Day 5 (December 29, 2005)
It was a whirlwind 24 hours! We got up in the morning, and headed off to lunch with Color, and Shirley (a cousin from England). I had no idea what I was in for. The ride was fun. Today we took the bus, to the tram, and that’s a scary thing! The tram is about 6 feet wide, and has two levels. They are skinny, rickety old things, that run on tracks. I kept having a feeling that it would tip over at any moment. The way the tram careened through Causeway bay, down to central made for some good pictures though.
Since we were early for lunch, went down to the old western market. It used to be a meat and produce market in the early days of Hong Kong, but now houses a restaurant, and some touristy places. Very posh, and not like a market at all, somewhat disappointing. Then, it was back on the tram, down to Central where we went to the Island Shangri La for lunch buffet. I have NEVER seen a buffet like this. It was incredible. You had a choice of Indian, Western, Chinese, Japanese. 5 serving areas each at least 3 feet long. Then, there was the salad bar, as well as dessert stand that was just screaming, “Come – fatten up!” We met Color, Larry, Shirley, Kin Yin, Alistair and their youngest whose name I can’t remember. We all ate sumptuously for over 2 hours. When people in Hong Kong decide to go overboard, they know how to do it right! I got one picture of the dessert bar, before I was asked not to take any pictures (Interior design, trade secrets….)
Here are the little chocolate wraps, which have a creamy mousse, and raspberries inside.
After lunch we had to roll ourselves down to the bus, so that we could hurry up and meet Christine and Barry to head to Guangzhou, and meet Simon, Vicki, Justin and the family. The bus seemed to take forever, and I was afraid we were going to be late, but not so… in good time. Christine had already bought our tickets, and we couldn’t get 4 tickets next to each other, so it was a bit disappointing. When leaving Hong Kong, we had to fill out an EXIT card (These people are going to singlehandedly kill the forests with all this documentation!), and then it was on to the train. The train was much nicer than I had imagined, and Irene and I had two seats across a table from two Chinese gentlemen. Christine asked them if we could swap seats, and they gladly obliged. We DID get to sit together as a group. The train trip was interesting, as we went from the Dense highrises of Hong Kong to the more open land of the Chinese mainland. There doesn’t seem to be a full appreciation for the effect of littering and burning in China, as everyone was burning something, somewhere. There were small garbage piles right outside of people’s apartments – It would appear that they just tossed their garbage out the window when disposing of it 😦 Overall the atmosphere seemed hazy and smoky…that of an industrial area without environmental controls. I could feel the air in my lungs, and a slight stinging in my eyes.
When we arrived at Guangzhou, the station was nice and clean, and I was looking forward to a cleaner environment that what I saw in the area out of the city. The air was still harsh, but things were cleaner. We had to clear Chinese immigration on the way into the city. More paper work, and man were they slow 😦 We got out of the train station and took a subway to Simon’s home. The subway was busy, as is usually the case in a large urban city around 1730. I had been warned many times about pickpockets,and thieves, so I was keeping a close eye on my belongings as we wended our way through the subway halls, on our way up to Simon’s. Simon lives 1/2 a block from the subway, in the penthouse of a 26 floor apartment building!
You see, Simon’s wife’s Uncle happens to be a construction magnate. (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/74/Rank_1.html) This means that you accommodations are a bit nicer than average. Simon, Vicki, and Justin share a 4000 sqft appartment with Mr. Li’s parents. Quite the spread. It was luxury beyond my imagination. Simon manages 8 of the large construction sites in the city, so he is working very hard, and I can imagine that maybe one day he may find himself in that list. After arrival we chatted for a bit, and played with Justin (12 mos) and told people of our plans to visit Beijing and Xian. It was then that Grandpa showed us a beautiful 3D model of the terracotta army (encased in lexan), and Mr’s D and I both commented on how beautiful it was. Upon hearing that, he GAVE it to us!!! Beyond my dreams. Truly kind. Wow!
Now is when things got really interesting! We went out for dinner. I had been saying that I looked forward to trying out snake somewhere that you pick it out, and in a short bit, it’s dinner. Simon had found just the place for us. When we arrived at the restaurant, the ground floor looks like a fish market. Actually, it’s where you order your dinner if you wish the live goods. We picked a nice snake for frying, and a turtle for soup, and a nice sole, some scallops, and 2nd fish which nobody could name for me. Much to the turtle’s happiness, it was too late to make soup, so he got spared. There were sand worms, and cockroaches, but I turned them down… A little too exotic for me.
We went upstairs, and drank local Chinese beer, and the dishes came one by one. They were all excellent. The snake was great. It tasted like pork, and they prepared it with a light batter.
Here’s the snake plate served up.
Then, it was surprise time for me. They actually had ordered the roaches, so due to peer pressure, I HAD to try one. EEEEEEWWWWW. Crunchy, with the guts being kind of creamy/slimy. That’s it. Only one.
Here’s me and my one bug.
After dinner we went for a walk along the “Beijing Road“, it’s like a pedestrian mall equivalent of Robson Street in Vancouver. Being the big white tourist, I think I had about 15 people try to sell me Rolex’s DVD’s Shoes…. No, No, No! Geesh. It was certainly interesting. Also, back in 2002, they discovered the old roads of the Ming and another dynasty UNDER the present day Beijing road, so they have small areas where you can see the different archeological openings showing roads that were 600 years old.
When we were done walking, it was time to go home. After uploading some pics it was past midnight, and definitely time to sleep.