Ha Long Bay

The ride out to Ha Long Bay was a bit more than three hours and was pretty much uneventful. Not a whole lot in the way of extraordinary scenery, but it was interesting to see a glimpse of life outside bustling Hanoi.

Got to the piers and were rather quickly on board our boat, our cruise manager Huy getting us all sorted. We were on a charming and comfortable barge with six cabins, run by Bhaya Cruises. Besides Mom and me, there was a family of American ex-pats currently living in Hong Kong – husband and wife and their 9-year-old daughters. And that was it! Almost like our own private boat.

Ha Long Bay is really just as beautiful as I’d been led to believe. Yes, there are a lot of tourist boats out on the water – but most of them are quite lovely to look at and there’s enough space around that it doesn’t feel like a full-on armada. There are also plenty of local fisherman out making their living on the bay, along with some occasional giant work liners off in the distance. I never tired of gazing at the fishing boats and the men and women working on them. Just fascinating to see a tiny slice of a life so different than anything I know.

Of course, the real draw are the hundreds of islands in the bay – from tiny rock outcroppings to pretty substantial limestone islands towering above the water. It’s pretty much impossible to tire of gazing at them – especially from a comfy chair on the top deck. We visited several islands over the course of our two nights aboard and also got to do some kayaking and swimming. It was relaxing and wonderful – plus we were looked after by a very friendly crew who made sure we were kept well-fed and happy.

There’s not really a whole lot more for me to say about this trip. I loved it and the timing was pretty great, giving us a break from the urban intensity of Hong Kong and Hanoi. I think the photos speak for themselves.

Hong Kong to Hanoi

Our last day in Hong Kong! And it’s one of those kind of weird last days: our flight isn’t until after 5PM, so we have some time to do stuff in town – but not really that much time since we need to get to the airport, deal with luggage, etc.

The original plan was to visit the Asia Society for a photography exhibit, then have a reputed-to-be-excellent dim sum lunch at one of the fancy hotels. Well, given our track record with fancy expensive meals, Mom and I decided to head back to Joy Hing for a breakfast of char siu – it was amazing, of course and only about US$8 for two. As much as that dim sum place seemed interesting – and probably tasty! – I’m glad I went with a third trip to Joy Hing for their incredible bbq pork as my last meal in Hong Kong.

The Asia Society is a pretty cool venue in and of itself. It’s a modern exterior built into the side of a hill. After passing through the entrance then up to quite lovely roof garden, one heads back to three old British colonial buildings used to store arms back in the day. They’ve been updated with the middle converted to an exhibition space.

The show itself, Picturing Asia, was a “conversation” between photographs taken during monsoon season by Brian Brake and Steve McCurry. There is a clear streak of exocitizing of Asian people and culture in the works of both photographers – I wouldn’t go so far as to say fetishization, so I guess that’s good?- and I just recently read a critic refer to McCurry’s work as boring. But I found much of the imagery to be quite striking – and McCurry in particular is adept engaging the viewer in the humanity of his subjects.

It wasn’t a large show, so it proved to be just the right way to wrap up our stay in Hong Kong.

Had an uneventful transit through HKG and arrived in Hanoi on schedule (flying in coach! #howdreadful). Made it to the MK Premier Boutique Hotel wiith nary a problem and were ready for bed soon after arrival. We’d been upgraded to large suites – IKR? – which was pretty deluxe. So, we had huge rooms each – but they weren’t the most thoughtfully laid out: no dresser or other drawers; the bathroom was large but with a huge, high-sided tub/shower which was a bit of an ordeal to climb into; not much space to lay out one’s toiletries; and the AC seemed to struggle to keep the room cool. But still – the staff was friendly and accommodating and the lobby bar on the front patio proved a nice location to knock back a few beers.

This part of the Old Quarter is also home to some rather prominent boots-and-pants-and-boots-and-pants song stylings from the backpacker bars along the street  and it was rather audible from our rooms at the front of the hotel. Happily, though, it turned out not to interfere too much with sleep and Mom and I both slept well.

Spent our first full day in Hanoi touring with Guang and Kien, two young men from Hanoi Free Walking Tours. It’s a total win-win: they get to practice their English and we get a local perspective on the city. We visited several temples, ambled through the French Quarter, had some coffee in a “secret” cafe on a rooftop overlooking the lake and a great lunch at a big, busy Vietnamese place where our guides ordered for us. Needless to say the lunch was delicious. Also stopped at Hỏa Lò Prison, which was grimly fascinating – and a stark reminder of the cruelty of colonialism.

