Disneyland and Ocean Park in Hong Kong


It is our second attempt to go to Disneyland attempt. The first one was abruptly stopped due to extreme bad mood of the younger participants. A real good briefing once back at the hotel and a good night sleep made the second attempt very successful. I am always a bit sceptical before going to such an amusement park. Is it too cheesy, is it too crowded, is it culturally OK for me, is it right to bombard our kids with Disney stuff, etc…

Well, I forgot all about my doubts and suspicions even before I entered the place. Along the main alley leading to the entrance, there is “cheer up” music, the place is spotless, it is big but not to big and everything and everyone is looking friendly and excited. Once inside, it gets even better, we enter an old choo-choo train that leads us directly to “Fantasy Land”. It is so cool to see the excitement of the young public (to which I by now belong) running to queue for the next attractions. And we do nearly all of them, Bimbo the Flying Elephant, the Adventures of Winny Pooh, Cinderella Carousel, etc.., etc.. but the best was to stand together with the Characters and take some pictures. We stood together with: Buzz Lightyear, Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Winny Pooh, Cinderella and EVEN Snow White!!!

The absolute family favorite: Small World. But this should be written in a different post.

DSC_0286After such a great time we also decided to go to Ocean Park in Aberdeen on Hong Kong Island. But there we were rather disappointed. Not because it is not well done, but because it is in the middle of major transformations and the organisation was not as good as in Disneyland….and it was simply too much input for the kids. I personally nonetheless enjoyed a lot the Delphinium and the show.

Anyway, I would recommend everybody visiting Hong Kong with children to go to Disneyland. Don’t hesitate!

Hong Kong by Night

hong Kong peak

We took advantage of the jet-lag to experience Hong Kong by night during the first days. The Kids were showing first signs of fatigue at around 11:00 and went to bed around 01:00 AM. So 2 second night after our arrival we took the old “Star Ferry” to Hong Kong Island and walk a fair bit to take the so called “Peak Tram”. This tram is officially the oldest public transport of Hong Kong. It goes from Central to the Hong Kong peak in a couple of minutes and it is steeeeeep.

The view from the top was incredible, but the wind and the rain did not make it a very pleasant experience. So we quickly took the few compulsory snapshots and went down to “Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant” and had some huge waffles and ice cream. I think the kids remember this part better.

A truly great night experience in Hong Kong for us was the Kowloon night markets. Opens officially at 16:30 but stalls really start to sell at around 18:00 until 11:30. From the fake “Hello Kitty” watches to Spicy Wonton Soup via full-lit real size Buzz lightyear, you can truly find everything you don’t need! Most items sold are guaranteed not to last more than 24 hours…but yes, it is dead cheap and our daughters just could handle all that glimmered and shined.


1 Week after our arrival, we were still jet-lagged enough to attend the 130th Fire Dragon Festival in Tin Hau district on the Hong Kong Island. Scheduled at 19:00 the dragon did not appear before 20:30. I never thought possible to keep our daughters waiting for 90 min without getting close to nervous break down, but this time went quite well. And we were rewarded for our patience. What we saw, was not one of those big white Chinese dragon but an ancestral Fire dragon held up by about 60-80 people and entirely built out of wood. Millions sticks of incense we attach to it and were burning for hours leaving an incredible cloud of smoke and a very strong acrid scent. Anyway, we enjoyed it a lot and went then to the “Panda” restaurant a very good Japanese Homestyle Curry place.

Food Porn at Star Seafood Restaurant, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong


I sometimes read a blog (madcitygirl.com) in which food snapshots are called “food porn”. I did not quite understand it until today. I believe I did some real good food porn at the fantastic Cantonese Star Seafood Restaurant in Shatin a district in the New Territories of Hong Kong. We were invited by local Hong Kong Wing Chun martial artists and Sifu (Master) of Isabel. They drove us there, with the only mention that it was a floating restaurant. Well, in the end, it was much more than a floating restaurant. It was probably the best Cantonese food we ever had and will ever have on this round the world trip. Even the kids, who are usually not great fans (yet) of Asian food, ate their full share of the food. And we were glad to have locals ordering food for us. There were at least 5 different menu cards and many leaflets to be filled out. I tought for the moment I was sitting at a bingo table. EVERYTHING was delicious and we finally had a true traditional DIM SUM EXPERIENCE.

Useless to mention, we would never have found this restaurant.  The staff did not speak English and the menu was solely in Cantonese. Look at the gallery for what we got and enjoy the food porn!!!


