Sunday, April 28, 2013

July 5; Hello Hong Kong: TST edition

Day 151

Today, we moved hostels to a more convenient location closer to the central area. This building, like the other, was full of different types of guest houses. 
We spent the day wandering around the Tsim Sha Tsui area, which is another major shopping area,

stumbled upon Kowloon Park,
what  surprise! flamingos! 

found the pier that looks out on Hong Kong Island,
can't believe we're actually here in Hong Kong

and we kept walking and came across this pretty little area. Thought this might have been a good place to shoot wedding photos.

We met up with Cat's friend, E, for dinner. He was great company and he even treated us out for Macau style Chinese food. So nice. 

I learned three more things today:
1) Hong Kong is a hell of a materialistic world of it's own..
2) Chung King Mansion is a little ghetto in Hong Kong.  The building is heavily populated with Nepalese, African, and South Asian refugees and illegal workers. Apparently, there's a lot of sketchy things that go on in there. I wish we knew this before cause we were actually going to book our hostel there. Our hostel is in Mirador Mansion, one building away from the Chung King Mansions. Despite the sketchyness of it all, it interests me greatly. For further reading, check out: Ghetto At the Center of the World, I know I definitely will.
3) food is amazing here -- just wanted to say that again

July 4; Hello Hong Kong

Day 150

Hong Kong has different areas. There's Hong Kong Island (hustle and bustle), Kowloon (the peninsula is similar to HK Island but cheaper), and the New Territories (suburbs). 

We arrive in Hong Kong and can already tell that it's going to be so different from the mainland.  In the first hour of being there, I had a great impression already. Like, you could see the difference in the sky alone. 

The people spoke Cantonese and English fairly well, the dress was really Western, and it just seemed so much nicer. Don't get me wrong, mainland was nice but Hong Kong is just something else. We checked into our tiny hostel in Kowloon, and thank goodness we're pretty tiny too cause I couldn't see how three grown men would be able to live in the room we were given.  Hong Kong is a small, but busy place, and I guess vertical development and small spaces are the answers to accommodating more people. 
1/2 of the room
other 1/2 of the room
We went out to explore the Mong Kok district. It was a shopper's paradise. Dear divine force, help me. Also, the Mong Kok area is a popular filming location for triad movies.
funny shirt
The common assumption about going to China and eating Chinese food would be chicken balls, spring rolls, and wonton soup all day, every day. The fact of the matter is that each region has their own specialty cuisine, and if you think you're gonna get chicken balls and wonton soup everywhere in China you are very wrong. For starters, chicken balls aren't even real Chinese food.  Wonton soup is a Hong Kong specialty and it's something that we really wanted to eat, especially after hearing Lil B's Wonton Soup rap.
tastes like home!
Shrimp filled wonton soup = $25 HKD (~$3 CND)

Hong Kong is also known for its variety of street foods. I tried the curry fish balls and I will say that it tasted better than Canada's.
food happy!
Photo Cred: Cat
Bowl of curry fish balls = $10HKD (~$1.50 CND)

Within the first 10 hours of being here, I learnt 3 things:
1) Cantonese food is the best kind of Chinese food!
2) Hong Kong is full of moshisoyos
3) shopping is everywhere and it may be the death of my wallet and me. 

July 3; Thank you and Goodbye Shanghai, you were so good to us.

Day 149

We woke up this morning in a beautiful Mediterranean style villa with breakfast waiting for us. Definitely feeling spoiled.
Kristie and I took advantage of the empty pool and went in for a bit.  We spent 2 hours just floating around and gossiping. Relaxing, and definitely what a vacation should feel like. Also, for a person who hadn't been been in a pool for years, I actually really like pools now.

In the late afternoon, we got ready to finally leave the mainland! Hong Kong, which is a SAR (Special Administrative Region of China) was our next destination. We went through Chinese customs and then we got this magical pass:
my pass for getting off the mainland
It was going to be an 18 hour train journey. We got first class sleepers, so there were 4 beds instead of 6... and there was a door (yay privacy). We were totally ready for the train ride. We watched Despicable Me, did some ghetto karaoke, watched the sky, and then had story time with the Life of Pi. Great book so far, the references to the Toronto Zoo reminds me of Scarborough! 

We will arrive in Hong Kong tomorrow. Can't wait to see what our next destination has in store for us!

July 2; Venice of the Orient

Day 148

Imagine Venice with a splash of ancient Chinese culture... You've got yourself one of six ancient water towns. These water towns are located near Shanghai, on the banks of the Yangtze River. 

We originally planned to go to Tongli because it's one of the less popular towns, however we missed our bus because of the confusing directions to actually get to the bus station. Oh well, we got tickets for Zhouzhuang instead. It's the most popular water town and also one of the closest.  Sometimes things don't go as planned, but sometimes it works out better that way.

waiting room
on our way! 
Art Village just outside the water town
As a part of the bus ticket, we pay for admission to the water town as well. To my surprise, there are turnstiles at the entrances and exits of the water town. Sounds pretty touristy doesn't it?
We were given a choice to follow the tour guide or adventure on our own. We chose the latter of course. On our own, we discovered some beautiful places in this town.
first glimpse of the pre-town
People actually live in the houses
Boat rides - For a cost, you could take a ride in the canal.
I noticed it was  mainly elder  ladies rowing the boat. 
Photo Cred: Cat
Brilliant Kristie discovered that fish can actually hear. She saw that the fish gathered around when she snapped her fingers. I test the theory by playing some music for the fish to follow. The school of fish followed the music/me across the pond! Once One Republic's Fighter ended and The Arctic Monkeys came on, they swam away...  Guess they don't like monkeys.
wild chicken appears
End of town
Before going back to Shanghai, the tour (a tour wouldn't be complete with one of these) took us to a gift shop. Ugh, but luckily it wasn't for too long. We reached back to Shanghai to get our stuff and bid farewell to our lovely host. Our last night will be spend at my aunt's place. For dinner, the maid made curry!  =D  mm, great day. 

Things I miss: homecooked meals -- which I've had a few of now.