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HK: food!

Okay guys! Here we go again back to Hong Kong! IMG_0840

This post I am writing with the most pleasure because it’s about my favorite topic – food! I will try my best to keep it short but you know me, I could talk about food for hours!

In Hong Kong it is…diverse. I am not a fan of the Chinese food Europeans and Americans are used to which would be some fat crispy duck and noodles boiled in oil. The actual Chinese cuisine is much more elegant and various. And what I absolutely loved about HK: with all their western image they still worship to the real Chinese meals and protect all those tiny cheap china-town-like places where they serve the original dishes. And it doesn’t matter how many Starbucks or five-star hotels with excellent properly-western restaurants surround those small and sometimes not extremely attractive cafes with no wi-fi, old furniture and only sticks as a cutlery option – you gotta try them out! I stayed in Kowloon and exactly in that part of the district where you find all the most original Chinese places to eat. It was so weird at first to enter, sit down, know nothing there and then order some noodles soup with dumplings in there (have never seen it in any non-Chinese Chinese restaurant, and it turned out to be the most classical thing to have for lunch!) that costs like 30cents. But I so much enjoyed it!
Some general observations before I dare to recommend several places to visit:
  • you will be served hot water. Just hot water. Sometimes there is a slight scent of some herbs being present if the place is a bit more expensive, but most of the times it is just water. Always boiled. And it is okay to share a bigger kettle with the whole table of people you don’t know
  • you will be seated with the people you don’t know, it’s normal. If you visit one of the most well-known dim sum places (there are not just tourists there; I was so surprised that the locals go to the most advertised in touristic guides restaurants, too), there will be a long line of people there waiting, they give you a small sheet of paper with all the dishes they have so that you can choose while waiting, and when something gets free they just ask, how many people you are, and seat you at someone’s table
  • the common way of ordering food is marking it with a provided pencil on a small sheet of paper and giving that sheet to the waiter; at the end it will be your bill as well
  • eating with their sticks is more of a challenge than with the light ones we got used to with our asian food delivery services. There sticks are a part of tableware, they are not disposable and they turned out to be quite slippery and heavy. So even if you are very good at eating with them as we were, you might still suffer big times
  • i don’t know how they don’t get all those endless sauces and bouillon all over themselves. I was a quite embarrassing eater to sit next to
  • here I am probably not discovering America for anyone: if they mark it as spicy, it IS spicy. And the asian spicy is not the european spicy
  • no napkins. Carry some with you
  • broth is often served separately. You are then supposed to pour it in your dish
  • order more. Snacks, desserts and things like dim sum are in quite small portions. So try everything! Shared meals are very diverse and interesting. I would even recommend to choose those over big main dishes.
  • buy stuff and bring as much of it as you with you. Buy it anywhere from local food shops to 7eleven, everything is cool! And look for the Japanese things, too – they are usually impossible to find, and HK has a lot of them
  • tipping is unnecessary. Some fixed service fee pro person is usually already included in the bill and they so much don’t expect extra tip that will run after you on the street thinking you had forgotten to grab change
  • follow Instagram accounts with food for a lot of useful info! I, for example, checked discoverhongkong, hongkongfoodie, hkfoodpost and several more out; just finding people through such locations as hotel W helps,too

And now – my short list of must-eats when you come to Hong Kong:

As I already mentioned, try as many of small street cafes run by Chinese people as possible! And the dim sum places! The most popular would be Tim Ho Wan, Dim Sum Icon or Lung King Heen. The first two are exactly those where you wait in a long line to be seated, order on a small sheet of paper and share hot water with unknown people at your table. But the food experience (well, and the cultural one, too) is just incredible! The last one is more of a fancy restaurant, I would also recommend to visit Din Tai Fung:

they even give you instruction how to eat dim sums properly, isn’t that adorable?! And try sesame balls as a dessert, you will love them!

