Kam’s Roast Goose, Lantau Island- Tree Walk & Sunset Peak

We had a very busy Saturday!  We started off at the coffee shop for breakfast and then a Michelin lunch at Kam’s Roast Goose.  After we researched hiking in Hong Kong, we decided to hike at High West Peak, but unfortunately, the buses were full due to a Hong Kong holiday.  So we opted for a different hike and took a ferry to Lantau Island to go on the Nam Shan Tree walk toward Sunset Peak.

Coffee Shop

Our weekend started off with Qi and I going to a coffee shop that had donuts!  They were super airy, fluffy and fresh.  We chose 3 different ones.  The first one had berries and a cream cheese filling and white chocolate shavings sprinkled on top, the second was coffee and it was filled with coffee flavored whipped cream and had a very decadent chocolate icing, and the third was filled with whipped cream again that was supposed to be cheese?  I couldn’t taste anything other than whipped cream so I wonder if it was mislabeled and supposed to be “cream”.  They were scrumptious and felt light on calories!  At this point, if I would’ve known what our day ahead would entail, I would’ve splurged on another.

Kam’s Roast Goose

Then Qi wanted to check out the Michelin-rated goose place.  I always find it funny that I am the one with a career in the food industry, yet Qi is the motivator for fine dining….don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I also loved the donuts!!  And I don’t know if the cost of this meal would be considered “fine” dining, but he sought out a Michelin restaurant.  Period.

picture of Kam's Roast Goose storefront
This is the line when they first opened for the day- the people on the right are awaiting takeout like us

Kam’s Roast Goose is clearly very popular.  Qi and I decided to head over before they opened but apparently, lots of people had that idea.  The six minute buffer didn’t get us a seat when they opened.  Luckily, they have an option for carryout.  So we took our order back to our apartment and avoided the long wait.  Qi ordered the goose and the pork.  I actually preferred the pork to the goose because the skin was crispier and it was less greasy.  The goose was still very good but the skin wasn’t crispy and the meat was a little chewy.  We will definitely have it again to ensure it wasn’t a fluke.  I’ve never had goose before (I’m sorry Mom!) but it was very similar to duck–which is my favorite meat.

High West Hike

Prior to heading to lunch, we had decided to go on a hike.  It was Qi’s idea, not mine but he told me to choose which hike.   I chose High West Peak.  It’s the second largest peak in Hong Kong and we could take a scenic bus ride to Victoria Peak and walk from there.  However, we went to the bus stop and 3 buses just drove right on by because they were too full.  Saturday was a Hong Kong holiday and everyone seemed to have the same idea as us and were heading to Victoria Peak.  We could’ve taken the Peak Tram but given the amount of people on the bus, I figured the line would be too long….and even though Qi would be present this time, I wasn’t too thrilled to go back on that tram!

Lantau Island- Mui Wo

So Qi researched and came up with a trip to Lantau Island.  He said we would take a ferry to this island and we would do a 2 hour hike there.  So we packed 2 liters of water and pork jerky.  When we arrived at the Mui Wo(a small resort town on Lantau Island) via an express ferry,

view of bridge from ferry to lantau island
bridge we saw while on the ferry to Lantau Island and Mui Wo

there were buses there waiting for us.  According to the website, Time Out Hong Kong, we were supposed to follow instructions for the South Lantau Country Trail.  The bus was full and we were the only 2 to get off at the first stop which was still at the bottom of the mountain!  I thought that odd, but we exited.

lantau island
our bus stop at the bottom of the mountain….beginning of our hike

Nam Shan Tree Walk

We started on this beautiful trail that had a million steps.  I wish I would’ve counted how many stairs we climbed throughout the hike!

nam shan tree walk
Nam Shan Tree Walk route
several tree on Nam Shan tree walk
we saw several species of trees on the Nam Shan Tree walk

Because we finished the tree walk so quickly and it was supposed to take 45 minutes or so, Qi suggested we continue.  I foolishly acquiesced….I had no idea we’d end up walking 7 miles!

Sunset Peak

We were both in jeans, t-shirts and sneakers.  Mostly all the people we saw coming back down the trail from Sunset Peak had walking sticks, sun hats, running pants under running shorts, etc.  But don’t worry, this didn’t stop us.  5 hours and more than 869 meters later, we made it to the bus stop on the other side of Sunset Peak.

