October 31, 2017
48 Hours in Hong Kong
By James Wong
Hong Kong is an urban mishmash of modern skyscrapers and noisy kitchens splashed together with tranquil temples and scenic hiking trails. Metropolis journeyed on a whirlwind two-night trip in this labyrinthine city.
Friday night check-in
Arriving late on Friday, I was pretty much ready to rock Hong Kong. Night one was devoted to Kowloon’s trendiest spot, the W Hong Kong. I was joined by a local friend for a sumptuous dinner and cocktails in the lively downstairs WOOBAR amongst the city’s most stylish crowd and a resident DJ spinning classic club-mixed R&B and contemporary pop. Though I was still heady from rubbing shoulders with the city’s bold and beautiful, it was time to head back to my grand Marvellous Suite. With an essential before-bed bottle of Brut in the bathtub and mesmerizing views of the glistening harbor below, I soaked and toasted to the W for more than satisfying my inner Asian-pop star needs.
Eating through Saturday
Despite diving in hard, I awoke surprisingly refreshed and resisted the snooze button to take a quick dip in the W’s 76th floor WET DECK pool before venturing into Hong Kong Island for brunch. Keen to detox, I opted for healthy-living restaurant Grassroots Pantry, founded by the city’s leading chef Peggy Chan. Saturday morning buzzed with live music and wholesome young locals tucking into organic delights including Lemon Chia Seed Pancakes, Koji Smoked Carrot Crêpes and cold-pressed juices.
Chatting to a South African couple at the next table, we mutually agreed that this was the best brunch spot in Asia — and that was even before my latte arrived with the most incredible homemade almond milk. Who knew being healthy could be such fun?
A few steps along Hollywood Road took me to the stunning Man Mo Temple, where giant incense coils hang over this ethereal tribute to Gods of War and Literature. When my Zen hour was up, it was time for a little retail therapy in Central, home of the iconic Landmark shopping mall packed with boutiques and gift shops. Adjacent to it is a hidden little gem perfect for afternoon tea. Duddell’s is a gorgeous two-star Michelin space with a lush green terrace to enjoy cocktails and an arty salon area serving signature local dishes. My friend and I digested the other night’s shenanigans over snacks from the sweet and savory afternoon tea menu, which included lobster-scallop dumplings, pumpkin wagyu beef puffs and sweet egg twists, washed down with a premium Fook Ming Tong Jasmine tea. Each piece was sensational.
The most picturesque attraction in Hong Kong is The Peak, and I decided to first explore the nature of the island’s highest point and then spend sunset watching the city below light up. It can be reached via an incredibly steep Peak Tram, but the more adventurous can hike to the summit.
Sunday’s adventures before departing
Since my Hong Kong skyline photos were predominantly taken at night, I decided to take snaps with my morning coffee on the Sky 100 Observation Deck, a short walk from the W Hong Kong. The deck is located on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Centre, the tallest building in the city, and arriving early means undisturbed views and reflection time ahead of a busy day. Next, I walked through the madness of Nathan Road over to my favorite museum in the city, The Hong Kong Museum of History. It squeezes 400 million years of history into one 7,000 square meter space, and best of all, it’s free to visit all year round. I found the British and Japanese occupation exhibits particularly moving, while the Chinese Opera exhibit and film were fascinating. The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade made for a refreshing constitutional while admiring Victoria Harbour and the dramatic topographical and architectural backdrop of Hong Kong Island. I took a long walk to absorb these scenes and the knowledge of the morning’s historical findings until hunger kicked in.
Tim Ho Wan is Hong Kong’s most famous Dim Sum chain, serving the most exquisite Siu Mai and Pork buns money can buy — and your Hong Kong dollars will stretch pretty far. With fame, however, comes queues, and these haven’t thinned out since the chain first opened in 2009. I avoided the hour’s line-up at the Hong Kong Station branch and got my bite-sized treats to take away. I figured it was pointless waiting in line for a table alone, and enjoyed lunch with views by the harbor instead.
The weekend was almost up, and en route to the airport, I took a detour to the giant outlet mall Citygate Outlets in Tung Chung — a seven-minute cab ride away from my terminal. The outlet features over 80 international brand names at year-round discount prices, so it was the perfect place to maximize my baggage allowance before the journey home to Narita. Forty-eight hours in Hong Kong definitely raced by, but thoughtful planning and prioritizing meant I tasted the very highlights of this illuminative city. I left with an appetite for round two — another weekend in the very, very near future.