Hong Kong

The time in Hong Kong will be filled with eating and hectic sightseeing. The eating part will be mainly about exploring vegetarian restaurants. Upon landing and then travel by express train into Central, the heart of Hong Kong, we taxi over to Hong Kong Garden, where LockCha Teahouse serves both as a dim sum place and a museum dedicated to tea and teawares. We order all sorts of dim sum—from tofu skin with seaweed to steamed vegetable dumplings. To our surprise, which we later find out about dining in Hong Kong, each person is required to order tea or is otherwise charged anyways. Here, all the tea choices are over US$10 per person. The tea and food arrive, and everything is amazingly good.

After lunch, we hike to another vegetarian restaurant nearby, called Sum Chai, across from the zoo-arboretum. With the thick Hong Kong humidity, this short walk up to the mid-levels exhausts us, and by the time we reach the restaurant, we’re drenched in sweat. We grab a brochure and leave. Dad suggested another place to eat though. Dinner is equally good at a different restaurant—this time in the Causeway Bay district. Rather than being tofu-based, this restaurant specializes in making realistic reproductions of non-vegetarian things, like Peking duck and sashimi.

We decide to sleep in and have brunch at Sum Chai. The marinated cold cuts are the best dishes, but we also try the usual dim sum fare of potstickers, shumai, turnip rice squares. After a while, everything seems to be a blur. With an intermission, brunch blends into lunch. The restaurant tells us to leave and come back in the early afternoon, because they are booked solid during the lunch hour.

From there, we head off to the Star Ferry of Hong Kong harbor. Since days of old, not much has changed—the upper and lower decks, the gangways, the smell of sea water from the harbor, the sound of the drawbridge, the deck hands who coil and throw thick ropes, and the motor rumble as we approach the other side. Only two things seem different: the fare is higher, and the ride feels shorter. On the Kowloon side, we visit Tsim Sha Tsui, the clock tower, and the new giant shopping complex, where there is reprieve from the sweltering humid heat.

We make it back over to the island side and plan a sunset trip up the tram to The Peak. The line seems short from the outside, but once inside the cramped ticketing area, we will find ourselves stuck in line for an hour before stepping onto the tram. Having nothing to do, we time the intervals: roughly three minutes to load, five minutes between departure and arrival, making an inconsistent eight minutes between launches. We miss the last tram up to catch the sunset and end up first in line for the next batch. The view out the right side is pretty, as the city lights are now glowing and reflecting off the fog. By the time we make it out of the terminal to the outside, clouds circle around the summit. We’re caught in a whiteout. We decide to wait it out and grab dinner first. After dinner, the storm worsens. There isn’t much to see, so we get in the growing line to get off the mountaintop. The sign tells us that the wait is more than a half hour from where we stand. Then, a light rain starts. We find this tolerable, but after about fifteen minutes, the sky opens and pours out a torrential storm. Without an umbrella, among others who came up unprepared, we are now soaked head to toe—camera bag, dress, shirt, jeans—with rainwater mixed with the day’s sweat. Down at the Central terminal, we brave more rain to hail a taxi and make it in the last minute to catch the hotel shuttle. It’s a relief to be back and to clean up.

Day 16 consists first of errands and then of flights. According to the news, the Hong Kong airport had been shut down for about an hour in the morning, and for an airport already running at capacity with little reserve room, the disruption left delayed flights and stranded passengers. We find ourselves in this mess, and we’re nervous of the domino effect from too much delay in this crucial flight. The leisurely connections will now be very tight connections, and we might not make it to Hawai’i for the last chapter of our honeymoon.

Boarding finally happens more than an hour later, push-off from the gate is another delay of more than an hour, and we will find ourselves sitting on the tarmac for another hour. The pilot announces that we are fifth in line, behind the backlog of flights. This will take at least another twenty minutes, he says. Thankfully, three hours later, we’re now airborne, and we calculate that we’ll make the connecting flights.

To help with jetlag, we had consulted with the app that received much media attention last year, called Entrain. According to its recommendations, we are to sleep for much of the flight from Shanghai to Honolulu, but this would not be the case. We are surrounded by first time tourists, a raucous crowd of middle-age and elderly passengers who are simply excited to be in a plane and embarking to an exotic destination. Sleep would be amidst the cacophony. Luckily, the app says it’s more about light and dark exposure, rather than actual sleep. We would later find out that it the recommendations work well. Before long, we’ll be touching down in Honolulu.

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