December 22, Nicky and Angel come by and pick up Yuki and I and take us to LAX, we have a midnight flight out to Hong Kong. I had won the spot North American representative spot for the Gunpla Builders World Cup finals to be held on Christmas day in Hong Kong. As usual, my normal small baggage loaded inside my larger, mostly empty baggage. The larger baggage is carrying goods that I’m bringing for Yuki’s parents and my god parents. In my small backpack is also a little white gold ring emblazoned with four small diamonds and a larger diamond that’s about .7 ct in size. If anything, this should be a fairly memorable trip.
My Sazabi is packed in a small duffel bag that I’m carrying on the plane as well as my backpack. My luggage is checked and pushes the weight limits by 2kgs. I get a pass since it’s only Yuki and I traveling. The last flight, we sat in row 30 or so, which had us board last, but we got off the earliest. We didn’t actually get our seats assigned this time until we checked in and the only sets of seats together were in the very rear of the plane, so we ended up boarding fairly early in comparison to the last trip in October. Getting to our seats, we notice that there is considerably more leg room. We figured that last time we sat in the middle section, and the extra space is because we’re in the side sections next to the windows. Noted for our trip back. I snapped some pictures of LA at night from the window as we departed.
Learning from my last trip, I decided that I will stay up as long as possible watching about 3 movies, then sleep for the last 6-8 hours of the flight. This way, I wake up as we land and it’s morning in Hong Kong so I have the full day to enjoy and sort of force my body to adjust to the time flip. I wake up as we’re getting ready to land. We get on the ground and wait until we can get off the plane then off to the customs and immigration. Traveling to Hong Kong with Yuki is great as she has a Hong Kong ID card so I don’t have to wait in the ever long visitor’s line. We zip through, grab our bags, and meet up with Jeff and some brother’s of Yuki’s friend in LA to drop off the majority of the items she carried in her large bag. First stop is Yuki’s parent’s place to drop off our bigger bags. We greet the parents and hang out for a little bit while Yuki takes a quick shower.
After this, we headed to Tsim Sha Tsui(TST) to see about checking into the hotel that Bandai has so graciously given me for the next two nights. We’re still a bit early for getting the room, but we check in and leave our smaller bags with the conceriege. Jeff takes us over to Discovery Park in Tsuen Wan, the venue for this year’s Gunpla Builders World Cup. The set up schedule is set for 3:00pm, and it’s still just barely noon. Yuki hits up the local len’s crafters and gets some glasses made for frames she picked up during the October trip to Hong Kong. I take this opportunity to wander the Gunpla Expo area and check things out. There is a blocked off area and several stand alone display stands for the GBWC kits. After a quick walk through the area, I meet back up with Yuki and Jeff. The Saz is still in Jeff’s car since I have to wait until about 3 before I can set up.
Lunch time, we pick up Jeff’s wife, Sylvia, and head over to some restaurants in Tsuen Wan that are known for their roast goose. Lunch is amazing, the stir fry clams and roast goose stand out in the meal.
Stuffed, we drop off Sylvia back at their home and Yuki and I are dropped off at Discovery Park, just in time to start setting up. There’s still no other modeler’s there so I call over one of the Bandai folks and ask about my representative Kojima-san. Kojima-san is at the airport picking up The Italian; but they let me in and I start setting up. Once I was in, another entrant was in setting up and suddenly, more and more of the entrants start setting up.
It is interesting watching people set up. Even more interesting is seeing how folks travel with their kits. The entry from Indonesia brought along a tool set and was working on a few broken parts, sanding down a few areas before gluing the part back. Around 5 or so, Kojima shows up with The Italian. His airline actually made him check the box that he used to transport his kit. Due to this, his bottle of super glue spilled and some got on the back of his scratch build Musai conn. There was a but of breakage and some rubbing that left marks on his paint. The Japanese representative is also busy working on rebuilding the contact points for his kit’s wings. Clippers and metal wires are out as he quickly fixes the mounts for the wings. The only issues I had was ensuring that the lights on my kit turned on, and there was some issues with some contacts interfering, but a little bit of adjusting fixed that. I also had a turntable that I picked up from last month’s white elephant exchange; however having the turning mechanism on caused a little bit of wobble in the kit and I was afraid it would cause the Saz to fall off or just cause the delicate electronics to cross, so I just left the display static.
