Hong Kong’s Central District; Star Ferry, Dim Sum and Markets
On our first full day in Hong Kong, unsurprisingly, I woke up at 3am. Thank you jet lag.
The first stop of the day was to buy Hong Kong transportation cards called Octopus Cards; 150 HK$ for me, and 70 HK$ for mom (senior rate). Built into those costs is a 50 HK$ deposit which we got back (minus $9 fee for having card less than 90 days) on our last day. Every time you take a bus or subway, it pulls money off the card. I used all of my 100 HK$ and my mother used most of her 20. Her trips cost less than mine because most were discounted at a senior rate and some were free.
The MTR is easy to use; tap the card to machine and it opens the gate. It also shows your balance when you go through. When you leave the MTR at your destination, tap the card again at the exit gate and you’ll see the balance. Many stations are HUGE with multiple exits. Look for signs which indicate which exit for your intended destination.
One of the nice things about staying where we did at the YMCA was that it’s close to the Star Ferry terminal on the Kowloon side. We walked over to the dock and up to the top level for the trip over to Central. The fare was $3.40 HK$ for me and free for mom. Later I discovered that top level is is 1 HK$ more expensive than the bottom, but if you’re sightseeing it’s worth it for the views.
When we arrived at the Central station, we decided to follow part of a walking route outlined in my guidebook, but basically ended up wandering all over and eventually getting a little lost.
First thing off the ferry are elevated walkways leading deeper into Central.
Because it was Sunday the area was starting to fill up with domestic helpers setting up for their day off. Mostly these are women from Philippines and Indonesia and they were setting out cardboard to sit on, preparing to spend the day there with friends. They bring food, magazines, clothes to trade, nail polish, and some were singing hymns. Some build walls made of cardboard around their space. At the end of the day, the cardboard must be packed off and hauled away somewhere into storage because we saw men bringing it out on wheeled carts in the morning. This has been going on for a very long time and its something David and I witnessed almost 2 decades ago when we were last here.
It was still early and we went in search of milk tea in a Dai Pai Dong which turned out not to be open. Instead, we found a market street which I think may have been around Gage and Peel Streets.
We stopped in at Lin Heung Tea House for Dim Sum (162 Wellington St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong). This place has been there a long time and is clearly popular.
According to wikipedia, we clearly did not know how to drink the tea there. They say, “The server provides two teacups for each diner: the bigger one for tea making, and the smaller one for drinking. Patrons need to steep tea in the larger cup and pour it into to the smaller one.” Wish I’d known as I’m sure we looked a little foolish. 🙂
It’s small and crowded inside. I noticed that people got up and went to carts instead of waiting for them, so I did too. Bring your tally card with you so it can be stamped. We had shu mai, bao with pork and rice noodle with what turned out to be chopped up liver inside (not bad,but too rich to finish). I would have liked to have some of the duck hanging in the windows downstairs but I had no idea how to get it to our table.
We walked down Wellington Road and then all the way to where the Peak Tram begins and discovered a minimum of a one hour wait. No thanks, not today.
For a late lunch, we went to Guangdong BBQ on Ashley Road and for 68 HK$ had noodle soup with sliced duck and greens on top with cold milk coffee. On our last day, we went back here for duck and pork for our train ride to Shanghai, both with rice, 85 HKG for both. This was an excellent decision.
After a rest, we find ourselves going back across the harbor on the Star Ferry, then taking the MTR to Sam Kee Bookstore to see rescue kitties. I’d read about this place online and it was difficult to find. It’s downstairs in the building, a very small bookstore, filled lots of cats, all rescues available for adoption.