Hong Kong Day 8 – Korean Barbecue

A restaurant serving what was described as Korean Barbecue was the target. Located in To Kwa Wan, it is just a very brief walk from the Ferry . My route was the Island Line from Sheung Wan to North Point. Then a block and half walk to the ferry which I just missed. That’s the penalty of trying to judge the evening rush hours.

The early evening rush hour on the MTR

The early evening rush hour on the MTR

Too many people on the MTR at the same time and it takes longer to off load and board at each stop. Plus it was crowded, so I heard the repeated phrase ‘Please stand back from the doors’ in both Cantonese and English far too often. Many times the doors closed in our car then re-opened because they couldn’t close the doors in another part of this MTR train. So I missed the boat. By a minute. However going in the direction of Kowloon side from Hong Kong sides – this Ferry departs at 17 and 47 after each hour.

Arriving at Kowloon City. That's the Grand Water Front Plaza on the right

Arriving at Kowloon City. That’s the Grand Water Front Plaza on the right

But it worked out – Yu Ling met me at the ferry, Kowloon side, and Steve met us at the restaurant.

I am not familiar with Korean Barbecue at all. In fact the only thing I knew about Korean food is that they can barbecue beef, chicken, or pork, and that you will be served kimchi as an appetizer, side dish, or something to nibble on while the food is cooking.

Kimchi is described as fermented vegetables with a variety of seasonings. Start with chopped cabbage, add Korean radish, Korean fish sauce, ginger, red pepper, salt, sugar, and add scallions last. Mix together by hand. And that’s kimchi.

Sorry Neighborhood Korean Barbecue Restaurant, this isn’t something I’d request again. It is a Korean staple but I think it is not for everyone.

That's Yu Ling, me, the side-s=dishes, and they Tsingtao

That’s Yu Ling, me, the side-dishes, and the Tsingtao

And this time it is Yu Ling, Steve, and the side-dishes. The barbecue has yet to be fired up.

And this time it is Yu Ling, Steve, and the side-dishes. The barbecue has yet to be fired up.

But for the special barbecue dinner, it, the Kimchi simply ‘comes with’. Make that comes with any meal in a Korean restaurant. You can taste it or ignore it. It’s just a part of the meal. There are a lot of other side dishes , and dipping sauces that are served as well. But I can’t really tell you what most of them were.

But the chicken, pork, and a couple of steaks are barbecued right there on your table. Electric barbecue of course. No sign of charcoal at all.

You get a lot of food, and you get to watch the meats cook right in front of you. The staff cuts and slices – sometimes with knives, and sometimes with scissors and tongs.

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Coffee and Croissant at Java Java – Hong Kong Travels

Day 9 Friday – Sheung Wan

This morning I was up and out early. AI enjoyed  a tasty croissant and coffee at Java Java which is about 1 minute’s walk from my front door. The top photo above is from the street,

and the rest are from inside. They have sidewalk style seating outside too. And the link below will enable you to vave a virtual panorama look inside.


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Hong Kong – Day 7 – I Visit The World of Suzie Wong

Day 6 & 7 In Hong Kong – Relaxing and Exploring and an Offers to Party –

On Monday, after my trek to Kowloon City in search of a great lunchtime biryani – I went across the harbor to Tsim Sha Tsui – Canton Road, and Peking Road. The shopping mecca of TST. I had my eyes checked and ordered a set of eyeglasses from my friends at Classy Optical who have relocated to the other side of Peking Road.

Formerly they were at 110 or was it 112 Peking Road, they are now at 77 Peking Road, just a little ways in from Nathan Road.

Yu Ling came down from Mongkok where she works and we met for a no-frills, no photo ops dinner.

Tuesday: Day 7 – okay, on this day I did a little more exploring. The section of Hong Kong known as Wanchai has long been a haven for night clubs, partying, and more. US soldiers and sailors, as well as sailors from various other visiting navies usually head for the delights of Lockhart Road.

All of that was made famous in a book called The World of Suzie Wong. The book was authored by Richard Mason in 1957. It was the story of a British ex-pat named Lomax living as an artist in a Wanchai hotel.  He befriends a young woman who worked as a prostitute at this hotel, and her clientele were mainly American and British sailors.

