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Wonders Never Cease

In late June Hong Kong launched a worldwide marketing campaign, "Wonders Never Cease." Stephen Wong, assistant manager corporate communications department, Hong Kong Tourist Association described the advertising project as "East (Chinese lifestyle and culture) meets West (modern comforts) tourism." In the spectacular new H.K.T.A. logo the words Hong Kong include images of some of those wonders. The logo is surrounded by a vivid collage of photos filled with a vast jumble of the territory's stimulating images– people, food, buildings, statues, boats, crafts and more. Labelled the "Web of Wonders," it is a kaleidoscope of the endless excitement that the city holds for visitors.

One goes to Hong Kong to shop, to eat, to stay at one of the spectacular hotels and to sightsee, too. Though the territory is small, its tourist association has managed to produce more guides and material for the visitor than most major countries in the world. Want a compendium of outlet shopping? How about information on temples, outlying islands, vegetarian dining, tea traditions, fortune-telling, architecture, Chinese medicine, festivals, museums and outdoor markets? The bureau has it.

Hong Kong, Wonders Never Cease (credit: Edwin Fancher)

There's so much happening in Hong Kong that you can never have enough data about where to go and what to do even on an extended visit. Stephen Wong said nothing would change when that fateful moment, midnight on June 30, 1997, arrived and Heung Gong, the Chinese name for the Fragrant Harbor or Perfumed Port, which became Hong Kong to the British tongue, reverted to China.



An excursion to one of Hong Kong's outer islands presents a new face, a less crowded one, on a visit to the territory. The largest outdoor bronze buddha in the world is on the grounds of the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau, the biggest island. Several travel agencies sell all-day tours, including lunch, to Lantau. We suggest organizing your own to the avoid the greasy vegetarian meal served at the monastery. Eat at the Silvermine Bay Hotel instead. The H.K.T.A. publishes the "The Lantau Explorers' Guide." Hoverferries operate weekdays from near the Star Ferry, Central. Take a taxi from the terminal in Mui Wo to the other side of the island to see the monks in ceremony. Then visit Tai O, a fishing village built on stilts, whose main street is filled with acupuncturists, Mah Jong players and shops offering a range of dried fish products.

Lantau Island, Hong Kong (credit: Edwin Fancher)

Stanley Market, Repulse Bay, and Aberdeen

Board the number 6 bus from the Exchange Square terminal in Central. Get off at the open-air Stanley Market, a colorful place to shop for inexpensive hats, clothing, bags, luggage, tablecloths and for the experience of Hong Kong haggling. Then take the bus back to Repulse Bay, one of the island's most beautiful beaches. Eat lunch at Hei Fung Terrace, The Repulse Bay. Reboard the bus for Aberdeen. Go on a sampan ride to watch the houseboats. (Because of the polluted waters we were advised to avoid the floating restaurants.)

Victoria Peak

A trip to the top of Victoria Peak on a clear day when you can see as far as China is a must. Take the tram from the Lower Peak Terminus and spend some time in Victoria Peak Gardens.

Walking Tours

Pick up the H.K.T.A.'s booklets and follow the Central and Western District Heritage Trail and the Yau Ma Tei District Walk.


Shopping in Hong Kong can be daunting; there's so much of it. Every clothing manufacturer from all over the world has at least one retail outlet here. Our suggestion is to stick to one mall like the Ocean Terminal or Prince's Building and you will find what you are looking for. Bargains, no! Variety and quality, yes! For art and antiques visit Hollywood Road. To shop like the locals try the stores on Carnarvon Road or consult the H.K.T.A. outlet guide.

Tea Zen

Tea Zen, house for tea connoisseurs, stocks a wide variety of tea and pots. Buyers are offered the opportunity to taste before making a purchase. Just enter and wait your turn for a private tea drinking ceremony.

Ngan Ki Heung Tea Co., Ltd., 290 Queens's Road C., G/F. Tel. 544-1375, 545-9132. Monday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 7 p. m.

Where To Stay

Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental has consistently been rated one of the top hotels in the world. Its trademark is exceptional service and it has carved out a niche attracting guests who wish inconspicuous, but personal and attentive service. We found the personnel very pleasant and helpful. An assistant concierge escorted us to our room for check-in, served us hot tea and showed us how everything worked. A young employee left her post to accompany us to a nearby shopping arcade because she thought we might not find it on our own.

Decorated in the best of taste, the Mandarin Oriental is very up-to-date, but has antique accents. The ambiance is calming, particularly after time spent on the crowded, bustling streets. The large health club has an attractive Roman-style swimming pool. We especially liked the unusual touch of in-room binoculars.

Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road, Central. Tel. +852 2522 0111. Rates start at $355. www.mandarin-oriental.com The Regent, Salisbury Road, Kowloon. Tel. 721-1211. Rates start at $285.


A stay in a harbourview room at the Regent is a great hotel experience. It's not easy to pull the drapes or walk away from the windows. Boats of every size, shape and kind ply the harbor like a ballet on water. At night neon lights blink and the whole colony glows. The sight is mesmorizing 24 hours a day.

