Creativity and Ramblings from the heart of NYC and around the World

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wednesday in HK

Breakfast brought the usual... including jams and honey from Australia.

We met Tony on the Central side of the Star Ferry and hopped the 260 Bus to Stanley Market located on the back side of Hong Kong Island. Mag had a meeting back in Dongguan and would join us later that night. We wandered around and purchased scarves, gifts and some art... Bartering down as best we could (an average of 15-20%.)

We wandered in front of one of my favorite Vietnames/Thai restaurants and popped in for a fantastic meal of green curry, pinapple and seafood rice, mixed veggies and 2 Salads - green papaya with rare beef and Pomello with shrimp. YUM! Topping it off was sitting in a room with the windows open and a view of the China Sea with its blue water.

Next stop...Victoria Peak where we walked the 2 mile Peak Walk that takes you around the top of the Peak so you cab view Hong Kong Island from all sides. A lovely walk, interesting trees and beautiful butterflys. Sadly our view of the lands below was block by the constant rolling fog. We were able to catch a quick glance from time to time...but never a long view to the mountains that you can see when it's clear.

As we took the Tram down from Victoria's Peak, working our way back to the Star Ferry, the clouds began to part a little...but it remained fairly clouded.

Onwards to Remy Fashions to try on and pick up the suits & shirts. I've never seen anything fit either of my parents as well as these suits! We were all so wrapped up in looking at the details of the beautiful work that was done, that I forgot to take photos! Rest assured, I'll get one from Mom & Dad, they plan to wear them the week after returning when they go out for a nice nice night to celebrate their 40th Anniversary!

After changing, we met Tony at Sabitini at the Royal Garden Hotel - as always a fantastic Italian restaurant. The live roaming trio, once again, sung and played their hearts out with such tight harmony! Wow! Mom thought she may stump them, but after a moment of thinking way back, they sung “You'll Never Know.” They followed with a few more of our request before moving along.

Since we were on vacation, we went across town to meet Mag after her dinner meeting for drinks at AQUA. Although the view from AQUA is always great and they have an excellent mix master behind the bar... They insist on playing the music so damned loud that it physically hurts. Those poor waitresses...the damage to their ears will be irreversible. We enjoyed a few laughs (where we could see each other laughing but couldn't hear the laughter!) and one round then left before too long because of the noise. Really is too bad...if they turned it down a fraction, everyone would be more comfortable.

Tomorrow we'll stop by the Hong Kong Post and ship some of our goodies home, then fly to Xi'an! Exciting for me as it's an all new stop!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dinner fit for Royalty

After the tailor we began the trip to dinner with a cross harbor trip on via the Star Ferry ($0.28US) to Central.
Next a taxi to Aberdine (the Southernmost part of HK Island) brought us to the boat that would take us to Jumbo Floating Boat restaurant.
The top photo is of the dock where we board the boat to the reastuarant. The restaurant is the brightly lit boat on the left hand photo.
The photo on the right shows Tony, Mag and my parents on the boat over to the restaurant.

Since I get so many comments from folks that love the food photos...I thought I'd make a seperate entry just for this special dinner.

The first course we had was called Thousand Year Old Eggs. You put a slice of the hot (spicy) ginger atop with a pinch of suger and eat-em-up -- YUM!

Mom had a little difficulty eatting this slippery bugger with chopsticks, but had no trouble once she assisted with the big spoon...
Dad sarcastically said "This is how you do it" as he had a firm grip on his egg with his chopsticks...Until he went for a bite! It slipped into his napkin in his lap and brought the waitress running to help get it back to his plate and get him a new napkin. Stubbornly he tried it again -- without the aid of the big spoon (used the all to small spoon)...and again Dad couldn't seem to keep it in his chopsticks NOR the spoon. Finally Third time was the charm with the proper spoon! Very tasty!! A close up of the eggs...they taste great - better than they look I promise!!

Next we popped downstairs to select the live seafood for our dinner.
We selected the following. The first photo is what we picked, the second is how is looked cooked! EVERYTHING was DELICIOUS!!!

*Lobster: local spiney lobster Sautéd with long life noodles

*Large Local Scallops cooked with garlic & green bean noodle

*Leopard Coral Garoupa - steamed with green onion (a favorite of mine!!)

*Urinating Shrimp - very local - in Japanese - Sa-goo

** All are from the South China Sea **

We also had a few bowls of veggies and some lovely shark's fin soup:

Our hosts convinced us to hop onto the throne for a photo op! My parents decided that they should pretend to be royalty and put on the superior look...Mom could hardly keep from smiling! It's a little fuzzy because they both bust out laughing both times I tried to take a solumn shot.

Tuesday - To Lantau!!

