When I planned my first trip to Hong Kong, airline friends who had been there spoke about the incredible shopping. But one friend told me of the gorgeous scenery and good restaurants, which are two of my loves. He was so right!
My first time flying into Kai Tek Airport was incredible. Hong Kong is part of a chain of beautiful islands and the airport was in the city, extending into Victoria Harbor. It was incredible how close the plane flew to buildings. The airport, which was always a thrill for passengers, was replaced in 1998 by a new airport on nearby Lantau Island.
The ferry between Kowloon (on the mainland) and Hong Kong Island takes 10 minutes and you have a choice of first class (upper deck) or regular (lower deck). Standing on the upper deck, viewing the many skyscrapers as you approach Hong Kong Island and the myriad of boats in the harbor, I felt that I was a part of the hustle-bustle.
On Hong Kong Island, friends and I would take the tram to the top of Victoria Peak, walk about the area ; about 2 miles, with spectacular views. Then have lunch or dinner at The Peak Restaurant, where we could not get enough of the incredible sight of Victoria Harbor. Many hotels have rooftop dining (Sheraton & Hilton were terrific) and it was great fun taking the ferry late at night taking in the views and mingling with the crowds and street vendors.
One night a group of us went to Jumbo Floating Restaurant. My mother ordered a “perfect” Rob Roy. When the waiter returned with the drink order, she sent it back saying no, it has to have equal parts of vermouth with Scotch. After the 3rd time, my mother followed the waiter to the bar. My friends and I followed my mother. She very amiably told the bartender how to make her favorite drink. And success! There was clapping and much laughter from nearby tables as my mother enjoyed her Rob Roy and we all toasted another perfect evening.
The Hong Kong Hilton had its own brigantine sailing ship, the Wan Fu. It was fabulous for day sails about the harbor or for sunset cocktail cruises. From the cocktail cruise, we’d head for dinner. Favorite places other than a rooftop restaurant included Jimmy’s Kitchen and La Taverna Ristorante. Jimmy’s Kitchen menu was like a telephone book and they even served the most fantastic Baked Alaska. La Taverna was as good as any Italian restaurant in Italy, and they had my favorite, Pasta Carbonara, on their extensive menu. They were two places that I loved and would always visit on subsequent trips.
Another favorite spot to eat was the luncheon buffet at The Peninsula Hotel. The food and service were excellent and was always a place that I recommended to others. There were marvelous local places for dim-sum and I can still taste some of the specialties. Hong Kong is a food lover’s paradise.
In addition to exploring Hong Kong and the New Territories, I recall taking a double-decker local bus to beautiful Repulse Bay and continuing to the town of Stanley, where all of the locals shopped. Yes, you would have to bargain and that could be fun. One time I bought a beautiful (large) lazy susan and ended up having to buy an additional suitcase. Funny, as I needed the extra suitcase because a cousin had talked me into buying her several “Cabbage Patch” dolls which were the rage. Thus, I had a suitcase to fill and what better place to be than Hong Kong.
Other favorite spots to explore included Lantau Island to walk about the beautiful Po-Lin Monastery and taking a hydrofoil to Macau.
My journeys to Asia included other countries but Hong Kong always holds a special place in my heart. It is not only the spectacular scenery, favorite restaurants, sailing on the Wan F or finding something special when shopping. It is all that plus treasured memories of traveling both solo or with my mother and friends. There are many great memories of meeting fellow travelers on their journeys and sharing our adventures and insights as we explored Hong Kong.
Travel well on your journeys and travel often.