(continuing the recap of my Hong Kong stopover in early December)
There's a fruit smoothie bar located directly across the street from my hotel, so that took care of breakfast. I took some time to orient myself in Central before returning to Causeway Bay for two necessary retail stops. On the way, I stopped to ponder this weird and colourful seasonal display at Times Square.
Can you guess the shops I was rushing to visit on my first morning in Hong Kong?
Muji and UNIQLO, home of cheap Japanese household and fashion basics - I really love these two stores! Unfortunately, none of UNIQLO's line this season appealed to me (I find I either want everything or nothing). At Muji, I picked up a number of gifts and replenished my pen supply. I almost, almost bought a cute yule log baking kit, one of Muji's range of seasonal baking kits. Eventually, I admitted to myself that it would be a needless and bulky addition to my luggage and I had to return it to the shelf.
After my foray into Japanese shopping culture, I returned to Central in time to have lunch with a connection, my father's friend's friend's daughter who is my age and working in HK. Tell me, when you travel, do people you know try to set you up to meet their distant acquaintances in far flung places? In this case, I was really happy to meet Veronica because I felt we had a very similar perspective about living and travelling in Asia, among other things. Veronica took me to Mak's Noodles for quick and flavourful noodle soup, then she walked me around Central, pointing out shops, cafes and other features of interest. Here's a small neighbourhood temple beside a steep staircase, hung with coils of incense.
In the afternoon, I decided that it might be interesting to ride the tram line for its entire length along Hong Kong Island. I grabbed a big bottle of Ribena and boarded the tram at its western Kennedy Town terminus, securing a seat at the front window of the second floor. I rode and observed for about an hour...
...but when I reached Quarry Bay, three quarters of the way along the route, I'd had enough.
The next item to check off my must-see list was Victoria Peak, so I hustled over to the Peak Tram Terminus on Cotton Tree Road but when I arrived, there was a line-up of about 300 people, twilight had already fallen, plus I was tired and cranky. I walked back to Wellington Street through an area of massive masonry walls and vines which seemed remarkably like Sydney.
Determined to see something of the skyline that night, I went out later to ride the Star Ferry across to Kowloon. The ferry terminal was a much farther walk from my hotel than I'd gauged from my map - a taxi would have made the expedition more enjoyable. At the terminal, I noted that a favourite hobby of Hong Kong residents seems to be pushing and shoving ahead of politely lined-up foreign tourists to get the best seats on the ferry!
From the Kowloon side, I looked across to the skyscrapers which are always decorated with lights but the Christmas displays added even more to the spectacle.
As you can see, I was feeling blurry and worn out by this time. I wanted to take the subway back to Central - early to bed - but I'd misunderstood where I'd disembarked from the ferry so I was confused about where in Kowloon I was. I ended up walking for most of an hour along an avenue of luxury goods stores until I found Kowloon Park and then Austin MTR Station. A cheap and forgettable dish of dumplings quietened the grumble in my belly, then it was back to that big, comfy bed on the 21st floor.