The MTR (subway) ride was swift - perhaps an hour from our hotel to the last stop. Then we boarded a bus for the mountainous ride to the Monastery. The bus driver used the driving method “ if you can't find 'em, grind 'em”, and someone opened up a bag of Durian fruit. (The stinkiest fruit in the world...if you open it in some hotels, they'll kick you out!) After a while you do get used to the putrid smell...and since it was being eatten...the smell disappeared a little.

The bus seats are 3 on one side, 2 on the other... with an off-center aisle that you can't walk down straight and carry a bag without bumping folks (it's tiny!) Winding down the mountain all you can see is water as far as to can see in front...

It's a little overcast, so the view is a small bit clouded... there are shadows of mountains in the distance to the left and right. The bus crawls up the mountains and flies like the wind down them! The pass we are on is small, and in some spots two vehicles can only pass each other at slow speeds with one vehicle pulled over at a stand still.

This is the first view we saw as we arrived at the parking lot, mid construction. They are building a new, larger building between the parking lot and The Great Buddha. The fog rolls through and we each had to snap photos when we could as the Buddha often dissapeared into the fog.

We arrive - just glorious!
Climbed the stairs to the Great Buddha -- all 308 steps according to my father's count!

At the top of the hill, there are 6 consorts at the base of the Great Buddha, facing him with offerings. They are beautiful!

We walked through the inner room that showed, amoungst other things, an amazing piece of art within. I have no photos of this art as none were allowed. It was comprised of many foot wide panels that were lined up side by side (north/south) on the outside of a circular wall. It shows many many dieties -- we think more than 100... Each woodburned and painted. It took 5 artists more than 7 years to complete and was only opened in the late 1990s. I'm hoping to be able to find a book on it to take another look. Simply magnificent!
Lunch! We had the traditional Chinese Vegetarian lunch called Jai. So good! Taro, Lotus root...spring many kinds of yummy fungus (mushrooms.) (And that's a cameo by my 1957 cardi on the chair!)

After a wander around the grounds including the koi pond, we headed back for the return bus ride...the long and winding road!

I think last weeks 105+ hour work week was finally catching up with me! I was a bit tired. We hit the hotel for a short rest followed by a trip to the tailor for Mom & Dad's suit fittings and my shirt fittings. Then a stop by the eye glass shop to pick up our glasses!
My sunglasses won't be ready until tomorrow.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Hong Kong - Hip Hip Hoorah

After a swift journey back into Hong Kong we headed for the hotel to settle in. We're staying in Tsim Sha Tsui (Chim Sa Choy) along the “Golden Mile.” It's the same area I stay in for work... There's a great feeling that I get every time I enter Hong Kong after having been in China for a few days or more. Working and living in the sections of China that I travel in is very isolating. Living in NYC I come and go at my own pace on my own schedule. In China that's fairly an impossible task. I'm told not to leave my hotel alone at night for safety sake and I cannot (WOULD NOT EVEN DARE) drive in China -- so I'm always in need of arranging the factory driver for whatever is needed. Anyone that I know that lives and/or works in China agrees and breaths a sigh of freedom and relief when getting to Hong Kong. Shown above is they scaffolding that is used in Hong Kong and China. Simply put, it's long (20ft?) poles of bamboo that are lashed together. The other photo shows you men putting up this scaffolding -- all the way up! Yeow-za!

After fighting with my usual hotel, who tried to charge me extra (did they THINK I wouldn't HAVE the contract on me???) We walked to my usual eyeglass shop for some new sunglasses for Mom & Dad and to update lenses in the glasses I'd brought along. The glasses will all be ready and available for pick-up the next day. After a brief coffee, we headed back to the hotel to meet Mag...and I got sidetracked by sunglasses... A guilty pleasure! These yummy new Michael Kors sunglasses with leather covered arms - all mine! Did I say Yummy? Yummy! I put in my order for them and we were off for a lovely lunch at the Lucky Star restaurant - specializing in crab, stone fish soup and dumplings.

Afternoon brought a visit to see my friend Gary and his wife Remy the owners over at Remy Fashions tailoring. They've been making things for me for years and I remembered Mom saying once long ago that she'd always wanted a custom made suit from Hong Kong! Now's the time!! We walked out having left orders for suits and shirts for both Mom & Dad, as well as some shirts for Dan & I. Tuesday evening we'll go back for fittings for Mom & Dad's suits. Mom's giddy about hers and Dad hasn't had a custom made suit in 20 years!

We hopped the MTR (subway) over to Hong Kong Island next and were on our way to see the Hong Kong Knitteratti!! Eva, Marjorie and Siow Chin met us at Cheer Wool and we all had a good browse. You'll be proud of me...I maintained my yarn diet! Once we'd made the necessary purchases we strolled over to Pacific Coffee for a little sit down and chat. It was so nice to see everyone after having missed them all twice in a row since January, but sadly, Siow Chin did NOT bring Jenny!!! Both Marjorie and I were hoping to meet her! I told her if Meg brings VV (Violet Velvet) to Disney in LA in a few weeks, I'll take a photo for Jenny!

