Wednesday November 2nd – It is about 10:30 in the morning. I have just returned from my morning expedition. I will leave Hong Kong for the 1st time tomorrow evening. But I needed to lay in some items for today and tomorrow. So the first item on my agenda was some orange juice. I’d not seen any that looked worthwhile in the neighborhood near the apartment. But I did see some Minute Maid OJ in tall bottles in Hong Kong MTR Station yesterday.
The Harmony Restaurant, which is between Wing Lok Rd and Bonham Strand on Morrison St in Sheung Wan, was my destination. I suppose this is the Hong Kong equivalent of a diner back in the States. I had the Set B breakfast which included coffee, toast, a fried egg, a small hamburger patty and a very slender slice of cooked ham. Twenty three HK dollars – a bit more than $3 US; your basic no frills first meal of the day. Still, it beats cooking and then cleaning a frying pan and plates back in the apartment. The place was quite busy but the service was fast. I was the only westerner in the place.
With a window seat in a small booth – I had a commanding view of the pedestrian traffic. For the most part, more people seemed to be coming down from the higher levels of Sheung Wan heading for the mass transit MTR Station. These folks would be heading to their jobs and businesses. But then there would be a strong flow of folks heading in the opposite direction, deeper into the Sheung Wan’s commercial and business district. While I didn’t think of it as I watched for the first time – it came to me on the next day – the pedestrian traffic inbound into Sheung Wan was no doubt linked to the fact that an MTR train had arrived. Sheung Wan is the last and most westerly station on the Island Line of the MTR, and those folks were going to their places of employment in Sheung Wan.
I made my way back up into the hills with a patterned walk of first up a hill for a block – via either a street or stairs, then turn right, go a block west, then go up another street or stairs for about three reps until I came to the bottom of the Blake Gardens which meant I was only about 2-3 minutes away from the apartment unless I stopped to rest, to read, or to admire the roots of the banyan trees.
Friday – Nov. 4th – I arrived here in Yangshuo, Guangxi Province, China last night. My Flight to Guilin arrived at 11:30PM and it is about a 70 kilometer drive through the mountains to Yangshuo and specifically to the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat. I got through immigration rather quickly – no doubt the result of the fact that I sat in the 4th row on the plane and I am six feet four tall and my long legs just allow me to walk faster than most. I had to wait a bit for my car and driver as the flight had been early and he was still in his car while I had cleared immigration. The 70 klicks went by in less than an hour. The night desk clerk Jenny was there waiting for me, and she short-cutted the check-in by saying that I could hand in my passport in the morning.
Since I had arrived late in the night, and the drive down from Guilin had followed the G65 highway through the mountains and had passed through no towns, there had not even been a single billboard – I hadn’t seen a thing.
These were the views from my room the next morning.
Breakfast here was a real treat. You could sit wherever you liked in the dining room (below), or you could sit outdoors at the many tables beneath umbrellas on the banks of the Yulong River. The Set 2 breakfast was choice of juice and coffee or tea, scrambled eggs, with a choice of bacon or ham, plus toast. The waitresses all spoke English and remembered your room number and your name. The pretty girls with their perfect manners – just a marvelous way to begin the day.
Monday – November 7th – I’m back in Hong Kong and staying at the East Hotel in Taikoo. This is a decidedly hi-tech hotel (more about the hotel later; we are still talking breakfasts). The breakfast is served in Feast – get it? East Hotel and F for food = Feast. Breakfast is handled by a young staff all in tee shirts and jeans or blazers, tee shirts and jeans. The hotel is doing a brisk breakfast. I hear about a dozen different languages and the crowd is made up more of people about business than people who are tourists – but wow, so many beautiful women.
Service is horrendous. A lovely hostess picks me up at the entrance and seats me and asks if I want coffee or tea. This is a two part breakfast – a continental breakfast buffet style plus cooked to order hot breakfast chosen from a menu. I’ve traveled extensively in Asia and always – repeat always – the coffee has been poured and is waiting for you by the time you return to your table with your selections from the buffet.
Not this time. I finished the buffet items and had read half of the South China Morning Post. In New York you have the Occupy Wall Street people; in Hong Kong the brokers are organizing protests because the Hong Kong Markets wish to EXTEND the trading hours. Anyway I have to ask for the coffee again because it was MIA. Finally it arrives but no hot breakfast menu. I request the menu and ultimately place my order- Scrambled eggs with bacon – the works. My second cup of coffee is also delayed. The food takes forever to arrive.
After the food arrived, and I finished it – I called for the chit to sign. A moment later, a young man comes over and apologizes for the excessive delays with my breakfast. Per his manager, breakfast is on the house. No charge. Well then – there you go. And off I go back upstairs to write this piece since I am no longer burdened by the Great Firewall of China.