Fly off to Hong Kong

Sayang and I flew off to Hong Kong today. Our flight was the first flight of the day, departing at 6:50am. This meant that Sayang and her boyfriend came and picked me up at around 4:30am, which in turn meant that I had to wake up at 3:30am. When the alarm rang, I woke up feeling really tired. Even though I had tried to go to bed earlier the night before, I had a restless sleep, tossing and turning throughout the night. Turned out that Sayang had the same problem.

“Maybe we had problems falling asleep because we were excited,” I mused.

“Excited to eat mango?” Sayang asked.

I rolled my eyes and ignored her.

It was two very tired women that arrived at the Budget Terminal in the morning. Ironically it was Sayang’s boyfriend who seemed to be the most awake. I discreetly turned away so that Sayang and he could say their goodbyes without a gooseberry.

Sayang hoped that it would be a relatively empty flight. Her reasoning was that it was so early in the morning, most people would still be asleep. Her boyfriend told her to wait long long because it is unlikely that a budget flight would be empty. Judging from the long queue at the counters, I thought her boyfriend was right.

Sayang and I decided to check in our luggage before we did anything else. Our luggage was overweight by a few kg so we had to open them up up and transfer some items into our backpacks. Despite this, we still didn’t quite make it under the weight limit but the staff closed one eye and let our luggage through. Now that the essential stuff was settled, we decided to go for breakfast at McDonald’s. It was crowded because frankly there was not much else in the Budget Terminal so everybody tended to either go to McDonald’s or Hans. (I was told that there was Hans at the Budget Terminal but I was too sleepy to register it in my mind.)

We managed to find a table after waiting for a while. Sayang wanted hotcakes so I bought a hotcakes with sausage meal and a sausage muffin with egg meal. I brought the food back to the table and happily told Sayang not to worry about the sausage with her hotcakes because I would be eating it. I took the sausage patty and added to my sausage muffin to make a double sausage muffin. Ta-da! I proudly showed it to Sayang.

Double sausage muffin with egg

“Eh? Since when McDonald’s sells double sausage muffin?” Sayang asked.

I narrowed my eyes at her but she seemed genuinely puzzled. “Ah, I just told you,” I said. Then I decided that no use telling Sayang and took a bite of my muffin instead. In her sleep-deprived state, she would probably forget what I’ve said 5 mins later.

After we finished our breakfast, Sayang went to buy a magazine to read on the plane. In the departure lounge, we found a charging station for mobile phones. It was made up of little lockers each with the wire for the mobile phone. It was free so Sayang decided to try charging her phone. We locked her phone in the locker and sat nearby so that we would not forget to collect the phone.

Sayang read her magazine and showed me photos of food and cute hamsters while I grunted in reply. We remembered to collect Sayang’s phone before boarding the plane. We were so tired that we fell asleep for most of the journey even though the seats were really uncomfortable. I woke up aching everywhere and still felt pretty tired.

I like looking out of the window as the plane flew into Hong Kong. I could see the islands and the tall skyscrapers which looked foreign but familiar. As I watched the land passed beneath the plane, I began to feel a little excited. My brain finally realized that I was no longer in Singapore but was at the start of my holiday.

Once we passed through the customs at the Hong Kong International Airport, I dragged Sayang to the departure gates on Level 6 to buy a prepaid card for mobile data. I followed the directions on this website and found the shops easily. I was attended to by a middle-aged lady at the 1010 shop who spoke to me in Mandarin.

Prepaid sim card

I bought a mobile broadband sim card for HK$88 which would last one week. The data usage is unlimited which was pretty cool and the speed was advertised as up to 7.2 Mbps. I had to open the back of my mobile phone to replace the sim card and as I struggled to open the casing, I silently scolded myself for cutting my nails just before the trip. Finally I got the back open and took out my sim card. The staff replaced it with the prepaid card and helped to activate it. Once it was activated, I was able to go online. The coverage in Hong Kong seems pretty good and speedy. I didn’t run into any problems during this trip.

I was so pleased with the data connection that I followed Sayang without any complaints as she made a beeline for her favorite mango dessert seller in Hong Kong – 許留山 (Hui Lau Shan). Let the gorging began.

Sayang bought a mango drink and we hoped onto the Airport Express to Hong Kong station. From the station, we took a free shuttle bus to our hotel. We got off at Empire Hotel, which happened to be the first stop. It was too early to check in so we left our luggage with the hotel. We obtained a map from the counter staff who gave us directions to our lunch venue.

Refuse collection point and public toilet

When we exited the hotel, I noticed that it was directly opposite the refuse collection point and public toilet for the area. We had a good laugh but were not too worried or turned off. As Sayang said, “There is no smell.”

池記 (Chee Kee)

Since the place we wanted to eat at was only one MTR stop away, Sayang and I decided to walk there. We cut through Victoria Park and found 池記 (Chee Kee) with no problems, thanks to Google Maps. As I mentally patted myself for having the foresight to mark out all the food places on Google Maps, Sayang went to ask for a table for three. Although the restaurant was crowded, we did not have to wait long. We had just finished placing our orders when Redhead arrived. She already had a filling dim sum brunch so she just sat opposite us and watch us eat.

