Hong Kong Cinema

Paul Does Hong Kong (Dec 06)

Ok. so the title is not the most auspicious of starts to my holiday journal. Firstly, it is bland and unimaginative and secondly it uses the same title structure as the 'Debbie does Dallas' series. For those internet nomads who have stumbled upon this site looking for some XXX-rated action, you are in for a bitter disappointment. However, for the handful of people who are interested in my honeymoon visit to Hong Kong in Dec 2006 please read on.

Getting There - We arrived on the 23rd of December and spent five days at the Kowloon Metropark. This was a good base for exploring the area, buying inexpensive goods and eating like kings! The main tourist hub for Hong Kong is the peninsula tip of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. We were quite a way into Kowloon, in the Mongkok area at about thirty minutes walk to the tip.

Day 1 (Tsim Sha Tsui):

Tsim Sha Tsui is the Southern tip of Kowloon. On offer here are a massive range of restaurants, shops and more restaurants and shops. You can get to the tip either by the impressively cheap cabs, the decent Metro or just walking down Nathan Road (which is inappropriately named as the 'Golden Mile' - it is pretty grubby in places and is about three miles long!) Nathan Road is worth wandering down at least once, it manages to blend the top end of luxury shopping with some real tacky shops and touts for fake watches / suits etc.

On the Western side of the Peninsula there is Harbour City / Ocean Terminal - a massive upmarket shopping centre. You will not find any bargains here, but it is a nice air-conditioned place which is also good to grab lunch. There is an Italian restaurant on the ground floor (Habitu) which is quite pricey, but it provides a fantastic harbour view.

We had ourselves measured for suits. I got a couple and Michelle got one. Although everyone will try and dazzle you with cheap prices (HK $2000 for a whole suit / shirts / tie - which is about £130) if you want a quality suit you will probably need to go nearer HK $4000 upwards (£250). However, you really notice the difference with a tailored suit and it is definitely an experience. Do not choose you tailor by one of the touts on the main street, make sure you have a recommendation beforehand.

In the evening, we checked out the Ladies Market (Mongkok), which is great for picking up cheap trainers, handbags, cultural artefacts etc. Although after doing the first ten or so stalls the same merchandise does tend to repeat itself. Not that my wife, Michelle, was that bothered. I think she got about five bags by the end. Plus - whatever you do - haggle, haggle and haggle!

Day 2 (Hong Kong Island):

The Star Ferry harbour is the best way to cross to and from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. It offers remarkable views in both directions and the ten minute journey costs about 15p in First Class!

Hong Kong Island is home to the Mid-Level escalator, which was developed to ease congestion during the busy commute into the financial centre. It is a series of escalators and travelators going up into the Hong Kong Island suburbs. It moves towards the centre of Hong Kong between 6am and 10am and then points upwards for the rest of the day. It is an interesting feat, and takes you on a journey through the Mid-Level - it is one of the more quirky things on offer.

After wandering around, we went back to Kowloon and to the Peninsula Hotel. The Felix restaurant on the top floor is expensive (£40 per head) but it has a cocktail bar up there which provides an unforgettable view of the harbour at night.

Seeing as it was Christmas day (and everything was open) we needed to eat some form of turkey placedo. We found this place called Spring Deer (on 42 Mody Road ) which provides Hong Kong's best dish - roast duck. For about £20 you get a whole duck - and this is a huge duck! They bring it out and slice it up in front of you and the terror / excitement sinks in as you realise how much duck you must devour. Top grub!

We finished off at the Temple Street Night Market - which is the biggest market around. This is a bit further up from Tsim Sha Tsui on the west side of Nathan Road . It offers even more than the Ladies Market and there are plenty of shops selling genuine and bootleg DVDs. I picked up a variety of titles, but mainly Stephen Chow oddities not available in the UK and a few more recent Andy Lau movies. Old movies are around HK $30 (just over £2), however anything recent or re-mastered will be nearer HK $80. I was impressed by the availability of Celestial Shaw Brothers titles, but upon closer inspection noticed that the martial arts titles were rare. I struggled to pick up many old-school titles. Action and comedy were well stocked but as I had heard, martial arts films are not a massive craze in Hong Kong these days.

Day Three (Hong Kong Island):

If you go to Hong Kong without visiting the Peak Terminal you have really missed out. Many people call it a tram, but fellow geeks will quickly recognise it as a funicular railway (which runs at a 27 degree slope). It provides breath-taking views of Hong Kong . However, make sure you plan it on a clear day and get there early!

We also visited the Botanical Gardens, which was really relaxing and a classic Victorian design. There were also a few caged animals there including a decidedly miserable Jaguar, plenty of monkeys and some birds. The day concluded back in Kowloon with more bag-shopping, cheap food and wandering around Mongkok.

Day Four (Kowloon):

On our final day we picked up our suits (these guys worked through Christmas and Boxing Day), went to the surprisingly good Arts museum at the Peninsula tip and I bought more DVDs. We also did the Avenue of Stars, which is right by the Arts museum. It is trying to be like Hollywood 's Walk of Fame with a bunch of hand prints of famous stars. I found it good fun and Michelle was embarrassed that she recognised so many of the names. I think I got some questionable glances from some of the Chinese people who saw me jumping up and down at Lau Kar Leung's name!


Hong Kong is a fantastic city. There are a few places that I would definitely say do once in your life; Vegas, Rome, Blackpool and now Hong Kong . Hong Kong is an absurd and chaotic mix of tat and luxury. It shamelessly sells itself to the tourist dollar whilst also providing some of the most ostentatious examples of wealth and prosperity. There are plenty of good sights to see, but I far preferred wandering around soaking in the atmosphere, popping into local shops and restaurants which were off the tourist trail.

Our location in Mongkok, Kowloon wasn't great for sight-seeing, but it provided a grittier (smellier) view of Hong Kong. There weren't as many tourists around and I enjoyed the non-stop nightlife and shopping. If I was brutally honest about Hong Kong Island, I didn't really find a lot to do on it during the day. The centre is very much a corporate centre with plenty of impressive sky-scrapers, but not a much else. I'm not sure I would have got as much out of the stay had we been on Hong Kong Island.

I will probably return to Hong Kong again some day. Michelle and I had a great time and were exhausted by the end and ready for our week on the beach in Mauritius. If I go again, I will definitely spend a day in Macau and also go to the Happy Valley Racecourse (they had no dates when we were there), but I will spend most of my time eating soft pork-belly at local restaurants, buying more DVDs and get myself measured for a few more suits.

Happy New Year!


Jan 07

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