After our walk our guides delivered us to Spa SF, where I’d made appointments for Mom and me – she for a foot treatment, me for the whole works: massage, reflexology, facial. WELL. It was delightful and I was very happy with my treatments – though I’m not sure how happy the therapist was with my snoring during the facial component.

It had been a long day, so Mom and I just had some snacks and cocktails on the roof of our hotel and called it a day. Tomorrow we out to Ha Long Bay for a two-night boat excursion.

Monday in Hong Kong

Woke up about 4:00 Monday morning and decided to get a jump on our visit to see the Big Buddha on Lantau Island by pre-ordering our tickets for the cable car ride up. The site to book directly required printing the tix (IKR?), so I used Klook – the travel aggregator/reseller I’d used to book my ill-fated airport pick-up at HKG. But it seemed legit – order via their app and you get instant confirmation and a voucher sent directly to your phone. What could go wrong?

Well, after placing my non-refundable order, instead of a confirmation, I got a “we’re still processing your order” – and this being a local holiday, Klook’s help desk doesn’t open until 9:30AM which was exactly the time I planned to already be at the cable car desk redeeming my voucher. So, this was infuriating. I was able to contact them at about 9:31AM from our destination and get things sorted and the voucher was delivered. But I shan’t be using Klook’s services again…

Anyway, the cable car ride up to see the Buddha was pretty cool. There’s a pretty good stretch of the trip that provides a fantastic view of Hong Kong’s airport and I loved watching all the planes taking off and landing. We also got to watch from above as the many more physically fit types hiked up the mountain via the well-maintained but no doubt grueling trail to the top.

The Buddha is quite magnificent, with his serene expression and raised hand. To get up close, a hike up  what I seem to recall is 268 steps from the bottom – not too bad, but definitely a trek! Great views from the top, both of the surroundings and of the Buddha.

After making it back down, we treated ourselves to the vegetarian lunch served at the Po Lin Monastery. It was decent, though nothing to write home about – and certainly superior to the Subway sandwich shop we’d passed on the way in.

The ride back down on the cable car was as nice as the ride up – and I felt like quite the smart tourist for getting an early start. The lines to ride up were massive and here we were already on our way back into town!

Mom and I decided to go our separate ways: she headed back to the history museum and I decided to check out the Tea Museum. It was OK, but I did have a nice walk through the park. On my way back to the hotel, I treated myself to a match latte followed by a foot massage at a little place near the hotel called Sala Raj. Not luxurious by any means, but very well-priced and really excellent service. After five days of non-stop walking, my dogs were barking – and I left here feeling like a million bucks.

Dinner was at Mott 32, a trendy space done up in a sort of 1930s Shanghai-via-Hollywood with a dash of tiki. Drinks were tasty and the food was quite good – though also quite pricey. And as much as we enjoyed our meal, it didn’t seem to have as good a price-to-value ratio as some of the simpler joints we’d tried. I guess that’s pretty much true everywhere in the world…  I will say that I loved the dessert. Maybe a post-modern Moonpie? Chilled disks of chocolate mousse enrobed in a matcha couverture and encrusted with sesame seeds. Simple tastes with a nice variety of textures. Really delicious!

Back to the hotel to start wrapping up our visit to Hong Kong. We fly tomorrow to Hanoi – though not until late afternoon, so we’ll probably squeeze in one or two more activities…

More from Hong Kong

The one nice thing about jet lag flying from US to Asia is one generally wakes up early. So, on Sunday morning, Mom and I were in a taxi to Victoria Peak before 9AM, bypassing the popular tram to the top in favor of trying to beat the crowds. It turned out to be a good decision. The ride up was quick and the Peak was still pretty calm.

It’s always a bit of question mark as to whether or not it’s really worth going to tourist spots – be they peaks or tall buildings – whose primary attraction is a view. In this case though, I think it was worthwhile – not just because the views are pretty spectacular, but I also felt like I had a better grasp of Hong Kong’s geography (at least the parts north of Victoria Peak).

It certainly looks like one could make a whole morning of a visit, thanks to trails that circle the Peak – but Mom and I took in the views and posed for photos with our feet in the fetid, ringworm-infested pretend Nikes in front of Bubba Gump’s (no we did not) before taking the tram down the hill.

The tram was great fun – not least because there was no line to board and only about a half dozen other passengers headed down the hill with us. And what a hill! I’m a semi-regular rider of the California St. cable car back home in SF and I think the Peak Tram has it beat in terms of how steep some portions of the ride are.

