After an almost 14-hour flight from LAX into Hong Kong International Airport, the kid and I were utterly exhausted from lack of sleep and the time difference. We were unable to go through the “residents” line because my son doesn’t have a Hong Kong Identity Card so we ended up in the “visitors” line and waited about 35 minutes to go through the line — not too bad considering the 2 hour wait at LAX.
My BFF Robert was at the airport to pick us up and drive us to my brother’s home. I hadn’t seen Robert in 8 years so it was a wonderful reunion. It didn’t feel like any time had lapsed as we fell right back into our old selves, joking and laughing — out of instinct I had immediately gone to the right side of the car and Robert didn’t say a word, but made his way to the left. I opened the car door and almost got in when I saw the steering wheel and rolled my eyes at him.
It wasn’t long before he noticed the kid had fallen asleep in the back seat of the car and after meandering through the toll roads and streets, we finally got here around 9.30pm Hong Kong time, had a quick bite to eat, showered and went to sleep.
We woke up this morning bright an early and about 8.30am my son and I made our way down stairs and a street over to have our first meal — breakfast at a “cha tsan teng” — a Hong Kong style cafe (sorry, no name in English).
Anxiety hit me when I realized I hadn’t had to read a completely Chinese menu in 8 years fearing the impatience of the locals as I had experienced when I moved back to HK in 1991. However, they left me alone until I was ready to order.
My son ordered the ramen with ham and egg breakfast (HK$22/US$2.80) and I ordered a preserved vegetables and pork vermicelli (HK$24/US$3.10), A hot drink such as tea or coffee is included, but it was 80 degrees at 7am and I just couldn’t bring myself to consume a hot beverage at that time so got two iced lemon teas for the both of us (HK$2/US$0.25 extra).
The bowls are much smaller than what we get in the US, about the size or a large rice bowl, rather than those huge bowls we get at pho. It was enough to get me through without filling me up.
The kid loved his ramen noodles although I really couldn’t understand why seeing it was just ramen, slice of ham and a fried egg — something I could’ve concocted for him at home — go figure! But I think it was the atmosphere and the environment which made it all the more exciting for him.
My vermicelli were good — skimpy on the meat — and it sufficed to get us through to start our adventures for the day.
We decided to hop on a tram and take it all the way to Western. I wanted my son to experience all the different modes of transportation Hong Kong had to offer. The tram was fun because it was cheap (HK$2.30/US$0.30) but if you’re in a rush you are in trouble because it is a leisurely ride across town.
On the way, we passed a morning market where people were out buying their meat and vegetables for the day’s meals.
When we arrived in Western, we decided to get on a bus and ride it to Wanchai and got off to browse the shops before getting on another bus to walk around Causeway Bay.
Our initial meal of the day was no match for the amount of walking we did so we popped into another little place (Mak’s Noodle, G/F, No 44 Jardine’s Bazaar, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Tel: 2895-5310) for a quick fill up.
I thought it was this place I loved — yeah bad Chinese reading on my part — but it wasn’t so I didn’t get my fish dumplings which I was craving. Instead we ordered some wonton noodles and sui gow (dumplings) which unfortunately were not to the kid’s liking.
The broth the dumplings were in was overly salty but I liked the texture and the flavor of the dumplings. It was filled with pork, shrimp and bits of wood ear fungus. However, five dumplings for HK$32/US$4.10 I thought they were pretty steep even for US standards!
The wonton noodles weren’t that much better. There were only four measly shrimp dumplings with some noodles in a bowl the size of a rice bowl. For HK$30/US$3.85 I was a bit pissed at how small the portion was. Disappointing!
And no meal is complete without some vegetables and we got some gai lan (Chinese broccoli) with oyster sauce on the side for HK$21/US$2.70) which was great because the vegetables were so tender and tasty I would’ve gladly ordered another plate.
After this we walked around a bit until a torrential downpour of rain hit us and we had no choice but to end our first day of exploration and return home. I was stupid not to take an umbrella with me when I left in the morning and I didn’t want to buy one.
This time, we took the MTR (Metro Transit Rail), or, Hong Kong’s subway system which got us back in no time.
I was happy to be back at my brother’s as I was sticky, hot and sweaty and longed for some icy cold water and the coolness of the air blowing out from the AC.
We’re not venturing out tonight. I think I need to rest a bit before we head out to Tsim Sha Tsui East tomorrow for a dim sum lunch. Can’t wait to tell you all about it!
Dave Lieberman says
I’m very jealous—I miss HK and especially the cheap, filling breakfasts in the cha chaan teng. There was actually one past security at my job and it was partially subsidised, so a big bowl of jook, all the tea I wanted, and a couple of pieces of quite credible dim sum was HK$12 (US$1.55).
Are you going to subject your son to the abject horror that is the red minibus? (The green is bad enough—but it takes practice not to be split in half by the seatbelt after someone shouts, “Ba si jam, mmgoy!” or “Yau lok!!”
I had a memorable Shanghainese meal including hairy crabs in a restaurant in the mall adjacent to Tsing Yi MTR stop, of all places.
Mad Hungry Woman says
HAHA I was JUST thinking about taking him on a minibus ride to Repulse Bay or Stanley or something. But you re right, the red minibuses are far more scary than the green ones.
I didn’t know you worked in HK before. Whereabouts? I’ve worked in several areas but Causeway Bay was always my favorite because there is just so many places to eat around there. Speaking of hairy crabs I see them seeing them already — might take a photo of the big sign when I see it again. I’m trying to figure out where else to eat when I have days to myself. My son was hilarious eating at the cha chaan teng yesterday because he never gets to eat instant ramen noodles at home and he loved it. Then he asked me again if he could have it for lunch. It was quite hilarious.
holly sarah wong says
Thanks for posting about your trip so soon! Reading this makes me feel like I’m there. Looking forward to more updates! Have fun!
Mad Hungry Woman says
I’m trying to write a post every day but I know it won’t be possible if I have to go out to dinner late.
OMG…i am so excited for this post (and more of hong kong)! it brings me good memories of my trip there a few years ago, and i am re-living them through your blog, anita.
have a great time!