Hong Kong, Macau and Lamma Island 🎂
It was late on my birthday, February 1st, 2019, when I finally made it to Hong Kong after an active morning cycling around in Ubud area and rushing to catch my 5-hour flight. I quickly sorted out my Octopus card at the airport and hopped on to the next HK Express train to the city - suddenly realising how cold the weather was and that there weren’t enough layers for me not to freeze my butt off.
We chose The Emperor Hotel for this trip as the rest of the options were classic HK - expensive! I was completely whacked from a late night with my friends and the 2-hour cycle this morning so just looking forward to get to bed, nothing new. But the hotel didn’t let me check in even though Russell had left a note with them confirming I’d arrive earlier.
February 2nd, 2019
Russell made it late last night and hit the bed straight away. We said our hello’s, happy birthdays and everything else in the morning while getting ready to start our birthday-slash-spring-festival-slash-chinese-new-year weekend.
We decided to go to Tsuen Wan to check out this former textile mill turned hipster shopping mall and markets called The Mills. We got our coffees, window shopped, used the toilet (lol) and sight-saw Hong Kong-ers posing in front of this line of Insta-walls just outside the building. I fell in love with this all-black bottle from Corkcicle and with ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’ in mind, we decided to wait for 3 hours for a new stock so I don’t go to sleep thinking about this bottle, et voila— we got the black bottle and I love it dearly to this day.
After waiting for hours, Russell was approaching 7 and he had been looking at this unironically hipster place called Gala Cafe - basically a family-owned tiny joint in Tai Sang that sells crazy omelettes, plenty of noodle options to Ovaltine dinosaur. The sellers were rude and shouted at you when you walked in, being Asian (fake Asian for Russell), we all knew this one meant one thing: GOOD FOOD. We’re in.
We joined the queue while Russell was getting super hangry and excited and finally got a shared table with another couple sitting awkwardly in front of us with our knees almost touching in the teenie-tiny space. I was slightly worried about seafood in the dishes so went with a safer option on glass noodles and Ovaltine, while Russell had the omelette and we shared fried wontons. The food was as promised, good.
We wandered around the market surrounding Gala Cafe and came across a line of Indonesian supermarkets that sold all the basic staples, from Indomie’s to all kinds of cabe. Home.
Then not far from there we saw a huge flower market so we decided to stop by and take some pictures, and we were headed back (with Maria’s new all-black bottle in hand!) to Wan Chai to get ready for our official birthday dinner!
We got basically lost looking for this speakeasy bar that was hidden behind an umbrella shop called Foxglove. After much confusion and Google Maps-goggling and Russell complaining as he was getting hungry, we finally got our seats and table, got our drinks and nibbles, and started to exchange gifts. The band was also quite good, they did song covers and made them jazzy (pardon my lack of música lingo). We were then ready to paint the town red and off we went to one of our favourite hangout places in Lan Kwai Fong, Iron Fairies.
We danced the night away (kind of), and that was our birthday celebration and first night together in Hong Kong.
February 3rd, 2019
On our itinerary today is Macau, we were initially going to get something to eat at the hotel but the breakfast queue was basically like the whole Hong Kong just went there to eat, so we skipped it and went straight to the ferry terminal. Bought our tickets, got our sausage snacks and off we went to Macau.
We decided to skip the glitzy bits of Macau where the casinos and Vegas-style entertainment were, and just went straight to the old town called Taipa Village where Portuguese traces were evidently left from their time there. We had to try Macanese cuisine so the easiest answers to this were some egg tarts from Lord Stow’s Bakery.
We continued walking around the old town on the seaside part that was facing China, saw many Insta-walls and Lisbon-esque pathways, while thinking about what food to eat next.
After much of walking around the old town, the sun was slowly setting in the background so we decided to get Macau Beer and sat by the sea while facing China. We also got some kind of jerky and other kind of plastic sausage from the shop and enjoyed the rest of our afternoon before catching a bus back up to the ferry terminal.