The Bandai reps were busy setting up the displays for the trophies as well as special prizes, plated full armor MG Unicorn kits. Looking closely, the displays seemed to have been quickly cut and snapped together. Still, a pretty cool unique piece of gunpla.
I took some time snapping pictures of the entries, but since all the entries have been shown on line in much better pictures, I wasn’t worried too much about having my own pictures; and ended up missing a few kits in my collection. However, my main goal was to take a video clip of each entrant and have the builder talk about their kit a little. I think videos of the entries best show off some of the finer qualities of the entries than just static pictures. But here are some static pictures first before we get into the videos.
I completely missed out of snapping pictures of the Malaysian entry, but I got videos of all the entrants, so we’ll begin with the Malaysian entrant.
Some of the above videos will require some translation, but at least it gives a different insight into these kits than just looking at the pictures. Unless of course you are part of the various forums that these kits are displayed and discussed by the builders and their respective gunpla communities. Note that not all the kits arrived on the 24th, but some were set up on the morning of the 25th before judging commenced.
After bothering enough modelers with my video camera, Yuki and I left and returned to TST to change and rest up before going out again. Having enough with the gunpla folks, we took the MTR back to TST, and upon our stop, we noticed that traffic controls were in place and we were forced to exit at the nearest MTR outlet. The station was filled with people. Getting out on the streets, the streets were also filled with people. The major road way, Nathan road was completely shut down. Surrounding streets were also shut down to vehicle traffice. People were everywhere. This was my first time in spending Christmas in Hong Kong. Throngs of people were out and about heading towards the harbour area. Simply amazing. I tried to take a slow exposure, but the abient lighting was a little too bright even after I set everything to the darkest I could get, but it still made for an interesting picture.
After getting to the hotel, we get our room key and head up. The room is on the 13th floor of a 14 floor building, not bad. We each wash up, change our clothes, and rest up a bit from the day before heading back out. I grab my tripod and off we go. The special thing about Christmas time in Hong Kong are the building lights. Select buildings have some nice light displays. I’ve been told that in the past, more buildings participated in the huge light displays. Still, this is impressive none the less.
People are everywhere. There are large groups of carolers every several feet, some singing in tune, while others not so much in tune. Christmas in HK is quite different from what I’m used to; people are out and about instead of at home with family dinners. There are mini concerts and little events going on here and there. I’m continually shocked at the number of people on the streets. There are a few open spots that I was able to set up the tripod and snap a few pictures of Yuki and myself. My remote shutter switch wasn’t working very well, it may be low on battery, so I ended up relying on the camera’s timer function more than the remote switch.
Back in the middle of Nathan street snapping pictures of the scene, I reach into my backpack and take out a pair of crystal earings that I had gotten from when I picked up the little diamond ring shown at the start of this post. Telling Yuki that I had her Christmas gift and asked if she wanted it. The earrings are nothing to write home about so I wouldn’t have been surprised if she didn’t care for them, but to my surprise, she did like them. Hearing that, I told her than I had another gift ready in case she didin’t like the earings, but since she did, I could hold off on giving her the other gift. She frowned. I told her that if she was good, I would give her the gift when it was Christmas, only a few hours away. We hung ount on Nathan road for a little bit but feeling tired from the long day, we decide against sticking it out for the countdown to Christmas which is basically what the mass of people are out here for, and start heading back to the hotel. We swing by some street vendors and pick up a light snack as our dinner and head back to our room.