The book became a theatrical play which starred France Nuyen as Suzie Wong and William Shatner as Lomax. Yes, the very same Shatner who would later portray, Captain James T.Kirk on TV and in the movies. Then, in 1960, a movie.was produced based on the same source material. It starred William Holden and Nancy Kwan. And today, some 50 plus years later – here I am in the same area.

Neon night clubs, bar girls, cheap hotels, and more. The perfect place to have fun or be bad. I started out intending to walk around on the Wanchai Harbor Promenade. But with all the city planners have done with developing and redeveloping the area, the original setting of the book, play, and movie – the fictional Nam Kok Hotel, which was based on the Luk Kwok Hotel on Gloucester Road no longer exists. Gloucester Road is still there, but the Luk Kwok came down in the 1980’s. So it is quite likely that Mason himself might not recognize the area. As for the promenade itself, it is not so easy to get to if you aren’t familiar with it.

All I knew was that it was East of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center (above)

Anyway I spent a rather short time there (on the promenade) and soon headed back on one of the elevated walk-ways which basically serve as fly overs for the pedestrians. Eventually I saw a sign that said Delifrance 1 minute walk on Lockhart Road.

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Day Five in Hong Kong – The Adventure to Enjoy Chicken Biryani in Kowloon City

Day Five in Hong Kong. This was a Monday. The weather gods were cruel to me today. It was one of those days that if you carried an umbrella – you’d soon tire of it occupying one of your hands, and if had left it behind, you’d wish you hadn’t. The rain was enough to get you damp if not truly wet, but not enough to get you soaked. As I said – it was one of those days.

With my friends Jeannette and Yu Ling at work, I was left to my own planning. Or should I say, I had no real plans. However if you back track to my post for Day Three, in this series of postings, you will remember that we didn’t get to have that dinner on Saturday. I didn’t get to sample those Nepalese Dumplings described as the highlight of dining at the restaurant called Indian Curry King.

So on a rather spur of the moment decision I decided to ride the MTR, hop the ferry, and hope to find a taxi that would have an English-speaking driver, or at minimum, one who knew the restaurant.

I boarded the MTR at Sheung Wan. I can reel off the stations on the Number 1 Train (to Chai Wan) by heart – I think.

Sheung Wan
Wan Chai
Causeway Bay
Tin Hau
Fortress Hill
North Point
Quarry Bay
Tai Koo – I had stayed at the hotel East in Tai Koo in 2011
— and so forth to the line’s end at Chai Wan.

It’s not all that far – eight stops – maybe 15 minutes. They call this specific line of the MTR the Island Line because it connects the major neighborhoods along the North shore of Hong Kong Island.

The ferry from North Point to Kowloon City runs at 17 and 47 minutes past the hour and only a few people were heading to Kowloon City at this time of the day – between 1:30 and 1:37 PM. I didn’t cut it too close, so I had to wait about 8 minutes for the ferry.

Fourteen minutes later the ferry is at the pier in To Kwa Won. The Grand Waterfront Plaza looms high – 60 stories high in fact.

A taxi stops for me.

I climb in and say – Neih sic mhsic Yingman ah?

The words mean You can/not can speak English {question tone]

Fortunately, unlike the weather gods, the language gods were watching over me as the cab driver said immediately that he can speak English. I say Indian restaurant, Curry King, 24 South Wall Road, Kowloon City. Zip/Zip – 5 minutes pass and I am deposited right in front of the place. In the photo below, we can see the South Wall Road street sign, and that blue sign, the one over the phone booths, is the one for the restaurant.

It is a smallish place with maybe 10 tables. And maybe three tables were occupied. I sit down towards the back at a two-person table. I face the door and see everyone who might come in.

As I said it was a single room. What the restaurant lacked in decor, it really made up for it with the food. When the waiter came over, he said Welcome sir.

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Hong Kong: Day Four – The Best Laid Schemes of Mice an’ Men

From poet Robert Burns:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley, 

Day Four began somewhat earlier than expected, but that only means that I am still under the influence of jet lag. Tired in the afternoon. Wide awake in the middle of the night.

