Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Adjusting to the lifestyle in a warm climate ( < 48 hours in Hong Kong)

On the plane that brought me here I watched a movie by the title of "It's already tomorrow in Hong Kong" TRAILER LINK (recommended) and I learned yet another useless fact.  Hong Kong has a SoHo district too, also frequented by the young and mobile, and the name originates from South of Hollywood.  So when I find myself on Hollywood street on my 2nd morning walk, I don't have to think twice to turn south ;-)

Requesting a smoking room got me a room on floor 31 of the Best Western Harbor View Hotel.  The rooms are small and not impressive, but if booked 1 week ahead they are half price of what I'm used to pay in Hong Kong.  For that amount of savings I even accept sitting side-ways on the toilet  because the bowl is installed so close to the bathtub that my knees  have no room if sitting on it properly ;-)

Parks everywhere

A SoHo alley

SoHo stores (I don't think I want to live here)

Sword Tai Chi

They don't make roofs like this anymore (a temple)

Hard to believe

Yes, that is what you think it is.  And it was HUGE

 I leave SoHo and head down to lower levels along the vegetable vendor street that drew my attention (see above) and run into a flower stand.  My eye is instantly drawn to a flower that I have never seen in the flesh and I buy one for 7 $HKG (about a buck).  It's a blue lotus and  with any luck the flower will open during the day and exhibit its maximum beauty.

At 10 am it's time to do something special with the rest of the day.  I walk along Des Voeux Road for a quick stop at my watch maker for a new leather watchband (HK$ 40 installed) and to a bank to exchange the more than 50 bucks in Macau Dollars that I have been carrying around since 2013.  

In the hope of no longer having to talk to the lid of my laptop when using Skype, I buy a cheap microphone with stand for 45 $HK (7 bucks?). Unfortunately my computer thinks it's a speaker and turns of volume & sound input.  Ah well, use it in Vancouver with the other laptop.

for an early lunch and my second destination that will be revealed after lunch ;-)

Then it's time to take a ferry!  I arrive at Pier 6 7 minutes before the Mui Wo bound ferry's departure.  Good timing, the next one leaves in 40 minutes. Good thing too, because I'm getting hungry and I hope to eat at the ocean-front public cooked-food market where I had the absolutely fabulous fish dish in October. I also  seem to have been in luck and boarded a fast ferry that only takes half an hour to reach Mui Wo than the regular and slightly cheaper ferry that takes one hour to get there.  All this bodes well 

I can't find the restaurant where I ate last time and consequently IK can't find the dish I had last time.  So I order a seafood curry on steamed rice. Can't really go wrong with that!  

The view from my table

It runs out to be good but not even close to the dish I had in October :-(

"You can't always get what you want, .... but if you try sometime, you might get what you need .."

After walking to the bus terminal and asking which bus to take (not necessary given the signage), I talk to a local Buddhist for 30 minutes until the bus departure.

Given that Buddhists must not smoke, drink alcohol,  or  consume meat, his admittance that he smokes occasionally and consumes beer with less than 20% alcohol content (!!!) leaves me wondering whether he is quite sane and whether Buddha still approves.

Then I  pay my 17.2 HK$ (less than 3 bucks Canadian for a 35 minute ride in a very comfortable air-conditioned bus; Eat that Translink !)

Now the street signs warning of cows make sense ;-)

35 minutes later I am in Ngong Ping, site of a Buddhist monastery and the Big Buddha.  Climbing the Buddha is first, but I'm far less impressed than 3.5 years ago when I did this first. The Buddha is barely 20 years old and I've become more jaded. But I am on a mission: I was asked to bring a small Buddha home to Vancouver and that is what I'll do.

I was not prepared for the price of even a small Buddha but can sleep well because any profit goes to the Monastery (On the bus back to Mui Wo I will see a Monk playing with his rather new and rather LARGE smart phone).

all he needs now is a red  cloth ;-)


 A quick visit to the monastery is next. Taking pictures inside the buildings is verboten and I follow the inhabitants' wishes.  