Finishing our mean of siu mai, spicy squid, a chicken leg, and a waffle, we each shower and just relax in bed watching tv. Midnight rolls around and it’s Christmas. Yuki quickly motions with two open hands for her gift. Fatique has not let her mind slip that there was potentially another gift for her in my backpack. I climb out of bed, unzip the backpack and reach in for the small little burgendy colored box then handed it over to her. She’s surprised. Even more when she opens up the box, and the little LED shines brightly against the little diamond ring sparkeling in the dimly lit room. Utter shock, but she likes it. And then starts asking what this means. I simply say that it’s pretty obvious what it means. She asks which hand and which finger it should be placed upon, and I grab her left hand and place it on her ring finger. She’s completely flustered and I’m positive that her heart was beating quite fast as her cheeks were completely red. We talk for a good hour or so, and somewhere in there, there was a proposal and an acceptance to the terms of what the ring represents. Yuki is in a daze, believing this to be a dream, to be in Hong Kong during Christmas only two months after we had last visited, and now the ring.
Getting up in the morning, Yuki had already made plans to meet up with Jeff. We head down to the subway and get to Discovery Park to wait Jeff. Somewhere, there was a misunderstanding as Jeff calls us telling us he’s at the drop off place from yesterday; for which we responded so were we. Apparently, he understood the drop off point to be at our hotel in TST where as we were at the drop off point in Discovery Park where he dropped us off after lunch the previous day. A small chuckle and apologies, and Jeff meets up at Discovery Park in 15 or so minutes. No traffic in the wee early morning hours of Hong Kong. We have a nice breakfast before heading back to Discovery Park. Jeff notices the ring and Yuki tells him what has transpired. She then called her parents to let them know too. During breakfast, Jeff congradulates me. At least this is a good sign that I’m being accepted.
Back at Discovery Park, I turn on the lights for the Saz and close to 11 AM, we’re told to leave the area so that the judges can start the competition. Kojima-san, Domenico, and I sit at a coffee shop discussing everything from the giant Unicorn, the resin gunpla market, and soccer. Yuki spends some time with her brother but ends up meeting up with us at the coffee shop. The judging is done fairly quickly, about an hour or so I believe. And the venue opens up. The awards are set for 4PM and it’s almost 1PM. My inclination to leave the area for the next few hours are quickly shot down by Kojima-san as we’re “required” to hang out. So I just wandered around snapping random pictures of the event. There are quite a few people at the event.
After more waiting around, the time for the awards comes and I set up Yuki near the back with the tripod and camera so that she can take pictures during the awards ceremony. 3PM rolls around and we start to gather and the Bandai folks clear the area of the general public. I hear my name being called in Chinese. It’s my Aunt and Uncle, in earlier emails I told them that I was going to be in Hong Kong and that the competition was at this venue. So they actually came in from Sha Tin, which is a good distance from Tsuen Wan to see me compete. They came in and took a look at some of the entries before leaving. I didn’t know that they had ended up staying through the awards ceremony until I met up with them a few days later. I was very moved by my family’s support of my hobby.
A little more waiting around and 4PM rolls up and the awards ceremony can finally start up. The MC does her job in English as well as Cantonese, while conversing with the Bandai folks in Japanese. So most of the folks understood what was going on. Here’s a quick video from the start of the awards ceremony.
Here is the introduction of the Judges, editors from Hobby Japan, Dengeki, and a representative from Bandai.
The junior winners are presented their awards with the first place being picked up by a representative of the builder.
The winners for the open category are as follows. In earlier discussions with Yuki and fellow modelers, I called Hong Kong and Malayasia as the top winners, not saying which would be first or second, but that those two entries are the top kits of all the entries. I disagree with the third place as I believe there were other kits that were done better, less flaws and such; but my criteria for judging is probably greatly different from that of the judges. Still, some amazing works and I’m glad that I could be counted among the competitors.
Here is a short video clip of the winners.
