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Travel Between Hong Kong and Mainland China Conveniently

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Image credit: HKTB

With the growth of globalisation and the advent of technology, the world continues to be increasingly interconnected.

Hong Kong has recently launched its first-ever high-speed railway, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong High Speed Rail (Hong Kong Section) on 23rd September. This was introduced to provide their citizens as well as fellow visitors a more convenient way to travel between Hong Kong and several other Mainland China’s cities.

This 26 km long rail link directly connects Hong Kong to Mainland China’s own network of high-speed rail. China’s high-speed rail network also happens to be the world’s most extensive network at the moment. The rail link would allow travellers from Hong Kong to visit 44 destinations in Mainland China without the hassle of changing trains.

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Image credit: HKTB

To put things into perspective, it will now only take you 48 minutes to travel from Hong Kong to Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

The Hong Kong section of the rail network begins from West Kowloon Station. It has since then become a must-visit spot for tourists, and has received recognition by the World Architecture Festival Awards for its architectural design.

Travellers can access the station via public transport from the Sham Shui Po and Old Town Central neighbourhoods, and is merely a short walk away from Tsim Sha Tsui, the famed food and shopping district. The city’s brand new arts and culture hub, the West Kowloon Cultural District, is also located directly located outside the station.

Eat Your Way Through Hong Kong

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More commonly known for its huge variety of dim sum and milk tea, Hong Kong is packed with a lot more international dishes. Hong Kong is very much an international city, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise when you see noodle bars of Bangkok, Bahn Mi stalls of Saigon or the grills of Spain.

Here are some known places to try out some extraordinary world cuisines in Hong Kong.

Samsen

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Image credit: Alpha

Built into an old shop-house on Stone Nullah Lane, Samsen specialises in Thai dishes. They are most known for their Thai ‘boat noodles’, which was named so because they used to be served from the boats that piled in Bangkok’s canal system.

Chef of Samsen, Adam Cliff, trained at Nahm in Bangkok. Chef Cliff’s fine dining approach to Thai food changed the game in the capital. He gives humble dishes a twist by applying a fine dining touch, elevating the dish further.  Samsen has a no-reservation policy, so finding a long queue will be of norm.

Le Petit Saigon

If you haven’t guessed it, Le Petit Saigon serves up some classic Vietnamese dishes and snacks. Bahn Mi is a classic Vietnamese snack which consists of a crusty baguette stuffed with cut pork, chicken liver pate, fresh herbs and pickles, topped with mayo and a mandatory blast of chilli. Le Petit Saigon serves up one of the best versions of classic bahn mi in Hong Kong.

Pair your bahn mi with a bottle of Saigon lager and dine by the porch outside to have a taste of being in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city. The bahn mi’s are available from noon till they sell out, which often happens. So if you missed their last orders, you can also head to the neighbouring Le Garcon Saigon restaurant to get you bahn mi fix or if you’re searching for a larger meal.

The Optimist

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Image credit: The Optimist

Spanish food in Hong Kong is all of great quality but it has become overwhelmingly expensive due to the costs of flying Spanish produce halfway across the world. The Optimist skips the riddle by going northern Spanish, heavy on grilled meats and seafood.

A show-stopper in the restaurant is the platter of meat—a 45-day dry aged Galician txuleta rib eye or the charcoal-grilled turbot. The Optimist has turned tapas into cheap bites that can be paired with cocktails.

Chautari

Situated in the Queen Street Cooked Food Market, Chautari cooks up a storm of Indian and Nepalese dishes that combines great service and wonderfully genuine, affordable food. Chautari, a family-run restaurant, serves up superb naans and grilled tandoori dishes.

East Meets West: Hong Kong

 

Being part of both Imperial China and the British Empire, Hong Kong is a perfect example of the East-meets-West vibe that everyone can’t get enough. From a small fishing village, it has now turned into a busy port and an important trade centre.

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Despite its very modern infrastructure, Hong Kong still keeps some Chinese traditions alive. Buildings like the HSBC building was built with the concept of Chinese feng shui in mind. The open atrium of the building was to allow wind and good qi (energy) to enter. The Asian metropolis is filled with skylines that towers over the city, but ancient traditions remain well and alive.

One of the most famous ancient traditions is ‘Villain Hitting’, practiced by modern-day ‘witches’ to cast out bad luck or put curses on people. A typical ritual involves a ‘witch’ hitting a piece of ‘Villain Paper’, that could include a name of a person a client wants cursed, with a slipper or shoe. This is meant to drive or scare away any bad spirits or energy that is bothering the client.

You can still find these modern-day ‘witches’ under the Canal Road Flyover in Causeway Bay. During the evening, the lit candles and the burning incense lends a dramatic effect that surrounds the casters which is truly worth the sight.

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Image credit: Foouaichaou

Though Hong Kong still has a strong hold on its ancient traditions, it doesn’t stop the city from being extremely welcoming to other cultures. The bustling city is home to many European and Asian expats, and the international feel of the city makes it easy for newcomers to fit in. More than half of the locals also speak fluent English, breaking down the language barrier and making it easier to make friends with the locals.

Just like any metropolitan city, Hong Kong is fast paced. Businesses work on a rapid pace such that when you go to a Hong Kong-style restaurant, your food will be served in five minutes or less after ordering. Also, because of the fast paced lifestyle, people speak without wasting time hence pleasantries such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are rarely used.

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Image credit: Michal Osmenda

Hongkongers who speak Cantonese as their first language, constantly invent new slangs that might translate differently to someone that lives elsewhere. ‘黐線’ (ci-sin) literally means ‘glued wires’ but is actually used as a slang for ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’.

With the modernisation of the city, comes challenges for the residents as well. Real Estate prices are sky high, which leads to some surprises. Despite the high prices of real estate, residents get creative. Some great eateries can be situated in unexpected places such as the 13th floor of a shabby building, but is still widely recommended by many. Some also make use of the tiny spaces to set up shops despite the size of the space. High real estate prices also leads residents to live in ‘Coffin Houses’ which are really small apartments that could barely store a bed.

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Although the busy city life may get overwhelming, you can always escape to the various beaches and hiking trails nearby. Sai Kung is a beautiful lake whereby you can jump off  cliff and to the turquoise waters. Shek O beach is a great spot to hang out under the sun and enjoy the sea. These places, and many more, are accessible through the region’s excellent and well-used transportation system.

 

Hong Kong: Past Tense

Hong Kong is known to many as a city that never sleeps. While modernity and skyscrapers have a firm hold here, there are plenty of pockets where the past still lingers. This is our journey into the Hong Kong that once was, and still is.

GETTING AROUND
The Star Ferry has changed little since it began ferrying folks between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central (and Wanchai) in 1888. As you sit in their reversible wooden seats, enjoy the scenic ride which beats taking the MTR or bus. When on Hong Kong island, take an incredibly cheap ride on the tram, the original carriages of which ply the same routes that remain unchanged since 1904.

Hong Kong from the Star Ferry at Tsim Sha Tsui


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Lamma Island: Far from the Madding Crowd

Fishing boats and seafood restaurants at Sok Kwu Wan

Just a 30 minute boat ride away from the Central Ferry Pier, Lamma Island feels miles away from Hong Kong’s skyscrapers and fast pace of life. From the village of Yung Shue Wan, a 3km walking trail links you to Sok Kwu Wan via small sleepy villages, rural rugged scenery and sandy beaches, with excellent views of the surrounding ocean from its position high above the island. Enjoy a seafood feast at picturesque Sok Kwu Wan – with its colourful fishing boats and seafood restaurants – before returning by ferry to the big city.