(Food) The Ultimate Backpacking Guide to Hong Kong
The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking in Hong Kong
Backpacking is one of the best ways to travel eco-friendly in any part of the world. Backpacking or trekking is a way of travel without any transportation but your own foot. It is often associated with the natural environment and outdoor activities. Hong Kong offers you a unique backpacking experience, a "city in nature" characteristics that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world.
Hong Kong, a city in nature, hiking trails are just within walking distances, and most of the hiking trails are interconnected, which you can almost walk your way through Hong Kong. One of the best things about backpacking in Hong Kong is all the campsites within the country park areas are free!! You just have to pay for your food and transportation to and from your starting point.
Yet, there is still a number of questions and issues to answer when planning your backpacking trip in Hong Kong. Good preparation is never wasted. The better you prepare yourself for the trip, the greater the experience. This is an Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Travel in Hong Kong.
NOTE: This article is just a part of The Ultimate Backpacking Guide to Hong Kong.
Where to Source Your Camping Food?
It is tricky when you are sourcing the “RIGHT” food outside of your familiar environment. Food is essential to your body, yet, it is cultural to the mind. When you have your comfort food with you on the mountain, you feel like your trip is completed. In this section, I will be addressing the different needs of food sourcing in Hong Kong.
EAT LIKE A LOCAL
Have you ever had a thought crossed your mind, telling you should have some sort of local food when it comes to travel? There is local food, or it’s better to put it this way, the local practice when selecting and preparing their food for backpacking.
Hong Kong is an international city, where you can get pretty much everything from anywhere in the world. If you go check on the supermarket or wet market near the neighbourhood, you should be able to find the food or snacks from your country.
So, what is the local practice? Given the fact that the country parks are highly accessible, and the facilities are very well equipped for some of the campsites. For most of the family trips or overnight trips, people tend to bring a lot of fresh food and cooking tools. And Majority of the campers are doing overnight trips or base camp multiple trips. So base weight and loads are never the concern for those people. You may see them carrying a little trolley with them to the campsites.
In other words, there aren't many people planning backpacking trips in Hong Kong, rather camping and cooking outdoors in the wild. For many local campers, cooking a meal is the biggest thing. I’ve seen people cutting a cracker tin to make an oven, for roasting a chicken as whole. By the time you get to Hong Kong, you will see more examples.
SHOP LIKE A PRO
There are numbers of shops that provide hiking or backpacking food. For those of you, who are not a big fan of cooking and taking care of the mess afterwards and cleaning the utensils, you got it covered.
You wouldn’t expect a lot of selection and choices will be made available in Hong Kong. Since local practice for meal preparation is pretty much bringing a small kitchen to the campsite. So the choice of dehydrated meals is very limited.
Check out the link below, this is a very comprehensive shop for outdoor activities. To the best of my knowledge, not every shop offers the dehydrated meal. You better call them and check before your visit.
SPARE YOUR LOADS, EAT AND GO
Country parks are formed and established after the British Colonial time. But then, many villages are still living within the areas. Quite a number of campsites have access to villages, and most of them have stores or small canteens for you to pick up some food and supplies.
There are too many to mention. And the situation is different from one to another. I will explain more in detail in later chapters regarding Route Planning, give you more ideas for utilizing the resources around you within the country parks.
Top 5 Camping Meals in Hong Kong
Whether it's going to be a big meal or a convenient meal, some sort of preparation is needed. The top 5 camping meals are the most commonly seen in Hong Kong and loved by most of the campers. Depending on the storage and preparations, the top 5 meals all require some sort of cooking, and some of them even require extensive cleaning.
The 5 camping meals written down below is according to their level of cooking, preparation efforts and storage requirements. Starting from the most difficult to prepare to the quick and easy.
Breakfast, the most important meal for starting your day. I personally don’t really enjoy it so much when it comes to a full and heavy breakfast in the morning. Nevertheless, most of the campers in Hong Kong, they do enjoy it a lot. I think they do enjoy preparing it more than having it.
A full English breakfast consists of bacon, fried egg, sausage, mushrooms, baked beans, toast, grilled tomatoes, etc. It could be more or less depending on personal preferences. But look at the list, there is so much to prepare and to bring. Cooking them is easy at home, but doing it in the wilderness certainly requires a lot of tools and skills.
