Above: Starbucks at Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong. One of the best open-air cafes I enjoy (Credits to Tripadvisor)
I have already back in Hong Kong for 3 weeks after 27-day stay in Chiang Mai, only to find myself missing the many casual relaxing cafes more and more. Here’s why.
Vegetarian friendly and more health-conscious, vegetables in HK are so expensive
Yummy and cheap vegetarian or veggie-plenty dishes everywhere in Chiang Mai. In Hong Kong the veggie dishes are dull, occasionally oily, and unreasonably expensive—they can cost the same price as meat dishes, such as a dish of fried kale can cost 5-6 euros at a average Chinese restaurant.
Also plentiful of wholewheat foods and brown rice to replace devil refined carbs.
Big yummy and healthy breakfast in Chiang Mai, instant noodles in HK Cha Can Tans, or morning Dim Sums
I could have 3 bowls of stir fried mixed greens with eggs and rice in the morning at eateries in Chiang Mai, while in HK average restaurants sell junk foods such as instant noodles and refined carbs. English all-day breakfasts everywhere in Chiang Mai. The good thing about breakfast in HK maybe porridge, or a wide variety of dim sums available very early in the morning, but still no veggies.
Very cheap but good foods in Chiang Mai, while minimum spending/charge is becoming the norm in HK
Foods here in general 1/5 of the price of Hong Kong’s.
Due to surging of rent in HK, restaurants now have a special rule now becoming a norm here—- minimum charge per person. They need every one to spend a certain amount of money, from 30 to 60 HKD(3-6 euros). That’s so unwelcoming, but they need to survive in this city full of imbalances.
Allow selfish modifications of food order
I am very impressed that the cafe staff here are soooooo friendly and homey. They allow me to do a lot of selfish modifications with regard to my orders. In Hong Kong I can rarely do that—- a sad fact.
Less etiquette to follow—truly relaxing
The cafes here are so homey and welcoming that I sometimes just completely relax myself with different postures—lie down, shoes off, however I feel good. In Hong Kong the waitresses may ask you to ‘properly behave yourself’, which is actually reasonable in some situations.
Much more friendly staff than Hong Kong’s
Macau and Hong Kong catering sector has just been rated as 2 of the regions with worst manner. I understand, because I just came into conflict with waitresses not long ago in my hometown. They are not only unfriendly but they treat themselves as bosses. They would gossip about the customers, sometimes quite loudly. For more expensive above average restaurants they don’t have these problems though.
I should be compassionate because the catering sector—-especially waitresses and waiters—-need to work 10 hours a day walking, serving, handing plates non-stop as there are too many customers in HK restaurants. They of course would become tired and hence frustrated.
Less air-conditioning than in HK’s cafes
Sometimes the shopping malls and restaurants in HK are too cold that I always need to wear thick coats in Summers, while in Chiang Mai they almost don’t use air-conditioners. It’s good for me but maybe bad news for others.
Much less crowded than HK’s and never need to queue for the best restaurants in town
The best cafes in Hong Kong are also always full of people that we cannot stay too long.
The Alchemist in Prince Edward is one of the examples in HK. It is a cafe about traveling and Couchsurfing activities hold there regularly, however they are too popular that they have to impose minimum purchase charge, and only allow 1.5-2 hours for everyone to dine there. At night I need to wait for at least an hour to get a table. In Hong Kong you just need to learn to be patient when dining out in rush hours. In Chiang Mai you never encounter these frustrating problems, but in Hong Kong, you need to learn to be strategic when choosing the right hour to dine. Hong Kong is overloaded with people I think.
More open air/space cafes in Chiang Mai, while unique(non-chain) cafes in HK are high up in the sky
I don’t want to endue freezer-like coldness in a lot of the cafes in HK, and I would love to embrace fresh air, therefore I appreciate the abundance of open air cafes/restaurants in Chiang Mai.
In HK a lot of the similar-style eat-out choices are in high-rise buildings, which is actually unique.
I guess only outlying islands close to downtowns such as Lamma Island and Yuen Long can find similar open air style choices as in Chiang Mai. Better still, in Lamma we got beaches.