Blue skies greet us when Genelle pulls the curtains back this morning. Foolishly I say “Are you going for a walk?” Thinking it’s early but it’s actually after 8 and I get a fairly curt response, unwarranted I feel, just because I’m not renowned for early starts, no need for making sarcastic comments.
Yesterday’s walking paid a toll on my knees, they’re really aching this morning. I’m trying to hold off the heavy duty pain killers a bit, just between you and me – keep this quiet because it’s a bit personal, the travel and the pain killers block the old system up a bit and I need the get things, you know what I mean, a little more regular. I think when we get to Italy and can settle then Mother Nature will get things in better balance for me. I don’t think I need to paint the picture any better than that for you do I?
Breakfast is the usual “porky pig” thing, we do graze widely and try all the cuisine areas, what a bunch of guts aches we are, all of us. Mind you, taking into account the previous paragraph, I do fill my plate full of roughage, fruit and other gut friendly food. It’s a pretty good breakfast spread at the Park Hotel.
Riding instructions are given by the women early, they are going shopping, we blokes either follow (and stay quiet) or bugger off and do our own thing. It’s hard to read the signals as to which option is going to get the points, so we opt to follow and try and look interested. Immediately, like within 30 metres of the hotel door, they find the first clothes shop, we sit on hydrants, the steps or lean on walls to kill the time while the women harass the poor girl in the shop looking at the ” bargains” on offer, then proceed to leave after buying nothing. Same thing at the next shop. Then the shop they were really going to, same name as the first shop but with a better selection and more staff ( a fact observed by the Il Accountant). Dave and John do the right thing a dutifully stand at the door but Andrew and I round the corner onto Nathan Road and find a set of steps in front of the HSBC bank which isn’t open because of the Chinese public holiday today. Eventually they come out, a few HK dollars lighter than they went in and we wander down the hill to Marks and Spencer’s. Yesterday’s purchase by Genelle ( a dress) is swapped for a more appropriate size, another one is procured and the other women make what we should say and very good purchases, once agin while us blokes stand around like stale bottles of the proverbial with shallow smiles, shifting from foot to foot, commenting under our breath about the futility and waste of time shopping is – except me that is. I confess that shop shopping isn’t something I enjoy unless it’s stuff that pushes my buttons, like books, camera’s, gadgets etc etc, I don’t mind market shopping again as long as its stuff I’m interested in so call me a hipocrit if you like, it might just be the truth. It’s just that I’d like to be alive when we get to Milan tomorrow. As we decide to part ways with the female folk, Dave takes the lead, we think to go somewhere for a drink and then to meet back at the hotel.
Dave has the look of a man on a mission, head down in the map, a glint in his eyes, a sense of purpose in his walk, his time is here, a leader of men, on a mission to find a drink. He leads we follow, we’re still none the wiser as to where we are heading. On being questioned about our destination by said followers, we get a vague answer and he does seem to have it under control. We wander down an alley way, smelling of dead animals and a little slippery under foot, into narrow streets with massage establishments and tailors representatives, vaguely heading back towards our hotel. We think this looks promising but he now seems to have a worried look in his eyes, he glances left and right, turns and looks behind us, we detect that all may not right. As we turn into Cameron Road, he confesses, he said he was going to the bar near the Adidas shop and he has no idea where it was. We advise Dave that the Adidas shop was just outside the side door of Marks and Spencer, and totally the opposite way to the walk back to the Park Hotel. A look of doom comes over his face, his shoulders slump, if he’d been an SAS commander leading a mission in Afghanistan he would ended up in Iran. We console him and suggest a beer, I can’t recall who suggested it but the Oyster Bar/ Boom Boom Bar and a few other names, over the road form the hotel looks interesting.
Another f….g disasterous decision, but we’re all guilty and it’s helpful as it takes the pressure off Dave. Drinks in the Oyster Bar will be a once only affair, it smells of old fish/long dead oysters, the beer is American, German and Japanese and no Tsing Tao. We swaggle the beer down and exit as fast as we can fearing botulisms are in the air and on the surfaces. Back over the road to the Park Hotel bar where the smell is normal and the beers include Tsing Tao.
The Taxis to the Women’s Market at Mong Kok costs $50 HK ($8 Aud), it’s quick but is still Dave disoriented, he is struggling and admits he doesn’t have much of an idea where we are, this morning has really dented his confidence. A local restaurant is located for lunch, we order some Hot Chicken Rice and Beef Noodles Soup. As we’re waiting for the food to arrive we try some of the spices or condiments on the table, one of them is chilli and the other one we don’t know makes our tongues fizz, and eery feeling. The Hotel Chicken Rice comes and the orderers are immediately gasping for breathe, its f….g hot and eyes water, sinus’ clear, and Genelle passes hers to Dave immediately. Dave has found his mojo, he can handle the heat this bloke, mightn’t know where to find the heat but if he does he can handle it. The Beef Noodle Soup arrives, its milder but still a lot of chilli floating in the broth, the beef is an odd purple colour and Jane advises its the colour of tongue, there is a bit of gagging around the table but if its tongue it’s fresh tongue and some of us handle it, sort of, but it’s also a sinus clearer and you try to ladle broth without the chilli. The bill is about $400 HK ($68 AUD) for 8 people.
We plunge into the markets, and its commented that the stalls are run by women, but I think it’s mostly women, there are a few brow beaten blokes there selling stuff, probably ordered to work by their wives while she’s off buying clothes and jewellery. A few bargains are found, 64 gb memeory sticks hidden in Hentai and other carton characters for about $3 Aud, rip off Polo shirts for about $5 Aud etc etc and the crowd is massive.
We all find each other at the end of the laneway and decide it’s time to head back. A frantic search for a taxi ensues, the buggers won’t pull over when we hail them, so we wander down a side street and find 2 cabs for the ride back to the hotel.
Dinner, after the 6pm checkout is at a restaurant, just around the corner. We did the headless chook thing and had a little trouble selecting a venue but a decision is made. We’re ushered up stairs to a table near the kitchen. The menu is a good mixture of dishes, no hairy crabs like Il Commando wanted are on the menu BUT there are little dumpling things with condensed milk for dessert. The other dumplings are a mix of hot, spicy and plain pork, very tasty. We are little slow off the mark because to order you have to fill in the menu and hand it to a waiter, what a funny idea.
Tea and coffee back at the Park Hotel and chill for a while. Dave provides easy entertainment, he’s a little more relaxed and a little bit self deprecating, I think he’s recovering.
9.13. Precisely we leave the Park Hotel for the airport in our Airport Express shuttle bus to the train station. A tour around Hong Kong for zero other pickups and then to the train station, 1 minute wait, a train comes in, every second carriage has seats facing the wrong way, and so are pretty empty, of course Il Accountant has to face the right way so he finds a seat in the next carriage. This train is very quick, it even has airline check in at the city end. Good tip for next time – don’t worry about taxis or transfers, take the Airport Express.
We’re quickly at the airport, through check in because Sonya had already check us in on line so we only had to hand our check in bags over, immigration control is quick and we are waiting for a gate for our flight to Milan. Flight CX 233 leaving Hong Kong at 1.05am
I’m trying to work out how to get photos into blog, but not successfully yet, please be patient. Next stop is Milan in the morning
Caio, arrividerci from Hong Kong