Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Heart Hong Kong

After spending two weeks in Borneo, we were ready for a dose of civilization -- city lights, noise, high rises, international cuisines, and yes, even a Starbucks. Time to leave the scuba gear and hiking shoes behind and make our way to my favorite Asian city -- Hong Kong!

It's hard to believe that it's been five years since I last visited Hong Kong -- where does time go? My purpose for visiting Hong Kong on this occasion was to meet my adorable and sweet little niece. I've been counting down the days to meet my little niece since she was born in June. We spent 5.5 days hanging out at my sister's new Festival City flat in Tai Wai, shopping, and eating my weight in dim sum, hotpot, Japanese teppan, and sushi. It was great fun and makes me wish that we lived just a bit closer.  I spent a lot of my waking hours in Hong Kong  swooning over my cute niece who was fighting off jet-lag from her first international trip to California. She is just the sweetest baby ever, of course I am bias because she is related to me. It's also enduring to see my big sister in her role as a new Mum -- very sweet.  Our time in Hong Kong in a nutshell:

Day 1: The start of our eating/shopping extravaganza -- first stop to Sha Tin Mall for some delicious dim sum -- prawn dumplings, siu mai, char siu bao, won ton, noodles... ummmmm.  Then it was on to some retail therapy --   warm clothes (it was cold in Hong Kong!), new eyeglasses, and  Baby's C seat cover for her new Stokke high chair. Walking through Hong Kong shopping malls require some serious stamina and patience as the malls  are huge and always packed with people. 
Later in the evening, leaving Baby C behind with the helper, the grown-ups went out to Tsim Tsa Tsui (TST), a bustling area on the southern end of Kowloon, for dinner and drinks. As I had not seen my older sister since our family trip to Greece in May 2011 and to celebrate their journey into parenthood, I treated them to dinner at a traditional Japanese teppan restaurant where we sat on the floor and devoured plates of tasty marbled beef and cold Asahis. Just like old times when we all lived in Bay Area. 

Day 2: Cuddle time and bottle for my niece in the morning, followed by more eating. Seriously, I wonder how Hong Kongers stay svelte with so much delicious goodness around them? This time we went to a dumpling house for Shanghaiese-style for what else.... dumplings. We spent some time walking around the harbour, more shopping and then it was to Mong Kok, one of the most dense areas in Hong Kong with a series of 'themed' market stalls -- ladies market, temple street market, electronic market where you can find everything under the sky from tacky souvenirs to more practical items, like a suitcases which we desperately needed. 
For dinner that evening, we had 'Hot Pot' at home, which was perfect for a chilly Hong Kong evening. Hot pot consists of a simmering metal pot of savory stock placed in the centre of the table. Ingredients are added -- fish balls, beef balls, variety cuts of thinly sliced beef, mushroom, shrimp, etc. are cooked in the pot, and accompanied by dipping sauce. It's meant to be a long leisurely meal over good conversations. I think our hot pot meal went on for four hours, well past midnight.  It's been a long while since I had hot pot; definitely a treat for us. 
Day 3: Leisurely day for us as my sister had to take Baby C to the Doc for her immunization shots which she took like a champ and didn't even cry. I offered to make dinner at home for a change as I missed cooking. We were off to City Super (what a great supermarket) to pick items for an Italian-themed dinner -- on the menu, mozzarella-tomato-basil salad, salami and cheese,  pasta carbonara (my BiL's favorite) and pasta all'amatriciana (one of K's favorite), both very easy dishes to make using bacon and pecorino cheese, and of course some vino. My sister's live-in helper was my sous-chef, hopefully she took good notes. 
Day 4: My last full day in HK was also the last day of my sister's 6 month maternity leave. Ironically, we went to brunch at the Ritz Carlton at the International Commerce Centre, also my sister's workplace where she spends most of her waking hour. The brunch was amazing -- bottomless champagne, seared tuna, lobster, scallop, oysters on a half shell, fresh pasta, prosciutto, and lots of French pastries and desserts. Divine and totally decadent. I loved it, especially the bottomless champagne which I probably had no less than a bottle and a lovely view of the harbour from the 102nd floor. My niece enjoyed the view too and let us adults enjoy our brunch by falling asleep in her pink Bugaboo. 

Day 5: Keenan and I were  on our own as my sister and BiL went back to work. After spending the morning playing with my niece (OK, so I am obsessed with my niece!), Keenan and I spent the day hanging out on Hong Kong island, visiting our favourite haunts in Soho, Antique Street, IFC mall, and LKF for a happy hour drink before we made our way back to my sister's for a final meal in Hong Kong. 

I couldn't think of a better way to end our 3 week adventures in Asia. It was hard to say good-bye to my adorable little niece but Facebook, What's App, and our trusty little Ipad helps a lot. We're already looking into Xmas 2013 in Hong Kong. 

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