Upon arriving at the terminus, we were even happier with our decision to get an early start, as the line was already huge to ride the tram up. I love feeling like a smart tourist!

Took the subway over the Causeway, primarily so I could visit the basement food hall at Sogo, home to an outpost of Bake, one of Japan’s more well-known cheese tart purveyors. The food hall was fun to see (though rather unassuming compared to some I’d seen in Tokyo #humblebrag) and I got us a couple of cheese tarts to go.

We went off in search of lunch at Times Square mall. I guess I was expecting something more akin to my favorite malls in Bangkok – namely a huge and tempting food court and wide variety of restaurants. This was not the case. There were a few cafes and restaurants, but pretty limited in scope. I did find another place on the map and they had a good selection of restaurants up on the top several floors – though sadly it was only 11AM and most hadn’t yet opened. But we found a place serving dim sum and had a reasonable meal before heading back to the hotel.

Oh, and about those Bake cheese tarts? We ate them back at the hotel and they were sublime. Tangy, creamy filling; not too sweet; and the crusty like the happy offspring of a cookie and a pie crust. Delicious! Thankfully they have an outpost in Bangkok, so I’ll be able to find another one this trip.

Our afternoon was taken up with our last walking tour. I’ve included some of the photos I took during the tour – but I’m not going to go into much detail about the tour itself other than to say Mom and I were extraordinarily disappointed, particularly considering its exorbitant price (though we did have a good lunch and I loved my beef brisket noodle soup). Of the three tours we took in HKG, this was by far the least enjoyable – and with a price tag more than triple the others.*

But we did visit parts of Hong Kong away from the center, so it was nice to see a different part of the city. We also stumbled across a dragon boat race competition, which was fun to watch.

Later that night, we had drinks at tiki bar I’d read about called Honi Honi. It’s up on the third floor of one of Hong Kong’s many non-descript looking office buildings – but inside is like a little slice of ersatz Polynesia and even includes an outdoor terrace. We really liked this place – and my favorite drink was the Maori Spring Punch: vodka, watermelon, lemongrass, Thai chile. Yum!

Dinner was at Little Bao. I’d heard about it in my research for this trip and Yvonne, our guide from the other day, pointed it out to us on our walk and said it was really good. She was not wrong! Started with a plate of brussels sprouts, prepared Thai style with fish sauce and chiles – really delicious.

We got a fish sandwich and a fried chicken sandwich for dinner. Very tasty! I was pretty full but forced myself to have some dessert – a fried bao sandwich filled with match ice cream and topped with condensed milk. Oh man… I was super-full, but glad I made room for it.

Made another early night of it and hopped on the tram back to the hotel. Tomorrow we visit Lantau Island and the Big Buddha!

* I contacted the owner of the tour company once I was back home in SF and provided a detailed account of all of the things that made for a sub-par tour. I’m happy to report that she refunded the entire price immediately (over US$500) with no questions and an apology that she hadn’t done a successful job matching us with a guide. I was very happy with this response – though even if we’d had an excellent guide, I didn’t see how there’d be much to differentiate this company’s tours from those offered by other companies. Certainly not enough to warrant a price more than triple any of the others I took in Hong Kong – or anywhere else in the world for that matter. 

A Busy Day in Hong Kong

We spent Saturday morning with Yvonne, our guide from Context – a walking tour company I’ve used in several cities around the world and always with very interesting walks. This morning was no exception, I’m happy to report. Yvonne met up with us in Statue Square and spent the next three hours walking with us through Hong Kong’s center, first among the towering (both literally and figuratively) financial institutions like HSBC and Bank of China, then up the hill, through SoHo’s trendy restaurants and quieter neighborhoods.

Yvonne’s knowledge of Hong Kong was impressive and Mom and I both enjoyed the morning. I especially liked some of the trivial-but-no-less-fascinating bits of local knowledge  – like learning the nickname of Jardine House, one of HGK’s more distinctive skyscrapers thanks to its round windows, is sometimes known as the House of a Thousand Assholes – referring not just to the fenestration but to Jardine’s still somewhat unsavory reputation given that their business started out smuggling opium.

Along the way, we stopped at the Honolulu Cafe, a greasy spoon style place known for its egg custard tarts. They were very tasty – though my allegiance to Macau’s Portuguese custard tarts remains unchanged.

