June 25th: Eating Locally, Hong Kong Style

If we’ve learned nothing else this weekend, we now know the fastest way to get through Hong Kong airport: turn up after the flight has been closed.  Then get escorted through the airport (diplomatic channel for immigration, crew channel for baggage scanning), boarding just before the airplane doors close.   Not ideal… but many thanks to the China Eastern staff for looking after us and getting us home*.

Hong Kong - View from "The Peak"

View of Hong Kong and Kowloon from “The Peak”

The journey to Hong Kong for our weekend away was far less stressful, with Carmen and Heather (the ladies from one of our suppliers in Hong Kong) being very accommodating and looking after our bags as we went exploring for the day.  It’s definitely a control thing with me – if the bus company had let me drive the double-decker bus up the narrow, twisty road to the top of one of Hong Kong’s many peaks, I wouldn’t have spent 20 minutes worrying about the bus toppling down one of Hong Kong’s many ravines**.  We took the tram down to the bottom – 5 minutes of sitting at what felt like 45 degrees was more preferable to the bus.

Inside the seafood restaurant

JB, Carmen, Heather, me and Bron in the seafood restaurant

Not being a huge fan of seafood, I was a little nervous about Carmen and Heather’s invitation to visit a “local” seafood restaurant on Friday evening.  With just plastic stools to sit on and Heather’s local post-SARS custom of washing the bowls and plates with tea (yes, as in tea out of a teapot) in front of us didn’t really help (intriguing though it was).   Having live dangly fishy things waved in front of you in the same manner a waiter may show you your selected bottle of wine was also a new experience for me.  But.. the food was fantastic.  If just out with Bron we probably wouldn’t have selected any items on the menu that were chosen for us, and we certainly would have missed out as a result.  Definitely one of the best meals I’ve had in China so far.

MGM Grand

Rather weird butterfly themed entrance to the MGM Grand Casino in Macau

Following the meal, Bron, JB and I jumped on the ferry to Macau for a weekend of culture gambling.  We’d selected the cheapest hotel we could find, and we certainly weren’t disappointed.  A note to Best Western management: you seem to have accidentally made your mattresses out of concrete.

Macau, being China’s answer to Vegas, offers a wide variety of huge casinos and hotels.  The Venetian is staggeringly big inside, and of course they seldom provide a sign showing you where the exit is.  With a few casinos visited over the weekend (now joined by Jo too) and many a cocktail consumed, I think I got off lightly keeping the losses to a minimum (no, I’m not revealing exactly how much!).

Bar Rouge

“InterNations” event at Bar Rouge

This all followed another busy old week –  Thursday night at an event organised by the “Internations” website; Bar Rouge, a posh bar on the Bund overlooking the Huangpu river, joined by Jo.  On Wednesday night we met Matt again (Karen’s neighbour) on his latest trip to Shanghai; this time at “El Patio” Spanish restaurant.  Very expensive tapas, but worth it.   Rachel, crazy late-night American that she is, came over afterwards at around 11pm for a guided house tour and to pick-up an iron and ironing board (as you do).  Most taxi drivers probably expect to pick-up drunk people at midnight, not ladies trying to stuff a great big ironing board into their taxi.

And a couple of times over the last few days I’ve set the alarm for 3.45am to watch the 2nd half of certain football games, including those that went to extra time and penalties.  Hodgson, you owe me at least 4 hours sleep.

*It still feels strange filling in the Shanghai address on immigration forms as “home” but arriving back in Shanghai after the weekend away, it definitely feels more like it.

**Ok, not technically a ravine.  Fully justified use of poetic license/exaggeration/lack of other suitable geographic words.

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