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Published: January 26th 2009
"Sun Nin Fai Lok"
- Happy New Year "Gung Hei Fat Choi"
- Wishing you prosperity and wealth
Today (26.01.09) is the first day of the Chinese New Year of the Ox. I thought I’d start off the new year with my first proper blog entry. I’m heading out later this morning to join a group tour at the end of which we take our seats along the parade route, so hopefully I should get a fantastic view of everything that’s going on and will be able to post some fab photos. There’s so much to write about from my time here in Hong Kong so far, so I don’t think I’m going to manage to get it all done before I go out, but I’ll put in as much as I can and try and do some more tomorrow.
Sorry it’s taken so long to get anything up on the page - since arriving it’s been non-stop sightseeing, and when I get back at night I’m ready to fall into bed. I’ve taken some time out to sort out the photo’s I’ve taken so far and have weeded out the really bad ones (ie the ones where buses
and trams and taxis rather inconveniently ruined my shot!) but haven’t got around to doing anything more with them than that, so there are still lots of duplicates and the like. I’ll get round to sorting them out properly soon, but thought you might like to see some just now. Hopefully when it comes to later posts, I’ll be a bit more organised and can just put the best selection of photos on there.
Thank you to everyone for all the messages and gifts I received before I left - it really means a lot to know that you’re all thinking about me. Thank you also to Rose for the cake (see photo) which looked really great and, as always, was delicious!
The journey over here was fine - we were delayed from leaving Edinburgh because of the snow, but I (and my luggage) managed to make my connecting flight at Heathrow (although only just!). The Heathrow - Hong Kong was uneventful other than the snoring Chinese man sprawled across 4 seats in front who looked like he might fall off; (and Stephen, if you're reading this, no, the inflight movie was not "Snakes on a Plane"!!).On arrival
in Hong Kong the pilot announced the temperature was 22˚C - not bad considering it’s winter here! I got my bus to the hotel and got settled in.
The hotel is nice - it’s a little to the west of Sheung Wan on Hong Kong Island, so it’s about a 10 minute walk to the MTR or I can take a tram. There are some photos here showing the views from my 12th floor room - the corner harbour view and some skyscrapers and also my bed appearing to float among the skyscrapers.
The hotel is in an area famous for its dried seafood - the street I walk along to get to the MTR station is full of these shops, with huge barrels of dried scallops, dried abalone, dried shark’s fin (apparently a local speciality but very expensive so only for special occasions like Chinese New Year), some dried whole fish, and some dried sausages, for want of a better word - who knows what’s in them!! The shops have quite a distinct smell - I’m quite pleased that I’ve picked up a cold so I don’t have much of a sense of smell just now, or
maybe I’ve just got used to it! I’m not really sure what you would do with dried fish - maybe I’ll find out over the next few days, although I’m not sure I’ll add this to my cooking repertoire if I do!
On the subject of food, I’m sure you all know me well enough to know that I won’t go hungry wherever I am, but that won’t be a problem here. I’ve had some pretty good food so far, and only one accidental eating of tofu!! I had a lovely meal in a Chinese and Thai restaurant on top of the Peak, which I think is my favourite so far - basically a 5 course set, with small portions of each thing - the dim sum was delicious and the yellow curry was yummy!
I've discovered that I also quite like Korean food - at least the bits I've tried so far; yesterday I ordered a Korean pork set, which was delicious once I realised what I was meant to do! They set down what looked like a plate warmer with a gas canister attached and set it alight, then set a square metal dish with my
selection on top - hungry and not thinking, I tucked in straight away to a little dumpling type thing (Wendy, this was where the tofu snuck in!!), only to discover it was cold. On further inspection, I saw all the meat was raw, and it wasn't a plate warmer after all but more of a camping stove and I was meant to cook it myself! After all that, it was very very good, and I'll definitely have something similar again.
I picked up some little sweet treats from the nuns at the Chi Lin Nunnery, which also were great - they are made for Chinese New Year and are little pastry crescents filled with sweetened nuts and coconut - they sound like they should be quite dry but somehow they're not, and I sat and munched a few of them last night before bed. Maybe I'll try to recreate them for you once I'm home - if I eat a few more I'm sure I'll be able to work out a recipe!. I'm hoping I've done enough walking to burn off all of this!!
My first full day here, I spent getting my bearings, booking trips, generally wandering
around and getting to grips with the MTR (the underground trains), trams, buses and ferries. I've become quite good at getting around on the MTR, which considering how hopeless I was on the London Underground, is quite amazing! The trams are also great - they travel along HK Island, for a flat fare of HK$2 (less than 20p), so they are a very handy and economical way for me to get back to my hotel (there's a stop less than a block from here) if I don't feel like walking from the MTR station. The other day I took a tram ride from the hotel to the end of the line at Shau Kei Wan in the east, which I'll tell you more about later, but it was nice to travel through the different districts above ground, but without wearing my legs out too much!
Unfortunately, that's me out of time for now.
I hope everyone is well, and still awake (I know, I ramble, I can't help it!)
Love to everyone back home and I'll phone soon,
Lots of Love
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