Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hong Kong - My First Asian HugeParty!

My first time ever in Asia, I learned that Hong Kong is a Modern, Magnificent & Vibrant HugeParty!


My first time in Asia. 5 Cities, 3 Countries, one giant HugeParty!

Michelle and I set forth on our AsiaTrip from December 17th to January 3rd. Minus the extremely taxing 25+ hour journeys to and from Chicago, the trip was absolutely amazing!

Our first stop... Hong Kong, the "Pearl of the Orient". We arrived in Hong Kong after a three-flight journey that started on a Thursday and ended on a Saturday. We certainly learned that sometimes paying a couple extra hundred dollars for a more direct route is worth it.

With that said, arriving Saturday afternoon meant there was no time to relax... we needed to push through the exhaustion and experience the highly touted Hong Kong Nightlife.

The Top of Victoria Peak, a "Must Do" in Hong Kong, but That's not why you're reading this blog...

Read more after the jump!!!


Quick Verdict on Hong Kong

While we've got some great stories and recommendations below, here's the Top 3 reasons Hong Kong is amazing.

1) Massive, But Convenient. Hong Kong is a giant city, and the view from the top of Victoria Peak can make it look daunting to canvas in a few days. However, the MRT (rapid transit) and availability of taxis make the city quite easy to explore.

2) Easy with English. Formerly a British Colony, Hong Kong's roots are in the English language. Nowadays, so many ex-pats and locals alike speaking English make Hong Kong very easy to navigate, even if you don't speak Cantonese or Mandarin.

3) The HugeParty is Diverse. Fantastic restaurants, local fare, killer clubs, seedy bars... Hong Kong has something for everyone.

Busy, Packed, Shopping Everywhere!

What to Expect?

  • Food - Amazing. This was our first stop in Asia so I was ready to eat everything. By the end of our long journey I had grown tired of noodles, rice, and steamed meat... but in Hong Kong, we engorged in everything we could get our hands on.
  • Take a Taxi - As a general rule, I believe Taxi drivers are out to take advantage of me as a traveler. Not so much in Hong Kong. Taking a taxi is extremely affordable, so avoid walking up the hilly streets and hail a cab.  Even to the airport it was only about $20 each way.
  • Rude Wait Staff - You get used to it pretty quick, but the first few meals are a bit of a culture shock. The wait staff is very busy, and definitely doesn't bother to cater to you as a tourist. On multiple occasions we sat down and had English menus with pictures dropped on our table. Once we realized the cadence was standard, it was no big deal, almost fun. Almost...
  • Cost - Not cheap. Drinking and eating good in Hong Kong can put a heavy burden on your bank account. Plus, getting to Asia is another costly ticket you need to consider. But there are some secrets to keeping Hong Kong affordable.... More on that below.
  • Avoid!!! - The Chungking Mansions. A massive, 17-story tall complex filled with cheap lodging, fake goods, seedy shops and aggressive business owners approaching you every 30 seconds. We went to experience the famous oddity, but it was way too overwhelming. The fact that we were both tall, white, tourists probably didn't help our cause. If you can't deal with crowds or aggressive "Rolex" dealers invading your personal space... or if you can't blend in, stay away.


We Ate and Drank Like Kings

Though Michelle and I planned this trip as a "couple's trip", we had plenty of people to help us along the way. That assistance started in Hong Kong. My Firm has an office in Hong Kong, and we were taken to two amazing meals at restaurants we probably never would've found.

Dinner at Lin Heung Kui - Located in Sheung Wan, this restaurant is an off-shoot of another widely popular restaurant Lin Heung Tea House. Cantonese food, super authentic, and we were with a local to order for us. This marks the first time I have ever had Roasted Goose, which was phenomenal. Pork is a big staple in Hong Kong/Cantonese cuisine, and the BBQ Pork was on point at Lin Heung Kui. This restaurant is spacious too, but get a reservation and pray that you have a courteous server, otherwise this authentic place may be overwhelming.

MMMMMMMmmmmmm...... Gooose.

Dessert at Yeun Kee Dessert - Traditional Chinese Dessert Soups. Yes, Dessert Soup. Probably too bland for most sweet tooths, and the colors aren't very enticing either, but if you want true authentic/nostalgic Chinese dessert... look no further than Yeun Kee.  

The line was long, the prices were cheap. We tried the Walnut Soup, Red Bean Soup and Black Sesame Soup. Hard to say they were tasty, more so surprisingly palatable. I'd go back to try the sponge cake, and see the look on the faces of first-timers.

Yum?  Black Sesame Soup (Left) and Red Bean Soup (Right)

Lunch at Tsui Hang Village - Located near the heart of Central Hong Kong, where you'll likely be spending lots of time if you are looking for upscale shopping and tall buildings, Tsui Hang Village is serving traditional Guangzhou cuisine at a feverish pace. The restaurant is massive, almost like a hidden banquet hall. At lunchtime there wasn't an empty seat in the place (get a reservation), and our food still came quick. 

