Goodbye beanies, goodbye scarves. Hello to the return of regular body temperature. Back in Hong Kong for a few nights before the final two legs of what has been a whirlwind trip over the last few weeks. Time to exercise my fine motor skills and brush up on my chopstick game.
This will be my second time in Hong Kong, so it should be like fitting into a pair of old jeans. Ironically after the amount of great food on offer, the jeans may have trouble fittng. There is no time to really get your bearings here. It just slaps you in the face. A throng of people sweep you up and you get caught with the crowd. Love the energy of the place. At first I am always overly cautious in the crowd, spending too much time worried I might bump an old lady or young child. By day’s end though, I am a bulldozer and people just seem to get out of my way.
This time I am staying in Kowloon as opposed to Hong Kong Island. It is more chaotic than the island and is a juxtaposition from the 21st century, state-of-the-art everything that calls the Island home. Whilst high end retail across the harbour is using Hollywood starlets to convince us to buy the latest fashion, my local hawkers are hoping I have an urge to replace a VCR remote control from 1991.
The only thing I did not see for sale was a coffin, but anything from cable ties to second hand pianos and mannequins were all up for grabs. This guy was so desperate for a sale he literally gave the shirt off his own back. Another one for the ladies.
During the day the markets are buzzing but at night it feels as if everybody within a 20km radius (some 7 million people) are there as well. My first night, Good Friday, must have been a Battle of the Bands? Every twenty metres another group were pulling our all stops for a slither of attention. My favourite was this guy.
But next door there was some stiff competition.
All trying their little hearts out. Found myself in the fish (pet) market section and any kind of fish you wanted to add to your collection or flush away a few days later. Not just fish in a bag but turtles, dogs, cats, mice, frogs, tadpoles were ready to have a silly name slapped on them in return for a lifetime of unconditional love.
After eating in various lounges in Prague and Dubai on the way over so I wasn’t very hungry.
Did find time however for a local favourite, rice noodles which are wrapped around a long fried Chinese doughnut. Drizzle of soy and peanut sauce and it’s not a bad way to end the night and retire to my room.
The hotel is located in the heart of the action. It’s called the Minimal Hotel but I think that name is doing itself a disservice. The tallest for a couple of blocks, in this the old part of town, I am fifteen storeys up. My room is quite large by Hong Kong standards, at about 5m x 2m it provides all I modcons I need.
The photo with my only remaining foot shows the basin of the shower in the living area.
The next morning’s breakfast is enjoyed by many in this part of town. Cheung Fun, rice flour noodles rolled up into long strands, steamed and then drowned in an addictive mix of soy, peanut and plun sauce. All covered with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Hong Kong food for the soul. The lady that makes these does only this dish and there is always a line around the block. I find myself eating this in an alley, barely a metre wide, adjacent to the stall. I am surrounded by shopping trolleys of old junk and relics whose best days were before I walked the earth. Unbeknownst to me I am eating breakfast in the middle of a man’s retail dream so I scampered, trying to find somewhere else to scoff down the remainder.
eer and coffee, the staples from the previous destinations price themselves out of the market here. Instead I discovered cold Chinese tea. This one is sugar free because this trip has been the epitome of healthy eating.
Last time here I discovered One Dim Sum, a local Yum Cha institution which I would love to eat at everyday. For those that don’t want to read a blog from my last visit
, you basically choose from the list of what you want on a betting slip.
Once you are lucky enough to get a seat, a tsunami of award-winning food overwhelms you. All for less than $20 AUD. The only problem with Yum Cha is that these are made to be shared amongst a group so I was basically eating for two/three.
he green parcel is chicken, egg and mushroom steamed in a leaf with sticky rice. The orange square is chestnuts in a jelly and the egg shaped things that look like beef dumplings were exactly that. The yellow fluid was from the hot custard dumplings. These are new to the menu and a worthy addition. If they are steamed they’re healthy… right? I should mention at this junture that there isn’t much time and/or space, making photography rather challenging.
I witness a tense battle in the park nearby of a popular board game, Xiangqi, or Chinese chess. Have no idea of the rules but the number of groans, whispers and hand wringing told me that the game was close. The women gravitate to Mahjong (but don’t tend to bet with the week’s rent money as the men are known to do).
Back at home and I realise why it is 04:00am and I am in a trance still trying to get to sleep. I had two of those bottles of tea and the caffiene is still working on all cylinders. That combined with the bed that is less forgiving than a parking inspector sees me not get up until 01:00PM. Mental note, no tea tomorrow.
Lunch the next day is at Tim Ho Wan, the world’s cheapest Michellin star resturant. Had been here last year and enjoyed it so this visit I go and see if they remember me. Like the competition they also added custard dumplings to the menu, theirs was wrapped inside black sticky rice and covered in coconut.
Bit the bullet and tried to impress the natives by ordering their beloved chicken’s feet. It’s very name sends locals weak at the knees and locals weak at the stomach.
Gelatinous and boney you quickly forget that it is a chook’s foot because all your concentration is focused on not swallowing any bones. Myself, I found them hard work and I feel after my lackluster attempt I might not be welcomed back.
The prawn dumplings were more in my wheelhouse.
And so were the famous BBQ pork buns.
That’s the first day and a bit in the books. I am heading to the markets to buy a second hand Bamix, a fax machine and a starfish