A lot of cool places with spectacular views find themselves at malls. Check any big mall’s food corner and you will for sure find some decent restaurant with pleasant atmosphere, it’s really different from crazy packed malls’ food corners we are used to. I don’t remember the name of the place unfortunately, but I fell in love with spicy beef noodle soup on the last floor of the IFC shopping center. 5

Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine is definitely a place to visit! It’s just so much fun! The whole meal experience turns into something so childish and cute! And the owners are just the best!

Apart from restaurants, there is a lot of foodporn happening just on the streets of Hong Kong. They sell anything from proper French desserts to the weirdest jellylike unknown things all around you. Try it all! And as many things as you find with matcha and black sesame!

Another famous attraction would be the Jumbo floating restaurant. You have to go to the Aberdeen district for it, but it’s worth it! And the district itself is pretty cool – an old fishermen village where you can enjoy the freshest fish and seafood.13
If going even further away from the center – there are a lot of attractive places around Stanley Market. Less touristic, not crowded and very appealing being situated along the ocean marina that grants most of them a spectacular view. I tried Pinot Duck restaurant at Stanley Bay and absolutely loved it!14
Talking about bays, my next post that I hope is gonna happen someday is gonna be about beaches and hidden peaceful corners of Hong Kong Island that allow one to forget he is in a megapolis and enjoy pure nature and the ocean.
And now, being inspired to order some O.M.K. after having written this post, I wish you all to eat tasty and exciting (yes, I believe, that meals should be a thrilling experience)!


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HK: View Decks & Some Manhattan

While en route.

I am writing this post while being on the flight to Moscow. Exactly the same flight I took before going to Hong Kong which I am again gonna write a little bit about now. It has been 1,5 months, unbelievable! I recall every hour of the trip so well, especially while having a déjà vu on this plane. Ahh, let me experience that again! But I believe that more bright moments are yet to come.
Today I am writing about some of the most important moments for me while traveling – the views. I love heights. I am totally into planes, air balloons and view decks. So, Hong Kong is definitely MY place. The city spreads vertically, doesn’t matter how incorrect this expression must be. It grows. Seems like you watch it growing, live. I have never been afraid of height for a second, but on HK view decks I my head started spinning which is really a rare feeling for me (not mentioning situations where alcohol and love are involved).IMG_8012

I already mentioned the most popular and touristic site, Victoria Peak (above). It is worth visiting for sure! But when in Hong Kong, I wouldn’t stop there. Check out those places with incredible views that no tourists aim for. A lot of them can be reached while simply driving from Victoria Peak or Aberdeen Tunnel to Wan Chai district. You drive down along a curvy road and on your way there will be a lot of places where you suddenly are welcomed by an amazing view. There are a lot of bars with view decks in Wan Chai, too. Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
View 62. This is interesting and absolutely not touristic. Yet.
Admiralty and Central are rich with gastronomy heavens that provide nice views, too. I don’t wanna limit my list with any specific locations, so my main advice would be to ask locals and to check out all the malls as they for sure have cool views. Visit HK Apple Store, it’s even more impressive than the one in Louvre, Paris, I swear!
Even though the promenade districts are for sure very neat, bright and interesting, we didn’t stick only to them and that is what I would recommend everyone trying: walk up from Admiralty and Central, lose yourself on the streets of Mid-Levels, end up in Soho and stay there! That area got my heart. I already untroduced a short tour around in my previous post, but now let’s take a closer look. This is not Asia anymore. Take a seat in some beef restaurant, watch skaters passing by – and you are in California! My friend who spent quite a lot of time there was just astonished by how much the atmosphere on one of random small streets of Soho made him feel like he was back to his college time in Cali. I felt some of San Francisco, too, while watching cute drunk singing people climbing the street with quite a noticeable slope. But then you switch to some perfect Italian restaurant – and you are back to Europe with its crowds, food smells, glasses making endless cheers, different languages around. Take another 100m up with the famous mid-levels escalator, relax on the summer terrace (in March, yes! lovely, huh?) of some bar where they finally know how to make your Cosmo (HK is a complicated story referring to the drinking culture) – and damn it, you are on Manhattan now! But you know what’s the coolest? To stick to the drinking-and-experiencing-the-whole-world-in-one-district tour until like 2 a.m. and then, after all the fancy cocktails and snacks from different cuisines, stop by at a pizza place round the corner, grab some perfect junk food, cola, and find out that the kebab-like establishment has a deck with the best view ever! That is Soho. And that is what made me fall in love with Hong Kong again and again: surprises around every corner. Surprises like perfect Cosmopolitan where you never expect any drinking culture to be developed as well as in your home bar (yes, I have a place that I call my home bar); surprises like some street food place having the view that beats all the fancy restaurants on skyscrapers rooftops.

