A Different Hong Kong

A typical residential building in Mongkok. The real, gritty, authentic HongKong.

A typical residential building in Mongkok. The real, gritty, authentic Hong Kong.

My earliest memories of Hong Kong were with my mom and my sister doing retail therapy–shopping in Giordano, Bossini, G2000, etc. and feeling super cool that I had all these (unknowingly) mainstream brands in my closet. It was the 90s and normcore was all the rage, it didn’t have a name back then, it was just what everyone wore. My mom was relentless in making sure we saw and ate everything she thought two kids would love, making us walk for hours without seeming tired. I remember giving up a couple of times and sitting outside a building only to be told, to my dismay, by the guard it wasn’t allowed. I always went home elated with all the goods I, or rather, my parents so generously gifted me.

Tourist shot, don't care. Zara leather dress, Mossimo black shirt, Forever 21 vinyl leggings, New Balance sneakers.

Tourist shot:  Zara leather dress, Mossimo black shirt, Forever 21 vinyl leggings, New Balance sneakers.

For many years, that was the Hong Kong in my mind. Huge malls, night markets, outlets, aching legs and arms, heavy plastic bags and yummy dimsum. Fast forward to my 20s and it was all about clubbing. Shopping was no longer that big a priority–maybe because I was spending my own money!–and was replaced by the insistent urge to be part of the city’s seemingly alluring nightlife. And a part of that I was, along with my best girlfriends traipsed around Lan Kwai Fong, et al ’till the wee hours and ending it with a spicy hotdog and soda before saying goodnight.

Charming Gogh st. in HK island showcased shop after shop of the most picturesque boutiques I've seen in the city.

Charming Gogh st. in SoHo showcased shop after shop of the most picturesque boutiques I’ve seen in the city.

Now in my 30s, I wanted to see another kind of HK. Less mainstream, more local with a lot of attitude. I’m extremely lucky to have one of my dearest friends Marah as tour guide, having lived in the city close to a decade. She met her husband there and together they teach yoga and dance to a steady and devoted following. So days before I left home she emailed me the indie, underground hotspots to see and visit. She assured, “this is where the locals go.” That got me really psyched. I was craving this experience and eager to road test my new toy. Here are snapshots I took with my new camera (rookie levels!) as I strolled through the quaint streets bursting with personality–inside the shops and out. I shot everything except Yardbird, mainly because it was nighttime and I was so excited to eat. It was that good. Hope you like them!

The magazine's boutique was filled with cool merchandise but what really got me was the scent. I swear I lingered because of it!

The magazine’s boutique was filled with cool merchandise but what really got me was the scent. I swear I lingered because of it!

A wine bar is tucked away at a corner where the road was being repaired.

A wine bar is tucked away at a corner where the road was being repaired.

Cute French-inspired cafe

Cute French-inspired cafe

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This specialty shop looked so industrial from the outside I imagine robot sales staff reside.

This specialty shop looked so industrial from the outside I imagine robot sales staff reside.

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That line in the photo beforehand was for this corner with tables and chairs and a makeshift tarp for a roof. Apparently it's been there a while.

That line in the photo beforehand was for this corner with tables and chairs and a makeshift tarp for a roof. I wonder how good the food was.

I queued for 30 minutes in this popular (and old) noodle place with a line as long as half a block for a bowl of their famous beef brisket.

I queued up for 30 minutes in this popular (and old timer) noodle place with a line as long as half a block for a bowl of their famous beef brisket.

Remember the name: Kau Kee.

Remember the name: Kau Kee.

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Yardbird photo courtesy of talkandspoon.com This nondescript place is the SHIZ!!

Yardbird photo courtesy of talkandspoon.com This nondescript place is the SHIZ!!

Another resto highly recommended was 22 Ships. Even on a rainy night, it was packed.

Another favourite that came highly recommended was 22 Ships. Even on a rainy night, it was packed.

There's no shortage of style in this city and I couldn't resist shooting these two. It was purely by accident so pardon the shot!

There’s no shortage of style in this city and I couldn’t resist shooting these two. It was purely by accident so pardon the shot!

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Met Marah at Classified, just a block away from her flat. The food was delish!

Met Marah at Classified, just a block away from her flat. The food was delish!

My first Eaton mess was everything I imagined it to be. Sigh...

My first Eaton mess was everything I imagined it to be. Sigh.

Thank you, Marah my love for an epic experience!

Thank you, Marah my love for an epic experience!

 

 

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