Sunset peak
the stairs up to Sunset Peak

Mui Wo
Qi zoomed in on the shores at Mui Wo
Sunset Peak
no zoom- that water/Village of Mui Wo is where we started!
Sunset peak
that bit of white on the bottom left hand side is the trail…..eek!

paying homage to the stairs enroute to Sunset Peak- there were a lot of them!
that is my “posed” look of fear. It was beautiful but we should’ve been better prepared for 7 miles…..7 miles!

There was no guardrail.  Some of the trail was less than a couple feet from the edge.  I know that 869 meters doesn’t seem that high.  But that’s about 1/10 of Mount Everest and the third highest peak in Hong Kong.  We were so exhausted, sweaty and determined to make it back down the other side before it was too dark, that we didn’t even take pictures at the top!  Here’s a link to another blogger’s website.  She took great pictures at the top where there were old cement buildings and the foliage became more of a prairie grass than the lush, leafy green in our pictures.  I was really nervous about nightfall!  I think we were extremely lucky.

Sunset Peak
rolling hills around Sunset Peak
Sunset Peak
Almost to Sunset Peak- that’s water on the other side of Sunset Peak

It was like being in Vegas.  The destination always looks like it’s a block away, but it never is!  We kept thinking we were close to Sunset Peak!  And then once we arrived, we knew we still had to trek back down the mountain so we didn’t even stop to enjoy the views.

Thank goodness for the flashlight app on cell phones!

If you want to see our other adventures, consider checking out the following links:

The Peak – Victoria Peak

Wan Chai & Tsim Sha Tsui

 

 

 

 

Central Waterfront, BBQ Pork Buns, The Moon! & Hong Kong Park

I wrote my blog in Hong Kong Park.  It is just a short walk from Wan Chai and I cut through another fancy mall with Prada, LV, Burberry, La Mer, Harvey Nichols, Chanel, etc.  It’s still 80F here.  In the shade it’s cooler but it’s still a bit muggy.  I’m wearing cotton dresses every day and carrying a sweater/light jacket.  So any opportunity for air conditioning is welcome! 

I passed a Starbucks Reserve.  This is the walk I typically take to Central so I’m not sure how I didn’t notice it was a SBux reserve before.  I believe that means they have a Roastery on site….I’ll have to look into that.  Coffee is definitely more prevalent here than mainland.  It may be more prevalent than the UK, although the 50: 50 blend of black tea: coffee is considered an authentic Hong Kong beverage.  However, I didn’t need any coffee since I’ve recently come from a very delicious meal at Bistro Seoul.  I had bibimbap with wood-ear mushrooms and minced beef.  The beef had a mild taste of chocolate to it that was unexpected.  And in the greens, there was a subtle amount of mint.

Bibimbap

It was delicious and the portion was huge so I brought some back home for Qi to try.  I also picked up some things at the grocery store, but boring stuff like toiletries.  There are several fountains and water features in this park and the bench I used was very close to the Tea Museum.

Tea Museum

 I might check it out.  Right now I’m enjoying the sounds of the birdies chirping.  In fact, there’s a little one (I think it’s a finch) hopping around me and there’s running water I can hear around the bend.  It’s really quite tranquil.  There are a couple ladies nearby practicing yoga and then there’s a small group taking professional photos.  The nearby foliage is rustling and it looks to be more rigorous than a bird would cause.  I wonder if this is one of the parks where wild monkeys frequent?  Qi said there are a couple areas in HK where wild monkeys are common. 

jasmine- white jasmine

Last night Qi was very pleased because he found an amazing bbq pork bun place for dinner.  It’s Michelin rated purely for the pork bun.

I met him at work because it’s near to his building.  We arrived by 6p because he was worried about the line.  Apparently, that’s the trick, to make it there by 6p.  I’ll try my best to describe it.  It was yeasty goodness.  It was so powerful in yeast aroma that you could smell it when they brought the buns to the table….the plate wafted of yeasty umami–  and not in a bad way at all.  It reminded me of Ma’s famous rolls that she makes for Thanksgiving.  It had just the right aroma of yeast.  There was an umami that wasn’t butter….maybe white miso?  The texture of the bun was more like a mix between a dense bread but with less air and a biscuit, but not dry. It was chewy and wet (maybe not wet in the watery sense, but not dry and flaky) on the inside but golden in color on the outside and slightly crunchy due to the sprinkling of sugar.  If all I had was cheese and that dough, I think I could live a happy, contented life.  And it was only slightly sweet.  Gosh, I’m salivating just thinking about it and I’m not even hungry.  It was so good.  The dough didn’t have a chew to it like dough that’s been over-handled.  The BBQ is hard to describe.  It’s not like the Southern BBQ I’m used to at home, it’s more like teriyaki.  Not as peppery and complex as southern bbq, but the simplicity is what makes it so delicious.  We ordered other things aside from the buns but who remembers them?  Afterwards we took a long walk back on the Promenade.  They were setting up for a Wine and Dine festival that runs through the weekend.  I brought the camera so Qi shot some night views of the buildings on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