Wonton noodles

Sayang and I ordered a bowl of wonton noodles each. The noodles were thin and springy which was quite nice. Unlike in Singapore where wanton noodles came with char siew, the wonton noodles here came with some thin strips of salty ham. Both of us had the soup version which seemed to be the default. We just ordered wonton noodles and nobody asked if we wanted soup or dry.

Braised mushrooms

We also ordered a plate of braised mushrooms at Redhead’s recommendation. They were very tasty. The mushrooms were juicy and smooth with a hint of ginger. Pity there were so few of them. Redhead said that there used to be more mushrooms, I’m not sure if it the portion was smaller because we ordered the mushrooms as part of a set or because the restaurant decreased the portion size for this dish.

Fried wontons

We also tried the fried wontons which came with a saucer of ketchup. The skin was light and crispy. While they were nice, I preferred the normal wontons to this fried version.

Barley and soybean drink

For drinks, Sayang had a barley drink which she liked a lot. There were hints of ginger in the drink which made it taste different from the barley drinks back home. I liked my soybean drink too. It was smooth and milky.

Hong Kong

After lunch, Redhead took us on a tram ride to the Central Piers. I was surprised that the roads looked so empty today because Hong Kong is a crowded place. From there, we took a ferry to 坪洲 (Peng Chau). Sayang and I had not been there before and we wanted to see what it was like.

Peng Chau

Peng Chau seemed like a sleepy laid-back place. It felt more like a weekend getaway than a sightseeing destination. There were a few shops which seemed to cater to visitors but most were for locals. The island was also pretty small and we managed to explore about half of it in one afternoon. With no clear destination we just wandered around until we came to a wide open area with a small temple at one end.

Peng Chau

The temple was closing for the day and we saw the temple caretakers washing the area in front of the building.

Peng Chau

Near the temple was a narrow street lined with shops and small family-run eateries. Walking along this street made me felt as if I had gone back in time. At the end of the street that was a signpost pointing the way to Finger Hill which is the highest point on the island. We decided to walk up and catch some views. We followed the quiet path out of town and pass some graves located along the side of the path.

Peng Chau

The nicest views were when we were halfway up Finger Hill as we could see above the trees. I also made use of this opportunity to rest a bit and catch my breath. I am really out of shape. We felt a little disappointed when we reached the summit as it was surrounded by tall bushes which blocked any views. The bushes also blocked the breeze.

There were two paths leading off the summit; one was the path we came from and one seemed to lead to a reservoir. As there did not seem to be anything to see at the reservoir, we headed back down the hill. When Redhead urged us to get back quickly as she did not want to walk past the graves in the dark, I remembered that she disliked such stuff. I also wanted to get back to town as there were a lot of mosquitoes and I kept getting bitten.

Peng Chau

We reached town and decided to walk in another direction which brought us to the beach. We did not go down to the sand but just walked on the path that ran beside it. Other residents were also taking their evening walks with their children and dogs.

Peng Chau

There was a temple facing the beach. It was bigger but looked more modern. We didn’t go in and just stood outside to take photos.

Peng Chau

At 5pm, we decided that we had explored most of Peng Chau and it was time to head back to Hong Kong.

Peng Chau

On the way to the ferry pier, we walked past the first temple we saw earlier. The temple caretakers had closed up the temple and left. Now that the doors were shut, we could see the two door gods. Nearby, Sayang found a sign saying that there was a Ming dynasty (I think) stone. We searched for it and found it in a glass case propped up against the wall. It was really unnoticeable and we would have missed it had we not purposely searched for it. It was about A3 size with lots of Chinese characters carved into it. It felt as if the stone was more like “Oh, by the way, there is an old stone,” rather than a tourist attraction.

We bought some drinks at the only supermarket on the island before boarding the 5:45pm ferry. Even though the drinks were kept in a fridge, they were not cold at all. But we were thirsty and did not care.

Sunset

The sun was setting as the ferry left Peng Chau. Sayang pulled us to the open area so that we could take some photos of the sunset. Then as the sun was shining on Redhead and I, Sayang decided to take a photo of her “glowing” friends. I was feeling quite tired so I just sat there and smiled while Redhead and Sayang took turns to position themselves around me.

Star Ferry

We wanted to go for dinner at a Japanese restaurant that Mao Mao recommended. The restaurant was located in Kowloon so Redhead suggested that we take the Star Ferry. Redhead told us that Hong Kong residents viewed this as much as part of the public transport as buses and trains. The ferry was open air and we could smell the oil fumes. It was a short ride but a pretty fun experience.

From Tsim Sha Tsui, we decided to walk to 新大壽日本料理店 (New Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant). Redhead had booked a table at 7:30pm so we had plenty of time to walk. “Walk more so can eat more!” Sayang said. Once again I used Google Maps to check our location and directed everyone in the right direction. I really think that purchasing a prepaid card for mobile data was one of the best things I did.

We reached the restaurant at 7:20pm but our table was available. I also found out that in Hong Kong buildings, the first floor was actually on the second storey. We spent some time looking through the menu because we had difficulty deciding what to order. There were so many dishes that we want!

