Travel Ladybugs: Bottomless Mimosas in Hong Kong
by Tiffany Ho
This article is part of a new Her Culture column series called "Travel Ladybugs," which gives insider tips about locations around the world, including little-known restaurants, historical sites, beautiful landscapes, and more.
I’m writing this post-bottomless mimosa brunch, so you know this is going to be either a complete disaster or just hilarious. Personally, I’m hoping it will be somewhere in the middle (depending on how this all turns out and how quickly I can type with a buzz). Here’s a recap of the days I spent in Hong Kong from my recent trip (since I had limited WiFi access and got a tad lazy about it by the time I got back to the states):
The flight from Osaka airport to Hong Kong was only a 4-hour flight and I was feeling conflicting emotions. I was pretty beat and kind of wished I was going home, but a part of me was also super excited that I was still on vacation and was on my way to another part of Asia I had never been to. When we arrived to Customs and Immigration at HKG, I’m not going to lie, it was like being slapped in the face. Clearly the culture in Hong Kong and that of Japan are like an ocean’s width apart; in fact, I’d describe them as complete polar opposites. Not the friendliest folks in Hong Kong, but I guess they’ve built and maintained that reputation for themselves for awhile now, so it’s something to be expected. Anywho! When we got to through Customs and Immigration, my mom told me about how there was a must-try HK dessert/drink place in the arrival terminal. My cousins who had gone to HK before had recommended a place, but the name slipped my mom’s memory, so off I went on my own in search for what I thought could’ve possibly been the “amazing dessert/drink” place. I knew my cousin was a complete sucker for all things mango and boba so I figured this was where he probably had his eyes (and eventually his heart) set on:
The total area of Hong Kong is about 410 square miles, with a total population of about 7 million people, 90% of which live in those high rise buildings I posted in one of the photographs earlier. We learned from a local tour guide that most individual family homes are located in Victoria and that the lower income family homes are around Stanley Park. Although, typhoon season is typically from the months of May through September, my mother and I were “lucky” enough to experience a black-level (the worst) typhoon on our first night where we experienced a hail storm (a first for most HK locals). You don’t need to go to work when it’s been declared black-level. Blessing from the skies? Yeah, totally.
We drove through in a mini-bus through the Cross Harbour Tunnel (which gets about 120k-vehicle traffic daily, and took about 4 years to build by a Japanese government), under yellow-level conditions (basically REALLY heavy rain, aka it’s FLOODING). According to our tour guide, the toll fees were collected by the Japanese company for 30 years until the debt was paid back in full by the HK government. Now, the Cross Harbour Tunnel is completely and publicly owned by the HK government. It’s centrally located in midtown and has heavy traffic from 8am-8pm in the evening.
Even though the traffic is heavy for most hours during the day, most locals utilize the MTR, Metro Transit Railway, which is most convenient to getting anywhere in Hong Kong. Honestly, it’s seriously THEE best subway system in the world. I never had to wait for a train for more than 2 minutes and it’s so on time and easy to navigate through. The locals use the MTR as a means of getting around and for good reason too: Gas price in Hong Kong is about $8 USD/gal, 50% of which is for the government’s tax on gas.
Oh! A good thing to note for all your shopaholics: there’s NO SALES TAX in Hong Kong. There’s only a 10% service fee for eat-in restaurants. The rule with bargaining, at least for Stanley Market, which is open from 9am-10pm, is to bargain either from 5-20% lower than the selling price. Apparently, going any lower would just make yourself look like a fool. Just keep that in mind the next time you find yourself there.
So, I’ll admit, my HK pictures aren’t that great for a few reasons: 1) I was tired 2) The weather was terrible and we never really got a non-overcast/foggy day and 3) HK is more about its food and shopping than it is for historical landmarks/temples. That being said, I hope I was able to capture the essence of all that HK can offer and still hope to go back soon!