Nathan Road/Tsim Sha Tsui/Chung King Mansions - Victoria Peak - Mong Kok for late-night Chinese dinner
30.07.2011 - 31.07.2011 81 °F
Jigga, Serene & I start out early today...Hong Kong, Here We Come!
First stop: Kowloon Tong Metro Customer Service Station for Jigga's Octopus card and a map.
Next Stop: Chung King Mansions. We are checkin out the hostel -Apple Hostel at 36-44 Nathan Road in CKM- we've reserved for 30-31 July and decide whether or not to stay put in our current "fancy" (read: pricey) hotel at Hong Kong Baptist U.
Travel/sights: We hop aboard the Metro and head toward Chung King Mansions via the green line toward Yau Ma Tei. We transfer at Prince Edward Station to the red line toward Central Station, and disembark at Tsim Sha Tsui Station. As we surface, we are choked by the cacophonous blend of horns blaring, people hawking their wares, milling patrons of all cultural backgrounds, and banners and signs blocking the view of the sunny day. It's overwhelming! Since all we've seen thus far is well-laid out, suburban areas, we're not accustomed to this. As I walk, I notice in my peripheral vision a man approaching me, wheeling his suitcase while we pass crossing the street. As we pass, I feel his theiving hands clasp my wrist and attempt to grab the costume jewelry green cuff off my wrist. I remind Jigga: Nathan Road is full of touts/thieves. Be wary & vigilent.
We find the address of our hostel - 36-44 Nathan Road. We cross the street -not an easy task- and meander through Chung King Mansions. I had envisioned a neighbourhood/several streets. In actuality, it's just a block of apartment buildings stacked one-atop-another lining the outside of a boulevard of kiosk-style shops, stands, currency exchanges, cell phone resalers and restaurants. Nathan Road itself is a bustling, tout-laden, hostel-loaded tourist trap. It's not for the faint of heart. However, you can always find food, shopping, jewelry stores, Gucci knock-off bags and cheap Rolex watches, if you're in the Market.
After we tour Apple Hostel, we agree we're gonna stay put in our sublime accommodations. We're both travel-whooped, and could use a pleasant Home Base for the next 2 nights before plunging head-on into our exursions up the coast of Vietnam, through Lao and into Thailand. Besides, we justify our craving for comfort, knowing our guest houses in Vietnam, Lao & Thailand will cost us a paltry 378,000 Vietnamese Dong ($18 USD) per night. We splurge.
3rd Stop: Victoria Peak
We navigate the Metro and bus maps with a moderate success-to-failure ratio to make our way up to Victoria Peak.
Travel: Tsim Sha Tsui red line toward Central Station. This portion of the Metro actually traverses below Victoria Harbour! While you can't see anything but subway tunnel, it's still Cool. Exit Admiralty Station. Walk toward Queensway Plaza and catch double-decker bus #15. This can be a bit tricky - we were sure to ask directions along the way so we didn't get lost.
Sights: The bus uses switchback roads to snake its way up the mountain side. The scenery is breathtaking! We take in views down the mountain of Hong Kong Island's skyline as well as views across Victoria Harbour of Kowloon and the junk boats in the Typhoon Harbour. Once we reach the top, we stroll around the touristy areas, snapping photos, sampling Gino's Gelato, and having a lunch at Nak's Noodles - a Chinese noodle joint that's hosted Anthony Bourdain. We know this b/c we saw an article under the glasstop of our table in the restaurant. I make sure to take this opportunity to buy my piece of "local artwork" from a stand at the top of the Peak. Fits right into my budget: I haggle the guy down to 50 HKD - right in my target price range of $5-10 USD. After we've had our fill, we opt to ride the Peak Tram back down to Central Station. Yup - our Octopus card works here, too.
BTW...did I mention how cool the Octopus Card is for a convenient, inexpensive way to use the public transportation system in Hong Kong?
We are pooped, so we all head back to the hotel via taxi -we're too tired to navigate the Metro system and do transfers- and catch a few winks. A few winks turns into 4-hour naps, but that's good, b/c we're motivated to try new eats!
4th Stop: Mong Kok at night
When we ask the front desk receptionist where to go to eat at 21:30 at night, she looks at us blankly. We press: the Mall? Tsim Sha Tsui? There has to be somewhere to eat late at night in this crazy town! "Mong Kok" she says.
We walk to Kowloon Tong Station and take the green line Metro 3 stops to Mong Kok. Like Nathan Road, this place is goin off at night! Nowhere to eat...what?! We pop in and out of restaurants, looking for vegetarian fare. Closest we came was a hole-in-the-wall Cantonese soup place serving fish cakes in a noodle soup with veggies. No-can-do. Jigga needs to eat some protein, and fish isn't on the menu. So we press on, and find a cool, locals-eat-here Chinese restaurant that fits the bill. We order Tofu Chow Mein, Buddha's Delight, and Curried Veggies with a side of spaghetti for Es. It works. On our way back toward the Metro, Jigga wants to explore a bit. We head to a stand that sells Toffee Boba drinks. Yum! I'm instantly addicted to the coffee-toffee treat. It also gives me a caffeine-jolted buzz, so we walk around a bit and explore before calling it a night.
What a great day/evening in Hong Kong! Jigga's a Travel Companion and a Half. Love it!! :D