72 hours in Hong Kong

Another one for Wise Guides published some weeks ago. In light of what’s currently happening in HK, I’ll say save it for another day and go read this heartfelt piece instead. This is a HK I can barely recognize — for both good reasons and bad.

Kudos to the young Hongkongers who’ve banded together to stand up for what they believe in ! Glad that they are not as apathetic as I had thought or too engrossed in the latest smartphones to care about the future of HK. But never in a million years would I also expect tear gas to be deployed on unarmed protesters (in the vicinity of my former workplace) or pro-Beijing/ triad goons to attack peaceful #occupycentral folks in plain view of the police ! These are trying times for HK. Stay safe, my friends in the city and all the #occupycentral folks !

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72 HOURS IN HONG KONG

by Wee Ling Soh

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1/ Tung Yuen Banquet, G/F & 1/F, Hay Wah Building, 71-85 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai 東園酒家宴會廳  灣仔軒尼詩道71-85號熙華大廈地下及1樓

HK is the land of dim sum so the chances of going into a bad dim sum restaurant are close to nil. Fine, I jest, but you can’t be that unlucky, can you ? What Tung Yuen lacks in old-school ambience (none of those enticing dim sum push carts), it more than makes up for it with an all-local crowd on weekday and weekend afternoons. Can’t go wrong with that. Expect the usual dim sum suspects. Oh, and the congee is tasty too.

2/ Neway CEO, 2-8 Sugar Street, Causeway Bay 銅鑼灣糖街2-8號

How can a trip to HK be complete without the quintessential karaoke experience? At some branches (such as this one at Causeway Bay), there’s even a dinner buffet option so you can practically spend all day singing and drinking without needing to run out for food. One of the biggest karaoke chains in HK, Neway has enough English songs on its menu to keep non-Cantonese and non-Mandarin speakers entertained all night long. Don’t forget to download Neway’s free app for your iPhone/iPad which makes selecting songs a breeze. Trust us on this one. You are welcome.

3/ Cheung Chau 長洲

More than just an international financial centre with soaring skyscrapers, part of HK’s appeal lies in its proximity to nature. Weather permitting, HK’s outlying islands such as Cheung Chau, easily accessible by ferry from the Central Ferry Piers, are a fantastic way to spend a few hours. Almost incredible that Cheung Chau’s quaint village life, hiking trails and seafood restaurants are just a mere 35 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of downtown HK !

4/ Cong Sao Dessert, G/F, 11 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay 聰嫂私房甜品  銅鑼灣耀華街11號地舖

For a taste of HK-style hot and cold desserts, Cong Sao is a good place to start. The variety of desserts on its menu can be dizzying for a first-timer but you can’t go wrong with anything cold involving durian, mango or longan especially on a sweltering summer day. No reservations. Long lines in the evenings, especially after dinner.

5/ HK Tramways 香港電車

HK’s trams may not be the fastest mode of public transport on HK island but it makes for one of the best ways to explore the island. Costing just HK$2.30 for a single trip no matter where you hop on and alight (that’s even cheaper than the iconic Kowloon-HK island Star Ferry ride), you get to take in the sights at some of HK’s busiest neighborhoods. Just make sure you are perched on the upper deck for the best views. Consider yourself warned: It can be quite a tedious squeeze getting on and off the tram during peak hours.

6/ Moustache, 31 Aberdeen Street, Central 鬍子  中環鴨巴甸街31號

Step into the stylish world of flamboyant creative duo, Ellis Krueger and Alex Daye, who marries bespoke craftsmanship and 1960s HK with playful fabric choices. For those who do not have the luxury of an extended stay in HK for fittings (3-4 times), there’s a quirky ready-to-wear collection to check out but more importantly, pick up a copy of their excellent Moustache Guide to Hong Kong in all its hand-bound and Japanese stab binding glory.

7/ Tai Lung Fung, 5 Hing Wan Street, Wan Chai 大龍鳳  灣仔慶雲街5號

Unpretentious neighborhood drinking hole all dressed up in 1960s HK paraphernalia including a menu that is camouflaged within a vintage newspaper. Add decent cocktails at reasonable prices so it’s no surprise why it gets rather crowded most nights.

8/ Escape, East Town Building, 64 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai 灣仔謝斐道64號東城大廈

Not the classiest of joints smack in HK’s Wanchai red light district, ready yourself for a dose of the grubbier side of HK only when 1) you are inebriated, 2) it’s well past midnight and 3) you are craving to dance the night away to a Filipino live band. Makes for a pretty entertaining evening even if you are not out seeking a happy ending.

9/ Old Man Hot Pot, 25-31 Cooke Street, Hung Hom 老坑火鍋  紅磡曲街25-31號後巷

Its location nestled in HK’s funeral district, Hung Hom, hasn’t stopped diners from heading to this nondescript family-run hotpot restaurant. Choose your bubbling pot of broth, pick your meats and vegetables, mix your own dipping sauce and you are ready to go. DIY dining has never been tastier. Those feeling particularly adventurous should definitely get the spicy marinated raw cockles (if it helps, I’ve never fallen ill after consuming them). Reservations recommended.

10/ Hidden Agenda, 2A, Wing Fu Industrial Building, 15-17 Tai Yip Street, Kwun Tong 觀塘牛頭角大業街15-17號永富工業大廈2樓A室

Tucked away in the industrial heartland of Kwun Tong, underground live house Hidden Agenda is not centrally-located and not that easy to find so you can be assured none of those scenesters from Wyndham Street would have casually swung by for a gig or two. Check the lineup well in advance so you can make time in your itinerary to head out and support the thriving local indie music scene.

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