STEAM RICE & STIR FRY
I am a Chinese guy, and I love Jasmine Rice. I have rice for my backpacking trips all the time. Many of the campers prefer to have some rice on the side, to go along with anything from the frying pan. The storage and preparation for rice and stir fry are not difficult, but cleaning the mess afterwards will be a headache.
Especially when it comes to some sort of sauce and oil to prepare the stir fry or for the rice. You do need a proper sink for kitchen waste, not to mention it requires a large amount of water and some kind of detergent to clean it thoroughly.
Yes, you heard me right! Barbecue! Impressive right? Fresh meats and vegetables, barbecue utensils, packs of charcoal, and the list go on… depending on your favourite and preferences. Some of them will bring a small fridge or some kind of cooling device, just to make sure they got the drinks well-chilled. Commonly seen for family trips or friend’s gathering trips, mostly overnight trips.
No idea of what it is? Hot Pot is cooking and eating at the same time. The keys for preparing Hot Pot are, first, the soup, and the second, your choice of ingredients. You basically cook and eat the food from the pot of soup. The key is having a large pot for a great volume of soup, and a certain amount of space to allow cooking the ingredients inside the pot.
The ingredients may range from fresh meats, vegetables, noodles, seafood, rice, etc. The list goes on depending on your personal preferences. Bring the soup to a boil, and start cooking and eating the ingredients.
SOUP RAMEN W/ CANNED FOOD
This is my personal favourite when it comes to the choice of meal. This is certainly my comfort food when it comes to winter in particular. Storage-wise, easy to pack and it will never go rotten. But the downside is that canned food is heavy and bulky, it takes up space in my pack.
Just like any other countries in Asia, we have so much to offer when it comes to instant soup ramen. Plus the variety of canned food, it could be fish, vegetables, or meats. The combinations are endless. The best part is, it is easy to clean.
Food Storage & Precautions
In the previous section, I have mentioned about the storage of a few. Considering the weather in Hong Kong is mostly warm or even hot with high humidity. You have to store it right or pick something which is not perishable when selecting your backpacking food. If you love the food you picked, I believe there will be other animals who will feel the same. So some precautions of storing your food in the wilderness are needed.
PACK IT TIGHT, HANG IT RIGHT
The animals I am talking about are not limited to insects, small mammals, birds, and large mammals. Their ability to search for food is far greater than our imagination. Most of the campsites have hanging posts, which you can use for hanging food. Before you hang the food bag, ensure the food bag is sealed air-tight. And there is no residual food trace or food waste outside of the bag.
NEVER PLACE YOUR FOOD INSIDE YOUR TENT!
A couple of scenarios will explain why. Ants, a group of small, never settled intruders with mighty mandibles. They will go wherever the food smell leads them to, and they will cut through pretty much everything in their way. A friend of mine experienced hundreds of ants inside her tent because some of the food residuals left inside the tent. The ants smelled it and cut their way through from the groundsheet to the inner tent.
Not to freak you out, another story from the friends of my brother. Place the food inside the tent, and think that it will be safer. In the middle of the night, a wild boar sniffed it and used its sharp tusk to tear the tent apart. Luckily, the people inside managed to get out safely, but the tent was totally ruined. A hard lesson learned.
KEEP YOUR PERISHABLE DRY
Perishable such as vegetables, keeping them dry is the key to preserve them. Anything gets wet won’t last long in such weather conditions. Even if it is wintertime, any fresh food without refrigeration won’t last for more than a day. If you’d love to have some fresh food on your backpacking trip, I have some advice in later chapters.
TAKE AWAY YOUR OWN FOOD WASTE
No matter how many times we tell people, either tourists or locals, it just never stresses the point enough. This is basically a Leave No Trace principle. The reason why you must bring the food waste with you, just like I mentioned, whatever food that you love, the other animals will love too. The food we have is not like food from a natural environment.
They are technically not part of the decomposing system of the natural world. The food we bring in is the surplus for the environment. If there are more food sources, the animals will have a higher ability to reproduce; then they will come back to the same location and look for more, the more disturbance from other animals while camping will occur.
NOTE: This article is just a part of The Ultimate Backpacking Guide to Hong Kong.