A short time after the awards, we all got into the shuttles and headed back to the hotel. There was an after party dinner tonight, so upon arriving at the hotel, we had about 15 minutes to freshen up before heading over to the ballroom where the party was held. After some opening speeches by Bandai representative, we headed over to the buffet for our food. Our glasses of beers were never empty as the staff was fairly dilligent in keeping them filled. At our table was the Philippine group, Kojima-san, Domenico, Yuki, and some Bandai reps. The discussion turned towards wives and fiances, and Kojima-san noticed the ring on Yuki’s finger. And I told him that we had just gotten engaged last night. Cheers and clinking of glasses all around the table in congratuations to me and Yuki.
Midway through our meal, Katsumi Kawaguchi presented each of the modelers with a gift of a folded picture frame plaque with a photograph of our models. One by one, we are called up to the stage to receive the gift and take a picture. My turn arrives and Katsumi-sensei tells me to wait a moment while I’m up on stage. Nothing good can possibly come of this. Apparently, Kojima-san went and told the other Bandai reps that I had just got engaged. Yuki was told to stand, as well as come up on stage. Random tables were shouting for a kiss. We were announced and congraduated by the entire group, a quick kiss and we’re off the hook and return to our seats. An engagement at a gunpla event, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen all that often.
The eating and drinking continue and then we’re paused again, this time for the “lucky draw”. The bring up 22 models ranging from MG RX-79[G] to MG Sinanju to PG Astray and PG strike Freedoms. Randomly drawn names to give away the kits to each entrant. I end up with an MG Sinanju. I get Katsumi-sensei to sign both the picture frame and MG Sinanju. The signed Sinanju kit will be a nice addition for the SCGMC raffle for 2012. A few pictures were taken of the festivities.
We take one last picture with Katsumi-sensei and leave the party. It was a long day of gunpla. I made plans with the group from Australia and Domenico to show them some of the shops running under than Bandai radar the following day. Yuki and I are utterly exhausted and ended up calling it a night and crashed out around 10pm. Finally, the whirlwind gunpla piece of this trip is coming near it’s end and we can finally relax and enjoy the rest of the vacation.
Hong Kong Sans Gunpla… almost
The next morning, everyone is checking out and loitering around the lobby waiting for the shuttle. Jeff is c oming to pick us up. We end up beating the shuttle to Discovery Park by minutes. I finish packing the Saz and say good by to some of the modelers. Domenico, Dylan, and Mark I would see later, so after a wink and a nod, Yuki and I left. Jeff went to pick up Sylvia and we were dropped off in Mong Kok for a few hours before we meet up with Yuki’s parents for dimsum at one of my favorite dimsum chains in Hong Kong, Lei’s Garden. The shop on women’s street are still setting up. I do a quick run through of the model shops just to refamiliarize myself so that when I do a quick point to point guided tour later, I wouldn’t get too lost. Time is up and we head back to TST, coincententally, the building right across the way from the hotel we had been staying at for the past two nights for dimsum. Yuki’s parents arrive with Jeff and Sylvia and we have our first family meal.
Lunch was at 1PM and I was set to meet up with the gunpla folks at 3:30 in Mong Kok station, exit A. I also had to be at my Godparent’s house by 7:00PM for a family dinner there. So much for relaxing after the “whirlwind gunpla” fun. Dylan and his mom are prompt, Mark and Domenico run a little late, but not an issue. We head out exit D1 towards Argyle Street and head to the first point, Richmond Center. I show a few shops that are of interest, the top floor resin shop is the cheapest recast seller with some very high quality resin. Domenico picks up a kit here. Down one flight of stairs, he picks up some gashapon toys for his gunpla friends back home. From here, we headed down to Yin Chong St off of Fa Yuen St and show them a closed shop that is the G-Sys shop. The majority of these shops are open between 5:00pm and 9:30PM, and some have select days for when they’re open. Pointing out this shop to them, Dylan’s mom notes the location. We head through Paradise Square for another few shops of note stopping by JBO Toys. Continuing on, we head down to INSPoint on the corner of Nathan and Waterloo. There are a few shops in here, of note the SMS shop is here, but they’re only open on select days and wouldn’t be open until early January. Domenico sees the 1/100 Kshatriya and immediately wants one, but he’s flying out later that day and will be unable to grab one; even though he only needed to wait another hour before the G-sys shop opened and his flight wasn’t until 11PM at evening. He’s not adjusted well to the time change and hasn’t been sleeping well, so I offered to get the kit for him. He hands me 1500HKD and I promise to get the kit for him.
