Monday, December 19, 2016

Tai Tam Reservoir

19 Dec 2016 Mon

As the holiday draws to an end, our waking hours became later. Other than waking up later to avoid fighting for the lifts with the other tourists, our planned walks all originate from HK island which meant a little more sleep in before we start our commute.

We were running out of cash and our simple breakfast was in a typical tea house steps from the hotel. I finally sampled soup  macaroni with egg and pork and Pat the ubiquitous ham sandwich, at 70 Hkd it was pricey for simple fare in a residential area.

We changed our SGD for HKD at a poor rate of 5.08, Ibis offering only 4.8 Hkd for 1 SGD. With renewed confidence in our financial situation, we stocked food and took bus 41A from North Point Terminal to Wong Nai Chung Reservoir, a wild ride that took only 30 minutes ( 6.90 Hkd ). Along the way, the top of HK skyscrapers shone in the morning sun, a glorious sight.

It was a difficult walk up from WNC Reservoir Stop to Parkview (10.30 am), where our actual walk started. We took the Reservoir Rd, the widest and safest option with amenities along the first half of the walk. It was a walk in the park as we walked along the reservoir, tranquil and peaceful with only the odd Mainland tourist on DIY missions. This was one aspect of HK most didn’t get to see and I was glad we did it.

We checked out the masonry and dam after a short detour before continuing our walk towards Tai Tam Rd. By now, it was 12 pm, barely 2 hours after we started; It was one of the easiest walk in our trip. We caught the mini bus 16 ( 9 Hkd ) which did a perilous ride in Shek O country and left us clinging on to our seats for dear life. Before we knew it, we were deposited in Chai Wan, a very unhappening place that has more factories than malls. We had an unremarkable late lunch in Café de Coral and decided to revisit ShauKeiWan so that we can get our favorite tart from the morning market.

SKW was just 2 stops east and now familiar with the vicinity, I led the way to the market for a market survey literally. Nothing was of note the second time round until we saw Tai Cheong Bakery. We bought the piping hot egg tart and ate there and then. They were unremarkable esp when we had the milkest, eggiest tarts in Cheung Chau. At the market place, we topped up coconut tarts and chicken pie before making our way back to Ibis.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cheung Chau

18 Dec 2016 Sun

Due to a planning oversight, we went to Cheung Chau for our hike instead. It was another mad rush to Central Pier because of the unexpected Sunday crowd in the train station. It took us almost 45 minutes to get from North  Point to Central Station and then Pier 4 with only 10 odd minutes to spare to get up the fast ferry to Cheung Chau ( 37.20 Hkd )

Cheung Chau was teeming with people from the pier and beyond even at 9.30am. Breakfast was quickly settled at East Lake Restaurant with 7 dishes of awesome dim sum dishes for about 95 Hkd. I would say the dim sum is comparable to Tim Ho Wan or even better. I can’t say for the ambience though.

We walked away from the pier and quickly ended at the Tung Wan Beach. Many eating places distracted us and almost got us eating barely after our breakfast!

Tung Wan is nothing compared to Big Wave and it would be a waste to spend time there. We hugged the coast and went as far as we could along the beach until a path led us to a flight of stairs. It was the beginning of The Mini Great Wall, a stone paved path that traced the south east side of Cheung Chau. There are few vantage points because the sea is obscured by overgrowth.  At the end of the walk, we went out to Fa Peng but somehow went around in circles. We eventually made our way towards the pier at 1 pm.

The pier area was overflowing with an ever present lunch crowd but we eventually found a little seafood restaurant where we had our lunch. Fresh promfet, razor clams and vegetable for about 155 Hkd at such a touristy place was reasonable. Down the lane, we had the most expensive dessert of all times, fruits and jellies, which I think was overrated.

We saw the pier from all angles, bought some more tarts and trinkets before running for the fast ferry departing at 3 pm for Central. The ferry was almost fully booked and most exhausted travellers slept on that 30 minutes ride because the seats were so comfortable.

At Central, we took bus 2 back to Ibis. HK on Sunday looked different, plenty of Filipino domestic workers spilling over the pavements on their day off with many cooking from makeshift stoves. Further at Victoria Park, Indonesian domestic workers did likewise.

We had discovered to our horror that we did not have enough cash with us to last us through the holiday. In the end, dinner was at a fancy Chinese restaurant Graces at Kornhill because it accepted VISA. Food was not too bad and we were too stuffed to walk. We explored Aeon across the road, decided that we should call it a day and headed back to Ib

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Walkabout Hong Kong

17 Dec 2016 Sat

Today is a day of rest. It has the schedule that Pat loves – to wake up at his leisure as long as we get to  Tim Ho Wan North Point for breakfast on time.