It was an incredible light show.  The ferris wheel is out of commission for the time being though.  Apparently there is a contractual dispute that has left it vacant for a time.  Hopefully it’ll be settled during our stay here.

We also went to the moon exhibit again so Qi could get a very original picture of me.  I cannot promise that this won’t happen again.  I’m obsessed with it and we still have several more days to see it before it moves to Singapore!  He also found this rooftop garden on the 5th floor of one of the local buildings and we took several pics.

Our final stop, a Japanese-Brazilian bar.  We ordered one drink a piece.  Mine came in a hollowed-out ice ball that looked like a green coconut.

Would you like to see more pictures or less?

I’ve been paring down the pictures as it seems too much.  Please leave a note in the comments with your opinion.  Too much?  Not enough? Or just right.  You’re welcome for another children’s book reference!

Wan Chai Hills and Escalator/Travelator

Over the weekend, we also encountered this hidden green space.  I say hidden because there weren’t a lot of people there.  It was so green that you could actually smell the earth.  It smelled mossy and wet and we were just steps away (literally-we walked up a staircase!) from the crowded downtown plaza.

Hi Qi Qi!

Qi is holding a water chestnut beverage in the above picture.  It tasted just like the liquid that canned water chestnuts are stored in, except chilled—the liquid I dump down the drain, yuck!

The area we walked from was especially crowded because the outdoor mall had a photo shoot for Halloween costumes.  We saw so many kids in their costumes lined up for pictures.  “Lined-up” is something worth mentioning and very noticeable in HK.  At the bus stop, there’s a very orderly, single-file line to enter the bus.  People aren’t swarmed around the bus door in a mob.  Nor are they blocking people walking on the sidewalk.  It’s very refreshing.  I noticed the same thing at the airport.  You won’t need to push through a crowd to walk to your gate because it’s so organized.  Another note-worthy line—the grocery store!  Everyone waits in the same centralized line and then the next available register signals when they’re ready for the next customer.  There’s no need to wonder if you picked the “correct” line to wait in while holding a heavy basket of groceries.  It’s quite brilliant and people seem less irritated.  I don’t know if that’s because of the line or because I don’t understand Cantonese, but body language seems more amiable at least.

Nearby, Qi found a place for High Tea that has a view of the city.  We weren’t hungry at the time but we’re going back this weekend.  I haven’t had High Tea since Maureen and I went to Newcastle for Alex and Trish’s wedding in 2014.  And I’ve never had High Tea with Mr. Chen…..should be fun!  I might see if I can find a hat just to make it a bit more authentic.  Although, according to the link, High Tea has had several meanings throughout history.  So if I don’t have a hat, I think it’ll be just fine!

art in a nearby hotel lobby–yes, that’s a chicken taking a nap with enviable stripey socks!!

Yesterday, I took a leisurely walk.  I went further west than Qi’s work so I could travel on the longest outdoor escalator in the world.  It’s about a 25 minute walk but I took pictures on the way so it took me about 35 minutes.  In this direction (toward Kennedy Road), the MTR station has one other stop before it reaches Central station.  It’s called Admiralty.  This is by far my favorite skyscraper we’ve seen to date and it’s located in Admiralty:

Lippo Centre– maybe this picture doesn’t do it justice, but it’s stunning!

There were some other very handsome buildings on the route.  I am not posting them all as that might be overkill.

Eventually I made it to my final destination.  The infamous outdoor escalator which is also called a travelator.  I have never heard of this word, but who’s to dispute the signs?  This covered escalator travels from Mid-level to Central from 6a-10a (for the commute to work) and then it switches directions and travels from Central to Mid-Level from 10:20a-00:00 (for the commute home from work).