Bathrooms at the Regent are unusually large with oversized sunken tubs and separate showers. Every amenity is in place. Business travelers will find office staples in the desk drawers.

One lone employee constantly runs a brush across the polished granite lobby floor to keep it immaculate. A freestanding square reception area is in the middle of the lobby so that those who work at the front desk are always accessible. Perfection? Without a doubt! We topped it off with a ride to the airport in a Daimler from the hotel's fleet of 21 chauffeur-driven limousines.

The Regent, Salisbury Road, Kowloon. Tel. 721-1211

Where To Dine

Since Hong Kong, like Paris, is a renowned restaurant city with more than 6,000 places to eat, we can only offer a few suggestions as to where to dine and sadly where not to.

Revolving 66

Reservations at the Furama Kempinski, one of Hong Kong's two top-of-the-tower revolving restaurants, were impossible to come by. We ate instead at Revolving 66, the town's other dinner spot offering a spectacular rotating panorama of Hong Kong lit up at night. The American meal was pleasant enough, though hardly anything special. The view more than made up for it.

Peking Garden Restaurants

We had two different experiences at this 10-restaurant chain. Lunch in the Star House branch in Kowloon was disappointing with small portions, poor- quality food and slow service. However, a dinner in their Alexandra House branch was faultless. We ordered a melt-in-your-mouth beggar's chicken (24-hour notice required), which is a bird that has been stuffed with Chinese vegetables, wrapped in lotus leaves, covered with clay and baked slowly. It was brought to the table with a mallet to crack the hardened clay. The Peking duck looked delicious, too.

Hei Fung Terrace Chinese Restaurant

Owned by the Peninsula Group and located in the reconstructed Repulse Bay Hotel, this dramatic restaurant is vintage 1920s and is embellished with traditional Chinese decor–wooden scroll work, stained-glass windows and an Oriental garden. A large and beautifully-prepared variety of dim sum is served at lunchtime, as well as many delicious entrees such as drunken pigeon and lobster in lotus leaves. Cantonese at its best!

Luk Yu Tea House

Luk Yu is well-known in the city for its unofficial status as an historical monument and as a remnant of Colonial Hong Kong. The six-decade old tea house features brass spittoons, black fans, marble-backed chairs, carved doors and paneling. Elderly women hawk trays of dim sum that were dreadful. Nevertheless, Luk Yu is a popular breakfast spot for Chinese businesspeople. Peek in and eat elsewhere.

American Restaurant

It's been around for over 40 years and large Chinese families favor it. Perhaps we chose wrong, but we've had better Peking-style cuisine in New York. Soups, dumplings and noodle dishes are mainstays here.

Man Wah

Man Wah serves outstanding Cantonese food. Situated on top of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the views look out on Victoria Harbour. The platters, dishes and exquisitely-carved silver and ivory cutlery are fit for an imperial banquet. And the food could be fed to the emperor, too. Service was impeccable. There wasn't a morsel that passed our lips that wasn't ambrosial. Presentations were works of art. A whole sliced fish (a signature dish) was served on a crispy skin with carved carrots forming a head and tail to resemble a dragon boat. Luscious fruits were brought to the table on a bed of ice.

Like tea at the Peninsula, a drink in the lobby fronting the harbor at the Regent Hotel is a Hong Kong must. Now you have a choice. Watch the view of the harbor from either the story-high windows or upstairs from the spectacular four-year old . This seafood restaurant is water-themed with an entire wall built like an aquarium and filled with exotic species. Order from the extensive menu–it comes with pictures of fish–and the chef will dip into his kitchen tank where all the live seafood swim. The sautéed Boston lobster with black beans and fine noodles and the seagrass pasta with tiger prawns got our raves.

Revolving 66, 62 Floor, Hopewell Centre, 183 Queen's Road East, Wanchai. Tel. 862-6166, 862-6168. Open noon to midnight. Expensive.

Peking Garden Restaurant, 1st & 2nd Basements, Alexandra House, 6 Ice House Street, Central. Tel. 526-6456. Open for lunch and dinner. Moderate.

Hei Fung Terrace Chinese Restaurant, The Repulse Bay, 109 Repulse Bay, Repulse Bay. Tel. 812-2622. Open for lunch and dinner. Moderate.

Luk Yu Tea House, 24-26 Stanley Street, Central. Tel. 523-5464. Open 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. Inexpensive.

American Restaurant, 20 Lockhart Road, Wanchai. Tel. 527-7277, 527-7770. Open for lunch and dinner. Reserve for upstairs or downstairs. Inexpensive.

Man Wah, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 5 Connaught Road, Central. Tel. 522-0111. Open for lunch and dinner. Expensive. The seven-course tasting menu for two is a terrific value and includes shark's fin, a notable delicacy, and lobster.

Yü, The Regent, Salisbury Road, Kowloon. Tel. 721-1211. Open for lunch and dinner. Very expensive.

Fall 1995