Pictures from Hong Kong, etc.

I have been castigated for not putting up more pictures of my trip to Hong Kong on Ye Olde Blog, so I’ll give a quick pointer to my Picasa album which has a lot of the pictures. So here is a somewhat backdated post on the trip.

On my first night there we went to Gaia Veggie Shop (大自然素食) in Mongkok for dinner. It’s an all-vegetarian place (with dishes containing egg marked on the menu). One of the dishes I liked best was a simple stir-fried pea shoots with ginger. I had forgotten how tasty pea shoots are, and the simplicity of the dish really brought out their flavor (this is the Cantonese style, I guess). The other option for dinner was Modern Toilet, a toilet-themed restaurant which may be worth a try later, although I was told the food wasn’t as good. I tried to take pictures of my restaurant adventures there (see the link). It’s spoiled me from eating Americanized Chinese food. Sidharth, my host, lives in a “market town,” which means he walks through a fresh produce market to get home every day. I got to try a lot of exciting fruits that are hard to get the US, including mangosteen, dragonfruit, lanzones, sitaphal (which I have only had in India, and is soooooo good), and even a durian shake (my second ever).

Being able to be in a place for more than one week was a real blessing, because I could go to some nieghborhoods more than once, and by the second week I would even leave without taking my guidebook or map with me, and just trust my memory and a hastily scribbled set of directions. Hong Kong is a pretty safe city, so wandering around and getting lost was a good and fun strategy. I’m sure people around me are sick of me talking about all the cool things I saw there, the quirky fun facts, and my love of the transit system there.

The coolest thing about transit in Hong Kong is the Octopus card, an transit card that works on all transit systems, various convenience stores (7-11 is everywhere there!), and even the CUHK cafeterias. You can add money to your card at 7-11, and there’s a deposit to get the card, so you can go to a negative balance (once) if you don’t have quite enough to get home. A close second is the red minibus system. These are 16-seater minibuses that run all night between different locations in Hong Kong. There are two that I used that went to CUHK, one from Mongkok and one from Causeway Bay. You pay something like 20 HKD and then once the bus is full it takes off at breakneck speed, only pulling over when someone calls out to the driver to stop. There’s a speedometer in the bus that starts beeping when the driver goes over 80 km/hr. Since I always took them late at night, the experience was a bit like being in a careening stick of dynamite. Exhilarating!

Oh, and we got some research ideas/projects started too.

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5 thoughts on “Pictures from Hong Kong, etc.

  1. Yeah – toilet-themed restaurant(s) is/are pretty famous and I hear them mentioned now and again in news and entertainment stories (e.g., Cracked’s list of The 8 Most Terrifying Restaurants from Around the World).

    One thing you know by now and can share knowledge about is what it’s like seeing Hong Kong from the vantage of a university visitor: Unlike a tourist, you’re not staying in the center of the city and you also have far more nights than days available. I’m planning a similar visit there, so I’d be interested in hearing what, in retrospect, you’d recommend doing during the many nights and few days, all with a home base outside of Kowloon or the islands.

  2. Well, Hong Kong shopping etc is open pretty late, so if you want to go for a walk in the early evening in Mong Kok or Causeway Bay you’ll see the hordes of people doing shopping (down- and up-scale, respectively). Museums are not open in the evening, but I mostly didn’t go to museums (next time, next time). I’d spend the days you have going to sights like monasteries and nunneries. A trip to any island (Lantau, etc.) will take all day so it’s not combinable with other things except for maybe getting dinner in HK or Kowloon. My MO in most places is to walk around and just people watch, see what i stumble across, and the evenings are a good time for that. Hong Kong is a pretty safe city, so it worked for me. I spent days walking around Hong Kong island, biking to Tai Mei Tuk, touring Lantau (and the giant Buddha), and hunting down films at the HKIFF (usually to no avail). It all depends on what you like to do with your time!

  3. Sounds like a good MO. I suppose for Hong Kong that it would make sense to see the city at night and the countryside during the day, some combination of The Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas or the Po Lin Monastery (Lantau) or Victoria Peak (Hong Kong) or Macau. Is there anything in the urban areas that’s a don’t-miss? It’s probably not worth the time to go into Guangzhou or Shenzhen if I’m going to Shanghai and Beijing anyway.

  4. I think the Peak is a don’t miss, the Buddha was pretty awesome (although annoying to get to — it was a great thing to do after dropping my bags off at the airport, since my flight was at night). I didn’t get to see any of the south of HK Island, unfortunately. The Star Ferry at night is definitely worth it. Checking out Ladies Market, the flower market, etc. in Mong Kok and surrounds is a must if (like me) you have not seen such homogeneous and crowded shopping areas.

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