August 3, 1997 -- Hong Kong


The next day, not too early, we set out for Mong Kok and had a fine congee and cruller breakfast near the bus stop. It was Sunday, still raining a lot, and not much activity in the street markets, so we took another bus to the ferry, and then the ferry to Hong Kong island.

The ferry ride is one of the more fun things you can do for $2.2 in Hong Kong. From the ferry we took a bus to Aberdeen, where there is a big fishing harbor. Along the promenade we saw the unloaded fish swimming in tanks on the sidewalk. Passing both ways we were accosted by an old lady who tried to lure us into a sampan ride, but Carol thought she was too expensive. After some judicious bargaining, we instead got into the sampan of an old guy with a crippled foot, followed by a woman with a bunch of small children. The children were going back to their homes on the fishing boats. They were a happy bunch, it was fun to watch them clamber up the side of their homes using the rubber tires as foot holds.

The sampan ride continued past the famous "Jumbo" floating restaurant. Carol says, fun to look at, but don't eat there! In front of it, the Sampan guy pulled a couple of wooden stools out, and set them at the front of the sampan for us to pose on.

After a quick tour of the local market, rich in live creatures, it was time for lunch again. We followed a steady crowd of locals up into a large hall, that turned out to be one of the wilder restaurants, a cross between a dim sum emporium and a football match. Crowds of people were milling, looking for tables. Once you got one, you went around with your card to various food stations. We clearly didn't even stand a chance of getting a seat. The next place we tried was the same story. In the third place a waiter took pity on us an tried to seat us at a large table where three people already were sitting. They tried to get rid of us, since they were waiting for friends, but the waiter prevailed and we sat down. We even managed to get some food, including a kind of candied duck dish.

Back to the ferry by minibus - the public transport is just excellent here - we were soon sitting in Sunny and Nick's Famous Fashions, with an hour to go before we had to be back at the hotel. Could the suit possibly be ready in time? It was a tense few minutes. While Carol sloped off for some side shopping (for her Hong Kong Ruby doll), the Chinese tailor arrived, suit in hand. It was only 2:45, time to try on the suit - nice fit - and even spring for a winter coat before catching a taxi back tot he hotel. Only $45 this time, and no screaming, though the guy was puzzled by Carol thrusting all her change into his hand. Especially when he thought that was the only money he would get.

The group gathered in the lobby, and proceeded to the airport. At first everything seemed to be going fine, our flight to Guangzhou due to depart on schedule at 6.50. The departure lounge was (is as I write) very crowded with people delayed by the typhoon. After an hour of feeling we were the lucky ones, we joined them. Currently unclear when the Guangzhou flight will leave. We found an OK niche by a wall, with - oh joy - a power socket. With power to burn, packs full of books, and Norman checking up on us with cookies, we wait as stoics.