Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Asia Mega Tour - Taking Off The Training Wheels In Hong Kong

Our guides from Pooh Lee Shah Travel politely told us that they had other clients other than us today (actually they said, " travel all over the world! Find your way around!).  So today Wife and I set out on our own in Hong Kong for the first time. All we had to do for this first jaunt is get from the apartment to the Victoria Peak Tram station which is literally a 10 minute walk.

I am proud to say that it only took us three minutes to get lost while doing this. The problem with navigating Hong Kong is that it is a three dimensional city. Not just in the sense of tall buildings but in the sense of it being built into a side of a mountain with roads and walkways that go over and under each other. So you can start down a road or path and suddenly find you are under or over where you want to be. Or you can be in these mazes of walkways that go between buildings all through the central area. 

However with only double the amount of time that we should have taken we did get to the Peak Tram. This is one of 'The' sights of Hong Kong. Built in 1881, it takes close to the summit of the highest peak in Hong Kong. There is a big ass shopping area on top with every means of parting you and your money. We however did a 1.5 mile hike that looped the peak and provided multitudes of views of the city and harbor of Hong Kong.

From out of the blazing light arriveth the Tram!
For some reason only known to the ancient Chinese gods we were possessed to take a selfie on said tram

The Tram be incredibly steep - a fact hard to capture in photos

Views of Hong Kong from our walk on the path

This is NOT a selfie. Many tourists on the path. We took lots of pictures of others and they did likewise for us

A collage of panoramic videos

Long time readers will remember my love of signage as I travel the world
I believe the Chinese actually reads
"Beware the End of Days Coming Soon!"

A Tale of Lunch
This innocuous picture of typical Cantonese style BBQ meat (port and duck respectively) that made up our lunch disguises a much more complicated story.

Wife and I finished our walk around the Peak at just about Noon time. The food options on the top as you can imagine were a variety of high priced commercial fare. Wife and I craved the food we'd had down in the market streets. That required that we navigate from the Tram Terminus to that area. It all seemed so easy when Honorable Pooh took us on Friday. So we began walking and walking mostly going though seemingly endless internal walkways between buildings. This being lunch hour these walkways were teaming with people (Welcome to Asia Round Eye!). But miraculously we found our way to the exact area we'd been before. We were pretty desperate for food. There were lots of places with no English and big lines for tiny little restaurants. We settled for the BBQ place because I knew what most of it was and could point. They were very nice to these 'tourists' and we were glad to finally get some food. We lucked out on our attempt to get a cab back to the apartment too. 

So we survived our first 'day on our own'.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 Asia Mega Tour - Starting to Explore Hong Kong

With another good night's sleep behind us, we were ready to start getting our feel for this place called Hong Kong. As my son-in-law likes to say, Hong Kong is not so much a Chinese city but an international city in the same vein as New York or London. So you will see all kinds of incongruities such as a street of bars and restaurants with an eclectic variety of cuisines  that would look totally at home at any large western city perpendicular to a street that is pure Chinese street market.

Our day got off to a difficult beginning. There was some error in putting through our credit card charge for our room so I was forced to work in the kitchen doing prep work for brunch until things were cleared up.

Evidently the child labor laws here are not strict

Fortunately that was straightened out  so we were then able to walk down to toward Hong Kong Harbor.
I find the urban architecture very stimulating.

We were taken to the 49th floor of a building with a private club that had some great views.

An interesting cultural aspect of Hong Kong is since there is not day care to speak of any family of any means whatsoever has a nanny or other live in help. The vast majority of these are from the Philippines. All have the family back in their home country. They have one day off a week by law, Sunday. So on Sunday the public spaces are filled with these workers taking their day of rest.

We went out to a late lunch as a family. As it was an Italian restaurant I won't go through the gastronomy except for grandson 2.3 who had this creation called a pizza with caramel cooked in a dough, banana with caramelized sugar, ice cream and Nutella. 

Then it was off into on of the Chinese market streets

To your right is a little Buddhist Shrine (according to daughter found all over the city).
And inside were these large coils of incense burning.
And on to the market street

And finally a relaxing evening view from the patio of the Kitty Suite 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

2016 Asia Mega Tour - Day One Never Ends

So it was that our guides at Pooh Lee Shah travel wanted is to experience the night life scene of Hong Kong. So off we walked through the night in search of food and drink.

Our destination was a place that was reputed to be a kind of nouveau, fusion, Thai

What do you mean that you're tired?
That you've not even made it 17 hours in Asia yet?
That you can't make it through a reasonable meal?

Excuse us honorable hosts. How silly of us.
We will aim to please.

There followed a meal that was way beyond any Thai food I've had in the U.S. But I will reserve total judgment on this until later.

A version of larb - a stir-fried pork served with lettuce leaves for wrappers
A crab omelet - Loved this
Crab Fried Rice - Probably my least favorite
Grilled pork collar with dipping sauce -  really good both with and without sauce

Stir fried greens - Salty, sour, hot

There was a whole fried fish that somehow I missed getting a picture but was very good though I will admit we were getting stuffed then.
And for dessert we had this green papaya that you dipped in a spicy dry dip and a sweet dry dip.

And some kind of sweetened tapioca ball stuffed with something spicy in a sweet coconut milk sauce...not my favorite.

By the time we got to bed we still hadn't been in Hong Kong for 24 hours yet.

The next day I got to go the Hong Kong Football Club

Where I got see a player who looked amazingly like one of my granddaughters.

Who then joined me for lunch at this crazy good ramen place where I had something called Black Tora made with toasted garlic oil - really good.

Gad it's only day two!

Friday, February 26, 2016

2016 Asia Mega Tour - Finally...First Stop Hong Kong

After leaving our house at 4 AM in the morning, after three flights, and four airports, and 31 hours of total travel time we arrived at our first stop on the Mega Asia Tour - Hong Kong.

When arranging our tour with Pooh Lee Shah Travel they offered transfers from the airport with expedited immigration processing.

 Happy 24 hour telephone consultation is always a part of a Pooh Lee Shah tour
"Why you calling so late!"

Arriving at our plush apartment

We were given the exclusive 'Kitty Suite'

The view from our suite

We were given a walking tour of central Hong Kong to start

Wife with happy Pooh Lee Shah Tours guide

I surreptitiously took a picture of the US Consulate which evidently you're not supposed to do.
Daughter #2 works here.

Pictures in and round Hong Kong Park

'Sigh' Happy Lunching at a Malaysian Noodle joint
Nothing more satisfying the the real deal

One of the oldest buildings in Hong Kong, a Buddhist Temple

Although Chinese New Year is officially over there were still some decorations out

Doing street markets
According to our guide this was mercifully light in terms of people.
Wait until the weekend when it's crowded

Squash anyone?