Hong Kong adventures, part 1

Today, we had all the adventures, and it’s only day 1! Up pretty early despite getting to bed around 1am. Showers, and directions from the hotel guy to a dim sum restaurant. A couple of wrong turns later (including one that took us through a park/walking path full of old people out for a stroll), and we found the place. We ordered a couple types of dumplings, some curry beef buns, and some steamed seasonal vegetables with soy sauce. The shrimp dumplings were a lot like the ones at home. The “chiu chow” style dumplings were different from anything I’d had, though — green onion, nuts, some bits of meat, and I’m not sure what else. They left me with an overall impression that reminded me of Thanksgiving stuffing. Tasty! The steamed veggies on the other hand were a disappointment. Apparently it’s lettuce season.

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After breakfast, we moseyed around our neighborhood, poking our noses into some of the shops, and stopping for a pineapple bun because we could. We then made our way back to the hotel for a short rest, before heading back out. We hopped on a bus that took us to Hong Kong island, and enjoyed the views from our front seat on the top floor of the double-decker bus.

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We walked up and down the hills on the island, eventually winding up at a Japanese restaurant for lunch. C had eel and rice, and I had a chirashi bowl, which I regretted immediately after ordering. I ate a lot of the rice, but not much of the fish. It was probably fine, but my brain (if not my gut) was telling me it wasn’t the place to be eating raw fish.

After lunch, more walking. We eventually made our way to the bottom of the Central/Mid-Levels escalators and rode them to the top, pausing a few places along the way to look around or take photos. The escalators were only going up, that time of day, so once we got to the top I thought we’d find a bus to take us back down, but without knowing what bus to take or seeing a cafe where we could sit with wifi and look it up, we wound up walking some more. Sidewalks on narrow, twisting roads, hugging the hillsides. Stairs down to the next level. Elevated pedestrian walkways with car traffic elevated another level higher. Hong Kong is truly a 3-D city, and it’s fascinating to see how people have used vertical space.

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We walked through a botanical garden, past some monkey cages (at feeding time!) and down to the Bank of China tower. We walked through the ornate lobby, checked in at the registration desk, and after presenting some ID, were given visitor badges and allowed up to the 43rd floor observation deck. Not a 360-degree view, but the views of the city and harbour were very nice (especially considering that it didn’t cost anything to get up there!)

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I had spotted a rooftop patio on a building nearby that looked nice, and it seemed like a good time to sit down for a mid-afternoon coffee/snack/sweet, so we found our way over to the building and up to the top, only to discover that it was a bit fancier than we realized, and we both felt underdressed, so we didn’t stay.

By this time, we were both pretty tired, so we headed toward the Star Ferry terminal, where we caught a (very cheap!) ferry across to Tsim Sha Tsui. There, we ducked into a basement Starbucks for some relative peace and quiet (and wifi) and found that we could take a bus back to our hotel that would save us quite a bit of walking over the subway route. We easily found the bus stop and only had to wait a minute or two before one came.

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By this time, it was getting dark, and the shopping areas along Nathan Road were lighting up. Again, we were struck by how much was going on above street level, as our upper-decker view let us see above the crowds.

The Google Maps transit directions showed the bus route going straight up Nathan Road, but we saw where the road was closed due to the protests, and a couple of blocks before we got to the barricades, the bus turned to go a different way. We couldn’t see anything interesting (no mass of people in the street, no obvious police activity), just that the road was closed. That morning, before leaving the hotel, we had asked the concierge where exactly the protests were happening, and he drew it on our map — just a few blocks of Nathan road. But, he said, it was fine to walk along there if we wanted to. And the markets that paralleled it were fine, too. So when our bus home seemed to be not just paralleling Nathan Road, but actually heading in the opposite direction of the hotel, we started to worry that we were going to have to find another way home. I told C we’d wait to see what the bus did at the next major intersection (and get off if it didn’t turn back in the direction we wanted to go). Fortunately, it turned! We stayed on and were able to ride the rest of the way back to the hotel. A good thing, too, since neither of us wanted to walk that much more!

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