17.08.2012 - 17.08.2012 90 °F
Well, when the Typhoon Flag 8 (out of 10) was raised last night before we went to bed, we decided to skip our planned tour of Lantau Island, as I mentioned. It seemed like the safe, smart decision. This morning, though, when we woke up, the skies looked OK and the warning was down to Flag 3, which basically means just really fast winds ... several of the activities for our full-day tour were still cancelled (like the cable car; and many others may have been miserable in the blowing winds), but my heart still broke a little when our pick-up time came and went. I really did want to see Lantau Island, but I know that Kevin was the wiser voice - we were advised to stay away from the coastline, after all! Anyway, with a full, unplanned day ahead of us, we slept in, had some coffee while we researched what else to do and did a bit of work for our mortgage, got in a good workout, and headed out for the day. Our plan was to be as "weather-proof" as possible, so that if we had to sneak inside at any moment, we could.
Our first stop was Hong Kong Park, which was close to our hotel, but I had read online that it wasn't really worth seeing. We are so glad we got to see it, though! It was a really nice park with several man-made lakes, an aviary, an "Olympic Square" stadium, a cave, and fountains. When it started raining, we went into the Conservatory, which we never would have gone into otherwise, but it was very interesting! We saw lots of new plants (including a "bat flower" that really looked like bats), and I learned the difference between spices and herbs - herbs are from the leafy part of the plant and are found fresh or dried; spices are from the seeds/ fruits/ bark/ roots of the plant, and are almost always dried. There were thousands of plants there, from cinnamon to pineapples to cacti to lychee - we thought that if Pat were here, she would want to get hired!
After the Park, we meandered through downtown Hong Kong a bit more, and marveled at the number of people streaming through the streets at all times. We had 3 separate recommendations to go to Mak's noodles, so we headed there, and were very impressed! We each got the wanton noodles with shrimp dumplings, and a side of vegetables (which I think was kai lan). We were impressed that it wasn't very touristy and was very tasty!
After lunch, we headed to Kowloon to see the Hong Kong Museum of History. Embarassingly, neither Kev nor I really knew much about the history of Hong Kong prior to our trip. We spent 3 hours learning about the ancient civilizations there, the progression through history, the Opium Wars, the British takeover, the Japanese invasion, and the reunification with China. Way too much to write here, but we were fascinated! Kev's favorite was a festival where the Chinese build huge towers full of buns as an offering to the gods, and at the end, the people used to scramble after the towers to get the buns to eat! He also requested to take my picture by this display, which happened to be a festival where single women pray for good husbands. I thought this was funny .
After the museum, we headed back to the hotel and used the gym to shower and change. We then met up with Tom, our friend from Harvard who lives in Hong Kong. We had a drink with him at our hotel, traveled to the airport with him, and hung out in the lounge for a bit with him. Great to catch up with old friends! Of note, I had my first tofu in Asia here in the airport lounge ... I've been looking for vegetarian protein options forever and expected tofu to be rampant in Asia, but it hasn't been. Anyway, we take off soon for our (connecting) flight to Melbourne ... it is 11pm now, and we expect to arrive at our hotel at 2:30pm tomorrow ... it's gonna be a looong night!
Catch you from Australia!
-Megan and Kevin