Since we’re already in Jordan, I decide to take the group to another fairly large hobby shop. Problem is that I have a brain fart and forget exactly where it’s at, so I send them down Temple street to check out some of the hawker stalls while I reset my bearings. I find the shop and grab the group. They pick up a few things here before we say our farewells. I meet up with Yuki who’s down the street and we get on the MTR and head across the sea to Hong Kong. We get to Time’s Square in Causeway Bay and hit up the City Super to get a fruit gift basket to bring up to my Godparent’s place. It just feels awkward to go over to someone’s house for dinner empty handed. We pick out some fruits and the basket is set for arrangement which will take at least 25 minutes. The place is utterly crowded with people. I head up to the restrooms to swap out clothes with some that Yuki brought from her parents house. Unforunately, Yuki’s mom had over done the mothball treatment and my shirt I had left in Hong Kong on my last trip was reaking of mothballs. This wasn’t going to do, so I swapped out again to just my exterior long sleeve shirt she brought. There was a huge Barbie display at the Times Square mall so I snapped a few pictures here.
Our 25 minute wait was done and we clamored with the masses to retrieve our fruit basket. Basket in hand, we waddle back through the throngs of people and wait on line at the taxi stand. The taxi takes us up into the hills of Hong Kong, the last time I was up here was over 10 years ago. Not much changes and we arrive at my Godparent’s house. Their dogs are barking at us but quickly placated realizing that we too are dog friendly people. The servants bring out trays of cheese and cured and aged meats along with some nice red wine in a duck shaped decanter. My godmother is still busy in the kitchen while Yuki and I chat with my godfather. About 45 minutes pass before the rest of the guests arrive and we all head upstairs to the penthouse floor where the large dinning table is set up for our evening’s meal. My godmother is an amzing cook and we exchange techniques and ideas. I’ll definitely have to try making a few things she put onto the tables that evening.
Dinner was a warm event with children running around. A gingerbread house was brought out and broken. It was a very warm and fun evening.
Dinner ended and my godparents pulled me aside so that we could chat a bit after everyone had left. We talked a little about the family and how things are going. It was very nice of them to take the time and effort, I was really touched with their kindness. My godfather gave us a ride down the mountain to the Causeway Bay MTR station where Yuki and I made the last trains back to her parents house.
The next morning we woke up around 10. I had plans to meet up with my aunt and uncle from my dad’s side – the same aunt and uncle that came out to Tsuen Wan to see me compete; and Yuki had already made plans a month ago to meet up with some school friends for lunch. So we parted ways and I headed out to Sha Tin. My cousin Cecilia was there with her two children and husband. I cannot even remember the last time I saw Cecilia. We had dimsum. Her younger brother Samuel came with his wife and 7 month baby daughter. I learned from Samuel that my older cousin Andrew lives in Germantown, so I guess the next time I’m out visiting Brian, I definitely need to look him and his family up. During dimsum, I show my aunt a picture of Yuki’s hand and the ring and she smiles and congradulates me. Cousin Cecilia catches a glimpse from the corner of her eye and acknowledges this loudly. Cousin Sam is a bit preoccupied with his daughter and misses the little exchanges.
Auntie Monica had planned out for the kids to go play badminton and bowling while the adults played mahjong after lunch. They play Hong Kong style MJ which involved 13 tiles instead of the Taiwanese style I’ve been playing for the past several years wiht 16 tiles. Another thing they do is remove all the flower tiles so stacking gets a row of 17 instead of 18. This completely throws me and the first two hands I’m out $30HKD. Oh well, they have a cap on the points, so the most points one can gain is 4, and each point is only worth a dollar. I start to remember the strategy for HK style and stop the loosing streak at 2. The strategy pays off as I’m able to throw Cecilia off her game and I ended up winning $60 by the end of 4 rounds. Yuki has planned a family dinner that evening, so I needed to cut and run, so I stopped at 4 rounds. I made plans with my Aunt and Uncle to meet up again for dimsum the following day so that I can bring Yuki too. Samuel and Cecilia want to meet her. Before parting, I snap some pictures of the view, they have a very nice flat with an amazing view. They also bring out a hello kitty cake… as if I didn’t already get enough of this at home.
