Sunday, August 26, 2012

Goodbye To All That

This is the last travel post.  The next and final post will be about the current political landscape in the city, leading to the upcoming September 9th Legislative Council election.

Monday, August 20 to Wednesday, August 22.

It was time to return the library books that we had taken out from the Central Library all those weeks ago.
Later in the day, we headed out to Jordan, for some last minute shopping and a dinner,
a branch of what is apparently the best vietnamese restaurant in the city.
Appetizers were meh.
Beef brisket curry:
Curry was bland.
No herbs could be tasted in the soup.
pineapple fried rice:
Made with low quality soy sauce.  There's not supposed to be any in it at all.
and a plate of mixed veggies.
Yeah.  At this point, I've completely given up on Vietnamese food in this city.  I haven't had a single good bowl of phở in the last two trips I've made here.  The stuff in Toronto is so much better.  Which is very weird, considering it takes less than two hours by plane to get to Ho Chi Minh City from Hong Kong.
Walking down Nathan Road for the last time, we stop for a moment and take a better look at the Chungking Mansions again.

As night falls, there's one place we need to go:
for a final look at the spectacular nightscape, something truly unparalleled in the world.
...oh right.  The crush of tourists.  (Boy, was that other night lucky, Antonia and Gloria!)

Wan Chai:
The Hong Kong Tourism Board's logo...
Causeway Bay:
and Central:

Almost stereotypically, as we are about to leave, a junk (中國帆船, lit. "Chinese ship") sailed across the Harbour.
The word junk is thought to come from the old Min Nan (a spoken Chinese family which includes Taiwanese) pronunciation of the Chinese word for ship, 船 - dzuːŋ in IPA.

A final shot of the world's largest skyline:


Tuesday, August 21.
Unexpectedly, we were back at Tsim Sha Tsui on our last full day in the city.
Meeting up with people for one last yum cha.  Guess what company owns this restaurant, just behind the Promenade?
Maxim's.  Again.  So no expectations for the food.

But the view...
is decent, I guess.  2 IFC and the Bank of China Tower are blocked by the Cultural Centre's auditorium on the right.

A bowl of peanuts and fried tofu to start:
Deep-fried wontons:
Pastries shaped like roast goose, stuffed with roast goose:
Vegetarian rice noodle roll:
Chicken feet!

and Yeung Chow fried rice (揚州炒飯).  
Considered the "standard" for fried rice dishes, this dish consists of mixed veggies, shrimp, egg, and most importantly cha siu, each stirred in while the rice is being stir-fried to give it a characteristic sweet-savoury aroma and taste.  It is named after the Chinese city of Yangzhou (揚州), although it is uncertain if the dish actually came from that city.

Mango pudding:
and tofu pudding, served in a novelty version of the tradition huge bucket.

Overall, the food was decent, and not that much more expensive than the rest of the Maxim's restaurants,

but I don't know if it was just an off day, but the service was terrible.  As in, absolutely horrific.  We would put an order down, and they would promptly forget it until an hour later.  Or they would give us things we didn't order.  At least five times.  As I was leaving the washroom (from all that tea drinking passing the time!), I overheard the waiters arguing over where a dish of Yeung Chow fried rice was supposed to be going.  I think it was our dish, as when we asked about it later, it was very quickly brought to our table, slightly cold...

Wednesday, August 22.

And thus, we were leaving.  At seven in the morning, we dragged grandma out of the house and along with our massively overloaded bags and ourselves, into my uncle's car for her first trip to the new (as in new in 1998) airport.
Crossing the Ting Kau Bridge for the last time,
Seeing Tsuen Wan for the last time,
and onto the Tsing Ma Bridge for the last time.
We catch glimpses of the city, including Tai Mo Shan behind us,
Sham Tseng to the right of us,
and Hong Kong Island to the left of us.
Onto the North Lantau Highway (北大嶼山公路), which has a higher speed limit than any highway in Toronto...
Past the peaks of Lantau:
and the New Town of Tung Chung:
We reach the airport.
The first thing you see when you drive into the complex is Cathay City (國泰城), the headquarters for Hong Kong's flag carrier. 
In Chinese, it reads, literally, "leave Kong", Kong (港) being the single character appellation for the city.
Past security and customs, we take the automated people mover closer to our gate.
Castle Peak in the distance there:

and here's the Cathay Pacific 777-300ER, pulling into the gate a bit late.

A few hours after we finally take off, the cabin crew serves the first meal.
Chicken and corn salad, bread and butter, braised eggplant with minced pork on steamed jasmine rice, and a small bowl of Häagen-Dazs vanilla for dessert.  "Lunch" was served".

After re-watching the Avengers and a bit of 30 Rock, they handed out a snack bag:

and after a few more hours, the second meal was being served.

Now, naming this meal is very awkward.  We left the gate at around 11:30 in Hong Kong, and took off at around 12:00.  Which meant that the 14-hour flight to Toronto would bring us to 14:00, the same day, in Toronto.  Calling it dinner would be weird, but calling it lunch would be worse.  So here's the "refreshment":
A whole wheat bun with butter, fresh watermelon, beef brisket in a wine and tarragon sauce with fettuccine and vegetables, and a passionfruit mousse topped with chocolate cookie crumble for dessert.

Really, not bad for airplane food.  I came to the conclusion long ago that I would never fly to and from Hong Kong on anything other than Cathay.

I will write the politics post as the September 9th election, with all its issues, draws closer and the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute continues to escalate.  Sure am glad we got out of that mess now and not after it (*maybe*) gets ugly!

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