Finally. After 5 years, I finally obtained a second stamp on my Philippine passport.
Last February 16, I boarded a plane bound to the original and a big contender of Singapore in being Asia’s World City. Coincidentally, the first country I ever went to was Singapore. But I won’t be going on comparing SG and HK, as both are, although similar in a lot of ways, boasting especially unique experiences.
The eager tourists that we are, I and my friend excitedly hopped on the A22 bus going to our destination, Kwun Tong, and went straight for the front seat on the upper deck. It was a smooth and chill ride. The bus wasn’t going too fast.
The first thing that I noticed and filled me with awe is the realization that Hong Kong is actually surrounded by mountains. Honestly, I didn’t know that! Did you? So, I was turning my head left and right, up and down, mouth agape the whole time, admiring the scenery unfolding before me. To add more to this childish newcomer excitement, we passed over at least three bridges that offered wonderful views of the city, the water, and the mountains.
Avenue of Stars (almost)
We got off at Kwun Tong Town Centre. We got a business meeting over and done with before we dove into our beds at Newton Place Hotel. We didn’t waste much time relaxing as we only had two days to spend. After a few hours of freshening up, we set off for Tsim Sha Tsui to find the iconic Avenue of Stars and some good food. From Kwun Tong, we took the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui.
We reached an esplanade and excitedly assumed it was the Avenue of Stars — hurray! Only later to find out that we were taking photos and selfies at Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. It wasn’t bad. The view of the city skyline was great, especially as the sun set and city lights gleamed.
Discoveries on foot: Shopping and good food
We walked around the city and found ourselves on Ashley Road, where we had a filling dinner at Delicious Kitchen. I was impressed with the crew’s quick and helpful service. Only a few minutes after we gave our orders, a big serving of sliced pork with garlic pepper cabbage (72 HKD) was served for me and a big plate of yang chow (45 HKD) for sharing. Ah, I got my stomach so full!
Still, I had space for a post-dinner snack of yummy egg puffs. We stopped at a snack shop on the side of the street, and there I found my favorite HK street snack. Egg puffs are like empty round cookies with a creamy surprise inside.
We rode the MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui Station to Mong Kok, and after that, we were full force on foot! To burn some of the calories we consumed, we walked the long stretch of Ladies Market, filled with bargain items from clothing to accessories and lots of HK souvenirs! I thought “I ❤️ HK” shirts were cliche so I got “I ❤️ HK” bags (55 HKD for 2) instead! LOL.
An interesting thing I learned about the Ladies Market is that the sellers are very! persistent. They drive a really hard bargain! At the first stall I stopped to look at chopsticks, the lady offered me a set of ten for 120 HKD and I thought, nah, it’s over my budget. As I began to walk away, the lady held on to me and offered it for 110 HKD, 100 HKD, until I finally gave in to 80 HKD thinking, wow, that’s a great deal from the original price! Only later for me to find out that there was another stall that offered the same set of chopsticks on sale for 20 HKD. Ugh! I’m not mad, though. The lady was good, and it was a funny learning experience.
As you go farther, you’ll definitely meet a lot of the persistent lady. If you’re weak-hearted and poor at saying no, then you’re gonna have a hard time. I’m a bit softhearted, so it was really a struggle to look around. I just looked at items from a distance instead of entering the stalls just so I could avoid the sellers’ arm-twisting.
Late-night coffee and sleepy kitties
After we got out of Ladies Market, we just walked around and along the streets of Mong Kok until we found a building that had a tiny poster that said “Cafe de Kitten ➡️” The building looked more like an old residential building than a commercial center. But the words kitten and cats rang in my ears, which compelled me to check it out. I and my friend took the elevator to the 7th floor where the cafe is located. What we found was a tiny piece of heaven for me and a loving little haven for cats.
Cafe de Kitten is a small hole-in-the-wall that can accommodate no more than 20 people at once. When you enter the cafe, you will be greeted by sleepy and indifferent Garfields that will only stand up and approach you if you have cat food to offer. Their cuteness offsets their indifference. There were many cats in the cafe that I couldn’t count. All of them are healthy and well taken care of. The two owners are undeniably cat lovers and are also hospitable to their visitors. They even offered us a free taste of some of their cakes!
Cafe de Kitten lets coffee and cat lovers enjoy the place for a minimum order of 78 HKD per person. We came in at around 10 PM, and we were worried that it was closing, but thank feline gods they’re open late — until 1 AM. I sipped on my minty iced coffee while trying to lure the cats to walk to me.
[Update: Thankfully despite the pandemic, the cafe is still operational. As of 2020, Cafe de Kitten’s business hours are 1 PM to 10 PM only.]
Getting home (to the hotel)
At 11 PM, we bid goodbye to the cute kitties and the sweet owners of Cafe de Kitten and went out to the street with no idea how to return to our hotel. We walked around checking information at bus stops because we assumed MTR would be closed at that time. After asking a few helpful locals, we headed to Yau Ma Tei MTR Station after being told that we can still catch the train.
We got back to Newton Place Hotel around midnight. We slept with an old Chinese series on the TV, which we enjoyed watching despite not understanding a word they said.