No matter how much I fell in love with kebabs’ view deck, let’s get back to the fancy bars world. The most famous view bar in the world has to make it to this post. Ozone bar on the 118th floor of Ritz Carlton, named to be the highest situated bar in the world nowadays. If you read about it, you expect it to be super upper league kind of place where one has to sell their kidney to get a drink. That is absolutely not true, and even though the bar is obviously quite posh, you easily get a sit with no reservation, the staff is extremely friendly to you no matter if you walk in wearing Louboutin or NewBalance, anything you wish for will be perfectly customized for you. And it’s just nice. You know when this simple but such a capacious word nice perfectly describes it all? So, Ozone is nice. And the view! Like if you were drinking from a crystal glass somewhere on the private jet that stopped and floats above the city! So high, hard to believe that you still are connected to earth at all! We went at night because wanted a bit of a party and had already seen the skyline in the daylight from all possible angles by that evening. But I am sure it’s cool at any time!

Where else to go for a view? Cable cars! They love funiculars there. The one that leads to Buddha, Victoria Peak or goes across the Ocean Park – choose any and enjoy!

Having written so much about the districts of Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island, in this post I already brought us to Kowloon (Ritz Carlton aka the tallest building of Hong Kong, can be found in the heart of Kowloon City). That’s where we lived and I would love to write additionally about what one can see around. But we are about to land now, so I leave this for the next time 😉
Love the heights, search for the views! Kiss from the skies!Processed with VSCO with g3 preset


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HK: The Big Buddha

IMG_1004Continuing to restore the memories from unforgettable Hong Kong.

The main thing that makes this place so special and unlike any other is this unique fusion of modern lifestyle and the traditional Chinese culture. The power of the last can be experienced the best in small southern villages as well as in the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island.

Tian Tan Buddha is one of the most popular things to see of Hong Kong, so we expected the place to be extremely touristic. Well, yes, more or less it is. But what surprised us is that it still is much more a real spiritual milestone than just a typical sightseeing booklet sight. Attracting pilgrims from all over the world, it remains a religious center and a place of sincere worship and and prayer. Excuse my probable incompetence in the world religions studies; whatever the Buddhist rites are, I am describing what I observed in my own words and feelings.

It is so inspiring to see how people come there to spend their time with what they believe in and they don’t care about tourists; if they want to kneel down in the middle of the crowd of people taking selfies – they do so with no hesitation. And, I mean, remember the pyramids in Cairo, for example. Or all those ancient temples. Used to be spiritual spots as well, didn’t they? But they barely are anything else than just tourists’ sights. No longer they attract anyone as something sacred. Either the religions are dead or the value of the place is lost. Instagram is the religion there now. But not here. Pilgrims mixed with random tourists and even cows make the way to the Big Buddha very exciting.

Po Lin Monastery is very interesting, too. Monks wander around gardens, traditional food is served to anyone, some spirit of appeasement fills one up while taking a walk among traditional Chinese style buildings.

The village nearby is much more touristic. Souvenir shops, American catering and small houses that look like if you were inside some Universal Studios set.

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Getting to the place is quite simple, as any question of transportation in Hong Kong. We took the subway to the Tung Chung station, then there is again a choice between a cable car and a bus. We went there on a public holiday which might be an extreme decision in such crowded city, but all went well and the line lasted just several minutes for us.

Lantau Island is very interesting itself. If you get more time to explore it, definitely visit some of the hidden bays, take a look at one of the longest bridges in the world, check out their huge port and !yay! go th the Disneyland!


