HONG KONG: TRAIN RIDES AND MISCUES
The day starts with the hunt for breakfast. Scratch that. Second day in Hong Kong begins with not wanting to get out of bed. But I got up early just the same, trying to decipher which direction did the sun rise in this city. There was a light drizzle and from the hotel window I could see people walking under their umbrellas. Maybe it wasn’t so bad to get back to bed… at least not yet. It was just a few minutes past six and from my readings through different travel blogs, the shops don’t open until late in the morning. Maybe a few more minutes sleep.
With stomachs grumbling, we decided to head out for brunch. It was past 10:00 am by the time we got out of the hotel. Finding a place to eat wasn’t really much of a problem since there were so many restos and convenience store in the area. The only trick (at least for us) is to find one with a menu we can understand, whether it was translated in English or with pictures we can point to.
In the next block was s famous local chain cafe, Tsui Wah. There were posters of the food and menu we can see from the outside. This one looks promising. We were lucky to find a table since it was packed with people, both local and tourists. What I really wanted for breakfast was HK’s famous French toast, which for some reason I could not find in their menu and I ended up with a noodle dish with shrimp dumplings and creamy broth. Doc ordered macaroni noodles with strips of ham also in a creamy broth. We pointed to the next table and ordered what they were having, which looked like a good glass of lemon iced tea. Our server mumbled something we thought we understood and immediately said yes. She came back a minute later with our bill instead of food. Apparently, they give you the bill first and you pay it on your way out. Another surprise was when she served us with two glasses of iced milk tea. So that was what she was mumbling about. The food was okay — big servings and reasonably priced.
Before heading to Nathan road to search for the Secret Base, we bought Coke from the nearby 7/11 since Doc barely touched her milk tea. We passed Mc Donalds, KFC, and a lot more stores and restos on both sides of the street. After walking a few blocks, we didn’t find Sino Centre. My map said it is nearby. We must have walked past it since. From Shantung Street, we backtracked and found the building. It was between Soy and Dundas Street. This was definitely a toy collectors paradise: from cheap plastic knock-offs to expensive collector edition action figures. If you’re looking for Mangas or some random cute stuff or scrapbook materials or electronic accessories or even photos of your favorite movie/pop stars, you’ll most likely find it in this labyrinth of tiny claustrophobic stalls. All we could do was window shop since almost all of the stalls were still closed after 11:00 am.
We went back to the ground floor and took the elevator. Stepping out to the 20th floor, there were no stores, just a long narrow hallway with closed doors. In one of the doors was a sign that said “Secret Base.” It seemed secret enough since there were no displays or anything else that would indicate that there was store there. Then we learned that they will open 3:00 pm. They weren’t kidding when they said the shops here opened late.
We took the MTR fom Yau Ma Tei Station to get to Central Station. We were meeting a musician friend who was based in Hong Kong.
We walked around Central passing the landmarks in the area: the HSBC Building, the Court of Final Appeals, Bank of China Building, and the many towering structures that create an interesting landscape when you view Hong Kong Island from across the waters in Tsim Sha Tsui or from high above Victoria Peak.
There was a very long queue at the Tram Lower Terminus. By the time we got on, we had to stand since the train was full. It offered a uniquely spectacularly perspective view of the city being one of the steepest railway in the world. The skyscrapers on the right side of the tram glide past at what appear to be impossible angles while the tram makes its ascent. I didn’t get to take any photo since I had to hold on to something to keep me from falling as we were in a reclining position as we were going up hill.
It rained late in the afternoon just as it said in the Accu Weather Forecast. That literally dampened my hopes of watching the sun set from the Peak. With grumbling stomachs, we were reminded that our last meal was brunch. We looked for a place to eat while waiting for the rain to stop. I wanted to try Mak’s Noodles which was often recommended by food and travel bloggers plus it had a Michelin Star but I had been eating noodles every meal since we got to Hong Kong. We opted to sample some of the dim sun at Sweet Dynasty instead. We tried out the hakaw, shiumai with truffles and a few others, leaving room for dinner when we get back to Kowloon. But it was the crispy baked pork buns I immediately fell in love with. The honey-glazed char siu filling encased in a sweet golden brown flaky crust was my unforgettable find yet.
Took the bus back to Wan Chai District and hopped on a train to Kowloon. As we emerged from Jordan Station, the rain was nothing more than a drizzle. Wandering off Nathan Road, we found ourselves at the Temple Street Night Market. If you’re into shopping, this was a good place to get lost in. They sold a lot of cheap items from toys to electronics accessories to shirts to taser guns to cosmetics… and a lot more stuff vendors will try to convince you to buy. We walked the entire stretch to work out an appetite.
For dinner, we found a street side resto that was packed with diners. They seated us on a table on the side walk. Good thing the menu had English translation with pictures to boot. Our friend recommended a noodle dish, shells with bit of a spicy sauce, and an eggplant dish which was like tortang talong that did not set but it was surprisingly good. The claypot rice with salted pork and two kinds of sausages didn’t look impressive but I was craving for rice after all the noodles we had for the last 24 hours in this city. It tasted well especially with the soy sauce they serve on the side.
Called it the night after we cleared all our plates and emptied the bottles. We had a date with Mickey the Mouse tomorrow and need to be up really early. Unfortunately, I miscalculated the distance from the night market to our hotel and walked all the way through. At least, we got to see Nathan Road all lit up with bright and colorful signage before we ended our exhausting day.