Our hotel for this visit was the Dorsett Mongkok which is near the Olympic MTR (subway) station. As before, we relied on the MTR to take us wherever we wanted to go. The hotel had an excellent shuttle service that ran hourly but we preferred to get around on our own time schedule. If you visit here, I highly recommend getting an Octopus card. This is a smart card that you preload with money and use to access the excellent transportation system in HK. Would I recommend the Dorsett? On the positive side, the price was reasonable, breakfast was very good and the staff was excellent. The negatives? Our room was smaller than a cruise ship cabin, the bathroom was enclosed in glass (partially frosted). The mirror on the wall gave you a great view of your partner using the facilities. . .We had purchased a room with lounge access. The hotel we stayed at last year (Metropark Kowloon) had an excellent lounge; this one, not so much. There was generally some variety of deep-fried food put out at 5 pm nightly (chicken wings, fries, egg rolls, etc.) as well as wine (but no wine-glasses; just paper cups). We did meet some very nice people in the lounge and had some wonderful conversations. One of the things we like most about our travels is the people we meet along the way. If we were return, we would definitely stay at the Metropark as opposed to the Dorsett.
The hotel was located on the Kowloon side (rather than on the island of Hong Kong) in a neighborhood with very few hotels. Because there were very few hotels around the restaurants definitely catered to locals and the menus were in Chinese. The food? Not the kind you would find in a Chinese restaurant in the US. One of the items on the menu at our hotel was crispy friend squid gristle. The local restaurants definitely focus on using all parts of every animal! We did find some delicious bakeries. And, the most popular place to eat? Consistently crowded with local people? McDonalds, of course! There was a park for the elderly across the street from the hotel – very cool! There was exercise equipment for stretching and muscle-strengthening as well as a raised stone footpath that I assume was for accupressure.
We wanted to visit Macau so took a ferry there a couple of days ago. My advice? Skip it unless you plan on spending two to three days. The cost of round-trip transportation for 2 is around $100 USD. We were very surprised at how very large the area was; impossible to walk on your own in a short visit. There are many huge casinos on the island; it is much like Las Vegas. Signs are in Chinese and Portuguese which makes it difficult to navigate. You must go through immigration on the way there and back so you definitely need your passport. For some reason, we had it in our mind that it would be quaint there, but the parts we saw could be seen in any large city. We chatted with another couple that we had met here; their impressions were much the same as ours. The icing on the cake? There are two docks (Kowloon and Hong Kong); we left from one dock in the morning and were returned to the other later in the day. Fortunately we were familiar enough with the area that we could figure out how to get back but if you were not, this could definitely be a problem. One other issue was that the ticket seller set our return for 10:30 pm. We had no desire to stay that long. When he sold us the ticket he said that we could come back any time we wanted. What he didn’t say is that this is only true is there is space on the boat! In other words, you are on stand-by and have to wait until seats are available.
As before, we spent quite a bit of time wandering the markets. The food markets are very interesting. You can definitely get “fresh meat” here! Living here is extremely expensive; most people live in tiny apartments that are shared with multiple families so may not have space to store food. Eating out is common but if you are going to cook, you will most likely purchase fresh food daily.
We did spend some time in Hong Kong proper but find it much like any other large city; filled with extremely tall skyscrapers and high-end shopping malls. If you have not been before, you may wish to purchase tickets for the HOHO bus. On our last trip we very much enjoyed the drive around the island of Hong Kong.
Be prepared to do lots of walking. Even if you take the MTR you will be walking miles daily. The MTR stations are enormous and when you transfer trains, you can easily walk a half-mile to go from one platform to the next.
Tomorrow we begin our first cruise of this trip: China and Japan!