Eva had been to Japan a few weeks ago and brought back some great sewing books for Siow Chin! Toys, bags skirts - fun! My Dad found it so nice that we were sitting on the other side of the world having crafty talk in two languages while looking through books in a third language! Crafty people are everywhere (thank goodness!!)

We ended the day with a dash and change at the hotel for drinks and dinner at Felix. A-Sau, head of product development at one of my factories, was in Hong Kong from China, and was able to join us for dinner. I always enjoy her company and we have a great time, even though we speak different languages. (I must learn more Mandarin!) She's got the BEST SMILE! Her face just lights up!
Back to Felix... The view, always impressive and the food was tasty. Please note that this photo of the skyline was taken from the ladies restroom in Felix. It's the view that you get when using the makeup mirrors. Not to shabby eh?
It's been great to see Mom, Dad, Tony & Mag all getting along so well! They were all instant friends, having heard me talk about each other for years!! Just good people, all of 'em! Laughs round the table all night! Tomorrow we're off to Lantau Island to see the Great Buddha.
A-Sau will join us all for that too!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Let's begin in China... Dongguan

After checking my folks in to the hotel last night, we went for a Midnight Snack... or as I'd call it -- a whole heck of a lot of FOOD! WOW! 2 whole fishes (which you can see them choosing with Mag at the left and see the Flat Fish cooked at right), a few large squid, veggies, pork buns... A great way to break Mom and Dad in right off the bat to the food they will have on this trip! YUM!

We all slept fairly well and were up-n-at 'em this morning for a full day ahead!

After a tasty breakfast we journeyed to the market! The food market, to select crabs (two kinds), veggies fruits and fish for lunch. At left shows an egg stand with so very many kinds of eggs available from goose and duck to quail and preserved eggs (the black ones in the lower left of the photo.)

The colors of the vegetables -- YUM! This is what my Mom is taking some video of... the richness of color!

I loved the colors of the bags of rice and the spices side by side... then this little kitty hopped into the photo... Of course, after I took the photo he hissed his head off at me...

After the market we were off to see my factory. They had brought with them some bottles of maple syrup that had been made from their own trees in New Hampshire, along with photographs of the process that is takes to get the syrup from tree to bottle. Noone here had ever seen such things.

My folks were treated to a factory tour by Tony with details filled in as they went by each division head. The tour included the various parts of the factory, canteen, grounds and dorm-style rooms. Meanwhile I wrapped up most all of the loose ends for work. Phew 105 2 more! Before I knew it, it was lunch time!

Crab lunch day!! The usual feast was expanded upon with the addition of a large sandpaper fish, steamed, and a few veggies. YUM!!! Fu prepared the usual two crabs. The white one with the red markings that is served cold and dipped in the white vinegar with the chopped garlic, and the more typical red crab with ginger and scallions that is served hot and is dipped in black vinegar with hot fresh chilies in it.

Needless to say we didn't go hungry -- and my folks enjoyed it as much as the rest of us. How can you NOT? YUM!

We next toured the grounds of an entertainment complex where we saw a laughing Buddha and Quan Yin... The view I used to see from my old hotels breakfast room. (photos later perhaps...they are with my Dad.)

Then is was tea time! We jumped into the car and went to do a tea tasting at Ten Fu's Tea...YUM!

We tried about 6 different teas presented by the tea master... a surprisingly young man. Pictured is a Ti Kuan Yin - harvested in autumn, an oolong, and best brewed in clay. I bought some of this tea, along with a clay pot. Yum!
We also tasted the Dragon's Eye tea, shown hear in it's unbrewed state. Each leaf painstakingly hand wrapped around a jasmine flower. I like this jasmine tea!! Bought some of this too along with a porcelain pot since it's best brewed in porcelain. I won't bore you with photos of all of the teas -- but I can say that I also picked up some Pu-er, a common and mild black tea, and some Dragon's Well, a lovely green tea.

After we picked up our wares & tea, we journeyed on to dinner at the Japanese restaurant in the hotel. Min & her husband and Ho and his fiancé joined Mag, Tony, Mom, Dad and myself for a nice Teppanyaki dinner.

Finishing the night, Mom, Mag and I went for a foot Massage! Amazing how much LIGHTER your feet feel after a foot massage! As we were being massaged, I flipped channels and came upon... An episode of the NEW Dr. Who!! (Yes...I'm a closet Whovian!) It was funny to see the new Doctor using cell phones and having the aliens a bit computer animated... No Daleks though. [Grin] Tomorrow we'll leave China for 3 nights in Hong Kong!