Hiking on Lantau Island, Hong Kong

I had planned to go on this day trip alone, but Manon insisted to come with me. So, on Sunday Oct. 11th we packed after breakfast and made our way from the Gold Coast Hotel to Lantau Island. Hiking with a 4-year-old changed a bit my plans so instead of going up Lantau Peak (934m) on foot we took the cable car from Tung Chung to the village Ngong Ping (where one of the largest buddha statue in the world stands). Manon loves the cable car. Its concept is still quite unclear to her (and I am not giving too much explanation). She still believes, she enters a glass cabin, it accelerates and suddenly it flies!!!

Once arrived in Ngong Ping, I want to start hiking but the “village” is in reality a shopping mecca for tourist, with loads of funny posters through which you can stick your head and take a picture. Again, Manon loves it and I feel obliged to oblige…I hence take a multitude of pictures like those below:

face in a holeface in a hole 2

face in a hole 3

But now to the real thing; we pass the big buddha and enter the woods for a 2.5 km hiking till the picnic area. Along the way we stop to hunt down some butterflies and grasshoppers and take pictures of them. After 1 hour we finally get to the picnic place. It has not only a view, it also has a beautiful “path of wisdom” art installation. We first have a look at it before devouring granola bars, fresh strawberries, cherry tomatoes and bananas.

First hike alone with Manon, a day to remember.

Maxim’s Palace, Central, Hong Kong – Chinese Haute Cuisine in a beautiful Empire Style setting

Maxim's Palace

This is THE place to eat Dim Sum, we read. So we went and arrived too late. Dim Sum is served until 3:00 PM. But we did enter the restaurant nonetheless. I had not expected such a place. The setting is Empire Style, bleached white table cloths, beautiful classic Chinese porcelain and Spiegelau Cristal glasses. Enough for us to feel a wind of panic thinking about all that our two little angels could brake. But we decided to stay and in the end we had a fantastic Haute Chinese Cuisine experience and girls behaved admirably (as we told them that this place was for princes and princesses only!). The welcoming waitress was beautiful, the service “à la Française” was impeccable. We felt underdressed and I would recommend to put a shirt and a long pair of trousers. We will definitely next time we come…
Maxim's Palace 2 We can recommend ordering a whole fish, which they will steam and season to perfection. For those who like bird nests, they are very good…overall I think you can choose anything here. You will not be disappointed. It is such a different level compared to 90% of the boring sweet-sour Chinese blend you get back in Europe

  • Address: 4th floor, 1 Edinburgh Pl, City Hall, Hong Kong, China
  • Phone: +862 2521 1303

Gold Coast Hotel, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong – Pleasant for families with young children

Gold Coast Hotel, Tuen Mun, Hong KongAfter lengthy research on Trip Advisor, we decide to check-in  in the Gold Coast Hotel in Tuen Mun, New Territories in Hong Kong. We felt that kids, would like to go to the beach, swim outside in children friendly pools with water slides and not stand all the time in the bustling city centre.
The main entrance is beautifully decorated with red and gold fish lanterns.  The hotel is luxurious with marble water feature in the huge lobby, a pagoda-style structure, many orchids, a circular bar and good seating. The lifts are glass-sided with polished brasswork on display.Main LobbyWe like the well thought architecture of the building (although not really appealing from the outside, it gives most room a good view on the Marina the pool area and the sea. The huge grounds and pools are extremely well maintained, with secluded paths through the gardens.
The clientelle are mainly East Asian with very few Westerners, which we enjoyed.
Outside the hotel to the left is a marina and a market/shopping area, with a handful of restaurants plus the usual golden arches. We tried three of the restaurants which overlook the marina with outside tables but only “Chili & Spice” had excellent meals. At weekends there are stalls set up along the marina selling trinkets etc.

We checked in a generous 40 s-m room with King Size and Queen Size bed. The staff is friendly without being caring. The room service is doing its job without looking at details (folding pyjamas or leaving a flower on the bed). Hotel rooms are functional not romantic. The outside is different. The Gold Coast Hotel is booked quasi daily for big weddings. And there is a reason for it. They have beautiful gardens and decorated open spaces (which are rare treats in Hong Kong). The hotel stands by the beach, they have romantic lighting concepts in the evening, etc…
Overall, as a family we feel we made the right choice and are happy to stay here for 3 weeks. In our package the breakfast was not includes and the breakfast comes per person at 150 HK dollars, which we find too expensive for a family. There are some inconveniences as well. You need to take a 35min bus ride for 25 HK dollars to the city centre and you lose some flexibility. Taxi can quickly get a burden for the daily budget. If you check-in this hotel, make sure you have a breakfast included and maybe free shuttle buses.

