Hong Kong – Day Two

Along with basically living two days without sleep just getting here – comes a very fine and subtle change also known as a serious bout of jet lag – my sleep patterns are all askew. After dinner last night, I went to bed rather early (just after 10:00 PM), but it was not what I expected.

Waking up at 3:00 AM isn’t fun. I worked on my blog – looked at some emails, basically fiddled around on the web before crawling back into bed just after 5:00 AM. I canceled a plan with a friend who teaches at Shantou University. Basically I wanted a day where I would be able to just go back to the apartment when and if necessary.

The main plan for Day 2 was dinner with friends at the Peking Gardens, a stylish restaurant in Star House, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon which is steps from the Star Ferry in Kowloon just across the Harbor from Hong Kong. In short Peking Duck was on the menu.

I was third to arrive. Steve and Yu Ling were already at the table. I checked in at the reception desk, where the reserved table was noted. The instructions were – your friends are at the table. Go through that door. Not having a clue as to what was behind Door Number One (hopefully a dining room and my fellow diners – I proceeded. On the other side of the door, a beautiful woman, in a dress split to mid-thigh was waiting for me. The restaurant works by radio. Watch for the tall man with glasses and a mustache (and needing s shave). In any event, I was escorted to the table. I doubt anyone’s eyes were on me.

Still not having a clue, I sat facing them. Little did I know that I was sitting with my back to the harbor view,

The Harbor View that I didn't see

The Harbor View that I didn’t see

Anyway shortly thereafter, Jeannette appeared. She had booked the place, and we left the selection of the food to her.

In addition to not having the harbor view, I was sitting with my back to the preparation of the Peking Duck. A roasted duck is wheeled out and offered for our inspection. They carve the duck in full view of our table (except for me), cut off the skin, slice off the fatty duck tissue, then put the skins back on. This (below) is what the finished serving looks like.

A platter of Peking Duck.

A platter of Peking Duck.

It is served with some vegetables like cucumber, and celery,which has been sliced into tooth pick size slivers. Then you add the duck and veggie into a wrap, which you have coated with a special sauce. You roll the whole thing up, and voila – Peking Duck.

There were other dishes of course, like steamed dumplings.

Like this hearty soup.

Or this other soup.

Have a look at this dish we didn’t order – the steamed fresh garoupa (above).

And for dessert, we had freshly made apple fritters, which come out just off the fire, and before you are given then, they are set into small bowls of ice cubes in water, I guess to cool them off, and set the crust. I haven’t an image of that, so let’s have one more look at the succulent Peking Duck. This time with the thin wraps or pancakes behind them

The life in Hong Kong is like it is everywhere for working people – working, eating, and shopping are the main activities. Relaxing, and sleeping have to be worked in and around those primary activities. This results in two things – people spend less and less time in the apartments, and it seems that where ever you look, every seat in every restaurant is occupied. This is also an outcome based on the lack of space in Hong Kong. People live in small spaces, that are in such high demand, that the space/cost numbers are quite disproportionate.

People also have to deal with the fact that Hong Kong and Kowloon are very hilly. Food shopping becomes arduous because they don’t have a lot of what we in the west would call supermarkets. Your produce and your fruit sellers have storefronts and booths on the street – and not necessarily adjoining. Household supplies are also elsewhere.

As an example, I took the ferry from North Point on the Hong Kong side to Kowloon City which is across the Harbor. I noted on the return trip back to North Point, that as you exit the ferry terminal, there are a good number of fish mongers. This sea food is all alive and is swimming in small tanks. You buy what you want and isn’t it fresh?

But the key element is that where the fish sellers are – there are no other food stuffs available. They may be only a block away, but who wants to carry groceries up and down hills and up stairs.

Of course, people do live in High-rises that do have elevators. So after you come here a few times you are going to think of Hong Kong as a vertical city. With small apartments. Some one recently said to describe his place. A shoe-box in the sky. That wasn’t meant as a criticism. It is simply a fact of life.

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