I slept in until crazy late today: 8:30. I got dressed up in my pants, because I like to wear pants to the breakfast buffet, which is overstaffed with 25 year old kids who are overdresed and trying to impress their bosses with their attentiveness. I feel like I’m representing the Philippines, so I wear pants. The cats from northern England all wear either cargo shorts or cut off jean shorts. CUT OFF JEAN SHORTS.
These are the things I like at the breakfast buffet: the lox, the mini benedicts, the croissants, the cheeses, not the bacon, the eggs, or the asian hotel sausages. Not the rice; not the fried rice, not the saffron rice. I do like the fruit: cubed melon, pineapple, watermelon, and dragon fruit. The coffee is rancid.
When I get back up to my room and change into my cargo shorts and lose the undershirt, and prepare to face the non airconditioned world. Today’s mission was to Lamma Island, which is a direct train with 5 stops to Central Station, a little walky-walk that’s a little more than a kilometer, and a ferry ride that’s listed as an hour but seems shorter.
I just want to mention that Central Station on a Sunday is JAMMED with Filipinas, hanging out in the stairwells and all the pathways like birds that flock at the end of the day. There are also several Jehova’s Witness missionaries who are obviously only after the Pinays, since their literature is all in English and presuming a Christian world view. I assume that they are maids and cleaning ladies and maybe nurses. They are different from the vacation Filipinos, who carry shopping bags and dress preppier.
Anyway, I walked through them all, down to the pier, and I was a little confused about how to pay for the ferry ticket. In the end I watched some girls from Northern England pay with their subway pass, the Octopus Card. So I followed them, and got onto a boat.
The ferry is fast and it crosses a shipping lane. And at one point it looked like we were going to ram this container ship. In the end, though, we scooted behind it without changing course.
Lamma Island is 南丫島. My ferry took me to 榕樹灣 Yung Shue Wan first, and it was still too early for lunch so the restaurants were empty. The entire island is carless, and walking through carless towns and villages reminded me a lot of the towns on the Amalfi Coast, or maybe Cinque Terre. I wondered if all small Chinese coastal towns were like that, before the advent of the automobile. I thought somebody should really open a Cantonese Language school there.
There is a “walk” from 榕樹灣 Yung Shue Wan to 索罟灣 Sok Kwu Wan which is called the Lamma Island Family Trail. Signs say it’s a 50 minute walk, but the internet says it’s two hours. It’s a paved trail between the two towns, so it’s a “hike” in the Chinese sense, if not the American sense. It’s not a hard walk but there are a few hills to deal with. I was glad I was alone, so I could go at my own speed.
I stopped at 洪聖爺灣泳灘 Hung Sheng Yeh Beach and thought, wow this is the Indian Ocean, I better put my toes in! Later I looked at a map and realized I was off by a million miles; it was only the
South China West Philippine Sea.
The trail takes you up some hills to some lookouts and there is a stand at the peak that sells frozen pineapple. Later the trail winds down into the valley where there is a pretty significant creeping vine problem; it’s becoming a creeping vine monoculture. As I got into 索罟灣 Sok Kwu Wan you could see the fish farms in the bay, and hear the tourguides doing their comedy on the Chinese tour groups. I could also hear tourist kids shouting at each other down in the stream delta.
When I got down to 索罟灣 Sok Kwu Wan I walked through the restaurant row and picked a place. I didn’t really know what to order, and the seafood platters looked too big for one person. So I just ordered a plate of Singapore Fried Noodles. The waiter got mad at me for not ordering seafood–the conversation is all in Mandarin, by the way–and I asked him to show me what one person could order. He said to get a couple of scallops so I chose scallops in garlic, because scallops baked in cheese gross me out.
I asked the waiter what the bowl was for, and he impatiently told me that in Hong Kong, people rinse out their bowls, cups, and utensils in the hot tea, so they can be sure that it’s clean. Then I asked where the tea cup was, and he impatiently told me, it’s that! and pointed to the juice glass.
Later they brought the Singapore fried noodles, and they were good but whatever, better in Seattle. Then he brought the scallops and they looked SPECTACULAR and I thought I should have ordered ten of them and a bowl of rice. Old grumpy waiter put them on the table and said, these are so delicious. The younger waiter chuckled as he saw me snap a photo.
Later still, grumpy old waiter saw me try to chopstick the scallops and started yelling at me again, and I didn’t know what the hell he wanted. He kept saying “cha” so I kept looking at my tea. Then he pointed at my fork, and I realized he was saying “chā” and he wanted me to slide the damn fork under the scallop, which made way more sense than sliding the tea under it.
The scallops were spectacular and actually quite hot; there was some hot oil poured onto them and the bean threads preserved the heat. The garlic was fragrant and intoxicating. I told the waiter, 「先生，沒有你我怎麼辦？」(“Sir, what would I do without you?”). After that, he wasn’t grumpy anymore; he smiled and patted me on the back and told me no problem.
Later young waiter asked me if I was Singaporean, which is a pretty good guess, I think. I said no, and he started walking to the next table so I shouted behind him 我是菲律賓人! (“I’m Filipino!”) because I think everyone should know. Then I realized I was sitting at table 206.
After a can of beer I settled the bill and didn’t tip, because you’re not supposed to. I ate my complimentary wedge of frozen pineapple on a stick, and then got onto the empty, waiting ferrry to come back to Hong Kong Island.
When I walked into the grand lobby, I stopped at the concierge desk and asked them to send up some ice for my soda. Here’s what they sent me.
After a short rest and a tedious amount of uploading, I went to dinner. I thought about the hotel buffet, but it was $70 USD per person because it’s Sunday or something. So then I googled and the only thing I found in this neighborhood was a hamburger restaurant called “The Big Bite.” I was going to find it, but then I thought I should go back to Causeway Bay and poke around. So I trained over to Causeway Bay and found myself in a freaking shopping mall.
I am so sick of shopping malls.
Anyway, I found my way back up top and found a bowl of noodles. There were some Mainland kids that asked to share my table, and they used a cool word for “share a table” but I forgot what it was.
On the way back, I thought I’d walk around 炮台山 Fortress Hill Station, which is this neighborhood that the hotel is in. Google doesn’t say anything about this neighborhood, and my friends have nothing to say about this neighborhood either, so I was pretty surprised at all the cafes and restaurants I saw folks eating dinner at. It’s actually a pretty quiet residential neighborhood, and the restaurants are local hangouts rather than destinations.
Tomorrow I will eat more seafood and hopefully meet another friend of mine. Also, I’ll get the hotel to do my laundry. That should be something!