For Day 1 see Hong Kong – part 1
Day 2: Monday 15 March 2010
Sight 1: Kowloon Walled City Park
Following the directions in the free visitor’s kit we picked up at the airport, we made our way to the Kowloon Walled City Park. This area was once a thrilling urban nightmare – a semi-lawless, high-rise slum. Nowadays it is quite the opposite: a very pretty and peaceful park occupies the site. The only lawlessness you are likely to see is an absurdly fit elderly Chinese person breaking the rules of tai chi.
The Walled City was torn down in 1993. An exhibition within the Park relates the history.
The Kowloon Walled City Park is well worth a visit if you like Chinese gardens, the Asian aesthetic or urban history. Admission is free.
Sight 2: The Peak
This is one of the top attractions in Hong Kong. We were fortunate in that we had a clear day on which to take in the city, its skyline, its verdant surroundings and its proximity to water from the best vantage point in Hong Kong. As you can no doubt imagine, it was digital cameras agogo on the viewing platform at The Peak.
The ride up to The Peak on the tram is fun and the fastest way to get there. There are interesting-looking walking trails to and from the Peak. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to try any of them. In any case, we went to The Peak to visit the Wonderfish! Spa.
Sight 3: Wonderfish! Spa
This is the number 1 tourist attraction in Hong Kong on tripadvisor. I can honestly say nothing else that we saw or did in the city made me scream, smile or de-stress as much as the Wonderfish! Spa.
It was scary at first – watching thousands of fat little fish feeding on my feet – but once my panic had subsided, it became a very relaxing experience and my feet have never felt so good!
Sight 4: Pacific Place
Pacific Place is an upscale shopping mall where a host of luxury brand shops hang out aloofly, pretending they don’t need your money. But we didn’t stop here for the Armani, Gucci or Chanel which we get quite enough of in Italy. We stopped off at Pacific Place for a late lunch-cum-afternoon tea at Cova.
Sight 5: Cova
In Milan’s smartest street, via Montenapoleone, there is an expensive-looking pasticceria called Cova. I have never been inside. It’s clear that it’s the type of place that caters for the conspicuously wealthy.
Cova at Pacific Place, which claims to offer the same high quality as the Italian original, is another matter. To begin with, it is far less intimidating. Moreover, it embraces a more liberal approach to coffee-drinking than I imagine its older Italian counterpart would. And it does this without compromising on style or respect for the more important aspects of afternoon tea/café culture.
Shamelessly we ordered cappuccinos and cake even though it was late in the afternoon.
The cappuccinos were excellent. The cakes – mango cheesecake and sacher torte – were in a class of their own: very high-end pasticceria quality (as you would expect from Cova).
Cova, rather like Chanel, has outlets in other so-called chic Hong Kong shopping malls. (There’s also a Cova in Singapore.) For me this is not a plus. How can I feel smugly superior to patrons of Starbucks and the like if I myself get my caffeine-fix from coffee-shop chains?
Sight 6: SoHo
After bathing and resting at our hotel (the Novotel Century), we headed out to SoHo. We boarded the world’s longest covered escalator, jumping on and off to explore this lively, cosmopolitan area. Even though it was a late Monday night, the place was quite full of people and we felt perfectly safe.
After much discussion:
(What do you feel like eating? I don’t know. You decide. What about that place? That place? Are you sure? Well, you choose a place, then. No, no, you decide. It was your idea to come here.)
We finally settled on an organic restaurant called Life.
Serendipity was with us that night. We dined exceptionally well on delicious organic meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free food washed down with a delectable biodynamic Australian chardonnay that tasted of fruit and sun and not of chemicals. The restaurant had a timber interior that gave off a feel-good glow and the menu cheerfully explained why we should all switch to organic, vegetarian diets. We emerged with our bodies, minds and souls nourished.
I highly recommend this restaurant/cafe.
Good-bye Hong Kong
The following day we had to catch an early flight to Melbourne. This was the second time we have stopped over in Hong Kong en-route to Australia. I hope to repeat the experience (though not for a while).
I love the energy and modernity of this big Oriental city. Everything is made so easy for English-speaking tourists: good public transport system; helpful, energetic people who speak English; places stay open late; air-conditioning systems work; so much to see and do; and an exciting mix of cultures amidst the ghosts of an ancient past.