Two Boots and a Farwa

Hong Kong! (Day 1)

Oh, boy. We have no idea where to start. Should we talk about the food, or the atmosphere or the shopping or the museums or everything all together? Or maybe we should probably start with, er, where we’ve been first. Even though you probably know by now, what with the fact that we’ve titled this post Hong Kong and all- Er. We’ll just carry on, shall we?

It all started with a Qatar Airways offer: Buy one ticket, get the other free! Never knew airlines did that sort of thing. But it came with a catch though; it only applies to tickets used before May, which meant we couldn’t use it for our summer vacation. So we thought, why not go on spring break? And then we figured, why not visit somewhere new? And so somehow my father and I ended up checking flights to Hong Kong, and we spent months compiling a 33 page guide in our excitement, and it all worked out perfectly. Sort of.

To begin with, there was a bit of a muddle to choose a hotel to stay in. You see, Hong Kong is split into mainly two areas: Hong Kong Island, and Kowloon. Hong Kong Island had most of the best reviewed hotels and is known to be where expats stay, as it’s a lot tidier or whatever, but from the online maps we consulted Kowloon was the place to stay in if you wanted to walk, and as we’re a walking sort of family we decided to take the plunge and stay there. (which was the right choice. trust us). After a lo more muddle, my dad booked The Peninsula, in the Tsim Sha Tsui area (which was another right choice, for the time). People kept telling us we should’ve stayed in Central, on Hong Kong Island, and the reviews on the Peninsula weren’t that hot to be honest (Langham Place had better reviews and offers) so we were anxious about our choices right until we actually arrived. After which we realized research really does pay off (thank you mother for spending hours on google earth), and my dad is always right (hi dad.)

You know what, instead of just prattling on, we’ll just show you! In pictures. Lots of pictures. Actually we might need to split the posts up because you might get a headache from the amount of pictures and then sue us (disclaimer: we are not liable for any damages of any size that might incur from viewing our spam at any time or in any location.)

 

Pretty Qatari island.

Pretty Qatari island.

Looks pretty, tastes like airplane food. I think there's a standard evil corporation somewhere that churns out airplane meals as a way to spite people who travel. Because... dunno. General evil points, I suppose.

Looks pretty, tastes like airplane food. I think there’s a standard evil corporation somewhere that churns out airplane meals as a way to spite people who travel. Because… dunno. General evil points for the General Evil Symposium, I suppose.

It’s two hours flight from Riyadh to Qatar, and then seven and a half hours from Doha to Hong Kong, so the whole trip… took a while.

Friendly porter. Hong Kongese are seriously nice, regardless of what other travelers say.

Super friendly cute old porter man. Hong Kongese people are seriously nice, regardless of what other travelers have reported. Dunno who they met.

Hong Kongy bokeh because bokeh is awesome.

Hong Kongy bokeh because bokeh is awesome and I’m trying to break a record for the number of times we say Hong Kong.

The perk the Peninsula has over the other hotels in the area is that they have a fleet of classic green rolls royces they send out to guests to pick them up from the airport. An employee helps you with immigration and luggage. That was cool. And massively comfortable.

Green tea and a chocolate box for the adults, teddy bears, juice and truffles for the kids!

Green tea and a chocolate box for the adults, teddy bears, juice and truffles for the kids!

Warning: I’m going to wax poetic about the Peninsula. Out of my own volition. The thing is, we’ve been in a lot of really great hotels in the past few years, like oh-my Allah-this-is-so-gorgeous-amazing-and-I-want-to-live-here-forever great, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen this level of dedication to keep a hotel guest happy. I think this is the standard for Hong Kong hotels, but the Peninsula’s the only one I’ve been to so far so it’s the one getting the brunt of my praise. What made me this happy about them? One, they checked us in in the rooms themselves, which, again, is massively comfortable (no uncomfortable waiting in the lobby with horribly wrinkled clothes and sleep-slapped faces). Two, the stuff they had waiting for us is adorable. The kids had their own slippers and linen, a teddy bear and chocolate truffles, and a spiderman toothbrush in the bathroom. (FYI. I stole the truffles.) There’s a vase of fresh flowers on the tables and a bowl of fruit that’s changed each day, and they- well. You’ll see.

We slept the first night we arrived because we’d been up since dawn. If you get there in the evening, I suggest you sleep as well because it’s a six hour difference from Saudi Arabia, and therefore jetlag.

Another interesting tidbit? Hong Kong starts waking up at around 10am. So if you’re an early riser when you travel, get ready for some aimless roaming around until places and restaurants open. If you aren’t… Yay! You’ve found your soul city!

Tweedledee and I got up at 8am our first morning (and all the other mornings. Don’t ask.) and walked around by the hotel. I’m happy to report we found some interesting things, so good thing we did.

Ad: Error.

Ad: Error.

A groom getting toasted by his groomspeople!

