We’ve said it before, but Hong Kong is one of our favourite places. It was also the first city we ever visited in Asia when we flew from Vancouver in 2007, the first stop on our first long sabbatical. Wide-eyed novices, we knew next to nothing about traveling. Everything was new, scary, and exciting.
Our first night in Hong Kong 11 years ago…
Things are a lot easier now, of course. Technology has made travel almost too easy. And the technology paired with social media has made everyone selfie-obsessed. But we wouldn’t give up our iPhones or Google Maps to go back to carrying hard copies of guidebooks or being at the mercy of taxi drivers.
We’re making the most of our time here in Hong Kong, on this trip. We feel very lucky. We’ve met up with friends who live here. My colleague Dora and her husband are here with family for several months while Dora is on maternity leave. Scott has a friend named Mark that he knows through photography and other gear. They’ve both been generous with their time and advice.
We left Bangkok just four days ago. If you’d like to see all our photos from our month long sojourn there click this link. We don’t have much time here, not nearly the time we had in Bangkok, so we feel a bit under pressure to make the most of it. We have walked the downtown area in Central, which is a wonderful way to get some exercise and to see the hustle of Hong Kong on a workday. We’ve spent many hours in Mong Kok, just north of our hotel in Kowloon. Mong Kok is most famous for its electronics, watches, fashion clothing stores and neon lights at night. But it’s also home to several markets, including a large, two-story fresh market with sections for fish, animals, and vegetables. Nearby are the goldfish market, a vast flower market and a park where vendors have created an informal bird market. We explored them all.
Yesterday, we spent the day traveling to the south of Hong Kong Island and wandering around Stanley Bay and the famous market there. It’s a bit of a tourist trap. But just a short way from all the burger restaurants and gastro pubs serving Italian food, you can still find a wonderful place to eat brisket noodles and sip strong Hong Kong-style milk tea; if you look hard enough. It was there that we met Al Lee, the man running Man Yip, a small restaurant squeezed into a narrow alley inside an old building. Next door is a little place serving strong Hong Kong-style milk tea.
Man Yip Restaurant in Stanley Bay
We spent an hour chatting with Al about how much things had changed in ten years. His brother lives in Vancouver. Al said he thought people were losing the balance of life, sacrificing everything for the sake of money and things. He described the rampant rise in housing prices, and how local people felt as though something was being lost in all the crazy development and drive for material success. Obviously, it’s a perspective we share. Hong Kong is an interesting and exciting place, but it’s a bit of a ground zero for luxury brand obsession and material status. None of which brings happiness. Al Lee was a lovely man who seemed quite happy on his quieter side of Hong Kong.
In the next couple of days, we plan to head back up to Victoria Peak to hike around and to explore Causeway Bay, Quarry Bay, and other districts in the area. We’ve never visited Tai O on Lantau Island, a fishing village with a large fish market, so we plan to squeeze that in as well.
Ten days is a pretty short stop, so we feel a bit under pressure to move around a lot and fit as much as possible in. Not our usual approach but we’ll make the best of it.
We will be here until early next week. Then we’re heading to Japan.