Here’s a travel tip: don’t go to Hong Kong after visiting Japan. You will be disappointed. Well, to be fair, you’ll probably be let down by almost everywhere you go after Japan; it’s just that fucking great. Seriously, you should stop what you’re doing and start planning a trip there. Wait, scratch that. There are already too many tourist as it is. Cabo – go to Cabo instead.
Where was I? Ah, Hong Kong.
We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in HK, and divided the time we did have between there, and Macau (and HK Disney because FUN), so I’ll admit to not being able to thoroughly dig in the way many would advise. First impressions do matter though, and HK – especially following Tokyo – serves up just an okay one. There’s decent public transportation, a nice airport, lots of night markets if that’s your thing. Crowd behavior is slightly more organized than in mainland China, so it has that going for it. The views from Victoria Peak are lovely, and mostly worth the survival of the fittest-style maneuvers required to get onto the train or bus that takes you to the top. Chinese herbal medicine shops line just about every street, offering to
scam people out of their money help people with every imaginably ailment. They all seem like a version of that shelf they have at a lot of shabby US convenience stores that’s stocked with horny goat weed and ginseng tablets, just made into an entire store.
Teresa had a lot of opportunities to practice her Cantonese, as did I (I know TWO words thank you very much), though she demurred and switched back to English most of the time. She seems to think she picked up an American accent and it’s ruined her Chinese, but I thought it sounded perfect! There’s lots of dim sum, though I didn’t make much of an effort to get any; it falls into my ‘meh’ list of foods. I like it, but wouldn’t seek it out. Teresa and I also met up with our friends Jesse, Wendy, and their little one Jayden for the trip to Disney. Having lived close to Disney World in Orlando, I’m a bit of a Disney snob, but the park was a lot of fun, despite some of the rides being closed due to rain. It has it’s very own dedicated metro line, and it’s the only Disney park where you can get Korean dried squid as a walking around snack, along with cute animal Dim Sum (okay, maybe I would seek it out more if it was always shaped like cute animals). One thing it doesn’t have is a Haunted Mansion, due to various Chinese beliefs about spirits and the afterlife, so you wont find any mention of ghosts at it’s equivalent, the Mystic Manor.
Taking the ferry to Macau (AKA Vomit McVomitBoat) though leads to a much more interesting experience, at least for me. Maybe I’m partial to former Portuguese colonies more so than British, but I found the food, culture, even the architecture more engaging than in HK. We gambled at the Venetian and the Galaxy hotel/casinos (Macau is the largest gambling destination in the world, though seems much more sedate than Las Vegas), toured the Ruins of St. Paul and the small fort next to it. The blend of Chinese and Portuguese influences leads to some great food choices, and the frequent grazing kept me in a moderate level of almost-uncomfortable fullness. Don’t skip the egg tarts (can’t miss them, they are everywhere) or the bakkwa, which is delicious jerky meat you can sample dozens of different shops.
I wouldn’t say I felt any magic in HK or Macau, but it was pleasant enough. Macau is worth more of you time than HK, unless you are really, truly, into temples – there are a bunch of small to medium ones to explore that could burn up some of your travel days. Unless you’re going to practice your Cantonese, I still recommend skipping it and heading to Tokyo. I mean, Cabo. Go to Cabo.
How we got there: JAL airline, $459.
Where we stayed:
HK: Hotel LBP – decent hotel in a good central location, but not overly impressive.
Macau: Galaxy Hotel – massive Vegas style resort and casino with some very nice top of the line rooms.
What we did:
Hong Kong Disney
Victoria Peak – We took the funicular up and the bus back down. Both had long lines so plan for it to take twice as long as you might expect. Views from the top are nice, and as far as HK goes it’s top of the list, but it’s a just night city scape so probably nothing you haven’t seen before:
Ruins of St. Paul and adjacent fort – centered in the main shopping/tourist district and several UNESCO sites, great area to get a feel for Macau and stuff your face.