or Christmas we wanted to be somewhere more relaxing and more Christmasy, preferably somewhere where we could do some home cooking. We love going through local supermarkets and trying to assemble something homey from the ingredients at hand, especially for Christmas (see blog ‘cooking in Sai Kung’ here). Furthermore, we really wanted to try out the concept of housesitting and preferably spend some more time in a place we love: Hong Kong.
What does housesitting entail? You have a (normally) free place to stay in a destination of your choice, but you have to take care of the house, and (usually) the accompanying pets, while the owners are away. A perfect way to travel on a budget, while getting to know a place from a local’s point of view, and you even get to try out a few pets to find the perfect match for your family! Or the other way round, maybe you have pets and don’t want to send them to a boarding kennel while you are on a holiday.
So there, that is how we got to the idea to look for a housesit in Hong Kong over Christmas. We signed up for the website www.trustedhousesitters.com and in a few days time we already found a perfect spot. We would spend the holidays in Sai Kung, Hong Kong and go on long walks with Poppy the sausage dog.
Poppy, our little dachshund for a few weeks is cute as hell. Little tiny legs with shiny nails that tick-tick-tick-tick every time she walks on a solid surface, black and tan with the cutest brown spots on her eyebrows, a little nose always close to the ground sniffing for anything (semi-)edible. She jumps up and down excitedly every time we get home, whenever we take her on the couch or open a container of food… She even figured out that when Maarten is cooking and swears, it could mean falling foooood, which makes her race to the kitchen as fast as her little legs can carry her. We take her for long walks into Sai Kung town, in the park or along little paths in the surrounding hills. We take her up with us to the terrace to bask in the sun together and even teach her a few new tricks. I want one!! Can I have a Pu(o)ppy? (WARNING: the accompanying photo gallery contains a lot of dog cuteness, we just couldn’t resist).
Our little house is very cozy and for the occasion we decide to make it more Christmasy with some Ikea Christmas decorations (How far can you stretch 1 € at Ikea for Christmas: challenge accepted!). Our greatest joy is spending time on the rooftop terrace in the winter sun. To the left a sea view, to the right a mountain view, and below at our feet a happy Poppy. We often have our homemade lunch here with one or two glasses of wine. Who could want more? We enjoyed it to the fullest and our regular trips to the local wineshop even got us invited to their New Years’ Eve party. Great fun!
Sai Kung itself is an enjoyable place to spend a few weeks and maybe even to live permanently. It is located in the New Territories of Hong Kong and is nestled between the mountains and the sea. During the Christmas holidays it is mostly sunny with temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees, just as we like it. A small fishing town, where you can rummage through cozy little stores in small alleys, stroll on the seaside promenade (dog optional), eat some delicious dim sum or freshly caught seafood or head for one of the many little bakeries for a pineapple bun or egg tart.
On Sunday, Sai Kung is the perfect people (and dog) watching spot. Half of down town Hong Kong seems to head here to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and get some fresh air: whole families eating dim sum in seaside restaurants, young families strolling past the water, Filipino nannies who spend their only day off congregating in the little parks and squares to dance, pray, sing, eat, etc.. People buying fish from the local fishmongers who pull up next to the quay or trying their own luck fishing off the pier (we even made a homemade fishing rod to be able to join in), people heading for a day trip to the surrounding islands (including an island golf course), etc…
We go for a longer hike on the nearby MacLehose trail with great views on the mountains and the sea, past idyllic beaches (e.g. Tai Long Wan beach). We also go watch the horse races in Sha Tin. Sadly I’m not allowed to gamble, as Maarten thinks that my over the top excitement is a sign of an oncoming gambling addiction :-). Moi? Even if we had tried, it probably wouldn’t have worked out anyways: betting on the ponies turns out to be pretty complicated with bundles of little slips you can fill in with all sorts of options like pick & mix, quartet, first place, quinella etc… Big screens with rows of numbers and tips, horses that get a live pre-race check, newspapers apparently filled with information which should lead you to the right pick…. Literally and figuratively Chinese for us. As soon as the horses burst out of the starting gates the atmosphere turns tense, you just can’t resist picking a favorite for fun, and as soon as they near the finish line both hands and voices are raised. Strangely enough though, only about half of the spectators actually follow the race live from the stands. Because inside the racecourse building you have countless screens, where you can follow the race and the deluge of numbers, calculations and tips simultaneously. This is were the “real experts” reside, eyes locked on the screens, nervously clinching on to their gambling tickets …. why go outside when you can gamble indoors without leaving your seat…
In short, we had a great time housesitting and we still miss our dear Poppy and beautiful Sai Kung. Our first housesit was a great experience, the perfect way to get to know a neighbourhood better and a nice relaxing stopover if you have been on the road for a while. We are completely sold on the concept of housesitting and really hooked on sausage dogs as well! If you want to have a look for yourself and get an overdose of dog cuteness and see something of Sai Kung, click here).
If you want to try it out for yourself, get to know a place well, want to check out an economical way to go on a holiday, just feel like moving house for a while and have some great (temporary) pets, or the other way round if you do not want your pets to be in a boarding kennel while you are away, do have a look on the website: www.trustedhousesitters.com.
Our housesit was also the perfect way to visit Hong Kong City and Macau. For our Christmas in Hong Kong 2014, have a look here for the blogpost and here for the photo gallery. For our blog on Macau click here and here for the accompanying photos. For our old stories and photos of Hong Kong, have a look at our (Dutch only) 2010 blogpost here and here for the accompanying photos.