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HK: Victoria Peak

IMG_0787As for now, I am just writing separately about the highlights of our week in Hong Kong. At the end there will be a longer post with an actual story, our map of Hong Kong and where to go, what to see, to eat, etc. And what I like the most about each new culture, something I already did about Norway and Istanbul already – observations stream. Soon, soon 😉 There I will try to come up with my list of the best observation decks. But this post is devoted to the major and the most popular one – Victoria Peak.

There are multiple ways how you can get there. The most well-known is a funicular (they looove funiculars in Hong Kong!) which is actually a tram, but I had heard about a 2h line to get there and the rumors didn’t lie as I observed on our way back. So we avoided that option. There is also a small bus #15 from the Central. But as we chose the nicest day for the Peak (which I strongly recommend to chose very carefully because quite often this area is very humid and foggy so you might end up seeing nothing from the observation deck), I so much didn’t feel like any means of transportation. So we decided to give it a try and walk there.

The route is very interesting and is worth walking itself; later on we came back to the streets we had seen. You start somewhere around Central Pier and just walk up. You should quite soon find yourself in Soho – our absolutely favorite district. There you easily find (just ask, people are extremely helpful) the longest escalator in the world – it will go through the buildings above your head. This mid-levels escalator is a famous sight. And it’s very cool not even because of the escalator itself but because of what you observe while going up: you literally pass close to the windows of someone’s houses, offices, art galleries, show rooms and just anything you can imagine in a very intensively inhabited modern district. Down there there is a flow of bars and restaurants, they make you want to jump off the escalator and share a drink with a bunch of skaters sitting on the stairs (what we, of course, performed later). Very easy to choose a place, too, when you move over all of them with a good observation capacity.IMG_0775After the escalator there is a road up the hill. It takes you to the most expensive neighborhoods of Hong Kong. Good views, quiet atmosphere, fresh nature. But we soon gave up and caught a taxi. Some guys who we met on their way back ensured us that the way takes about 40 mins, so if you are more stubborn than us – give it a try.

And here we go now. The Peak is reached. Whole Hong Kong is underneath on one side, on the other – endless ocean.IMG_0777IMG_0780IMG_0788IMG_0791IMG_0802

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IMG_0811We were astonished. Pictures don’t reflect what it really is. I have traveled the mountains and been on top of the world so many times (in all senses 😉 but what you feel there is beyond reality. A modern tall city cut into deep untouched forests and severe ocean. You just can’t imagine how something like that is possible to create. The image of the planet we live on changed in my head that day.

My main advice other than to avoid the tram would be to stay there until dusk. You won’t regret it, believe me!

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There are a lot of places to spend time at, Victoria Peak has a good infrastructure. But there was one special place for us – Bubba Gump.

The story behind it is simple but very valuable for me and my travel partner. Me and Vlad have traveled 4 continents together already. But it all started in California 7 years ago. That was our first trip together, unfortunately I didn’t run this blog until 2011 and lost so many moments 😦 Back then we met on Santa Monica beach, was a very warm evening in April, around my Birthday, like now. And a major adventure started. That trip around Cali brought a lot for us and for Vlad it actually determined his future path as he came back to stay there later. And that was when we had that lunch at Bubba Gump in Los Angeles. Was a starting point of our unforgettable week there. Can you imagine how we screamed when saw Bubba Gump on the other side of the planet?! Oh, yes! By the way, the story from “Forrest Gump” is somehow real, but whatever it actually is – their shrimp dishes are damn delicious!

Anyways, here comes the darkness. Impressive, huh?IMG_0820IMG_0825It’s just something incredible at night. Not even a fairytale because you can feel it, it’s real. You just sit there on some simple coffeeshop terrace and have the milestone of Asia shining in front of you. There is no color that a human eye can distinguish that you won’t find in Hong Kong skyline. This is life moving when you stand still and observe.

At that moment Vlad told me that the city had got him already even though it was his first evening there. We both agreed that we must have this in our lives somehow. And I have a feeling that I will have something to do with Hong Kong – how can you not, looking at this.


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HK: Ocean Park

IMG_0863Hey baaaaabyyyy! Ah just look at him!

