Sunday, 31 January 2016

#shuutravels Unexplored Hong Kong - a travel guide


Those of you who have travelled with me would know that I tend to avoid cliche tourist places as much as possible (for one, I seriously hate queues.) So for all of you who, like me previously, thought there was not much more to Hong Kong than dimsum, Disneyland and shopping malls, here are 5 seriously worth getting off the beaten track places that promise to change that perception right away.

1 GO ESTATE EXPLORING
Coming from a city with one of the most bizzaredly beautiful public housing buildings in the world, I would say that Hong Kong's notorious cubicle apartments are a close fight.

I wandered into the residential estates of Hong Kong and was treated to a architectural feast characterised by visually arresting colours and patterns you would not be able to find anywhere else in the world. Choi Hung, Northpoint and Kennedy Town were among some of the estates I visited.



2 VISIT SAI WAN SWIMMING SHED
Find your little piece of heaven in congested Hong Kong Island by heading to the Western end of the HK Island Line. Walk out along the rickety old pier and hear - I mean feel, the ferocious waves crash and break under you. This is also a famous swimming spot during the summer months.

Tip: while sunset here is really quite lovely, it is also probably the most crowded time to visit and it was teeming with photographers and girls taking OOTDs when I visited. Visit at other times of the day if you're looking for some peace and quiet.




3 CONQUER THE MACLEHOSE TRAIL IN THE NEW TERRITORIES
Hong Kong isn't widely known for its hiking trails but I am so glad I made time to visit Sai Kung East Country Park to take in its seriously breathtaking vistas. The Maclehose trail is 100km long and made up of 10 different sections crossing a variety of stunning beach and mountain landscapes one would normally not associate with Hong Kong.

I only managed to trek parts of both Section 1 & 2 but the views I got of High Island Reservoir and the beautiful beaches in Tai Long Wan made our our 6 hours trek under the unforgiving sun (I stupidly wore a sweater...) completely worth it. The hike from Long Ke to Sai Wan beach is not for the unfit though. It brings you up and across Sai Wan Shan, and the climb, while not difficult, felt neverending... At least the views were fantastic!



4 CHILL OUT AT SOME HIPSTER CAFE
Sheung Wan is apparently the Hong Kong's hipster hangout. Get lost among the alleys and discover an eclectic mix of shops ranging from traditional businesses (think pungent Chinese spices & dried goods) to local art galleries and of course, the occassional hipster cafe.

Being an avid tea lover, I dropped by teakha, a quaint cafe at the end of an alley off Tai Ping Shan Road that serves craft tea blends. Their tea menu is extensive, and you will find everything from local harvest floral teas, a Bali inspired herbal (lemongrass, cinnamon and ginger!) blend to the ubiqitous black tea (or as they name it - 'commoner's tea'). After savouring one of their exquisite blends, walk down Sheung Wan's grafitti lined streets, which also make for a great hipster OOTD backdrop ;)


5 HAVE AN ORIENTAL INSPIRED COCKTAIL
I love my cocktails, and love no better than to wind down a hectic travel day than to chill at a lovely bar. Indeed, I was so excited to find out about the Envoy, a cocktail bar on the 3rd floor of the Pottinger Hotel that served TEA INFUSED (!!!) cocktails (yes, I am that much of a tea addict). This was really a gem of a find. If I stayed in Hong Kong, I would literally visit every week to try every item in their menu. I am not only obsessed over their well made concoctions but also the fun presentation of each drink.

On the left is 'Moon Song', an alcoholic take on the popular local beverage - yin yang. Vodka, red tea and coffee mousse served in the cutest owl glass. On the right is 'Dewdrops of the Heart'. Featuring pandan vodka, jasmine tea and homemade pandan syrup, this is hands down one of the best cocktails I've ever tasted. Other interesting concotions include a Milo Dinosaur cocktail (served in a cup shaped like a cracked egg!) and True Blood #2 (ginseng liqueur?!), which comes served in a plastic bag resembling a blood transfusion pack. Oh my, I do really need to revisit this place...


So there you have it, 5 unique things to do to spice up your next Hong Kong trip. While I did enjoy the usual HK delights aka roast goose, dimsum, Ocean Park, etc., occassionally wandering off the beaten track really fills me with a sense of adventure and amazement that keeps my #travellust game strong. I can't wait for my next trip already!!