Hong Kong / Zong Kong
As a contingent of Zenefits employees was converging on Hong Kong International Airport, Sid famously dubbed this trip "Zong Kong" and to this day we are all scarred from that terrible attempt at word play and humor.
This was my third visit to the former British colony. Hong Kong is one of my favorite stopovers, given its efficient public transportation, accessibility, and cosmopolitan nature. Emerging from the 30 minute Airport Express ride at Hong Kong Station, I was immediately reminded of the island's oppressively hot and humid summers.
For this visit, we were staying at the Pottinger Hotel, located in the bustling entertainment district of Lan Kwai Fong. The boutique hotel has everything you would want and the location is incredibly convenient for those looking to explore Hong Kong Island.
We spent our days exploring the many sites and flavors of Hong Kong Island and ventured to Kowloon for a day trip as well to appease Max's obsession with night markets. Dragon's Back hike is a must and it's a welcome respite from the crowds of summer tourists "queueing" for the island's more commercial attractions. End one of your days with a well-crafted cocktail at The Woods, a concept bar tucked within the hustle and bustle of Central.
Make sure to grab an Octopus card, a prepaid multi-use card that can be used for public transportation and purchases at 7-Eleven, Starbucks, and many other stores. I still have mine and it's eagerly awaiting my next Hong Kong visit. Exploring the restaurants, galleries, and design-centric lifestyle stores near Starstreet precinct is next on my Hong Kong hit list.
- Mott32: Tucked away in the basement of the Standard Charter Bank building, this is a Hong Kong interpretation of upscale farm-to-table. The decor will remind you of an oriental New York and try not to make extended eye contact with the numerous expat bankers with deeply unbuttoned shirts.
- Tim Ho Wan: This dim sum eatery is the world's cheapest Michelin starred restaurant and well worth the wait you'll have to endure at any of its five locations.
- Fisherman One: a Cantonese seafood restaurant noted for its huǒguō (hot pot). Hard to locate though as it's on the third floor of a building on a busy street with no recognizable signage.
- Dragon's Back Hike: This 8.5 km hike will take your through two peaks and several dramatic vistas of the coasts and neighboring islands. End your hike at Big Wave Bay or Shek O Village for a dip in the ocean. Shek O Chinese & Thai Restaurant is a great spot to grab a bite at the end of the hike as well.
- Victoria Peak: Opt for either a claustrophobia-inducing tram ride, a hardcore hike, or a taxi/bus up to the Peak (we opted for the tram ride). Head straight for the Sky Terrance for some breathtaking views of the harbor and skyline. If you head to the left side of the Sky Terrance and down a short road to a walkway, you can follow that for 15 minutes or so and find some unobstructed (and free!) views as well.
We also ventured out to Lantau Island for the Ngong Ping 360 tram to check out Tian Tian Buddha, Po Lin Monastery (there's a vegetarian restaurant inside), Wisdom Path, and Tai O fishing village, but I wouldn't recommend any of the above. Frankly I was disappointed when I learned that Tian Tian Buddha was completed in 1993 and the entire island seemed like a never-ending tourist trap. Other attractions to skip include the Chungking Mansions (not mansions, but actually Hong Kong's cheapest accommodations). We did enjoy a relaxing day trip to the southern village of Stanley, which has a nice market, promenade, and waterfront to explore.