It all started here...

It all started here...

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hong Kong to Los Angeles

HKG-PVG-LAX -- December 8, 2016

Our final morning in Hong Kong before the long journey home. The last time we stayed at Hyatt Regency, breakfast was included in their lounge and it was wonderful having all the food choices there with the view of Victoria Harbor. This time around, we had to decide on where to have breakfast. There are many restaurants including a few Hong Kong style cafes around the hotel. One is the famous Tsui Wah, and the other one is the Ngan Long Cafe (Silver Dragon), both on Carnarvon Road around the corner. After checking out Tsui Wah, we ended up at Ngan Long which seemed to be a little cheaper and with better reviews. We had been here in August but they ran out on the things we wanted when we were there late that time. Hopefully, they will have everything this early in the morning when the four of us decided to have HK style breakfast while MOR and BIL wanted to have noodles from Kai Kee Noodle across the street. (Ngan Long -- 4~6 Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong). This restaurant is at the basement of the building but the store front is big and easy to find.

Comparing to other restaurants in Hong Kong, this is a spacious and clean place and the service was very good. At least the waiters and waitresses do not have the 'rude' attitude that seems to be the norm in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong style ice-milk tea.

Hot milk tea, excellent!

Hot pineapple bun with creamy butter, $25.

SIL had the set breakfast plate.
$37 HKD including drink.

Ngan Long's famous pork chop bun. Another specialty of this restaurant, $25.

Menu, in Chinese, but the pictures should help. Not sure if they have English menu.

A good breakfast!

Then we went back to the hotel to finish packing and checking out. Taking the free airport express shuttle to the Kowloon Station was easy. We just had to go down to the basement and waited for the bus to come. This is the second stop of the complimentary shuttle, so usually it would still be empty with plenty of space on the bus. Don't expect the driver to help with getting your luggage on the bus though because they won't. In fact, my complain of these buses was that the drivers were very inconsiderate and offer no help at all to the passengers. Some hotels may have bell boys who assist passengers getting their bags on the bus if you are lucky.

A photo of the Star Ferry on the wall of our hotel room with a Star Cruises ship in the background.

In about 20 minutes we arrived at the Airport Express Kowloon Station where we checked in at the airline counters. We won't see our luggage again until we get to L.A.
We got a good discount getting the train tickets for the six of us together. Make sure you ask for discount if you have more than two people together.

Then we went downstairs to get on the train to the airport.

Inside Airport Express. This is such a fast and convenient way. Wish we have that in L.A.

We arrived early and they still have not posted our boarding gate yet so we just waited at this 'comfort' area until we found out where we should go.

Having a quick lunch at the food court from Cafe de Coral before our flight.

Quite decent!

Baked pork chop rice

Our flight was to get to Shanghai first and again we had to board at the remote gate. We said goodbye to our family members who were taking different flights to their destinations around the same time. Until we meet again on our next trip together!

Boarding China Eastern Flight MU 504 Hong Kong to PVG.

Leaving HKIA.

Here, an aerial view of Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.

A meal of spaghetti on this flight.

After about two and a half hour we arrived PVG and again, we had to go through that dreadful transit process. This has to be the worst security check of all airports. Well, Istanbul was terrible as far as checking passports three times with detailed questioning before boarding but here it was the actual security check that drove us crazy. We had our battery pack confiscated because they said it did not have the power printed on the pack. Fine, but that was something we bought in China and didn't have a problem with it in and out of China twice already! They practically ran the x-rays at least twice on each person's bags and also going through the bags by hand. Just make sure you have enough transit time if going through PVG.

China Eastern Flight MU 577 PVG to LAX pushing back.

Once again, we sat at the back of the plane, the first two-seater row.
These are good seats, but I found it very bumpy throughout the flight being at the back of the plane.

For some reasons, the flight map kept telling us that we were at Hongqiao airport instead of Pudong.

Meals on MU flight.

Chicken noodle

fish with rice

After about 10 hours, we were finally flying over California.

L.A. Downtown

and touched down in LAX.

Ah, Norwegian Air, we would be flying that in May from Copenhagen.

This concluded my trip report on this adventure. What a wonderful time we had on this journey. I am so thankful that my health problem did not occur while we were on this trip but a couple of weeks after we got home. It wasn't fun spending nine days in the hospital during Christmas but certainly better than having to have emergency surgery in a far away foreign country. God is good!