Then I do something strange.  Along the lines of lighting that candle in a church in Montt St Michel in June.  I buy incense (HK$ 20 for both bundles; the small bundle has about 30 thin sticks and the  other has 3 thick ones). 

 I light them, stick them in various holders, and think of George and wish him well.  No, I'm not a Buddhist or a Catholic, but the more I know, the more I realize how much I don't know, and my bit of burning can't hurt (except the climate, of course).

How can milk from California be fresh in Hong Kong?  Wasn't there something about a drought ?

After yet another 35 minute bus ride, I find myself in Mui Wo just in time to hop  on another Fast ferry.

Fast means splashy !

I am delivered to Pier 7 in Hong Kong Central at 4:40 pm. Yes, it is getting dark. I'm surprised that it is not dark yet during my walk home to my hotel and I'm amazed how well I'm doing on my first day in Hong Kong with pretty much none of the 9 hour time difference out of my system yet.

Palmiers (not my pic)
The above should go in the category "famous last words", because when I enter my hotel room I feel a strange heaviness in my limbs and after eating instant noodle soup and palmiers, I am fast asleep by 6 pm and don't get up until 4 am.

 At 5 am I go for the usual  walk and am amazed at the number of people of advanced age making their way to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park for their early morning calisthenics. 
I am almost shocked to realize that I have been here often enough now to think nothing of swinging my arms like windmill extensions while walking.

Sun Yat Sen. He stood there all night!

Sharp eyes will detect various shadowy figures engaged in strange bodily movements.

Moon again

Just after breakfast ( not really worth the HK$ 60, but just the abysmal food needed to keep me on my stomach-safe diet), a translation job from Vancouver (where it is 3 pm yesterday) catches up with me and keeps me busy for a while.

I interrupt the translation to head down to the waterfront again.
still life with cat

On my way back I take a different route.

Metal scaffolding? Why? We have bamboo sticks !

Yup, no one has survived it yet ;-) 

I am attracted by the incense on display in a few very similar stores.  

 Not only do they offer incense, but also luxury cars and other luxury items cheaply constructed from paper to be be sacrificed or offered in a conflagration of belief.  

luxury goods destined for the flame

I don't believe in luxury goods in either the real or the flammable type, so I limit my purchases to 3 small tins of coil-shaped incense.  Easy to carry and easy on the nose ;-)

coiled incense

Moon and Best Western

10 am. Opening time of the viewing deck, which is also the location of the rooftop swimming pool. If I had arrived only one day earlier I would have been able to take a swim up there.  It's 24 degrees Celsius out there, but the pool is closed for the 'winter season'.  

Rooftop pool? Really?  

Oh yeah!

Don't they get it?  Dipping into a pool in the 'winter' is the whole attraction !!!

I check out of the hotel at 11:30, feeling sorry to leave my Lotus flower behind !
 Amazing what an upper-end point-and-shoot camera can do these days ;-)

I walk to Central, to get to a store where I replace an old busted USB cable for HK$ 15 (~ 2 bucks 50).  I had considered taking the Aqualuna or Star Ferry harbour cruise before heading to the airport, but I arrive at the pier 5 minutes after both of them have left.  They both will be back in one hour but that might be cutting it too short to make the plane in time.

So instead I take the short Star Ferry ride to Tsim Sha Tsui  and back and then check in for my flight at Central before hopping on the Airport Express train.
 I'll be at the airport 2 hours before take-off time which should  also give me opportunity to get something to eat

Eating is done at the airport's  Tsu Wah Restaurant.  As usual they look at me funny when I ask them for Chopsticks instead of the delivered fork, but food here is better and cheaper than in the other airport restaurants.

Granted, before it was cut and fried, my Ling Fish looked like something out of a horror movie,  but have you ever seen what Lingcod looks like alive?
a Pink Ling

Then it's to board the plane to the land of the smiling people ;-)

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