They take the flu very seriously here. Going into and out of Hong Kong I had to fill out a form about the flu virus. Am I now sick? Have I been in contact with anyone who is sick? What flight number and seat number did I arrive on? This type of question. They had medical stations set up all over the place. In fact many people went around wearing masks. One of my friends brought masks, but didn’t put one on.
The day began about 10:00 when I met up with two friends for the trip to H.K. We took a taxi to the Futian Check Point and walked into Hong Kong. At that point China and Hong Kong are separated by what looked like a
river. The Check Point was a giant building which spanned the river. One side of the building was in China, the other in Hong Kong. There were bus and train transportation hubs at each side.
After getting through the bureaucracy, we boarded a train into the city. I bought what is called an Octopus Card for 100 HKD (about $13.00 USD). It is used to board trains, busses, etc. all over H.K. The trips are electronically debited from the card, so I’m not sure how much the train ride cost. It is the same system as my bus card in Shenzhen.
I was surprised at how rural Hong Kong is. I have always thought of Hong Kong as a giant urban area. But the 30 minute train ride was mostly through farm land and a few small villages.
We got off at the Mong Kok East Station. There was a giant multi floor mall there where we went shopping. We were still not in the center of the city. There were some apartment buildings and a high rise or two scattered around, but none of the clusters of big new sky scrapers you see when viewing pictures
of Hong Kong.
At the mall we separated and agreed to meet at the Pacific Coast Coffee Shop at 16:00. One of my friends went to buy the newest iPod, the other the newest Nokia cell phone. Both items are manufactured in China but not sold there.
I went to a book store and bought 4 new books. The store didn’t have a very good selection of English language novels. I ended up with a couple of Grishams, a Sidney Sheldon, and something by Nora Roberts. Each had a cover price of $7.99 but were marked up to 76 Hong Kong Dollars (about $10.25 USD). One thing did surprise me at the book store. There must have been 10 different Chinese language biographies of Warren Buffet on display.
Then I walked around the mall a while. It was 7 floors of pretty high end stores and nice restaurants. I stopped in an Italian restaurant for a snack and had an appetizer plate for 68 HKD (about $9.00 USD). It had 6 things on it. Nothing tasted bad, but nothing was really good either. The best part was the very fresh lettuce, carrot and tomato and garnish. The
restaurant had barbecued ribs on special and I wish I had gotten them instead.
Around 15:00 I wandered down to the coffee shop where I bought a small cup of black coffee for 22 HKD (about $3.00 USD). It was the least expensive thing on the menu. There were no empty tables so I asked a young girl if I could sit at the empty seat at here table. She said yes. I sat and began reading and drinking my coffee. The coffee was very good. The girl was practicing calligraphy. My eyes were drawn to her work, but I didn’t want to seem creepy and let her catch me staring.
Eventually the others showed up and we boarded the train back to the Futian Check Point. They were silent on the ride, playing with their new toys. This was not the same train we took to get to the mall, which was direct. We had to change trains at the Sheung Shui Station before arriving at the Check Point.
After going through Passport Control and Customs in both countries, we took a cab back to our meeting place (a certain bus stop). We decided to have
dinner together and went to a very nice fish place that was close by. Actually this restaurant is not too far from my house. I had noticed it but never eaten there. It is a huge place with dozens of giant fish tanks out front. I recognized the kind of fish Martin had caught a few days earlier in one of the tanks. There must have been 30 tanks, each with a different fish. Every time I have passed by, it has been crowded.
Because it was so busy at night, they usually had tables set up in the parking lot. During the busy times, there are 8 or 10 chefs working in the front window.
It was still early, so the restaurant wasn’t crowded yet. We got a nice table under an air conditioner vent. We ordered about 6 or 7 dishes and everyone shared everything, as is Chinese custom, even though my friends were not Chinese. The best thing was the crispy duck, which I had wanted for a long time. There was some sort of crisp green vegetable that was lightly sautéed in a mild sauce. I really liked it, but don’t know what it
was. It wasn’t tough or stringy as many Chinese vegetables seem to be. I don’t recall ever seeing it before either in a market or on a menu.
We also had an oyster stir fry, some sort of roasted pork medallions with onions, a whole catfish, and some baked scallops with noodles. It seems like there was something else, but I can’t remember what it was. We had four beers between us. The total bill came to 232 yuan (about $35.00 USD). My share was about $12.00 USD, making it the most expensive meal I have eaten in China.
By this time it was getting dark. My friends boarded buses home. I walked to my house.
Not the catfish to the left