Friday, January 20, 2017

DIY Hong Kong

Full Day Hong Kong -- December 7, 2016

With only a short two days in Hong Kong, we tried to pack in as much as possible to fill the time we had for the day. It took some detailed planning and really know what everyone's interest would be, especially those visiting for the very first time. Originally, we planned on going to the Big Buddha but ChC had no interest in going and said he would just stay at the hotel. I quickly changed our plan and made Stanley on our list even though we were there just in August. This would be BIL, SIL and niece's first visit to Stanley so all is well.

Started the day with a good cup of coffee in the hotel room.

View from our hotel room early in the morning.

Part of the swimming pool outside our window.

Sitting area near the elevator at Hyatt Regency.

Delicious Congee -- 75 Woosong Street, Jordan, Hong Kong

We have decided that instead of having gourmet meals at expensive restaurants in Hong Kong, which there are plenty of, we would go for the real local favorites during our two days here. With only two days, there was really not enough time to take in all the wonderful food we wanted but Delicious Congee was a place we MUST go. I have written about this place on my previous blog posts which is on many guide books for Chinese and Japanese visitors. This is also MOR's favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant. If he has a choice, he can eat all three meals here with no problem. Their specialty is congee (porridge), a thick rice soup similar to oat meal or grits and popular in many parts of China. Cantonese congee is done at a different level. The creamy porridge is cooked for many hours as a base before choice ingredients added to the boiling base at the last minute making it a delicious bowl of savory soup. This restaurant is famous for their fish porridge but they have many choices on the menu to choose from. This was where we had breakfast this morning.

They were able to clear two small tables for us.

ChC's tender beef porridge.

Fried dough to go with the porridge. We also had some fried fish balls and fried fish pieces. All delicious!

Pictures of celebrities posted on the wall.

Exterior of the restaurant.
We all enjoyed our breakfast here and left satisfied.

After breakfast, we decided that we should just walk back to Tsim Sha Tsui instead of taking the MTR for one stop. It was a nice walk along the main street in Kowloon--Nathan Road as the weather was quite nice. 

A sculpture of a cat on top of a bus stop sign.

Nathan Road near our hotel.

We continued our walk down to the Peninsula Hotel. Here is the corner of Nathan Road and Peking Road.

The iconic luxurious hotel, Peninsula Hotel on Salisbury Road.

The YMCA right next to the Peninsula where we have stayed a couple of times previously.

The 1881 Heritage was festively decorated.

Finally reaching Star Ferry Pier and Ocean Terminal. We had walked a little over one mile from Jordan to the Star Ferry Pier.

Star House on the left and the Cultural Center to the right of this picture.

Christmas decorations at the entrance of Ocean Terminal.
After a few photos, we boarded the ferry to go across the harbor to Hong Kong Island Central. There is a tourist information center right there at the pier if anyone needs information. As for the ferry, there is a first class entrance and a third class entrance. First class is for upper deck and third class is lower deck. Very cheap way to go either way.

Crossing the harbor only took a few minutes.

Arriving Central Pier.

First class, upper deck.

Ferris wheel near Central Pier, the Hong Kong Observation Wheel.

We took bus 6 from the bus terminal under Exchange Square in Central just to make sure that we can sit at the front of the upper deck for this amazing ride to Stanley. Bus 6 goes over the hill and then down to the other side of the island. Other buses like 6X or whatever go through the tunnel instead and you will miss the magnificent view on the ride.

This was how close we were to the bus in front of us.

Sharing the road with the 'Ding-Ding'.

This must be the smallest park in Hong Kong!

Going up the hill on very narrow roads.

Want to live in this expensive building?

Interesting to see an ad at a bus stop, a "Jesus" musical.

The famous building with the 'hole' in Repulse Bay. These are very expensive apartments.

Arriving Stanley Market at the end of the ride. Bus 6 also has a stop at Stanley Plaza which also works if you want to do the mall first and walk back to the market. There are clean restrooms at the plaza vs. the not too appealing ones near the market on the right of this picture. You can find good bargains if you look hard enough. I managed to buy a dress jacket at one of the stores on the left of this picture for $150HKD. What caught my eyes was one with the same material selling for $50, but it was too big for me. SIL bought that one instead. Other than that we did not buy anything else.
Make sure you walk down the promenade (Stanley Main Street) along the water front to Stanley Plaza besides checking out the market. There are bars and restaurants along the promenade that may worth a visit.

