A city full of sur­prises

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

dur­ing a five-day whistlestop tour of this ex­hil­a­rat­ing, spon­ta­neous city known as the Pearl of the Ori­ent. Yes, it tends to feel a lit­tle crowded. That’s be­cause tourists are rub­bing shoul­ders with the seven mil­lion peo­ple who in­habit the 1104sq km space that spreads through Hong Kong and Lan­tau Is­lands, the Kowloon Penin­sula and the New Ter­ri­to­ries, in­clud­ing 262 out­ly­ing is­lands.

Most visi­tors come away mar­vel­ling at the ef­fi­ciency of the city that lays claim to hav­ing the world’s most dense high-in­come ur­ban area – at 25,900 peo­ple a square kilo­me­tre. It works like a Swiss watch.

First-time visi­tors also come away with a healthy re­spect for lo­cals – tram driv­ers, ticket sellers, cus­tomer-ser­vice staff – who dis­play painstak­ing con­sid­er­a­tion for tourists.

Those head­ing to Honkers for a five-day so­journ will easily be able to tick off most of the pop­u­lar things to do on the typ­i­cal Hong Kong bucket list. But they’ll also de­light in adding a few of their own. It’s that sort of city. Here’s a start:

Ser Wong Fun

Find out that snake re­ally does taste like chicken in this fa­mous lit­tle eatery that serves up stringy snake in con­gee for about $11 or go the whole hog with a snake ban­quet. Note, there are no live snakes in the build­ing.

Mid Lev­els, Hong Kong

It takes about 1½ hours to hike to the high­est point on Hong Kong Is­land but the re­ward is cooler air and a spec­tac­u­lar view over sky­scrapers and Vic­to­ria Har­bour. Be amazed at how much of the is­land is cov­ered in jun­gle. Al­ter­na­tively, take the tram and en­joy lunch in one of four sig­na­ture restau­rants. Shop­ping is a na­tional sport in Hong Kong and there’s plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Peak Gal­le­ria.

Ming Kee Fish Res­tau­rant

It’s just a 20-minute ferry ride from Stan­ley to Hong Kong’s south­ern­most is­land for hik­ing, swimming and a chance to check out some an­cient rock carv­ings. Lunch on freshly caught seafood – scooped live out of a tub in front of din­ers – and a cold beer at Ming Kee Fish Res­tau­rant. Sun­day brunch is a Hong Kong in­sti­tu­tion. Zuma does it in bub­bly Ja­panese style. Form an or­derly queue and get to know the res­i­dent dumpling Nazi in this must- try culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ence. The hour-long wait for a ta­ble is re­warded with the house spe­cialty, bar­be­cued pork buns and steamed prawn dumplings. About 60,000 Hong Kong work­ers com­mute to work us­ing this one-way sys­tem, but it’s also a great way for tourists to rest weary feet and get an el­e­vated look at street-level Hong Kong.

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