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31 March 2012, Saturday
This morning, as we had been doing it every previous day, we took a tram to the Causeway Bay station. Today was our last day in Hong Kong – the day of wrap-up.
The first thing in our “to do list” was a hunt for the sailing junk – our “Scarlet Sails” – in order to take a photo of it against the background of skyscrapers. We had been waiting for this moment since our arrival, as on the very first day here we found out that it usually runs along the coast on Saturdays. After we had waited for a while, there they finally were (and not just one!), so I could make a lot of pictures. The view on the photos turned out to be truly symbolic, connecting the traditional and ultra-modern Hong Kong.
When we had just arrived in Hong Kong and looked at the map, it seemed to us that everything was very complicated: a peninsula, a number of islands… Later, after several tours around the city, we kind of got an overall picture of the local topography in our heads, but still were looking at people scurrying on the crowded streets with a bit of envy and wonder – how did they manage to find their ways? But yesterday and today, finally, we decided to delve into the tangled streets of Hong Kong (the island) and Kowloon ourselves.
To be honest, at least in the centre of Kowloon, they weren’t so tangled after all – there were lots of signs and maps everywhere, with an obligatory note saying “You are here”. Following the directions provided, we walked along Salisbury Road and turned onto Nathan Road. The latter is a place where brand stores with sky-high prices peacefully coexist with fake handbags and watches, the falsity of which is not being concealed though – we were literally attacked by several touts (mainly Indian) shouting: “Copy watches, handbags!”
After walking quite a bit, we came across a Shanghai restaurant. Tasting local specialties was exactly part of our “squaring away” – yesterday we tried the shark fin soup, so we still had abalone (edible see snail) and bird’s nest for today. Just to be on the safe side we decided to split the remaining two between lunch and dinner, and to take a different more familiar dish as well each time, just in case the Chinese delicacies turn out totally inedible.
Luckily, the menu of the Shanghai restaurant had an abalone dish (in fact, it is rather a Cantonese specialty). As opposed to the beef (our “safe” dish), which was served in a huge portion, the more expensive abalone dish literally consisted of four slices (each one in the size of a salami slice). The taste was somewhat similar to tender veal, but with a distinct marine flavour.
After lunch, everything we were doing made us think “Here is our last MTR ride”, “This is the last time we are taking the Hong Kong tram”, etc… Interestingly, even though I enjoyed Beijing a lot and saw a lot of unusual and interesting things there, I don’t really have the desire to visit it again. As for Hong Kong, I would so much want to come back and even to live here for some time.
Living here would be good, while living well would be even better. When we had been told that on weekends people were queuing for brand boutiques and jewellery stores, we considered that it was just said for effect. And then we saw this with our own eyes – despite the fact that there were gobs of jewellery stores here, many of them belonging to multi-branched chains (so multi-branched that there might be 5-10 shops of chains like Lukfook, Chow Tai Fook, Chow Sang Sang on one single street!). And you simply can’t take your eyes off the show-windows with jewellery made of pure gold, or with large pearls, selected jadeite, yellow diamonds, resplendent rubies, sapphires, emeralds, with prices reaching millions. And passing by, we saw that not only weren’t the shops empty, but there were quite a lot of customers at the counters.
On our way back to the hotel, in the overground passage, we observed a “genre scene”: we suddenly heard a clang of breaking glass and saw a red liquid spill. It turned out that one guy accidentally bumped into another and knocked a plastic bag with a bottle from his hands. Immediately, the wronged guy cried “Hey!”, grabbed the offender by the collar and hit his head full throttle against the window. Luckily, it looked like window glasses here were resistant to fights like these. We didn’t stay to see the further wrangles, but the hit guy didn’t try to fight back, looked quite guilty and was clearly preparing to fork out.
Another “loose end to tie up” was visiting a massage parlour. This is also one of local shticks; we had read the most positive reviews in the internet about massage in Hong Kong. We had been planning it for a couple of days, but somehow didn’t have time, so on the last day firmly decided to try it, especially that the nearest parlour was just around the corner from the hotel.
Full body massage took 50 minutes and cost 250 HKD. The massage was purely therapeutic, not relaxing, but quite harsh and sometimes painful (especially in some parts, like neck and lower back, which tend to ache). I was placed face down on a coach and massaged through a towel, by a fragile-looking lady.
Finally, the last item on our agenda was trying bird’s nest for dinner (known as “swallow’s nest”, although in fact only a few species of swifts produce edible nests – they build them not of twigs or clay, but of their own saliva). We didn’t know this fact, so were expecting something hard and even crunchy. However, we were served some white mucous gruel, with sweet almond juice (that was what we ordered, but there are also savoury versions of this dish, always liquid though).
This is the end of our Hong Kong journey, time to lock the suitcases and leave for the airport…