1 year 5 months later, we are back in Hong Kong. The city didn’t change much, in spite of the crippling umbrella protests that started in Sep 14 and went on for 79 days.
When we set foot once again in Wanchai district on Friday the 13th Nov 15, everything was as before. The same bustle. The same vibes. Only, the buildings looked tired. Or perhaps, we were the ones who were tired. Or it could be the weather. Cloudy, with a hint of rain. And it did drizzle while we were in search of that famous Jenny’s Cookies.
Now, we didn’t intentionally go out to get Jenny’s. We were in Mongkok for dim sum brunch (Hoi Tin) and since we were headed to H&M @ Tsim Sha Tsui, we stopped by Jenny’s. The hype was still going strong. You needed to queue outside the building for a ticket to go inside to queue somemore to buy the biscuits. And each person was limited to 5 tins. But the queue moved fast.
I told the girls, I might have eaten Jenny’s before but I really couldn’t remember the taste.
Truthfully, I couldn’t appreciate Jenny’s cookies. All those adulation lavished over the buttery taste, the textures, aromas etc. Sorry, those were completely lost on me. The cookies from Cookies Quartet were more my thing. Their cookies are handmade and absolutely addictive. Last year we hunted for the shop but failed to find it. This year, strangely, we found it almost immediately after we thought of it (shop 1, G/F, Yan Wo Yuet Building, No. 432-436 Hennessy Road). We spent a long time trying out all the cookies to decide which to buy. In the end, I bought a lot but wished I had gotten more! if only money and time weren’t issues…
Back to Wan Chai. This time, we eschewed the spacious, business hotel Ozo and opted for iclub Wanchai. So, iclub had this tiny lobby, shared the building with an old folks’ activity house, and had fewer number of rooms. But the hotel room was spacious enough for 3, comfortable and modern-looking; it had a club room on the 5th floor where you can help yourself to freshly-ground coffee and bread, for breakfast. Not that we particularly cared for that. With so much to eat in Hong Kong, we usually head out to one of their local joints for breakfast. But it was nice to wake up to good coffee in the morning. And goodness knew we needed those.
Well, hotels in Hong Kong are notoriously expensive and we wanted the address. Wanchai was/is still our favourite place to stay because it was easy to get to everywhere and everything. Shops. Food. Massage. There was so much bustle around the hotel. Honolulu cafe was nearby. Reasonably-priced restaurants like Keung kee was a 7 mins walk away. Found out later that it was recommended by the Michelin guide – that could explain the number of ang mohs we’d seen at the shop. In fact, I prefer Keung Kee to that Michelin-starred Yung Kee. It was cheaper too.
We are not foodies so sniffing out food trails was not the main thing. Hitting the premium outlets was. On the 2nd day, we headed out to Horizon Plaza first thing after breakfast. From Wan Chai, we took a bus (#590 or #90), alight at the terminal station, then walk 10 minutes to it. The bus fare was cheap and we got there pretty fast – so fast I thought of dozing but had to can the idea because we had reached. This was where i got my replay jeans, bags, purses etc other high fashion brands at steep discounts. Though, there’s a niggling suspicion inside my head that the prices may have been inflated before hand. But then, I’m no high fashion connoisseur.
Interestingly, they have replicated most of the shops @ Citygate @ Tung Chung Station so it may not be necessary to make a special trip there. ThoughI still prefer to shop here since it’s nearer to town, less crowded and I could gawk at designer furniture on the fly. For a more detailed description of the shops, check out this website.
Of course, we went to Citygate as well, since we were there after our Lantau Peak trek. It was a Sunday, so it was super crowded. As usual, there were tourists lugging empty luggages to fill up with shopping, mostly Mainlanders. Generally, the retail trade in Hong Kong seemed to be holding up well. Sogo for instance was horribly packed when we visited on a weekday. It was quite unbelievable.
We went to Victoria Peak too because I wanted to view the night scenery which had been touted dramatic/beautiful/fill-in-your-own-superlative-here. But, other than the picturesque views, there was nothing much to recommend it. The shopping was lacklustre as were the F&B options. Probably taking the tram was the most fun activity going by the km-long queue for it. But we’d taken a bus up (#15). And it actually afforded us the opportunity to enjoy the scenery as the bus went round and up the hill towards the peak. it was beautiful. And I had time to doze.
So, my plan to have dinner while watching sunset at Victoria Peak was foiled because none of the eateries appealed to us. We walked around, snapped a few pictures and was off on a minibus (#1) down to Lan Kwai Fong/ Soho for dinner. We decided to go for something different, something more cosmopolitan. And we found it via this blog.
The first 4 days of our stay in Hong Kong were cloudy, gloomy and grey but hey the last day was bright and sunny. Love those blue skies.
And the sun shone with even more brilliance just as we bade Hong Kong farewell. If only I can transpose this weather on the day we climbed Lantau Peak. But then my mates may complain because they actually loved the fog.
As before, we marvelled at the sheer efficiency and practicality and flexibility of the Hong Kong people. Cyclists on the trains with their bikes! with the front wheel released and strapped to the bike frame. What a marvellous idea. Now they could go everywhere.
We knew we didn’t need to buy a train ticket first, to get on the MTR @ the airport. We only needed to do that when we exit. And the group tickets were really a steal. 210 for 3 pax instead of 300. But the ticket couldn’t be used as an octopus card. But that was ok.
You don’t need to get a tourist sim @ the airport. You can buy it anywhere from any convenience store. I bought mine @ the convenience store @ Wanchai and when my credits ran out, bought a top-up coupon at the same shop (CSL, HKD 48 for calls and data and you needed to punch in some codes to activate the sim). But, ask for data-only tourist sim if you are staying more days and only needed to use data.
If anything, I found the Hong Kong people more courteous and more customer-oriented this time. The immigration check was a breeze and the officers actually greeted us cordially. The MTR staff were patient and understanding and didn’t balk at having to entertain our endless questions. Neither were the k-store staff. Our encounters with bus drivers were all good especially when we asked for help to let us know when our stop had arrived. They were all assuring. On our last day, this delivery guy who had been waiting a long time for the MTR lift, let us board the lift first. and he didn’t do it gruffly either. He was genuine and nice. Gestures like these especially during unexpected moments always leave an indelible impression.
I must say, despite what has happened in Hong Kong these 2 years, it has not yet lost its soul. Kudos. I hope they press on.
Categories: Northeast Asia