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