Hong Kong totally rocked! If you want to see pictures of Hong Kong check out my last trip. Although I thought HK was an awesome city last time I didn't have such a great time being alone.
This time though my friend Alan and I decided to go together. Both of us don't travel enough for lack of someone to go with so we decided why not go together. What really rocked though, Alan had a friend Mondie he had met through the internet and although they had never met in person they had been friends for 6 or 7 years.
We also had a friend, Ken, who lives in Guangzhou China which is relatively near Hong Kong (2 hours by train). He used to live in Tokyo studying Japanese until just a few months ago and was part of our group so he came down too.
Alan and I didn't really know what to expect but Mondie and Ken both spent all 4 days showing us all over HK. They were amazing!
To add to that, it just happened that our friend Momoko was starting a new job on Sept 1st and they sent her to HK for training the first week so she was there as well.
A few highlights:
Because of the SARS scare a few years ago, at more casual restuarants when you sit down they put a pot of hot tea on your table. You pour some in your glass then swish it around with your chopsticks, then pour it in your bowl and swish it around there and finally pour it out into a bucket they supply. It's a second chance to make sure your utensils are clean.
There was other evidence of the effects of the SARS scare as well for example:
A hand sanitizer next to the elevator. I guess after you press the button you can sanitize your hands as well as signs in all the subways about it being a $5000 fine for spitting (US $650). They should have that in Japan. I've seen people spit in the deptartment store here 😞
Otherwise, this time I got to eat lots of awesome delicious HK food!I even got to eat frog legs...yes, they taste like chicken just smaller.
One day Ken took us to the HK Museum of History. It started off pretty bad. An entire 2 story, 3 to 4 gymnasium size area was dedicated to the geology of HK getting way too detailed into how the earth works. A whole gym size room with a model of a forest for example. It was overkill but it that stuff belongs in a Science museum.
Fortunately that was not all. Directly above that area for another 2 stories was the more human history of HK. Probably the most interestng part was about the occupation of HK by the Japanese. I shouldn't get into politics but it often seems to come across that all anyone in Japan remembers of WW2 is they were bombed. That they forcfully took over most of the South Pacific and East Asia and killed 6 to 7 million people seems to have been forgotten. (that's not to say the USA doesn't have it's share of issues but at least some non small percentage of our population seems to be aware of them)
Another interesting part was the history between WW2 and now. They showed how the war had made many people very poor and many of them lived in shacks. HK has typhoons every year and the shacks would blow away. Now they say that's mostly a thing of the past as all the buildings are modern. Still, there were many amazing pictures like this one with about 30 cars all piled into a heap from a typhoon.
There was a model of one of the old style apartments. Just maybe 120sq feet. Mondie said she used to live in one. She also said she lived on a junk boat for a while as well.
Mondie also took us to Lantau Island. On the top is a giant Budda statue and a temple. That was cool but even cooler was the tiny fishing town of Tai−O on the coast. In some ways it seemed almost untouched in many years. One thing that made it so surreal was it's basically within the borders of the rest of HK. In fact just out of the of harbor you can see the HK International Airport just around the hills. Still, Alan noticed one of the houses had satellite dishes 😊
The last meal was the coolest. Mondie took us to the Wan Chai area which is a busy area of downtown HK. She then walked us and walked us several blocks. Things started calming down, the stores started disappearing and finally we came to this block with pretty much nothing going on. It looked like the entire block had shut down for the night.
I start to think maybe she was lost as she walked up to a door in the middle of nowhere, rang the bell and the guard comes out.
She talks to him for a few minutes while I notice a "Members Only" sign. I start to worry. Being tourist and being so hot Alan and I our in t−shirts, shorts and sandals. I hope she is not taking us to some tie required place. Finally he lets us in. We walk down a non−descript hallway and into the freight elevator.
The second floor exits to a small hallway with a door surrounded by red peppers.
Once the door opens I breath a sign of relief. There are about 8 round tables with 6 to 12 people at each table. It's a very casual place. We sit down and Mondie orders for us and we have one of the best meals of our lives.
It started with a very thinly sliced spicy pork that was perfect. Next up was these black noodles that tasted like they had been soaked in vinegar and then put in a spicy sauce. That was followed by these paper thin slices of beef and some delicious spicy salty dipping sauce. Alan's favorite was next, a sweet and spicy chicken dish.
The most eye bugging one was next, a giant bowl of peppers. It was the largest dish on the table and at least 2 inches high. Submerged in the spices were white fish steaks that were oh so good! Next up was spicy green beans and pork. Followed by my favorite which was a spicy pork dish with crispy crunchy rice. The last dish of greens was the only non spicy dish of the meal.
We really owe it to Mondie. We would never in a million years have had an experience like that if it wasn't for her. Thank you to both Ken and Mondie for making our time in HK one of the best vactions ever.