Views inside the escalator

The latter is the uphill direction so the escalator was wonderful.  It takes about 20 minutes for the directional switch to take place hence the 20 minute gap in the timetable.  There are signs everywhere forewarning of this….everywhere, so I figured it was worthy of mentioning as well.  I’m terrible with distance, but every 100-500 feet or so there’s a break in the escalator where you can exit to explore the neighborhoods.  I went through Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo.  I recognized one of the streets from the movie I mentioned yesterday.  There’s a Craftsteak there.  Tom Colicchio is one of my favorites.  We haven’t been to Craftsteak in Vegas, only Wichcraft.

the steps to the right is the way back down- I just wanted to post yet another picture of the escalator!!!

Views outside the escalator

view at one of the exits from the escalator
escalator is partially pictured on the right hand side of this photo
view from the escalator to the streets below

It’s pretty amazing.  I am going to head there again today.  There’s so much to explore!!!!!

Last night, we went to a sushi “boat” place for dinner.  It’s a chain store (I called it fast food but Qi insists sushi isn’t fast food!) where the sushi goes by your table on a conveyor belt.  I only call it a “boat” because it reminds of a place that Dad and I used to go to in St. Charles, IL where the plates are in boats in a moat-type system that floats by.  At this place, the plates are color-coded so you know the cost of each dish.  Afterwards, we stopped at a boba shop.  Qi had milk tea with boba (black tapioca balls and our pupper’s namesake—he was a 2.3Lb black fur-ball when we got him!) and I had oolong ice cream.  Oh my was it good.  I wasn’t even hungry but I had to have it!  The flavor of the tea was so powerful.

Boba Update

Speaking of Boba, Dana said he’s doing just fine and he’s the protector of the house.  I always would joke with people on the street that he’d probably go home with any of them and be just fine…..not that Dana is just anyone.  But he’s very social and versatile.  Here’s a pic she sent me.

Boba!

He’s looking content.  There aren’t a lot of doggies here that I’ve noticed.  And an interesting observation— when I’ve seen a doggie lift its leg to pee on something, the owner quickly pours water on it with a water bottle.  I would need several water bottles for the little dribbles he enjoys leaving in the neighborhood!  Gosh, I do miss him terribly.  I didn’t realize how much I talked to him until he wasn’t there!  I’m relieved he’s not suffering any anxiety.  That is such a blessing.

I guess tonight we’re off to the observation wheel– also called a ferris wheel.  More on that adventure to come!!!

exploring our neighborhood- the grocery store and dim sum

I promised a better picture of our living area.  I don’t know if it’s a better picture, but the blind is open so the light is coming in.  You can see the “window” on the left that separates the bedroom from the living area.

living room with blind open

And then here’s what we can see when looking out our window.

Our Neighborhood

There was an event in the playground over the weekend.  You can see the seating on the stage.  Qi and I watched from the window.  There was a marching band and they were in kilts and playing Irish music.  When there isn’t an event, these are the 4 basketball courts and the soccer field.  The stadium seating is under the white striped roof at the bottom of the picture.  There’s quite a bit of seating.

Grocery store

Sunday, we walked around Wan Chai and went grocery shopping.  I’ll probably head to the grocery store every other day or so for fruit and drinks because we don’t have a car or a cart and I don’t want the bags to be too heavy to carry.  It’s only a couple blocks away, but bags can get heavy pretty fast.  Here are some of the fruits we saw at a swanky grocery store nearby.

click on its name for a wiki link. China physalis
sapodilla- although this doesn’t look like any of the pics I’ve found online so I’m uncertain if it’s identified properly
Thailand custard apple- also known as cherimoya!

Dim Sum

Then we went to a Cantonese dim sum place.  We had some yummy food.  My favorite was the bun filled with mushroom…..it was also in the shape of a mushroom!  Very creative.

mango pudding with a chocolate smiley face

Potato Chips

We further explored the neighborhood close to our apartment.  We found a Calbee store.  They make potato chips among other snacks.  There are options for toppings/seasonings.  Potato chips are drizzled in chocolate or you can choose to add a spice (bbq, tabasco, etc) AND it comes with Hokkaido ice cream.  We had ours drizzled with chocolate (because Qi let me pick) and it was delicious.  It made me think of when my sister, Mo went through a chocolate covered potato chip phase.  I believe she made tins for her friends for Christmas one year in lieu of cookies.  Maybe she missed her opportunity for a big money maker…..the ice cream was truly a nice touch.

