A Quick trip to Hong Kong

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In October I was headed to China to visit some students at their internship sites in Shenzhen, and decided to stop in Hong Kong on the way. It was also cheaper to fly into Hong Kong than Shenzhen.

This is where is all started for me. I lived in Hong Kong for a year and a half back in the early 80’s and this was my first exposure to Chinese culture and the language. In fact, I learned Cantonese before I ever studied Mandarin at University. I still speak Cantonese but it is a bit rusty these days. In my early career I did quite a bit of work with Cantonese coauthoring a textbook series and teaching Cantonese courses at BYU.

Hong Kong is a dynamic, exciting place, and it has changed much over the years. Each time I go, I am amazed at how the skyline changes. Considerable amounts of land has been reclaimed into Victoria Harbor to make room for development.

With only a day and a half, I naturally focused on eating—Cantonese pastries, dimsum, chasiu, and a few other things. It was also fun to just walk the streets. I usually stay in a small hotel in the Mongkok District, on the same street I used to live on back in 1983. It’s a bit nostalgic and I don’t like the heavy tourism district of Tsim Sha Tsui. Hong Kong is a very crowded place. Back in the 80’s, the Mongkok District was considered one of the most densely populated places on the planet with 144,000 people per square kilometer.

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Street in Mongkok

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Another Mongkok street

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Night markets abound in the Mongkok area

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The famous “Ladies Street” market

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A couple getting their fortune told

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Hong Kong street food

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Hong Kong subway: always seems to be crowded

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The infamous  and chaotic Chungking Mansion in TST District

Not everyone shops in grocery stores. You can still find meat and produce markets all over Hong Kong, tucked away on side streets.

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Cantonese food is known for their roast meats, particularly roast goose, salt baked chicken, roast suckling pig, and chasiu (a bbq roasted pork).

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Lunch; in the little bowl is a dipping sauce made with scallion, ginger, and oil.

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Working class dimsum restaurant, full of older people.

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Beef balls

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Siumai (steamed shrimp dumplings)

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Choisum (caixin)

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Fried noodles

Most Westerners do not care for Chinese desserts, usually because they are not that sweet, and very different from what we are used to. However, Cantonese pastries are the exception, at least in Hong Kong. Two delicious pastries are a coconut bun, called gāi méi baū in Cantonese, and a pineapple bread, called bō lòh baū in Cantonese. I always have to get some of this delicious bread when I am in Hong Kong.

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gāi méi baū

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bō lòh baū

And finally a couple shots of some typical Cantonese dishes.

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After our short trip, we hopped on the train for the short 40 minute ride to the border and on to Shenzhen. It was a nice quick trip, though the heat was pretty unbearable, in the 90’s with high humidity. Oh well, that’s what you get in Hong Kong some times of the year.

32 thoughts on “A Quick trip to Hong Kong

  1. I have been to Hong Kong before I really like it, the food is so good and different from the rest of China it makes it own little place that stands out like New York City. I could also speak Cantonese so it was really fun to be able to shop and travel without a tour guide, which somehow limits things. Your post was great and I want to see some of the places you been to before and see how they change your pictures in today’s society.

  2. Wow I definitely want to visit Hong Kong after reading this! The food looks amazing! I would love to visit the night markets they have. My mom is from Taiwan and always talks about how night markets are the best thing ever, I wonder if they are at all similar to the ones in Hong Kong. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hong Kong is certainly on my list of places to visit in Asia. Cantonese cuisine is perhaps my favorite of the eight Chinese cuisines, so that in itself is a huge reason I would like to visit. If I only had a day and a half to visit I would certainly spend it eating as the author did. In addition, it seems as if Hong Kong has a more Western feel to it compared to cities in mainland China. I haven’t visited any part of China in 12 years so I am also excited to see the technological advancements that have been made there in this period of time. Here’s to hoping I can visit this summer!

  4. Loved this article! I will be studying abroad in Hong Kong in about a year and the photos made me even more excited. I’ve always been interested in the Chinese culture and wanting to visit. This is also the reason for my minor in Chinese. Can’t wait for some yummy dimsum!

  5. Hong Kong is one of my all time favorite places. When I visited, I found Hong Kong to be a very energetic city – something was always happening and people were always moving. If my memory serves me well, the city was clean and the people were friendly. They were fond of my brother’s fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes. He speaks Mandarin very well and found himself in conversation with some older locals who taught him a bit of tai chi while we were in a garden. I am eager to return to Hong Kong for a potential job in the future.