At the pier we had a Doraemon special menu at McDonalds that Maria had been wanting and talking about since we got there. Maria also taught Russell about all the characters in the Doraemon series and quizzed him on them.
February 4th, 2019
The next day, we woke up super early to catch an all American breakfast (or beer) watching Superbowl in LKF. There were two different bars that we saw in the area that showed the game and they were packed! We stood outside of this sports bar called Ciao Chow before finally grabbing a table inside. To be absolutely honest, I didn’t understand a thing haha, but seemed like Russell had a little more knowledge so we just went with the crowd and ate our American breakfast.
After the early Superbowl morning pretending to be Americans, we decided to check out The AIA Great European Carnival at the Central Harbourfront Event Space by the IFC Mall where we always seem to see a lot of Filipinos picnic-ing and gathering on public holidays. We played a couple of carnival games and won a cute little pink doll for Gifty and played an impossible ring + bottle game - apart from that we enjoyed a sausage from the F&B area, all cashless. Walking out we saw an old school ice cream truck so we decided to share a cone from the uncle!
After the fair, we walked back through the bridge to IFC Mall and saw a man dressed in donkey costumes busking to raise money to get a wedding ring LOL. We continued our day looking for oleh-oleh for Mami and Eyang, and also stopped by for quick nasi dish somewhere in the Central area. All the while we were stopping at multiple Uniqlo to see if they still have stocks of the Heattech tights that Maria wore when she was in the UK and Europe back in January, but no joy.
The birthday celebration continued with a hot dinner, quite literally, at Chilli Fagara, a Michelin Guide restaurant in the Central area - fantastic food, all Szechuan, amazing service, exceptional experience. WE LOVED IT. Before that we managed to get a couple of cheeky beers on the staircases in Central, just meters away from Chilli Fagara.
We continued our night dancing at Rummin’ Tings, quite possibly our favourite bar to dance at in Hong Kong. We had a couple of Red Stripes and called it a night, back to our hotel to see the carpet in the elevator has been changed daily according to the name of the day.
February 5th, 2019
We had planned to go on an island day trip to Lamma Island, a home to the free-spirited hipsters and creative types with multicultural vibes - filled with indie boutiques, organic shops and markets, craft beers and mellow cafes. We stopped by for a quick fruit stop and a croque monsieur breakfast at possibly one of the few cafes opened in Hong Kong (CNY - most shops, and even 7-elevens were shut!). We jumped on the ferry and took a 30-minute journey to the island.
Lamma was as beautiful and laid-back as it had been made out to be. From organic produces to Asian street food stalls, to quiet cafes in the corners, craft beer pop-ups among green-fields, to various mom-and-pop shops selling Filipino, Indonesian and Thai food, to the beach. Everything about it was undeniably charming, very different from Hong Kong that we knew only 30 minutes away from there.
We started from the harbour and walked our way up and down to the beach - we saw so many things in that short amount of time. We had some Thai sausage sticks served on banana leaves, “spicy” Korean fried chicken - also served in banana leaf cones, the island-famous churros, saw a lot of small shops selling souvenirs and oleh-oleh, organic shops and Maria even bought a certified organic Eco Tan Face Tan Water that she still uses until today. We had a strong Bali vibe being in this island, and amazed by how much slower the life pace was compared to Hong Kong.
We finished the island visit with a short tanning session on the beach, accompanied by a Doraemon dorayaki that we bought at a 7-eleven at one of the MTR stations in Hong Kong. It was time to bid adieu and stopped for a quick fried chicken + ice cream break and also managed to get a cheeky beer at a tapas bar close to the pier.
Back in Hong Kong, we did a quick hike before Maria gave up and we headed back to our hotel to check out. Russell had to go back to Singapore, while Maria stayed in Hong Kong for an extra couple of Chinese New Year days in Aberdeen up north on her own.
We love how “real” Hong Kong is and how special this place and the charms around it are. We hope to make it back again sooner than later. We will see you again soon, Hong Kong.