Hong Kong Christmas
Trip Start Oct 04, 2010
56Trip End Feb 15, 2011
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Where I stayed
Our hotel was right in the middle of all of this on the edge of the Kowloon peninsula. From one side, we could see a three-paneled, lighted Christmas display and to our right we could see Victoria Harbor with its festive facades across the way. Ella had chosen this hotel for us as she is a frequent visitor and we can see why. Once we arrived in another tricked out Mercedes, we were greeted by our “coordinator” at the curb and taken immediately to our room for check in. Upon entering the room, we were given a bouquet of flowers and Chinese tea service. The room itself was very well appointed from the layout and lighting to the fancy swag in the bathroom.
Hong Kong day one took us to the Tian Tan Buddha, or the “Big Buddha” as it is the largest in the world. We first took the metro to Lantau Island and arrived at Tung Chung’s CityGate with its impressive selection of outlet shopping. The ride on the cable car to get to the Buddha took just over 25 minutes, high above the lush landscape below. Upon arriving to the village of Ngong Ping, it is a short walk to the gates of the Po Lin Monastery. Opposite the monastery are the nearly 500 steps that lead up to the statue. It was certainly worth the climb.
Day two took us to Asia’s answer to Las Vegas - Macau. We look a superfast ferry to the island and were pleasantly surprised, though a bit overwhelmed, by the sheer number of casinos, spokespeople, representatives, signs, placards and banners all pointing to this casino and that. There was an MGM, Sands, Wynn, Venetian, one called the Lisboa and the Babylon and at least 20 other casinos, some familiar, some not.
We decided to try our luck at the MGM and were excited to see that they had plenty of one cent slots for play - one Hong Kong cent! We played a handful of games and before we knew it, we had to be back on the ferry to Kowloon
That night, we went to Christmas Eve dinner at the Shang Palace in the hotel. We had been excited to go since we read that it was voted one of Hong Kong’s best restaurants for 2010 and was Michelin rated. We started the meal with Chinese tea, corn and crab soup and dumpling soup and then moved into the main dishes. We had 1) sautéed duck with ginger and green onions 2) sweet and sour pork 3) mixed rice with crab, wolfberries and mushrooms 4) beef hot pot with onions and peppers, and 5) crispy chicken with lemon. It was to die for. Top five meal of all time. Absolutely fantastic. We even considered going back a second time and now, as I write this, I regret that we didn’t.
The following day we had a full schedule of activities. First, we headed along the harbor to the Avenue of Stars at Tsim Sha Tsui promenade. For lunch, we took the Star Ferry over to the food festival at the convention center which was billed as international foodie extravaganza. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a total bust and the only food to be had seemed to be spices and dried fish. We did manage to find a cool frozen yogurt stand though that let you pick your fruit before blending it.
The next stop was the Harbor City Mall, Hong Kong’s largest, which was packed with shoppers and gawkers
Out last stop in Hong Kong on our very last day was to Disneyland. To get to the park, we took a special Disney themed train that was decked out with all things Mickey - from the windows, to the subway handles and even had bronze character statuettes in the trains. Apparently, I like Disneyland a lot more than I thought because I was practically bursting with excitement.
Though the park itself is small, it has every bit of charm that a Disneyland ought to. Main Street USA is of course at the entrance and then the park spreads out into Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Adventureland. The whole place was decorated for Christmas and they had the cutest, little Gingerbread town right in the middle. Most of it looks nearly the same as back home but there aren’t as many rides and the castle is much smaller. Oh, and Mickey and Minnie speak Chinese - just a slight difference.
Though we feel we could have used a few more days in Hong Kong, we have set our sites on Southeast Asia. Next stop, Singapore!