Sunday, May 27, 2012

[Tourist] Day 12: In Which We Finally See Some Nature

The masses have spoken! Enough Disney. Enough hotels. No more skyline. We want some nature! Rest assured, today's entry will bring you some of the beautiful, unspoiled greenery that Hong Kong is known for:
You were expecting a mountain perhaps?
I'll let you guess what time I woke up this morning. Here's a hint: it started with a four. Shocker! I headed up to the Regency Club for breakfast - but wait! It was not the typical breakfast, not at all. Much like the intro to the Simpsons, there are a few things that change about the Regency Club spread every day. And today everything was coming up Millhouse. The Danish was this delicious apricot concoction and one of the two hot items was a bacon and onion quiche. How do we make a quiche delicious? Simple, we add bacon.

Plus the gentleman working the Club clearly remembered me as he had a glass of ice and a Coke Zero waiting when I came in. Very nice touch! On the other hand, there probably aren't too many of us who drink Coke Zero in the morning so that probably made it a bit easier.

As I was eating my breakfast and once again enjoying the view, I started to wonder if working in the Regency Club meant you took the view for granted after a while. But then it occurred to me that I have driven over the Sunshine Skyway well over a hundred times and yet it still never fails to bring a smile to my face. Other than WDW, it's my favorite spot in Florida. So maybe it's the same deal here?

So gorgeous

My bacon senses are tingling

Anyway, after eating breakfast I left the hotel with Lamma Island as my destination. Lamma is one of the outlying islands and it would take a brief boat ride to get there. My goal was to arrive in one of the two tiny villages on the island, Yung Shue Wan, and then take the Family Trail across the island to the small fishing village of Sok Kwu Wan and from there back to Hong Kong Island via ferry.

The trip out was relatively uneventful. At both of the Star Ferry piers there are people handing out free newspapers. One was in English so I grabbed a copy. Would I be interested in reading about how arcane legislative rules structure policy outcomes? Hells yes I would. I know one American Government class that's getting some new reading next semester. I wonder if that means I can write this whole trip off as a business expense?

Palm trees - they are following me from Florida!

Mr. Smith Goes to Hong Kong

Inside the Star Ferry

I also thoroughly enjoyed this ad. You know your pollution is bad when companies are incorporating it into their advertising:


I really liked this building as a waterfront concept - lots of portholes?

Can I please foreclose on this building. Pleeeeeease?

That sky is not promising

The Star Ferry ride was wonderful as usual. I then sprinted across the Pier to catch the ferry to Lamma. I got a very comfortable seat on the upper deck, snapped a few photos, and then promptly fell asleep. So to summarize, places I can sleep: hotels, taxi cabs, ferries, bathtubs full of ice (no wait, scratch that last one). Places I can't sleep: planes. Damn.

I saw about ten seconds of this and then I fell asleep

After arriving at Yung Shue Wan, I began the Family Trail hike, which ostensibly should take 60 minutes or so. Maybe five minutes into the walk it began to rain. Not a huge surprise since it's rainy season and it's rained every day on the trip. But that's okay, because I had my new umbrella! No, wait, I didn't. Hmm. I had my old umbrella? Nope. Raincoat? Nope. Emergency poncho? Not as such. Oh! I had my sunglasses! Fuck my life.

That powerplant totally ruins the view throughout half the island

But hey, at least they built a wind turbine to compensate?

I believe guidebooks would describe this as "charming" and "quaint"

This is a blurry picture of lychees. It's here for my grandmother, should anyone ever show her how the internet works

Ikea is officially everywhere. 


I spent twenty-five minutes trying to wait out the heavy rains under some random umbrellas off to the side of the path. For much of the time I shared the space with an elderly man who, I am convinced, still has no idea there was someone sitting there with him. I was worried I'd give him a heart attack if I moved too suddenly.

Looks warm enough. What could go wrong?

