Wrapping up Hong Kong

Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
Trip End Jun 11, 2011

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our last two days in Hong Kong have been fairly low key. On Tuesday, we took our time getting started for the day and found the TST post office first thing to mail home the embroidered picture we had bought and also send our Japan Rail Passes back for a refund. It all went very smoothly as everyone is super helpful here.

In the mood for dim sum we headed back to Ho Choi where we'd eaten last week since we were in the area and knew we liked it. This time they were much more crowded so service was slow but the dumplings were all just as delicious. After lunch, we headed across the harbor on the Star Ferry towards the main island. One the way, I lady from Hawaii asked for directions so we helped her out and even escorted her part of the way. Guess we're really getting familar here! Once we docked we headed up to the Mid-Center Escalators, these escalators right in the middle of the street to carry folks upstream (you have to walk back down). We didn't have a plan other than to ride them up and down for a bit. Once satisfied, we found the ex-pat area, Lan Kwai Fang (lots of nice European restaurants and boutiques), and settled in one pub for a few pints. I ordered a beer and again when it came I couldn't pick it up with just one hand. This time, when ordering I was very specific that I wanted just a pint. Oh well.

After enjoying the view of others going up and down the escalators for a bit we headed back down towards Cat Street. En route, we came upon the local market with all kinds of goodies. I don't know what half of them are but the market itself was pretty cool. We eventually found Cat Street which was a pedestrian walkway lined with vendors and hawkers of all sorts. We weren't really in the market for anything after the embroidered picture debacle, so we strolled by. We did see some beautiful antique shops and even accidentally interrupted a game of cards a group of men were playing in one of them. We slowly headed back to the MTR and took the train back to our place to freshen up before dinner.

We met friends from Dave's school who were here after studying abroad/traveling and on their way back home for dinner at Spring Deer on Mody Road in our neighborhood. Charlton had found the place on Frommers or Fodors and thought it looked good for Peking Duck. We found the place easily and found Charlton and Kristen and made our way up to the restaurant. We didn't have a reservation but we still landed a table. Dave and I hadn't had Peking Duck here yet so it was quite the experience, I will include a video I took of the carving. The duck was delicious as was the Walnut Chicken that we also tried. We had a lovely dinner catching up and getting travel tips from Charlton and Kristen, thanks guys!

We were so full we wanted to walk around a bit so we headed to the Temple Street Night Market again to take a look around. Last time we were there was late and the stalls were breaking down. This time the whole market was in full effect and was quite the sight. You could purchase copy handbags, souveniors, cell chargers, clothing and the list goes on and on. We walked the whole length of the market and back which made for a lovely evening. I made it home just in time to Skype with my mom which was nice to do although the connection wasn't ideal.

Wednesday was our last full day in HK (we're pretty sure!) and we started off with a free Tai Chi group lesson on the waterfront! We had found the information through the HK Tourism organization and they offer free Tai Chi lessons 4 mornings a week in 2 locations.  This was just a few blocks from us on the waterfront harbor in front of the Art Museum. We met Jon there bright and early and enjoyed William and Pandora's teachings all about the art of Tai Chi. We have some excellent pictures and video since it was a relatively clear day you could see the skyline. It was a very cool experience, one we won't forget!

After the early wake-up we came back to rest and freshen up to start the day. We dropped another load of laundry off to be all set before we leave the city and then headed out for lunch. We were looking for a chain we'd heard of, Maxim's MX, but we weren't able to locate it so we ended up at a super local place that I think is their version of a diner. We got wonton noodle soups which were pretty good. My only mistake was that I drank the glasses of tea they brought us but others were using the tea to sterilize their chopsticks. Oops. I still have a lot to learn!

We then headed up the same road to the HK History Museum and the HK Science Museum because Wednesday is free entry at 8 local museums. So far we'd been having an almost free day! The HK History Museum has a new exhibit about the long HK history so we spent a few hours wandering around learning all about the land and the people. It was an excellent exhibit that I found very entertaining. I think Dave did also as he took more pictures of the exhibit than of me which he usually does when he's bored! We then headed over to the Science Museum across the way which was packed with school kids. Dave enjoyed himself immensly at the various hands-on games and exhibits (especially the mirror exhibit and the fitness challenge exhibit). I was, as usual, very impressed with the level of cleanliess. There were signs everywhere that they disinfect each machine or exhibit every hour and the employees came around with spray bottles of hand sanitizer. Eventually we ran out of exhibits so we headed back to pick up our laundry and relax before dinner and this evening's event: the horse races!

(Dave here)  The races were one of the activities I was really excited about when we decided to come to Hong Kong.  Problem was with our initial booking we would have been unable to see them as they only occur on Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoon (we initially landed too late on Weds and were supposed to leave for Japan on Friday).  So with the extended time we made it a point to go to Happy Valley race course on our last night.  Boy was it a scene there.  It is the equivalent of all the yuppies going to the Cubs game after work.  If you are a young ex-pat living or visiting HK, you were at the track.  The beer/wine garden was packed (everyone with their own pitcher of asahi).  By the time we got there we had already missed the first race.  However the second race was about to post.  We quickly looked at the stats, trying to find a horse that would pay out good odds, while having a good name (Amy's influence).  We went with the number 9 horse, Kingston Spartacus.  The bet was to either Win or Place.  This was a tough race to pick as there were 12 horses in the field, with none of the horses winning a race in the last 5 (and only 3 horses actually placing in their last 5 races).  Seems like this might have been the last straw for a few of the horses before being sent to the glue factory.  We had excellent seats for the start of the race (which can be seen in the video).  Kingston Spartacus got out to a good start and managed to hold position for about 3/4's of the race, but eventually ran out of gas (so no free dinner for us).  We decided to stay for one more race and place hypothetical bets.  Of course in the next race, Amy picked the number 9 horse again which had we bet real money would have netted us about 350 HKD ($45 USD).  Oh well.  After the races we decided to go back to Lan Kwai Fang to make it a full evening experience of being an ex-pat.  This is the location we were at earlier, near the mid-level escalators, with all the gringo food and bars.  Trying not to get sick of eastern food (and figuring this might be our last chance at western food for a while) we dined at the local Taco Loco.  Although not completely authentic, it was much better than the mexican food I had in Israel or Germany.  I was even able to snag the last order of Chicken Fajitas of the night (much to the dismay of the table next to me). 

Tomorrow we head from Hong Kong to Shanghai. We'll be there until Sunday when we hook up with the tour that we previously booked. I've heard from others that the internet situation in China mainland isn't ideal ("The Great Firewall of China") so that, combined with the fact we'll be on a tour and on more of a schedule, means we won't be updating this blog as often as we had been. To check out our tour, visit: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/trips/CBSD#overview (or go to the Intrepid Travel sight and search Asia - China - China Highlights Tour for more details). Hope to update soon!
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