Wednesday, May 30, 2012

[Tourist] Day 13: BBQ and Buses in Hong Kong

I had one full day left in Hong Kong and I felt pretty good that I'd accomplished the things I really wanted to see. I briefly considered heading back to the Peak, but it looked pretty overcast. Then I hit on returning to Stanley via the bus so I could enjoy the scenery and maybe get a few photos.

Before that, though, I headed to the gym and had a relatively light breakfast at the Regency Club. I left the hotel at 9:30 and by 9:45 I arrived at my first destination. Where? If you haven't figured it out from yesterday's blog post then I don't know what to do with you. Obviously I was back at Tim Ho Wan's for more BBQ pork buns! Their original location was supposed to open at 10. I got there at 9:45 and the line was already an hour long. Yikes!
Is that...muesli? 
Timmy Ho's, what are you trying to do to me?

I don't do lines. That is going to make Tokyo Disney a nightmare but it's true, I just don't do lines. A more reasonable man might have waited in line. A more rational man might have just said "screw it, there are thousands of other places to eat". I am neither of those things. Instead I remembered that there was another location in Sham Shui Po that reportedly had shorter lines because of its greater number of seats.

Only one problem: Sham Shui Po is a large district and I had no idea where Timmy Ho's was located within it. So what did I do? Naturally I went to the nearest 7-eleven for a drink. With proper hydration I hit on the idea of wandering the streets until I could steal a wireless signal. Five minutes later I had free internet and the location of Tim Ho Wan: Sham Shui Po.

I probably should have taken the subway, but I think each of those buns (price: 60 cents, I kid you not) has at least 500 calories and I planned on eating two orders of them. So I walked. And walked. And walked a bit more. Good for the appetite.

This location had plenty of seating available, though the staff there spoke less English. I was a bit worried because the food was generally considered not as strong as the original, but the BBQ pork buns are their signature dish and if you can't get your signature dish right at all three of your locations then something is seriously wrong.

They were delicious. Just delicious. How good? Well I was considering my next award redemption to Asia and the only thing that really jumped out at me was that I have a ton of AmEx MR points and there are very few decent options left for those. But I could move them over to Singapore and take a very nice SQ flight to Asia with a free stopover in Singapore. These BBQ pork buns were so good that now I'm thinking it's time to apply for another American Airlines card so I'll have enough miles to fly Cathay Pacific and get the free 24-hour layover in Hong Kong so I can get more. Help me; I have problems.

After that I found my way back to the nearest MTR station and hopped aboard the red line for a trip to Central. I made a transfer to the Exchange Square Bus Station and hopped aboard the trusty old 6, bound for Stanley. The sun was shining and I was properly situated to get my photos. I took over 1000 photos on the way there. I will spare you them all and will just share the good ones.

Very pretty!

This tasted like the distilled essence of grape. I was quite impressed.

The other side of Hong Kong

I told you the terraced cemeteries were impressive. Now let's dress in black and listen to the Cure.

Standard Oil of NJ lives on! This caption is for the three people reading this who give a flying fuck about the history of the oil industry, aka probably not you

Other than the great view, the highlight of the trip was listening to the conversation of two twenty-something girls sitting next to me. One was a native of Hong Kong and the other Dutch and I gather they met at college in Amsterdam. They both came from well-to-do families and their stories kept me mightily entertained.

I thought it had been too long since you'd seen tall buildings.

Is that Ocean Park perched on a hillside?

The one nice thing about living on Florida's Gulf Coast: I don't give a damn about beaches when traveling

I wonder how many airline miles I'd get for putting one of these on my Chase Preferred

Once at Stanley I walked around for a bit and took in Stanley Market in full swing. My impression: still just a flea market. Sorry.

I wanted some lunch and since I was in Hong Kong, what better for lunch than pizza? Shut up, both guidebooks recommended it and it was actually quite delicious. The salad greens were about the freshest I've ever tasted. Great decision on my part, thank you very much.

That's right, Pizza Express in Hong Kong. Want to make something of it?

Ah! Greens! Vegetables! My stomach can't take it!

The ride back I managed to stow the camera and take it all in. At that point I made my way back to the hotel for the last time and spent the evening catching up on trip reports and getting ready to head to Tokyo.

Fine, fine, Ocean Park wins for having the coolest location of a theme park I've ever seen. It's also one of the top 15 most visited in the world. The More You Know.

I can't go, it'd be cheating on my Mouse sweetheart

Which one is Jim Morrison buried under?
This seems like as good a place as any to give my thoughts on Hong Kong. In many ways it was a late addition to the itinerary. I can't say I've always wanted to visit (as opposed to England, Germany and Japan which have always been my top-3 places I wanted to go to). But my itinerary afforded me a stopover on the way to Tokyo and once the Disney idea started coming together it became clear where I needed to go. Plus this was one of my grandmother's favorite places to visit when I was a kid and I was always curious what it was like.

Hong Kong is a visually stunning city. I can't imagine there are too many other places that combine the awesome sky line with the physical and natural beauty of the island, all coexisting in some sort of strange harmony. It's a remarkably easy city to navigate and, while I would not exactly call it friendly, I never encountered anything but courteous people.

There are certainly enough things here to keep a tourist busy for four or five days, and I am very glad to have visited. I'm not sure there's anything that would bring me back soon, excepting the BBQ pork buns which will guaranteed bring me back at some point. At this point the trip is about 1/3 the way over. It is going quickly! Next up: Tokyo.

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