Bringing up memories of Hong Kong by walking around Central
This evening I met up with a friend who was born and raised in Hong Kong, but has since lived abroad in the United States and is now based in Shanghai.
She is here for a short visit, and was very happy to have me take her around Central, reminding her of her old haunts.
When we met up at IFC mall, she was thrilled to have met up with four friends in one afternoon -- only made possible because of the convenience of Hong Kong.
I quickly showed her around one floor of the mall and she was very impressed by all the brand names and especially the Apple store, where there was a relatively small line of people keen on checking out the new Apple watch.
Then we headed out towards the Mid-Levels escalator, but not before seeing the Hang Seng Bank headquarters, where her father used to work.
As we walked through what used to be the Central wet market, she was immediately reminded of the time when she was a child and went with her housekeeper to the market where they bought all kinds of fresh ingredients.
My friend remembers horrified watching chickens being killed, and in particular a frog chopped in half, one half jumping forward, the other half jumping towards her. "I promised myself never to go back there again!" she said.
On the escalator she marvelled at the shops and restaurants along Shelley Street and was thrilled to see old establishments, like Mak's Noodles still around, and the Central Police Station that will be turned into a public space.
We walked along Staunton Street where she saw the bars and restaurants in action -- Tex-Mex, Nepalese, Italian, British... boutiques selling dresses and jewellery... and she wondered if people lived upstairs and I confirmed that was the case.
Just in time we made it to PMQ, Hong Kong's latest landmark that's about a year old. She wondered why the place wasn't as lively as Soho, but I explained PMQ needed more promotion, but also because it's more about giving a platform to young artists and entrepreneurs. The place is busier on the weekends, but more needs to be done to give these businesses a bigger boost in terms of exposure.
We had a lovely meal at Isono, the casual Spanish restaurant on the sixth floor, including a large salad, seafood paella, and a small plate of cured Iberico ham on the house.
Over dinner she told me about meeting a friend of hers she hasn't seen in 19 years, her first boss, and her next door neighbour when they were growing up, so it's been a very nostalgic trip for my friend.
She has done some errands in Hong Kong, like reactivating her bank card, but also renewing her return home permit -- as she still has one that's a beige passport-sized book and her black and white picture is from when she was in her early 20s!
I joked it was an antique, and she said even the staff at the bank thought her bank card from five years ago was a piece of history...
Ah young people!
After dinner we walked back to Central MTR. At Queen's Road Central she pointed to LHT Tower which houses Gap and Lupa, and asked if it was still Queen's Theatre. It wasn't I said, but celebrity chef Mario Batali has a restaurant here...
And next door at Melbourne Plaza was where her mother used to work for her uncle who had a business there.