A groom getting toasted by his groomspeople! There was a wedding in our hotel the day we arrived, I think.

I LOVE the haphazard signs. This is Tsim Sha Tsui at its quietest.

I LOVE the haphazard signs. This is Tsim Sha Tsui at its quietest.

The exterior of the Sheraton, opposite the Peninsula.

The exterior of the Sheraton, opposite the Peninsula.

And then it was time for breakfast. We had it at the hotel because we still hadn’t explored the place yet. It was pretty good, S reports that her avocado and crab sandwich was delicious.

My milkshake! What? Milkshakes are a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Psh.

My milkshake! What? Milkshakes are a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Psh.

Avocado and crab sandwich. J does not like avocado.)

Avocado and crab sandwich. J does not like avocado, which is why there isn’t an enthusiastic caption here.

Egg sandwich. Also god. Just remember to tell them to hold the ham, pork is in a lot of things here.

Egg sandwich. Also good. Just remember to tell them to hold the ham, pork is in a lot of things here.

Hot chocolate was also decent. And pretty looking!

Hot chocolate was also decent. And pretty looking!

And then first day exploring commenced. This involved walking down Nathan Road, which I should point out is an awesome place (but please please please avoid the scam camera shops. Please. I saw a lot of tourists in there even with the million warnings online about them.)

There's a masjid right by the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station! It was really nice passing by it all the time and seeing people go in and out at prayer time.

There’s a masjid right by the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station! It was really nice passing by it all the time and seeing people go in and out at prayer time.

 

The city's ALIIIIIIIIVE.

The city’s ALIIIIIIIIVE.

 

Poor crab know's what it's worth already.

Poor crab know’s what it’s worth already.

 

You'll find these everywhere in Hong Kong. Reports have it they're a good place for breakfast, but personally we only tried the milk puddings and they were awesome. Just like مهلبية, and they come in the quaintest porcelain plates.

You’ll find these everywhere in Hong Kong. Reports have it they’re a good place for breakfast, but personally we only tried the milk puddings and they were awesome. Just like مهلبية, and they come in the quaintest porcelain plates.

milk pudding

photo 2

A watchfixer on Nathan Road.

A watchfixer on Nathan Road.

 

Halfway through we saw this big pretty glass building and went in, obviously. Turns out it was the Langham Place Hotel’s shopping mall (all the hotels in HK have an attached shopping arcade in them. No exceptions.)

weird awesome steel structure thing in the Langham Place mall.

weird awesome steel structure thing in the Langham Place mall.

They're posing for a family photo. In the nude. Shame on them.

They’re posing for a family photo. In the nude. Shame on them.

TIGERS ERRYWHERE. In a department store in Langham Place.

TIGERS ERRYWHERE. In a department store in Langham Place.

And then we got hungry, which is when we discovered Toastbox. We love Toastbox. They make these absolutely delicious japanese parmesan cheese cakes. And a honey marble sponge cake that tastes like you’re eating a cloud, if clouds tasted like cake. Seriously good.

green tea cake!

green tea cake!

 

Yum. I want to eat my screen.

Yum. I want to eat my screen.

balcony seating for Toastbox in Langham Place.

balcony seating for Toastbox in Langham Place.

On the way back to the hotel for a midday break, we passed by CN Square. If you’re in need of decently priced art supplies, stop by. S needed markers for her art courses. And they have really cute stationary, plus a good collection of stamps and stamp pads. It’s conveniently located in Tsim Sha Tsui, too, if you’re staying in the area. CN Square

CN Square 2

My dad had gone ahead, and on his way he met a couple of people at the mosque who recommended a number of southasian restaurants that were halal in the area. We had biryani for lunch the first day! It was okay-ish, nothing special.

chicken biryani takeaway.

The only major flaw in Hong Kong, in my opinion, is the difficulty in finding food that passes the standards. For some reason the area loves cooking everything in pig lard so you have to be extra careful of anything you eat (plain/cheese chinese buns, for example, get brushed with pig lard for taste.) So no dim sum from the streets, or  noodles or stir fry from any shop (they’re made in the same pan, even if you order the fish or vegetable sort). And probably the biggest mistake we made was not scheduling our food for the week. If you go, we recommend you do your research and schedule your meals for your entire stay, it’ll make a huge difference. If you’re too lazy, at least keep a list of seafood or vegetarian restaurants at hand, they’re pretty safe. But that’s a complete other blog post.

a surprisingly long line for tea at the Peninsula. FYI, my dad tried it and says it's pretty standard, nothing special. We haven't tried it though, so take that with a grain of salt.

a surprisingly long line for tea at the Peninsula. FYI, my dad tried it and says it’s pretty standard, nothing special. We haven’t tried it though, so take that with a grain of salt.

And then it was off to harbour city for more exploring. This is another place we came back to frequently, seeing as it was about ten minutes walking from the hotel, and had a bunch of breakfast-worthy restaurants and cafes.

