We checked out from San Va Hospideria and proceeded to the ferry terminal at the peninsula itself by bus, number 3A (or number 3) for MOP$2.50/pax. But before that, we enquired about another hotel on the same street (Ruo de Felicidade) as San Va, as we'll be back the following weekend for another night's stay, before departing for Malaysia. The 2 nights spent at San Va was an unforgettable experience, to put it mildly. In reality, you can imagine sleeping in a microwave oven, and harassed by untoward incidents. But let's not digress.
Ferries to Hong Kong are at full service, with at least 3 companies providing the same service. You can even travel to some parts of China, such as Zhuhai or Shenzhen if you wish to. We took First Ferry in order to reach Tsim Sa Tsui ferry terminal in Kowloon. They depart every half hour, so long waits are unheard of. MOP$155 (RM70)/person.
Typical high-rise accomodation for Hongkies, especially in densely-populated areas, eg. Mongkok, and Tsim Sa Tsui.
In an hour, we arrived on Hong Kong's shores. Even though you're travelling between Macau-Hong Kong or the other way, you still need to pass through immigration, and submit your passport for stamping, as though you're entering another country. Which led to another bout of anxiety, as facing another custom officer may develop into custom-o-phobia, with hostility reigning supreme. But Hong Kong's a lot different from Macau. Though you're not given royal treatment, but the officers, and people in general, treat you like how they treat each other. THAT somehow made our day .... ^o^
We then took a taxi from the terminal to Mongkok, the area with the highest population density in Hong Kong. Total fare for four = HKD50 (RM22.50), as they include extra charges for our luggages.
One interesting note ; Every road looks nearly the same in Hong Kong, and hard to differentiate from each other, as the buildings, the signboards, & the people (duh) mimic those from the next street, or the one after.
As soon as we're dropped off somewhere nearby our accomodation on Argyle Street, we were astounded by the immense crowd at every turning, every shop and cafe, and the Hong Kong residents' (or maybe tourists') walking speed and pace of life was an eye-opener. Especially when crossing the roads, or at the MTR (Mass Transit Railway, Hong Kong's subway trains) stations, you'll be knocked off your feet had you been strolling haphazardly.
We booked our room before we left Malaysia, as Dragon Hostel at 7/F of Sincere House on Argyle Street has been one of the most popular guesthouse in Hong Kong. The generally positive reviews on this place, and Min's recommendation somehow was reassuring. And we were glad, as the place was packed the instant we arrived ; throngs of foreigners checked in and all rooms were rented out on that day.
Basic amenities aside, free unlimited supply of boiled drinking water, fridge, and cable TV were some of the 'luxuries' we were able to enjoy
Our room for 4 cost HKD440 (RM198)/ night, a very reasonable sum considering this being Hong Kong, after all. But if you're expecting a suite with plenty of leg space, you're in for a culture shock. Just like the TVB dramas, space is a luxury, and the rooms are pretty small, but sufficient for the number of people staying. We had no qualms, as the room had air-conditioning, and an attached bathroom with hot shower. There are also a few shared bathrooms available for use, in case you're in 'emergency mode' while someone's using the loo. Spick and span, with clean bed, sheets and pillows, every night was a smooth drift to slumberland. ;)
Hou Yuen Restaurant @ 250-252, Sai Yeung Choi Street South
After some rest, and unpacking, we proceeded to Sai Yeung Choi Street South, and headed for lunch at Hou Yuen Restaurant, a famed restaurant-cum-cafe offering an admirable array of dishes and snacks, as well as set lunches and tea-time sets. One important advice when dining in Hong Kong, if you're looking for cheap options, go for lunch after 2 or 2.30pm, where the tea-time sets are on offer, and the crowd is thinner, thus killing 2 birds with 1 stone.
Clockwise from top left : Sweet & Sour Fish Set, Curry Pork Ribs Set, Special Pork Ribs in Big Bowl Rice, and Japanese style Chicken Thigh Set
The portions at Hou Yuen were astoundingly large. The rice for one can feed two, and they do not skimp on the ingredients as well. Especially noteworthy were the Special Pork Ribs (soft bones pork ribs) marinated in a special sweet gravy and the fish fillets cooked in sweet and sour sauce. Each set at HKD30 (RM13.50) which came with a drink (coffee/tea) and a bowl of soup. Another advice : If you DO NOT like evaporated or fresh milk in your tea, or despise overly milky flavour in your cup of beverage, stay away from HK's milk tea. But me being a tea fanatic, I'm obssessed with HK's version, and fell deeply in lurve with every cup at every corner. ;)Ornaments, souvenirs, clothings, bags, etc on display and sale
Mongkok is popular for a variety of reasons. Food, residential area, and of course, shopping. The few popular streets being Tung Choi Street (Ladies' Street), Fa Yuen Street (Sneakers' Street) and Sai Yeung Choi Street. If you can't find something here, you can still snack or indulge all you want, round the clock. Or indulge in people watching. But the diversity in the choices, options and brands available will definitely hit your mark, one way or another.
