My Taste of Hong Kong: Passport, check. Moneybag and e-ticket, check. A pair of fabulous high heels (just in case) and an international adaptor, check.
Once on the plane with the drama of the packing ritual behind
It’s my first experience of Cathay Pacific and the lifestyle choice it anchors with the little luxuries of their premium economy class: the welcoming juice, refreshingly warm facecloth and the handmade vanity pouches handed out with the menu.
I get to choose between traditional Chinese food or a more international meal. Settled in my window seat – with enough legroom not to disturb my my neighbour – I switched on the entertainment system.
My thoughts drift to the adventure ahead, anticipating the sensory pleasures that will turn my destination into a tapestry of smells, tastes and sights.
My flights of food imagination had hardly taken me to the streets for dim sum that we landed in Hong Kong at 07:00. First priority – get my octopus travel card, my passport to the underground that sets the standard internationally.
Heading for the subway, masses of people traverse the station like a giant centipede, the legs briskly moving in unison to guide it up and down the escalators.
At the Wan Chai stop, I step out into an autumn humidity. Shaded by skyscrapers I’m swept up by the people around me. Moving at the same hurried yet orderly pace I became a part of the city.
The middle class seems affluent, energetically building their own international city. The rise of a sommelier culture is indicative of the influence of brands to reflect human value and status.
It takes shape in glamorous wine and gin bars; Italian bistros and Spanish-like tapas establishments; street food to world renowned Michelin star restaurants.
To save your dollars for these experiences, all the single
I choose the trendy Que boutique hotel, a mere 10 minute walk from the Wan Chai underground and close to the convention centre, at the time hosting the HKTDC International wine and spirits fair, along with the Cathay Pacific wine and spirits competition.
The stylish, apartment-like room on the 23rd floor where I spent my first night is R1500 per night, which includes access to their business centre and free coffee. Compare this with the rooms at bigger hotels averaging at R4500 per night.
For R450 a night I could spend the rest of my stay in one of Que boutique hotel’s funky dorm rooms. My pod-like bed with its card controlled locker included all the vanities I could need.
Each room has a little lounge and a beautiful bathroom. It comes highly recommended for friends that travel together and would rather spend their money on exploring the city than on accommodation.
Having booked into my East meets West home, I head off to discover the yin and yang of the city’s food culture. The hotel is just around the corner from Ship Street, renowned for its Michelin star offerings and eateries where you easily spend HK$1000 on a meal.
I opt for the Temple Street night market to dine with the locals and where the tables are for sharing. Where there’s a gap, you just smile and take a seat. My adventurous palate had me ordering crab (HK$250), squid (HK$38) and handmade noodles (HK$28).
I did well with HK$35 for the local beer, compared to the HK$98 it would cost me at the trendy Wooloomooloo rooftop bar. Granted, the higher cost includes the vistas of the city skyline, the skyscrapers flooded by lights and the spider web of streets winking below.
The following morning I continue my culinary escapades with a Sham Sui Po foodie tour,
“This trail takes you to where you can taste some of Hong Kong’s most beloved treats. Sham Sui Po is a haven for tourists, locals, home chefs and professionals.”
Around me the density of buildings, people, shops, vendors and market stands forms it own world of aromas. Walking through the crowds, stopping to touch and smell all that’s new to me, I discover both cultural remnants of Hong Kong’s past and experience the present day working class community.
First stop is Cha Chang Teng, a Hong Kong style café with a Western twist serving red tea with enormous pineapple buns, named for its uneven skin, not its taste. The chef happily invites me into his kitchen, sharing the secret behind its deliciously sweet crust.
The next stop is a lesson not to ever judge a book by its
Add Hoisin sauce, hot sauce
Congee, the rice porridge enjoyed for breakfast with century egg, is another surprise-in-waiting. The strongly
By 10:00 this charming
At a soy
The Braised Goose restaurant is yet another food haven hiding its gems behind a modest façade, serving up an adapted version of Chiuchow cuisine (pig trotters and goose meat) from the Guangdong province.
Make as many gratifying sounds as you please, as long as you remember its bad manners to touch the bones with your hands. Another lesson
Taking a short break from
I get to nibble from jars of pickled radish before tucking into the legendary handmade egg noodles, smothered in dry shrimp roe.
Well-fed I headed for the nearest underground – destination Tung Chung. Lantau
Was it not for the prepaid voucher allowing me priority entry at the Ngong Ping Tung Cable Car, I would have turned around at the sight of the long and winding
How glad I was that I didn’t as the cable car travels over lush mountain valleys until the Big Buddha appears in the distance. The Po Lin Monastery at its feet was founded by three monks in 1906, while the Big Buddha was erected in 1993, looking south in the direction of China out of respect for the motherland.
The tour allows for enough leisure time to walk the 260 steps up to the Buddha and explore the surrounds before departing for the Tai O Fishing Village.
With an hour left before sunset, my camera and I lost ourselves in the tiny corridors of the village with its stray cats and people selling seafood at every corner.
A small crowd drew me to the villagers playing the ancient card game Fan Tan under the
I keep my one eye on the viewfinder, hoping for a glimpse of a rare pink dolphin. Then again, how much luckier can a girl be in Hong Kong?
• Cathay Pacific is the preferred airline. Promoting themselves as a lifestyle brand, one can visit their website for accommodation and travel ideas. Go to cathaypacific.com.
• Have a look at the Cue-hotel – well worth it! cue-hotel.com
story by Samarie Smith