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.

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