Hong Kong, May 17, 2007 (written in Chiang Mai, Thailand, May 28, 2007)
Might as well use the hot part of the day (and they don’t kid around with the heat and humidity during the hot season in Thailand, lemme tell ya) to catch up some on the blogging? Roight.
It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure Husbear left you guys hanging after a day of fish and chips and cans of poo (that last was not on offer at the Rock and Sole Plaice, thank god). Well, after all that fun, we hied our merry little way to Stansted Airport to catch our budget flight to Hong Kong.
I was a little concerned (read: terrified and yelly) that we arrived at the airport less than two hours before our flight was scheduled to take off, but the line through security was handled with that lovely British efficiency. We were prepared with our regulation-size containers of liquid securely and legally stored in our regulation-size bag, which meant that this, luckily, didn’t happen to us.
We were the first people to arrive at the gate for our Oasis Hong Kong flight (and really, I can’t recommend these guys enough – they were a bucket of awesome and cost like three dollars for a twelve hour flight). This was when I noticed Husbear’s unorthodox spelling of our destination. Hee.
The flight was lovely – noodles for breakfast, our own TV screens including my very favorite map channel, and a whole row to ourselves. This meant we got more sleep than usual and were feeling comparatively refreshed when we touched down in Hong (Honk?) Kong the next day at 3 in the afternoon.
I saw a bakery while Husbear was getting money from the ATM and became rather insistent. This delicious specimen, a pork filament and spicy mustard bun, was my reward, and it was so good. Sweet, eggy bread, horseradishy mustard, and smoky, dried pork? YES. First Southeast Asian style food in ten months! Rejoice, rejoice.
Now is probably as good a time as any to mention that when it comes to the food we'll be eating over the next few weeks, we're pretty ignorant. If you see anything that I've gotten wrong or anything you can help clarify for us, please, HELP! We like eating and learning and not being stupid!
Friendly tourist information people descended on us as we wandered around the terminal and got us straightened out with the best/cheapest way to get into town and our very own shiny free map. We bought lovely Octopus cards, hard plastic cards with an embedded chip that can be used on eight forms of public transit in Hong Kong (these guys are very forward-thinking in terms of technology) and hopped on a regular bus into town.
It was a double-decker bus (all forms of public street transportation seem to be double-decker in Hong Kong) and we got the front top seat! This gave us a great view of the enormous buildings all over Hong Kong, though we still managed to get off the bus one stop late. Ah well.
Finding our guest house, the Alisan, wasn’t too difficult, though it was a good thing we had the address – there’s no indication at street level that there’s a guest house in the 17-story apartment block, much less what floor it might be on. We did mange to check in and were given a very nice room, with attached bathroom – a room with toilet, sink, and shower head - and a/c. And my rather lumpy butt. (sorry, best picture of the room.)
We did some unpacking and, around 7, went in search of some food on the street by our guest house. This place looked promising, with lots of happy noodle eaters. (just not in this particular picture, because we took it later.)
The woman who ran the place was a master in communicating with hand gestures – she held up a handful of noodles and pointed at it and we nodded our heads enthusiastically. She then gestured to an array of tin tubs in front of her which held various unidentifiable (by us) meats and meat byproducts, and I pointed at what I was pretty sure were fish balls. We ended up with a bowl of this:
It was fish balls, but also chicken wings, bean sprouts, and thin egg noodles floating in a chicken broth thick with perfumy star anise and coriander. Just the thing after a long day of travel, and a delicious welcome to Hong Kong. There were no napkins, a difficulty for which we weren’t prepared, but the proprietress generously offered us a roll of toilet paper. (As it turns out, most places don’t have napkins – they may put a box of Kleenex on the table, if you’re lucky.)
I was rather full, but Husbear was insistent that this was in fact just a snack; that the real eating would have to come later. So we wandered off up Jaffe and Lockhart roads until we came to an overpass. That’s where we discovered a strange concentration of restaurants serving spicy crab. Half of them seem to be named “Under Bridge Spicy Crab,” and they all have buckets of live trussed crabs sitting outside so you know their specialty.
We settled on one of the under bridge spicy crabs and went in. Décor was barebones, but it’s never really about the décor in Chinese restaurants, is it? We really wanted to be able to read the pink banners fluttering in the breeze from the a/c.
The waitress came and took our order – I wimped out on the spicy crab, as we had no idea who much it would end up costing and honestly, I wasn’t crazy hungry after that bowl of noodles. So we ordered clams in black bean sauce and a bowl of congee, a particularly unphotogenic rice porridge (think watery bowl of grits, as you will get no picture here).
The waitress came and put our beers down on the table, as well as a buttload of plates and cups and bowls. (See the toilet-paper napkins?) We never did figure out what you’re supposed to do with all of them. I think one’s a slop bowl and you use the pot of hot water to clean your chopsticks and utensils, but that’s as far as we were able to get in three days.
The clams came and were very good, perfectly cooked and savory. We saw several other tables ordering them as well, so we felt vindicated.
After we finished our drinks and eats, a steaming cup of hit ginger drink was put in front of us, filled with chunks of some sort of Asian sweet potato and ginger.
It settled our stomach and just about put us to sleep right there on the table, so we returned to the hotel and went to bed. Big day of exploring Hong Kong, coming up tomorrow.
And a real-time update – we leave tomorrow morning to fly from Chiang Mai to Saigon… for a week. We have a lead on a guide there given to us by a friend, and we’re hoping to make the most of the little bit of time we have there. Ta!