Monday, 18 October 2010

Over the Top

Last week I took some friends from Beijing to an impromptu visit to Victoria Peak.
I tried to take them to Yung Kee for some roast goose, but the wait was over 45 minutes long and we were hungry so we wandered further down to Wellington Street for some authentic Hong Kong food -- wonton noodles at Mak's Noodles.
The restaurant hasn't changed at all, the servers still no-nonsense.
As it was already past 7:30pm, they were rushing us to take our orders as they close at 8pm. So early on a Friday night! Perhaps the old men need their beauty sleep.
We ordered noodles topped with shrimp roe, and a bowl of their wonton noodles which were highly praised. I had a bowl of just wontons and some beef tendon, and a plate of poached kale with oyster sauce.
While we were eating and catching up I asked them if they were interested in heading to the Peak.
At first they didn't think they had their camera with them, but then realized with fully charged and ready to go.
We walked to the tram station in about 15 minutes and after a short wait got on the tram. Everyone was excited as it climbed up at such a steep angle. People were trying to record the experience on their cameras with video but it was pretty useless in the dark.
The ride was soon over and we climbed out and straight into the mall area of the Peak Tower which was a strange retail experience. Every other shop was selling the same thing -- cheapy silk outfits, T-shirts with "Hong Kong" on them, "jade" that had horrific shades of green, and other trinkets that weren't really representative of the city.

The escalator ride up seemed endless, and thinking we could get to the observation deck, we were denied! Apparently our tickets were only the basic return fare for the tram and not anything else extra -- why couldn't anyone point that out to us earlier!

Towering strawberry shortcakes
Nevertheless we went back down a few flights and saw Bubba Gump Shrimp Co restaurant and my friend pined for a mushroom burger. We got a table with a view and he practically inhaled the burger while his wife ordered the strawberry shortcake.

However it was no shortcake. It was towering.

Three smallish shortcakes were sliced in half and had giant scoops of vanilla ice cream like a massive sandwich topped with fake whipped cream.

It was a daunting challenge for one person to eat. I ordered the key lime pie, which was quite dense and hard to finish too.

But it wasn't about the desserts, it was about catching up and telling them about the benefits of being in Hong Kong, one of which is having access to banned books and a relatively free media.

Afterwards we tried to find out way out and almost found ourselves trapped inside the Peak Tower. What a horror! The signage to get out was nowhere to be found; probably a ruse to keep tourists spending their money in there.

Eventually we managed to escape from the place and get a decent view of the city down below.

In the end they were pleased to go up to the Peak -- to see Hong Kong and have a taste of freedom in a technically Chinese city.

We wandered up the escalator

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