The much more peaceful New Territories of Hong Kong: a bit like a seaside resort town only it’s still Hong Kong.
We returned to KL from Penang via the “NICE” bus (that’s the brand name, and yes — it was nice). To be honest, some of the KL Part 2 stuff got incorporated into our previous KL entry. Just know that Part 2 was more of the same: shopping, hawker food, and touring the sights. We checked out the Batu Caves, which are full of Hindu temples and monkeys.
The entrance to the Batu Caves; not sure which Hindu god this is but it’s ginormous.
A couple of Rhesus monkey mothers and babies hanging out on the steep steps to the Batu caves. There were dozens of these creatures scampering up and down, and along the walls of the cliffs.
On our way back into Shenzhen (always through Shenzhen before HK, because flights are cheaper that way), I accidentally and illegally brought two oranges into China. I had to sign a piece of paper acknowledging the error of my ways and was given a brochure about not bringing fruit across the border. Embarrassing.
This time, we took a bus to Hong Kong instead of walking there, which made things considerably easier. We arrived at our hostel around 3 pm, and it was tiny and awful and there were no towels. The neighborhood (Fortress Hill) was a bit more pleasant than Kowloon, though. We made a mad dash via the metro and foot to Zest, a restaurant I’d “secretly” booked for a Valentine’s Day dinner. (True Joel and Sarah experts may recall that this is also the time of year we celebrate our “date-iversary,” of which this was the eighth.) The meal was a lovely prix fixe affair (wine included with each course); Sarah had prawn raviolo for starters, followed by the main course of crispy pork belly accompanied by a potato-apple puree and topped with split-pea and bacon vinaigrette, and finally a pear, almond and chocolate tart with frangelico mascarpone. Needless to say, we had a great time.
We enjoyed a few breakfasts at Congee Wonderland, which was right near our hostel. (Sadly, nobody eats congee where we live, but we got plenty in southern China.) If I had it my way, I think I’d start every day with a bowl of congee and a South China Morning Post.
The next few days were spent couchsurfing with Debbi and Dave (from, um, the couchsurfing website) out in the New Territory of Sai Kung, which couldn’t be more different from downtown Hong Kong. Much more peaceful there, and it really felt more like a “village” with the down-home eateries, trees, beautiful views out to sea, and friendly neighbors walking their dogs.
We visited the Hong Kong Heritage museum, which had some really cool exhibits of international poster art, HK fashion, Cantopop (fairly awful but culturally interesting Hong Kong music), and old-school Chinese art. And for the first time since we moved to China six months ago, we had dim sum! We went to supercrowded place in a mall which was totally worth it. Delicious little snax a-plenty.
Our last day in Hong Kong was pretty uneventful. We got up at an insanely early hour (after staying up late-ish with our new friends and a bottle of Ravenswood) to try to catch a church service at St. John’s cathedral, the city’s oldest Anglican church. (Notice a theme re: old Anglican churches?) We missed most of it but did see the hundreds of Filipina women who congregate in the Central neighborhood on Sundays (they’re nannies and maids who get Sundays off), many of whom were on their way to a Tagalog church service at the same cathedral. After breakfast, we were ready to roll, and so we headed to the long-distance bus terminal where we boarded a bus for our next destination, Chaozhou. How can you tell when you’re back in the mainland? Maybe it’s that all the cars start constantly honking their horns…