With that title out of the way, let me commence with my long overdue postings!
My mother came to visit me in early March. It was exhilarating and strange to show her around town for a week, seeing everything newly through her eyes. I’ve become so accustomed to almost everything here that I didn’t even notice half of the things that made her do a double take, like the duck carcasses trussed and strung up by their necks in the windows of certain restaurants. The squatty potties are the major exception to that rule… making her use one of those was one of the highlights of the week for me.
Day 1: Sunday: I picked Mom up from the airport and we took a taxi back to my apartment, where we promptly got on Facebook to tell the world she was in Hong Kong.
Day 2: Monday: We wandered through my neighborhood to Sheung Wan to a little street with tons of souvenir stalls and photographs of old Hong Kong. I had to work for a few hours this day, so I left Mom to her own devices in a shopping area of Causeway Bay, uncertain when I left her if I would ever find her again. However, despite one or two missteps, she managed to find her way home through the sprawling city and by the time I got home from work, she was snoozing on the couch.
Day 3: Tuesday: We went to Victoria’s Peak, taking the tram up up up to the top. The fog and wind rushed damply around us, as if we were standing in a cloud. We had poutine and hot dogs for lunch and Mom found tons of fancy souvenirs to take home. Our next step was to get to Lantau Island, but unfortunately I got us lost walking to the Central Piers, diminishing my street cred almost to nil. Eventually we found the piers and made our way to Lantau, where, in the late afternoon, almost everything was closed. We saw the
Market with lots of dead fish and flowers, and a cute little shop with jewelry and clothing, and we stopped in a Turkish restaurant for a drink before catching the ferry back to Hong Kong. We had Western food for dinner (I was nervous about how much Chinese I could push on her unaccustomed stomach) and Mom had her first glimpse of the “red district” part of town in Wan Chai, as scantily-clad women draped themselves over chairs outside of dubious bars.
Day 4: Wednesday: I had to work again on Wednesday, and the electricity in my apartment was out for the day, so Mom wandered around on her own. She met me at work for dinner. After showing her the office, we went to Times Square to Crystal Jade restaurant for a dinner of Shanghai soup dumplings, green beans with pork and chilis, and Shanghai style fried udon noodles with pork and cabbage, some of my favorite dishes that Mom said she loved.
Day 5: Thursday: We spent the whole day taking in Macau! We had a lazy morning, taking the ferry and arriving in Macau around 1pm. We snapped a few pictures at the Largo do Senado (Senate Square) with the yellow and pink and white buildings with a fountain splashing cheerfully in the center. The roads were winding brick. We had lunch straight away, African spring chicken for Mom and baked chicken in coconut milk for me. After, we meandered toward the Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral, going through the crypt and the little museum attached, explaining the history and tragedy of the cathedral. Then we walked up the old Monte Fort, which was initially built in the 16th century for the protection of Jesuit priests. We decided against the museum at the top of the fort and meandered back down to and through a lovely old cemetery which is still in use.
As we tried to get to the A-Ma Temple, I put us on a bus going in the wrong direction, which eventually spat us out at the end of the line far from where we wanted to be. Mom was scared as we wandered through the maze-like one-way streets, looking for the same bus going in the opposite direction, not used to my day-to-day existence as someone who is lost all. the. time. Unfortunately, we found A-Ma Temple right as it closed, so we couldn’t explore, but we did find a bakery where we tried the almond cookies and peanut candy that Macau is famous for.
Day 6: Friday: We had a nice lazy morning, took the MTR and a bus to beautiful Shek O beach (featured here frequently, as it’s one of my favorite places on the island), where we climbed around on the rocks and explored the colorful little village nearby, eating Mandarin oranges (are they just known as oranges here…?) Going back on the MTR, we stopped back at Jardine’s Bazaar because Mom had a hankering to buy about a million pairs of shoes. She could not be stopped! She tried the famous Macanese egg tart and we ate dinner at a place I go to often for lunch and had fried lemongrass chicken wings and Vietnamese spring rolls.
Day 7: Saturday: We had a slow morning and took the ferry to Cheung Chau Island. This quaint little island is full of cheap souvenir stores and seafood and stray cats. We visited an active temple with burning incense and people praying, and we wandered the hilly streets to the beach where once upon a time I left my camera in the surf. We wandered into the snack street where we bought fried potato on a stick which we could sprinkle with spices from a row of silver canisters with taped on labels.
In the evening we took the Star Ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui, across the harbor from Hong Kong Island. Here we walked down the Avenue of the Stars and took in the Hong Kong skyline all lit up at night. We saw Bruce Lee’s and Jackie Chan’s stars. We had to head home fairly early to get Mom all packed up to leave the following morning.
Day 8: Sunday: We got up at the crazy hour of 4:30am and were out the door and in a taxi on our way to the airport by 5:30am to mark the end of our busy, brilliant week.
Next up: I had just three short weeks to do a lot of work and take a deep breath before one of my best friends came to see Hong Kong and Taiwan…