After much time doing it rough in middle-class Kowloon, Day Two was spent in Hong Kong Island exploring how the upper echelon lives.
Taking the Star Ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island is like going down the causeway from Johor to Singapore.
If Kowloon is Petaling Street, the Island south of it must be the Orchard Rd and Bukit Bintang of Hong Kong. Life here is too fast too furious. Everyday tens and thousands of Hongkies commute from their suburban homes to this skyscraper jungle in central Hong Kong - the heartbeat of the SAR and home to towers after towers of multinational companies.
My first order of business was of course, FOOD.
According to the many magazines and tour guides that I read, City Hall Maxim's Palace is supposedly the most popular dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong. Sure enough, when I arrived there on a Sunday morning, there were lines spilling out from the front. I had to take a number and come back again 30 minutes later.
By all means was this a typical dim sum fare held in a giant banquet hall with some aunties pushing their trollies round and round. Most of their dishes were nothing to shout about, but their har gao (prawn dumplings) was superb and the siu mai (pork rolls?) was similarly mouth-watering.
What sucks is that travelling alone means I can't share my food with someone else like what a proper dim sum breakfast should be.
The bill was frightening when it arrived. HK$173/RM84 just for myself alone. That's equivalent of 178 sio bee's at the Kuching open air market.
In Hong Kong, every Sunday is the Filipino maids' rest day. And every Sunday, these maids come out in full force.
I was quite taken aback to see so many of them picnicking in the CBD. Their picnic area literally stretch from the pier right down the underpass all the way up to the luxury shopping centres in central Hong Kong. It's like a friggin' Filipino Maid Convention over here. Seriously, I thought I'd accidentally taken the ferry to Manila instead.
They even set up a stage in the middle of the square. I don't speak Tagalog so can't make out what they're saying exactly, but I'm pretty sure it's got something to do with Filipino President Gloria Aroyo.
Alas, I doubt the mightly lady could hear them in Manila. So Gloria, if you're reading this, Filipino maids in Hong Kong wanna tell you that YOU SUCK!
*cough* Just doing my part for the maids. :P
A trip to Hong Kong isn't complete without at least a tokenistic visit to The World's Local Bank™.
Every HSBC Headquarters in the world has a pair of bronze lions guarding the front entrance. At their Hong Kong headquarters, these iconic pair were particularly legendary. When the Japanese occupied Hong Kong, the soldiers used these two poor lion statues as target practices.
Bullet holes inflicted more than 60 years ago are still visible on one of the lions.
Lunch was a lot better at this famous restaurant called Yung Kee on Wellington Street.
A reader of mine recommended them for their century eggs and roasted geese. I have no regrets following his advice.
Yung Kee's expensive roasted geese (HK$100/RM50) are overrated, but their century eggs are the bomb. They cost HK$6.40/RM3 each, and are served together with sweet preserved ginger.
I ordered their super-delicious century-egg porridge and it sent me straight to heaven.
Then the bill came at HK$160/RM77 and it sent me straight to hell. :(
It was nearing sunset and I decided took the Peak Tram and rode up to the top of Victoria Peak.
The Peak Tram is this century old carriage that goes some 800m up the hill. The Madame Tussauds Wax Museum was there.
It is here that I had a bird's eye-view of Hong Kong's impressive city scape. I love how the vertical towers on the Island foreground contrast with shabby Kowloon in the smoggy background.
Speaking of which, there's this myth going around on how Kowloon got it's name.
Kowloon literally means "Nine Dragons". Apparently some Chinese emperor travelled to the area centuries ago, counted eight mountains and concluded that there must be eight dragons living there. His servant, obviously trying to lick some royal ass, quickly retorted "but Your Highness, you are a dragon as well so this place must have nine dragons!"
Hence, the name Kowloon is born.
When I first heard that I story, I was like "Har? Liddat also can."
If that's the case, I can just anyhow go to Kuching, see no birds and say "There are no birds butI have one Big Bird. So I shall name this place 1Bird!"
Anyway, I made the foolish decision to walk down from the Peak after I spent enough time up there. It took me almost one whole hour to reach to the foot of the mountain. I ended up a sweaty mess.
Even more amazing was that there's a couple of mainland Chinese guys following me, thinking that I'm a local and that I know the easiest way to get to the bottom. Halfway down the mountain, sensing something amiss, one of them innocently struck a conversation with me.
"Har! You mean you don't know the way at all!?"
Oops. Shit hit the fan.
Before I call it a night, I made my way down to Lan Kwai Fong, the city's party district popular with expats and SPGs.
For a city as big as Hong Kong, their nightspots were disappointingly small. It's not even half the size of Shanghai's XinTianDi. Maybe it's a Sunday, and the crowd wasn't too happening. I didn't have the mood to drink that night.
Around the corner, I spotted two young models in wedding gowns doing a photoshoot on the streets of Lan Kwai Fong.
I asked them for permission to pose for my camera and they were all too happy to comply.
I also spotted Frank Lampard (aka England's Most Inaccurate Striker) in the background wearing his football jersey and carrying a woman's handbag. The guy should quit football after missing so many goals at the World Cup lah.
Somewhere in the smaller streets, a commotion was erupting.
Looks like they were shooting a HK drama. A small crowd was gathering around the actors taking photos. The film crew had a hard time controlling the bystanders because some of them were using flash photography and ruined the picture on screen.
I managed to catch a glimpse of the actress. Couldn't identify who she was though.
[Next Entry: Shopping in Hong Kong]