Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hong Kong Island

The first mission was to find breakfast. We walked south from our hotel and past the Tin Hau Temple. Inside, spiral incense burned from the ceiling. Outside, the daylight, more grey than yesterday, revealed intricately carved roof decorations atop the temple.

Further along were street stalls selling fresh produce. We ate some egg tarts, a local version of the sugar donut and a sweet and a savoury snack of peanuts wrapped in a glutinous rice flour pastry. B was still hungry, so we shared some spicy fishballs on a stick. That lead us visiting the nearest convenience stall for some flavoured milk to wash away the chili.

From Jordan MTR station we caught a train to Central on Hong Kong Island. The train was packed with Philippinos on their day off. I barely squeezed into the carriage.

At Central we decided to continue on the Sheung Wan station and follow another of the brochured walks. However, on arrival at Sheung Wan we found many of the local stores to be closed on the Sunday. We did find a dried seafood stall that sold dried turtle shells and another with skewered flying lizards for sale. Eeeew!

The weather outside was dreadful. Low visibility and drizzling. We discarded the idea of following the walk and instead caught one of the famous double decker trams. It was pleasant to cruise along and sightsee rather than walk and shop. The trams are great value and you see a lot.

Below, every spare space was crowded with Philippinos. Above were glass towers, windows reflecting the grey sky and each other. We cruised along until we reached Causeway. We couldn't find much to do there except take a peek at the wide variety of dogs for sale at the pet stores.

We walked back in the direction of Central. B was disappointed by the lack of shops or anything interesting. Along the way we purchased some hot quail eggs from the a streetside vendor who refused to be photographed. I also discovered that the same brand of my A$200+ walking shoes retailed for less that half that amount in Hong Kong.

We were hungry by the time we reached the shopping plaza at the base of the Marriot Hotel. A centre employee guided us to a department store food basement, but we were after a cooked meal. The only restaurants seemed expensive, but we couldn't be bothered to continue onwards. Besides, B had found her favourite stores, the Spanish Zara and Mango. We found ourselves unexpectedly eating French food for lunch.

The frogs leg menu was expensive for Hong Kong but good value considering the food. Yes, it did contain frogs legs (a popular dish in Hong Kong – I had eaten it before at the in-laws), a bit like chicken but not as nice. There were mains, entries and a self-serve dessert bar – yum! We were both very, very full afterwards.

After shopping, our bank balance was that much smaller and our credit cards a bit higher. More stuff to carry, but at least I now had shoes with more grip, a likely neccesity if some our travel plans came to bear.

We continued on to Admiralty station, then caught the MTR back to Mong Kok station. There we wandered the electronics and sport shoe shops. The electronic shops called to me, just like at Shinjuku in Tokyo. I want to buy, I just don't know what exactly (or more precisely, I want everything!).

Back at the Ladies Market again I bought some t-shirts, necessities as B hadn't packed enough for me. I don't think my haggling skills were quite good enough, though I got a few dollars off.

On our way back to our hotel we stopped along Nathan Road at a multi-story shopping centre dedicated to manga and Japanese anime toys. The little shops sold a wide range of fascinating miniatures. I will definitely return to checkout the Star Wars Lego for sale at one. Another had a MP4 player on display that included a NES (and other game console) emulator along with some games. As the shop keeper said “you can download more games - illegally – from the internet. I had never seen it before – cool!

At the northern boundary of the Temple Street markets we sat down for a dinner of hotpot, prawn cake and snails in black-bean sauce. I tried a snail, but it was like rubber. It's not the first time I've tried it. Molluscs just aren't my thing.

Another walk through the Temple Street markets and another late night back at the hotel. I'm looking forward to the enforced rest on the train to Beijing tomorrow, although I still feel that there is much more of Hong Kong that I would like to explore. I definitely want to spend some time here on the way back.