He still has no idea I was there

Coming down pretty hard

The only Man Loon is the idiot who went hiking without an umbrella or rain coat

I thought I'd pass the time by trying to steal someone's wireless signal. There were four available but all secured. I miss 2006, when no one bothered to secure their wireless.

On all the other days the rain had ended fairly quickly. Not so much today. It started to slow a bit after twenty-five minutes or so, and then I noticed that my hiding place was also shared by a number of large spiders. Clearly these spiders had not gotten the memo from the wolf spiders in my house: we're all cool living together as long as I don't know you're there.


Once I noticed the spiders it was time to hightail it out of Dodge. So I began walking. In the rain. Five minutes outside of my shelter and I left the town of Yung Shue Wan behind. Fifteen minutes later I'd reached the beach at Hung Sing Ye, which is supposed to be quite popular on weekends. On a weekday, in the rain? Not so much. But hey, there was music! And it wasn't John Denver (it was Jamie Cullum for those who care)!

This is a lovely beach. Oh wait...

God damn power station

From Hung Sing Ye until I got to Sok Kwu Wan I saw literally two people. It was a crazy hike, made all the crazier in the rain. I'll let the photos tell the story. It remains one of the more ridiculous things I've done. It's one of those times on the trip when I was glad I was doing it alone. By myself I managed to laugh about the whole thing and enjoy it immensely. Had I been with someone else one of us (quite possibly me!) would have assuredly taken to complaining the whole time about the rain, the slope, the everything. Solo worked out well here! Here is the hike in captioned photos:

Awesome root structure

Those estimated times are total and complete lies

Don't worry, I will. Who the heck is this sign for anyway? If someone wants to swim near the sharks, let them. Thin out the gene pool.

I nearly broke into tears on seeing this

I have no clue what this was - I assumed it was built by the Mayans, who inhabited Hong Kong millions of years ago in the Margarine Era

It. Just. Keeps. Going.

That sounds quite useful thank you

A shrine to the Goddess of the sea. I prayed to her to make it stop raining and it actually did for the rest of the walk. Pretty awesome!

A mountain! In Hong Kong! Crazy!

I think we're both getting sick of these scenic view shots, aren't we?

Going down on uneven pavement in the rain? Not any better!

There! I want to be over there! Can't I just swim?

Dogs and cats living together in harmony. What is this world coming to?

On reaching Sok Kwu Wan, my goal had been to eat at one of the local seafood restaurants. The guidebook rated them highly, though internet research turned up a much more disappointing reality. Supposedly Rainbow Seafood opened at 10 according to highly-inaccurate-guidebook. The folks working there had not gotten the message and said they opened at 11. So I'd have to sit around for 75 minutes and then wait another 45 after for the next ferry. No thanks.

Instead I purchased some much-needed nourishment. I am very much enjoying trying all of the Fanta flavors on this trip. Not so good for my sugar levels, but tasty! I hopped the next ferry back to Central and from there made my way back to the hotel. Never has a shower felt so good.

Did I leave a donation at the Goddess of the Sea's temple? Damn straight I did.

Grape Fanta = Awesomesauce

I would highly recommend Lamma Island, rain or sun. If you're going to hike the trail, make sure to have access to this website ( while out there. I had it loaded on my phone so that I could view it even without internet. They have much better directions (with pictures) on how to walk the sometimes-poorly-marked trail.

Take me home, country, um, boat, back to the place I belong...Tsim Sha Tsui, 

By then I had worked up quite a hunger. I really wanted Indian food. Some quick research turned up decent reviews at Gaylord Indian Restaurant just a few blocks from the hotel. The lunch buffet was fine enough:


Then they brought out some fresh naan and all was forgiven. Mmm, naan.


On my return to the hotel I decided that what I really wanted was a hot bath. Here's a picture of the bathtub spout:

Look closely

You're wondering why I'm showing that to you, yes? Well it turns out that I'm curious. Too curious. I really wanted to know what the little pull knob did on the spigot. Before I tell you, let's zoom that photo out a bit shall we?