Some other highlights included St. John’s Cathedral – Hong Kong’s oldest Anglican church; a small local shrine that makes an appearance in a Wong Kar-wai film; and Yvonne’s broad knowledge of local food trends – she gave me several good leads on more places to eat during our few days left in Hong Kong!

After winding up our walk and saying our farewells, Mom and I took the subway over to Kowloon for afternoon tea at the Intercontinental. There are quite a large number places offering afternoon tea set, so it was difficult to choose where. I’d been leaning toward the Peninsula initially, given its reputation as the OG tea in town – but from what I’d read, it can be a bit of a zoo thanks to its popularity and their no-reservations policy means there’s likely to be a wait. A couple of other promising contenders lost out thanks to gimmicky sounding (though rather tasty looking, I’ll confess) themes or mixed reviews – the Intercontinental seemed to tick all the boxes, plus the venue offers a spectacular view of the harbor.

As it turned out, the view was indeed the highlight of the visit. The experience for the most part was a victory for style over substance. The food – both sweets and savories – was lovely to look at, but really not all that interesting to eat. I thought they were a bit stingy with the savories, though that may be as much my personal preference as an actual drawback. But most of the food was difficult to eat – too large to eat in one bite, but too unwieldy to make it two bites without it falling into one’s lap. This was especially true of the sweets. For example, the darling little berry cream shaped like a ladies’ spring hat was served on a little pastry cardboard – when I removed it from there, half of it wound up down the front of my shirt (which was white, of course and the pastry bright red, of course).

The tea was served tepid. The table was too small to easily accommodate the tea service. The chairs low and cushy – comfortable for sitting, not practical for eating from, especially given the dangerous instability of the sweets to which I’d already fallen victim. And the price was really quite breathtaking.

I suppose I should have known better from the get-go, given that reservations are not accepted for afternoon tea at the Intercontinental. This isn’t some trendy little hole-in-the-wall – it’s the lobby lounge that’s part of a luxury hotel chain with locations around the world. The fact that they’re unwilling to accept reservations smacks of “you should be happy that we’re allowing you to eat here” – which is further exacerbated by forbidding non-hotel-guests from sitting at the most desirable tables or from using the hotel’s wifi. The hotel is certainly within its rights to manage their establishment however they like, but it certainly left me disappointed with the experience, particularly given how ridiculously expensive it was.

When we left the hotel, it was still rather early in the afternoon, so we had some free time. On a bit of whim, we walked up to the Hong Kong Museum of History. This turned out to be a very wise choice! The museum didn’t look like much from the exterior, but inside had a huge and extensive history of Hong Kong from prehistoric times to the present day. Even going through at a rapid clip, the 90 minutes we spent there really only got us as far as the Opium Wars – we may try to squeeze in another visit if we have time.

Back to the hotel to rest up for this evening’s festivities – which really just consisted of a reservation at J.Boroski. I’d been to the original Bangkok outpost of this bar and really enjoyed it, so was quite excited to visit their new outopost in Hong Kong. Located down an alley and behind an unmarked door, the interior is super cool – a long room with a low curved ceiling covered with mounted scarabs, the bar on the left some tables down the center and along the wall with some fringed dividers. A really cool space. Had a very nice bartender who did the usual spiel, asking about what spirit we wanted in our drinks and what other flavors we liked. He made mom a very tasty take on a margarita but with elderflower and fig. I indicated I liked citrus fruit and watermelon, perhaps some fresh herbs or heat but nothing medicinal – and he prepared me a drink that had no discernible fruit and was medicinal. Sigh…

Dinner was down the street at Mak’s Noodles for wonton noodle soup. We’d tried to go the other day, but too early and they’d not yet opened. I wasn’t planning on a return trip, but our guide Yvonne had indicated that they really do make some of the best wontons in HKG – and she was not wrong! Portions are a bit on the small side, which was nice since neither Mom nor I were famished at this point. It was a really great meal and I’d say don’t miss it if you’re in Hong Kong.

Headed back to the hotel and called it a night. Well, just about – I convinced myself I was still feeling a bit peckish, but I think I really just wanted an excuse for another plate of char siu at Joy Hing. Saw Mom up to her room, then nipped up the street for my bbq pork fix – it was just as delicious as the previous evening. I hope I can squeeze in one more visit before we leave for Hanoi on Tuesday – but we’ve still got some other places to eat while we’re here!

