Friday, January 6, 2012

Hong Kong2 - Into the Flow

We're into the magic of the Hong Kong trip now - the crowds, the harbor, the Star Ferry, the food, the people, the alleys and narrow passages ... ahhh.


A little background on Hong Kong: We've always stayed in Kowloon. Kowloon is a peninsula split by Nathan Road running north from the harbor
and the Star Ferry. The ferry runs back and forth between Kowloon and HK Island where the financial district (Central), Wanchai, Happy Valley, Victoria Peak, etc. are. The southern end of Kowloon is called Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) and is the main tourist area. TST is where the Chungking Mansions is - which nobody would call a tourist place – one newspaper called it “the most notorious flophouse in Asia” - I call it amazing. Here is something from Chungking Express: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCMkHm7HTBU&feature=fvst.

Photo above: Street performer, playing beautifully.

Going north from TST there is Yau Ma Tei where the Temple Street night market is, and then Mong Kok, which is where we're staying. Hong Kong is the most densely populated place on earth and Mong Kok is the second most densely populated district there – wow, people everywhere. No kidding, it's an art to move through the crowds and the people there are artists - no bumping, no jostling, just flowing through a true sea of humanity. To me, it's sometimes magical, sometimes a little crazy, and always intense.

Photo: The corner near the entrance to the Sincere House where we're staying. Can barely see the entrance between/above the man in the orange sweater and the woman in the pink top


Here is our trip. Up at whenever. The room we're in now has no window, so it might be 5 or 7 or later (but not much). I fix coffee in our little filter
holder and we have coffee and talk. I go for a fast walk with a little running and whenever there is a street to cross and the light is red, I do 25 inclined push-ups (total at least 100). On the way back to the room I pick up breakfast – usually dim sum, sometimes ham and egg sandwiches at Cherikoff Bakery or 7-11 (7-11 not the same as in U.S. - way smaller, cheap, and with some unique products such as rice with chicken feet). After breakfast I shower, get a leg-rub, and
we talk about the day. Then it's off to the races and back by around 4pm for Leslie to get a back-rub, take a nap, and figure out what's for dinner. I usually go for a walk after dinner.
ove through the crowds and the people there are artists, no bumping, no jostling, just flowing through a true sea of humanity. To me, sometimes it's magical, sometimes maddening, and always intense.
Photo above: On the street

The day after the last post we caught the bus to the Star Ferry and the ferry across the harbor to Central, then #15 bus up the Peak, going higher and higher past the office centers, TB hospital, past the graveyard, past the ultra-expensive apartments and homes
and then HK the skyscrapers, buildings, the harbor, the buildings spread out below in the haze that's always there at this time of year. The bus lets off near a shopping center-type place and we go up to Pacific Coffee where we always go, sitting at the glass wall overlooking all of HK, lingering over a double espresso, enjoying the view, reading the South China Morning Post, talking ...

Photo: The Star Ferry

Back down on what seems a crazy fast bus ride to where we get off to walk

to a famous wonton noodle shop for shrimp wonton noodle soup (the shrimp here have a wild taste, unlike the bland shrimp we get in the US) and vegetable with oyster sauce. We sat at a table and talked with a woman who came to HK from Vietnam in the early 80s. She's doing well now, but I know those were some grim early days. Bus to ferry and ferry back to Kowloon, riding that ferry so many times over the years and every time magical. This was our biggest day so far – Leslie is better and better every day.

Photo: On the ferry

And so the trip goes, no big events, few big attractions, just Being. Here. together.

The next day we went to Pat Kwan, the chilli sauce etc. place to buy some black peppercorns, then across the street to Fa Yuen Market to buy white peppercorns and walk around. The nice looking woman at one of the fruit stalls remembered us from last year (“You go to Vietnam.”), which was nice. I walked to the Chungking Mansions to change money, then back up the road a bit to meet Phil (an internet friend) and his son Henry. We had a good time - Phil is an easygoing person,
easy to be around and Henry is a great kid – like his other two children. I was running late, so made a sweaty dash to the ferry to meet Leslie, back to Tsim Chai Kee for more soup and vegetable. This time we shared a table with two students from Singapore and had a good time talking with them too.

Photo: Leslie waiting for the elevator in the Chungking Mansions

On our last full day we went to the Chungking Mansions for some Indian food and ended up at a Pakistani place having a good, cheap meal of chicken tikka masala, naan, pakoras, vegetable samosas, and milk tea. The place had one table, which we
shared first with two men from India, then with an intense guy from Pakistan, and of course there was the amazing parade of humanity from across the globe. Yeah! After we ate, Leslie wanted to take the elevator up to see if the floors had changed. The first one we saw was quite a bit nicer than in the old days, but the other two were the same as ever.


Photo: CK at entrance to the Mansions

That night I walked down to the Temple Street night market to see what was happening in the way of thangkas. Too bad, the place that sold quality Tibetan and Nepalese goods was gone.
Tsering, a Nepalese woman Leslie met before was still selling images, thangkas, etc., but the quality is not comparable to the other place. Sai Yeung Choi Street South was blocked to traffic and full of people, amazing crowded, buzzing with energy and conversation. There were some stre

et performers, including a young woman playing a Chinese violin beautifully. Hong Kong. What a place!

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