We LOve Hong Kong!
Picture one of the world's most magnificent harbors, majestic mountains, friendly people, wonderful beaches, two spectacular entertainment parks, world-class shopping, ancient customs, and modern traffic - combined with a Chinatown experience that never ends - and you will have some idea of why we love Hong Kong.
Let's begin with the harbor. The name Hong Kong literally means "fragrant harbor" and it is a gem. Like San Francisco or New York, it is hard to get away from the water. It seems like you are always crossing over or under some part of the harbor. The port, with all the ships and cargo coming or going, gives the city its pulse. That heartbeat helps form a supportive economic climate for just about every kind of business imaginable. From mega banks and corporate titans to the endless merchants in the city's street markets, commerce hums twenty-four hours a day.
To understand Hong Kong, it helps to know a little geography. The city is made up of a series of islands plus a large section of the Chinese mainland. The new airport, Chek Lap Kok, is on Lantau Island. The mainland part of the city is called the New Territories and ends at Kowloon - a peninsula that juts out into Victoria harbor. The commercial district - called Central - is located the northern side of Hong Kong Island opposite Kowloon. Connecting Kowloon to Hong Kong Island are several vehicle tunnels, a subway tunnel, and the venerable Star Ferry. No visit to Hong Kong would be considered complete without at least one harbor crossing on the Star Ferry.
Most visitors stay either in Kowloon or on Hong Kong Island. There are arguments for both locations, but we like Hong Kong Island better. This time we stayed at the Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay. Located a few miles east of Central, Causeway Bay is one of the city's best shopping and dining areas, plus it is convenient via taxi to anywhere else on the island. The Excelsior is part of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and is famous for legendary service. Their staff certainly lived up to that reputation by making us feel immediately welcome and treating us like royalty during our entire stay.
One of our first stops in Hong Kong was the Stanley Market. The taxi ride from the Excelsior took us past the Happy Valley race track, through the Aberdeen Tunnel to Repulse Bay, and then along the narrow, shoreline road to Stanley Village and the market. The market bustles with activity across eight blocks of merchants offering designer clothes, jewelry, paintings, luggage, shoes, porcelains, and children's clothing. While the prices tend to be somewhat higher than in Guangzhou or Beijing, plenty of bargains can still be found. We did quite well at the market and had to purchase an extra suitcase to carry everything back!
Back at the hotel, we enjoyed dinner in the Excelsior's award-winning Chinese Restaurant - Yee Tung Heen. The food and service were excellent.