conveyor belt of freshly made potato chips

The Moon

There’s a moon exhibit nearby at this outdoor mall.  It’s only here until the end of the month and then it heads to Singapore.  I plan to check it out.  The streets are riddled with little tiny lights at night and then the glowing moon is a bonus.  We saw lots of selfies on Sunday.

the moon during the day
area of Wan Chai we explored

I’ve been a slacker with documenting things for the blog.  I feel badly about it.  I had a bit of a snag as I used up all my data on my cell phone.  Apparently, I was relying on maps a lot instead of actually paying attention to my surroundings.  It’s like when you’re using navigation to drive somewhere so you don’t really pay attention to actually know where you’re going.  I had to get a new SIM card (and I spent a better part of a day researching where to get one and the best deal!) and now I’m taking in my surroundings a bit better.  Although if I use up the 15 gigabytes in 30 days, I might have bigger problems than relying on maps.  I mean we do have free Wi-Fi in our apartment.

I am guilty of some indulgence….of course!  I watched “Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong”—-partly because it was free on Netflix, partly because I love that Bryan Greenberg and Jamie Chung are the love interests AND married IRL and partly because I wanted to see where they went in the movie.  It’s not my favorite movie….however, I found it to be very entertaining.  I’ve been trying to stay away from technology too much so I explore the outdoors.  Unfortunately, my perfect day would probably be reading in bed in my pajamas but I can do that anywhere!!!

Last night we also went to a vegetarian restaurant in Causeway Bay.  It was our first time heading to that neighborhood.  It was a nice night, nice walk and the restaurant was pretty good.  They did an amazing job with the fish.  The texture was on point.  Anyhow, Causeway Bay isn’t far from our apartment.  Actually our gym membership is there and we stopped in to check out the facility on the walk back.  For a membership that comes with our apartment, I was really impressed.  And it was pretty big and no one was in there.  I think I’ll go in the morning.

I did head to the kickboxing place yesterday.  It took me a bit to find it (I got lost) and it was before I had a new SIM card.  Unfortunately, they were in the middle of class so their doors were locked.  I plan to do a trial class (they offer 1 trial class for a fee) to see if I like it.  I really like ILKB so it’s going to be hard to compete.  But what I’ve read online seems pretty cool.

Flavor ingredients in their Natural Habitat

Before I forget, I had mentioned on IG that I would explain more on the camphor tree.  From the wood of the tree, a chemical called camphor is found. Camphor is a crystalline powder.  It is the main component of Vick’s vapor rub and it has a cooling effect.  Oftentimes, people will use “camphoraceous” to describe the cooling, slightly minty and phenolic (Band-Aid), medicinal characteristics of materials—not just camphor.  Isn’t it beautiful?

the upper limbs of the camphor tree

Ok, well I’m finally going to head to the outdoor escalators.

I’ll report back on that adventure shortly.

Causeway Bay, Times Square & Central

Wan Chai & Tsim Sha Tsui

Oyster House, Queen Victoria & Mansons Lot

 

Wan Chai & Tsim Sha Tsui

 

We moved!  We are now in our permanent housing in Wan Chai.  It’s a very different vibe from Mid-level.  Now we feel immersed in the midst of everything!  And it’s flat….hooray for that!  This area has so many shops and restaurants.  It’s sensory overload.  Last night we went to a very good soup dumpling place that’s open until 4am.  Delicious.  Qi still thinks Hing Kee in Chicago Chinatown is a very authentic restaurant for Shanghainese soup dumplings, so it’s not like we can’t get them at home, but this was our favorite meal since arriving in Hong Kong.  We also had the most delectable eel.  And then Qi and I walked around our new neighborhood.  He was like a kid again when we stumbled across pan-fried dumplings.  They had just closed for the night but we were their first customers this morning.  They were also wonderful and another traditional Shanghainese food.  We’ve already had some impressive food in Wan Chai.  Qi and I do love our food—-I wouldn’t want to explore restaurants with anyone else!!!