So, today’s topic is the Ocean Park of Hong Kong. An amusement park together with an unusual zoo area, oceanarium, aqua park and much more – what else to wish for?! I have been to several Disneylands (Hong Kong has one of them, too, by the way!) and I am a huge fan of Port Aventura. But Ocean Park is just something different. It’s not just some roller-coasters, fun characters and the best junk food you can eat. It indeed is a whole world.

You hardly see so many rare Asian animals even in the most famous zoos in the world, trust someone who lives in the city with Schönbrunn and had been to San Diego zoo. And they just take your heart there.

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I had never before seen red panda before, for example. And I was missing out!

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The park is decorated in the traditional Chinese style but with a good taste, not like typical Chinese restaurants! It’s very authentic and just cute.

IMG_0887IMG_0889IMG_0891IMG_0893Different parts of the park are connected with the funicular and the railway, we tried both when moving around. During the daytime go for the funicular, but if you need speed and don’t want to wait in a queue – the fast train is there for you, very convenient and thoughtful.

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The view from the funicular opens up Repulse Bay for us which I visited later and am gonna mention in my post about beaches.

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The hill on which Ocean Park is situated is so high that you see the other side as well: Aberdeen village, one of my destinations, too. The southern part of Hong Kong Island is very rich with places of interest, so don’t just stick to the center.

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There we watched the real Asian sunset. Yes, it is true, sun turns red there.

IMG_0955IMG_0963If the views from the park itself are so catchy, can you imagine how it feels to fly over those bays on high roller-coasters screaming like crazy? Oh, yes, baby! That was an experience!

The Park is very easy to reach: bus #629 goes from the Central station or from Admiralty bus terminal; you can buy tickets to the park there in advance and avoid the line at the entrance. At the end of the day they have an amazing show like the one Disneyland runs, but here it was more effects, fire and fireworks than telling a fairy tale. Quite impressive!


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HK: contents

IMG_0905Here we go now! I am finally starting a series of posts from an incredible place on the other side of Earth. So independent and nevertheless extremely influenced by absolutely opposite cultures, it blows one’s mind. All that you see there seems impossible to fit together on such small territory. I have already seen a fusion of East and West in Istanbul. But Hong Kong is a totally different level.

Shame on me, I still haven’t written anything much meaningful from there. Being thrown back into the western society hit me so hard that I felt like all that had been just a dream. You gotta know what I mean if you ever traveled to places that differ significantly from your usual habitat. But step by step, I will try restore my emotions and share them here.

In this post that I simply named “contents” I open up a little bit more or less what I am gonna try to describe later. Let’s make it visual to give a better clue. I actually would so much love it if books had visual contents, too.

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street in Soho district

Hong Kong is divided in many districts which appeared to me as different countries. Impossible to visit all of them in one week, but the ones that I have seen I could compare in tens of sentences. An experience of visiting Manhattan, turning round the corner and finding yourself in a small civilizationless traditional Chinese village.

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skyline

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travel partner ❤

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Victoria Peak view

You hardly find as many incredible observation decks anywhere as in Hong Kong. Not a city for people with fear of heights! I am gonna share some popular as well as more secret spots with the best views 😉IMG_0835The food! My favorite topic when traveling! A lot to be said about Chinese food and Hong Kong eating/drinking culture, too!

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Aberdeen village

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Repulse Bay

Not only the city center is a place that attracts tourists. I was lucky to have enough time, fine weather and knowledge of transportation facilities to take rides to the furtherest corners of the islands, see the endless ocean, traditional districts with only locals and such wild hiking places that you would never guess to be in this modern place.

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The Big Buddha

IMG_1216I couldn’t believe it when reached one of the beaches and heard the total silence. Skyscrapers, huge port, highways, fast life pace of megapolis – this all doesn’t exist for you anymore when you drop your butt on cool sand in one of the well hidden bays.

There is just really so much about Hong Kong! If I wasn’t this lazy had more time I’d write a damn book about it! But let’s hope I can make it with at least couple more posts 🙂