A Travellerspoint blog

Day 3: Markets, markets, markets

And more markets

overcast 17 °C

A slower start today, in order to avoid the peak hour crowds. Eventually we took a series of trains to Mong Kok and set off to see the Ladies' Market. We found a market, still not sure whether it was the one we'd been looking for. Fairly typical street market wares but quite extensive, spreading onto many side streets, and quite novel to shop in cool weather. Had lunch there too, in a streetside café that was a lot more Western than it looked from the outside (though we were still the only Westerners in the joint as far as we could see). Rice with an oddly Italian style bolognase sauce plus Asian pork knuckle. Nice, but a bit odd.

Nerdia was on a mission to find the Jade Market, and we eventually did. It's an angular permanent tentlike structure at the junction of two small roads, much like a Spiegeltent at Fringeworld. Full of beads, necklaces, amulets, animal carvings and boxes made from all types of jade, pearls, stones and cinnabar. Merchants here were quite laid back, perhaps used to richer clientele prepared to pay more? After a few laps Nerdia eventually bought a couple of small items.

Then we wandered aimlessly around the neighbourhood all afternoon. Busy Nathan Road: wide, fenced in with limited crossing points to protect pedestrians from all the traffic (or is it the other way around?), swarming with people and flashing with neon. Several small but open community parks, with familiar plastic children's playground equipment but no grass; smaller streets with numerous shops all selling the same thing - jewellery here, metallic kitchenware there. The cooking pots would hold a small adult. Stumbled onto a great fresh fruit and veg market, full of delicious-looking goods. Bought some apples - the best Plane Boy has had in quite some time - and some of those lovely tiny tropical bananas.

Eventually we made our way to Temple Street for the main night markets Plane Boy had been waiting for. They were only just starting to set up so we plonked ourselves down at an open air eatery with some cheap bland Chinese rice beer. Didn't notice we'd ordered litre bottles but we finished them nonetheless. After a spot of people watching we explored the night markets as they got going for the evening; the "adult toy" side street was most amusing.

So what did we buy? Well, nothing down that side street... though we did get some touristy souvenirs plus a "police dog" coat for Pink!
Tired and a bit cold by now (how novel!), we made it back to the hotel in about half an hour despite the peak hour crowds, dropped off our shopping and had dinner at the place next to the place where we ate last night (which is next to the place where we eat breakfast). Still the only Westerners. Hot and sour soups with those nice squeaky rice noodles, this time with tofu and pork with vegies.

Tired tonight, off to bed!

Posted by NarLin 20:39 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged food markets hongkong jade Comments (0)

Day 2: Hong Kong Island

Slanty trams, brews askew and gettin' arty

sunny 20 °C

A big day today! But first: last night's shabu shabu was wonderful, tissue paper thin meat wafers wafted through boiling flavoured broth with all the vegetables and noodles you care to chuck in. Go chiso sama desu-ta ?

Same place for breakfast this morning, for another "pineapple" bun with doorstop of butter, toast with peanut sauce (paste) and egg & sausage between us. Mid-morning we caught the hotel's free shuttle bus into Tsim Sha Tsui; we thought it was going to take us past several markets but they must have been on a different schedule today as they dropped us outside a hotel instead. No worries! We wandered down to the waterfront at the southern tip of Kowloon and spent the rest of the morning in the HK Museum of Art, gazing in wonder at the amazing timber sculptures by artist Tong King-sum and the delicate painted paper scrolls of various Chinese artists. Even self-avowed Philistine Plane Boy was impressed.

After wandering along the Avenue of Stars (a local version of Hollywood's Walk of Fame, with sidewalk stars and handprints of Chinese movie celebs) we circled back to the pier and took a Star ferry over to Hong Kong Island. One brief, fast and eye-opening taxi ride later we were at the Peak Tram stop, ready to brave the crowds and take the funicular railcar up to the Peak. A bit of a wait but well worth it (especially in the nice weather) for the steep ride and spectacular view - being the last two on board we had to stand up but that made it even better. Clear skies and only slightly hazy today so we could see the entire harbour below. Spent some time by the window of a hilltop cafe watching five black kites wheeling around the peak and the high rises below - such enormous birds!

The ride back down was even more fun: standing up, facing downhill and holding on tight, it was like a slow-motion roller coaster. The second taxi ride was more like a full speed roller coaster - perhaps he was late for a bank robbery? - and dropped us vaugely near our next destination: the Central - Mid Levels Escalator. This is a marvellous series of canopied outdoor escalators with accompanying staircases and covered walkways, winding their way up the terrifically steep streets west of the Peak railway. Crammed full of tiny shops wedged between narrow alleyways and boutique bars underneath towers of apartments, this was the Hong Kong Nerdia had hoped to see and we eagerly rode at least a dozen escalators up to the very top at Conduit Road (they run downward each morning for commuters then switch to uphill for the rest of the day). Coming down was more thirsty work and we stopped for drinkies at a tiny British pub we'd spotted on the way up, Bar Phoenix. Just as happy hour started (what a coincidence) so two-for-one beers and discounted cocktails made for a merry pair who found the rest of the trip down highly amusing and very slanty.