A Day in Macau

Mom and I got an early-ish start on Friday and made our way to the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal for our ultra-deluxe, mega-luxurious hour-long ferry ride to Macau in Premier Grand class on TurboJet. Was it worth the money? Hard to say. We got priority boarding and reserved seats in a comfy-though-not-exactly-Cathay-Pacific-first-class-style, if you know what I mean. We also got a meal – which was also not exactly first class, consisting as it did of scrambled eggs, “sausages” which were much more akin to chicken hot dogs and canned corn.

But then again, we did also get to pass through immigration before all the other passengers – and once cleared, TurboJet provided us with a driver to take us to where we wanted to be dropped off in Macau.

He left us at Rotunda da Carlos Maia and we followed along one of the several walking tours laid out in the Macau Tourist Bureau’s really quite good app. Saw a few different temples, ambled through the Fireman’s Museum and enjoyed walking the narrow streets which are certainly reminiscent of Europe given Macau’s long history as a Portuguese colony. Stopped in the park along the way and a group of school kids spotted the two Westerners and came running right at us – they were practicing their English by asking questions such as “Do you like chocolate?” and “Do you speak more than one language?” and tracking their results. Nice kids and a fun little break. 

Took in the ruins of St. Paul’s, doubtless Macau’s most famous landmark. Sitting at the top of a hill it’s impressive to behold – as are the hordes of tourists. Starting our walk had taken us through more local scenery – but here we were at the nexus of the throngs of visitors. It was a little hectic to say the least.

One saving grace: there was an outpost of Tai Lei Loi Kei at the bottom of the hill, Macau’s most famous purveyor of fried pork chop sandwich. Mom and I got one regular and one served on a sweet bun. They were just OK, sadly. Not bad, mind you – but I certainly didn’t understand the hype.

I’d wanted to visit the Macau Museum, but it turned out it was a fairly long schlep back up the hill we’d just walked down and mom was not eager to fight our way back up through the crowds in the noon heat. We made our way toward Senado Square and took in some of the of other churches and government buildings, eventually winding up at the Opium House near the Inner Harbor. There wasn’t actually a lot to see over here and it was still early – so I suggested we just get a cab to take us back to the museum. No schlepping involved, plus some much needed AC to revive us.

WELL. This turned out to be a great decision. Mom and I both loved the museum. A solid and entertaining overview of Macanese traditions and history along with a special exhibition about Chinese opera. We were both so happy we decided to make the trek.

Next stop was in Coloane Village (after a rather difficult time finding a taxi) where I wanted to try Lord Stow’s Portugese egg custard tarts. I think they have branches in some of the hotel/casinos here, but I wanted to check out the OG location. It’s still tiny shop on the edge of the water, though they’ve added a comfy little cafe around back where Mom and I sat down for some tea and tarts. The tarts were absolutely delicious! Unlike the egg custard tarts back in Hong Kong, these were creamier with golden brown crust on top – almost reminiscent of crème brûlée – and a crispy flaky crust. Given that I’m unlikely to be in Macau again soon, it certainly seemed correct to order a second tart…

Had a little walk around afterward, checking out a few little side streets and some shops along the harbor. Very quiet and local – a nice way to wrap up our day in Macau.

Our exclusive and ultra-fancy Premier Grand VVIP shuttle showed up right on time and whisked us back to the ferry terminal. The ride there was pretty interesting as we got a closer look at some of the truly astonishing casino hotels here. Several of them are quite gargantuan and outlandish – Vegas, eat your heart out!

Upon arriving at the terminal, a helper from the ferry greeted us and asked if wanted to get on the 4:30 ferry rather than the 5:00 we were ticketed on. Answer in the affirmative, so we hot-footed it through the terminal and were escorted to our seats. About two minutes later we were headed back to Hong Kong.

After getting back to our hotel and freshening up, we decided we could use a little something to eat. There’s a very well-reputed roast meat shop called Joy Hing just up the road from our hotel. I wasn’t sure if Mom would be in the mood for the experience, so I texted her with the particulars: it’s divey, not pristine, small and very crowded which means sharing tables, could be a wait, servers are brusque and the ambiance is “eat, pay and get out.” Her reply to me was, “Do they have beer?” So off we went!

Happily, there was no line and we got right in – though we were disappointed to discover they do not in fact have beer. We ordered some roast chicken, which we both found pretty “meh” – not a lot of meat on the bones and skin was rubbery rather than crispy. The char siu pork however was sublime – I’m quite comfortable declaring it the best roast pork I’ve ever had. Tender, meaty, a bit smoky with a caramelized exterior and served on rice. There was some sweet-and-spicy sauce on the table that one of the quite-reasonably-friendly ladies working there recommended. This was the best meal I’ve had this trip so far and I’ll be sure to be back – possibly daily since they open at 9AM and I love nothing better than roast pork for breakfast (save your jokes, Skip and Emily – I’ve already made them all in my head).

