Travel Journal

Hong Kong- Again!!

(Sunday 16 May 2010) by Brennan-adventures
Hello Folks,
How are things with you all?? Well we are on our travels again, back to Hong Kong.
Heathrow was a little strange…. One of the students we had met on the fateful night of no flight from Rio was in W H Smiths ; talk about a small world!!! She was on her way to Australia to set up a part of Daddy’s business!!! No idea what business Daddy was in, but we wished her well !!

The flight over was uneventful , which is always good!!! It was a little bumpy though and as we were pretty near the back, at times I was gripping tightly to Mike!!! 8-O
Landing on time with temps of 28c, however it was not too muggy, off we went to organise our transfer to the hotel. 2 hours later (waiting 45 mins for the bus then the drop-offs to the other hotels) we arrived at the hotel.

I was a little bleary eyed by now. We stood at reception Mike checking in, suddenly he started staring over to the coffee shop area, I looked over to see what he was staring at….. YOU WILL NEVER GUESS???? !!!!

BABS and ANDY sitting there…. Well I flew over screeching and yelling… The atrium echoed to the excitement, and everyone stopped to see what was going on!!!! I just couldn’t believe it, especially when we found Andy’s sister was also there, she had flown in from Australia!!! 8-O :-)
Mike was stunned, and had thought his eyes had been playing tricks…. They laughed and said it was payback for Buenos Aires last year!!! ;-)

After sorting out the hotel room…… on the executive floor, with a special restaurant for that floor only, we all went for dinner. I kept having to pinch myself to check I wasn’t dreaming!! The amigos were not staying in our Hotel but in another on Hong Kong Island.

Next morning, awake at 4am!!! Dawn rising over the harbour, we unpacked, fittered around then went for breakfast at 7am. Well what a posh room, only around 15 tables, some with sofas next to the large windows overlooking the harbour views. I have never been so relaxed having breakfast, could have spent a couple of hours over the whole thing.
We had a few things to do so couldn’t meet with the amigoes….. They were visiting central and the peak, when we communicated by text they were on the peak in the rain!!! The rain was showery, but at least it was warm!!
That evening we were out with a guy from the University. We went back to a restaurant we visited last time we visited in Dec last year. This is the one that is super posh and has great views over the harbour. Every evening at 8pm there is a laser and lights show to accompanying music which is pumped out from speakers attached to lamp posts that are positioned around the harbour side walkways. We could not hear the music but could watch the green lasers streaking across the sky… a little like a fight with 4 or 5 people all using the laser swords that darth vader used in the Star wars movie…. Not sure how it doesn't blinding airline pilots as they approach the airport however!!! Maybe there are no flights around this 30min slot??!!!

Well dinner was strange, I ordered blue shelled crab soup, then sole with mash and cream sauce. A very large brimmed soup plate arrived, the brim around it could quite easily have been used as the side plate for the bread!!! The diameter of the bowl area was around the diameter size of a 2 litre water bottle, and the height of a teacup. In the bottom of this bowl was some crab meat… no liquid however, so without my glasses on I couldn’t quite work out what this was and whether I had ordered this…. Mike had ordered mushroom soup and his bowl area was similarly covers with pieces of food but no liquid !!??? Then suddenly 2 waiters appeared at each side of us, cupping a very small sized coffee pot shaped pot, which they started pouring over the food in the bottom of the bowl…. Whew it was the soup and is was sooo yummy, not a blue colour in sight, more dark brown!!!

The next course arrived, three fillets of sole twisted into corkscrew shapes and cooked, the mash was the smallest ice-cream shaped scoop; the plate also had a piece of carrot and a swirl of sauce decorating the whole thing …which was huge again. Looked like nouvelle cuisine, but because of the huge plates it was actually bigger portions than you originally thought. I then had mango mousse for sweet. The meal was lovely the only sting in the tail .. it was our turn to pay. Mike said the meal was over £250.00 for 3 of us….. :-( Whew thankfully we do not have to repeat the experience!!!!

Next morning after another VERY civilised breakfast :-) Mike once again away to the University for the day. I used the Metro to travel to Hong Kong Island to meet up with Babs, Andy and Nicky. On my journey I was in a compartment with a lady struggling to control a huge and I mean HUGE basket of arranged flowers that had been ordered to wish a new business luck. She was delivering it to a shop…. I was glad I did not have the responsibility of getting this arrangement safely through the multitude of people!!! I even had a man stand back and let me out of the door first…. What is going on??? 30 years ago it was sharpen your elbows and push and shove!!!