Anyway I decided to check out my second apartment. Currently I am in Sheung Wan, on Hollywood Road. Very nice place only it is pretty much all uphill from Des Voeux Road and Exit B of the Sheung Wan MTR Station. Looks like it is at least three levels (roads) upward – Queen’s Road, Possession Road, then Hollywood Road. And that means lots of steps.

The last of the flats. This is Des Voeux and Morrison. This is where I turn to head uphill

The last of the flats. This is Des Voeux and Morrison. This is where I turn to head uphill

West on Des Voex then south on Morrison (right near the Western Market) which is an uphill route. At Queens Road, I get another set of steps taking me up to Possession Road which has a bend (like a dog leg left) and is yet another uphill. Finally that takes me to Hollywood Road. From there it is literally just a few steps to the building and more steps – I’m on the third floor.

My next apartment is on Staunton Street in Soho. It is a fairly direct route from where I am now – straight east on Hollywood Road. Past Ladder Street and the Man Mo Temple. Ultimately this takes me the Mid-Levels Escalator. Staunton Road is up a couple of levels from Hollywood, and is just a few steps from the escalator. I’m on the 11th floor and the building has an elevator.

From there I hiked down (via the escalator) and made my way to Hong Kong Station. This is where I would pick up the Airport Express train to the airport. Beyond that, they have the In-town check-in. I will be able to drop my suitcase off on Tuesday evening, get my boarding pass, and be all set for my flight on Wednesday morning.

At the Peak. On a clear day, you can see forever. Only we had more people and it wasn't a clear day.

At the Peak. On a clear day, you can see forever. Only we had more people and it wasn’t a clear day.

Meanwhile let’s return to Sunday – Day Four. The plan was The Peak, then lunch in Stanley which is on the South Side of Hong Kong Island. I’d been to The Peak before, even took the Peak Tram up its steep ascent . But on this Sunday, The Peak might have been Central Station. Literally it was overrun with tour groups, hikers, bikers, people walking dogs, and people carrying small dogs – or children. We saw, and were among people who traveled great distances to arrive and suddenly found themselves in need of a coffee or a cold drink. Been awhile since I had been to the Peak in 1998. Nice to be back. Over the years, Hong Kong? Yes. Peak? No – until today.

We stayed long enough for a coffee. Rather than taking the Nature Walk down the hill to civilization, we opted for the more expensive, and less tiring stand-by – a taxi.

Stanley from the air

Stanley from the air

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Day Three in Hong Kong: The Walled City of Kowloon

Today I traveled to the remains of what was once known as The Walled City of Kowloon. Leaving Sheung Wan on the Island line of the MTR, I travel eastward across town to the area called North Point. There I boarded a ferry to Kowloon City which is across the harbor. Because there are many neighborhoods and locales, everyone further describes where they live by adding – Kowloon Side, or Hong Kong side. The harbor divides them

Like Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx are all a part of New York, Kowloon, is still a part of Hong Kong.

Heading for To Kwa Wan and The Grand Waterfront Plaza

Heading for To Kwa Wan and The Grand Waterfront Plaza

Anyway, where I got off the ferry, actually I was in To Kwa Wan, and I was literally steps away from a luxury high-rise with four towers each 60 stories high. This building complex is called Grand Waterfront Plaza. While not quite within spitting distance of the ferry – it is no more than a two-minute walk from the lobby to the ferry entrance. The proximity to the ferry is super convenient, but the down side is that there is no MTR station in the area.

Looking at what is left of the old Kai-Tak runway

Looking at what is left of the old Kai-Tak runway

Basically from my friends’ apartment, twenty some floors up, their view is not of the harbor, but of the remnants of the old Hong Kong Airport called Kai-Tak. Still, it is remarkable for me, as I am a ground floor dweller at home. However we did go up to the 44th floor. No one lives on the 44th (four is an unlucky number in Chinese culture), so it serves as  the fire break floor. There’s nothing to burn, just the empty spaces of the observatories.

Across the harbor is North Point. I' would take the ferry back to North Point.

Across the harbor is North Point. I’ would take the ferry back to North Point.

We hop on a bus for Kowloon City, and it is about a five-minute ride to get us close to the Kowloon Walled City Park, which has historical or landmark status, and the immediate surroundings include a public park with basketball courts, a dedicated bike track for kids, and green park land with walk ways and benches.

