lunedì 17 novembre 2008


Published on "@Home - Suzhou - Oct. 2008"

I’m a HK-a-holic. I love every aspect of the city: the colonial feeling that still lingers in places like the Foreign Correspondents Club, the crowd, the pubs along Lang Kwai Fong, the Pacific Island Coffee chain with its free internet. I enjoy walking through HK busy malls, riding a bus to Stanley Market early in the morning and spending the day in Lamma Island and try out all its little shops and cafes. I like the local people, the way they interpret fashion and their accent. As soon as I get to the airport my feet are itching to get to the nearest Sasha to refill my beauty case. I think that the MTR system rocks. I even appreciate the strong smells in the markets and the little lanes packed with Chinese herbs and potions. Going out for a night of fun in HK has always proved to be an smashing experience, even if wandering the city’s neon streets and its many bars is not quite as charming as walking through the semi-desert roads on a weekend morning. Plus, you have got to try the Star Ferry on a clear night: the view is breathtaking and the experience costs you less than 50 cents! Now that I am a mother of two I have started appreciating the many activities addressed to little ones as well.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you are looking for, HK is a great place to be as it offers something for everyone.
Plan a week, a weekend or a quick visa-run visit. You won’t regret it!


Think about HK and try to visualise it. What do you see? Beautiful architecture? Crowded streets? Huge shopping malls?
Wrong. Or, well, there is more to it: actually, over 80% of the territory is covered by green areas.
You can immerse yourself in nature a few step away from central or have a full ay trip on one of the other islands.

Try the PEAK WALK. Ride the Peak tram to the top and enjoy the view Sky peak Tower. Then head down the mountain. A number of trails are accessible from the Peak, all of which take you through stretches of lush forest. Dramatic views of the city below and the harbour beyond will make it an experience worth to remember. It takes about two hours to get into Central.

I love LAMMA, a car-free island just a short ferry ride from the Star Ferry Pier. Lamma is just the right size for a day trip and the lack of motorized traffic is a tonic for the urban soul. About 5000 people live here, and at least twice as many cats. Seafood restaurants cluster near the ferry piers, but I suggest walking though the charming wooden neighborhoods of small homes and along beaches. Bring along a good book and chill out!
BEACHES. Hong Kong is dotted with beaches, some grotty, some wonderful. Many of them have facilities for swimmers, including changing rooms with showers, lifeguards, and shark nets.
My picks:
Cheung Chau Island: the good beaches are on the east coast, but the small "Italian Beach" (Po Yue Wan), tucked away in the southwest of the island, is a good destination if you need a peaceful day. Cheung Sha (southern Lantau Island) boasts two long, beautiful beaches and open air restaurants. Repulse Bay (southwest Hong Kong Island) is very popular even though not splendidly scenic, thanks to all the high-rises on the hillsides. It’s easily reached by bus and has plenty of facilities.


Hong Kong is the right place for bar crawling and club hopping. The hot venues tend to be concentrated in a few areas, of which my favourites:

1) LAN KWAI FONG. Located at the south side of Queen's Road Central, is the most famous bar gathering and a top place for people watching. LKF hosts more than 50 bars and it is packed both with businessmen and party people!
My picks:

California, which is very much a place to see and be seen.
Agave, which boasts a vast array of tequilas.
Insomnia, usually packed and bouncy when the band plays.

2) SoHo, which has become an in-place for evening drinks and dinner.

3) WAN CHAI, the famous setting of “The World of Suzie Wong”, where nightlife is distinctly earthier - even when avoiding girlie bars!

My picks:

Carnegie's, a pub where devil-may-care customers dance on the bar.
The Wench, small and cozy, popular with the Brits.
Dusk Till Dawn, with Filipino bands belting out impressive renditions of chart-topping hits.
Joe Banana's, an almost legendary disco pub that serves good cocktails.

3) Feeling posh? Try hotel bars: Felix the Peninsula Hotel, the Sheraton Hotel Sky Lounge, Intercontinental Hotel's Lobby Lounge are some all time favourites!

You might find yourself partying so long that you stumble out into daylight. Sparrows are chirping; newspapers are on sale; people are going to work. Not ready for bed yet? I've heard that Home, near LKF, is a prime place to make for if you want to carry on partying till mid-morning; the Bridge (pub) in Wanchai has lately become another place for dancing while its daylight.


A list is superfluous here as it is impossible to say enough about shopping in HK. However, here a few “picks”:

Pacific Place: beautifully decorated during the holidays, it takes a second to realize that you could really just spend the whole weekend exploring, pampering yourself, eating delicious food, getting a few good mags and books, going to the movies, renovating your entire family wardrobe and restyling your house with all sorts of gadget WITHOUT LEAVING THE PLACE. And the pharmacy is well stocked in case you feel faint when realising how much you have spent!