I met up with the amigos and we took the bus to Stanley market…. This was Nicky’s first visit to Hong Kong, and Babs and Andy were showing her all the sights…. And having a great time reliving happy memories of years gone by!!!

Stanley Market 30 years ago this was a market that dealt mostly is silk and rattan furniture. It was dark, dirty, with narrow streets and very smelly. Now??? Well think posh beach and lots of restaurants on decking areas, the stalls were mostly tee shirts, silk items and gorgeous linen clothes… It was very restful.

We found some strange teeny houses on our walk around, One of the doors were open and downstairs was one room wide enough for a 2 seater couch and small T.V. to the rear was a basic Kitchen and I assume a bathroom. To the side of the small room with the couch was a very steep ladder that took you to a wooden mezzanine floor with a bed, It would have been impossible to stand up on the mezzanine level. Coming out of the front door however was a view to die for over the bay.
There was a small beach; all be it with gritty sand and some largish rounded shaped rocks framing each side of the beach area. On the beach area there were some rowing boats, so I assume this may have been fisherman housing that has been updated, but a very nice view, although the house was small and bijou!!
The people in the shops were very welcoming and not at all aggressive, The amigos do agree that the locals have become softer, and more helpful and polite.
Well after a lovely day and lunch we headed back, the amigos were off on a cruise in the harbour, I think to see the lights and have dinner…. Again I am sure I was told, but cannot remember if dinner was on the boat or if they were taken to a restaurant, I am sure I will get all the info later.

We were out with another couple, he works at the University and his wife is a lady of leisure. They originally came from India 20 years ago, and have stayed ever since. They will however retire back to India. It was decided to go to an Indian restaurant…. I of course was really looking forward to this… NOT!!!
The restaurant was again difficult to find unless you had prior knowledge, seating was hard with some scatter cushions to help support you back. The food was asked for without garlic, which I really did not believe would appear in the virgin free state. Well what a fabulous and tasty meal. Tandoory ,Biryani, and lots of other things in between.
In the U.K I have never managed to eat curry and could not understand what Mike loved about it, he would rave about the different flavours and strengths of curries. Well now I understand. It was one of the most tastiest meal I have had and moreover NO Garlic in anything. The evening was lovely and we had such a laugh, a very nice couple.

Next day Mike was again at the University and I was asked to join him later, We met around lunchtime and we was taken to see a staff apartment. It was a duplex with a very large sitting/dining area. It was quite light and airy with windows and a small balcony overlooking some trees. This area had 2 air-con units, The kitchen was big for a flat, with a small laundry area, although I did not notice a drying area??!! The corridor then took you to the maids room….. Now this was small just about big enough for a single bed and not much else!!! She did have a western style toilet, not the local hole in the floor type!!
Upstairs was 3 bedrooms, one large one with an ensuite, then 2 other small double rooms that shared a bathroom. The rooms all had built in wardrobes. The wardrobes and bathrooms were a little old fashioned and really needed updating, so this I think spoiled the effect of the apartment. The area of the flat was 180 m . Now I have no idea what this cost to rent, but we did get told the rent was subsidised and out with the university complex the flats would be half the size.
We also were told about their health benefits, a doctor on campus which you could visit 50 times a year for free…… God knows who would do that??? It would be nearly once per week!!!!
There was also a Dentist, we were not told how often you could visit them!!! There was a Physiotherapist that allowed 30 treatments before the staff member paying. Either they are a sick lot here or maybe hypochondriacs!!!!

Later that evening we met up with the amigos, they had visited Lantau Island, you catch a cable car over to see a huge Buddha. They had paid extra to get a car with a glass bottom!!!!…. I think I would have had very sweaty hands!!! The day had been sunny, so the views and experience was good. The previous evening on their boat ride they had been taken up the river to see all the lights around the harbour, then onto an Island that is famous for Fish restaurants. There is an oldy worldy fishing village that now has some very large and swanky high-rise flats towering over them. They said it had been lovely and the food excellent.

