As Renee and I descended from a sunny blue sky above the clouds down on to Hong Kong Island, the air quickly turned grey and filled with smog.
China city life. I’ve been in and out of China and Hong Kong a few times, and not once have I seen a clear, blue sky. Even when the sun is shining its rays are stifled by a thick haze, the luster and shine of the sun gone, replaced by a filmy, blurred light. So many people, so much industry, and no one is doing anything to offset the massively growing carbon footprint.
But, this is not a post discussing China’s obvious pollution problems.
This is mostly a post about food. And a few things we did between eating all the food. But mostly about food.
After grabbing our bags we met Renee’s wonderful and generous cousin, Shirley, at the airport, and we hauled all of our luggage back to her nice apartment on the fortieth floor. We settled in and ran to meet our friends, Katie and Jessie, who now live and work in China just across the border. That night we had a spread of roasted duck, roasted pork, soy sauce chicken, glass noodles, tofu and some greens.
We then headed out to a bar called The Dog House (a tip of the hat to our usual spot, The Dog House, on Geoje Island) with half off drinks. As we walked around the streets lit with neon signs and people everywhere, I took in the scene of streets packed with taxis and cars, sidewalks lined with prostitutes and vendors selling everything from fried sweet bread to octopus and fish balls. The air was dirty, the streets were noisy, and it felt good to be back in Hong Kong.
The next day the first thing Renee and I did was find some dim sum. Truth be told, we had dim sum every. single. day. It was glorious. Soup dumplings, shrimp dumplings, shrimp and pork dumplings, fried wontons, spring rolls, glutinous rice balls with minced meat, sweet bread in a rice noodle, sponge cake, coconut buns, egg custard buns, BBQ pork buns, stir fried noodles, and cup after cup of Chinese tea. I stuffed myself so full in the five days there that by the time I left I felt like a sausage that was splitting out of its casing — my pants were uncomfortable and I could feel that I had basically grown another chin. And I didn’t regret one single bite.
After our feast we decided to take a cable car up to Tian Tan Buddha, the Big Buddha temple. This Buddha is 112 ft. tall and weighs 250 tons, and is one of the largest seated bronze Buddha statues in the world. About six years ago my friend, Carin, and I took the bus up to the Big Buddha, but this time I thought it would be fun to take a quick zip up the mountain in a cable car – and then I immediately regretted that decision not even ten minutes into the trip. What I thought was going to be a fast ride up a mountain ended up being a 25 minutes 5K ride up a few mountains, through some valleys and over water. It was also uncharacteristically windy that day (of course it was), and I realized that I was unconsciously white knuckling the steel bar next to my head while the ten year old girl sat across from me totally unfazed. At a few points we were up so high that we were totally surrounded by the clouds and we unable to see anything but the white outside of our cable car. Of course we made it to the temple without plummeting to our deaths, but Renee and I went ahead and exchanged our cable car return ticket for a bus ticket anyway. We climbed the stairs to the Buddha, marveled in the hugeness and greatness of it all, walked around the grounds and headed back to the apartment complex.
We had an hour or so before Shirley would be home from work, so we walked around the supermarket, drank some milk tea and bought a bag full of sweet buns – traditional flavored buns, egg custard buns, BBQ Pork buns, pineapple buns, and coconut buns. And then, of course, it was time for dinner. We ate xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), thick rice noodles, sweet and sour pork and green beans.
The next day Shirley took off work and we ate dim sum, and then went looking around at the women’s market and street shops and ended up at an electronic market where I eventually walked out of with an iPad Mini. I didn’t really expect to do that, but the cheap tablet I had gotten online (AVOID MSI 81 PRIMOS AT ALL COST) broke within a day or so of getting it and no one could fix it. So there’s that.
The next day we walked around Central Hong Kong and found a Bee Cheng Hiang shop full of different types of pork and beef jerky, my favorite jerky in the whole world. We got a mixed bag and walked around the area until we met up with Shirley and her thirteen year old niece. We went and ate at a place that’s known for their homemade noodles and then made our way to Victoria Harbor to see the nightly light show across the city. Unfortunately it was extremely foggy and rainy, so the show was a bust; however, we walked down the avenue of the stars and saw handprints of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and the famous Bruce Lee statue.
On our final full day in Hong Kong the four of us went for a last epic (gasp!) dim sum and then rode around the city in a double decker tram. That evening we met up with Shirley’s brother, his two other daughters and her mother and father. We shared a gorgeous meal of peking duck, roast pork, soup, veggies, steak, and sweet and sour pork, and the conversation flowed as easily as the tea as the family caught up after not seeing Renee for about fifteen years or so.
Monday morning came too soon, and I was honestly sad to say goodbye to Hong Kong. Renee’s family was so generous and welcoming, and the city was vibrant and full of SO MUCH GOOD FOOD. As we boarded the plane I was happy to have been bumped up to Premium Economy, which offers bigger seats (for my bigger waist line).
Hours later as we walked around Kuta, Bali, sweating off all of the dim sum we had consumed in the week, we were greeted by this amazing sunset. Goodbye Hong Kong, hello Bali.