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Many Cities Rolled into One
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Like any other big city in the world, Hong Kong, nicknamed "the Pearl of the Orient" by many travelers, has plenty of smog, smells and jostling elbows.



For some, big cities hold no attraction at all, but for many those could just be the right factors to contribute to an ultra unforgettable experience.


Actually the best thing about being in Hong Kong is feeling and experiencing the confluences and contradictions of a Chinese city with multi-Asian and Western elements.


There you will encounter grannies indulging in Cantonese operas and mahjong games, daring and energetic young Chinese men in slick suits speaking perfect English, and also, not too surprising perhaps, Westerners humming some dumb Cantopop tune while slurping their noodles.


While there is a lot to do in the 1,102-square-kilometer city packed with some 6.8 million people, dining and shopping should be among those top priorities on any traveler's itinerary.


Where to eat


It is no exaggeration that once you are in Hong Kong, the only regret you could have about food is that your eyes are always bigger than your stomach.


Renowned for its exotic fusion of Eastern and Western flavors, Hong Kong is regarded as "a gourmet's paradise" where you can find everything from any Asian delicacy to the very best Western fare.


The famous Chinese cuisine, noted for its various flavors, aromas and textures, is sure to satisfy even the most discerning of palates.


The most popular styles of Chinese cooking in Hong Kong are Cantonese, Chiu Chow. Cantonese and Chiu Chow, originating from the same Chinese province of Guangdong, but rather different in both style and flavor.


Besides, no trip to Hong Kong would be complete without trying dim sum, those delightful, mouth-watering snacks served in steaming bamboo baskets and eaten with pots of Chinese tea. Steamed pork bun, shrimp dumpling, steamed rice-flour roll, fried spring roll and barbecued pork pastry are all affordable local favorites.


While many tea houses and restaurants offer an equally good dim sum collection, some do have their own secret recipes. For instance, the XO dipping sauce offered at Yat Tung Heen of Eaton Hotel, a medium spicy chef's recipe, could go perfect with almost all dim sum and make your culinary experience a more fulfilled one.


Meanwhile, you may also want to have a try of bor law yau, a steaming hot sweet bun stuffed with melted butter, or daan tart, a tasty baked egg custard. These two popular snacks, while served with yuen yeung, a 50-50 mixture of tea and coffee, could be a well affordable and highly popular choice to soothe hunger pangs before supper.


Moreover, any imaginable cuisine from all the other Asian countries can all be easily found in Hong Kong where a dazzling number of Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese and Korean restaurants are scattered around. And Western flavors - including the widespread French, Italian and German fare as well as the rather rarer Greek and Mexican cuisine, are all available in Hong Kong. For those who like a view with their dinner some of the Western restaurants on the Victoria Peak will definitely fulfill even the highest expectations where guests can tantalize all their senses with bird's-eye panoramic views of the splendid Victoria Harbor.


Where to shop


Shop till you drop! Believe it or not, it can happen in Hong Kong.


Shopaholics could just expect a full retail therapy in this shopping paradise.


With brand names from every corner of the world, as well as the tax free policy for all goods except alcohol and tobacco, Hong Kong has established itself as one of the world's most attractive shopping destinations.


From high-end shopping centers such as The Landmark, The Galleria and IFC mall to mid-end department stores including Sogo and Marks & Spencer, and then to bustling markets such as the Temple Street and Stanley Market, shoppers with every taste and budget can be satisfied.


For trendsetters, Langham Place in Mong Kok, Kowloon, could be an ideal place to go. Shoppers will easily find themselves spoiled for choice in the 15-story shopping mall where two of Hong Kong's longest indoor escalators are under operation. From fashion labels to casual wear, from accessories to electronics, almost everything could be found in the 200 plus outlets. For those who are not keen on shopping, it's also a perfect place to kill time. Choices are abundant as there are 30-plus food and beverage stores there and the UA Cinema with a capacity of 1,122 seats allows visitors to catch the latest blockbuster.


For those who want to hone their bargaining skills, the Temple Street in Yau Ma Tai shouldn't be missed. The kilometer-long bazaar has stalls selling all sorts of bargain merchandise, food stalls, fortune tellers and even Chinese opera performances.


And for those who want an insight into something near and dear to the hearts of Chinese people, a visit to the Jade Market might be worth while. The green stone, smooth and cooling to the touch, is associated with long life and good health. Many Chinese people wear the jade - usually next to the skin - to ward off all sorts of health hazards.


Located on Kansu and Battery streets in Yau Ma Tai, the Jade Market is a collection of around 400 stalls selling a wide range of jade pendants, rings, bracelets, carvings and ornaments.


(Xinhua News Agency June 25, 2007)


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