Experiencing Hong Kong
by Mark Heng
Street markets: Hong Kong's street markets are a definitive shopping experience for locals and tourists alike, selling groceries, clothes, bags, electronics (many of which are cheap knockoffs). These colourful stalls are where dedicated shoppers and adventurous travellers hone their bargaining skills. Each of these markets has its own charm, with hidden treasures waiting to be uncovered. The two most popular markets lie close to Nathan Road: Ladies' Market (Tung Choi Street) for inexpensive clothes, toys, as well as knockoff or fake labels, and Temple Street for more street food, fortune telling and even Chinese opera singers. Stanley Market is popular for Chinese artwork and silk collectibles, Jardine's Crescent for accessories and domestic goods, and Li Yuen Street East and West for ready-to-wear and made-to-order garments in a variety of styles.
Dim sum: This Hong Kong institution is famed throughout the world, including Singapore, as a staple feature of Chinese dining culture. A wide range of delightful Chinese snacks is served in bamboo baskets, accompanied by Chinese tea. Traditional dim sum dishes include steamed buns such as char siu bau (barbeque pork buns), dumplings such as siu mai (pork dumplings) and rice noodle rolls (cheung fan), which contain a range of ingredients, including beef, chicken, pork, prawns and vegetarian options. Enjoy a classic dim sum breakfast in its true homeland.
“Ding Ding” Tram: Trams were one of the earliest forms of transport in Hong Kong, in service since 1904, and have become a tourist attraction in their own right. Hong Kong's Tramways are the only exclusively double-decker operated tram system in the world, and are a convenient and inexpensive way to catch local street life at a relaxing pace. The trams run on a double track along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island, from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan, with six different routes that run on the track. A ride on Hong Kong's iconic tram takes you through the island's fascinating districts, and you can hop off at any point – it's that simple!
Cha chaan teng: The Hong Kong cafés seen around Singapore are based on this – Hong Kong's version of our kopitiams. These local tea diners offer an eclectic and affordable range of dishes influenced by both Western and Eastern (both Hong Kong and Cantonese) fare. These include noodles with luncheon meat, baked rice with cheese, and a local version of French toast. A wide selection of drinks are also available, such as Hong Kong milk tea, lemon tea, the popular yuanyang (a tea-and-coffee mix), and the more exotic boiled Coke with ginger. Try bo lo baau, or pineapple bun, a sweet bun with a flavoured crust, served hot with a thick slice of butter. There are various set meals offered throughout the day, such as a “fast set” and “nutritious set”.