Sunday, March 31, 2013

If It's Sunday, This Must Be Hong Kong.....

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ni hao from Hong Kong!

After many hours and a couple of looooong (and uneventful) flights, we are finally in Hong Kong.  We arrived right on time at 11:10 pm, breezed through Immigration and Customs, and found our way to the taxi line.  Boy--they sure are efficient here--different color taxis for each area.  We stood in a very quick moving line for about 10 minutes, and the official "taxi traffic directors" showed us just where to wait for the next taxi in line.  It was about a 45 minute ride into the city, and we were checked in and settled in our room by 12:45 or so.

We are happy with our hotel choice, although our room is T-I-N-Y .  No complaints from us, though--it is spotlessly clean and best of all, it's free!  We're using hotel points for our week stay here in Hong Kong and also Beijing--yaaaaay!

Here's the view from our room on the 15th floor. Victoria Park, Victoria Harbor with the Kowloon side of Hong Kong on the other side of the harbor:  (and yes, it's a little wet out there!)

As soon as we were checked in we hit the street--walked just a couple of doors down to a 7-11 to buy some water and a beer to share.  My hope was the beer would make me sleepy, but no such luck.
It was almost a sleepless night--but I'm sure by tomorrow (Monday) we'll be good to go!

After about 2 hours of very fitful (non) sleep, we gave up and decided to get up, have our morning coffee, and start exploring Hong Kong.  We planned our day, mapped out our MTR route, and left our hotel about 8:30.  We walked the short block or so to our nearest Metro station and bought two "senior" passes--here in Hong Kong they are called Oyster cards.  So far we are very impressed with the MTR here--very clean, well signed in English (whew!) and best of all, the stations we used today all had escalators instead of miles of stairs like in Paris!

Our first order of business was to find some place for breakfast (no Starbucks or McDonalds for us--we're going for the full Chinese experience here!).  We hopped on the MTR and rode several stops to the Central District, an older part of Honk Kong Island.  We found a small restaurant serving breakfast, and each ordered a bowl of noodles with pork, which came with a small omelet on the side and white wonder bread toast.  David ordered coffee, and I had tea.  When my tea came, it had milk in it--kinda weird.  We passed on the toast, but really enjoyed our noodles and the omelet was just OK.  All in all, a very good breakfast for about $4 each.  Here's our yummy noodles--the broth was really good, and the pork had a 5 spice flavored sauce on it:

After breakfast we found the market we'd planned on going to--but it was closed today.  We walked down to the waterfront, this view is looking across Victoria Harbor to Kowloon:

There was a mall open, so we took a quick walk around, nothing too interesting.  Again, many of the stores were closed, maybe for Easter?  We decided we'd just move on to our next area--The Mid-Level Escalator.  This is a series of several escalators, 2,598 feet of escalators to be exact, that run up a steep area of northwest Hong Kong Island.

Here's the beginning--just the first of many, many levels:
Notice the stairs on the side?  The escalator runs down during the morning rush hour and after midnight.  But during the day it runs only up hill, so we had to walk all the way down--ouch!  But it's a very interesting neighborhood, so we took our time and explored the little side streets:

I always enjoy a good street market:

View from one of the platforms--a pretty tree growing right out of this brick wall:

 Lots of locals eating lunch in these alleyway restaurants:

We passed on these two lovely sounding snacks:

And also these various pig parts, no thanks!

Trotters and tongues!

 Or ears and a snout?  Hey Nathan--doesn't this looke delicious??

And we didn't buy anything at this market, but got a kick out of the name!

We finally wound our way back to the main road, with my poor old knees complaining all the way down!  We were both pretty tired, so we MTR'd back to our hotel, dropped off a couple of packages and rested our weary legs for awhile.  By now it was past lunch time, so we hit the streets again in search of a dim sum restaurant we'd read about.

We had a great time at lunch.  The food was very good, but the experience was even better!  We were the only "lo wais" (foreigners) in the whole big restaurant.  Certainly we weren't the first tourists to eat there, as they provided us with a translated menu!  It was a noisy, busy and hectic atmosphere, and I enjoyed listening to all the chatter.  We ordered 3 small dim sum and a noodle dish to share.  All of them were very tasty.

Here's our lunch:

Pan fried turnip cake--very interesting, strong turnip taste with a texture like jello.  We both liked these and will probably be eating them again:

Steamed BBQ pork buns.  Pretty tasty--but the ones we had in Thailand were better!  We both agreed that much more sampling will be required!

I think something got lost in translation with our next choice--because I thought we ordered small noodle like dumplings (shu mai), but instead got this huge steamed chicken bun.  The chicken filling was delicious, though:

For a noodle dish we tried crispy noodles with shredded pork, bean sprouts and mushrooms.  This was my favorite: (Note the serving dish, a pyrex pie plate!)

Also note that there is NO SILVERWARE on the table.  David did great with his chopsticks--just look at him wrangle those noodles into his mouth!  He said that by the end of this trip he'll either be very skinny, or have mad chopstick skills! 

During lunch David triumphantly picked up a small piece of mushroom with his chopsticks.  He must have looked pretty pleased with himself, because a nice gentleman walking by gave him a thumbs up and a big smile! 

We had a nice chat with one of the older gentlemen at the cashier counter, his English was great, and he taught me how to say "you're welcome" in Chinese--which I promptly forgot!  He invited us back--so I guess we didn't do too bad for a couple of "lo-wais"!

And the cost for all this delicious food and fun?  A big $15! 

It was after 3:00 by the time we finished lunch, and we could feel ourselves "hitting the wall", with serious jet lag taking it's toll on both of us.  We've done this enough times now to know better than to fight it--so we MTR'd back to our hotel, stopped in a grocery along our street for some fruit, and called it a day!  I'm nodding off as I finish this post, so no dinner for us tonight--we are just too tired and sleepy to eat!

Tomorrow in Hong Kong (AFTER a good night's sleep, please):  A trip to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum to see an exhibit of Russian Faberge eggs, and who knows what else!

Good night from Hong Kong!