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  • 1. Hong Kong Escapade 2005 We arrived Friday at Chek Lap Kok airport in Lantau past 8:00pm and went straight to the customer desk to get a note in Chinese indicating the direction to TaiKooShing. It was a 40-minute drive passing by Tsing Ma bridge (the world’s longest suspension bridge) to Kowloon, then to Hkside, passing by Central, Wan Chai, Fortress Hill, Northpoint, and getting off at Edward’s Nam Tien Mansion. After checking out his apartment, Edward took us to the nearest supermarket to buy some stuff for breakfast. Since it was still early and the evening was slightly chilly but not real cold, we decided to take a stroll around the area all the way to the Quarry Bay park and promenade, a scenic sight of the Victoria harbour at night from the Hkside looking at Kowloon. The following morning, after breakfast in his apt, Edward took us to the MTR station below the building mall just across his mansion, and for the first time, Dodie bought his train tickets from the kiosk. It was around 7 stops to Central, where we got off to walk to Edward’s office at Cheong Kong Center, just across the Central station from the Statue square. We decided to drop our luggage in his office while we take the morning sight-seeing since we couldn’t check into our hotel until 2pm. I suggested a walking tour to the Man Mo Temple and see some antique shops along the old streets of HK. So from his office, we walked to Hollywood Road passing by the Government House, St. John’s Cathedral, the Court of Final Appeal, and then took the mid-level escalator (the world’s longest about 800 mtrs) to Soho. While they sat at a children’s park in front of the temple, Rio and I took pictures inside this sacred bldg dedicated to the God of Literature and to the God of War. Then on to Possession Street, the spot where the British first landed in 1841. A short walk from here to Morrison St and we reached the Western Market, an Edwardian-style bldg built in 1906 as the Harbour Office, another historic landmark, and now converted into an elegant shopping place for Chinese arts and crafts. Then we walked along Des Voeux Rd to get back to Central for the train to Kowloon. Tired of the long morning walk tour, we had to take another 20 min. walk from Mongkok station to look for our hotel. Tatami Hampton is just at the corner of Changsa and Portland St, a stone’s throw from Nathan Rd, the shopping district in Kowloon. After checking into our rooms, we took Majid, who met us at the lobby, to a Japanese restaurant for a late lunch. A short nap later, we took to the streets of Mongkok again and Yau Ma Tei, on the way to the Tin Hau temple, dedicated to the Goddess of seafarers, and the famous night market at Temple St. At the Public square, while waiting for me to complete my temple visit, Rio played basketball with street kids and the rest watched. Passing by one of the oldest streets in HK, Shanghai St, we looked for Jade Market and bought some items at bargain prices. The evening was highlighted with a sumptuous Chinese dinner at a fancy restaurant inside the campus of Polytechnic University (HungHom District, Kowloonside) with Majid again as our gracious host. The temperature has now dropped to 10 degree Celsius, and we braced ourselves for a severely cold night. Day 3 Sunday began with a chilly shower and a warm breakfast at McDo along Nathan Rd. Edward met us at the lobby around 10am and we decided to walk to the nearest Catholic church for a Chinese mass near Yau Ma Tei. But the rain poured, so I suggested an adventure trip to the New Territories close to the Szenchen border of China. We took the Kowloon-Canton Railway (see photo of Edward and Rio) at Yau Ma Tei and bought single journey tickets to Taipo, passing by TST, HungHom, Mongkok, Kowloon Tong, TaiWai (where Majid now resides), ShaTin, the Chinese
  • 2. University of HK where Majid taught for 10 years, before reaching Taipo market station. The Tai Po district is one of the oldest settlements in HK, and gained fame as a market town and the home of the Tangs, one of the territory’s original clans. Here we took a taxi to go to Lam Tsuen to visit the Tin Hau temple (see left photo of Ate) dedicated to the Goddess of Heaven and the wishing tree, a huge but slowly dying banyan tree. We took a bus on our way back to Taipo, and had lunch at a Chinese eatery. Looking for the Hong Kong Railway Museum, we strolled past a bridge (see photo of the foursome) and the famous market (see photo of Dodie and Rio below), where I bought Mara’s jogging pants and scarves for pasalubong. Admission to the museum was free so we took time to take pictures inside and outside. Because we were closer to Taiwo, we walked to Taiwo station to get to the holy mountain of HK, Fan Ling, our next train stop. “Fanling” literally means ridge of powder, and the place was named after a holy rock found here, which according to legend brings rains. Just outside the station is a cluster of beautiful structures, the Fung Yin Seen Koon Taoist temple built in 1929 (photo on right shows the guys at one of the spirit houses). From here, we took the next train stop to Sheung Shui, close to the Chinese border at Shenzhen, to visit the cultural gem of HK, Tai Fu Tai, an opulent residence built in mid-1800s by a scholar of the gentry class. Lavish plaster mouldings and Chinese woodcarvings decorate the roof and interiors (see photo of roof). Then back to HungHom to meet Majid for another memorable dinner. Then a chilly evening stroll around the campus, the univ library, and the signpost that says ”Taxi waiting stand (No waiting)” Back to Tsim Sha Tsui where we parted with Edward and on to Mongkok for another chilly sleep at the hotel. Feb 28, Monday, was our last day for sightseeing, so we took advantage of the city tour, which was part of our trip package. The tour began at the Avenue of the Stars, where we found the handprints of Jackie Chan and the square reserved for Bruce Lee. We took pictures along the promenade along Victoria Harbour facing the HK side despite the rain. Next stop was Jewelry City, and Aberdeen fishing village, but we did not take the boat ride. Then on to Ocean Park to drop off some members of the tour group, and finally at Victoria Peak, but we did not take the tram. We had lunch at Wan Chai district, before we walked to Queen Road East to look for Bus 6A for our own tour of the southernmost tip of HK, Repulse Bay (where the rich stay in summer villas, see left photo) and Stanley Market (which caters to foreign tourists). Just in time we met Edward at past 6pm at his office for dinner at a WanChai restaurant along Hennesy Rd (where the tram passes). After our seafood (spicy saucy crab and grouper fish) dinner, Edward took us to the Star ferry terminal, and for only $2.20 and less than 10 min, we were back at Tsim Sha Tsui, near the clock tower, another famous landmark in Kowloon. Before going back to the hotel, we strolled along Nathan Road for some last minute shopping. The next morning we took the airport transfer while Rio, who was left behind, took the MTR to Central to be with Edward, who by this time was still in his apt. So we bid adieu to Hong Kong. We’ll be back.