I have a soft spot for Hong Kong, the city that I once called home, and I try to visit at least once a year. There’s something about the high-rise, high-speed, highly-textured and humid melting pot that is both dystopian and strangely grounded.

In September I spent a frenetic 24 hours in the city on my way back to the UK and, like an episode of The Layover, somehow managed to pack an awful lot of new and familiar sights into one day. Here’s how it played out.

Sun Hing

新興食家

_DSF8182

Every trip to Hong Kong begins with dim sum and on this occasion we decided to try somewhere new in Kennedy Town, a district on the west side of the island which has recently become more accessible thanks to a new MTR station.

_DSF8179

Sun Hing is an old school dim sum restaurant that opens every day from 3am to 4pm which is popular with students and taxi drivers alike. It’s every man for himself here so be prepared to jostle for a table and don’t expect any sort of service, simply point at what you’d like as it comes freshly steamed out of the kitchen.

_DSF8168

_DSF8170
Cha siu bao (叉燒包) bbq pork buns
_DSF8174
Cheong fun (豬腸粉) rice noodle rolls with shrimp
_DSF8178
Har gow (蝦餃) shrimp dumplings
_DSF8165
Egg custard buns

Everything we tried was delicious, in particular, the egg custard buns which are their speciality. At the end, the bill came out to around HKD $50 per person which is exceptionally good value.

_DSF8186

Afterwards, we had a short walk around the neighbourhood and enjoyed peeking down grimy side streets where I was pleased to see that the practice of bamboo scaffolding is still alive and well.

Sai Wan Swimming Shed

西環泳棚 (鐘聲泳棚)

_DSF8188

Hidden a 20-minute walk away from Kennedy Town centre below Victoria Road is a historic relic that was built by the Hong Kong Government in the 1950’s when swimming pools weren’t common.

_DSF8219

Sitting on the rocky coastline, Sai Wan Swimming Shed consists of a rickety old building with changing rooms inside and a pier jutting out into the harbour. It’s the last of its kind still in service.

_DSF8194

_DSF8196

Nowadays, the swimming shed is still used by older swimmers and residents of the neighbourhood early in the morning.

_DSF8215

Since the completion of major sewage treatment projects, water quality has been on the rise and there’s a chance that swimming sheds might make a comeback. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to take a dip on my next trip!

Lo Pan Temple

魯班先師廟

_DSF8222

Approaching midday we made our way back through Kennedy Town and walked up the hill to Lo Pan Temple, dedicated to the patron saint of Chinese builders and contractors.

_DSF8223

Lo Pan (also known as Lu Ban) was a Chinese carpenter, engineer, philosopher, inventor, military thinker and statesman who lived during the Spring and Autumn Period (771–476 BC).

_DSF8224

The Temple has an unusual jagged roof, elaborate walls paintings, clay sculptural figures, and stone carvings. It’s a nice spot to escape the crowds, noise and heat.

University of Hong Kong

香港大學

_DSF8225

_DSF8227

On our way to HKU Station from the temple, we passed through the university whose extensive campus runs along the mid-levels providing some great views of the dense urban jungle. You can also see some old colonial architecture, including the Run Run Shaw Heritage House.

Fanling → Sheung Shui

粉嶺 → 上水

_DSF8252

In the afternoon we left the island and headed north by train to the New Territories, close the border with Shenzhen (another of my old haunts), for a hike with some old friends.

4 hour hike from Fanling MTR to Sheung Shui MTR
4-hour hike from Fanling MTR to Sheung Shui MTR

_DSF8247

Peering through the trees from a vantage point on a hill overlooking the border, the contrast between the relatively undeveloped land south of the river and the sprawling high rise blocks to the north couldn’t have been more striking. Shenzhen continues to grow unabated.

_DSF8248

Half way along the trail from we found a small Taoist shrine beside a huge rock inscribed with golden characters.

_DSF8259

The trail passes an organic farm/pottery workshop and an old cha chaan teng restaurant where we stopped for a late lunch of Hong Kong-style ice milk tea and pineapple buns.

_DSF8268

Somewhere en route we got a bit lost and ended up wandering through a fancy looking golf course. Luckily when we found the exit there weren’t any guards.

_DSF8262

It was around 6pm by the time we reached Sheung Shui MTR and hurriedly said our goodbyes since we had another appointment back on the island.

Wooloomooloo

_DSF8279

The sun had set by the time we made it back to Hong Kong Island and, after a quick shower, we headed over to Wooloomooloo, a nice rooftop lounge in Wan Chai with spectacular panoramic views over the city.

_DSF8282

_DSF8284

We met a friend from Tokyo who was visiting on a layover. Since the airport is only 30 minutes away by train it makes a short visit of a few hours very possible.

Tsui Wah

翠華餐廳

_DSF8291

After an enjoyable evening, we were feeling very hungry so at 11pm head to the local institution that is Tsui Wah on Wellington Street. It had been recently renovated but managed to retain the same air of controlled chaos and scrummy comfort food that it’s famous for.

_DSF8289

_DSF8293

After our feast of pork chops in curry, Hainan chicken and shrimp wonton we stumbled back to our Airbnb apartment. I was already looking forward to the next time we could do it all again!

Comments

  1. Wendy says:

    Hi David, in 24 hours you have visit all these places, how amazing. how can you manage to do all these?

  2. Millie says:

    Hi David, welcome to Hong Kong again. It is excited to know that you went to Fanling. I am living there and it is my first time to know that there is an 4-hour hiking path between Fanling and Sheung Shui. I always take the butterfly hiking way. And it is unbelievable that you done all these in 24hours.

Leave a Reply