Hong Kong II: Tourism, “Organs”
December 9, 2001
Hello again from Hong Kong!
The last couple of days have been grand – we’ve been doing a bit of the tourism thing, visiting The Peak and some of the downtown shopping malls and what not. The only problem I’ve had is the computer crashing every time I try to download images from my camera.
Anyhow, the dietary excitement continues with “beef organ,” ox tail, and thinly sliced ox tongue. The tongue and tail were pretty good, but the “beef organ” worried me a bit – what the hell part of a cow is neon orange with hexagonally shaped membranous structures? Further questioned, our friend and guide Zafirlah meerly shruged his shoulders and laughed. “Beef organ!” Ack.
After a morning (well, afternoon) dim sum, we went to The Peak. It’s a 30 minute bus ride out of downtown Hong Kong, up some particularly steep and twisty roads on a double decker bus. Quite exciting. The Peak is a tourist trap of the worst sort (second only to Wall Drug) – it’s a mall on top of a mountain, complete with a Haagen-Dazs icecreamery and Ripley’s Believe it or Not “Odditorium.” Utter crap, but the view was really cool.
Then it was off to grandma’s for some good ol’ fashioned Hong Kongese cookin – two boiling pots of water, into which slices of meat, tofu, bok choy, fish/lobster/”meat” balls, squid, and shrimp-on-a-stick are inserted. It’s a sort of perpetual stew – if you want beef, you pick some raw meat off a plater and drop it in, wait a few minutes for it to cook, then fish it out along with whatever other goodies happen to be in there. Pretty decent, although we were already kind of full from Haagen-Dazs, so we ended up getting stuffed stupid … heaven forbid Zafirlah’s family would let us walk away from a table without eating our own weight in regional cuisine.
After dinner, we went off drinkin’ with some of Zafirlah’s friends in a crazy big basement bar. What can I say … the people here are light weights. When it comes to destroying an enormous amount of nearly free alcohol, I think we came out on top. I think we paid about $12 US for 4 hours of unlimited refills, and I’m pretty certain we consumed more then that. Then we headed off for a few hours of karaoke … which doesn’t work like it does in the States. We essentially rent a closet with a stereo, TV, and couch in it, and every now and then a waiter pops in to drop off food and drinks. (Un)fortunately, most of the songs were in Cantonese, so I had an easy out on the singing bit, with the exception of a little Bee Gees – Poncho and my duet seemed to have scared the hell out of them, because they never seemed to be able to get another English song on the system despite our pleading and mild threats.
So we woke up today feelin’ a bit groggy around 2pm. We headed down to the local market, picked up some “chow fun” (big steamed rice noodles with four sauces), and headed downtown for a bit of the Hong Kong Holiday Shopping Experience. It was crazy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people buying so much stuff, crammed into narrow streets that are lit up with huge neon and backlit displays. Neat to experience once, but I don’t think its something I’m particularly keen on doing often. Anyhow, we spent a bit of time in a video arcade, I bought myself a watch (no, it’s not a fake rolex .. I’ll find one of those later), and headed out to dinner at a korean barbeque restaurant.
The korean barbeque was a heck of a lot of fun. It works like this: there’s a big hot plate in the middle of the table, and you put uncooked meats and vegies on it. Pretty simple. I have no idea why I haven’t seen it before, other than the fact that the FDA really freaks out about things like raw chicken at the dinner table. Quite delicious.
After that, a movie: Spy Games. Yeah, it’s an American movie … but it was playing at the right time, and it was a pretty decent flick. I recommend it. I think we’re going to try and catch a real Hong Kong action movie while we’re here, I mean, those movies are a huge inspiration to us all (right?), so it’s a must-do item.
Now we’re crashing out at Zafirlah’s, and I’m fighting a loosing battle with his computer, trying to make it cooperate with my camera. Grumble grumble. Oh well. We’ll see what happens …