I head back out to Tsuen Wan where we were going to meet up for some hotpot. For one reason or another, the family dinner ended up being Yuki’s parents, Yuki, and me. Locally, we found a ton of pet shops selling all sorts of dog treats and dog clothing. We picked up a bunch of red chinese outfits for the corgis, and some other outfits for the other doggies in our lives. I think we ended up buying more items for our pets than anything else. After dinner, Yuki and I wandered around Tsuen Wan for a bit before heading back home.
We woke up the following morning and headed out to Sha Tin to meet up with Auntie Monica and her family. We were the first to arrive at the restaurant and Yuki went off to use the restroom. Cecilia showed up next then my Aunt and Uncle. When my uncle asked where Yuki was, I said she couldn’t make it and he playfully punched me in the stomach, I laughed as she just so happened to appear. We get our table and start ordering while waiting for Samuel to show up. Sam shows and I make all the necessary introductions. Samuel asks Yuki what she thinks about my father which is funny. My dad has definitely made an impression upon everyone he’s met in his life. I think there is a sense of relief from everyone when they realize how different my personality is from that of my father. Lunch was a very warm and fun event. Chatted and joked around. Hopefully Samuel and Cecilia would be able to make it out to California in October. It is times like these that I regret not being closer to my extended family.
We wander the Sha Tin town center a bit after finishing lunch and bidding everyone farewell. We checked out some shops and snap a few pictures at their Christmas display. They have a beautiful blue themed Christmas tree setting here. It is cool to see the different styles each major shopping center creates for their Christmas decorating.
Leaving Sha Tin, we’re off to hunt for some abalone and shrimp roe noodles that my mom and dad want from Hong Kong. We return to Yau Ma Tei where the base store for these noodles is located, and after asking around a bit, we find it and pick up a cardboard box full of noodles to bring back. I asked the shopkeeper what time they closed and then if they could hold on to our order until later so we wouldn’t have to drag the box of noodles around everywhere we went. The shop closed at 9, so we told the shopkeep we would be back around 8:30 to pick up our goods.
We loitered around Mong Kok and Jordan for a little. I searched for the shop where Angel and I found the Ed and Al Elric chibi resin figures, but I couldn’t find it. They must have moved or closed shop. Oh well, after wandering a bit, we headed down to TST, again, back to the area where our hotel we stayed at earlier was for another hotpot dinner with Yuki’s friend Rebecca. It was all you can eat hotpot for 2 hours. Rebecca was quite happy to “win” the check, and stated that she was rather distraught having lost to us last time we were in Hong Kong. After dinner, we headed back up to the noodle shop to pick up our goods. The shopkeeper was worried that we had forgotten our goods. I had one more stop after here, an attempt to pick up the 1/100 Kshatriya for Domenico at the G-sys shop. Getting there around 9:30, they were still open, they normally close at 9, so I guess I was lucky. I picked up the kit for 1,360, about 150HKD more for the same kit at the SMS shop at INS Point. Oh well, in two trips to Hong Kong, I haven’t managed to get to the SMS shop when they were open. Exhausted, we lug out day’s haul back to Yuki’s parents place and once there, try organizing things into our luggage for the trip back. The noodles, cardboard box and all are shoved into my small luggage. Amazingly, it fits with room for some of the dog outfits.
