Today, lots of people, lots of heights and depths.
Today was Dragon Boat Festival day, which is actually a public holiday. Thousands of house maids were out and about like it were a Sunday. We went to Exchange Square, location of the HK Stock Exchange, to get to the bus terminal for the trip to Stanley, where one of the regional races were held.
We took bus #260, which is the Stanley double-decker express bus. We went up and down the rollercoaster of highways on the northern side, then went through the Aberdeen Tunnel to the southern side, ending up outside Ocean Park. Then through winding roads similar to that in the northeast coast of Oahu, we went along winding coastal roads, narrowly avoiding oncoming vehicles and pedestrians. A quick stop at Deep Water Bay deposits a horde of people going to the beach, and then we were soon at Stanley Market.
Stanley Market is usually a riot of stalls. Add thousands of dragon boat spectators, and you get general chaos. We bought a dozen magnets, and haggled them down by about 5 bucks. We ate at DeliFrance, a chain of French-themed cafes. The noodle dishes were sort of ok, but the apple turnover was nice and super flaky.
Dragon Boat Races
The Stanley version of the races was one part tradition, one part community festival, and one part goofball antics. The traditional part was the actual races, and the consuming of massive quantities of jung, or rice tamales to use a cultural mixed metaphor. The community part is where a lot of people get to hang out together and interact in the race. The goofball part is where the teams often choose to race in wacky outfits. One team had pirate outfits; another in wedding attire; a third team had plastic wigs. A weight loss company was giving out free samples of their tea. A gin company was giving out these hand fans that were a big hit.
We walked through the International Financial Center mall. The neatest thing is the theater ticket centre, where you can use an Octopus card to buy movie tickets. Really need. We then took the Star Ferry back home.
When we got back, I decided that I desparately needed a haircut. We waited downstairs at the barber shop for about 45 minutes, when P- started being impatient. I took that to mean that she wanted to leave, and we left. It turned out that the haircutter was actually looking for us. We went back down, and she took care of the haircut. She did it all manually, without those cutter attachments or anything. Pretty good job.
We took the MTR train to Mong Kok, the neighborhood next to the former neighborhood. It has changed a lot since the last time I was here. The ladies’ market was a riot of stalls filled with every possible bit of junk and clothing you can imagine. However, that was supplemented by a mass of malls, shining electronics emporiums, and restaurants.
In search of a Hakka restaurant
One of the guide books pointed to a restaurant called Chuen Cheung Kui in the area. When we got there, it was an electronics store instead. We later found out that they are really in Causeway Bay.
This mall is unlike any other mall that we’ve seen. It’s vertical, having 14 levels. It has 5 storey escalators that whisk you skyward. They have a main stage on the 12th floor that had a jazz/soul guitarist named Pius Chan. At the very top levels, called OZone, there are a collection of restaurants in a Vegas style setup.
Ming Ya Fe
We had dinner at this 1930’s Shanghai themed restaurant/bar. They did a good job of immersing the guests in that time. We picked the set menu, because it seemed to have a good value. The dishes included: cold drunken chicken appertiser, sharks fin soup, shanghai soup dumplings, beef and broccoli, lobster tail in chili sauce, and two slices of cake: berry cheesecake and coffee cheesecake. There was also a singing duo that was taking requests. Very satisfying – recommended.