Lay Ho from Hong Kong, China

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Having visited Hong Kong before and having ticked the usual sightseeing boxes we found ourselves back in Hong Kong once more with the sole intention of eating our way through the city. We managed to get through all the customs pretty easily on the border between mainland China in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s metro system is great and we found our way safe and sound to our accommodation, The Chun-King mansions. With memories of accommodation in Hong Kong from previous experiences, we were not overly hopeful that our latest edition will be of greater standards. Before arriving at these so called ‘mansions’ one can easily envision something of grandeur, upmarket with splendid grounds surrounding. Now take that image, scrunch it up and throw it onto the the top of a bin that is overflowing and ready to tip and has rats circling the base…That is a better representation of Chun King. This building was huge, but what building isn’t in Hong Kong? As well as huge all buildings, especially this one, have seen better days. Massive towering blocks of run down interiors stacked on top of one another like a human chicken coop. Arriving g at Chun-King we were immediately hassled by dozens of Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and Indians all promoting their accommodation in this mansion. As soon as we explain we have booked somewhere already they concede but launch further sales attacks…”Rolex, good fakes my friend,” “Hashish, cocaine,” “You want suit, tailor tailor,”… etc etc. These guys are entrepreneurs by the dictionary definition. Fingers in many pies as it were. My fingers remained firmly in my pocket and avoided losing my temper with their incessant attempts to sell me drugs and accommodation.

Again back to Chunking mansions. As mentioned before it is a huge tower, made up of 5 blocks connected. This place is actually considered a must visit place in guidebooks of Hong Kong, as the entire ground floor, a maze of illegal activity is accessible from 5 or so entrances leading in from all backstreets and main streets, is a dodgy dealers wet dream. You can buy anything here, all sold from little pop up stands and run down shopping units. Phones and cheap accessories, cameras, watches, food, clothes, laundry, tailors, barbers and many more all touting for business. We made it to Block-D and grabbed the slowest lift to the 16th floor and found the reception desk for our respective accommodation. We checked in and were then lead back down to the bottom floor and taken to another adjoining block and another slow ass lift to our room. Basically this tower seems like one big unfinished Jenga game. Basically people buy different spaces within, different rooms and units and convert them into bedrooms, randomly dotted throughout the tower in any kind of fashion and then set up a reception room elsewhere to act as the central heart of their ‘hotel’ venture. Regardless, we found our room and it was tiny, as expected. Surprisingly clean. Pretty well finished considering. Our attached bathroom was your typical toilet shower and sink combo, all within touching distance of one another. Like all Asian bathrooms, it’s possible to take a shit, shower and a shave, all at once. Happy enough to be settled, we killed time catching up with home and enjoying decent internet speeds. Later we set off back down to the ghetto first floor and got lost trying to find our way out onto the main street on the hunt for our beloved Hong Kong roast meats.

When I think of Hong Kong I immediately think of their incredible char siu pork, roast crispy duck, crispy suckling pig belly, and amazing Dim Sum platters. HK’s Cantonese food is some of my favourite and distinctly different to mainland China. Many restaurants showcase their incredible roasted meats in their windows. Like an executioner’s trophy cabinet whole roast ducks, geese and chickens hang by their necks off hooks alongside butchered chunks of dark barbecued pork belly. I understand how certain westerners may find this repulsive but personally for us it’s more attractive than the dancing windows in Amsterdam. I can’t control my urges to venture in and order up a plate of sweet crispy death. Our first dinner in HK served to be an awesome one. Most food tends to be great every time we eat, yet each restaurant/cafe/side street diner all vary in quality. Run down diners offer a more minimalist approach to interior design with dirty white walls, plastic seating and wobbly tables. Cafes are the next step up with bright american diner style seating, a lot of mirrors and dozens of pictures from their menus decorating the walls. And finally restaurants (average priced ones) attempt to appear upmarket but are treated like cafes by the locals with little to no fine dining etiquette being displayed. Regardless you are guaranteed one thing, a happy gut.

