Behind Hong Kongs High Rises
Hong Kong presents itself as Asias most Western city, but be aware that many travelers seek more than glitzy nightlife
and shopping. The citys tourist authority has begun to promote Hong Kongs traditional culture and heritage; information is available at its Kowloon
office at the Star Ferry Terminal and on Hong Kong Island. We took advantage of free daily tai chi lessons each morning at 8 a.m. along the Kowloon Harbour
promenade. Great way to start the morning.
Next, join the locals for dim sum. To get admitted to the oldest dim sum house in the city, the Luk Yu Teahouse, its best to go
with a native citizen to avoid being turned away. The tourist board can match you up with a willing, experienced resident. Hell explain the classic
dim sum ritual, the snacks ingredients, and further decipher the Chinese-language menu. Dont even dream of taking pictures. For top dim sum in
a more modern setting, try the daily offerings of the Harbour Plaza Hotel in North Point, where several dozen varieties are produced daily by the citys
premier dim sum chef. For an immersion experience, come for lunch on the weekend, when the locals gather in huge family clans (655 Kings Rd., Hong Kong
Educational insider tours are offered by one of the tourist authoritys top guides, Nevin Lin, who
gets his small groups into supposedly closed or private places, such as the recently-reconstructed remains of a clan village, and the newly-redeveloped (and
recently opened to the public) Chi Lin Nunnery, a fine example of ancient Tang architecture. His insider tours can include treats like a medicinal
lunch that incorporates traditional health-cure items like ginseng (for blood circulation), hawthorne (for blood pressure) and reishi mushrooms (to lower
cholesterol and fight cancer) into tasty Cantonese dishes, or arrange for a traditional big-bowl feast (sort of like Chinese cassoulet, and just as lengthy
to prepare), normally only prepared in homes for family celebrations.
On your own, you can simply take a ferry from the Hong Kong Island Terminal to Lamma (or another outlying island) to hike a paved path
from one seaside village to the other, through its green and isolated hills, passing farmers in coolie hats plowing their fields. Lunch in one
of the casual seafood cafes overhanging the harbor.
Hikers can leave skyscrapers behind and sign on for one of five guided treks of the regions mountain trails (information at the
tourist office). These vary in difficulty from easy to medium; most are 8 kilometers long. Self-guided walks within the city itself incorporate a little history
and sense of place, too. Again, pick up a free booklet at the tourist office.