24 July 2014 (Thu) Day 1: Arrival
It was still dark when we got up for our flight from Sydney. I normally wouldn’t get ready so early, but Richard is one of those who prefer to get to the airport well ahead of time. A bit of friendly grumbling from me and some coffee from Macca’s at the airport later, we were on board a very empty and pleasant Qantas A380 for our trip to Hong Kong.
9 hours later, we met with Mum at the airport. Richard, Mum. Mum, Richard. Whew, that wasn’t too bad. Dad already prepared two Octopus cards (八達通) for us, so after I grabbed a phone card from the airport shops, we took a direct bus to our hotel.
We’re staying at Courtyard by Marriott Hong Kong Sha Tin (沙田萬怡酒店) that Mum booked for us. This conversation happened as Mum was doing the online booking:
Mum: Twin beds or king size?
Me: King size, of course.
Awkward. tongue But thank you, Mum.
Dad and Jacky met us at the hotel lobby. Family, Richard. Richard, family. After we dumped our luggage in our gorgeous 17th floor hotel room (thank you so much again, Mum!) that we took a little while to admire, we headed down to the hotel restaurant, MoMo Cafe, for a dinner buffet — a thing the family always do for me each time I travel back.
There wasn’t a lot of food choices, but I didn’t have as big an appetite as usual for some reason, which led the brother to joke that I was pretending to eat very little. Oi, I’m all real me in front of my beau. tongue
The people dearest to me have finally met one another. It’s a bit strange for me to switch between languages, but I thank both parties for a pleasant night.
25 July 2014 (Fri) Day 2: The Photoshoot
Boy did we sleep last night! We couldn’t do much for today because it would be a full day of family functions from the afternoon on. After I managed to get Richard out of bed, we went down to the shops to grab a few things, had a coffee at the dangerously conveniently located
Macca’s McDonald’s directly below our hotel, then went for a walk down Shing Mun River (城門河) nearby.
I’ve been near this river so many times in the past, but have never looked and paid attention to it until now. I remember it being much stinkier and dirtier than it is now, but I wondered if it’s just my memory playing tricks.
Photos really don’t translate the heat. July in Hong Kong is just unpleasantly humid.
It was family photoshoot time in the afternoon. We headed to a studio in San Po Kong (新蒲崗) that looked like a dodgy factory from the outside. There, Richard met the rest of my mother’s side of the family. All at once. My cousin from Canada brought her boyfriend along as well, which hopefully made things a little more bearable for him. Dinner was a several-course seafood family event at Super Star Seafood Restaurant (鴻星海鮮酒家) in Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀).
26 July 2014 (Sat) Day 3: Shopping for Him
The family didn’t want us to visit during the day so the morning and afternoon were ours. We took the MTR to these two fishing tackle shops that Richard found online. The first shop we tried apparently moved to some mysterious place that no-one could locate, but we managed to find the second one on
Hitler Hillier Street (禧利街). We also shopped for camera lenses for him, then walked down to the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal (港澳碼頭) to take a few more shots, before we got the heads-up that we’re allowed to visit the family home.
Photos really, really don’t translate the heat.
The family has been out of a domestic helper for a while, so we had some idea what they were doing during the day. Despite our protest, but as expected, the parents were frantically tidying up the place so it’s more presentable to Richard. I really didn’t think he would have minded at all. They entertained him by showing them my mildly embarrassing childhood photos. We ordered pizza delivery that night and planned for the next big day out.
27 July 2014 (Sun) Day 4: Tung Ping Chau
Dad wanted to all do something together, and suggested doing a day trip to Tung Ping Chau (東坪洲). Despite growing up in Hong Kong, none of us has ever been to that little island off in the northeast corner; I never even knew it existed. In our defence, that island is probably closer to Mainland China than the central parts of Hong Kong itself.
We woke up quite early for this and took the train to University Station (大學站) for our ferry, which apparently only comes once in the morning and once in the afternoon. We were told that once we got to the island, we’d be out there for a while.
