On Feb 15th (2nd day of Lunar Festival), Hong Kong showcased its annual Chinese New Year fireworks at Victoria Harbour. I watched it from the Avenue of Stars on the Kowloon side, so Hong Kong Island formed the background. Sadly it was freezing cold that day, and rainy to boot, which dampened (pun very much intended) the mood. We arrived at 6:30, an hour and a half early, yet the entire first row was already filled up. Many of these people had their DSLRs set up with tripods, and I imagine they had already been waiting at least half an hour already.
I nearly got stabbed by an umbrella at least five times.
We managed to wedge ourselves in a spot in the middle area behind 2-3 rows of other people. What I found most annoying were people who were determined to keep their umbrellas open. Not only does it block the view for EVERYONE, I had to keep a lookout to make sure I didn’t randomly get whacked in the head.
Once the show started, though, most people were nice enough to stow away their umbrellas (it wasn’t that rainy anyways). This only left the jerks who raised their tripods so high, their chunky SLRs kept making cameos in the corner of our own shots.
Other than these minor annoyances, the show was enjoyable.
I think that you may actually prefer seeing some fireworks photos, instead of reading a thousand-word paragraph of me describing them for you. Just a warning that the following is going to be very graphics- and exclamation mark-intensive.
Being in Hong Kong at this time of the year is a blessing, as I got to experience the Chinese New Year (CNY) festivities first-hand. A few weeks ago was the Lunar New Year Fair at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. It’s like the Night Market in Toronto, but 50 times bigger, and they sell all sorts of (useless) things. This year, of course, there was a lot of tiger merchandise. It’s also known as the ”Night Market” or “Flower Market” because CNY usually falls around Valentine’s Day, just in time for you to spend even more money on loved ones.
I seem to always have this minimum one-week lag on blogging what I’ve been doing. So here is a recount of last weekend. Some of these photos (evidently the better quality ones) are credit to Danny. Last Friday we went to Tsim Sha Tsui to have some Good Satay based on an OpenRice (which is like BlogTO Restaurants for HK) recommendation.
GOOD, not great.
They had about 5-6 dishes that were very very popular. We decided to split 3 of them: the Hainanese Chicken, assorted satay meat skewers, and the fried turnip cake.
Hainanese chicken (top), assorted meat skewers with satay sauce (bottom)
The chicken and skewers were both pretty good. The chicken was tender, and the satay sauce was flavourful. However, I was rather disappointed in the serving sizes – I thought one dish could eat like a meal for one person, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough.
APM Mall, all prettied up for New Years. This mall is open until 2am.
One. It’s so fast-paced that you don’t even have time to think. People are always rushing everywhere, and it makes you want to rush too. I feel like I have a million things to do at any given time, and I need to beat everyone to it. Nobody dawdles around, so when I do, I become anxious and speed things up again.
Visitors' viewing platform in Lantau
Two. Hong Kong does not occupy a particularly large plot of land, but there is just so much to do and see. Get off at any MTR station and you will find shops, restaurants, scenery, or some sort of activity. Seriously I have no idea how anyone can save up for their retirement here. There are too many consumer temptations.
I’m trying to recount the highlights of the past week, so excuse my grouping-everything-into-one-post laziness here. Last Saturday we were blessed with some very nice weather (22 and sunny!) so a group of us exchange students decided to check out Monkey Hill, Kam Shan Country Park, in northern Kowloon where macaques run around and attack people who feed them.
I thought it would be a nice stroll along a paved path, just with monkeys everywhere. Apparently I did not receive the memo about a 4-hour hike up and down a mountain. With a lot of stairs. And narrow pathways which were essentially cliffsides. I wore jeans and a thin sweater. Subsequently, I was sweating my ass off by mid-afternoon. Though I must say the scenic vistas made up for it.
A monkey couple grooming (monkey photos courtesy of Diane's Facebook :D)
Our first monkey encounter was when we just got off the bus. The monkeys are not scared of humans at all, so it’s quite easy to get close to them. Near the beginning of the hiking trail, our path was blocked by two monkeys having a moment, one picking bugs off the other. I wanted to observe for a bit, so I watched them. They stared back and suddenly one hissed at me. I prepared to make a run for it, and it actually grabbed my pant leg. Thankfully it let go and I jogged ahead towards our group. This didn’t really help instill confidence that I wouldn’t die a monkey-related death, but I was more preoccupied with making sure I didn’t fall off the path edge (fear of heights anyone?).