Since we didn’t get our beers, we retired to a local restaurant and had a couple of cocktails while sitting on their terrace enjoying the warm tropical evening. A great way to wrap up our latest adventure here.

I’m in Hong Kong!

Well, I don’t suppose I really need to go into a huge amount of detail when I describe my flight from SFO to HKG. I’d cashed in miles before American devalued them – and as a result, I flew first class in seat 1A on Cathay Pacific. Here’s how things went: arrived at airport and was checked in immediately with no waiting. Made my way through the “priority” security line, which sure seemed to have more than its fair share of hopeless rubes gumming up the works. Then onto the Cathay Pacific lounge, where I enjoyed some wonton soup and a glass of Chardonnay. Our flight was announced, I strolled from the lounge to gate 7 and walked directly onto the plane. Oh, if only air travel could always be this easy…

Oh, and there was some WASP-y, Los Altos-y looking couple in the lounge who seemed to be giving me a bit of a “who let him in?” look in the lounge. Let me just say, it was delightful to have them walk past me sitting all the way up front on their way back to business. “Enjoy the flight – if you can, you poor slobs!” went through my head, because I am the worst.

Food all very tasty and service amazing – and I got a fairly good seven hours of sleep, despite a bumpy ride across the Pacific. I arrived in Hong Kong feeling pretty perky in spite of the 14 hours in the air.

I was feeling decidedly less perky after the car service I’d booked and paid for was a no-show at HKG. But it was easy enough to get a taxi and I was soon at my home for the next five days, the Novotel Century. My room wasn’t ready at this early hour, but Mom had arrived the night before, so I was able to leave my stuff in her place and take a shower. Then it was off for some food and shopping!

Honestly, I didn’t plan to do much in the way of shopping in HKG – I assume I’ll find better prices once I get to Hanoi and Bangkok. But along with the delightful pajamas I got during my Cathay flight, they include a coupon from PYE, a maker of high-quality shirts – and those pajamas from the flight. The coupon is good for a free gift or a large discount on a purchase – and since one of my fellow passengers foolishly left their coupon behind on the plane, I snagged it to supplement my own. Waste not, want not…

Anyway, found the place eventually (after not finding the branch of Tim Ho Wan I’d been searching for) and received a box of handkerchiefs. If I’d been more frugal, I’d just have gotten two boxes – but I wound up getting a quite handsome navy polo shirt with my other coupon. On my way out, I bumped into the fellow who’d been sitting behind me on my flight, who was also wringing every bit of benefit from flying first class with Cathay… A man after my own heart.

Next stop was to be Mak’s Noodles, reputed to have some of Hong Kong’s tastiest wonton noodle soup. Found the place without too much difficult and arrived there hungry and a good half hour before they opened. Happily, Tsim Chai Kee is right across the street and also has great wonton noodle soup and is open! This was my first “real” meal in Hong Kong and it was very tasty.

After a pit stop at the hotel, mom and I walked over to the Star Ferry pier in Wan Chai and headed over to Tsim Sha Tsui to meet up with our tour guide Gabi from Walk Hong Kong for a Kowloon market walk. She’s an ex-pat from Switzerland who’s been living in HKG with her husband (and three children born here in HKG) for 20 years.

She took us by bus a bit north by bus and we spent most of the afternoon walking. We saw one of the many local food markets, the flower market, the bird market, the lady market. Gabi gave us a solid overview of everyday life in Hong Kong and some great historical background. We also visited Tin Hau Temple, the center of which was filled with large coils of burning incense hung at roof level. They were beautiful and smelled lovely.

Our tour was a great intro to Hong Kong – especially spending time in Kowloon, which we would no doubt have been unable to see as much of on our own. A really fine way to spend the afternoon.

Mom and I were a lot hungrier than we realized and dinner was decent – pork was tasty though not spectacular. The pan-fried vegetable dumplings tasted as though the dough hadn’t been thoroughly cooked. A quick ferry ride home across the harbor at twilight gave us some pretty views of the Hong Kong skyline. We made a quick stop for me at the musubi/onigiri place so I could have a little snack later, then at 7/11 for a couple of cans of beer, since mom and I are both very classy and elegant ladies. Back to hotel for a very early night – I was asleep before 9PM! – as we re-energize for Friday’s trip to Macau.