Hong Kong Travel Guide
We just love Hong Kong, but sometimes the glitz and glamour of the city just gets a little overbearingeven for those of us who are New Yorkersso we're all about an excursion away from the bright lights.
When we were in HK recently, a friend invited us along on his plans to visit the Tai O fishing village on stilts on the west of Lantau island, and we had such an awesome time being the two non-Chinese tourists in the place.
The guidebooks will tell you that Tai O is the "Venice of Hong Kong." Well, we've been to both, and Venice it ain't. It is however a small town on stilts over the water, half dilapidated and all fascinating.
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Is Hong Kong going to become the new Hollywood? If you ask Keanu Reeves, it's a serious possibility.
Keanu began filming his directorial debut, Tai Chi Man, in Hong Kong earlier this week after wrapping up a shoot in Beijing.
Reeves personally scouted the Hong Kong locations, including the downtown area in Wan Chai and the Clear Water Bay beaches, and is reportedly excited to begin shooting in the region.
Hong Kong's film industry is booming as cooperation between the Chinese and American film industries has grown over the past few years. Later this year Hong Kong will host its biggest American production yet: Iron Man 3.
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted in: a boat in Aberdeen Harbour, Hong Kong.
This week's Travel Cat is named Apple, and she's a British Shorthair cat who lives on a houseboat just outside of Central, Hong Kong. We met her while staying on the boat with the lovely owners, who offer up two of the bedrooms on Airbnb.
Apple spends her days inside, lying on the cool wood decking away from the Hong Kong humidity. When the sun goes down and the temperature drops, Apple ventures out to watch the lights flicker up in the distance, on Victoria Peak. Here is a bonus shot of her enjoying her nautical life.
Just when you thought that fast food chains couldn't muck up a proper burger any more than Costa Rica's Queso Fundido Whopper or Singapore's Prosperity McRib, along comes a worth challengers: Burger King's Tempura Whopper Jr.
Tempura...whopper?! Yep, although those two simple words on the menu board are deceiving; it's not the patty of meat that's been tempura-cooked, but instead the regular Whopper gets added to it a patty of tempura'd vegetables, atop the meat. Throw in a drizzle of sweet tempura sauce, and it's all ready to be bitten into at a BK in HK.
Although we're not big fans of Burger King and can't remember the last time we had a Whopper, the tempura version proved too tempting. It's all about the novelty, you see! And we weren't the only visitors taken in by the promise of a unique and cheap lunch; the Burger King we visited in Mong Kok was packed with a mix of locals and ballcap-wearing Brit tour-takers.
Straight up, we're just going to say that serious coffeeshops in Hong Kong have only taken a couple years to evolve from being nonexistent, to doing brews and service to a standard beyond that of most places in the Western Hemisphere. HK just moves that quickly, and coffee is the latest focus for a city brought up on Chinese green tea and proper British milk tea.
During our most recent visit to Hong Kong, we discovered Three Coffee Shops That Get It Right. And, just as the baristas learned our name, we had to fly back home. So do stop by and have a pour-over for us, hm?
· Knockbox Coffee
Jonathan waxed philosophic on the Costa Rica Finca San Francisco while preparing a perfect pour-over coffee. "It's on my secret menu," he whispered with a wink, and proceeded to share the details of a few other beans he currently had the hots for. Whatever he said about cupping and flavor hints we quickly forgot, but Knockbox on its own is a place we've nailed into our memory as an HK must-visit. The very tiny, hard-to-find coffeeshop is a single room with one table of a few chairs and two barstools for watching the action on the counter. We suggest nabbing the latter in order to be eye-level with your coffee as it bubbles up from the vacuum brewer.
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FOOD. Think about it. Food is so awesome. AIRPLANE FOOD. Now think about that. Not so awesome, right? Well, an airline can only do so much to develop an appealing onboard menu, while battling with catering companies, onboard kitchen appliances, altitude issues and passenger diets. Obviously it's best to go for First or Business Class for optimum yumminess, but we're happy to report that Cathay Pacific's Premium Economy meals are better than economy, which aren't too shabby on their own.
Flying CX840 from Hong Kong to New York in Premium Economy, we were first presented with a welcome flute of champagne, followed by a hot towel to refresh. Then, a printed menu arrived, laying out the options for a dinner, brunch, drinks and snacks at any time.
