In my younger days, when I think of Hong Kong it’ll be Jackie Chan (and a list of HK action films) and Kai Tak airport. A lil’ bit later it’ll be Kai Man Wong and DigitalRev TV.

I finally got to fly off to HK last June because of a gig. It’s been two years since I’ve been abroad[1] and I sorted my flights on Malaysia Airlines, which is another first for more than ten or even fifteen years for me. The HK weather in June was expected to be hot. After enquiries to a friend who is a regular visitor, it was described as “panas gila, tak de angin“[2]. The flight from KLIA was mid-morning and due to the timing, business class only served breakfast. So, satay will have to wait on the return trip home. The flight was non-bumpy, the nasi lemak nice, and the landing at Chek Lap Kok smooth.

HKG was massive and after a train ride, I was only at immigration for about 5 minutes. With no checked in luggage, I was out in the concourse of the airport. I got myself a tourist Octopus card[3] and boarded the airport express to Kowloon station which took about 25 minutes. Seats were aplenty and the aircon was oh so nice. The reality of HK heat literally hit me as I got off the station to wait for my shuttle bus to Yau Ma Tei. The stop however is about 10 minutes away from my hotel on foot. I quickly learnt to choose the walkways which had the shade. It was still hot but the shade helped.

The hotel appeared to be a newly built one as it was not on Google maps street view if you place the pin directly opposite it[4]. The room size and mod cons were comparable to the hotel’s counterpart in London, which is not bad considering how space is a premium in this island state. Moving about Kowloon is pretty easy due to the grid system, so if you can manage to keep your bearings right, you shouldn’t get lost. Having a smartphone with Google maps is nevertheless a no-brainer. Apart from the gig, I had a few places that I wanted to visit. One was the Muslim canteen in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island which serves halal dim sum, but luck wasn’t on my side as it was closed for renovation. If only my trip was a week later. Luckily, the other halal place in Wan Chai was open.

This was Wai Kee, a stall that sells halal duck rice. I’m not a big fan of Daffy, but their mutton/lamb curry is supposed to be good. I opted for the steamed chicken drumstick, but for some reason, I suddenly became a tad cautious when some bits of the meat was still a bit pink. I’m sure it’s all okay, but personally chicken has to be well done for my taste. And getting a stomach bug during traveling is a bad idea. I ate whatever bits of the chicken that looked well cooked and luckily we ordered a separate bowl of mutton curry. The meat was on the bone and tender/succulent. Talking about space being a premium, one is expected to share one’s table with other patrons. Not a problem for me anyway. Despite the appearance of the building, the food court was air conditioned. Which brings me to the subject of air con in HK – they are ubiquitous. It is needed as the city is pretty warm and humid, but the usage of air con in itself releases emissions that add to the heat. Talk about being in a vicious circle.

Stall No. 5
Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre
Bowrington Road
Wan Chai

After this early lunch, I was introduced to Chung Kee, a dessert chain which had a branch a few minutes from Wai Kee.

I’ve never had Chinese glutinous rice dumplings (tang yuan) before, and as an appetiser, we were given tang yuan in syrup with chopped peanuts, which I enjoyed. My friend ordered tang yuan in black sesame soup (tong sui), but I wanted something with ice cream and went for the serradura with a scoop of Oreo ice cream. I wonder if these are available in the Chinese bubble tea spots that are mushrooming in Sheffield.

G4 & G5 Wing Tak Building
15 Canal Road West
Wan Chai

We took the tram to another part of HK Island called Lee Tung Avenue, which is a new development containing retail units. My friend stopped by Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian chain seen also in the UK, and it was here it felt like I was in Jalan Sultan Ismail or something, with the numbers of expatriates and tourists.

The real reason for dropping by Lee Tung Avenue was to stop by Omotesando Koffee, a pop up coffee place I first enjoyed in the Omotesandō suburb[5] in Tokyo four years ago. Due to the heat, I ordered an iced capuccino and some kashi (OK’s cube version of pastel de nata). 懐かしいだ!

Shop no. 24-25, G/F.
Lee Tung Avenue
200 Queen’s Road East
Wan Chai

Makan aside, I have to admit my original and ambitious plan of walkabouts was scuppered by the intense June heat. The air conditioned MTR that ferried us around was the only respite we had from the scorching weather We were joined by another friend who is a local (somewhat) who then brought me around Tsim Sha Tsui at dusk when it was more bearable to walk around. I was brought around Kowloon Park and came across Kowloon Mosque, the largest mosque in HK, on Nathan Road. Following this, we headed towards Victoria Harbour and I saw the famous Peninsula Hotel. No high tea as we were not dressed for it lol. The Avenue of Stars was being renovated (a recurring theme on this trip) which meant no Bruce Lee. Got ourselves a good spot to rest and since we were there, we stayed on for the lacklustre Symphony of Lights. Sorry lol. After a quick meal at the oddly-named Café de Coral, I took a taxi back to my hotel for a very well deserved rest.

I enjoyed this trip to HK but if I could re-do this trip, I’d go when it’s cooler (January!), stay one night longer, check out Hong Kong Island more and make sure the halal dim sum spot in Wan Chai is open! Just to add, I got my satay on my return (delayed) flight. And if you are interested, there are a few photos from this trip on Flickr.

[1]Going home to KL doesn’t count.
[2]Hot as eff, no winds. ^^
[3]The mollusc counterpart to London’s Oyster.
[4]You can see it if you “walk” a few yards away from the pin.
[5]The Omotesandō one is now closed.