My ratings for this hotel

  • Value *****
  • Rooms ****
  • Location ***
  • Cleanliness *****

FATWorld – Hong Kong First Impressions

Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

I have not posted anything for the last 2 weeks. And it has a reason… Hong Kong. Its is loud, it is crowded and it is good! What I like in a nutshell: the city, the food, the attractions, the island trails, the family friendliness, the hotel, the climate, the skyline. The three things I don’t like:  the non-queuing culture, the feeling of living in a henhouse, people pissing everywhere but in the toilet hole. Who thought that Hong-Kong is family friendly. Not me and I was proven wrong. First, people love Western kids especially when they are blonde. It gets sometimes too much and you feel you need to bodyguard your own kids as if they were some kind of stars. Our little ones turn already their head to avoid photography and frown when someone touches them. And then, there is the Ocean Theme Park, Disneyland and discovery trails. They love all the different means of transportation funny trams, ferries, railways, double-decker and other cable cars. It is safe to eat and drink everywhere, no mosquito bites, high medical standards, etc… The only concern we have is to lose them in the crowd and the very dense traffic. We feel Hong Kong City is best by night and kids, thanks to jet-lag have no problem staying up till midnight or later.

Hong Kong was given the World Shopping Award in 2008. And when you enter the city, it’s difficult to separate the reality from the fiction in Hong Kong. There is a consumption madness, it seems that Chinese (or people from Hong Kong) understand shopping as a way to live their dreams. What the dreams really are is difficult to understand. To be honest everything is difficult to understand here. We see the shiny surface, the glimmering of the skyline, the abundance of lights and shops but what lays underneath….?

We arrived during the Mid-Autumn festival. It is a time that celebrate’s season change. The traditional dish to eat is a Moon Cake…. Well…the mooncake is maybe the best way to describe Hong Kong. It looks beautiful, shiny and yummy. It is wrapped in a magnificent gold-ornated casing but when you take a first bite…well it is interesting…a totally unknown taste.

Hong Kong will remain in our memories as one incredible infrastructure for people to live and work effeciently. It is functional to the extreme. Could I live here, hell no…but I would love to visit it every year.

Round The World Trip is booked!

Our trip round the world 2009-2010
Our trip round the world 2009-2010

We are leaving behind Vienna next Monday, the 24th of August…for good. One more week of stress. The movers are coming on Wednesday to pack around 60 cubic meters of material and transport it to our temporary home base in the French Jura. We have been very busy planning and preparing our next moves as a family on a sabbatical. The plan stands now, the tickets are paid, alea jacta est.  And our first station will be Leukerbad, a village in the Swiss mountains (Wallis) well known for its thermal baths. We will spend the entire month of September there mainly for rehabilitation purposes. I hope by the end of the month to be able to walk normally and even ride my bike again!

The real adventure starts on September 26th though! We travel back to Geneva and take the plane to our first Asian destination: HONG KONG! 2 weeks during which Isa will improve her Wing Chun skills with a local master, Manon et Zoe will discover Disneyland and I will be swallowing Dim Sums 24/7.

The next leg of our trip, planned on the 11th of October, is BALI & LOMBOK Islands where we will spend 2 months. I can’t wait to see again the rice paddies, the temples, the beaches and the Balinese. I can’t wait to eat every day Nasi Goreng with a Bintang Beer either!

We will leave Indonesia for SINGAPORE on December 10th. We will stay there only a few days, mainly to replenish our bags: SHOPPING BONANZA!!!

From SINGAPORE we fly to the Oceanian Continent; first Brisbane and Sunshine Beach before moving on to Wellington, the Malborough Sounds and the South Island of NEW ZEALAND.

The next leg and one of the most exiting one is HAWAII! from February 16th to March 25th we will discover the Big Island and Kauai. The best about it is that we will do this with Isa’s sister and her family who will fly from Maryland to see us for 2-3 weeks! I am also looking forward to this destination, as I hope to be competing in my first triathlon after a year of pause due to this knee injury. There are triathlons organised nearly evey week there!

We will then fly to Denver where an RV should be waiting for us. We will pack everything inside and discover the national parks, (at least) Zion, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone and Glacier. We don’t know yet, if we will travel through Canada or not, it will depend on our mood. Destination is Maryland, Chesapeake Bay, Before flying some times in June back to Zurich.

Three, two, one…