bfw – Hong Kong

A long weekend in Hong Kong with my oldest friend: what’s not to like? I can’t even remember how it all came about, but one day we were idly talking about a cheeky weekend away together, and the next we were on an overnight flight to Hong Kong for four days at the Langham.

Of course, the planning and plotting lasted much more than four days. We pored over maps, websites and guidebooks. We compared notes on what would be packed, how many pairs of shoes would be brought, what items would be carried on, whether we would consume alcohol on board, what our detailed schedules would be on the day of departure. Pedicure first, or hairdresser? You can have so much more fun at this point in a trip’s incarnation with a woman than you can have with a man.

And so it came to be that we found ourselves sitting in the Qantas Club one evening, sipping a decent glass of red and raiding the cheese board. Nine magical hours later we arrived in Hong Kong, topped up the family Octopus cards and headed off to the Big Lychee.

Arriving at the Langham is so lovely, and not only because we’d just stepped off an overnight flight on a 747. The porters speak better English than I do, the concierge and his team are all-knowing, all-seeing, the seasonal Langham signature fragrance is all-enveloping, the lily centrepiece spectacular. Our tenth floor room is not enormous but it is perfect.

Eileen had already booked us into the day spa for a two-hour (count them) jet lag massage. Our two masseuses pummelled us into submission but it was deeply restorative, even when my lady advised me to breathe through the pain. Apparently I am carrying a lot of tension around in my … er… glutes.

Then, the city beckoned. We walked (and we know this because of Eileen’s pedometer) 45km over the four days, and that is with Eileen straining a tendon on our first day and having her foot strapped up during the day and on ice at night. Can you imagine what Everests we might have climbed otherwise?

In a twist of fate, we walked for over an hour to the new Elements shopping mall and back, to find what I believed to be the only Links of London shop in Hong Kong. Once there we found they couldn’t help us with the repair of a travel clock. Later we discovered another Links of London shop about two hundred paces from our hotel. This, I fear, I shall never be allowed to forget. It already has a name: the Links (of London) Effect.

Friday we went over to Hong Kong Island on the Star Ferry and went up to Victoria Peak. The views, as always, were spectacular.

Mid-afternoon, we wandered in to the Peak Lookout and had a Pimms and a chocolate and almond tart. Marvellous.

Later that evening we went for Peking duck in the Peking Garden, down by the Star Ferry terminal. The concierge had recommended and booked this for us as an alternative to the upmarket but overpriced Hutong restaurant, and we were not disappointed even though all the tables with a view were taken up by a wedding.

A quick trip uptown to the Temple Street Night Market after dinner left us underwhelmed except for the wonderful (deliberately) bad-English fridge magnets we bought. Kept us entertained for ages.

Saturday we got up and caught the local double-decker bus to Stanley Market on the south of Hong Kong Island, and did a  bit of shopping. Lots of Chinesey bags and the usual tourist stuff, plus Eileen bought two lovely “proper” leather handbags.

Back to the hotel to drop off our stuff, then back to HK Island for the evening where we started our evening in Tastings, a great little wine bar with an Enomatic wine tasting system which allows you to taste over 160 different wines from around the world by the glass (150ml), half glass (75ml), or a taste (25ml).

Miraculously we did not linger too long before heading round the corner to Yung Kee, a cavernous Cantonese restaurant famous for its roast goose. And rightfully so: one portion just wasn’t enough.

The rest of Saturday night was spent doing a bit of bar-hopping and cocktail-sipping up along the Central Escalator in Soho, people-watching and discovering new cocktail recipes. It’s a hard life.

Sunday we spent back over in Causeway Bay and Central, down back alleys in all the little markets looking at live fish, hairy ox tails, cheap electronics, more Chinesey bags and cheap Star Wars stuff. That evening was our last night so we got all dressed up in our finery and went for dinner in Aqua, one of the best restaurants in HK. Amazing views over the harbour, and we were there for the laser show at eight o’clock so it was a perfect spot.

The views are exactly as amazing as the website shows and the food was pretty good, especially the dessert: the chocolate fondant gets a special mention.

The weekend was so enjoyable that it has become the inaugural event of an annual BFW. Next stop Shanghai in 2011. Well, where else would two dumpling-obsessed women head for?


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