THW opens at 10am but being the kiasu Singaporean that I am, we were there at 9.30am to join a little queue that has already formed. While waiting, we checked in little squares on a yellow order form so that we could be fed as soon as possible.

We were seated as soon as the store opened and in no time, 6 little plates of food filled every available space. It was carbo overload and I was barely able to finish the dim sum. We had crispy charsiew bao, carrot cake, sugar cake, siew mai, humsoykok and lotus leaf rice ( 122 Hkd ) Of these, I could only rate highly are the char siew bao, siew mai and humsoykok because the texture was delicate and flavorful. But Pat said I should give an extra half a star for the toothpicks!

We topped up our Octopus card and took the ferry across to Hung Hom where we walked to Tsim Sha Tsui in the sun. Victoria Harbour was as usual, hazy and city outline hard to make out. At TST, it felt as though the whole of China has descended onto HK as it was hard to find a local Cantonese speaking visitor.

We took the star ferry back to HK Island and walked through the covered walkway at IFC , then rode the mid-levels escalators all the way to the mosque. It was a slow motion thing because of the crowd and because by then we were tired out.

We followed the hoards down the steps and navigated to the nearest MTR station a distance away. From Central St, we zoomed down to Causeway Bay in search of souvenirs. At Koi Kei, we stocked up biscuits to be given to friends and neighbor. A chance visit to Chow Sang Sang to check out the gold did not yield anything because the choice was limited and the service poor. Further down the street, at Luk Fook Jewelry, a charming sales girl got us to part with 2272 Hkd for a gold chain (6.999 g) and 2 gold foil coins ( 158 Hkd each )

We were back in Ibis in time to Skype with H. Thank God for wifi that allowed us to talk to her even though we are worlds apart physically.

Dinner had to be something frugal since we are running out of cash. We stumbled upon a claypot rice store with the cook doing his magic outside his shop. A claypot set only costs 55 Hkd which came with a very tasty soup and dish of vegetable. It was one of the cheapest and best meal of the holiday.

I have made some mistakes with the planning and thus tomorrow, though Sunday, would take us to the offshore island of Cheung Chau, a place I

Friday, December 16, 2016

Lamma Island and The Peak at Sunset

16 Dec 2016 Fri

We had an early start because we wanted to catch the 9.30am ferry to Lamma Island. But the kind folks at Pier 4 waited for us when they saw us running and so we to get onto the 9.10am ferry instead.

Weather was terribly cold but good for serious trekking. At Yung Shu Wan Pier ( 30mins later ), we had a sumptuous dim sum breakfast at the pier. It was a good start because for the next 3 hours, we had nothing with us except our water and 2 muesli bars.

Our walk from Yung Shu started easy until we opted to see the wind turbines. It was a long arduous ascent and knocked the wind out of me. The scenery at the pavilion near the wind turbine as astounding and it sort of made me forgave Pat for suggesting the walk.

We though it was a downhill walk from the wind turbine station, but soon it was uphill climb all the way after the Hung Shing Yeh beach. I wondered who called it a Family Walk when the slope made it impossible to push a buggy at all. At the highest point, an enterprising young chap was selling ice Popsicles and frozen pineapples. The stop also has a lovely lookout point with chairs thrown in for good measure.

After our popsicle, we proceeded with the grind until very near Sok Kwu Wan Bay the land flattened out finally.

Lunch was a simple affair at Lamma restaurant. At 288 Hkd, it was not a good deal. The portions were small, food lacks flavor though beer and tea were complimentary. I was full of praise for the Gulo Pork though.

We took the 2.35pm ferry back to Central. I left behind my brand new walking stick and even recalling it now fills me with full of regret. It had been a trusty cane and helped propped me through most of my walks.

We reached HK Pier 4 at around 3pm and connected to Bus 15 which would take us to the Peak. It was a slow one hour bus ride. The bus laboriously overcame gravity as the entire busload clung on patiently and waited for the end of the journey at the Peak Galleria.

We took many shots of the surrounds, both views of the Tai Tam reservour in the setting sun and HK Harbour front part illuminated and part in the shadow of Victoria Peak was awesome!

We waited until sundown when the city was lit up and took the last photos of the harbor city before heading back to town.

Pat checked out  his trusty MapMe and alighted at the foot of the hill where he led us to Hennessy Road. Kam’s Roast goose had a long queue and we would not stand waiting out for our food. Nearby, we sated our craving for goose at nondescript Joy Hing round the corner and enjoyed the din and good cheer while having our dinner ( goose roast meat, charsiew, chicken, veg, rice at 240 Hkd ). Food wasn’t expertly presented, goose not tender enough and roast pork cold but the char siew saved the meal.

We squeezed ourselves up the eastbound Ding Ding home, among the tired throng.