Monday, February 23, 2009

i went to hong kong for my birthday, and all i got was a lousy hat

actually, my hat is far from lousy. it was a great buy, it makes me look fab, and it helped me mesh a little with the hongkee landscape. :D

but apart from that, shopping in hong kong is hell. it should not be attempted by those who have limited funds, like me. i had brought a small amount of money, intending to go the full budget mile, but it was kind of painful when you're bombarded by designer brands left and right.

while shopping has gotten incredibly expensive, food is still cheap in hong kong. HKD 60 per meal is quite enough, sometimes even more than enough. the key is to not be picky, and try out the dodgy-looking places. we ate in a carinderia in the old stanley market area, and i ordered a filling chinese mushroom noodle bowl for just HKD 16. so what if i just saw a rat scamper away from the stall?

another good way to get the most of hong kong is to never, ever discount the establishments on the upper floors of every building. the well-renovated and shiny facade of the shops on the ground floor are just a mere prelude to the gems that you can find when you climb the dingy stairs up the old, tall buildings. susie discovered mykonos cafe along granville road this way while trying to look for a restroom in the middle of the busy shopping street. it's a cozy little nook on the fourth floor of one of those buildings that offer fresh tea and fried cuttle fish. it's a weird combination, i know, but it was delicious.

we also made the most bang for our buck this trip because we didn't use the MTR much. as in love as i was with this efficient HK train, it became a little too much to bear on my pockets, so susie and i tried out the tram instead. it was also actually the only form of transpo that could access our hotel. those 20 minutes spent inside the tram going to and from central were one of the most relaxing parts of our vacation, and it offered us a great view of hong kong for just HKD 2 per ride.

susie and i also skipped on the museums this time, visiting only one far-flung museum in the new territories. it was our first time on the east tsim sha tsui rail, and we ended up in quiet tai wo, where the railway museum is located. if you must find yourself in these parts, don't forget to stock up on water here. it costs a third of the cost of bottled water in central and TST. even my clump of bananas cost much, much less here.

the rest of the time, we were just walking along the city, visiting parks, taking some time to rest and eat, or down a bottle or two in a bar while talking about this busy, busy city. i got to see some of the famous malls this time, but made no move to do some shopping. it was very hard for me to part with HKD 200 for one shirt.

i found myself shedding a tear when we were on board the bus to the airport. hong kong just feels like home. no matter which part of hong kong i'm plunked in, i never feel lost. as tiring as it is, i revel in the fast pace, not feeling the exhaustion until the end of the day. there's just so much to see and do, that i can't bring myself to slow down.

so definitely, i'll be back.

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