Sunday, November 08, 2009

Honeymoon: Not Rigmarole

Heather and I have been on two guided group tours during our escapades from the Land of the Early Morning Alarm Clock. One of those was in Beijing and the other was just recently in Hong Kong. Guided tours are good in the fact that they take you around to places in a convenient manner. The downside is that they conveniently take you to some places that you'd rather not go.

The Beijing tour was fairly good, but at one point they dropped us off at a ceramics factory in the middle of the countryside. After a good twenty minutes of seeing how ceramics are made, we were led to a large shop which was empty of customers, but with around ten staff who were there to entice us to part with our holiday cash.
The same thing happened on the Hong Kong tour. At one point it was the fabulous Victoria Peak, and then we found ourselves watching someone polish jewellery at the back of a warehouse. Then we ended up in a large jewellery shop and were offered a 'considerable 30% off jewellery" for guided tour customers only.

At least they gave us free coffee.

Our friendly Sikh friend agreed to let us have a photo together. It's a little hard to see, but his moustache sits horizontally in a very well-styled manner. Click the photo to enlarge. One of the ladies on the tour asked him if he 'uses anything to make it stand up like that'. He said yes, he uses hair gel.

The response I really wanted to hear was "No, actually it does that by itself."

The tour ended at a location on the far side of Hong Kong Island. There was a small market district for us to browse around and a nice beach.

I like Hong Kong taxis. They're all an identical model of a red 1980's Toyota, and there must be literally thousands of them in the city.
One of the old travelling phobias that many people have is related to having untrustworthy taxi drivers. We've probably been taken along the more scenic route to a destination a couple of times, but overall have been fairly lucky.

This area of Hong Kong is called Aberdeen, and it's a relaxing contrast to the busy streets of the Kowloon markets.

Heather and I had a beer and some of these curried fish balls by the beach.

The owner of the fish ball shop was a nice old lady who took this photo of us. Her fish balls were home made and quite good.

Thank you, fish ball lady.

One of my latest hobbies is to get my camera when Heather is busy looking through something, like her handbag or wallet. Then I say "Hey, hunni", and when she looks up, I take a photo of her. Then I have a good giggle at her inquisitive facial expressions.

Fortunately, she's well accustomed to my childish antics. I plan to start behaving more maturely next year.

That night we ate at a small restaurant around the corner from our hotel. The fried noodles in Hong Kong are done well, but they do have a noticeably oily cooking style.

This dish is called char kway teow. There are as many recipe variations as there are ways to spell it, but the basics are a brown sauce and flat white noodles. If the pan is hot enough, a pleasantly subtle smokey flavour should permeate the dish. It was one of our most popular menu items back at Casuarina, and I've wok-fried this particular dish probably more than one thousand times.

We also ordered an eggplant hot-pot and some garlic-fried gai lan. Gai lan is one of the staple greens in Chinese cooking and tastes best fried with garlic, or steamed with oyster sauce. These dishes cost us around $4 each.

Even if you don't want to buy anything, it's fun just to walk around the market districts of Hong Kong at night. The atmosphere is busy and vibrant, and the nights are warm.

This pugnacious little pup was sitting quietly on a chair, observing street life pass by with such comical indifference that I had to take a picture. Or three.

An interesting local peculiarity of walking the streets of Hong Kong is that you'll often feel a drop of water hit you from time to time. Large, intermittent drops, that are too infrequent to be rain.
They come from people's laundry that are hung up outside their apartments. Real estate is expensive and many apartments are too small to have an area for drying clothes. So the locals just hang them outside their windows. I wonder how many shirts have been lost in the wind to the trampling crowds below.

And here is the most brilliantly-titled namesake of this blogpost. 'Not Rigmarole' is the name of a private English academy in Hong Kong.

Speaking of funny names, check out the second-to-last choice on this menu.

That menu was from this lounge bar, which was similar to the disappearing 'board game cafes' of Korea. The idea is that you play a selection of board games while you enjoy some drinks and food. Heather and I played Chinese Checkers. It had been a good decade since I last played this game, and it was her first time ever.

Heather is one of those people who take five minutes to make a move. It's a cunning strategy to bore the opponent into submission.

During our stay in Hong Kong, we were at the Stanford Hotel in Kowloon. It was around US$100 per night and overall quite good. The service was fast and friendly, and in particular the concierge was very helpful to us. The room was a little small, but it's in a good location and we'd stay here again.

For breakfast we often ventured out into the streets to see what we could find. Those two dishes (egg and bacon, and beef noodle soup) actually come together as part of a set with coffee for $3.

And to cap off this post are the subway escalators of Hong Kong, which are the fastest ones I've seen. They're not irresponsibly fast, but you do get on them and think "Woah, these are a little different". One day I'll post a video of the Seoul National University subway escalators, which are probably the slowest in the world. You can receive a phone call at the bottom and be finished by the time you've reached the top. And it only moves you from B1 to ground floor.

Anyway, wifey is getting a little bored waiting for me to finish this Sunday blogpost, so that's all from me. See you in a couple of days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If I were to go to Hong Kong, I think I'd come back 15 kilos heavier from all that cheap, yummy food.

And I wonder if Not Rigmarole is hiring. I'd love to be able to tell people to send their mail to 61 Soy Sauce Street.