The Hong Kong Report: Yum cha and the city

HONG KONG is city of eternal change. No matter what your visit frequency - once a month or even once a lifetime - there's always something new to be surprised by. There's a modern sense of…

Promoted by Lawyers Weekly 13 June 2008 Big Law
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HONG KONG is city of eternal change. No matter what your visit frequency - once a month or even once a lifetime - there's always something new to be surprised by. There's a modern sense of progress and purpose that ignites the city into 24/7 action, alongside the more calming and relaxed age-old traditions and culture.

Some may say it is this juxtaposition of modernity and tradition that inspires even the most cynical of visitors. And why not? In a city of seven million people, where businesses are made and broken, dreams shattered or delivered on, and the constant flow of people never stops, why not complete a short stay in Hong Kong won over by its charm?

Victoria Peak sits high above the peninsula of Hong Kong, cutting out from the South China Sea. The business district of Central houses much of the new, while Causeway Bay presents the stronger cultural traditions of ages now past. Kowloon, at the Southern end, once held the life-blood of the British colony - an era now moved on, but with its roots still evident in the architecture.

These days the working week in Hong Kong may be renowned for being long, brutal and demanding, but even the permanent residents find a way to get out of the city. Not surprisingly, the night time is buzzing with restaurants, bars and clubs, but on a lazy Saturday afternoon the region is much more than a fusion of flavours to tempt the belly.

On a good day, the outdoor spots of Hong Kong are open for the taking: be it a hike, or even a trip onto the water where Hong Kong Harbour is making a name for water sports including jet skiing, boating and wakeboarding. A clear afternoon will see friends and families renting a junk with a big group of friends and meandering around the island beaches at Sai Kung in the New Territories.

Meanwhile the Peak Tram will take you to the top of Victoria Peak, where a stroll through a multi-level shopping centre or a circle bushwalk around the peak awaits. From this famous eyrie, some notable landmarks emerge through the endless manmade structures: For Australians, it's difficult to ignore the legacy of Alan Bond with his landmark Lippo Centre commercial block, developed in 1987.

By late afternoon, when one is feeling a desire to relive the colonial period, a session of High Tea at one of the big hotels could be in order. A ride on the iconic Star Ferry will take you to and from the Peninsula Hotel, a world-famous destination for High Tea. The elegant lobby houses panoramic views of the city and provides the hot spot for looking over and down on the tops of buildings - everywhere.

Restaurants abound in Hong Kong, and the fusion of food available across the array of varying cultures that call the city home, make eating out a continually surprising experience. For a Saturday night meal with friends or colleagues, try a room at the uber-chic Aqua Roma or Aqua Tokyo restaurants. Both are in one of Hong Kong's most recognisable buildings, on its Kowloon side, and will spoil with the fusion of Italian/Japanese food alongside panoramic city views from the 29th and 30th floors.

In Soho, head to the Manchurian Bistro Manchu on Elgin Street, or clear the passageways with some very hot Szechuan dishes at Chilli Fagara on Graham Street. It's good Chinese food, at elevated prices, but mixed in with the expat style of décor it provides for a unique and pleasant experience. .

For the 24-hour party people, Lan Kwai Fong presents the best in Hong Kong nightlife. It's a magical Asian experience that has endless nationalities descending on the strip of bars and nightclubs once the sun goes down. No matter what night of the week - or what hour of the early morning - the area is alive with people over a hilly area of land that boasts a view of Hong Kong harbour from its highest point.

It's here that the expats party, while the very rich of the Hong Kong-born residents sport their high-end toys - aside from the taxis, the only other cars on the road are luxurious - be it a Mercedes, BMW or the odd Aston martin.

A badge of honour is in vogue in Hong Kong, and the latest trend is to join the Fitness First of nightlife, by way of members' only nightclubs.

The banner of Lan Kwai Fong also presents a range of lifestyle options for the visitor looking to sweat out the food and drink. Hong Kong may not be the best city for an evening jog, but a range of gyms, sporting clubs and organisations will get you moving again. DEF Boxing and the Ring Thai Kickboxing studio provide for visitors, corporate clients and members alike.

And then, when you wake up from it all, what better way to cure the partying blues than with a brunch-time session of yum cha at some of Hong Kong's best culinary destinations. Lei garden is a popular Sunday morning haunt, while Dragon-I provides a rare Hong Kong moment to sit outside on a terrace, providing the perfect space to think about how and where you'll do it all again.

- Angela Priestley