  6. Hong Kong is an area that I would love to visit in the future not only for the culture and improvement to my Mandarin that it would provide but also for the food as all of the dishes in this blog post make my mouth water. I also Found it very interesting that Hong Kong makes Cantonese pastries different than most other as they have a variety of sweet option. While most of the traditional ones are not very sweet.

  7. This article is an accurate depiction of hong-kong in the 21st century. The article is about the authors experience when visiting hong kong again. The author describes hongkong to the readers as a metropolis that has changed over the years. The article also features the food of hong kong, from breakfast food to the creamy desserts that really represents hongkong.

  8. WOW! Great post! I visited Hong Kong a few years ago during New Years and I absolutely loved it. Reading this post brought back so many great memories. I wish that I spent more time in Hong Kong, so I could try more of the foods. I plan on studying abroad in Hong Kong, so when I’m there I will definitely try some of these delicious foods. Your pictures were a great addition to your post. I was able to visualize all the yummy foods and reminisce about memories I made when I first visited.

  9. Hong Kong is a place that I really want to visit! I also find it really interesting that you were going to visit students during their internships — I have always wanted to work overseas in the future, preferably in China. Something that I also really enjoyed from your post were the pictures of the busy streets and side street markets. I have seen similar things when I have gone to Chinatown in San Francisco with my family, but one day I want to experience the real deal in China. I love the ambiance of street markets and really want to try a bunch of street food! I also agree with what you wrote about westerners and Chinese desserts (most Asian desserts, to be honest), but I have eaten them since I was younger and I love them!

  10. Hong Kong seems like a fascinating place! I hope to visit Hong Kong one day. I am very interested in studying abroad in China next summer. I find it very intriguing that in the ’80s the Mongkok District had 144,00 people per kilometer. That is a lot of people! After seeing your blog post, I want to try pineapple bread (bō lòh baū) it looks delicious. It is so fascinating that there are meat and produce markets in Hong Kong because that is such an unusual thing to see from an American perspective.

  11. I also lived in Hong Kong for a year during my childhood. 
I thought it was especially interesting that you learned Cantonese before Mandarin because in my school they only taught us Mandarin (even though Cantonese is primary language). I think a lot of Hong Kong’s appeal to foreigners is the liveliness and vibrancy of the city. All your pictures depict that and make me want to go back to Hong Kong!

  12. The pictures of the food look amazing! I have studied Mandarin for four years, and food is always a big part of the curriculum. It makes sense after seeing all this amazing street food. The food is a big part of the culture. Having all this food, and it being so accessible shows what an integral part of daily life food is in Hong Kong. I’m Mexican, and in my culture there is also a big emphasis on food, especially street food. Being in America, it is a bit strange to me that the same emphasis is not seen here. It is interesting to see that similarity between this culture and my culture.

  13. The pictures of the food look amazing! I’ve studied Mandarin for four years, and food is always a big part of the curriculum. It makes sense after seeing all this amazing street food. The food is a big part of the culture. Having all this food, and it being so accessible shows what an integral part of daily life food is in Hong Kong. I’m Mexican, and in my culture there is also a big emphasis on food, especially street food. Being in America, it is a bit strange to me that the same emphasis is not seen here. It is interesting to see that similarity between this culture and my culture.

  14. I am currently studying the Mandarin dialect in college, and have always been keen to explore cities like Beijing. However, after viewing those pictures I started thinking about how I would love to travel to Hong Kong as well, even though they speak Cantonese. I think it is pivotal to learn more about the history of the city as well as others in China. I also enjoyed seeing your photos of the food and the very busy streets, both were very interesting for me to see.

  15. I really want to visit China one day. I would really like to experience the authentic Chinese food and traditions. Many of my friends are international students so I would usually ask them what is different from America style to China. They would say the food, the so call Chinese food in America is very different from the Chinese food from China. I find that a lot interesting. So when I get to travel to China this would be my first experience to try.

  16. The pictures of the food look amazing! I have studied Mandarin for four years, and food is always a big part of the curriculum. It makes sense after seeing all this amazing street food. The food is a big part of the culture. Having all this food, and it being so accessible shows what an integral part of daily life food is in Hong Kong. I’m Mexican, and in my culture there is also a big emphasis on food, especially street food. Being in America, it’s a bit strange to me that the same emphasis is not seen here. It is interesting to see that similarity between this culture and my culture.

  17. I would one day really enjoy to travel aboard in China. I hope to learn more about Chinese culture and enjoy Chinese food. I heard many opinions from my international friends, that America Chinese food are not really authentic. That theirs a difference in food from here, America, compared to China. But someday i would really enjoy to taste the difference in the food.

