Located on the southern coast of Hong Kong Island, Stanley draws in a steady crowd of both tourists and locals to its famed street market and coastal promenade. As one of the oldest settlements on Hong Kong Island, Stanley’s rich history is studded with military coups and invasions and once upon a time was no stranger to the presence of 19th century Jack Sparrows.
Hopping off the MTR at Tai Wo, we made a beeline for Jade Garden. Owned by Maxim’s, this is an authentic trolley-service dim sum experience: smartly dressed waitresses push trolleys around the (enormous) room and if something takes your fancy, you simply flag them down. It saves on menu-reading time – the fact I can’t read Cantonese is beside the point – and also means that you can enjoy all of your dishes piping hot. After trying beef dumplings, rice rolls, steamed chicken buns and a host of other dishes I didn’t remember to take note of, we left feeling utterly stuffed. Looking back, it was no surprise we never ate lunch – dim sum essentially functioned as an oriental brunch and filled us to capacity day in, day out.
Laurence and I then took the MTR to Admiralty, followed by a bus which wound its way up the mountainside and down to Stanley. Unsure of where we were supposed to alight, we missed the stop. Fortunately we were able to hop off a few hundred metres further down the road outside Ma Hang Park. With vistas of Stanley Bay and Blake Pier, our route through this hilltop park into Stanley itself turned out to be a nice addition to our visit (though the added exposure to mosquitoes most certainly wasn’t!)
Exiting the park, we wandered across to Blake Pier, which jets out into the bay and offers a nice view of the coastline dotted with sampans and Stanley’s low-rise waterfront. Unfortunately, Stanley Bay appears to function as a marine dustbin, quite possibly due to currents which shift litter along the Hong Kong coast. Taking a picture without said dégâts in it proved a challenge!
A potter round Stanley Plaza followed by a stroll along the waterfront confirmed our suspicions that this was a distinctly expat-esque area of Hong Kong. The shopping centre catered predominantly to western tastes; restaurants and cafés were equipped with plastic menus; patrons spoke mostly English.
Our next stop was Stanley Market, where we had been charged with the task of finding a specific dragon-print tie for my dad. Armed with a photo of the desired tie, we perused rack after rack of silk ties at HK$20 (£2) a piece. Eventually, the stars aligned and Laurence spotted The One. Hidden amongst dozens of other multi-coloured ties festooned with dragons and pandas was the one we were after! Mission accomplished, we browsed the rest of the wares, including acrylic paintings, Tintin plaques and souvenir knick-knacks.
After a comprehensive wander round, we headed for Gino’s Gelato at Stanley Plaza, opting for lychee, mango and wild berry yogurt. Before departing, we made our way to the top floor of Stanley Plaza for another panoramic view of the bay; if you don’t make it to the park, this is a good Plan B for an aerial view of this picturesque inlet.
Keen to squeeze in another of Hong Kong’s major landmarks, we took the bus to Wan Chai and walked to Golden Bauhinia Square. Emblematic of the territory, the Forever Blooming Bauhinia Sculpture was a gift from the Central Government to mark the 1997 Handover. The square bustled with visitors; with the sun going down, photographers were setting up camp along the harbour front.
We then had one last ride on the Star Ferry from Wan Chai to TST, taking in a beautiful sunset over Victoria Harbour on our crossing. All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to Hong Kong (though only temporarily) and head north over the East China Sea to Tokyo, Japan!
- Buses to Stanley depart regularly from outside Admiralty MTR; we got a little lost finding the bus stop, but there are plenty of people you can ask if you get stuck. The 6/6X takes approximately 50 minutes and costs HK$10.6.
- Whilst you can haggle to your heart’s content in Kowloon, stallholders at Stanley Market are less than impressed with hagglers; expect to pay the asking price here.