Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 24th – Arriving and Eating in Hong Kong

Fortunately it wasn't too early a start for our sail-into Hong Kong's spectacular harbour – so, I was on the bridge to give a narration about the sights we were sailing past on our way into Ocean Terminal. On both sides of us, the harbour was so packed with buildings and steepling skyscrapers that it was difficult to point out too many of them in this claustrophobic skyline, but seeing as size is clearly important here in Hong Kong, I talked about the tallest ones – with 4 out of the world's top 30 buildings, Hong Kong has one of the most awe-inspiring skylines on the planet.

Our mission today was to taste some of the amazing food on offer in Hong Kong – in a place with some of the most expensive restaurants in the world, and some wonderful street food eateries, the choice is endless, which is why it was great to have the Silver Whisper's resident Chinese food expert with us.

We went for Dim Sum at the Island Tang Restaurant in Central – full of local businessmen in suits (we were the only non-Asians in there). Our expert rated the restaurant as the best Dim Sum restaurant in Hong Kong (which means that it had a good chance of being the best Dim Sum restaurant in the world) – and the dishes we were served were truly fantastic. Even the delicacy of preserved duck eggs was delicious – that was in spite of us learning that the eggs are preserved by being pickled in horse urine for 100 days!

Just when we thought we couldn't eat any more, our master insisted that we sample the other end of the Hong Kong food scale, at a traditional beef noodle shop near Hollywood Road. You could tell the place was good, because there was a long queue of locals outside, and after waiting for 20 minutes, we were squeezed in to share a table with a group of 5 other people. The service was fairly rudimentary and the ambience was a long way from the refined atmosphere of Island Tang, but the bowls of steaming noodles and tender beef brisket were delicious – and much, much cheaper!

After that, we hauled our bloated stomachs round the busy street markets of Central. As ever in Hong Kong, it's the contrasts that make this vibrant city so fantastic to explore – down and dirty markets just a stone throw away from the manicured offices of the multi-national banks; ordinary people crammed into grubby streets, overlooked by some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

With such an unrelenting pace of life, Hong Kong is an exhausting place to visit – thankfully we have two more days to explore.