Full praise to the Hong Kong MTR train system: two tipsy Aussies can successfully navigate their way through peak hour crowds along three different lines with no problems. Time for dinner at the busy restaurant right next to our breakfast place. English menus were swiftly provided but no other English or Westerners to be seen. Yummy, healthy soups were the go: squeaky Yunnan noodles with meaty mushrooms and paper-thin tofu for Nerdia, blisteringly spicy with various pork bits and molten cheese balls for Plane Boy. Back to hotel to recuperate ready for the morrow!

Posted by NarLin 20:19 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged art birds food gallery mountain museum stairs bar railway hong ferry kong tram escalator Comments (0)

Days 0-1: Travel, Arrival and Settling In

Scoping Scoot, Mall and Museum Musings

sunny 17 °C

There was definitely no time for blogging in Singapore, nor indeed a toilet break. Nerdia even had to forgo her usual "disembarkation etiquette" and push her way off the 'plane first. Brisk walk to Transfer Lounge E, obtain paperwork, brisk walk to nearby gate... read sign saying flight has moved to new gate at other end of terminal. Very brisk walk/jog/pelt to new gate... to board the very same aircraft we'd just left. (Yes, Plane Boy recognised it by name.) Well, it was a chance to stretch our legs. We didn't get the seats we'd picked on the second leg, but there was still pretty good leg room and no noisy kids. Both Plane Boy's seats were faulty, however, several armrests were held together with duct tape, and one part of the floor cracked underfoot. Clearly they are ready for those new Dreamliners. Nevertheless it was far roomier than most flights we've had and the service was good.

Caught a bus to the hotel just as dawn was breaking, enjoyed watching the green hills and enormous buildings flit past on the way. Quite a swish hotel by our standards, and a hot shower in the health spa was welcome indeed. Our room wouldn't be ready for several hours so we wandered off and had yummy, cheap breakfast around the corner. True to form, we were the only Westerners in the tiny, bustling streetside diner with shared tables and lots of noise but no eye contact and definitely no conversation. Braised pork belly with noodles in a spicy soup, delicious "pineapple" bun with a hockey puck of cold butter, two coffees and complimentary cups of rather tinny hot water for about A$10. Hurrah!

Spent a few hours wandering around the vast New Town shopping plaza adjoining our hotel, comparing prices to home and marvelling at the range of Tomy train sets in the toy shops. We'll be back! Once the room was ready and Nerdia had had a nanna nap it was time to visit the Hong Kong Heritage Museum nearby. Impressive and very detailed feature exhibitions: numerous galleries depicting amazing ancient Buddhist cave artworks dating back some 2000 years, plus a loving tribute to Bruce Lee that appears to include every single item they could link to him in any way. The range of kitsch 1960s Kato/Green Hornet toys were quite amusing.

Time for some delicious gelato and a recharge at the hotel before we head off for dinner at the shabu shabu restaurant we spied in New Town Plaza. Totemo oishii desu! (Or the equivalent in Cantonese. Or is it Mandarin?)

Posted by NarLin 16:55 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged food hotel airport shopping museum plaza hong aircraft kong Comments (0)

Departure Lounge

... with pizza

semi-overcast 33 °C

Being early birds with organised and punctual families, we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to enjoy the $4.90 diet colas (coffee machine broken at nearest coffee bar). Departure lounge pizzas were prompt this time, though, and yummy once again. Are Eagle Boys this nice elsewhere, Nerdia wonders.
Those who requested duty free: success, and they were all on special too! ?
Plane Boy is now gazing out at the magical giant metal birds while Nerdia blogs. We were kept in suspense about whether or not we'd be boarding a Dreamliner right up to the last minute; family members with rival aircraft tracker apps (yes, it runs in the family) still had conflicting info en route to the airport. Sadly, it was finally confirmed at check in that we will be on an ordinary Boeing 777. Ah well, we will be on a Dreamliner coming back and there was the Air New Zealand one we could gaze at from the observation deck earlier... which confirmed Nerdia's suspicions that they all look the bloody same.
Only a short stopover in Singapore so the next entry might be from Honkers. (Hooters?)

Posted by NarLin 17:38 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Hong Kong, here we come

You're keen, we haven't even left yet!

overcast 30 °C

A wise man once said: "gourmet traveller who not visit Hong Kong must be off his noodle!". You know who you are, and you're right. Dreaming of dim sum breakfasts and streetside noodle houses, we decided a few months ago to visit Hong Kong for the first time. Plane Boy has been toiling away on his iPad, booking this and checking that, and we fly out tomorrow (Feb 1) for an 8 day spree in HKG. Looking forward to market shopping, scrumptious dumplings, interesting sights and cooler weather.
Flying on Scoot, who have been teasing Plane Boy for months with conflicting news implying we might be on one of their new Dreamliners on the way up as well as the way back. For a while there it looked like we might have been on the inaugural flight, leading to much excitement at Number Ten. Sadly that now seems unlikely, but you never know. The good news is we're in the Scoot in Silence section, with extra leg room and no kids under twelve. Hurrah!
Pet greyhound is having her own holiday with some lovely fellow 'grey' owners nearby; she has already settled in, cast long-suffering host dog Michael off his bed and thanked her holiday mum for dinner with a lick on the nose.
That's all for Day TO (take off) -1, more once we're on our way.

Posted by NarLin 17:41 Archived in Australia Tagged preparation preamble Comments (1)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 10) « Page 1 [2]