Now you may be asking – what is the Kowloon Walled City?

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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.

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Sarasota to Hong Kong: Day One

Day One – Part A

October 29th – Sarasota to New York via JetBlue. Goes off without a hitch. Departure scheduled for 11:31 and arrival scheduled for 2:09. We arrive at 1:50. As I said to the cabin attendants – I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. Left on time, arrived early, and sitting in Row 1 Seat C which would make me the first one to step off the plane at JFK’s Jet Blue Terminal. My checked suitcase hit the carousel rather quickly as well. I guess when the flight only had 78 passengers, things like this are possible. It is now about 230 PM on October 29th. But the day has only just begun.

Next I had to navigate over to Terminal 7. Naturally, or should I say not unexpectedly,  I took the JFK Air Train in the wrong direction, so I had to reverse direction or make long loop.  I hadn’t planned on seeing JFK by rail as a part of my travels.The whole point was to check in early and shed my suitcase, leaving me with just a computer bag to tote around for the next 11 hours.

My Cathay Pacific flight CX 845 was not scheduled to depart until 01:30 AM on October 30th. As planned, a friend picked me up at Terminal 7 and we shared a good dinner at O’Neill’s, a pub in Maspeth, Queens. We then headed back to his home in College Point, Queens, and another friend met us there for some good talk. Eventually, we drove back to JFK and since I am already checked in for the next leg of the trip, all that remained was going through Security. Despite two cameras, two phones, a computer, headphones, etc – it was a breeze. Boarding began at 12:50 AM and take off about 50 minutes later.  Our flight is scheduled to arrive at 5:20 AM on October 31st. Hong Kong here I come

I can say the 15 hours of flying time flew by – but only as a figure of speech. We flew, and the time passed – it just seem to take forever.

I got off the plane at about 5:35 AM (On October 31st) and allowed the moving sidewalk – the people mover, to carry me until we reached a fork in the road – okay, not in the road actually – at a certain juncture, the people in transit turned to the left, and the people arriving in Hong Kong and staying, had to pass through immigration and headed there by turning to the right. Three hundred people on line, and just 3 passport people (a fourth immigration agent would arrive shortly). 43 minutes later I had cleared immigration.

So now it is time to pick up my luggage – fortunately, all the luggage cleared their own checkpoints before we people arrived. My red, canvas, wheeled and locked Kiplinger duffel was going round and round on the carousel. And once I had this bag in my possession, that concluded the airline business.

I had been smart enough to buy the Airport Express Round Trip ticket on the plane and saved some money. The train is the fastest way into town – 24 Minutes to Hong Kong Station in Central. Total cost US$21 for the round trip. Wow. A one-way trip by taxi from JFK to Manhattan might run you about $70 with tax and tip. The Airport Shuttle Bus is $18 (one-way). There are trains from JFK to Manhattan – they’re just not as convenient as JFK has multiple terminals – meaning there is no central arrival hall.

TIP: If you can buy an Airport Express train ticket on the plane, do so. You can pay by credit card or US Dollars. If you don’t need the Airport Express – you may still need an Octopus Card, So you can buy those at the airport as well. HK$ 100 plus HK$50 deposit (which is refundable). The whole point is to exchange as little currency as possible at the airport. The rate at the airport was 7.06 HK for each US dollar. In town in Sheung Wan, or even Tsim Sha Tsui, in those small little hole-in-the wall currency exchange places that you see all over – the rate was infinitely better – buying HK dollars I would get 7.72 HK$ for each US$ dollar. And when I leave, I’d have to  hand over HK $7.76 for each US$ dollar.

Next I bought an Octopus Card – the all-purpose travel and more card essential for public transportation in Hong Kong – good on buses, MTR, trams, etc, and also can be used in 7-11 and other convenience stores.

The 1010 Shop is on the Departures level - so after everything I was in the Arrivals Hall - but is just an escalator ride up to Deapartures

The 1010 Shop is on the Departures level – so after everything I was in the Arrivals Hall – but it is just an escalator ride up to departures level.

By now it is only 6:40 AM. I had one more thing to buy at the airport – a SIM Card for my unlocked HTC Aria phone. The 1010 Shop would not open until 7:00 AM, so I Had time to kill – so why not another breakfast.

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