25 January – Hong Kong

Well, such is the life of international travellers, today we had breakfast in Bangkok, yesterday we had breakfast in Rangoon and I now sit here in Hong Kong having had a delicious dim sum and dumplings for our tea.

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We left our tiny room in Bangkok and did public transport to the airport, no problems at all, well, apart from Guy having a slight tummy upset, but nothing a clean airport toilet wouldn’t provide him some comfort from. We checked in smoothly, no one else queuing, now that is a first. Then through the various checks etc, then onto the important question of the morning, what to eat for breakfast? I was craving burgers so queued behind some awkward Russians wanting to pay in a variety of currencies for their burger king meal, Guy went Japanese – rice and pork. All good nutritious food at 10 in the morning! The new airport in Bangkok is fabulous, it has all the shops a lass should need, especially Tiffany’s, in fact Guy did me a deal, I wouldn’t buy anything from Tiffany’s and then I could have a fancy cream from L’Occitane! We agreed on that and I am now one happy lady with posh cream that should guarantee I look at least 10 years younger in a few weeks or so.

The flight was practically empty, although everyone had thick jackets, jeans, boots and warm weather gear. We felt decidedly under prepared.  We were lucky to be on the right side of the plane to get views of Hong Kong and the surrounding islands, it was cloudy but still stunning. It was also stunningly simple to get a bus downtown, each stop is numbered and the electronic message board on the bus tells you when your stop appears……. simples?

We were staying in a tourist attraction mentioned in the guide book, no, it wasn’t the Intercontinental with its views of Hong Kong island at night, nor was it the Sheraton with its wide windows and sweeping bay views. It is Chungking mansions, built in 1961, a ramshackled old building, with a rabbit warren of shops providing for your every need. We had been warned that it would be mayhem when we got off the bus, with touts demanding our business, and although it was hectic, they were all friendly and didn’t press us once we had said we had a booking. Although we had agreed that as long as we had somewhere clean, size didn’t matter, but I wasn’t quite prepared for quite how small our room is…….for the next FIVE days! It is smaller than the nitenite hotel rooms in Birmingham! Guy can just about fit on the bed lengthways, storage is underneath the bed, handy, and at this rate I maybe also stored there as well! The building must hold about 20 hotels, similar to ours, on each of the 5 blocks of the mansions, we are in block E, and have a lift to get us to the 12 floor, I have no idea what the plan is in case of fire. It is best not to think about it. We are also fortunate to be down the corridor of shops that sells sex aids and ‘specialist’ magazines, and can we have no smutty comments on this please!

As it was nearing sunset, we were perfectly timed for taking in the view of Hong Kong from the avenue of stars parade, and it is an amazing site, it is much, much bigger than I imagined, and so it took Guy quite sometime to sort out his panoramic camera photo shots, whilst I watched everyone else taking photos of each other in front of the iconic skyline.

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We had a walk around Kowloon, which is where we are staying, and there are a lot – and I mean a lot – of shops here. I don’t think I have ever seen so many shops and so many people in them, even Prada, Armani type shops are full of people either buying or actually queuing to get in the shops. Although it is the equivalent of Christmas eve here, so a lot of shopping would be taking place because of that.
We had a recommendation for a dim sum/shainghainese restaurant that we had to queue up for, about 45 mins, it was called Din Tai Fung and it was worth every minute. The pork dumplings were steamed, and also had a small amount of gravy/juice in them that dribbled down your chin – if you weren’t careful! We also had a beef brisket soup which was really tasty and delicately flavoured, shrimp and prawn wonton in a spicy sauce, some chicken dumplings and some Chinese kale – for greenery and veg which is lacking in our current diet! It was absolutely delicious, really delicate flavours and smooth textures. I will not forget those pork dumplings for a long time.

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After that we had a walk home via the shops and neon lights, and a rare night off the beer (as it is blooming expensive here!)

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