Hong Kong Day 3: Back to HK Island

In our first Michelin star-free day in HK, we return to Hong Kong Island for the second part of our Big Bus tour. With street buns in hand, we take the ferry (where we see the USA rugby team boarding their ferry for the Hong Kong Seven rugby tournament this weekend!)  and hop on the bus tour for Stanley Market. The ride takes us out of the main city part of Hong Kong on the northern edge of the island to the southern side (below, screen shot of Google Maps). At the top you can see Tsim Sha Tsui, where we are staying on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, connected to mainland China. The main city part of Hong Kong on Hong Kong Island runs along the northern edge of Victoria Harbor, with mountains through the center of the island. Stanley Market is at the southern end of the island. Continue reading

Hong Kong Day 2: All around Hong Kong Island

It’s not every day that you can say this: “Today for breakfast we had a Michelin-starred 10 course meal…for $25 USD” Yep. 🙂 Dim sum breakfast at Tim Ho Wan was AMAZING. There are three branches in HK, and we pick the one at Central since it is in the area of our tour plans for the day. We walk down to the ferry terminal around 9 am, and take a Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor to Hong Kong Island. Enter breakfast. If you’re ever in HK, you have to eat here. The BBQ pork buns are unbelievable, and definitely the best pork buns I’ve ever had. It’s like one of those amazing Korean bread buns wrapped itself around the most delicious char sui pork, and then magically became even more perfect (right upper). Our other 9 dishes included (left lower from left to right, top to bottom): poached lettuce (tastes exactly like it sounds), steamed pork dumplings with shrimp, steamed spare ribs with black bean sauce, deep fried dumplings with pork, glutinous rice dumpling, steamed egg cake (like a faintly chocolate tasting sponge cake), pan-fried turnip cake, tonic medlar and petal cake (right lower), and steamed dumplings chiu chow style. Continue reading

Welcome to Hong Kong!

It takes 1.5 hours to get to the Seoul airport from our hotel, but it was very easy – the airport bus has a special bus stop sign and it is only 2 blocks from our hotel. The fancier bus has seats that recline to about 20 degrees; it is almost like being in first class.

We flew Korean Air (yay SkyTeam!) and it was delightful. Our flight attendant was very attentive, always smiling brightly, and seemed genuinely concerned when we ordered the bibimbap for the in-flight meal. The bibimbap incidentally was amazing. It was light and fresh and very flavorful (left). Korean Air is going in the top 2 best airline meals ever, along with Kenyan Airways. Just a short 3.5 hour flight later, during which we flew right over Taipei (hello Taipei!), we arrive in Hong Kong. Continue reading

Seoul Day 4: Very Old and Very New

Today is our last full day in Seoul, and we start off with breakfast buns from a bakery in the subway station. Seoul has a very good and extensive subway system, with each station spanning several city blocks and linked by walking tunnels. The tunnels are lined with small stores selling phone covers, clothing, and occasional books, as well as numerous underground bakeries and dumpling stalls. In fact, there seem to be more (and sometimes better) bakeries underground than above ground, and you can follow the smell of fresh baked pastries to find them. Continue reading

Seoul Day 2: Congee and Palaces

Today was our first full day in Seoul, and it was magnificent! (And delicious)

We started our day with a brisk early morning walk through the mostly quiet streets of Myeong-dong. All evidence of the late night shoppers and street food vendors had been swept away, leaving just quiet winding cobblestone streets in the morning light. On the 3rd floor of the building across from our hotel we found a Congee House, one of only a few establishments open for breakfast at 7:30 am. There we each had a giant bowl of congee – classic abalone for me and bulgogi for Hans. Each bowl of congee was accompanied by three varieties of kimchi, barley tea, and a cold clear soup, and served in a quiet open wood-paneled dining room drenched in sunlight. The abalone congee was amazing and filling happy food, ranking as one of my top 10 favorite international travel meals ever. If you’re ever in Seoul, you absolutely have to try it, preferably for breakfast.

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Welcome to Seoul!

After almost 24 hours of traveling (and a lot of napping), we have arrived in Seoul, South Korea! It is dark by the time we arrive in Myeong-dong, and we discover that our hotel is just one block away from a huge night market! This is super exciting because we are really hungry 🙂

We found all sorts of delicious street food and crowds of hungry people! My favorite was the flame grilled octopus (upper left photo) – he grilled the skewer first, then flamed it with a blowtorch, then topped it with delicious spicy sauce and bonito flakes. We also had cabbage stuffed pancakes topped with a fried egg, sweet flaky pastry fish filled with red bean paste (yum!), and spicy pork with rice flour sticks (upper right) – Han’s favorite.