Last Day in China

view from window, looking out on high rises in Hong Kong

I didn’t sleep well last night. I kept waking up in the night, finally waking up and staying awake sometime before 6:00 AM. I lay in bed chatting with friends on Facebook and Skype hoping I would eventually fall back asleep, but no such luck.

I had a shower and packed. It was 8:30 by then, so I left the hotel in search of breakfast. I wanted something green, but thought maybe I’d try some congee as it was my last day in China. I wasn’t a fan of it when I’d had it in Toronto, but thought I’d give it another try here.

I found a breakfast place called Cafe de Cora. The cashier was in a cute yellow outfit and looked like a 1960’s stewardess (which pretty much sold me). I ordered K1 which included vermicelli with veggies, turnip pudding, and congee for $21.50 HKD (about $3 CDN). I sat down at the one two person table available, before noticing that there was no serving staff. Everyone was taking their receipt to the back counter. I followed suit and immediately got my morning combo. The table I had been sitting at had been taken by then, so I sat at a four person table all by myself and ate my breakfast.

The noodles were very oily with lots of cabbage mixed in. The turnip pudding tasted very fishy so I pushed it aside on my plate. The congee was edible, but unknown substances were floating around in it. One of these unknown substances was a green-grey gooey thing that at first I thought was a boiled dried mushroom gone goopy, but when I ate it, I was absolutely clueless what it could be. It was kinda gross, so I avoided the rest of them with my spoon. There were also slivers of meat that I guessed were salted pork, but I wasn’t sure about them either. Breakfast was a culinary adventure to say the least!

baskets of pontikege pastries

Across the street was a sweet little bakery. I thought I could maybe get something sugary or a milk tea to compensate for my unsavory breakfast. The bakery had a mix of European and Asian desserts. I gravitated towards a sesame pontikege, which I’d never heard of before. It was like a sweet Yorkshire pudding and I ate it in two bites!

During my wanders on my way home, I past a Chinese diner that had regular milk tea and lemon tea. I had seen lemon tea at a variety of places, so decided to try a Hong Kong lemon tea. To my surprise, they gave it to me tied up in a little bag just big enough for the coffee cup, two packets of sugar and a tiny spoon. Inside my cup was half a lemon sliced up, bobbing round in hot water. As I was on holiday, I added sugar to my cup of lemon tea and got the simple pleasure of using the tiny spoon to stir my tea-in-a-bag. It was a thrill.

bouquets of flowers outside a florist

Walking home proudly with my petite bag of tea, I passed a flower shop on the way. They had tiny little bouquets- sized for a child! I was tempted to buy one just because they were so pretty, but my better judgement got the best of me. What was I going to do with a bouquet of flowers hours before boarding a plane?

When I got home, I checked out of my hotel and left my baggage with the concierge. Before going downstairs to wait for the complimentary shuttle to the tram station. Good thing I went when I did as it left ten minutes early! I was the only person going to the peak and had the bus all to myself too.

When I got to the tram station (which was the same place Google Maps was calling the Ngong Ping cable car yesterday) I discovered the tram did not take you to Ngong Ping Village, but Victoria Peak– the one place Nicole had advised that I skip in Hong Kong. However, I was there now, so decided to take the plunge.

The Peak Tram was $40 HKD. I found myself in a tour group of seniors from the US and UK. The tour guide told us the tram was Swiss made and a hundred years old which I found to believe as everything looked new.

Taking the tram up the hill felt like going up a roller coaster. You could feel gravity push against you! There was lots of greenery and nice houses to look at though.

cloudy city scape

The view from the peak was blocked by the clouds/pollution. There wasn’t much else to do- just luxury shops and rich tourist priced restaurants, so I took the next tram back down the hill.

On my way to the tram station, I stopped in at the tourist centre where a woman outlined how to get to Ngong Ping Village. I had to get down to the piers, take a hour long ferry then a half hour bus. When I said the shuttle bus I was taking to the airport left at 3:00, she advised that I keep the Village for my “…next visit to Hong Kong.”