One thing uniting all food establishments, bar the food, is the crazy air con. Every food joint has insane air con, constantly blasting ice cold air across your food. Last time we were in HK Veronica picked up a bad cold/flu because of the constant lung drying air conditioning. And this time it was no different with V contracting a cold/flu again. We took it easy for the next few days before our trip to Nepal, as we needed to rest up and recover for our trek. We wandered the streets slowly, checking out different food experiences, wandered through markets and shopping streets. No matter how sick V finds herself there’s always time for retail therapy. As V therapeutically retailed her way through clothing stores I sat on the front step like a lost child, just people watching. HK is a bustling city and despite its old rundown New York feel, it’s an awesome place, with a lot of energy.  We came across a park lane full of huge colourful comic book statues of warriors and superheros and cute Asian characters. I was excited. V went to the toilet. After dinner we called it an early night with a few beers and Skype.

Another morning, another food fest, eating dinners for breakfast. Followed by more wandering, lunch, wandering, dinner, wandering then catching the harbour lightshow called Symphony of Light, boasted one of the biggest lightshows in the world where apparently all the skycrapers, hotels and buildings project lasers and perform stunning light animations across the dividing waters, all in sync with epic music. Sounds great. In reality, most of the businesses opt out and leave only a few buildings projecting lasers and flashing lights like a lonely empty disco. The idea is amazing for it but it was a little lacklustre. Our next day followed suit to be honest except with a pub visit thrown in for good measure. V ate great fish and chips while I dominated some Guinness in the process.

Day 4 V is feeling still as pretty rundown. I decide to play doctor and drag her into a smoke filled videogame arcade to watch me play some games. Afterwards we wandered through Temple Street’s markets as the merchants set up their stalls of nicknacks, fake clothes, tech, and toys. The narrow street edging the market on either side is lined with cleavage. The small dark doorways and side alleys become the fishing ports for scantily clad prostitutes with bras functioning more as a shelves supporting two overweight trophies, wedged thoroughly under their chins. Bright red lips, fake eyelashes and extensions finish off the stereotype. As you wander pass they grab your arm beckoning you in. Politely declining they sometimes walk beside you whispering “F*k me f*k me.” The only thing that could do was contain the laughter. Talk about direct. No chance of a name perhaps?..  And why the hell does my face resemble some drug addled sex addict? Like somehow I look like the perfect customer to all the illiegal shenanigans in HK.

Avoiding market touts and gonarrhea  we left and wandered to the waterfront to chill in the sun. Came across a drum circle on the way, a collection of drummers improvising a beat based on the direction of a very hyper Hong Kong lady on the mic. In a large circle empty seats invited the public to pick up bongos,  djembes, tambourines, cymbals, maracas and other varieties of percussive instruments, and join in with the infectious beat. As V chilled watching junk boats float past, I grabbed a djembe and grabbed a seat and had a lot of fun slapping away in unison with everyone else. All was awesome until they decided to mix it up with ‘laughing yoga’ where you laugh the beats out loud and look at one another while laughing. A little uncomfortable at first, but eventually it all just falls into proper laughter with half being swept into the surreal atmosphere while the other half just giggle and laugh at the bizarre situation we were experiencing. Apparently a pretty effective yoga technique leaving you feeling relaxed and happy. Kinda weird but definitely a new experience. Then back to drumming, dancing and general happiness through music.

After an hour and half of drumming V and I headed home, grabbed our gear, checked out of the vertical ghetto and made our way to the airport for a flight to Kathmandu in Nepal, with a 7 hour lay over in Delhi. Hong Kong is always a lot of fun to visit, and even if you love or hate the city, you will leave missing their food.

Damn I’m hungry.

2 Comments
  1. Awesome man, Hong Kong sounds like a totally different place from PRC unique in its own way!
    I spy a Ferrari 360 too! Nice snap!

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