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A little bit of business, a little bit of pleasure...

Written on: Tuesday September 2nd, 2008

A journal entry from: Hong Kong / Macao 2008

The next morning, we woke up and headed out to Mong Kok for some mid-morning congee and dough fritters.  We were told that it was an easy ride up the MTR from our hotel, and so we headed off to the MTR station.  Unfortunately, we mixed up which line we were supposed to go to.  We wound up taking the Blue line instead of the Red line, and wound up at Mong Kok North, instead of Mong Kok.  We realized this while on the train, and since we didn't know where Mong Kok North was relative to the Mong Kok station, we wound up backtracking and arrived at the Mong Kok station about 45 minutes late to meet Uncle Hok Kee and Aunt Judy.  But, they had figured that we were confused, so they weren't too worried about us. 

We went to have congee at a local joint that's famous for good congee and breakfast foods.  I wound up ordering the Sampan congee, which was competely different than the Sampan congee you get here in the States.  A lot more stuff, and a lot more flavorful.  Of course, we had to have fried dough cruellers, and well as the famous cruellers wrapped in rice noodles.  The fried dough was incredibly light and fresh - a far cry from the oil-laden cruellers that are sold here.  We also caved in and got a joong, which Cathy proceeded to eat Hong Kong style - with sugar.  That was the one dish that wasn't quite up to par with what I've had here in the States.  Of course, when you're talking about home made vs. mass produced, what do you expect?  Aunt Judy also had the Sampan congee, but added pig's blood to it, which was actually pretty good, given it was freshly made. 

After we ate, we wandered around Mong Kok for a while.  Uncle Hokee showed us the building/site where he and Cathy's dad were born and grew up for a while, and then showed us where the Ladie's market was.  They were just starting to set up the market, so we decided to head back to the hotel, where I was supposed to meet my contact in Hong Kong for a lunch meeting.

When we got back there, I met up with my business lunch partner, and we headed to the Langham hotel, where we ate at a New York-style deli.  While I was told that the rueben sandwich was the reason why we were eating there, it turned out to be easily the worst meal I had in Hong Kong.  Nowhere near what a reuben sandwich is in the States.  I guess if you're craving a reuben and that's the only place you can get it... Sadly, it also was quite and expensive lunch as well.  Definitely will keep that in mind the next time someone suggests eating a New York deli-style lunch in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Cathy managed to have a good meal for lunch on her own.  She went to Coral, a counter-style luncheon cafeteria that has several outlets in Hong Kong.  She was able to satisfy her craving for pork rib rice, which also came with pumpkin.  I was definitely jealous when I found out.

After lunch, we headed back up to Mong Kok to the Ladie's Market to do some shopping.  I was looking for a roller bag for my laptop, while Cathy was looking for a watch.  We also managed to get some Christmas shopping done, so we were pretty happy.  One funny story about haggling: I looked at a men's valet case with nail clippers, a file, and other assorted items. I decided I wasn't interested in it, but the lady kept dropping her price.  I think originally it was something like $160HK, but by the time I left, she had dropped it all the way down to $70HK.  Just goes to show you how much mark up there is.  Unfortunately, Cathy's watch wasn't quite as marked up, so she couldn't get as great of a deal on it as she liked, but all things considered, it wasn't bad.

After we went to the Ladie's Market, I decided I needed a haircut.  I'd actually set up an appointment at the hotel earlier, but it was getting late, and we weren't sure we were going to make it back in time.  We wound up finding a random hair salon in Mong Kok, and I got my haircut there.  Cathy was nice enough to look through a bunch of books for a suitable hair style for me.  While I was leafing through the book, I was handed another book by another stylist, which had more male hairstyles in it.  I'm guessing by the styles that the Hong Kong males like messy hair, because that's all that was in that book.  I'm sure it takes a long time in the morning for these guys to do their hair, but the end result just looks like they got right out of bed.  At any rate, I wound up getting a haircut that I was pretty happy with, especially since it was so hot.  

After that, we took the MTR down to Central, at the IFC mall, where we met up with Cathy's friend Chiang-shih.  We wound up going to a cafe-like place that served tea and dim sum-type dishes.  Cathy and I shared a soup noodle dish as we were going to have a bigger meal later that night.  Chiang-shih and Cathy caught up on things, which was nice.  Chiang-Shih pointed out that we've been around her during some of the biggest changes in her life - grad school, and moving to Hong Kong, where she's now teaching math to students at a university.  

After finishing up our meal and saying our goodbyes, we headed back to Kowloon via the Star Ferry again, arriving right in time to park ourselves in a nice spot to watch the nightly laser light show on the harbour.  It's an 18 minute show, where all the large buildings are lit up and flash lights in sync with a musical score.  The music was a bit campy; it reminded me of John Tesh or Yanni, but it was kinda neat to see all the lights go on and off.  I guess they narrate the beginning of the show each night in different languages; unfortunately this was the night they decided to do Mandarin, so we couldn't quite understand what they were saying.  Oh well.  

When we finished off the light show, we met up with Cathy's cousin Alice and her boyfriend Johnny, who took us to Sha Tim for some Chiu Chow food, along with Cathy's aunt (Alice's mom).  The restaurant we ate at was more along the lines of a DPD, but it was great food.  We ate outside, and Cathy's aunt made sure to get us some great food.  We had the traditional Chiu Chow cold fish, cold crab, scallops, Chiu Chow congee, a special melon dish, more goose ("Old Water Goose"), snails (which Cathy's aunt insisted wasn't up to snuff), and some other dishes that I can't remember.  It was definitely interesting to watch Cathy's aunt wash all the plates and cups prior to eating them - she's definitely got it down to a complete system.  

After dropping Cathy's aunt off at the MTR so she could go back to China, we all headed out to meet my friend Des.  Des was at a private club in Jordan, where we met up, but it was a little loud there, so we all went off to another club in the area, where it was quieter.  Des was the consummate host, taking care of us as well as Alice and Johnny.  We got to meet Des's business partner, who was helping him set up a Mah Johngg tournament, as well as another friend of his who is a reporter for the largest Hong Kong newspaper.  We played some drinking games, or actually watched them play some drinking games - a version of Liar's Poker, but with dice.  The club also had live band karaoke, so Des's friends did some singing.  Unfortunately, Des had to leave to take care of his wife, so we parted ways, and after watching his friends sing some more, we also departed from the club and headed back to the hotel for our final night.