I sipped on a cup of green tea as I watched the light drizzle outside my window, praying for it to not grow into a heavy downpour. It was already 10 am and we were yet to have breakfast and then make our way to this hidden gem which not many travelers visiting Hong Kong know about. The concierge hailed us a cab and off we were to a little know place in Kowloon known as Nan Lian Garden & Chi Lin Nunnery. The drizzle had started to develop into much stronger rain as we drove towards Kowloon. I was only hoping for it to stop before we reach the garden so that we could explore the place at leisure. After 45 minutes we arrived at the place and luckily the rain too had subsided. Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery are on either side of the same road connected by an overhead foot bridge. We decided to check out Nan Lian Garden first.
Hong Kong actually has quite a few dedicated areas for parks and gardens and Nan Lian on Diamond hill is a true gem. Spread out on a 3.5 hectares plot, it is designed in the Tang Dynasty style with hillocks, water bodies of various sizes, bonsai trees, rocks, Koi ponds and beautiful wooden structures. The garden stands against a stark backdrop of the famous skyscrapers Hong Kong is associated with. It’s hard to believe that such zen can be found in a chaotic and busy city. The best thing about the garden is that its open to all without any admission charge. It was truly the most beautiful garden I have seen till date.
We didn’t realize but we had been walking around for atleast 2 hours now, such was the beauty of the place. The light rain didn’t bother us one bit. By this time we were famished and proceeded towards the vegetarian restaurant that was int he premises. In fact the restaurant was our main reason for coming to this place. The Chi Lin restaurant is completely vegetarian and serves some of the best Chinese food you will ever have, and this is coming from a hardcore non-vegetarian! Yes, I loved every bit of the food we ate there; Mandarin Orange & Lime Drink, Soup, Fried Rice with Bean-curd & Cordycep, Bean-curd sheet with shredded veggies, Stir-fried Black Termite Mushrooms, Udon Noodles with mushrooms in Teriyaki sauce, Deep-fired Bean-curd rolls with mushrooms, Tom-yum Veggies, Deep fried Pumpkin with Seaweed, Vegetarian dumplings, Steamed Vegetable Bun and Cheesecake; every dish surpassed the other! My favourites were the Udon Noodles, the steamed bun and the Mandarin drink.
After a sumptuous meal we took the foot bridge towards Chi-Lin Nunnery and walked around for a bit taking in the beauty of the lace. Photography is not permitted inside the nunnery so I only have a picture of it’s facade.
We had spent nearly 4 hours here and we didn’t even realize it. By this time it had already started raining heavily and our plans to visit Sham Shui Po looked like a no go. So instead we decided to head to Monk Kok again and do a bit of shopping till it was time for us to head to Tsim SHa Tsui promenade to catch the Symphony Of Lights show. Because it was still raining, we went to the Langham Place in Monk Kok and shopped for a bit. I suddenly craved for some sushi and luckily there was a Genki Sushi outlet in the mall’s food court. I sat myself down for some delicious sushi and Match tea. For a sushi chain this large (Hong Kong’s largest Sushi chain in fact- originally from Japan), the sushi was pretty good and I loved the concept of a sushi train. So much fun!
After I had my fill of sushi, I joined my parents and sister who were having some mouth-watering desserts and coffee at this place called Passion by Gerard Dubois. Dessert after sushi seemed like a good idea to me so i dug right in.
We then bought some Korean beauty products and sheet masks from a Pharmacy near by and then took a taxi to Tsim Sha Shui to catch the famous Symphony Of Lights show. Its a daily light and sound show that takes place at 8.00 pm and has atleast 40 buildings participate in it on either side of the harbour. We were going to be looking at Hong Kong island from Kowloon. The show today was in Cantonese, which means I didn’t understand the commentary. Much has been spoken about the show, but quite frankly its highly disappointing. There isn’t much that happens and the light show is anything but a spectacle. The skyline itself is pretty dazzling but that’s about it. Not worth it, but it’s free and lasts only 15 minutes, so if you happen to be in the area then you could catch it.
It was finally time for dinner and I had already made reservations at this restaurant called Hutong 2 weeks back. The restaurant has a beautiful view of the harbour and if you want a table by the window, you must book a table in advance. Hutong is one of the best restaurants in Hong Kong for Sichuan cuisine. A pleasant decor, very dimly lit so that you can take in the beauty of the harbour without getting distracted by too much lighting inside. We had a decadent meal comprising of Fried rice, Shredded Chicken & Flat Noodles in Sichuan Sauce, Lamb & Leek Dumplings, Mushroom Dumplings, Hot & Sour soup, Kung-Pao Prawns and Mochi Lava Cakes. Every dish was delightful. I absolutely loved the Mochi Lava Cakes. Everything about this place was amazing, from the service to the food and decor, it was all great. I would definitely recommend this restaurant, but do note it is on the pricier side of things even by Hong Kong standards (every meal in Hong Kong is going to cost you quite a bit).
We had basically gorged on a lot of food through out the day and feeling quite full and tired we decided to call it a night and headed back to Wanchai by the Star Ferry. It was quick and cheap! You must experience the Star Ferry atleast once while in Hong Kong.
The next day we had our flight back to India in the afternoon, so there wasn’t much we could do before the flight, so instead we decided to sleep in till late, wake up and then go straight to the airport.
This trip to Hong Kong and Macau was long over due and for all those who think there isn’t much to do there, well I hope my posts have changed your mind.