Heritage 1881, between the Peninsula and Harbour City. There was a pretty cafe on the second floor that looked interesting but we never had the time to check it out. Nearby is Hullet House, another excellent candidate for a hotel.

Heritage 1881, between the Peninsula and Harbour City. There was a pretty cafe on the second floor that looked interesting but we never had the time to check it out. Nearby is Hullet House, another excellent candidate for a hotel.

pretty Hong Kongian harbour!

pretty Hong Kongian harbour. seriously the view is gorgeous.

crashing family ipad photos since, er... when were ipad 2s released?

crashing family ipad photos since, er… when were ipad 2s released?

coolest walls EVER.

coolest walls EVER. tapas restaurant in harbour city.

Hi. Okay. Pause for a second. We found THE BEST PLACE ON EART- I mean. We found a very nice bakery on one of the floors in Harbour City and sadly never had the chance to go back. It’s called the Little Mermaid and has beautiful, beautiful carbs on display. I wanted to eat everything. Everything. Bread in Hong Kong is generally gorgeous things. Basically all bread related things are mostly advanced versions of brioche, which we love so very much.

COME TO MAMA.

COME TO MAMA.

we left hong kong before I could try that cheese sandwich creation. it looks marvelous.

we left hong kong before I could try that cheese sandwich creation. it looks marvelous.

little mermaid 3

MORE FOOD. MOAAAAR. Good milk pudding but I missed the shop sign because I was busy eating. Sorry.

MORE FOOD. MOAAAAR. Good milk pudding but I missed the shop sign because I was busy eating. Sorry.

Out of the mall we went (it’s a little claustrophobic after a while) and onto the next patented tourist thing: the Star Ferry. We figured we had loads of time, and since it had been mentioned on different blogs and travel websites it wouldn’t be a waste of time.

Star Ferry

umbrella vending machine! which was out of order, as you can see, which was a shame.

umbrella vending machine! which was out of order, as you can see, which was a shame.

beatboxer in front of the star ferry kiosk.

beatboxer in front of the star ferry kiosk.

do not underestimate people's need to sit in the 'good chairs'. seriously. don't. it's like the hunger games except you paid 160HK for it and you're the polite family that doesn't push so you die first.

do not underestimate people’s need to sit in the ‘good chairs’. seriously. don’t. it’s like the hunger games except you paid 160HK for it and you’re the polite family that doesn’t push so you die first.

you get a complimentary food ticket thingy, which gets you a drink and some crackers. I got to try cold milk tea in a can! Tasted like the tea the كشكات in Jeddah's corniche make.

you get a complimentary food ticket thingy, which gets you a drink and some crackers. I got to try cold milk tea in a can! Tasted like the tea the كشكات in Jeddah’s corniche make.

Tweedledum enjoying the water.

Tweedledum enjoying the water.

the symphony of lights!

the symphony of lights!

My thoughts on it? Not worth the time. You’re better off visiting the late night temple market or something. Personally I liked the fact that I got to tick it off the list of things to do, but if you’re here for a limited time and you’re on a budget, your nights and money are of better use somewhere else.

alleyway, by Carnavorn Road in Tsim Sha Tsui.

alleyway, by Carnavorn Road in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Another halal restaurant to add to your list. A little turkish opening in Carnavorn Road off Nathan Rd., it had decent pizza, and okay shawerma. I’d pass on the starters though, they were tasteless.

turkish restaurant 2

address.

address.

pictured: not worth the calories.

pictured: not worth the calories.

YUM. We shared some of it with a man who'd come from a kash5a restaurant across the street. He thought tweedledee was 'handsome' and sliiiightly creeped us as a result.

YUM. We shared some of it with a man who’d come from a kash5a restaurant across the street. He thought tweedledee was ‘handsome’ and sliiiightly creeped us as a result.

And that was it for the day!

Or was it?

It wasn’t. The brilliant amazing lovely staff at the Peninsula (again not doing an ad I swear, I’m just really appreciative) had noticed when they registered my passport that it was my birthday on the 21st of march, and this was waiting for us when we got back to the hotel. :’)

SO. FREAKING. CUTE.

SO. FREAKING. CUTE.

with a card. again. SO. FREAKING. CUTE.

with a card. again. SO. FREAKING. CUTE.

And it made my day, it really did. Also, the cake was yum, so that was it for dessert.

pictured: worth the calories.

pictured: worth the calories.

Hokay, now we’re done. Honest. I swear. Thank you, you who have made it to the end of this massive massive photo-spammed post. I hope we haven’t bored you to tears.

Well. Done for the first day anyway. Next up, an attempted summary of the 2nd and 3rd days and an overview of Macau!

 

sincerely dedicated to all things happiness,

two boots and a farwa.

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This entry was written by themysteriousscribe and published on March 30, 2014 at 7:19 pm. It’s filed under travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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