Our Apartment in Wan Chai

Here’s the scoop on our new place.  It’s 620 square feet.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it feels super spacious, much more spacious than I thought it would feel.  And I was very worried about the storage.  As you might know from a previous post, I inadvertently brought extra luggage.  We have storage to spare….guess I could’ve brought even more clothes!!  Qi thinks it feels big because we moved out of a 230 sq ft hotel room, but they really did a good job of separating space.  We have a living room, dining room, kitchen, washroom (with a tub), foyer and bedroom.  The bedroom has a window into the living room, but there are blinds that can be drawn for privacy.  It makes the rooms feel pretty big– with the internal window and there are several well-placed mirrors.  We are overlooking a park too with several basketball courts, a football (soccer) field, etc.  This makes the light in the rooms is very bright.  You cannot tell from the pics as the curtains are drawn. I’ll take more pictures soon!

our LR, DR
living room, dining room and on the left is a buffet
our bedroom
that’s the window to the bedroom -on the left is a desk and double closet (not fully pictured)
IMG_20171019_192749
It came with clean dishes, utensils, cutlery, pots, etc.—-but in my regular OCD fashion, I washed everything and also wiped down the inside of all the cabinets and drawers
fridge and microwave

Our building also has 2 washers and 2 dryers that are free to use.  We only need to provide the detergent and dryer sheets.  I spent most of Friday getting laundry done, organizing and grocery shopping– while Qi was working.  It may sound boring, but the nesting was exactly what I needed.  It feels great to be settled!

Kowloon

Today, after getting the pan-fried dumplings, we took a ferry to Kowloon to Tsim Sha Tsui (or TST) so we could walk the Promenade (walkway along the water) and get more skyline views.  We could use our Octopus card for the ferry which was very convenient.

This is the first day where you could really smell that we’re surrounded by salt water.  It smelled amazing and made me salivate for salt water taffy.  It’s so funny how both Qi and I experienced smells/tastes today that took us back to our childhood –even though we grew up very far from each other.

Hong Kong Convention Center
view from inside the ferry

We saw some bands playing music in a central plaza area and then walked to the Garden of Stars.  This is where famous actors have their handprints in molds.

famous cartoon character in Hong Kong named McDull

We wanted to go to the Avenue of Stars, but it was closed for renovations.  It is similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Renovations should be completed in 2018 so maybe we’ll catch it then.

I almost forgot, we walked into this mall in TST and there was a McDonald’s McCafe.  They had the most impressive espresso machine and seemed to only serve coffee.  Also, along the Promenade there were several food trucks with an assortment of cuisines.

double-decker bus

We decided not to walk all the way back to the ferry (we’d be back-tracking!) and found a double-decker bus nearby that went through the tunnel back to Wan Chai.  It was my first double-decker bus in China.  Upstairs, the first row of seats has an unobstructed view of the street ahead…..it’s you and then window pane.  We could also use the Octopus card for this, which was again extremely convenient.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue to explore Wan Chai.

 

picture of walking overpass in Wan Chai
Wan Chai

The Peak – Victoria Peak

TEDxTinHauWomen and Foreign Correspondents’ Club

Zoological and Botanical Gardens visit on 10/17/2017

 

 

 

 

 

The Peak – Victoria Peak

Yesterday, I had such an amazing day.  It was beautiful and clear with no chance of rain…..but a slight chance of meatballs –ha ha, I couldn’t resist.  And our hotel was about a 9 minute walk to the Peak Tram.  So I figured, before we move, I should really check it out while it’s so convenient.  I arrived at the tram station pretty early in the morning and there was a small line.  I am so glad I went early because on the way out, the line was at least 3x the length!

Now I’ll admit, I had no idea what I was in for, I just knew that I was taking a tram up a mountain so I could get a better view of Hong Kong.  I also knew it was called Victoria Peak .  After getting my round trip ticket ($90 HK dollars), I headed to the queue awaiting the next tram.  On the way, there was some history documented on the walls and that’s when I found out the tram had been running for 129 years!

this is a previous tram car

I believe a tram comes every 10-15 minutes.  It was the perfect amount of time for me to catch a couple pages of a book I’m reading.  It didn’t feel like it was even 10 minutes.

The tram arrived and I’m one of the last people allowed in the car before the attendant shut the door.  All the seats were already taken.  Well, no worries, a lovely Irishman got up and offered me his seat.  I didn’t feel terribly bad about this because 1) his buddies were standing next to me and getting settled in along the back wall for the ride upright and 2) I had a glimpse of the track ahead.  I definitely needed to sit down for this!!  It looked like a straight-up vertical climb!!

inside of the car- present day

I am fine, obviously–this tram has been running for 129 years.  However, the things going through my head were not as confident– “OMG, this tram has been running for 129 years-how do they maintain the track?” and “how do they know we don’t weigh too much?” and “do they know there are more people on this tram than seats available?” are just a few questions I had spinning through my mind.  I still can’t believe the slope of the track.  And I cringe to think of the creaking noises it made both in ascension and the ride back down.

