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Motormouth From Ipoh

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hong Kong/Macau 2008 - The Mongkok Rush & Temple Street in Hong Kong

Continuation from Day Two in Macau ....

For a satisfying, yet cheap breakfast, look for McCafe @ McDonald's, located at Largo do Senado

Just realised in my previous post on Macau, I skipped a supper meal at a noodle shop beside Leitaria I Son (Yishun Milk Company) at Largo do Senado. It was not intended, of course, but in someway, I'm pretty glad the 'ordeal' was over. The food was really BAD (we ordered Char Siew Noodles, Wanton Noodles, and Cheong Fun with PEANUT sauce), and pricey to boot, adding salt to the wounds. Remember, avoid that noodle shop beside Yishun, AT ALL COST.

That minor flaw aside, the next morning we decided to give McDonald's in Macau a try. The breakfast sets on offer are aplenty, though no doubt intimidating narrowing down your choices while standing at the counter, no thanks to our harrowing experience with the customs and the airport staff at Macau. But we were pleasantly surprised at the courtesy level of the staff manning the counter, and the supervisor welcoming & ushering the patrons. A sigh of relief, breathing some hope to Macau's hospitality gauge?

A pancakes (hot cakes' their term), chicken sausage (a meat patty) and milk tea set cost MOP$18 (RM8.10), additional MOP$2 (RM0.90) if you wish to have your beverages cold. A Ham & Cheese Burger cost only MOP$8 (RM3.60), and quite tasty as the meat patty and cheese is nothing like the ones in Malaysia. Or I could be hungry. =P They have macaroni soup and grilled chicken set, at MOP$21 (RM9.45), simple, yet substantial.

Embarking on a journey to Hong Kong, by sea

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.

Day and Night, Weekdays or Weekends, at every nook and corner, the never-ending seas of humans are mind-boggling.

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.

A residential block in Mongkok (Sincere House) where we stayed for five nights

Dragon Hostel @ Mongkok - Cheap, Clean & Impeccable Service with a Smile

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. ;)

Colourful fishes on sale @ Goldfish Market on northern Tung Choi Street

Ladies' perennial obssession = Shopping. Where else but Tung Choi Street aka Ladies' Street?

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.

People flocking to G2000 Outlet?!!! ^O^

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


mycroft said...

gues hk is food haven, u just bought one octopus card for the whole gp or one each?
the mango platter look cun!

Anonymous said...

oooh... i went to Hui Lau Shan during my HK trip last yr. I remember stuffing myself so full with like 2 of their mango desserts :S

The shopping streets in HK (lui yan kai aka ladies street) is according to my gf one of those tourist traps (rather overpriced). For good shopping you need to know which ulu corner of the maze to go to! For example, i wanted to buy a nintendo wii for my sis and a fren fm hk suggested some random place which I wouldnt have known about... twas at least 30% cheaper than in retail places.

Also their MTR is soooo good. Air conditioned, prompt and spacious. Better than london tubes!

minchow said...

How full-on is your trip! Hats off to you, really! The photos are amazing and even though I've been told over and over again that there really isn't much to HK other than to develop people-phobia, those mango desserts are going to make their way into my subconscious!

CRIZ LAI said...

Wow! You practically covered all the nice spots there. I'm still dreaming of going there one day. The last trip few tears back was heaven. It was around end of August. Lots of end of summer sales right? Getting a 100% wool coat for less than RM100 was a steal. The Giardano and G2000 clothes were real cheap then too. Food wise... no comments as I only know how to eat then. :P Overall, the trip to HK was a fun one :)

J2Kfm said...

mycroft : oh, buy one for everyone of course. it's like Touch N Go. if got extra can get refund, no worries. but we top up once cz we travelled a lot

genuiness : yeah, that's why we din dare buy any electronic products and the sorts. but the clothing outlets are quite worth the price. another Esprit outlet at Tsim Sha Tsui also selling at same discounted prices.
for other goods, I guess I'll ask some advice from you/your gf? :)

550mL jar of faith : if you're one who likes to travel and see scenery, tranquility, and not shopping and eating, I guess HK's a bit too much. haha .. the crowd was really really bad, esp on wkends.

criz lai : yeah, the sale, and the food made our days. I'll be back, for sure. hahah ...

Anonymous said...

Kheksei! Regretted din explore G2000 on a daily basis. If nt the chances of getting my size will be higher... =P. But the worst part is that was looking for the outlet nearly 45 mins, only to realize it is jus a block ( 2mins ) away from the Hotel!!!! Haiks! True enough. Mongkok area is a difficult place to rmbr the buildings especially if a person doesn't know how to read chinese.

JENCOOKS said...

j2kfm That's very good coverage of Kowloon and every details you have recorded and blogged here. Yes, Hui Lau Shan is good, small little corner and small little chair for my big butt. U must have carried a lot home.

Little Inbox said...

Food paradise .... yum yum. The tong shui is irresistible.

J2Kfm said...

mboy : yeah, I agree. it's a good thing we dragged along TallGal eh? =P

jencooks : carried a lot of what? weight? :) hahaha ... yeah, but all the walking kinda burned off everything. and then some. I came back darker, but not necessarily fatter.

little inbox : I agree. if only Msia has more tong shui shops, other than KTZ

Christina Kim said...

You had McD for breakfast in Macau...hahaha, now that's interesting:p

What a whole lot of variety and colorful pictures....I missed HK so much already!~
But really, HK is really a shopping haven:D

ai wei said...

the mcD n mango platter are attractive. i would definately go for it if i can make my way to HK!

is their McD good?

J2Kfm said...

christy : haha, yeah. cz in the morning, there's a dimsum outlet near our place, but the queue was daunting. McD also can lah ...

ai wei : McD not bad. but we only had the breakfast, so I cant pass judgment yet. :)

wmw said... intend to finish HK trip topic in less than 3 parts ah? This was long! Unlike me hor! Egypt 12 parts and still going...hahaha

J2Kfm said...

wmw : LOL. :) cannot lah, after few wks I'll sure forget most of the stuff. therefore must get this over ASAP.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

wow..wat a hotel you stayed in..really stayed like the locals eh?

sc said...

HK still looks the same since i was there 4 years back.. still as crowded as ever..

J2Kfm said...

Joe : yeah, hahah ... exp how they live their life. simple, constricted spaces, but sufficient.

sc : yeah, probably more crowded as time goes by.

Anonymous said...

Wah nice coverage on Hong Kong .... How much you spend on the overall trip?

Anonymous said...

i missed hui lau shan so much! the mango dessert was just superb and fantastic! next time i go must have it everyday! haha.

J2Kfm said...

email2me : thanks. the whole trip cost me roughly RM2k, including air tickets. but excluding the stuff I bought.

allenooi : haha.. but Hui Lau Shan quite over-priced lah. some other simpler dessert shops also not bad.

London Hotels said...

you had a nice trip of HK.....

Nighteyes said...

Hi there. Very nice blog :)

Mind if i ask, which website did you book dragon hostel? ?

Thanks :)

Hong Kong Inn said...

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