The weather continued to be hot and sunny. We slathered sunscreen on ourselves while on the thankfully air-conditioned ferry and off to the island we go!
Photos really, really, really don’t translate the heat.
There were quite a few other tourists on the island, but most stopped at the Watchman’s Tower Rock (更樓石). We continued further up the tracks. I didn’t expect to be doing any extensive walking during my Hong Kong visit so I didn’t pack proper shoes. By the end, my feet were a bit swollen and blistered; but this walk would probably have felt even harder if I hadn’t done the other bushwalks in Sydney previously.
I’m glad Richard convinced me to bring my swimmers. The waters around Tung Ping Chau wasn’t icy cool or crystal clear, but that dip we took really helped wash off some of the heat and sweat. We caught the ferry back afterwards.
After a much needed shower back at the hotel, we headed to New Tak Kee Seafood Restaurant (新德記漁村海鮮酒家) in Sai Kung (西貢) for another full family seafood dinner (my family loves their Hong Kong style seafood). Dessert was a trip to the first and original branch of the famous Honeymoon Dessert (滿記甜品) nearby.
28 July 2014 (Mon) Day 5: Sightseeing and Night Fishing
It’s Monday and everyone else was back at work, so it was a full day of just the two of us. We decided to do more sightseeing around town. We took the Star Ferry (天星小輪), went up to the 43rd floor Bank of China Tower (中銀大廈), tried some street foods, walked around, took a taxi up to the Peak (山頂) because of the epic queue at the Peak Tram (山頂纜車) station, and took pictures.
Photos really, really, really, really don’t translate the heat.
We walked by a “siu mei” (Hong Kong style roast meats) restaurant, Sun Yuen Hing Kee (新園興記燒臘飯店), and thought we should tick this off our list, too. We filled ourselves up with delicious crispy skin roast pork, barbecue pork and roast duck (roast goose was out!). Only when we were about to leave did we realise the place has apparently been in the Michelin Guide’s “Bib Gourmand” (cheap quality eats) list for years.
Richard wanted to see if he could catch anything from Shing Mun River tonight and I decided to tag along. The spot he had his eyes on was free. He taught me how to cast.
It was quite late when we went there, but our night was cut even shorter due to, cough, unforeseen circumstances. Let’s just say I probably shouldn’t have had that free soup they gave us at the siu mei place.
29 July 2014 (Tue) Day 6: Cheung Chau
Another weekday. We went out to the pier originally undecided whether to go to Lamma Island (南丫島) or Cheung Chau (長洲), but given our schedule, Cheung Chau was probably the better idea. We got there in the afternoon, walked around for a bit and headed for a swim. Most people stayed within the fenced and lifeguarded water, but we swam outside, away from the crowd. Unlike Tung Ping Chau, the water there at Cheung Chau was murky and gross, but it sure beat staying in the heat.
Photos really, really, really, really, really don’t translate the heat.
As a semi-farewell dinner, the maternal grandparents, paternal aunt and my family took us to Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) for dinner. Dumplings is one of my favourite foods so I really ordered and ate up. We discovered from the printed paper placemat that they had branches in Sydney. Richard said he knew where we should go for our 6-month anniversary dinner.
30 July 2014 (Wed) Day 7: Last Day
It’s our last day. We had breakfast, Sausage McMuffin with Egg (豬柳蛋漢堡) served all day at promotional price HK$9 (~A$1.25), at the McDonald’s downstairs for the last time. We didn’t want to be stinky and sweaty for our longish flight back to Sydney and work immediately after, so after we checked out of the hotel, we just hang out in the lobby and used the free wifi until it was time to head to the airport. The whole family left work early to see us off.
We had a lot more planned for this trip. We wanted to visit Lamma Island. We wanted to visit various other touristy spots. We wanted to spend a bit more time fishing. We wanted to go to Macau for one day. I guess this will all have to be done in our next trip.
I never thought travelling back to Hong Kong could possibly be a pleasant experience. It feels really silly of me to spend so much time stressing over this trip now.
Thank you, family. Thank you, Richard.