It was totally worth it though.  I’d pay way more than ~$13 US for this amazing view.  I have so many pictures of it.  It was surreal.  I am a blessed, blessed individual!  Look at the views!!!!

 

It’s really going to be hard to top this.  What an amazing day!  Thank you to all the workers at the Peak Tram for ensuring that we safely arrived at the top and back at the bottom of Victoria Peak!

Zoological and Botanical Gardens visit on 10/17/2017

So yesterday, I went to the zoo and botanical gardens on the way to pick up a couple Octopus cards (I’ll explain that in a bit) for Mr. Chen and I.  Admission is free and I probably didn’t do it justice as I only walked around for ~45minutes.  However, I have 2 reasons for this.  First, it’s on the way to the Central MTR station (where I wanted to pick up the Octopus cards) –so it wasn’t my final destination AND I had just worked my butt off on the treadmill for 5km on an INCLINE.  People aren’t joking when they say that Hong Kong is a vertical city.  Silly me, I just thought they meant it had a lot of skyscrapers– and it does.  However, we’ve been going up and down so many stairs and slopes (probably hills is more accurate but seemingly less dramatic!) that I felt I needed the practice.  In hindsight, it doesn’t totally make sense, but seemed so logical at the time– can I blame it on the jetlag?

The zoo was small –with several species of primates:

primates at the zoo

grooming a pal

and one species of birds- that I saw:

The green space was quite expansive and vibrant even on an overcast day:

    

    

    

As I walked through the gardens, I was descending the mountain our hotel is on (the neighborhood is called Mid-level) in the direction of Central which is a neighborhood that’s more flat.  Like I said previously, I was heading to the Central MTR station (Mass Transit Railway).  As far as I can tell, the whole system runs underground.  It’s the subway system in HK.  I wanted to get Qi and I Octopus cards because they are reloadable transit cards for several modes of transportation.  They service the ferries, buses, MTR and as I found out today, also the Peak Tram.  —I’ll delve into the Peak Tram on my next entry.  That was my adventure for today and my favorite day in HK so far!!!

We’re moving to our permanent housing tomorrow and Qi will need this card because he won’t be able to walk to work.  He’ll need to use the MTR.  One of the cool things about the Central MTR station is that it connects several buildings underground.  So Qi will walk a block from our apartment to get to our MTR station, then get off at Central and walk underground in air conditioning to get to his building.  I think it will be a better commute for him.  Although, he says he really enjoys the uphill walk home…..and he’s not being sarcastic!  Another really nice thing about the huge underground MTR station is all the shopping!  There’s even a LUSH that smells divine.

As I traveled through the streets I got a bit lost.  Some of that was because I was taking in my surroundings and some of that was because the streets wind and meander seemingly in circles.  I remember when I first moved to Chicago and I thought it weird how people would give directions like “go east at the first intersection” or “head south about a mile and then go west on North Ave”, etc.  But the reason people can do that in Chicago is because the streets (except for a couple 6-way intersections–thanks Frank Lloyd Wright!) don’t curve and generally run east/west or north/south in a very navigation-friendly and uniform gridline.  It is a lovely thing I’ve grown accustomed to seeing.  Here however, there might be a street that is only 5 ft from the previous intersection and not very visibly marked.  Or at least, I’ve not figured it out yet.  Another thing that makes it more challenging is that Google Maps is not 3-dimensional.  Right?  If it is, someone please leave a comment and let me know how to use that feature!  For example, my dilemma is this:  if the street I’m turning on is elevated quite a bit higher than the street I’m presently on, there’s no indication of that on Maps.  I’ve never had an issue with that in the past but until I’m more familiar with the streets here, that’s going to be an obstacle for me.  However, I digress.  The whole point of sharing how I got lost is because I ended up walking through a very cool neighborhood.  I didn’t take enough pics of the area but it was laden with bars, restaurants and more bars….oh and I really liked this church (below) nestled in amongst the tall buildings.

see the elevation difference?

flower market in LKF

I later found out I walked through Lan Kwai Fong.  It is considered a very International neighborhood.  I could see the Western influence (and smell the pizza!) but it also seemed like a very happening area.  It had a young, hip, buzzing neighborhood vibe.  I made it to Central MTR station and got our Octopus cards.  And I was just in time to meet Qi at his building when he got off work.  So lost–schmost….it was all part of the bigger sightseeing plan!!!