Yup. Turns the bathtub into an instantaneous shower, thereby completely soaking Danny and all the clothes he was wearing. Score!

Bath was great. Just great. $*#@

I spent the afternoon carefully not writing up trip reports because I was kinda fried on them. Then it hit me: I'd not really eaten much in the way of Cantonese, or any other kind of Chinese, cuisine. I needed some dim sum for dinner and I needed it nao. Thanks to the good folks at Chowhound, I found myself on my way to Tim Ho Wan in Mong Kok, just north of where I was staying in Kowloon (alright, technically north of where I was staying in TST since TST and Mong Kok are both parts of Kowloon but really you don't care). This time I brought my umbrella. But not my sunglasses. Care to guess what the weather was like outside? #hateeveryoneandeverything

Things to know about Tim Ho Wan: it's one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants on the face of the earth, and also the first Michelin-starred restaurant that I'd eaten at. The place is tiny, seating only 24. The lines are famous and the wait can last up to two hours on a busy weekend.

I emerged from the MTR station and found my way to Timmy Ho's (as I've now taken to calling it - sorry, Tim Horton's, you'll always be the original Timmy Ho's in my book but you can talk to the Sheraton Garden Grove about how fickle my love is, if you'd like). Contra to posts elsewhere, there was absolutely no line, which totally threw me for a loop. I cautiously opened the door and was directed to an open seat at a table for four.

The rest of the table was taken up by a group of college-aged Americans on vacation. They only had 36 hours in Hong Kong and they'd picked a bad day for it. No views from the Peak, miserable day to be walking outside. Out of politeness I asked what they recommended (the internet had already made my decision for me) and they said the noodles. Alrighty, I'll add that to the order.

The noodles were good - nothing spectacular, but good:

The har gow, or shrimp dumplings, were tasty, but I was surprised they weren't served with rice wine vinegar or soy sauce. They were also incredibly hot, and the burn on the roof of my mouth would hurt for the next three days:

Then there were the BBQ pork buns. The house specialty. Here are two photos:

Seeing this photo, over a week later, makes me want to cancel the rest of the trip and go back to Hong Kong

This is all I'm going to say about them. If you ever find yourself in Hong Kong, even for three hours, and you don't go to Tim Ho Wan's for the BBQ pork bun then you are dead to me. DEAD TO ME. I don't care if you're Jewish (hell, so am I!), Muslim, Vegetarian, allergic to pork, have Celiacs (sorry Collen). Get them. They are worth a trip to the hospital. Pomme frites, you're on notice: you've just been topped.

After that revelatory experience I wandered the streets of Mong Kok for a while and then walked back down the Golden Mile to the hotel. Another night to bed early after another day well spent.

Mickey is everywhere. He's like Santa Clause, Jesus and Al Pacino all rolled into one

The best Fanta I've ever had


  1. about the picture with the text
    "I have no clue what this was - I assumed it was built by the Mayans, who inhabited Hong Kong millions of years ago in the Margarine Era"

    It's actually a grave, its built on the side of the hill due to good feng shui, with the back against the hill and facing the sea.

    1. That certainly makes sense. I kinda like my explanatkion better, but yours certainly has more of a ring of truth about it. ;)

  2. Very Nice Danny, thanks for the report !

    The "Portholes" building looks like a cheese grater to me.

    And having just been to Hong Kong for the first time and not visited Timmy Ho's I promise that I will go twice next time. The BBQ pork buns look very tasty and I've never been to a Michelin restaurant either.

  3. The best part is that each bun is like sixty cents USD. Oh god I want one now so badly. Ah well, maybe in a year or two.

  4. Come to Vancouver... 2nd best place on earth for Dim Sum/Sushi/Vietnamese Pho/Korean BBQ.

    Can't wait for the next installment.....