Sashimi

We had a sashimi platter which was really good. The seafood was very fresh and there seem to be an abundance of everything.

Salmon sashimi

As none of us really liked octopus or squid, we requested the kitchen to replace them. Thank goodness we had Redhead with us because Sayang and I do not know what are octopus and squid in Cantonese. The kitchen gave us a double helping of salmon to replace the octopus and squid, which suited us just fine.

Sea urchins

The sea urchins were (I felt) the most delicate ingredient for sashimi because they spoil really fast. It would be easily obvious from the taste that they were not as fresh or had been refrigerated. The sea urchins here passed the test. They were fresh, soft and creamy.

“Do you know which part of the sea urchin these came from?” I asked Redhead. When she shook her head, I answered, “The ovaries.” Sayang nodded her head in agreement. Redhead looked a bit disgusted but she still ate as much sea urchins as the rest of us. So the plan to turn her off the food had failed. Come to think of it, it may not be a bad thing because sea urchins were so rich that one could only eat so much at one time.

Prawn sashimi

The prawns came with their heads attached which looked rather intimidating. It was rather hard to eat them with chopsticks cos I just picked them up with my hand. But on the plus side, it meant that all the delicious creamy yellow goo remained in the head for us to suck. The prawn body was nice as well, firm and slightly sweet.

Yellowtail sashimi

The yellowtail was tasty and I really liked that the restaurant sliced it into thick slices.

Snapper sashimi

The snapper was sliced thinly. It was light in taste and served as a nice contrast to the more oily fish like salmon.

Scallops sashimi

The scallops were soft and sweet. I liked scallops and thought that they really tasted very different from other shellfish.

Mackerel sashimi

Lastly, there were some mackerel mixed with ginger and spring onions. It didn’t quite take away the fishy taste of the mackerel but it tasted better the more I eat.

Grilled beef tongue

We ordered a stick of grilled beef tongue and made Redhead to try. She reluctantly took a bite and there was a tortured expression on her face as she chewed it. Then she passed the rest to me. Redhead admitted that the tongue tasted quite nice and was a little chewy but she could not get over the psychological barrier that she was eating a tongue. Never mind, more for me, ha ha ha!

Sushi platter

We also ordered a sushi platter which was good too even though it did not look as impressive as the sashimi platter. One of the sushi was chutoro and we made Redhead eat it because she had never tried it before. This time it went much better than the beef tongue experience (there’s nothing gross about fatty tuna) and she liked it. We told Redhead that the next step was for her to try ootoro as that is the best tuna meat. But we had to leave ootoro for another day because there was too much food.

Grilled squid

Last of all, we had a grilled squid. Sadly this had been cooked too long and was dry and hard.

Redhead paid for dinner and refused to show us the receipt or let us pay her back. While waiting for the elevator, I whispered to Sayang, “Later I grab Redhead’s arms and you take the receipt from her, okay?”

“You know I can hear you, right?” Redhead interrupted.

At that moment, the elevator came and I was saved from replying. Somehow I ended up standing behind Redhead. Such a strategic position. I gave Sayang a look and pinned Redhead’s arms down while Sayang tried to open Redhead’s bag to take the receipt. But Redhead held on tightly to her bag so we did not succeed. We struggled like this until the elevator reached the ground floor. As we stepped out of the elevator laughing loudly, we saw a security guard standing nearby and looking at us in shock. Behind him, I saw TV screens showing the blueish-grey images from the security cameras. Oops.

We quickly exited the building. Once outside, Redhead scolded us for embarrassing her. “I can never come back again,” she said.

As we walked towards Jordan station, we saw a shop selling 雞蛋仔 (Hong Kong style egg waffle) and decide to buy one to share. This shop seemed to be pretty famous and there were lots of newspaper cuttings and photos of celebrities covering the storefront. Although I also noticed that some of the photos were repeated.

Hong Kong style egg waffle

The egg waffle was warm as it was freshly made. It was sweet and puffy, like a waffle but sweeter.

Sayang and I took the MTR to Tin Hau station and from there, it was only 10 mins walk to the hotel. After we collected our luggage, we went up to our room. It was quite dim in the elevator and it took us a while to find the right button to press. Our hotel room was just in front of the elevators, so convenient.

Empire Hotel room

I thought the room was small but nice. The beds looked clean and we had a large 42″ TV in front of the beds. The bathroom walls were made of glass and it was supposed to be made of “magic glass” which could turn from glazed to translucent. Even though we found a switch labelled “Magic Glass” and pressed it, we could not see any difference. Oh well, we still have a few more days to figure this out.

Places we ate today

池記 (Chee Kee)
Address: 84 Percival Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852-28908616
Opening Hours: 11am – 11:30pm (Mon to Fri); 10:30am – 11:30pm (Sat, Sun and Public Holiday)
Nearest MTR station: Causeway Bay

新大壽日本料理店 (New Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant)
Address: 1/F Good Results Building, 176 Nathan Road, Kowloon
Tel: +852-23686632, +852-23682711
Opening Hours: 12pm – 3pm; 6pm – 12am
Nearest MTR station: Jordan

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