We enjoyed the breakfast buffet at Oriental Suites and on our way out were pleasantly surprised with a small gift from the hotel manager, who sent us off with a Vietnamese coffee maker. We Ubered to Noi Bai airport, and found our flight was slightly delayed. We arrived in Hong Kong around 2:00 p.m., and took the Airport Express to Kowloong. We had no American cash to exchange, and did not want to pay exchange fees, credit card charges, or ATM fees just for a handful of cash to burn during a layover, but it’s Hong Kong, so it’s easy to get around with credit cards.
There was a time when I thought Taipei was the hottest city I’d ever been to, and I confirmed with my mother the weather in Hong Kong is similar. She was deported here once, having entered Taiwan as an American citizen and experienced an expired visa. She spent a weekend or so eating and shopping in Hong Kong, which is not what one thinks of when “deportation” comes to mind. When we arrived, it had been raining recently, and I felt overwhelmed with joy at how cool it felt compared to Vietnam.
Our first stop was King Ludwig Beerhall. It was 3:00 p.m. on a Monday, so it was happy hour and not a single person was in here, but no matter. We ordered two Acrobrau Scholss Dunkels, which were on draft. It was the first beer we’d had in weeks that actually stayed cold as we drank it. I might have cried with joy. The AC was so strong I had to put a jacket on and our dunkels stayed cold until the very last drop.
After the beers, we hit up a highly recommended dim sum place, located inside the Icon hotel, but alas, we were too late, as dim sum hours had already ended. We decided we would hit up Din Tai Fung on the other side of Victoria Bay. I’ve been to both DTF’s in LA and both in Taipei, so why not add the Hong Kong DTF to the list? We arrived at the ferry station to take the ferry across the bay, only to find the ticket machine only accepted cash. The fare is only about 30 cents a person, after all.
There are obviously alternate ways to get to the other side of the bay, but I really wanted to take the ferry and was not to be deterred. Several schemes crossed our minds, including buying things with credit card and getting cash back. I recalled seeing a 7-11, an establishment in which I have longstanding faith, less than a block away. I prayed that 7-11’s in Hong Kong are like 7-11’s in Taipei – ubiquitous hubs of all-encompassing services where you can of course buy coffee, eat breakfast, and buy booze, but can also file taxes, make copies, scan pictures, pay utilities, pay tuition, send packages, and seek the answers to the rest of life’s problems.
We went to 7-11, and asked if we could buy something and get cash back, but that was a no go. We then asked a customer standing in line whether we could buy his items for him with card in exchange for cash. He asked us how much money we needed, and ended up just giving us 60 cents for the ferry. Yes, we bummed money in Hong Kong to ride the ferry. Super classy, but worth it, and proving yet again 7-11 will come through for you in one manner or another.
We made it to Din Tai Fung and had a delicious dinner of zha jiang noodles, spicy wontons, pork buns, and of course, the famous soup dumplings pictured below. Part of me thought, DTF is always delicious, but maybe it was not necessary to eat at a fifth location. On the other hand, we were craving this type of food, and it really hit the spot.
After dinner, we rode the Airport Express back to the airport, where the AC was so cold we sat around shivering until we boarded the plane (an ironic end to the trip). Thus concluded our lovely 2016 vacation.