RAINY AND COLD IN HONG KONG
We woke this morning to hear heavy rain on the window and we couldn't even see to the other side of the harbour. When we went down to breakfast, it was very cold and miserable, with the aircon blasting out cold air - and with the temperature only being about 10C, it wasn't very comfortable. However, having made arrangements to meet Chris, a friend from many years ago in Swindon, we just had to get out there and brave the elements.
By the time we had finished breakfast, we had hoped it would have cleared up, but if anything, it was raining harder. We did have fleeces and decent shoes, for which we were very thankful, and the hotel kindly loaned us two umbrellas, so off we went to find the MTR, the Hong Kong equivalent of the tube.
Fortunately, Sandy had bought us Octopus cards so we didn't have to worry about purchasing tickets at the station so we soon found our way down to the trains. We knew which line we had to be on before changing but hadn't reckoned with there being so many people - but of course, we left the hotel just after 8.00 am which is rush hour in Hong Kong. We were very fortunate that we were sitting next to a young man who overheard which station we needed to get off to change to the red line - and he very kindly told us he was going that way, so we could follow him, which of course, we were happy to do.
Once at Central station, we had to "go with the flow" and try to find the exit we needed, but it was quite easy because it was well signed. Then we waited for Chris to appear, which he did before too long - see the second row in the collage, and after big hugs all round, off we went again on the MTR to get back to his car.
We worked out that we hadn't seen each other for about 46 years, but obviously haven't changed much, because we recognised one another immediately - I must tell you that he was in my Sunday School class when he was much younger and his mother, Jean, was also a very good friend. We had lost touch over the years, but have been in contact again for the last couple of years, so when I told her we were coming to Vietnam and then on to Hong Kong, she suggested we might be able to see Chris.
We thought it was a wonderful idea, so Chris and I have been in email contact for a few weeks and we were both excited to meet again after all this time and it was great to see him. He has lived in Hong Kong for about 24 years and it was good to catch up with what has been happening in his life, which included getting married and having twin girls, who are now 3 years old.
He had planned a wonderful itinerary for us, but it relied on it being warm and sunny, but it was not to be. We stopped off at their house, and although Alice, Chris's wife was working, we were able to meet their twins, who are delightful little girls. They were quite excited and made a fair amount of noise, but after having a cup of tea we left for the adventure Chris had worked out for us.
Our first stop was a little beach that Chris and his family go to most Saturdays in the summer - near to their home at Clearwater Bay - down about 120 steps. It was blowing a gale when we eventually got down to the beach and when we looked at the temperature that was shown on a nearby building it was 13C - just like being on an English beach in the winter or perhaps even the summer!
Having had enough of the wind and rain at the beach, we moved on to Sai Kung where Chris showed us what was once a little fishing village, but is now a bustling place with lots of restaurants serving all sorts of food including Thai, Chinese, European and lots of fresh fish. Chris had given us the choice of where we would like to have lunch, and knowing how fond Mr HCB is of fish, we opted for a little restaurant right on the harbour side where we were treated to some roast meats, and then deep fried squid with rice - not something I would have chosen, but very tasty nevertheless. You can see a photograph of our meal in the middle at the bottom of the collage.
The fisherman in the boat had caught all the fish you can see and sells it to anyone who comes to buy - the money is put into the net and sent down to him and then the fish is chosen, knocked on the head and sent back up to the customer - you can't get fresher than that!
When we left Sai Kung, Chris said we might see some Sai Kung cows - he explained that when farming in Sai Kung died out in the 1970s, the livestock was simply abandoned and as more and more land was swallowed up for property development, the cows were evicted from their home. He told us that there are more than 1,000 feral cows in Hong Kong, of which about 500 are in Sai Kung and I said that as they wander anywhere they reminded me of Dartmoor ponies, except they are never rounded up.
We also saw a 100 year old Banyan tree and Chris explained that as it grows, the banyan tree produces aerial roots that hang down and take root wherever they touch the ground - it was quite fascinating to see and apparently is known as the Tree of Life.
We still went on a little hike and you can probably guess how cold it was by the photograph of Chris and me - and we were also very wet because it started raining again quite heavily - and to think that last week we were in temperatures in the upper 30s!
Chris wanted to show us the fresh market they visit every Saturday morning and it was quite a revelation. There was every kind of meat imaginable, including live frogs! Most of the fish were still alive too and again, it was quite something to see them being chosen, hit on the head (turn away any vegetarians) and then sold to waiting customers. You can see a selection of fish in one of the photographs. Underneath is the fish that Yante, Chris and Alice's maid cooked for us this evening and although I am not a fish lover, have to say it was delicious. She also cooked a wonderful Indonesian Soto Ayam - Chicken Soup - that was full of flavour that included, as well as the chicken, noodles, bean sprouts, pak choi and many other wonderful flavours - you can see her preparing this in the bottom right of the collage and the finished product just to the left.
After our busy day, Chris took us to the Golf Club where he is a member for a quick G & T (although I was gasping for a cup of coffee, not having had one since breakfast) and then we went back to their home to see the girls again. I had great fun playing with them and singing nursery rhymes - thankfully in English, as I need to brush up on my Mandarin!
Alice, Chris's wife didn't arrive home until about 8.15 pm - after leaving the house at about 8 am this morning - such a long day, so it is good that they have someone to prepare the meals and to look after the twins, which meant that she could sit down and chat with us - we were pleased that their maid was able to take the bottom left photograph of us all together.
We have had a wonderful day and Chris was so kind to us, giving up his time to take us all round the parts that the tourists wouldn't see - and has even invited us to visit and stay with them - as I said in an earlier Blip, I could get used to this travelling lark!
We had a taxi back home - and the taxi driver was rather a fast driver, so we were glad to make it to the hotel in one piece, with not a motorbike in sight, unlike Vietnam, which is, of course, why the cars can go so much faster.
Tomorrow we are due to meet up with friends from our Church at home, who originally come from Hong Kong and who just happen to be here on holiday - so another trip on the MTR.
Better sign off now, as it is almost midnight and I need to get this Blip posted. Thank you once again for all your kind comments, stars and hearts - so glad that you are still enjoying the unusual and exciting adventures of the intrepid Honeycombeachers. I think we may need a holiday to get over this holiday!