Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Day 4 In Hong Kong - Change of Hotel & Checking Out the Central Business District on Hong Kong Island



Starting the day with a piece of Kai Zai Bing (Chicken Biscuit) bought from Shenzhen in Day 3; regretted not buying more but hold your guns; i found a better one right here in Hong Kong on Day 5. 

Following the appetizer would be a legit Hong Kong style breakfast at Downstairs Cafe (樓下冰室)! Although it wasn't fantastic; we got acquainted with two local elderly ladies who were extremely friendly despite our language barrier! 

When they knew our travel mates would be travelling to Chek Lap Kok International Airport via train; they almost had a fit and told us it's much faster to go with bus and the bus stop was right outside Panda Hotel! Super kind of them and above shows Alex checking out detailed information of bus number A31.

Looks like there are only six stops to the airport! According to our travel mates, it took them only about 30 minutes! That's some time saved as walking to the nearest MTR station would take us about 10 minutes and that's not counting the effort needed to haul the luggage.

Saying goodbye to our travel mates; pity they were only here for 4 days as i think i need a lot more days in Hong Kong given that i didn't explore that many places in my seven days here.

As for us, Panda Hotel isn't in the heart of the city and the inconvenience means we would be changing hotel!  I am so not going to drag my luggage on the train and bus, and opted to take the taxi instead.

Room view at Dorsett Mongkok Hotel. Despite its diminutive size, i totally enjoyed my stay! For my photographs and my review, click here.

Dorsett Mongkok Hotel is just a five minutes' walk from Olympic MTR station and two other advantages; right across the right are McDonald's and ParknShop supermarket!

Those who love Hong Kong dramas and movies would be familiar with the red taxis in Hong Kong! There are in fact other "coloured" taxis; the green ones serve only the new territories area whereas blue taxis are concentrated on Lantau Island.

Back alley; in Hong Kong movies and dramas, this is where bad things happen! With graffiti and bad lighting at night, it's a hot filming location for crime (be it fight, murder, rape).

Less than 200 meters from Dorsett Mongkok Hotel is the small New Kowloon Plaza where you can have your caffeine fix at Starbucks or buy the souvenirs from Kee Wah Bakery.

For us, it would be the place where we had roast delights (char siew and roast pork) from Tai Hing Roast Restaurant (太興燒味餐廳); former was a major letdown. :(

Walking to Olympic MTR station after our lunch.

Singapore's BreakTalk had a branch at the station! There are a total of seven branches in Hong Kong and that's not bad given the strong competition from traditional bakeries in Hong Kong.

Ten minutes later, we arrived at Kowloon MTR station.

Our destination; the Sky100 (天際100) Observation Deck @ International Commerce Centre! The city skyline was epic up here and we had great fun playing with the augmented reality (AR) app! Click here for more pictures.

I was wondering why we didn't see much crowd at Sky100; turned out the area was demarcated as a protest site that day. Curious i sure was as we don't get to see protests in Singapore at all.

Alex was hungry and got a pack of peeled pomelos as snacks!

Due to the protests, the streets are relatively quiet, some sections were cordoned off and there were reporters on site with cameras. We actually got rather close to the protesters. Check out my post here.

1881 Heritage - the Old Marine Police headquarters that's now converted into a luxury good, open-air shopping mall. I was keen to check out even though there was a light drizzle but time wasn't on our side.

We need to get across the Victoria Habour to Hong Kong Island!

There are a few modes across the harbour and we are going by the way preferred by most tourists; the star ferry via the star ferry pier at Tsim Sha Tsui.

I am a fan of Toy Story but again, no time to see what's for the event.

Boarding the star ferry (cost only HKD $3.70 an adult) and enjoying the breeze and scenery on board the star ferry with its iconic design! Strongly recommended as a must do experience for any new tourist to Hong Kong!

Disembarked at Central Pier; even though it has a somewhat colonial feel to it, the piers were built from 1990s on reclaimed land. For Star Ferry, it takes piers 7 and 8 and this would be its 4th generation pier on site.


