This was the day I fell in love with Hong Kong.
Starting off, a breakfast of noodles in broth with roasted duck. Then, I lost track of time finding my way around Sheung Wan, the old style neighbourhood with a vintage Chinese feel. It was a Saturday morning so the people who live in the multi-story apartments in the area were out and about. Everything is very compact here but all the buildings and streets seem to be tidy and well maintained. There is a sense of history and character here and I do confess that I drifted into daydreams of living in the neighbourhood myself someday...
Back to the hotel to change into sporty gear: at 12:30, I'd be meeting long-time blog and Twitter friend Kiran at Shau Kei Wan station. Kiran had invited me to join his friends' BBQ beach party, then we would walk the Dragon's Back hike. I met Kiran, he was very much as I had perceived him from our connections online except that I didn't expect the American accent!
We took a bus from the station to Shek-O beach. Of course, I insisted we grab the top floor front row seat so I could get a good look around as we rode. The bus trip was extremely interesting for me, as I could see the shoreline, the southern neighbourhoods, the rocks, the fancy houses and so on as Kiran narrated. Hong Kong was reminding me more and more of Sydney every day.
Shek-O was much more quaint and low-key than I'd expected for a beach so close to the mega-city. Kiran's friends, an international and dynamic bunch, had hired a party spot on the sand, under a canopy of vines.
What happened to the planned Dragon's Back hike? Well, the day was quite overcast and hazy, Kiran had a cold, I had sore legs from walking all over BKK and HKG, plus the picnic food and beach games were entertaining enough. So the hike has been left for my next visit, which is okay with me.
As dusk set in, we hopped into a mini-bus to return to the MTR. In the time before I was to meet Kiran for dinner, I managed a shopping spree at Marks & Spencer. I had totally forgotten how great this store is and how much I shopped at M&S when I lived in London until I saw the huge branch of it near my hotel when I first arrived. At Marks & Sparks, I bought Christmas gifts for each member of my family, a new dress, several pairs of fantastic tights and some chocolate treats. I had even more fun than at Muji and UNIQLO - one of the many great things about Hong Kong is that all the famous retailers from across the world have branches there.
On with my new M&S dress and back on the subway to Causeway Bay. At the picnic, I'd asked around about the best place to dine on crab in Hong Kong. I don't get much fresh crab in Ontario (or in Bhutan, obviously). The recommendation was Under Bridge Spicy Crab. Seafood-phobic Kiran agreed to take me there but I would have to eat any seafood dishes on my own. Fair enough, I say.
The restaurant's specialty and namesake is typhoon shelter crab fried up in copious minced garlic, chilies and scallions. The flavour is incredible and the crab meat is easy to pick out, too. Yes, I did get fried garlic stains on my new dress but it was worth it. Lucky for Kiran, the sauteed beans and fried tofu are also excellent.
After dinner, I checked out a nearby place of interest, but that little jaunt will get its own post.
The final stop of the day was Mingle Bar in Central, Kiran's favourite hang-out. He is good friends with the bartender there (do you know when your bartender's birthday is?). Many shots and fiery cocktails were mixed and toasted in honour of the beautiful birthday girl Christine.
I was fortunate in that Mingle was only a few numbers down Wellington Street from my hotel. Good thing because I was exhausted from all that food, drink and exploration. A wonderful day in a city that has it all!