Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hong Kong (Part 2) - High tea, show-off buildings and a definite lack of floating restaurants

One of the prettiest places that we have been so far is the south side of Hong Kong Island, which is were we went on day 3 of our stay in Hong Kong. There is a set of sandy bays, looking out onto the ocean with a distant view of Hong Kong's many smaller islands. It reminded me Albany with its green rolling hills and sheltered beaches.

We started at Repulse Bay (so called because the British drove back the Japanese when they attempted to land here in WWII). We walked along the beach to a very unusual shrine which looked more like an amusement park! There were hundreds of different deities, all painted with garish colours. There was also the Longevity Bridge, which supposedly extends your life by 3 days when you cross it. As the Lonely Planet pointed out though, there is no evidence to suggest that running back and forth all afternoon extends your life by any more, so I settled with just crossing it once.

After that we took the bus across to Stanley, another beachside town with a lively set of markets. First we had lunch at a lovely cafe, which Michael pointed out was a Delifrance! Having worked at Delifrance for a couple of years during uni, I instantly recognised the apron, scarf and beret outfit, along with the baguettes and some of the pastries. There the similarity ended, however, as Delifrance over here is much nicer with more variety and proper sit-down meals.

After wandering the markets and getting thoroughly ripped off, we took a bus to another seaside town called Aberdeen. The city did not seem very attractive, although it might just have been the area where the bus dropped us off. We decided not to linger, but still attempted to find the floating restaurants, which is a popular attraction with nice food and a great view. We could see the restaurants floating in the harbour and thought it would be easy to find the pier where the boats shuttle people back and forth. We managed to find a sign which said 'Floating Restaurants' and an arrow, however it lead us to a bus depot where a security guard told us to get lost. After about an hour of fruitless searching we admitted defeat, and had to wait another half an hour for the bus to take us back to our accommodation.

Even though we had a great day overall, we were pretty grumpy by the time we got on the bus, after the frustration of missing out on a major attraction and then having to wait ages for a bus. Imagine our frustration then, when a few stops later, the bus passed a clearly marked pier adorned with fairy lights and a big sign for the floating restaurants! We were so disappointed, but too tired by then to turn back.

We ended up going to Kraze Burgers for dinner and, feeling a bit of ill-will towards the floating restaurants, were determined to enjoy our burgers more than some fancy schmancy seafood dinner. Michael proclaimed the gourmet burgers as good as the ones in Shafto Lane, and we were satisfied that we had at least saved some money, rather than giving it to a restaurant that puts up fake signs to mislead poor tourists.

The next day we slept in, partly due to the windowless hostel room (if you can call it a room, more like a closet!). Without any natural light to wake us up, we found ourselves sleeping in really late unless we set an alarm.

I was really looking forward to the afternoon, because I had booked us in for high tea at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The place to be seen at high tea in Hong Kong is actually the Penninsular Hotel, however because it is so popular it is also very expensive and therefore not suited to our flashpacking budget (like backpacking only with a bit more money). In addition, the Penninsular Hotel is now so popular that you sometimes have to line up, which in my opinion is completely at odds with the whole high tea experience. In contrast, at the Mandarin Oriental we were able to relax in the opulent downstairs lounge before heading up to the restaurant where we were led to our pre-booked table. It was also more reasonably priced and we had heard that the quality was better than the Penninsular Hotel anyway.

The service was impeccable (there was actually a toilet attendant who turns on the tap for you, hands you paper towels and then opens the door for you!) and the food and tea was delicious. However, we both agreed that high tea at Tranby House in Maylands was better. At the MO we did have some gripes, which were that we had to ask for a second helping of jam and cream since they don't give you nearly enough, the scones were dry and the cakes not as nice as Tranby House. While Tranby House may not have a fancy toilet attendant or rose petal jam (overrated), the scones are bigger and nicer, they give you plenty of jam and cream  and the view is much prettier on the Maylands foreshore, especially if the weather is nice and you can sit outside.

In the evening we went down to the foreshore to see the Symphony of Lights, which is the world's biggest permanent light show, set to music. Basically, the neon lights on 44 buildings and laser lights mounted on top of the buildings are synchronised to classical music which is played over speakers at various viewing points around the city. It was quite spectacular, the photos do not do it justice.

1 comment:

  1. Hi M & J, glad it reminded you of Albany and I wish I could have joined you for the seafood lunch and high tea, well I went to the Japanese on saturday for lunch, raw fish in the sun looking over Emu Point was good with Allister, Julie, Robert and Patrick.