Saturday, November 30, 2013

4 Days 3 Nights in Hong Kong

So our surprise second trip to Hong Kong really happened. This time, we were hosted by KS’s friend Nic and his family, which helped us save so much on our accommodation! I was very touched that he actually gave up his master room for us while he slept on the couch and his wife and baby slept in the spare room. 
Our gracious hosts!

It was truly an experience to stay like a local. The apartments/condos are skyscrapers, over 60 stories high! 

Since we’ve already been to HK and visited Disneyland, Victoria’s Peak, Avenue of Stars, Stanley Market, we decided to cover even more touristy stuff. We covered the fishing villages Sai Kung and Tai O, took the cable car up to the huge Buddha, visited the famous Australian Dairy Co and Abercrombie & Fitch outlet (complete with the bare chested six packed man) and took a ride up the longest elevator from the city to Mid Levels. 

Fishing boats along the pier at Sai Kung
In Sai Kung, the fishermen bring their catch in their wooden sampans and park along the pier. Customers peer from above and place their orders. 

Each boat had somewhat different product offerings. Noticed this huge flat shell which I've never seen before
I even saw the eel which I saw floating dead in the sea at Monterosso al Mare, Italy!
Side track picture: Dead eel (I think) in Monterosso! It had such a beautiful pattern and I didn't know what it was.

Anyway, I watched one transaction which went like this:

A customer purchased about 20 fairly small fish, about the size of a Samsung Note 3 (sorry, can't think of anything else to compare it with). The lady in the boat drained the water by throwing the fish into a large basket. She waited for about 30 seconds as the fish jumped inside the basket. 
Waiting for the jumping fish.

Not wanting to waste time, she took the wooden block at her left foot and proceeded to pound the fish. After a few good whacks, she took them out and started to clean them, snipping off the fins, then cutting off the head and gutting them. The body was still floundering when she was done.
Cleaning the fish

She then packed them up into a plastic bag, hoisted it using a net to the customer. Customer then placed the cash in the net after retrieving her purchased seafood.

For food, we had hot pot and roast goose and the usual HK dessert, wan tan mee and dim sum. 
Cha chow mien at Sai Kung. You put together your own noodles, very similar to economy rice but with noodles.
The various ingredients you can add to your noodles.
After a meal of hot pot with friends
A visit to Hong Kong isn't complete without their local desserts!
Ate tau foo fah with 3 options for sugar. I added a pinch of brown sugar since we don't serve it like that in Malaysia.
From left: Ginger sugar, white sugar and brown (more like orange) granulated sugar

What was different about this trip was that we gained insight about living in HK. For example, cars are very much cheaper there than in Malaysia. However, the car park rentals (both to park at home and at your office) are astronomical. Petrol is also very steep. But since they have very good public transport, most people drive their cars on weekends when they go out with their family. 

Car park rates at HKD3000 (RM1,300!) is considered cheap

Then there’s the mad rush of registering your kid for a pre-school. Nic’s son was only 18 months at that time and he had to go for interviews to see if he was suitable to be accepted into that school. And because there are so many people clamouring to get into those schools, it would be best to register for about 15-20 schools just in case. The process of registering for these schools is also very stressful, plus there’s a complicated points system whereby if you get into this particular school from System A, that system may not have the school that you want for your kid to go for primary/secondary school, which could be in System C. 

The craziness of it all just astounds me. I don’t know if Malaysia has come to that stage yet where people queue for days to sign up their kid for school but I’m sure HK isn’t the only one. 

Everything is also fast and furious there. The escalators are much faster than in Singapore, the long queues in 7-Elevens are served within seconds, placing your order for food takes less than 3 minutes despite having about 10 people in front of you. Everyone is sure of what they want, no hesitation at the counter or table while ordering because if you do, the servers will scold you. I wrote a separate blog post on my experience at the Australia Dairy Co.

Anyway, here are more photos from my trip:

On the way to the Big Buddha
People kept throwing coins to see if their coin would and on the outstretched palms despite the "Do Not Throw Coins" signage in several languages
The Big Buddha 
A pet toilet at Tai O fishing village! So cute! And smelly!
Dried seafood at Tai O.
Dried shark's skin in Tai O
Somewhere in Tai O on the way to the pier.
Walking towards the pier in Tai O
P/S: Just a note, there are many transport alternatives other than the airport express train which costs quite a fair bit. There's the bus which will take you to various parts of HK, then there's another bus which will take you to Tung Chung train station which will pretty much connect you to everywhere else.

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