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Yum cha, history and giant escalators in Hong Kong

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We’ve never been to Hong Kong, we know it’s a severe oversight on our behalves considering how close it is to Australia, but luckily for us guest traveller Jack Walden has. In our latest You’ve Been Where post Jack points out the highlights and tells us why we really should make it a priority. Oh, and he also reminds us why it pays to do your research.

Who are you and what do you do for a living?

I’m Jack Walden, the CEO of a company called the c word (c for communications consultancy, so stop wondering and start chuckling) and a contributor to travel website Journeys to Come by Catriona Rowntree.

Guest writer Jack Walden

Where is home?

When I’m travelling I can make myself at home anywhere: hotels, airport lounges and planes. When I’m not travelling, home is chilly Melbourne.

Where have you been? When did you go?

I want to share a recent trip to Hong Kong. I’ve been twice in the past couple of years – both times in the middle of the year. And am hoping to head back in the next 12 months.

Who did you travel with?

I went with a friend I’ve been travelling with for years. We met up with another friend who had recently moved there from Melbourne. I had been raving on about the city for months before taking the trip and I couldn’t wait to show it off to my friend. It was also great to have a friend who was willing to be a tourist in her own city and be our personal tour guide.

What were the highlights of your trip?

The dim sum, the lights and the greenery! My favourite meals included traditional Cantonese flavours at Duddell’s; delicious yum cha at Maxim’s Palace and a delicious dinner served with a side of history in the Bank of China building at the China Club.

The light show is also a great attraction – you can see it from the Avenue of Stars along the Hong Kong Harbour for free or you can choose one of the restaurants on Kowloon and get dinner with a view. We nabbed a great view (and a great dinner) at Hutong, and went back for night two with drinks and a light show from the rooftop bar at the Peninsula.

The other highlight was the amazing green spaces in the CBD including the Asia Society Hong Kong Center and Victoria Peak with several incredible walking tracks. There are also plenty of green spaces on the outskirts of the city. We took a cable car up to the Big Buddha and less than 30 minutes from the city I felt like I was in a completely different country.

Oh, and the escalator! You need to spend a couple of hours exploring the upper levels of Hong Kong and its eclectic mix of bars and restaurants using the world’s longest outdoor escalator.

What did you least like about your trip?

The heat. I do love Hong Kong, but for a person who LOVES the cold, the humidity took a little getting used to. The rooftop pools help!

Do you have any funny stories from your travels?

Too many to share. One that comes to mind from this particular trip was arriving at Hong Kong airport thinking we could fly to Shanghai for a couple of days on a 72 hour transit visa. The catch: you have to be ‘transiting’ somewhere other than the place you’ve come from.

It pays to do your research. Thankfully the staff were amazing and were able to change our flights to fly straight back to Melbourne – and the silver lining: we scored an extra three days in Hong Kong!

What were the locals like?

Everyone is very friendly and eager to help. They’re also very busy! Life in Hong Kong is lived at triple the speed of life anywhere else. But it’s brilliant!

What was the food like?

It was a highlight. There’s something for everyone with the flavours of the world at your doorstep. We enjoyed amazing dim sum, sensational seafood and delicious degustations.

 

Did you learn anything about yourself or the world on this trip?

I love cities!

Would you recommend others travel here?

Hong Kong has something for everyone: shopping, food, nature, views, ferries … and the list goes on. It’s also really easy to explore either by foot or by taxi. And there’s a great mixture of new Hong Kong sitting alongside old Hong Kong.

Do you have any tips for people thinking of travelling here?

  • Give yourself an extra day in the city by checking your bags in for your flight at the train station in the city. Yes, you can check them in the morning of your flight and then spend the day exploring.
  • Pack an extra bag for the bargains you’ll no doubt want to bring home.
  • Choose a restaurant or bar to gain an unparalleled view of the famous Hong Kong light show.
  • Hong Kong is the perfect destination for a long weekend – you can arrive for a late dinner and depart after a full day in the city.

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