We (that evening) were visiting Temple Street market, this is a daily evening market selling clothes, small electrical stuff, mobile phones and china teapots. All very busy and noisy. The eating places are either sit inside restaurants or food stalls on the street.:-?
The food from these stalls are perfectly safe to eat and the choice of food is huge. We had steamed shrimps; crayfish in soya sauce, Chinese noodles, sweet and sour chicken, Chilli beef, Pac choy (a Chinese vegetable), Chow fan (fried rice), and spring rolls. We also had 2 cokes and 5 large bottles of beer, mostly because the boys couldn’t resist the smile of the lady promoting the beer!!! The cost for this huge meal?…. £12.00 each !!!!!
It was delicious and again they made sure there was no garlic!!
After the meal, we decided to have our fortunes told, there is one street at the end of the market that has 30 different tents all supplying fortune telling. This can be palm reading, tarot cards, face reading or a little bird picking out a scrap of paper for you!! We chose palm reading, the man was also reading our faces I think to get some idea of personalities.
I thought he got our character’s to a tee, Mike was stubborn and did not like too much authority. Babs was strong willed and needed a husband to allow her this trait. Andy liked the good life and travelling, also spending money. Friends were important to me and I was a very open character. I was also going to live a long and healthy life… well that’s good to know, none of the others were told about their lives!!! Mikes was the funniest, the man took both hands and said easy to read and straight forward, both hands had the same lines of the same size on them…. 3 only!!! Mine looks like a road map of a small city… lines everywhere. Well it was just a bit of fun!!

Next day, Mike and I went to Central district on H.K. Island, I was on a mission to buy some paper and books for my mum. She enjoys Chinese brush painting and finds it difficult to get the correct paper easily in the U.K.
I had the list of required things BUT no address…. I had to dig deep into the memory to find the shop, which if you all remember from Decembers Blog was on the 2nd floor of a small building in a lane. Mike was not helping by keeping asking where were we going and was I sure we were walking in the correct direction!!!! When I walked into the doorway of the building his face was a picture, I think he had assumed the shop front was going to be on street level, and for a second looked unsure about following me!!
Once out of the lift he was impressed both with the size of the shop and the fact I has remembered how to get there!!
Well after much deliberating and choosing what I hope were books giving the instruction that Mum needed, we caught a cab back to our side of the water. This time we were taken through the newer tunnel on the western side of the Island. I am absolutely amazed at the “ It can be done attitude” of H.K. nothing phases them about building projects, and travelling through the clean, spacious and well lit tunnel you could not spot any problems with slippage or subsidence that you would assume if you were building on reclaimed land!!! All the building work seems to be underpinned by pile driving down to the bedrock, whatever and however they do this it works!!

That evening we were meeting the amigos in Wanchai on H.K. island, their Hotel was the Excelcior so we met up there and went to the pub attached to the Hotel. It is a Gwailo pub… The word Gwailo is what the Chinese call any white skinned westerner, the word means Ghost. Cider and British food is served in the pub, most of the people in the pub were Westerners, and looked like locals rather than tourists.
The amigos had visited Aberdeen that day, an old fishing community to the south of Hong kong Island. Years ago the community was fishermen and their families who lived mostly on Sampans, and you could take a small boat to sail around looking at the activity going on . Now there are only a few of these Sampans, with large modern apartment blocks taking over. There is a HUGE floating restaurant there called The Jumbo, most of the food served there unsurprisingly is seafood!!
Well I think all of us were a little weary after the past few days, so we left about 9-30pm, and had an early night.
Next day we were leaving to return home, gosh how fast the time had gone. We however had time to meet the amigos in a town called Shatin, this is classed as the New Territories, this area of land has always belonged to China.
When we met then at lunchtime they had already been to visit the Hundred Buddha’s, a longish hike of 30 mins uphill…. They were looking a little flushed, and were hungry. I suggested Dim Sum, this is served at lunchtime and is mostly steamed foods served in round baskets. The foods are mostly either fluffy round dumplings filled with pork or fish, or flat crescent shaped transparent dumplings also filled with pork, rice or fish.
We had fluffy dumplings filled with pork and rice, transparent dumplings with pork, we also had sweet and sour pork ribs, hot chilli beef, chow fan rice. Well once lunch was over (£6.00 a head including drinks) we went back to the Hotel, I was hoping to have a nap before the flight to the U.K. The amigos were travelling further up the metro line further into the new territories…. Lets hope we see them again!!!
Well now were are back in U.K. the flight back was bumpy again in places even the crew was told to sit… I do not like when that happens!!! I was so tired I even napped for 15mins!!
Well folks sorry the blog not up to the usual standard… was too tired.
Hoping all well with you all
Laura x

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