Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hong Kong!

I am trying to figure out why it took me twenty-one years to get to Hong Kong.

This city is amazing.

I have loved essentially every moment since my last post, every facet of Hong Kong is interesting, fun, delicious and beautiful. I have seen almost no homeless people nor beggars, public transportation is convenient, logical, on time, clean and there are no hecklers nor solicitors. 90% of my time since arriving has involved food, tea or communing with nature. Clothes are cheap and shopping is everywhere.

As I got to Hong Kong after 48 hours of travel only to find out that my bag wouldn't be arriving in HK until the following day, I decided that I would need to get some clothes rather than stretch my outfit out to the 72-96 hour mark. I spent the equivalent of 40 us dollars for designer slacks and a button up. Deals like this and better are everywhere! I seem to have arrived in the midst of one of the larger yearly sale periods. Shopping is not why I came to Hong Kong, but it would be a good reason to come!

Closer to my heart... food!! I managed to find the time to post a few pictures last night. So-han and I sat down in a noodle house for lunch right after meeting up. We ordered two bowls filled with the things wewere most excited about, one bowl of sea and one of land. The sea bowl(below) included: Squid, Cuddlefish Ball, Fish Cake, Octopus Roll with Rice Vermicelli while the land bowl (left) featured Ox Lung, Tendon, Tripe and Pork Intestine with Rice Vermicelli! Both were phenomenal and each bowl cost about 4 usd ~ 28 hkd.

We spent the whole day between lunch and dinner in the Longrun Pu-Erh teahouse sampling teas and speaking with the staff there. Longrun tea is the first tea company to be
traded, they can do this since they are based out of Hong Kong, were they based out of China proper, they wouldn't be able to go public. We tried four different teas while there: two shou pu-erh, one sheng pu-erh and
one black tea. We left there having bought a beeng cha (below, right) and were given a second tea cake as part of their celebrating having a stock
number. (they named a line of their pu-erh 2898, their stock number being HKG:2898.) We have been enjoying the 2898 brick since(below, left)

For dinner we found a restaurant called "Under Bridge Spicy Crab." There was a line out the door which we took to be a good sign (correctly.) We found out later that a chef from this restaurant was featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations: Hong Kong.
We ordered Mantis Shrimp, a Sausage dish and the famous Spicy Crab!The shrimp and crab were delicious. Mantis shrimp are extremely tender despite their massive size! We ordered the spiciest level of crab on the menu and we were definitely delighted to find the dish a challenge to complete. The spice level was significant enough that my lips swelled up and we both had the distinct impression that the spice had worked it's way up through our skulls and into the back of our eyes.
was made all the more dire due to the fact that we were mostly using our hands in order to get the meat out of the crab and that
I have yet to find a satisfactory napkin in Hong Kong, double ply tissues are essentially as heavy duty as napkins get here and I promise you that those napkins to nothing to get greasy pepper seeds and seasonings off of your hands.
We were not bested however, putting down all the food which we were served. We called it an early night because we each needed some time to sit and recover from the meal, a feat accomplished with the aid of some of the 2898 brick.

Unfortunately, the 2898 brick also succeeded in caffeinating me so sufficiently that old mr. sandman left me wanting for his love and affection until the wee hours of the morning.

We woke up and went to go get some Dim Sum with two Japanese women we met at the Under Bridge Spicy Crab. Dim Sum is one of the coolest and least friendly to gluten-free people culinary traditions in the world.
I took many many photos of this meal, all of which I will post to flickr soon (the internet connection here is frustratingly slow) All of the dishes were delicious, I decided to try many of the dishes which I thought (read: knew) that I couldn't eat and, oddly, my body
delayed in its response until very late in the day (luckily since we spent most of the day far from restrooms.)
Chicken feet(up, right) are delicious and were certainly a highlight, right up there with the dish featuring the best tripe I've tasted in my life (bottom left).