In Hong Kong, most people have the impression that shopping is a luxurious activity, paying premium price for something available back home for similar price. BUT some branded clothing lines have OUTLET-type stores, eg. G2000 and Esprit, whereby they're having warehouse sale all year round, heavily slashing the prices for off-season items. Wanna do comparison? A short sleeve workshirt at G2000 Outlet cost HKD59 (RM26.55), while long sleeve options start from HKD69-HKD150 (RM31-RM67.50). And the designs are no mere unwanteds, but rather sleek, stylish and fashionable, & some not even available in Malaysia. Esprit's T-shirts (for guys) start from HKD69 (RM31) onwards, and pants from HKD199 (RM89.55) onwards. A steal?
Their MTR system is impressive, with network reaching almost every corner of Hong Kong
After walking and shopping around, we dragged our feet back to our room. By the way, free internet service is available for tenants of Dragon Hostel. So we spent most of our rest time online, and checking on places to visit, as well as Malaysia's political turmoil.
Another useful word of advice; Once alighting in Hong Kong, it is highly advisable to purchase yourself an Octopus Card at any MTR station, for public transportation purposes, from MTR to buses and trams. Very, very useful, as you do not have to frantically dig in for coins while standing beside the impatient bus driver. Plus, with an Octopus Card, you're entitled to many offers and discounts on rides and entrance fees at certain attractions. One for HKD150 (RM67.50), where HKD100 is for use, and HKD50 is refundable deposit. You can refund any unused balance, though HKD7 (RM3.15) will be charged if the card is returned within 3 months (a minimal charge for tourists using the service)
Temple Street aka Men's Street - Peddlers doing brisk business and the infamous stretch of fortune tellers
At night, only two out of four of us went out due to some unforeseen circumstances. We took the MTR from Mongkok to Jordan station (HKD3.60/RM1.62). Walking around Temple Street and Parkes Street, we were slightly disappointed as there was nothing much to be seen, nothing outstanding compared to Ladies' Street and the likes.
Tai Leong Pat Kee Desserts House on Parkes Street
Initially planned to dine at Australian Dairy Company at Parkes Street, as their steamed milk and egg toasts received rave reviews. But luck was not on our side, as it was closed for 3 days. And the hawker/seafood fare on Temple Street was not too tempting, and attracted mostly foreigners. We were wary as tourist spots like these tend to over-charge. Ended up at a dessert outlet, Tai Leong Pat Kee, a quite famous brand in Hong Kong.
Walnut Soup and Steamed Egg Custard (Total : HKD18/RM8.10)
Their menu's extensive, as usual you have the boiled tong sui, the steamed milk or egg custard, the cold varieties, and much more. But all in Chinese. Fortunately, the boss was very very friendly, supplying recommendations, and catered to my incessant queries on almost all the items on the menu. Being thick-faced does help, I tell you. =P
The smooth, creamy yet not too sweet walnut soup's supposedly good for health, while the steamed egg custard was fragrant, smooth, and rich. But not too sweet as well. Satisfied, but still longing for more .... HOW?????!!!!
Hui Lau Shan Healthy Desserts
So we walked and we soldiered on, and reached a corner lot bearing the overly familiar moniker of Hui Lau Shan. Every visitor to Hong Kong MUST try their mango desserts at least once. Or so I was made to believe, judging from the never-ending rants on their desserts on the net. They have a lot of branches all over Hong Kong, hence not running into one is pure bad luck.
Mango Platter (HKD35/RM15.75)
The two of us ordered a Mango Platter to share, believing the portion to be large, but the dainty servings of each was slightly discouraging. The Mango Mochi with Fresh Slices of Mango was nothing special, the sticky outer layer enveloping a cube of mango but not as sweet as I'd prefer. The Mango Pudding with glutinous Rice Ball and Mangoes fared better, though the pudding here is more watery compared to our version in M'sia. The Mango Ice-Cream was served with strands of coconut jelly, a refreshing addition, as well as cubes of mangoes. As it was a Monday, our Platter was on offer (unknowingly, at first), and cost only HKD30/RM13.50.
The night scene at Nathan Road, the main road in Kowloon
After the desserts galore, we trudged back to our room. Bearing in mind Dragon Hostel on Argyle Street can't be too far off, as from the map, it was only 2 MTR stations away. But were we wrong. The walk took us nearly half an hour. And we were huffing and puffing away, but the beautiful night scenery helped in reducing our torture. The weather was horrendously hot.
Lok Yuen Beef Ball King @ G/F, Shop 2, 138-144, Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok, Kowloon
As soon as we were back, supper was on our mind. TallGal joined us then, for another round of gluttony before we surrendered to the night. Lok Yuen Beef Ball King has 3 outlets in Kowloon alone, one on Sai Yeung Choi Street South, another on G/F, 11, Fa Yuen Street, and another at G/F 45, Bute Street.
Suffice to say, their signature item is the beef ball. Half-expected to see a hollowed ball with soup or fillings, I was slightly disappointed as there was none, but instead my palate appeased by the springy, and flavourful beef balls. You can opt for their black pepper varieties. The beef briskets were pretty delicious as well, and you can choose from a variety of noodles to go along with the ingredients. But the Honey Pomelo Drink was a welcoming change from the usual beverage, and not one you can easily find in Malaysia. Supper for HKD67/RM30.15 including 2 bowls of noodles, and 2 drinks. Aaaahhh .... Blissful.
Argyle Centre @ Mongkok - Cheap ladies' clothings and accessories
After the satisfying supper, we leisurely adjourned to our room, fairly fatigued, yet our senses thoroughly stimulated by the day's experience ...
Next day's itinerary : Lantau Island & Avenue of Stars