Hong Kong for the win

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Hong Kong for the win
Hong Kong Harbor.
Joanne Rae Ramirez

Our Hong Kong sojourn began with a win.

My name was drawn at a raffle held by Hong Kong’s The Murray during a lunch at the Marco Polo in Ortigas for Philippine media. Each member of media invited to the lunch immediately won a door prize of an overnight stay at the hotel.

Then a grand prize of an overnight stay in a suite was declared and, whaddayaknow, I hit the jackpot.

Six months after my “win,” my husband Ed and I jetted off to Hong Kong to savor my win. The last time I was in Hong Kong, in November 2018, was for a meet and greet with David Beckham, for a Tudor event held at The Murray, coincidentally.

Argo, one of the ‘50 Best Bars in the World.’

So I returned to the Murray, this time with my real-life David Beckham.

We flew Philippine Airlines for the two-hour flight to the former Crown Colony. Though we flew on Economy, our Mabuhay Miles status gave us access to the Mabuhay Lounge at NAIA’s Terminal 1. Here, the fun began even before takeoff.

Graceful, curved wooden slats from one side of the entrance to the ceiling give the impression one is walking under an arch. The lounge’s entrance is also filled with modern stainless-steel pieces of sculpture by Filipino-American artist Jefre. Designed by Atelier Almario, the lounge is a sprawling 1,200 square meters. The buffet is extensive, but with the staple Pinoys don’t tire of — arroz caldo.

We flew on an Airbus 350, with wide legroom, brand-new screens and good wine — even on Economy!

The Murray lobby.

Hong Kong’s efficiency begins at the airport. You whiz through everything and are a step away from the Airport Express train, which takes you to Kowloon in about 20 minutes and Hong Kong in 30. A one-way ticket to Central costs HK$70, and we bought an Octopus card for convenience, as it may be used to pay for all modes of transport, excluding taxis. We disembarked at the IFC terminal, where there are shuttles to different hotels. We were early for The Murray shuttle, so we took a taxi. Flag-down was HK$27.50 and the meter read HK$32 for the short drive. However, since we had luggage, we were charged HK$51. The exchange rate is about HK$1 to P7.5. And mind you, Hong Kong is not cheap.

We were warmly welcomed at the Murray by its charming Filipino guest relations officer, Aly. She checked us in and led us to our suite, which had a relaxing view of Hong Kong Park. Imagine, a lush park amidst all the high-rises, a mini version of New York’s Central Park.

After freshening up, we met up with our son Chino and his fiancée Gi-Anne, who were billeted at The Pottinger, for lunch at the famous roast goose place Yat Lok, a hole-in-the-wall with a Michelin star, which was across their hotel.

Roast Goose.

The restaurant has a queue, as average waiting time for a table is 10 minutes. Though the place has greasy floors and tables, which you have to share with other diners (just bring wet wipes to scrub your side of the table squeaky), it is one of my core memories of this trip. Even just one bite of the roast goose with its thin crunchy skin was worth the tab of HK$700 for the four of us.

We went shopping in familiar places like Pacific Place and IFC mall, and capped the day by visiting one of the best bars in the world, Argo, at the Four Seasons Hotel, where I had the best martini ever! Argo is named after the fabled ship from Jason and the Argonauts of Greek mythology. “But instead of searching for the Golden Fleece, this Argo is seeking cocktail greatness and by all counts it has succeeded,” according to the 50 Best Bars in the World list, where it ranks 34. The tab of HK$2,000, with pica pica, was not unexpected. But worth it.

Lunch the next day was at Dim Dim Sum in Jordan on the Kowloon side, which we chose because “pinipilahan.” We thoroughly enjoyed its dimsum, buns and rice toppings. This was cheaper than Yat Lok, HK$500 only.

After shopping at a flea market in Mongkok, we took a 70-minute harbor cruise — my first, would you believe? We capped the day and night at Popinjays, the rooftop bar of The Murray. The last time I was there, I was with Beckham. And 20 other members of media, that is!

The view was stunning still, and the company this time, even more romantic.

Winner! *


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