Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, Hong Kong, long term travel, Southeast Asia, Travel

Around The Wolrd: Part Two

For those of you following, you know that I was a bit of a slacker with the blog during my first trip, but I’m committed to keeping up with it this time around, because there are just too many details that are forgotten when you write after the fact.

I have now embarked on Part 2 of the World Tour (well, the Southeast Asia tour). I left Atlanta on Monday, and had a perfect journey over. I was on Korean Air, my new favorite airline because of their amazing service, and I arrived in Hong Kong by 11pm Tuesday evening. I hadn’t booked any accommodation and was debating on cheating for the first night in town. It was late, I didn’t have my bearings yet, and the thought of schlepping around scoping out guesthouses sounded like something I’d be much better at after a good night’s sleep.

I hopped on a bus bound for Kowloon around midnight and a couple of people on the bus showed me where to get off. Fortunately my ATM card worked here (it hadn’t at the airport), and the guy in 7-11 pointed me in the right direction for a hotel. I had a feeling I wasn’t in the best area at first, seeing as most of the rooms could be rented overnight, or for 2 hours. After some more walking, I gave in and booked one night at a little boutique hotel, called Nathan Hotel. If anyone is ever looking for nice 4-star accommodation at a really good price, check out the Nathan (www.nathanhotel.comm.)

Accommodation in Hong Kong is not as cheap as what you can find on the Southeast Asia circuit. Most hostels or guesthouses charge upwards of $30 per night, so I was happy to find lodging at the Cosmic Guesthouse in Mirador Mansion for about $20 a night. The room is small. It’s cramped when me and my bags are in it, and I haven’t quite figured out if I should sit on the toilet while I take a shower, or stand with one leg on either side of it. I suppose it pays to be a small Asian person!

After getting settled, I was starving, so I ventured across the road for some dim sum at Super Star Seafood Restaurant. Ok, dim sum is like tapas and meant to be shared, but I felt I couldn’t come to Hong Kong and not have dim sum, so with the help of my waiter, we picked out three dishes for me to try. Actually, he just took the menu out of my hands and circled three plates, told me they were good, authentic dim sum dishes, and I wasn’t going to argue. After gorging myself on steamed shrimp dumplings, shu mei and marinated pork wrapped in a steamed pasta like shell, I had to sit for a minute before contemplating the afternoon.

The weather was not looking too good, so I walked down to the harbor just to take a look, and stumbled upon the Hong Kong Office of Tourism. A helpful lady informed me that most museums were free on Wednesdays, so after booking a boat tour for Thursday, I made my way over to the Museum of History. I toured the “Hong Kong Story” exhibit, which took me all the way from the formation of the land mass that is now Hong Kong, to the day HK gained Independence from the British. It was a really interesting couple of hours, and I felt a little bit more knowledgeable about HK’s history, which was good seeing as I was having dinner with a local, and didn’t want to seem too ignorant about the culture and the country.

At 7pm, I met up with Mr.Wong, who is an old colleague of my dad’s. He had heard about my trip to HK, and emailed to invite me to dinner. He picked me up at Cosmic Guesthouse, and I think he was a bit alarmed at where I was staying. Still, I assured him I was used to the hostel circuit. He later told me that Mirador Mansion, and its neighbor, Chungking Mansion, used to be quite notorious for being “seedy” places, and well known on the drug circuit.

Mr. Wong, a charming older Chinese man, and I made our way over to Hong Kong Island to a restaurant called Island Tang, and he took the liberty of ordering a delicious, authentic Chinese meal, consisting of suckling pig, BBQ Chicken, garlic beef with broccoli, tofu, steamed white fish and noodles. About three-quarters of the way through the meal, he informed me that he knew it was a lot of food, but that he also had a sweet tooth and would be ordering dessert. I was pacing myself at this point, and wondering when scientists were going to develop portable second stomachs. We finished the meal with more jasmine tea, pastries filled with steamed egg, and a chilled mango custard, which I amazingly found room for all of.

Mr. Wong is originally from Shanghai. He then moved to Hong Kong, before moving to the States. He lived in NYC from 1954-1963, and also spent time in California and Massachusetts. We had a good time talking about the New York City food scene, his time at Columbia, NYU and The New School, and his other old haunts that are still around.

He filled me in on what to do with the rest of my time in Hong Kong, and sent me home feeling stuffed and happy to be in such a great city.

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