Hong Kong 2016: Day 1

Saturday, 24 December 2016

For our two-week trip, we decided to fly to Hong Kong for 3 days first before heading over to Taiwan. Even we were a bit stumped that we only get about 20kg of checked baggage for economy, we still decided to fly with Cathay Pacific because of its reputation. ★Note: If you book your ticket after 15 September 2016 (that is, if your ticket was issued on or before that date), you get 30kg of checked baggage for economy. To be honest, this new policy is quite unfair because we booked at the beginning of the year and flew after 15 September 2016, yet was still stuck with the 20kg rule. Nevertheless, we were quite happy with the service we got from the airline and it was a good flying experience overall.

Even though we got something different to eat on our flight (Shirley and I ordered special meals for fun when we booked our tickets), I really liked how the cabin crew handed out a dining menu which tells you what you were going to have for dinner and breakfast. The on-flight entertainment was quite good as well (though, better on the flight back) because I managed to watch Lee Min Ho's "Bounty Hunters" and the cute animated film, "The Secret Life of Pets". I have nothing but praise for Cathay Pacific's online check-in service. #thumbsup

We landed in Hong Kong on Saturday (26 November 2016) morning at about 5:00am and went to get our Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM Cards. At first, I didn't know which retailer sold the SIM cards, but luckily, we stumbled upon a 7-Eleven (as it was one of the very few stores that was open in the airport) and they had them there right at the counter. #yasss We were only in the city for less than 4 days, so we got the 5-day pass for HKD$88. It's very easy to use: just pop it in your phone and you're good to go. No need to login some website or call any service number to activate it.

There are many ways to get to the city, such as a taxi or bus, but we decided to take the Airport Express line (MTR). The first train was at 6:00am and we caught the one at 6:12am. They come very frequently—about 10 minutes apart—so you don't have to worry about missing one and think you have to wait hour or so for the next one. After stopping at Kowloon Station (九龍站), we then took two more trains to Tsim Sha Tsui Station (尖沙咀站), being the Station closest to our hotel. We stayed at Butterfly on Prat (晉逸精品酒店-尖沙咀店), a 4-star boutique hotel part of the Butterfly Hotels Group. Although we could technically "check-in" on their computer system and drop off our luggage, we couldn't go into our room because it was only around 7:30am.

Hong Kong is a city that sleeps in to about 11:00am-12:00 noon, so if you get stuck in our situation where you're left with nothing to do at 8:00am in the morning, I hope you're hungry because the only places that are usually open that early are restaurants. That brings us to our first meal in Hong Kong: Australian Dairy Co (澳洲牛奶公司). I'm still wondering why they're called "Australian" when the milk they use isn't even from Australia. But nonetheless, we wanted to see what the hype is about because it's a very popular cha chaan teng (茶餐廳) in the city. We weren't particularly hungry so we only ordered a hot milk tea (熱奶茶), steamed milk pudding (蛋白燉奶) and an egg sandwich (蛋治). The cha chaan teng is also known for their macaroni soup with ham (火腿通), but this dish just doesn't make sense to us so we didn't order it. I definitely enjoyed the egg sandwich the most even though it wasn't anything special per se. I'm not a fan of pudding so it was alright to me, but the milk tea was too creamy for my liking.

Although this cha chaa teng only sells "breakfast", you'll find lines outside this place all day (opening hours are 7:30am to 11:00pm). ★Tip: If you want to beat the crowd like we did, get there by 8:00am because by the time we finished, which was 8:30am, there was already a line forming.

I originally had Ngong Ping (昂坪) on my itinerary, but after checking out the weather forecast for the 3 days we were in Hong Kong, I realised that we needed to re-organise our schedule. Therefore, we decided to walk up Central's Mid-Levels escalators (中環至半山自動扶梯), the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world. Stretching over 800 metres in length and rising 135 metres in height, it's only a 20 minute walk up (faster back down). We spent about an hour there, stopping here and there taking photos. Not only did we get to see the older streets of Hong Kong, it turned out to be a pretty good mild workout too ;)

By the time we finished walking around Central for a bit, we headed back for a lunch. We weren't really that hungry, so we had wonton noodles (雲吞麺) at Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop (麥文記麵家), as recommended by a friend of ours.

For the first time ever, I finally experienced how small one serving of wonton noodles are. Absolutely ridiculous! But the good thing is that, "why should you full on one dish when there is so much to eat in Hong Kong?" Although I didn't LOVE it (I'm very fussy with my noodles), it was a solid bowl wonton noodles and I don't mind going back for another meal. It's right next to Australian Dairy Co. too, so if you weren't full from that egg sandwich, scoffing down a some noodles shouldn't be difficult. Please note this place opens at 12:00pm noon.

After eating, we went back to the hotel to see if our room was ready. Sure enough, it was, and so we took our luggage, headed up to our room and unpacked our essentials. We were in the Signature Superior Room and it was one of the most spacious and nicest hotel rooms we've ever been in. We are not "big" people, but we are people who need A LOT of space so I really liked how wide the bathroom vanity was. The room itself was very clean, but what really annoyed was how there was only one chair in the room. We don't like sitting on the bed after being out all day, so having just one chair there wasn't really practical when both of us wanted to sit.

We then went out again and headed over to Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣), one of the best shopping destinations in Hong Kong. (We've been to Hong Kong a handful of times, but we've never been to the southern part of the city, Hong Kong Island.) We did manage to buy some skincare products and a handful of souvenirs, but not much though. We did, however, get to eat (yes, more food) some sweet potato egg waffles (雞蛋仔) Mammy Pancake (媽咪雞蛋仔) and green tea ice cream at Via Tokyo (they were both next to eat other). The ice cream at Via Tokyo was hands down one of the best green tea ice cream I've ever had. The green tea taste was rich and the ice cream itself was super smooth like a soft serve.

However, soon after we finished eating, it started raining heavily (for the nth time as well). And because we were in Causeway Bay, things just got really ugly due to the huge crowed of people crowding around the same place, pushing and shoving each other. Let's just say we were not amused and decided to head back to the Mongkok/Tsim Sha Tsui area quickly, where it was was slightly less crowded.

Day 1 was probably the most tiring day for us out of the whole trip because we fly for 9 hours and then got straight into exploring Hong Kong from about 8:00am in the morning. It definitely took a toll on us because we barely had any energy by the time dinner came around to explore the night life of Hong Kong. In fact, we had an early dinner at a nearby Korean restaurant and got into bed by about 7:30pm. Heh. I think we also ate the most food that day: a whopping 9 "meals" in 24 hours. #ded

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