Please tune-in for my next post of my gloriously clear day at Victoria Peak or to locals—The Peak.  The pictures are breathtaking!!!!

We’re here!

I want to give a very important shout-out to our dog-sitter, Dana…..yes, we share the same name and I believe I knew immediately she was a kindred spirit!

Dana and Boba 10.14.2017

She loves little Boba-boo and he loves her.  She is a small business owner and I proudly support her.  Boba goes to her house 2 days of the week to play with other doggies and get love from both her and her assistant, Wade.  They are a great team and I am so very thankful to have them in our lives!!!  And of course now she is watching Boba for several months and I’m unbelievably grateful for that!

We arrived in Hong Kong late last night.  First, when did the regulations change and you could only have one checked bag for an international flight and not two?  Whoopsies, I didn’t know that.  Here are a couple things I’ve observed so far. The flight was very diverse.  I don’t recall the flights we’ve taken to mainland China being so diverse, although the last time we visited Guangzhou and Shanghai was 4 years ago.  Soap dispensers are on the opposite side of the sink….I’ll admit, it took me a minute to figure that out after a 16+hr flight.  And due to Hong Kong being a British colony for so long, cars drive on the opposite side of the road.  So far, another washroom etiquette that’s mention-able is the the sanitary spray for the toilet seats.  In the USA, oftentimes there are sanitary toilet sheets to place on the seat.  In Hong Kong, instead there is a spritz you can spray on the toilet seat.  Based on its quick evaporation, I’d guess it’s an ethanol-based product similar to the hand sanitizers that are so popular.  I love it!

And thanks to the British influence for these delish treats!

I love blackcurrant…wish it was more popular in the States.

So far, language doesn’t seem to be an issue.  When we’ve visited Shanghai, I couldn’t be separated from my husband (he speaks Mandarin and Shanghainese- I do not!) unless I was bartering at the market- in that circumstance a calculator was just fine.  In Hong Kong, so far I’ve been okay speaking English.  Everyone has understood me.

Our permanent apartment is not ready until Thursday.  So we’re staying at a hotel close to Qi’s work.  It’s a downhill walk there but oh my, the walk home is a serious work out!  I imagine Qi will be taking an Uber home in his suit.  It is currently 80 F here and muggy with off and on rain.

Qi’s work is right in the center of Central.  I came with him to his building because I wanted to see it and make sure I could get there on my own.  There’s a Prada, Burberry, Chloe, Emporium Armani, etc. and then there’s me with my Chicago Bears T-shirt, cut-off jeans, and Birkenstocks.  My mom was worried I wouldn’t blend in with my ear piercings and my “gray” hair- I call it lavender.  Regardless of my interesting fashion sense, my hair color, and my love for ear adornments, I didn’t feel out of place.  Actually, I did a good share of people watching today.  Gosh it was fascinating!  The style is very eclectic.  And Ma, no worries.  No one has given me a second glance.

The other thing that is super cool (it’s the little things in life) is that I went to a very crowded Starbucks and they didn’t ask my name when I placed my order.  I didn’t think anything of it because there was an order number on my receipt.  However, since I used a credit card, they knew my name without even asking me and called it when my order was ready.  I thought that was impressive technology.  I’ve not experienced that in the USA.

Also, although I was told by my cell phone provider that I’d have to get a SIM card in HK, my phone has 4G and free texts!  It’s incredibly ironic because when I traveled to Mexico for work, my cell phone provider assured me I’d have great cellular service everywhere in Mexico.  When I arrived both in Mexico City and Guadalajara, I had nothing, no 2G, nothing, nada. It’s almost like I should just believe the opposite of what they say.  Ha ha.  I won’t question it for now and just count my blessings.

Here are some pics around our hotel that’s located in Mid-Level.  I apologize for the quality.  They are taken with my cell phone.

It’s very close to the zoo and botanical gardens.  I plan to check them out.  First, I’d like to go on the escalator that travels between Central and Mid-Level.  It is the longest outdoor escalator in the world.  More to come on that very soon!