I noticed there was a market and arts & crafts district relatively close to my hotel on the map she gave me. So I decided to check that out before taking the bus to the airport. I got on a double-decker streetcar (the interior was wood!!) in the direction of Western Market and sat with my map.

I really missed the TTC stop announcements like we have on the public transit in Toronto. I missed my stop, so had to get off and go back the way I came. Turned out you didn’t pay when you got on, but when you got off buses. So, I had to pay twice before getting on the eastbound bus.

I sat on the top level of the streetcar this time which was fun! It was lovely listening to the clang and squeaks on the train as the breeze caressed my face. There’s always something so comforting about the sound of a streetcar on the tracks.

The text on the streetcar stop signs was very hard to read from the streetcar window, so I asked a woman if I was close to the Western Market. She nodded and said I should get off, so I went down to the driver to verify with him that it was the right stop, but when I got off, I found I was at the Bowrington Road Market, not the Western Market.

busy market in Hong Kong

The Bowrington Road Market had clothes and food mixed together which was unusual in comparison to other Chinese markets I’d been into. Outside the market I found streets of luxury brand stores and camera shops. As Hong Kong was suppose to be one of the shopping capitals of the world, I decided to tour some of the shops.

I went fantasy lens shopping, looking at landscape and portrait lenses for my camera. I had been told by quite a few people that Hong Kong was the place to get good deals on camera gear. Without bargaining, I saw nice, light tripod for $250 HKD and a Canon 10-22mm lens for $4840 HKD. I wandered into a shop with a talented hard seller, who saw all my camera gear and freaked out that I was using EF and L-series lens on a Canon T3i then did a wonderful job at trying to sell me a Fujiyama fish eye lens to go on top of my 50mm lens to compensate for the shortened attributes of my camera, taking photos of then same thing with my different lenses and then the fish eye. It was $3800 HKD, but when I said it was too much he went down to $2800 HKD, which was still too much for an unemployed post-grad such as myself. I found the whole experience quite interesting, both from a selling perspective and from having an interest in camera gear. However it was unnerving being told that all the lenses you have are for pro cameras and not for your hobby camera they are structured differently! I’ll have to check with my techy friends when I get home to see what they say.

On my walk back to the hotel, I found the Western Market. It was very small and boring. A girl interviewed me for a school project on the market within the first 5 minutes I stepped into the building, asking about my observations. If she’d given me time to look around, I would have said the signage within the building was unclear, misleading, and they needed better curation of the tenants. According to my tourist map, there was suppose to be art and artisans there, but all I found were jobbers and tacky souvenir sellers.

cup of tea on a table in a diner

I walked back to the hotel, stopping in a diner for udon noodles in a red bean and soya sauce and a ‘Hong Kong style’ milk tea. Back at the hotel, I ate a green tea and chestnut mouse cake while I waited for the bus.

The shuttle bus to the airport was quiet, with most seats filled by senior citizens with strong American and British accents. I didn’t know Hong Kong was such a popular destination for retirees!

It was really neat driving by the docks. There was a plethora of cranes, boats, and shipping containers – I’ve never seen so many boats in one place before! It was an incredible sight.

Now I am at the airport. Check-in and security was a breeze. In less than 24 hours, I’ll be home! Yay!

  • Photos taken and post written on an iPhone 4S.
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2 responses to “Last Day in China

  1. Oh Nell…that was a most unsatisfying breakfast today…..so happy all our meals were not like that…You are so brave to be wondering here and there by yourself…These retirees that are travelling to Hong Kong must be wealthy ones…The only time you lost me in language was when you started to speak about cameras and lenses…too funny…THAT was all Chinese to me…lol Perhaps my sister and I should pay for you to visit places so you could scoot around and blog about the places and we would enjoy everything without leaving our home….My sister and I have really enjoyed this vacation to China….. Thank you again…..

  2. Pingback: Hong Kong | The Black Beret·

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