Despite living in Hong Kong for nine years, there’s a lot a don’t know about this majestic city. In fact as my home and office are within a ten minute radius, I can go for days without leaving my local bubble on Hong Kong island. So when I was asked by Sam The Local whether I wanted to experience one of their custom, private experiences with locals who know best, the answer was a resounding YES! Show me more of my beloved city!
As a gweilo (Cantonese slang for Westerner), it is easy to skim the surface of a city, especially when you don’t speak the local language. Sam The Local gives you the chance to pick a local tour guide, listed by interest e.g. food, history, nature, nightlife, shopping. My top priority was food. Although I’m a long time Hong Kong resident, I’m still a tad nervous about eating local street food. The idea of having a local companion to guide me through the culinary delights of Hong Kong was extremely appealing. After browsing through the ‘locals’, I settled on Winnie who true to her description, was bubbly, outgoing and adventurous. We arranged a time and date to meet (guides are HKD $250 per hour and then each additional hour is HKD $50). Winnie proposed we meet in Hung Hom (located in Kowloon aka ‘the dark side to us HK islanders’) and wear comfortable shoes.
What to expect from the tour
From the outset, Winnie was friendly, bubbly and full of stories. We were happy to let her lead us around blindly. She took onboard our only request that we wanted to try lots of food! Winnie countered with ‘do you guys want to try a local Western style hamburger? I’ll take you to the famous place in Hung Hom?’ My friend and I nodded and ten minutes later we were chowing down on a delicious $15 burger, somewhere I never knew existed.
The tour continued to a tiny hole in the wall, famous for its fish balls. In my 9 years in Hong Kong, I have never once tried a fish ball. But they are indeed delicious, especially drowned in curry sauce.
We hopped on the MTR and exited at Yau Ma Tei. Winnie shared the history of the area and we even got the chance to browse the famous kitchenware on Shanghai Street. She also gave us an insight into local superstition and feng shui – did you know it’s rude to hang a mirror on your front door as that reflects bad luck to your neighbour?
We then headed to the Yau Ma Tei Wholesale Fruit Market. This is a wondrous spectacle where you can buy overseas fruit far cheaper than other supermarkets and markets. We stocked up on cheap figs and cherry tomatoes and wandered down to the more salacious side of Kowloon, where slightly different products are on offer. During our walk, Winnie was full of facts and stories and gave a lively background to all that we saw.
We ended our tour in Mongkok’s street food market at Argyle and Fa Yuen street. Here we spied all sorts of delights from duck tongue to stinky tofu although couldn’t quite work up the courage to try it. However, Winnie truly saved the best for last, bringing us to her all time favourite egg waffle place, Mammy Pancake. Here I ate one of the most delicious treats of my life, a waffle filled with butter, sugar, condensed milk and peanut butter. Seriously awesome.
Fit to burst and with a new love for the dark side, Winnie bade us a fond adieu. We had such a great time with her; educational, funny and gluttonous. I would highly recommend checking out Sam The Local – whether you’re a long time HKer like me, or planning a vacation in the city and fancy a genuinely local tour. For more information, check out their FAQ where they talk you through all your burning questions. Locals start at HKD $200 per hour and doesn’t include food/miscellaneous costs.
Jetlag & Mayhem was offered a complimentary tour by Sam The Local. We were not paid for this review and this is all my own opinion!