While I was preparing to wade through the rest of my photos and adventures in Hong Kong, I actually left to head to Salvador, Brazil for my travel colloquium with Steinhardt. Since the Courtyard Marriott was full for the evening, I had to switch on over to the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel, located in the Wan Chai district.
The new location was rather convenient since I had to drop off my papers for “verification of eligibility for permanent ID card (VEPIC)” at the immigration tower, which was located in the next building over, accessible by the foot path. From what I’ve read online, I thought that I would be waiting in line for my papers to be reviewed and collected; turns out, that it isn’t quite the case. One can have their papers reviewed at the inquiry desk, but after, they’re dropped off in an envelope.
So, what about the requirement that you must be physically present in Hong Kong when you submit your forms? The immigration department only needs a photocopy of the entry stamp that was inked into your passport upon arrival to Hong Kong. A little anti-climatic for an immigration process, no? I suppose that it helps to speed up the process of file collection.
After slipping my envelope in the collection box, I had to decide what to do with most of the afternoon gone. Since I was nearby the ferry, I figured that I would spent the late afternoon and evening in the much talked about Tsim Sha Tsui district. The ferry ride is like any other, nothing remarkable.
With tourist map in hand, I had no particular expectations of what I would see or run into. The first stop, due to proximity, was Heritage 1881, the former headquarters of the Hong Kong Marine Police now turned shopping center. Not attracted to the shopping, there wasn’t much to do after taking a short stroll – apart from the free wifi. Since I hadn’t eaten yet, I was looking for a light snack, and quickly hopped onto Foursquare to see what people were talking about. Of the restaurants and cafés listed in the nearby area, only one actually sounded appetizing and wasn’t too far a walk.
Unbeknownst to me, Din Tai Fung was where I was headed. Actually, let me correct myself – I knew I wanted to go to Din Tai Fung on account of what was said on FourSquare, but I had no idea that it was a decently famous chain until I looked it up on Google later on that evening. The xiao long bao (小籠包), for which they’re incredibly well known, were certainly delicious; I went for the pork and crab roe fillings. To make the meal complete, I ordered the cold jelly fish appetizer and a bowl of beef noodle soup. It was most certainly a treat for myself, and I left a little more stuffed than I had originally planned.
Din Tai Fung
Shop 130 & Restaurant C. 3rd Floor Silvercord
30 Canton Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Since there was still sun out, it seemed like a great idea to explore the rest of Canton Road, which for the most part was comprised of high-end boutiques and a ferry leading back to mainland China. Amidst some of the stores was a not-so-crowded pathway that led to a remarkable view of the sunset and Hong Kong Island. Down below, was the famed Harbour City – the largest shopping mall in Hong Kong. And one of the observations that struck me was the fact that Hong Kong is much like Toronto in the sense that mall integration into the downtown core is an “all right” thing to do; whereas in some of the US cities that I’ve been to, no such thing exists, or perhaps only one. Blitzing through the many shoppers, I hopped into the first boutique that I saw that looked like they sold jeans, reason being that walking in a pair where the holes are growing larger with every step is rather uncomfortable. Lucky for me that the first pair I picked out fit like a glove and was on sale – good riddance to constant chafing.
I also encountered city’super – a supermarket that sells everything in one go, including kitchen supplies, actual food, liquor, and more – and found myself wandering and shopping for a good half hour. No worries, though, I only came out with a bottle of Hou Hou Shu sparkling sake (I never knew such things were made) and a Groundhog.
Given that I had no dinner plans, I decided that I would check off a couple more things to see in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, which for the most part included Temple Market, Jade Market, Kowloon Park, and Salisbury Road. Needless to say, that tourist maps always hype up things to be more than they actually are. Kowloon Park wasn’t closed when I finally got there, but it was most certainly dark outside, and after all that walking, I wasn’t too inclined to explore greenery without sunlight to better appreciate it. Salisbury Road was a glowing flurry of Christmas lights, overpriced stores, and hustling people. And while the allure of Temple Market echoes in countless guides, it is like any flea market, selling things that you would never use. That said, some of the “charm” of the market, you could say, is the outdoor dining, where you sit on stools and eat a quick meal and enjoy a beer, or two. The food is nothing remarkable, but the atmosphere is certainly what most people come and sit down for. Despite the fact that I was still full from my late lunch, that didn’t quite deter me from ordering a dinner (this might explain my slight weight gain over the holidays) – fried crab and congee. Cracking the crab legs was quite a workout, as the Southern French family commented during our impromptu meeting.
Though Jade Market was closed when I went in search of it, the barred gates revealed nothing warranting a second trip. What I did manage to find in the area (near Yau Ma Tei station, exit C), though, was a much needed foot massage for only 88 HKD – that and the other ladies shared an evening snack of tangerines with me.
For more on Hong Kong, be sure to to follow the HK Tourism Board on Facebook. Please note that I have not been compensated for this post.