grub + travels + perspectives

Exploring Hong Kong: Day 2

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This has been the longest time I haven't published anything in my blog. 3 months. It just hit me that it's the end of June and almost the beginning of the second half of the year, yet there's still nothing new here. I've always had the intention of writing but nothing ever materializes once I start skimming through photographs and staring at the blank space after clicking New Post. Anyway, here I am again trying.

What you're about to read is a rough recollection of what transpired in our second day in Hong Kong. It's been about 8 months since and I'm sure I don't remember all the details well. Haha. I still find it quite hard to blog about this trip and I don't understand myself either why I'm being too overdramatic when I recount everything. What I do know is whenever I think about it, it still brings me so much anxiousness like it was just yesterday when I left. Whenever I look at pictures, it still never fails to incite cathedral awe. It's like I am perpetually drunk with its poignant memory: disoriented, dazed, and wistful.

Hong Kong is my thin place. Well, I've never been anywhere much outside the Philippines except for HK and Singapore and I could probably retract this statement in the distant future, but for now, yes, it is my thin place. I've read this article from The New York Times called Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer and it discusses certain destinations that are regarded to as 'thin places.'

So what exactly makes a place thin? It's easier to say what a thin place is not. A thin place is not necessarily a tranquil place, or a fun one, or even a beautiful one, though it may be all of those things too. Disney World is not a thin place. Nor is Cancun. Thin places relax us, yes, but they also transform us -- or more accurately, unmask us. In thin places, we become our more essential selves.


Wow. That was a mouthful for an introduction to this post (or more like my excuse for not blogging for so long). Haha. Anyway, I've included links to my other Hong Kong posts at the top so you'd have a background about the trip so far. Here we go with Day 2! (FYI: This post is image heavy.)

The Victoria Peak and the Peak Tram ride

It being a Sunday morning, there was a crazy long line to ride the tram up to Victoria Peak. It's like every tourist in Hong Kong decided to go to at the same time we did! LOL. We were in queue for about 30 - 45 minutes, I think, even though there was a tram that leaves every 10 minutes or so.

The Peak Tram ride was an adventure on its own. Totally felt like something out of Jurassic Park (with all the lush greenery sans the dinosaurs πŸ˜‚)! And as you're traversing up the hills in an interesting angle, you get a glimpse of beautiful skyscrapers. I think they're offering hike trails as well since we saw directions and some signage along the way. (Found this article if you do want to try hiking instead of the tram.)

The Victoria Peak, as I've read, is a must-see and one of the most popular destinations in Hong Kong. It's the highest point on the island and offers a fantastic 360-degree panoramic view of the entire island: buildings, the skyline, and the Victoria Harbour.

Jom included it in our Day 1 activities (it was the last thing on our Day 1 list) since the view from the top is even more spectacular at night. I bet the sunset here's amazing! Regardless, the sight of the entirety of the Hong Kong island was stunning even in the morning.

Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden

The more chill (though it still involved a lot of walking) part of the day was here at the gardens and temples. Jom sat this one out because he's done this a hundred times before and Terr, being the wonderful and thoughtful person that he is, was kind enough to accompany the first timer. Hehe.

While on the MTR, saw this girl and I wanted her cap so bad. LOL.
Stumbled upon a Sushi Take-out store at the Diamond Hill Station of MTR. And I could just not help falling in love with all the variety! πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜ We bought a couple of boxes which we planned on eating later when we watch the Symphony of Lights.
Quite the contrast just across the Plaza Hollywood Shopping Mall, you'll find this tranquil landscape with beautiful scenery.
The impressive woodwork that can be found inside the Chinese Timber Architecture Gallery.
There were lots of people that day so it was hard to take good snaps. I was fine with just taking a photo of this structure from the side...
...Because there were tons of tourists and the front won't clear of people...
...But Terr thought of a way to keep everyone away until I get a decent picture. Yay!
Such incredible view. A combination of landscapes and skyscrapers. GRABE.
Swear, ang hirap makasingit para magpicture ng walang tao. Hahaha.

Wong Tai Sin Temple

A quick traffic mirror shot before heading out to the Wong Tai Sin Temple. Hehe.

