  In the time that's passed since I last visited, Hong Kong has lost some of its original charm with the proliferation of international prestige brands all vying for the attention of huge numbers of mainland Chinese with money to burn.  Mr Rosanna and I found the commercialism and the sheer number of soulless mega shopping complexes all a bit much.  I love a luxury brand for quality and style as much as the next person but the mindless, mass consumption of these as badges of success and status was pretty off-putting and quite sad.   It was almost a form of worship over there and at the end of the day morphs into sameness and something that isn't quite so special after all. 
That being said, Hong Kong is amazingly safe, relatively clean and if you are young and single, it absolutely rocks as a place to live, work or play.  All signs are in English and Chinese, most people speak English and it is so easy to get around even if you don't know a local.  The food, the sights, the culture and the internationalism of the place all make for a truly unique and exciting experience.

Hong Kong we loved you but we were also glad to come home to Rosanna - there's no place like it in the world.

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