Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hong Kong - Day 2

How nice to be able to sleep in, go work out with my hubby and then have a leisurely breakfast at the hotel’s buffet! To some, that may seem ordinary, but for us it was a special treat!

So loaded up with foods from around the world (got to love breakfast buffets at Asian hotels – they serve everything from pancakes to steamed pork dumplings to lox and capers), we headed back out into this crazy city.

Now, I’m just going to preface this whole day with one thing – today is National Day in China, the crowning glory of Golden Week, which ranks right up there with Chinese New Year as one of the most important holidays in China. Yes, for the second year in a row I’ve scheduled a vacation to China during the busiest travel time of the year. You’d think I’d learn!

Our first stop was the Bird Garden. In China, a popular hobby to have is to have a song bird and to take it out every day for a walk. Older men (didn’t see any ladies) have these beautiful little song birds in these beautiful little bamboo or wood cages and take them to the Bird Garden to talk (the men talk, not the birds) and to compete with other birds on who has the best song. In the garden there are stalls that sell the cages, the birds and the treats that are fed to the birds (crickets, worms, etc.) It was fascinating and so Chinese! And yes, I did buy a bird cage (but not the bird to go in it!)

Carrying his birdcages

Let me out!  Dinner for some lucky bird.

There were scores and scores of these cages with birds for sale.

Admiring birds

Our cage looks a lot like the one on the right.

Moon gate into the park.

A display of "happy birds" (as the sign called them).

The old men with their birds hanging on the poles.

Next to the Bird Garden is the Flower Market – it’s really no more than a long street full of store after store of flowers and plants for sale. But it smells so good and looks so pretty. There were lots of flowers I knew, but some I’d never seen before and I so wanted to buy up a huge bouquet, but had to be satisfied with one pom pom chrysanthemum. Yes, I know, we’re leaving in two days, but it was so happy looking!

Stevie really wanted the red Christmas tree.

From the Flower Market we wondered into the Ladies’ Market (yes, it’s really called that) where it was stall after stall of “ladies’ things” like clothes, bras, yarn, household goods and – for some reason – kids toys? I was tempted by a few shirts and thought about some wool, but ended up with nothing.

Stevie looking at the chickens for sale.

Ladies' market from above.

From the Ladies’ Market we moved over one street to the Goldfish Market. Not only do the Chinese like to have birds in their homes, they also consider it lucky to have an aquarium. This one street has store after store of all types of live fish and aquarium fixins’. Some of the poor souls were stuffed into baggies and hung on the wall – how they didn’t run out of air or how they got food, I’m not sure? Looping around up the goldfish street brought us back to the flower market and then back to the Bird Garden where we stopped to pick up our previously purchased bird cage. After dropping that at the hotel, we plunged back out for more adventure.

Fish in a bag

Colored rocks and sand for your tank.

This lady was selling quail eggs and other roasted treats in the middle of the street!
Now I started this entry saying it is National Day on October 1st in China. It’s a super big holiday where everyone and their brother are off work and, apparently, shopping! We started walking along a famous shopping street called Nathan Road and I have to say I’ve never seen so many people and so much traffic nor heard so much noise. The cacophony was intense! Too intense really to enjoy any of it. It was sensory overload so all the sights, sounds and smells just blended into a lull that was numbing.

A lot of the shops on Nathan Road (at least the part we were on) were jewelry and watch stores. Can I just say I have never seen so many high end jewelry stores in one place in my life? Rolex, Tissot, Tudor, Oris – any kind of watch you could want was there and not a single one was under $500. Try more like $5,000. And the thing is that the stores were just packed with people. I think the Hong Kong economy must be doing a little better than ours.

So after a while we jumped on the subway to come out a little further south on Nathan Road and closer to Victoria Harbor.

This the downtown section of Hong Kong (or at least Kowloon, the side we were staying on), and guess what was downtown? That’s right, more shopping! Needing a break from the people and the shopping, we found a cool place called Jimmy’s Kitchen which was as close to an upscale British pub I’ve been in outside the borders of the British Isles. We chilled at Jimmy’s with a pint or two before going to dinner at a delicious Indian restaurant called Gaylords. The food was super good!

After dinner, we joined the masses of people heading towards the harbor in preparation for the evening light show and fireworks.

The famous Peninsula Hotel.

Every evening at 8:00 Hong Kong does a light show and fireworks display for the entertainment of the people. Of course, tonight’s show was different since it is National Day. The light show went off at 8:00, and then at 9:00 the holiday fireworks show began. Three barges on the harbor synchronized their displays to light up the city. We couldn’t get close enough to see the water, but were down by the clock tower and the Star Ferry terminal. It was an intimate affair of us and about 5 million other tourists and natives! The show was really impressive, and it’s funny to note that even Hong Kongers “ooh” and “ahh” at fireworks!

I was trying to photograph the crowd behind us, but missed.  Still, I think this is a cool photo!

After the grand finale, we joined the mass migration of people heading back to their residences. We honestly thought it was going to take us a couple of hours to navigate the streets and subway to make it back to our hotel but in true Asian style everything was orderly and timely and within 45 minutes we were putting the key into the door of our hotel room.

1 comment:

  1. I love the picture of the two of you in the British Pub, you look so happy and in love!