It’s now Thursday, we sleep in a bit and don’t leave the house until almost noon. I have dinner plans with my cousin Danny and his wife later that evening. So the day is spent lazily warndering Hong Kong. We spend some time at Elements in western side of Kowloon. There’s a nice big MTR station that also has a stop for the Airport Express. The upper area is a huge upper class shopping center. There is an ice rink and a nice movie theater. We had a couple of meals at this shoping center on our last trip. Looking at movie times, we were not sure what time we would meet up with my cousin, so we ended up getting tickets for the first showing of Flying Swords of the Dragon Gate Inn, a Jet Li movie that is a reimage/sequel to the 1966 Dragon Gate Inn, or even the 1992 New Dragon Gate Inn. We got tickets for the 10:25 AM showing of the film the following morning. We spent the rest of the afternoon just lounging around Elements. The Haagen-Dazs at Elements had special ice cream desserts, so Yuki and I sat down to enjoy an ice cream chocolate fondue. I will definitely have to reproduce this at home some time.
Deciding to leave and head towards TST area to meet up with my cousin, I attempt to leave from the top area which is all really nice housing. Wandering around the entire complex, there are no exits at this level, so we head back down and rest a bit at the MTR station. Cousin Danny texts me back and we’re to meet up later in Jordan for some clay pot rice. With about 2 hours of free time, we jump on the MTR and head over to HK island to see about finding a Hello Kitty MJ set for Helen. No luck, but we do hit up the little cooking supplies shop and grab a set of eggette waffle irons that came with a recipe for the tasty HK street food. We also grab some small cake rounds. Yuki also grabs some new cases for her phone. Time runs out and we head back across the bay to meet up with May and Danny. Dinner is good, but Yuki really wanted charcoal fired clay pot rice; oh well, next time. We sit and chat for a while, and Danny recommends a Chinese doctor down the street. I figured I didn’t have anything to loose so why not just get myself checked out. We finish dinner and part ways. Doubtful that Danny would come to the states come October, but it was good seeing him again.
Friday morning we get up fairly early as we have a movie to catch. It’s in 3D. It’s not that good. But it’s nice to catch a movie in Hong Kong. I think the last time I can remember watching a movie in Hong Kong in a theater was for Happy Ghost, damn, 1984… really, 27 years ago? I suddenly feel aged. Definitely a completely different experience from when I was uh… 9 years old. After the movie, we find the walkway to Jordan street and head over to the Chinese doctor. He listens to my pulse and asks a few questions. I get the sensation that it’s like a cold reading going on, but I’ll leave my skeptisism to after I finish the chinese medicine perscribed and see what happens. Granted, in a week or two, the body’s natural germ fighting capabilities would have already gotten rid of most intrusions; but again, I’m going to keep an open mind. Afterall, Danny recommended him. Walking the street, I start to notice the prostitutes already working, handing out massague coupons to only men. I point this out to Yuki. Gone are the days of the hooker CCTV, guess I’ll just have to settle with hookers in living color. The doctor’s assistants are boiling my first set of chinese medicine teas, so we’re to return in several hours. In the mean time, we search out food and head towards Temple Street.
We wander Temple Street looking for the place that Yuki ate charcoal grilled clay pot rice once upon a time with her cousin Vicky (“Shoe Kid”). Most of the restaurant shops are not fully opened, the hawker stands are just setting up, it’s 2 in the afternoon. Hookers are working the various corners and stairwell entrances. Walking down the street, there are two cops that are checking the ID of a hooker. Prostitution is legal in Hong Kong, but there are certain stipulations. A valid permenant ID is needed, so folks on visitor visas and what not, cannot legally work, which means hooking for them is illegal. Passing by, we over hear words like “deporting”. Walking down a few stalls, other hookers are curiously look on, but obviously hiding from the cops as well. Not finding the restaurant, we head back up the street. Overheard is another guy working to set up a hawker stall yelling at one of the hookers that emerged from the darkened starwells. Saying that she comes out with the police around and is hiding when they are not; obviously not the brightest bulb in the bunch.
Seafood restaurants are setting up, they have crates of fresh seafood strewn about with air hoses pumping oxygen in to keep the seafood as fresh as possible. Other shops are cleaning and bundling razor clams and other goodies. Mantis shrimp, or as they are commonly known, pissing shrimps, are seen in various sizes. Goodness that is being prepared for the evening’s customers.