  18. This is great, looking at all these pictures really want me to taste real Chinese food. I plan to study aboard before my last two years in College end. I mainly want to study aboard in Beijing or Hangzhou. I hear that there is a difference in food in different places in Chinese. This is one of the things I want to try out.
    I would also like to try out my Chinese language skills in China, to help me a lot more.. But all these pictures are very good, and it kind of shows the various foods of China.

  19. I love the photos here! They capture energetic and colorful scenes, and make Hong Kong look like an amazing place to visit. I plan to go after graduating college, and am especially excited after seeing these pictures. The food looks delicious!

  20. Wow! I always wondered what the streets of HK really look and felt like, and this post gave me great insight. I personally really enjoy the tight packed, fast paced city environment, which can be hard to find. It looks as though small businesses really capitalize on that in Hong Kong with the quantity of street vendors. The food looks delicious! And it’s great to know that it’s a cheaper flight than to Shenzhen

  21. Wow! that’s crazy cool. I’ve never left the US but has always dreamed of going to an Asian country, I at first though china and hong kong were one in the same. after reading your blog, as well as videos about the countries I realize they are different. I’ve also had a great fascination in what Chinese people would eat or do on a daily basis in their homeland (as I love trying different Asian food), and you’ve given me a glimpse. Thank you!

  22. This looks delicious! I am surprised by how many of these foods look familiar to that which you can get at a chinese restaurant.

  23. I really enjoyed reading this article! I like that I was able to get a glimpse into the busy lifestyle and culture of Hong through the excerpts written and the photographs! I found it so interesting that regardless of how much time had passed between your last visit to Hong Kong, the level of importance that is placed on food is still so high. Just from the pictures in this post, I was able to see clearly that the culture of Hong Kong circles around food. You could tell that some of the Cantonese dishes are so timeless that you were able to come back forty years later and enjoy the same dishes. It is clear that food is a big part of their culture as it is a way for family members and friends to reunite. I saw this in the picture that showed a dimsum restaurant filled with families and friends. I believe that in Hong Kong, eating and making food together is a simple yet useful way to reconnect in such a busy world.

  24. I really enjoyed reading this article! I like that I was able to get a glimpse into the busy lifestyle and culture of Hong Kong through the excerpts written and the photographs! I found it so interesting that regardless of how much time had passed between your last visit to Hong Kong, the level of importance that is placed on food is still so high. Just from the pictures in this post, I was able to see clearly that the culture of Hong Kong circles around food. You could tell that some of the Cantonese dishes are so timeless that you were able to come back forty years later and enjoy the same dishes. It is clear that food is a big part of their culture as it is a way for family members and friends to reunite. I saw this in the picture that showed a dimsum restaurant filled with families and friends. I believe that in Hong Kong, eating and making food together is a simple yet useful way to reconnect in such a busy world.

  25. Hong Kong is one of the places that I would like to go visit, someday. The first time I ever left the country was this summer, my family and I went toTaiwan, so maybe someday I will be able to go to Hong Kong and visit all the beautiful sites, and eat some of the food. Your post has given me a little bit more of an understanding of the different kinds of food that they have and the different areas that would be good to go to visit, if I get the chance to go.

  26. Hong Kong seems like a city filled with so much to see and do. The culture and food of the Cantonese in the Mongkok area looks like such an interesting scene. This article makes me excited to experience all that China has to offer.

  27. I have never been to Hong Kong and I would like to go there. I went to China once, but only visit the northern and mid-cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. Southern China has a completely different culture compared to the North as I have learned through this post. The street food looks absolutely delicious and very exotic compared to the food up in Beijing and Shanghai. How compact the city is also stunning me, as I thought Shanghai was pretty dense but looking at those pictures and the vivid description you gave us truly made me understand the density of Hong Kong, a true city that never sleeps.

  28. China has always look as a really good travel destination, I think that the pictures enhance the best small parts that some people do not know about the city. Everything looks amazing and I would definitely want to visit the city some day. The culture seems so big and different and I would love to experience that some day. Thank you for providing us with these pictures of your experiences.

  29. All the food looks great! However, favorite of all the meals in the post is the pineapple bread. I’ve had it before, and it looks and tastes just like my favorite traditional Mexican pastry, conchas, meaning shells. In the simplest terms, they’re both sweet breads that taste similar, but the Chinese version is named after pineapple because it looks like a pineapple, while the Mexican version is named after sea shells. It’s nice to see similarities between my culture and Chinese culture.

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