The Hong Kong Observation Wheel.

Busking and other commercial activities along the sheltered walkway (known as Central Elevated Walkway) from the Central Piers all the way to the Central-Mid-Levels Escalators.

Signage was clear and i doubt you would lose your way.

Apple stores always make an impact and have you heard that there's alleged new one coming up in Marina Bay Sands in Singapore that's said to be one of a kind?!

Surprisingly, the central business district in Hong Kong wasn't as empty as Singapore on a weekend. Is it true that Hongkongers are more workaholics than us?

Another Hong Kong icon; Ding Ding, the Hong Kong Tramways! Inexpensive and efficient, it's amazing that the electric tramways (operational since 1904) continues to thrive despite the land occupied.

Just like Singapore, Sunday is the off day for domestic helpers in Hong Kong and their preferred gathering place seems to be within the central business district on Hong Kong Island. Hope it's not the same scene now given the COVID-19 global outbreak.

The tramways again; i mentioned efficient as they have dedicated tracks which mean no jams during peak hours. The problem with dedicated tracks is that the land couldn't be re-purposed for other uses. Oh well, sometimes you really can't have your cake and eat it.

Towering skyscrapers everywhere in the central business district! Even though Singapore has a lot too, we are rather limited in the height due to aviation restriction capping it to no more than 280 meters. One building was exempted though and the tallest building in Singapore is the 290-meter Guoco Tower.

Guardians at The Bank of East Asia building.

Distinctive landmarks of HSBC - their lions! So popular they were; there's even a wikipedia page talking about them. Click here to read more!

Bank of China Tower - back when i visited Hong Kong in 1997, this was the favourite building for people to take photos of along the Hong Kong Island skyline. Now, it has been overshadowed by the International Finance Centre.

Based on a 1920's tram, this is specifically for the one-hour TramOramic Tour operated by Hong Kong Tramways for tourists. I didn't bother and if you are interested, click here

Former French Mission Building; as you can see, there were renovations and once completed, it shall be the used by the Hong Kong Government for one of their many offices.

Lippo Centre; apparently the design is bad Feng Shui due to the "C-shaped glass-walled extrusions". Click here if you are interested to know more.

Clouds surrounding the peak; i am not hopeful that the visibility up there would be good but there's always a chance that things might improve. Life's a bet most of the times anyway.

Proceeded ahead to take bus number X15. Due to the tram system undergoing maintenance at that time when we visited, the only inexpensive transportation mode (aside from walking) is the bus.

It's a harrowing experience as we were so close to the edge of the hill! Nonetheless, the double decker bus provided a great view of the surroundings, including cemeteries, turf clubs, luxurious condominiums.


As expected earlier, visibility was bad
Click here for the photos. 

Those interested to take the express bus (available only when the tram is suspended) can exit from exit D at Admiralty MTR station. I repeat, X15 is only activated when the tram is not operational. On normal days, however, you can still take bus number 15 to the peak but it wouldn't be express service. 

It's 8.30 pm and we were a bit hungry. I checked the google map i generated for the trip and saw two places i had pencilled in that were just four MTR stations away.

Here we are; in the district of Sai Ying Pun! 

Streets of Sai Ying Pun; typical of most roads on Hong Kong Island fronting Victoria Harbour, they tend to be steep and not wide. Thank god for MTRs; if not, i can imagine how bad the jam would be.

The delicious white eel & spareribs claypot rice from Kwan Kee (坤記煲仔小菜); the Michelin Bib Gourmand outfit! No, i didn't regret having so much rice for dinner. Okay, i admit i felt a bit guilty but it's so good; guilt is thrown aside. For review, visit here

That's not all; Yuen Kee Dessert (源記甜品專家) was just around the corner and it wouldn't harm the body to have a bowl of their nutritional Mulberry Lotus Seeds Egg Tea! Check out my review here

Back at Olympic Station in order to get back to Dorsett Mongkok Hotel. Now, do you find it strange that there's an olympic station in Hong Kong when it has never hosted the Olympic Games before? The answer can be found in the picture above.

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