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Premium Economy is hot, there's no doubt about that. It feels like almost every international airline is widening the seats, adding extra garnishes to the in-flight meals and cooing about deeper reclines for passengers willing to pay more than economy, but not so much as business class.
The latest airline to join the Premium party, Cathay Pacific, is also the one where ponying up the extra cash for extra cushion may make the most sense; the flight from New York to Hong Kong is a whopping 16 hours, after all.
Well we've flown it many times, mostly in Economy but also in Business and, now, in Premium Economy. Want to try it out yourself? ENTER HERE, into our contest to win a roundtrip (valued at $4,000) from the US or Canada to Hong Kong, in Cathay's new Premium Economy class.
Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty:
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This is Part 2 of our flight videos. Check out the JFK-HKG leg here.
We got pretty lucky. When we originally left New York for Hong Kong weeks ago, we landed at HKG during sunset, and it was a lovely welcome to a stunning landscape. Now, on the return to New York-JFK, we found ourselves again facing into a reddening horizon, which painted the skyscrapers of the distant downtown as milky blue silhouettes.
Cathay Pacific's flight CX 840 leaves Hong Kong just past 4pm, arriving to JFK some 16 hours later around 8:30pm the same day. We had two afternoons to enjoy, and enjoy it we did, using the time to watch the entire second season of Downton Abbey and finally getting around to watching the movie I Am Love.
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**UPDATE: CONTEST HAS ENDED**
"I'm going to Hong Kong."
Practice saying it. You have our permission to modify it to "I'm going to Hong m*thaf*ckin' Kong." They're five simple words and yet speaking them means you're about to jet into one of the world's most complex and colorful cities. Never been to Hong Kong? It's time. Been to Hong Kong before? It's time to go again. And we'll take you there.
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's official airline and one we personally get excited to fly, has just introduced Premium Economy to their long-haul fleet and we've got a ticket to give away!
It's a super easy contestno video pleas or written essays requiredjust be psyched to fly 16-ish hours in comfort for free, to the other side of the world. Enter here:
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In the midst of the bustle of travel, it's all too easy to overlook the details. We're talking about special touches others have stressed over just so you can enjoy a unique experience, whether you know it or not. Every so often we'll highlight The Little Things like this, so now you will know.
The Little Thing: Cathay Pacific's Dan Dan Mien noodles served in all of their airport lounges.
For China and Hong Kong-based flyers on Cathay Pacific, stepping onboard the aircraft means the start of a journey home. If you're flying in Business or First Class however, that feeling comes even earlier, when you're in one of Cathay's own airport lounges and ordering the Dan dan mien from the Noodle Bar.
Dan dan mien is a spicy noodle dish flavored with chilli, peanut, scallions, pork or chicken, sesame oil and soy, plus a few more ingredients here and there. Aside from being a staple of Sichuan cuisine, it's a staple in Cathay lounges and something for which frequent flyer's mouths start watering the moment they flash their boarding passes to enter a CX space.
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We're typing this while sitting at a bar, a bar overlooking half of the apron and one of the busy runways at Hong Kong International Airport. The view is unparalleled, a frequent flyer sweet secret, and it's only found on the upper level at Cathay Pacific's Business Class lounge The Wing.
The Wing itself is nothing new, but the layout and amenities of the place have recently been totally revamped, updated and kitted out with designer furniture, power outlets where you want them, and classic Asian touches like towering bamboo stalks. Even before the renovation, The Wing ranked as one of our favorite airline lounges in the world. Now, with the addition of a cozier lower level, a "Coffee Loft," and sexy wire Eames chairs, our heart starts racing at the thought of spending a few hours within its walls.
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Just a moment. We don't mean we're on a boat in Aberdeen, Scotland. Nopethis boat and the quiet harbour and the 84-degree nighttime temperature are found in the Aberdeen Harbour of Hong Kong Island.
If you're familiar with Hong Kong at all, you'll know Aberdeen as the home of the floating "Jumbo" restaurant. If you're not familiar with Hong Kong, well...add it to the top of your to-do list.
So how did we end up on a boat in Aberdeen Harbour? Well, as the cost of living in the downtown parts of Hong Kong continues to shoot skyward, more enterprising folk are turning to the many harbours for residences, buying or renting vessels as homes. We've ditched hotel rooms to instead spend several nights on one such boat, and it's a pretty big boatnot the one pictured above.