I hadn’t taken many pictures this trip, so out came the camera and I shot random things here and there around the Mong Kok area. We had dinner plans to meet up with Jeff, Sylvia, and Shoe Kid; but Jeff and Sylvia bailed because they were quite sick. After drinking my fill of the rather awful tasting chinese medicine concotion, we wandered the streets killing time and snapping pictures as we went. Parking in Hong Kong is mad, so most places you’ll find cars double parked. In this next picture, the two rows on the right are parked cars, the last row on the far left are parked cars, the middle lane is cars moving. Craziness.
There are tons of dogs. On major roads that are not lined with shops, you’ll find owners walking their dogs. There are even spots designated as “potty” areas for dogs. Kinda cool.
A nice vantage point on the above ground walkway in northern Mong Kok was a really great place to shoot pictures of the masses of people getting off work ready to start their long weekend.
Rush hour is the worst time for emergencies. The fire trucks once arriving on the scene were stuck and could barely move with all the traffic and people. They just had to stop and let the firemen out.
Why can’t we have cute safe sex promotional ads too?
Time killed, we headed into the MTR station and jumped on the subway car. Beeps and announcements that there is a mechanical issue at the TST station, so there’s a delay. We wait. After several minutes and several more announcements, everyone is told to get off the train. The train empties and the plattforms fill up. The train runs off and another train comes and we all pile in, still delayed, we stand and wait. The doors finally close and we’re off, but we stop in the middle, several times until we reach the next station. We wait again, and slowly, we cross the harbor and are at the Central station. We mistakely get off, to try to transfer to the Hong Kong line to get to North Point where we have reservations for 7:00. There is a huge line for the Hong Kong line train, so we decide to go topside and grab a cab. On our way up, we notice that the entrances for the subways have been locked, people are queued up just to get into the area for the train plattforms. Crazy. Bonus, exiting the station, our octo cards are not charged, we got a free ride across the harbor.
The taxi stands are beyond lined up, we start hiking it towards North Point, all the while looking for an open Taxi, we get one near Admirality. We’re 15 minutes late, our table was given away. But since our original table of 5 is now 3, it’s easy for us to get another table and we only wait for another 5 or so minutes. The place is crowded. This place is an indoor Dai Pai Dong type restaurant. And it’s really popular.
Shoe Kid arrives and we order a beer and our food. Salt and Pepper Mantis shimp, roughly $30 US a piece. Squid ink spagetti and fish balls, lotus leaf wrapped fried rice, black bean steamed eel, and the best thing there, roast chicken. My picture of the chicken was blurry, so I deleted it, but damn it was good. Crispy skin, tender and full of flavor. I will definitely return here for that chicken. As for the Mantis shrimp, I’m more interested in trying that out on Temple Street next time.
We ended up walking from North Point to Quarry Bay station for our next stop, the Harbour Plaza hotel for drinks. Shoe kid wanted to treat us to drinks as we took care of dinner. There was a group of what I believe to be Phillippine lounge singers that did nothing but butcher songs. I guess it was a good thing we came in at the tail end of their set for the evening. Yuki and Shoey chatted and I just enjoyed the atmosphere. We returned home and ended up doing absolutely nothing for most of the day before our flight. I got a nice 3 hour nap on the couch, which sorta helped me stay awake on the flight back to LA. When I checked in for the flight, the flight wasn’t as fully booked as our flight to HK, so I was able to choose some window aisle seats on row 35, thinking that the window aisle seats had more room than the middle section. Arriving in our seats, the isn’t the case, it’s just only the back of the plane that has more space. Noted for future reference. We counted down the new years on the flight leaving at 11:45 PM, and got to LA at 7:30 PM ready to count down all over again. Time travel is awesome.
Here are the rest of the pictures I took from this 9 day adventure: http://gamerabaenre.com/?page_id=2350