Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Hong Kong Part 2: Sharks have lips???

After taking our fill of the views from Victoria Peak we consulted our guidebooks and saw that Fodors suggested not bothering with a return ticket on the tram to take us down from the peak, but instead to consider “taking one of the beautiful low-impact trails back to Central” and promising “spectacular views in all directions via the Peak Circle Walk, “an easy-going 2.2 mi (3.5-km) paved trail”

Beautiful yes, spectacular views, absolutely. Easy going? Well the jury’s still out on that one. It was pretty steep in places and not a walk I’d recommend to someone who wasn’t in the best of health or elderly as it was particularly hard on the knees and calves in places. Admittedly Melissa and I are on the wrong side of 35, but we’re both regular walkers and gym goers, in fact while in Hong Kong we walked 12miles per day on average, so we’re no lightweights when it comes to a bit of exercise, so I felt the Fodors guide cavalierly dismissing the walk down as easy going was a bit off the mark.

Nearing the bottom of the peak we passed luxury high rise apartment buildings that appeared to be chocka with western ex-pats and we consulted our map to locate the Midlevels escalators recommended by our numerous guidebooks as a sight worth seeing and described by Fodors as “a practical human mover, this is actually a 1-km-long (1/2-mi-long) combination of escalators and walkways that provide free, glass-covered transport up or down the steep incline between Central and Midlevels.”

It took us a while to find the escalators exactly due to a couple of critical roads being missing from our map, but we finally did and well…call us a couple of jaded New Yorkers if you will, but after the build up from Fodors I was expecting something much more impressive, something akin to the moving walkways at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas instead of something that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a 1970s British tower block. Hardly the 8th wonder of the world ;-)

Photo of escalator courtesy of travel.webshots.com

After a wander around the Western and Central regions of Hong Kong Island we walked down to Central pier to take the iconic Star Ferry over to Kowloon. The trip takes a mere 7minutes and is as cheap as chips costing something like $2 Hong Kong Dollars for a single trip – about 30cents US. The only grumble for me was that Hong Kong harbour is well used – or it was that day - and so the trip was a bit rocky and despite such a brief trip I was feeling a bit queasy by the time we arrived in Kowloon, but nothing that a 5minute walk along Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade couldn’t cure.

Next we hopped on the metro to the Diamond Hill stop to visit the stunning Chi Lin Buddhist nunnery which was built without any nails and instead uses a Tang Dynasty techniques to hold the structure together using wooden dowels and brackets.
Our next stop, the bustling Sik Sik Temple was a world of difference from the beautiful, serene Chi Lin Nunnery, a one stop shop for Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucianist temples where the air was thick with incense.

Next up was dim sum at the Jade Garden located across from the Star Ferry terminal in Star House where we ordered pork buns, taro puffs, shrimp in rice paper (very gelatinous, I didn’t like this one so much), shrimp dumplings, vegetable seafood dumplings washed down with Chinese tea. I couldn’t eat much. It had been 7hours since breakfast at that point and food a bit of a shock to the system.

I probably should have taken this photo before we had eaten almost everything. You can see the gelatinous shrimp in the foreground.

We worked off our late lunch by walking up the Nathan Road - 'miss you want Gucci Gucci Prada Prada. Watches miss, handbags'. Hong Kong eh, it's just like being in Chinatown in New York - to the Temple Night Market where I searched fruitlessly for Buddhist bead bracelet for Catweazle. No good, they were all too girly!!
Afterwards we hopped on the metro back to the hotel in Causeway Bay to shower and relax with a complementary glass of of the delicious Beni di batasiolo gavi wine before heading out for dinner at the Water Margin, a very pretty restaurant on the 12th Floor of the Times Square Shopping Center festooned with red lanterns and decorated with Chinese wood carvings serving Northern Chinese cuisine, where we felt adventurous ordering an appetizer of smoked pork cheeks – small circles of cold pork with 2 sauces that turned out to be disappointingly bland. Maybe we should have gone all out and ordered the marinated shark lips instead - followed by chicken with tofu hotpot accompanied by Water Margin fried rice made with pot end crispy rice. Delicious!!


Kitty said...

ah, the food! I miss the food!!

We visited some family friends while there and were taken on a car ride way up in the hills, which made me thoroughly carsick.

I didn't have enough time to see the traditional architecture that you visited. Looks like you got a taste of old and new!

Blur Ting said...

Oh, thanks for the tour! Doesn't matter if it is a little late, the trip did sound interesting. I wish you a good year ahead!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty, yes we definitely covered a lot of ground. These first 2 posts just cover day 1 in Hong Kong. As we were there almost 5days I shall have to abbreviate ;-)

Hi Blur Ting, thanks for stopping by. All the best for 2009 for you too.

Amel's Realm said...

Shark lips? Never heard of that before!

Anyway, I LOVEEEEEE pork cheeks and nose and earrssss!!! OH OH OH GIMME GIMME GIMME he he he he...

I WANT seafood dumplings!!!!!!!! ---> See? I'm such a foodie HE HE HE HE...

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Amel, how is the food in Finland? Are you able to get good Asian food?

Amel's Realm said...

He he...I should be able to get Asian food easily IF I live in a big city in Finland. However, I live in a village (yes, it's not even a town), so we don't have any Asian food store here. The nearest Asian food store is in Rovaniemi, around 1,5 hour away by car and the nearest Asian resto is around 1 hour away by car he he he...

GLAD I have friends in Germany and Holland. I can transfer money to them and ask them to send me some Asian food pastes and chili, but still it's HARD to find the right ingredients (veggies, etc.) here in this village.

Finnish food is okay, especially REINDEER MEAT he he...but I have an Asian belly and tongue, so I always miss Asian food every now and then. :-D