The main altar of the Wong Tai Sin Temple. In front of the altar is the grounds where worshipers can pray.
Confucian Veranda

A slew of little shops outside the temple.
The one thing I regret about this trip is I never took enough photos. There was so much more to see here but I can't remember why I passed on the chance to take shots. Actually, at the entrance of the temple itself was already beautiful and there also were big rock sculptures of the Chinese zodiacs. I was rummaging through my pictures and ugh, I never took photos of those!

I was engrossed and fascinated with the beautiful and intricate details of the temples, the red pillars, the complex carvings, the golden roof and the friezes! There's just so much to see here. I highly recommend you dropping by this place. So rich and unique!

One Dimsum Place

For our late lunch, our pick was One Dimsum Place in Prince Edward Station. The restaurant was a one Michelin star holder back in 2011 and 2012, and though that may not be the case any more, it doesn't stop patrons from lining up to sample their dishes.

And just like in Dim Sum Square, we were handed an order sheet where we encircle our choices. There were also menu leafs that doubled as place mats so you can look at their dishes individually. Actually, menu books were already distributed while we were in line so that our food can be prepared while waiting for seats.

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings / Hakao, Steamed Dumplings in Chiu Chow Style, Char Siu Cheung, Siu Mai, Barbecue Pork Buns
The interiors was very small, enough for 25 - 30 people, I think. There were a lot of people coming in, so we had to share our table with another woman. The selections were not that far from what I saw in Dim Sum Square (that's the only point of comparison I have, I've never even eaten at Tim Ho Wan) and prices were affordable. I stuck with the ones I know so you see on the photo I had the usual like hakao and siu mai.

It was an unforgettable meal (at least for me) because we're trying to converse over great food in the presence of a stranger. She most probably didn't understand us and she gave zero care but at that time, it still felt a little awkward. I think I'll never get used to that unless, maybe, I live in Hong Kong in the future. Haha. There's something so captivating being in the middle of it all: cheap, delicious grub, being surrounded by locals speaking in a language I cannot decipher in one of the most sought after restos in Hong Kong.

Found this sticker outside One Dimsum Place. So fitting.
Going around Mong Kok

One word to describe the night market along Mong Kok: vibrant. It was late afternoon when we arrived in Mong Kok and we spent a good few hours just walking around and marveling at the bustling streets. I had no intention to buy anything so I didn't dig around stalls much but they've got everything you possibly want here! Shirts, sneakers, towels, bags, accessories for your mobile phones, watches, even vegetables! (Disclaimer: Geographically challenged me sees the entire place as Mong Kok, hahaha. I was just following Jom and Terr around and I can't remember the exact places where these photos were taken.)

This wiill always be my all-time favorite photo from our Hong Kong trip. We were on this overpass and it had a sweet view of the street below. Dear heavens, how can you not fall in love again and again and again with this place?

That's me and Jom! (Photo by Terrence Villafuerte)

Photo by Terrence Villafuerte
I was super kilig seeing the neon lights opening one by one. Some streets were closed to give way for stalls offering different kinds of services and selling a bunch of stuff and for street performers as well! I don't even understand what the others were offering, basta there was a lot of blaring music! Ang daming nangyayari all at once pero super enjoy talaga
The crowd was thick and it was hot but I never really saw it as a problem to go around more.
He's called Mr. Wally, a Japanese busker who dresses up as the character Wally from Where's Wally? and sings mostly Japanese pop ballads.
Photo by Terrence Villafuerte

I think half the time we were walking around, I was just looking up and was forever filled with wonder because of everything I was experiencing. I don't want to turn into this ball of mush once again when talking about Hong Kong, but I can't help it. Hahaha. It's just maybe I really didn't expect to be blown away this much. I didn't mind all the walking and exploring because everywhere we go, it's given me so much more than I anticipated.
Victoria Harbour

Originally, we were supposed to visit Avenue of Stars first and I was really, really, really thrilled because I wanted to see Wong Kar-wai's star (sad to know it didn't have a hand print, it's the closest I can get haha), and Maggie Cheung's and Tony Leung's stars and hand prints as well, but unfortunately, we were met with the news that the Avenue of Stars was currently being renovated and won't be open until 2018. What a total bummer. 。・゚゚・(>Π΄<)・゚゚・。

So we just stayed at Victoria Harbour and feasted our eyes on the sunset and the stunning skyline. We munched on the sushi and maki we bought earlier while we conversed about a mountain of topics. I figured it was time to upload photos and I kept bugging Terr and Jom as to what captions I should put to the pictures. Hahaha.

