This trip marks our ninth visit to Hong Kong. Shopping was the name of the game back in the day, but our visit this time is all about seeing what’s new and what’s stayed the same. After a day of rest yesterday, today we headed out to see some of the places we loved to visit in the past, and also eat at some of our favorite Hong Kong restaurants.
Our first stop though was the customer service booth at the Tsim Sha Tsui subway station, just a short walk from our hotel, to purchase the convenient, multi-use Octopus cards which are good for the subway, buses, trams, ferries and other forms of transportation around Hong Kong. Seniors over 65 receive a 50% discount on the Octopus Card, a big savings for us. We paid a $50HK deposit for each card that will be returned when we turn back in the cards at the end of our stay. Every time we use the card it not only shows the cost, but how much we have remaining (we bought $20HK worth of fares), and cards can be reloaded as necessary at machines in all subway stations.
From Tsim Sha Tsui we rode over to Central and walked to Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan. The temple was built in 1847, and is dedicated to the worship of several Chinese gods. There were many people worshiping at different altars in the temple when we visited, lighting incense, praying, and leaving gifts of tangerines at the altars. Candles were also burning throughout the temple and visitors are warned to be careful around the open flames. One of thing we have always enjoyed experiencing at the temple are the huge coils of slow-burning incense that hang from the ceiling. Although we understood little of what was happening in the temple, it was still a place of great beauty and reverence and we stayed a while to take it all in.
Leaving Man Mo Temple we wove our way down through Central’s narrow streets and lanes to our next stop: Tai Cheong Bakery, where we purchased a few of what are considered the best egg custard tarts on the island. Delicious is not an adequate enough word when it comes to describing these tarts – they are luscious.
Then it was on to lunch at Yat Lok restaurant. This little whole-in-the-wall restaurant serves one thing only: roast goose. But not just any roast goose – their preparation has earned them a Michelin star several years in a row. As expected, there was a line outside the restaurant when we arrived, but there was immediately a call for two people and since Brett and I were somewhat unexpectedly the only couple we were taken right in! We each enjoyed a bowl of noodles in tasty broth topped with goose along with a BIG glass of lemon iced tea. The cost for this absolutely delicious, Michelin-rated lunch? Just $10US each.
With our bellies full and happy, we next walked over to the Peak Tram for a ride up to the top of Victoria Peak, not only to take in the view and but also to have dessert at the historic Peak Lookout Cafe (formerly the Peak Cafe), one of our favorite places to dine. The line to board the tram was long, but it moved fairly quickly and before we knew it we were heading up the through the high-rise apartments that cover the side of the Peak. The Peak, as always, was very crowded at the top, but we found the Lookout restaurant and were seated outside where we enjoyed a delightful cool breeze and a view of Repulse Bay and Stanley. After our dessert we walked over to take in the view of the harbor and Kowloon before getting in line to head back down to Central.
After returning to Central we caught a bus to the Star Ferry terminal to get back to Tsim Sha Tsui. After our arrival on the Kowloon side, we headed to Watson’s Drugstore to pick up a bottle of water and a small bottle of White Flower Embrocation, a Chinese medicinal ointment that can be used for many ailments. We then headed into the massive Ocean Terminal mall to have an early dinner at one of our favorite Hong Kong restaurants, Paul Ryan’s Chicago Grill. Ryan’s serves All-American food (burgers, steaks, etc.) and Brett and I ate at least one meal there on every trip to Hong Kong. This time he and I shared a big Reuben sandwich, which after everything else we’d eaten earlier in the day was more than enough. We were thrilled to be given Ryan’s keychains once again as we left the restaurant, a favorite tradition from our past visits (and we actually still have some of those keychains from 30+ years ago!).
We walked over five miles today (nearly 15,000 steps for me – yikes!), but we had a wonderful, nostalgic time and ate some amazing food. Tomorrow though will be all about something new – we’re going out to Hong Kong Disneyland for the day!