M&S: reliable and cozy like a long term partner (hopefully). I love the store on Queen’s Road Central. It sells “comfortable” sizes as well!

Watson: the chain is impossible to miss, as you find a store on every corner. A beauty products freak’s heaven + good variety of essential over-the-counter medications.

Sasha: just at the edge of LKW, refill your sample drawer: you can have as many perfumes as you want and they come cheap in beautiful miniature bottles.

Bags in LKF: going up, on the left hand side, in front of Ben and Jerry’s. Second hand designer bags for incredible prices.

Samples shops in Wanchai: some might be samples, most are probably fakes, but it is fun to search thru piles of stuff and you may end up with a few interesting pieces. I did.

Hollywood Rd. will change your ideas about “Chinese antiques” forever! It is glamorous and a good place to learn about different styles and ages. Then you can have it made 1/10 of the price back in Suzhou!

After so much shopping you will NEED to have lunch in SoHo: Known for its upscale boutiques, chic bars, and exotic range of restaurants that offer many delicious cuisines, it is one of the trendiest locations and destinations in the city!

Dinner at M on the Fringe. Shanghai veterans have probably heard of this. The cuisine at M at the Fringe almost defies culinary classification but can be described with two simple words: breathtaking delicious
At M at the Fringe, you are served in a gorgeous high-ceilinged room above the Fringe Club, a contemporary art and performance space that is a Hong Kong landmark in its own right.
1/F South Block, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong KongTel: (852) 2877 4000 Fax: (852) 2877 0135Email:


Here we go. You are in HK with the kids. Forget about all the stuff I just told you about, and concentrate on fun family time (maybe mamma can squeeze in a quick shopping trip and papa’ enjoy a beer after all day walking around, just in order to relax before a nice family dinner in a restaurant with exhausted children. Ah ah).
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens: it is one of the oldest zoological and botanical centers in the world and it is a green lung in the Central District. Walking up hill and down hill, looking at the monkeys and old people exercising… it is a relaxing hard work on the calves!
Hong Kong Park. In the centre of the Park you find an artificial lake and a waterfall, plus the Conservatory and the Aviary, built on the hillside adjacent to the Tai Chi Garden and the Vantage Point. My son loves walking through the Aviary, but be aware that if something falls down while you walk on the mandatory path, it si lost forever. Don’t let it happen to Jr. favourite bottle!
Ocean park: Located on the south end of Hong Kong Island, it's one of the largest ocean parks in the world, with two entrances connected by cable-car. Most of the exhibitions emphasize the importance of protecting endangered species. I am sure your kids will love the Panda habitat, the 'Dinosaur-Now and Then' exhibits, the Dolphin Breeding Centre, the Butterfly House, the Goldfish Pagoda, the Atoll Reef, the Shark Aquarium etc. The most famous spot in the whole Park is the Ocean Theatre, with its dolphins and sea lions show.When visitors are ready for cool relaxation and/or a swim, they will find the Water Paradise delightful and the rides on the headland thrilling!

Hong Kong Disneyland. Located on Lantau Island and very well connected through the MTR system, this is the smallest Mickey’s theme park in the world. The China Daily reported that its low start was due to it being too westernised for Chinese people to enjoy. To fix this problem, Mickey is sometimes going around in a Mao jacket, while Minnie has become a faithful fan of designer Vivienne Tan. Iconic Disney characters use Chinese names such as “Shui Gongzhu” (Sleeping Beauty) and “Baixue Gongzhu” (Snow White). Check out the 4 areas of the park:1) Main St. USA with all its shops and food areas (hurray for junk food once in a while!)2) Adventureland, that my child will always remember as the place where his gran was splashed by an elephant3) Tomorrowland, that is where Buzzlightyear lives (if you know what I mean…)4) Fantasyland, great for the little ones to take their pictures with all Disney characters. Be aware that your 3 year old might be pushed away and fight for his spot as many 30 something “girls” form the mainland would kill for a picture with Mickey.
Do you remember that family dinner I talked about earlier? Make it easier on yourself. Go to Dan Ryan's Chicago Grill. It offers authentic American steaks, ribs, sandwiches and salad in a friendly, lively and upscale atmosphere. You will like the internal decoration, that takes inspiration from a 1940's Chicago bar and grill. And the staff is great with kids: crayons and balloons available in all three locations in HK + excellent kiddie’s menu!
1) 114 Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty.2) 315 Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Kowloon. 3) LG228 Festival Walk, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon


! Feel “decadent”: Marco Polo Hotel in TST
! Want to live the night scene; Wharney Hotel in Wanchai
! Are out of money: Chongking Mansion in TST
! Love fairy tales: Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel

GETTING THERE: flights depart daily form Shanghai and good deals can be found on short notice. Try Ctrip’s International Flights Hotline – 800 820 6666 when dialing from a landline. Press 6 for service in English. Once in HK, the quickest way into the city is by Airport Express train (HKD 100).

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