As for us, we went to the restaurant on the 3rd floor at the Plaza for some dim sum lunch. Had some great food there with reasonable price.

Steamed BBQ pork buns and chicken feet

drunken chicken wings

raddish cake

Shui Mai

beef balls 

fried rice rolls with meat stuffing (咸水角)

rice noodle with beef

squabs, yummy!

From the plaza looking down at Murray House

Lover's Terrace

Tin Hau Temple next to the Plaza

Murray House

One of the restaurants inside Murray House.

Pier off Murray House, not sure if it's still being used.

Front view of Murray House, a historical building which used to be in the Central area.

The bay in Stanley.

After spending a couple of hours in Stanley we took the bus back to Admiralty and then caught the MTR to Mongkok checking out the Ladies' Market there.

Another interesting building near Repulse Bay on our way back.

The old Repulse Bay Hotel.

Traffic jam.

We were too busy shopping at the Ladies Market and did not get a chance to take any pictures. We walked from one end to the other among the hundreds of stalls selling everything from pajamas, electronic gadgets, toys, suitcases, anything you may want to buy. All of us bought something here to take home. My best find was a cute cover for my new ipad mini for around $12USD. Not super cheap but something that I won't find in the US. I must admit that I am not good at bargaining. After our fun shopping spree, we had to take everything back to the hotel before our adventure out at night.

I was told about this Mammy Pancake near the hotel which is on the 2016 Michelin Guide for Recommended Street Food in Hong Kong. It is right across the street at the corner so we just had to try. Fortunately, there was no line at that time but we had to wait while they made the treat fresh upon ordering.

Mammy Pancake--8~12 Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

These 'pancakes' are actually more like waffles in tiny egg shapes, Hong Kong people grow up eating these little snacks. Crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, must eat it fresh and hot. Here they have several flavors to choose from, some quite unusual. We bought one original flavor and one with pork sung and they were both incredible! They also had green tea flavor and chocolate. Will have to try those next time.

Niece also purchased some cookies from the Cookies Quartet store next door to take back to Taiwan. Apparently it is very famous among tourists from Taiwan and SE Asia. Quite expensive but we were able to try some free samples inside the store. They were quite good but nothing really special.

Our plan for the evening was to see the laser show first and then visit the Temple Street night market before having clay pot rice dinner there.

Walking across Nathan Road...

past Peninsula again...

...and 1881 Heritage at night.

To the old Kowloon-Canton Railway Clock Tower right next to the Cultural Center.

Hong Kong Cultural Center

We have seen the laser show many times and I still think that it is underwhelming. I think the problem is the weak music background and not enough 'action' with the lights. It was very hard to hear the background music even when we were so close to the pier this time.

The Christmas lights did add a special touch to the show though.

We did not want to fight the crowds so we just picked a spot between the Star Ferry Pier and the Kowloon Public Pier for the short duration of the show.

Now, that's pretty!

We had to go to Jordan again for the Temple Street night market. Instead of taking the long walk to the MTR station, we decided to just take the bus (#7) from the bus terminal near the pier to Jordan. I remember #7 bus well from my childhood, a bus that we used to take between church and home. I think the route is still the same.

By then we were all very hungry. After a quick stroll through the busy night market, which we did not buy anything, we looked for the clay pot rice place that was recommended. Had some problems finding it but we finally realized that it is on the other side of Temple Street, quite a few blocks away to the north.
This is called Hing Kee Clay Pot Rice--19 Temple Street, Kowloon. They actually have several locations all around that same area. They were so busy that we had to sit along the street and waited for a table. Whenever there is a vacant table somewhere, they will take you to that particular place. After about a 15-minute wait, we were lead to a tiny store and up to the small balcony where there were a few tables. I was praying the whole time that there wouldn't be a fire because we would be trapped with no way out if that happens.

Fried oyster omelette, good!

One of the clay pot rice. I was expecting exceptional quality but they were just OK in my opinion. Not worth the time and energy. I am sure this will be a miss for me from now on. 

It was quite late after our dinner so we just took the MTR from the station around the corner back to the hotel and called it a day.