After lunch we took a tram to the Tin Hau temple stop and then embarked on a four hour journey to find the Tin Hau temple which was located five minutes from the stop. This
journey took us way up one of the mountains in the center of the island and into the Tai Tam County Park (Quarry Bay Extension.)
There exist many well maintained trails and steps leading up into this mountainous rain-forest, however we somehow managed to take a wrong fork at some point and we found ourselves on a long long overgrown path
which disappeared and reappeared as we climbed and blazed paths around copious amounts of trash, trees and elephant-ear leaves. When we finally crested the last bowl of overgrown masonry, tires and other bits of miscellaneous origins and dates, we found ourselves facing a no-trespassing sign on this side of an apartment complex green space / garden.
Our only option had us hugging the fence, still maintaing our general origin of inwards and upwards. Our efforts were rewarded when we rejoined a paved street at the intersection of the chain-link fence and a well maintained walk path coming up from the general direction we had been trailblazing our way through for the past hour or so.
Robert Frost would be proud. Unable to see any way to continue up the mountains, we started walking down the street we had just met up with. Luckily, within a minute we found a path leading upwards and inwards towards what we were soon to learn was the Tai Tam Country Park. There were city employees sweeping the entrance to the path and So-Han asked one of the old men, in Cantonese, "where does this path lead", he responded in Cantonese before turning to me and saying "it leads to walking."
When old Chinese people speak broken English it sounds a lot more profound than when people of any other culture speak broken English. We still didn't actually know where the trail was leading us, but we were fine with being led to walking. Any amount of walking on well maintained trails is possible after a prolonged period spent fighting your way through plants, washed away bits of stone and concrete and climbing up inclines using trees, vines and long unloved slabs of concrete which broke through the rainforest in places fewer and more far between the further from the fork we got. We finally started our walk back down into the city after we spent a few minutes sitting at
a little pagoda structure besides a mountain stream in the midst of the park, near the center of Hong Kong Island. I didn't realize we were still looking for the temple, but So-Han wouldn't be bested by the city, so we finally made our way back to where we started the journey and almost immediately found the temple. Life is a journey, if I can't take the time to enjoy the path I take to get myself to my destinations then I will truly miss out on so much beauty (side note: I re-watched American Beauty while on the plane to Asia, I love every time I re-visit a piece of fiction and am rewarded for doing so by being able to draw new lessons and new insight from the media.
time I reach a wall in my general faith, patience, goodwill or tolerance, some force presents itself to console me and remind me of the beauty of it all. I am truly blessed.) The temple was very cool (picture right), the people that worked there didn't seem particularly fond to have me visit but I would probably start to feel the same way as them were my place of work and worship also a tourist destination. From the temple we went back to the hotel, found that my bag had arrived from the airline and I fell asleep for a good four hour or so nap while So-Han uploaded some of his videos and updated his blog.

(Edit: this meal can be viewed here)
Dinner consisted of Frog, Abalone and a white fish and pork dish. I left the hotel in a post-nap stupor and failed to remember to take my camera. Instead of using a photo to try to show you how the abalone tasted, I will use words to describe how it looked. The abalone was a particularly photogenic plane, four pieces each still in their half-shell (abalone shells are amazing, they have a phenomenal gleam to them which seems to reflect every color of the rainbow) and were plated with either the thinnest clearest vermicelli I have ever seen or with bean-thread noodles in a thin light brown sauce. All the dishes were delicious, as was the sweet soup dessert which was an adzuki bean and ginko treat. I am in love with adzuki beans. There is a massive glass mason jar full of them above my sink. They are the second most consumed bean in Asia, following the soybean.

My stomach decided it was tired of me letting my tongue and eyes lead and it reminded me of who was boss right after dinner.

Well, I'm not sure what is in store for tomorrow but I will be in touch, Keep a lookout for photos, I am adding photos more frequently than I am blogging because it generally takes a lot less time and creativity.

Thank you all for sharing in my adventures online! By donating your time and attention you are giving me a gift far more valuable than anything temporal. Community is true wealth. So sayeth It's a Wonderful Life.


  1. I wish I could be with you! It sounds amazing, and so does the food. I love tea, so that really sounds amazing in every way. Different cultures are amazing.

  2. Different cultures are amazing! There is no place nor language that I don't want to visit or learn! Some day we can definitely travel Asia together! Hopefully by then I will be able to speak at least Mandarin.