We were seated at the end of the Victoria Harbour, just beside the partition to the Avenue of Stars that held the sign that it was under construction. People would reach the end of the walkway only to be disappointed upon reading the news. I loved the people watching and the making up of stories on why those other people were on the harbor as well. There was this woman right beside us and she was all alone and she was just staring at the brightly-lit skyscrapers. She never uttered a single word. She was there earlier than us and stayed until the Symphony of Lights was over. The whole time I was thinking what was going through her mind. She was just silent. She didn't observe or looked at other people. She just stared ahead. I wonder how she's doing now.

Kubrick Cafe

Going to Victoria Harbour, we actually passed by the Chungking Mansion, much to my happiness. But since it would be too much hassle to get off the bus just to take a photo, I mentally told myself to get a proper photo while on the bus on the way back.

I swear facade yan ng Chungking Mansion. HAHAHAHAHAHA. I TRIED MY BEST OK?
So eto na lang, bokeh shot from the 2nd storey of the double decker bus we rode. LOL.
Last stop for this long day was Kubrick Cafe, which I suggested to Jom we go to. I was dragging my feet by this time because I was exhausted and all the walking was catching up on me already. The cafe is also a book store so I was super excited to see their selection of books.

There was no signage that it was the Kubrick Cafe, Jom just pointed it when we got there because he already knew the place. Another friend he went with to HK before already visited the cafe. It was late night already and all I could see were the cement walls and black steel frames as doors and the bright light inside. I didn't assume it was a book store at all.

When I entered, the place quaint and cozy. Of course, it was filled with books and other publications (magazines like Empire and Total Film!!!), wooden panel designs and a sea of shelves. There were art pieces as well, so it was somewhere between a cafe, a book store and an art gallery. I loved the smell of the cafe: books and coffee! If I wasn't so beat and if it was not too far from where we were staying, I would've asked Jom and Terr to stay there longer and even have dinner there. It was exciting to see books and comics I normally wouldn't see at local bookstores in the PH.

I didn't know exactly what I was looking for but I didn't stop fiddling through the books until I found something I wanted! (Photo by Terrence Villafuerte)
They were selling other things like bags, mugs, stationery and all that. There were even scribbles in Cantonese (I assume) on the pillars of the cafe. Please, please, please support Kubrick Cafe! We need more places like this in the world!

And because I failed to have photographs with Wong Kar-wai and/or Maggie Cheung and/or Tony Leung's stars, and I didn't get to have a decent picture or visit the Chungking Mansion, I bought this Satoshi Kon book (right most). I deserve it! Hahaha. (Don't judge the photo. Haha. It was meant to be for IG but nvm, and it's the only ok picture of the book I have right now. Hehe.)
Right beside Kubrick Cafe is Broadway Cinematheque. That night, they were showing The Road to Mandalay!!! November 2016 pa yun!!! Until now it still hasn't made its way to the Philippines!!! Next time I'm in Hong Kong, I will definitely catch a film screening here. Promise!
This was probably one of the most tiring night of my life. Hahaha. At the end of the day, my calves were already screaming and complaining, and I wanted so bad to rest. But you see, this was equally one of the most fun days of my life. I've never done so much in a day! Sobrang enjoy ng lahat ng ginawa namin! Haha. Looking back, I just wish I've taken more photos even when there's too many people, even when it's hard to get a good angle, even when I'm shy to go front and center, and even when I'm too tired. I thought I've stocked much photos already but there's more I wasn't able to cover in this post.

I know everything we've seen is just the tip of the iceberg but it was more than enough to hold my interest up to this day (maybe even for eternity). I still can't get over the neon-lit streets brimming with history and it has opened so many doors to places I must go to in the future. There's more art to see and cover, more gastronomical adventures and more streets to explore. I don't know how I'll get over this place. EVER.

Before calling it a night, we had a meal at a Mickey D's near our Airbnb and I just had to post this photo because I'm amazed by the digital self-order kiosks called McDIY. Hahaha. ANG GALING TALAGA! When will the Philippines ever??? (Photo by Terr Villafuerte)