Boasting plenty of awards for culinary excellence, many of the staples were our favorites, including the BBQ Pork, and shrimp dumplings. So much shrimp, so much Pork, for every meal... at this point I was starting to get shrimp-fatigue (is that a real thing?).

So. Much. Food.

Then we had steamed custard buns for dessert. Dear Baby Jesus these soft little buns filled with egg custard goo were delicious! Piping hot though, so be careful. Nom.

Steamed. Custard. Buns.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HUGEPARTY????

Hong Kong can HugeParty, let me tell you.


Lan Kwai Fung (Hong Kong HugeParty Mecca)

Perhaps my favorite part of city travel is finding the HugeParty Epicenter. In Hong Kong, that location is part of the Central District known as Lan Kwai Fung. Bars, clubs, restaurants, hookah lounges and 7/11 embedded into the hilly streets. One after another, playing loud music, screaming for your business, letting it all hang out. Pure bliss, if you ask me.

Lan Kwai Fung. HugeParty Hong Kong Central.
Club 7/11 all Night!

I can't honestly tell you the name of one bar we went to there, but I can tell you one club.... Club 7/11. Yes, the convenience store chain. Drinking on the street is allowed in Hong Kong, and with the bars and clubs blasting their music onto the closed-off road many bar-goers opt to purchase a cheap beer at 7/11 and drink on the street. So many people congregating and drinking turns the roads of Lan Kwai Fung into the #1 Bar in Hong Kong. HugeParty.

The HugeParty in LKF may not be 24hrs, but it sure feels like it.

Fair warning, the HugeParty Level here is about a 9 out of 10. So pre-game somewhere else, eat a nice dinner before you arrive, and prepare to get loose with tourists, ex-pats and locals alike.

Club 7/11 rivals most bars in LKF!


Wan Chai

Once we did the tourist HugeParty we started searching for a more local vibe. On a Monday night it can be tough to find anything hopping, but I had done some research and learned about a couple bars/restaurants that had a good reputation in the Wan Chai district. When we arrived... both bars were closed (Mondays... ugh). So we quickly meandered into a wine bar and used the wifi (and drank wine) to find another spot for our night.... which led us to Djiboutii.

Djiboutii

Djiboutii is a fantastic cocktail bar in Wan Chai. As luck would have it, we turned up on a Monday, when they have live music and plenty of ex-pats and locals getting loose. 

The "Pineapple Tink", a "Must Drink" when visiting Djibouti!

The open-air bar is a bit hidden, which adds to the allure if you ask me. We were at the point in our trip where a watered-down beer just wouldn't cut it, luckily we were able to find amazing cocktails at Djibouti! The friendly owner, Derek Ma, sure throws a HugeParty, we had a chance to meet him and down a couple extra shots of tequila back as he regaled us with stories of the Hong Kong nightlife.

More Boozy Concoctions found at Ted's Lookout, another Derek Ma location worth a visit!

By the end of our night we had made new friends and went on a bar crawl across the city. Our livers were in rough shape, but our spirits were high.


Speaking of additional great spots for nightlife... 

  • The Pontiac is a no frills bar with stiff drinks and friendly bartenders. This is your shot to hang with locals, feel local, and sip drinks from expert mixologists.
  • Ori-Gin makes great cocktails, and as you guessed from the name... most are made from Gin. Go for one drink and have their "KGB", Kyoho grapes martini served in a special tea bubble bath, Gin, Kyoho liqueur, lemon & lime juice, grape juice and Elderflower syrup. All of which is served in a mini bathtub with rubber ducky garnish! Creative, boozy and tasty! $128HKD.... don't say I didn't warn you that Hong Kong was pricey.

The Pontiac, it felt like we were locals by the time we left
The KGB from Ori-Gin. Creative and extra Boozy!

We left Hong Kong buzzing (literally and figuratively), knowing that we'd taken in the experience from a local and tourist perspective.  Future plans will certainly take us back to Hong Kong, hopefully sooner rather than later.  I highly suggest you make your way to "The Pearl of the Orient" and submerse yourself in the HugeParty.  Cheers!

See you soon, Hong Kong!

Travel Quote

“You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you.” ~ Nury Vittachi, Hong Kong: The City of Dreams

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3 comments:

  1. I was wondering when the Huge Party blogging would begin. Looks like you started with the best. Never been to Hong Kong, but it looks like a blast and similar to Bangkok in some respects. Bangkok 7/11 are also epicenters for street partying.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting commentary. Thanks for sharing. I'm still yet to visit Hong Kong.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pretty interesting! I can totally see myself hanging out in that 7/11!
    I love street drinking scene more than anything! lol!

    ReplyDelete

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