Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hong Kong November 2013

From Victoria Peak (Pacific Coffee)
Wow. Get up at 6 am Monday in San Francisco, awake all day, fly out of SFO at 11:45 pm that night for a 13.5 hour flight (THE best seats in economy, thanks to Leslie) getting into Hong Kong at 6 am, finally settle into a room at the Dragon Hostel at noon. Somehow I calculated that at 38 hours on the go. I slept for about 6 hours on the plane (the longest I’ve ever slept on a flight – thanks to zolpidem) and Leslie slept not at all. I was doing pretty well, but by the time we went to bed, Leslie had an hour of sleep in ~48 hours.  We may be getting a little old for this.
Dragon Hostel room. Photo taken standing in the bathroom
We’re staying at the Dragon Hostel, which is more a guesthouse than hostel. It’s in Mong Kok on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. Mong Kok has the “highest population density in the world, with 130,000 people in one square kilometer” (Reuters, 2011). Here is a pretty good Mong Kok slide show from Reuters, though one of their photos labeled “a doorway” is actually, obviously, the entrance to a brothel. 
Now it’s Thursday morning. Awake around 5:30 am. Coffee in the room, talking in the dark, here we are again. The room is a little larger than a basic prison cell (6x9 feet) and has no window (window rooms get traffic noise). Small, cut off from the world, no problem. LOL, I was sitting on my bed with one foot propped on Leslie’s bed and my legs crossed and Leslie ran into my foot with her head. It really is pretty small.
From the Star Ferry
About the coffee: we’re traveling with a drip through basket, filters, immersion heater and enough coffee to get us through San Francisco and Hong Kong (HK has terrible coffee). We’ll buy a few kilos of coffee in Hanoi, some of which we’ll drink in Thailand (another coffee wasteland) and some we’ll take back to the US.
It’s a time of life when we seem to be repeating a lot. Today we took the #6 bus to the Star Ferry (smell the sea); ferry across the harbor; #15 bus up the Peak; coffee at Pacific Coffee sitting with a panoramic view over the city and harbor; Tsim Chai Kee for shrimp wonton noodle soup (shrimp with a wild, fresh taste, unlike what we get in Dallas); walking back to catch a bus to the Star Ferry, window shopping at Chow Tai Fook – a $2 million USD jade bracelet, similarly priced diamond necklace, all those kinds of things; back to the Star Ferry, talking about how we’ve ridden this ferry countless times; back to our little bitty room…
Entrance to Sincere House, where the Dragon Hostel is -
look past the head of the man at far right to barely see entrance 
Another day, more bus rides. But first, lying together in one of the little beds, then walk to Cherikoff’s Bakery (started in the 1920s by a white Russian refugee from the Soviet purges – his great-great grandson contacted me a few years ago) to pick up egg and ham sandwiches for breakfast in our room. Add some ketchup and Tabasco – alriiiight. Go down two levels of the MTR to put more money on the Octopus card.
Take the #2 bus to Chungking Mansions, one of the most international places in the world – on the ground floor a warren of money changers, halal curry shops, internet cafes, little stores of every imaginable sort (Need some clothes for a Nepalese wedding? This is the place), stacks of Chinese, Arabs, Africans, Bangladeshis (Hashish sir?), Nepalese, and of course plenty of western backpackers. Then there are about 15 stories of apartments, low-rent guesthouses, more cafes, little bitty factories, and a whole lot more. I love it; Leslie not so much.  
In the Chungking Mansions
Another Star Ferry ride, another bus ride (#7), more shrimp wonton soup, walking the streets, back to the ferry, bus, back to our room, and when it was dark, to the Ladies Market where we found nothing we wanted, much less needed.
She's coming out of the Sincere House
Later I went for a walk along a street that is blocked to vehicles so that people have the streets. There were musicians, portrait artists, photographers, jugglers, poets. and an astonishing press of people. Leslie calls this urban compression. I’m IN the flow, Aes Dana on the iPod, INTO THE FLOW. Is this good or what!

Saturday we had dim sum and shrimp wonton for breakfast in our room. On the way to get the dim sum, there were children on the streets soliciting for money for the HK Community Chest. Every time we’ve been in HK, we’ve seen children and teens doing this for schools and so on. We always contribute and in return, get a little sticker which I put on the little notebook I always carry. Talk about a good souvenir! Hanging out in our room, packing, talking, good times, the best of times.
Crossing the street
For lunch we went to Good Hope Noodles’ new cafĂ©. Now the man who makes the noodles (traditional way, by hand) works in the window. Another great meal – braised noodles with ginger and scallion and shrimp wonton noodle soup.  
Hanoi, here we come! Dragon Air into the sky!

1 comment:

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