Friday, 31 December 2010

New Years in HK

This year New Years was relatively subdued according to a good friend I hung out with tonight. Maybe people were tired of being gouged on December 31 or weren't in the mood to party.

I got off work early and went to the gym and then we headed out for dinner by the Mid-Levels escalator.

As I went up there to meet up with her, the barricades were already up to direct people to Lan Kwai Fong, a place I wanted to avoid completely mainly because of the giant crowds there that could easily cause claustrophobia.

Up on Staunton Street there was already a sizeable crowd there having drinks outside the bars and restaurants, and others gawking at those having drinks.

We wandered around Elgin Street and found set menus that weren't too expensive. We settled on Antipasto, a small Italian eatery that wasn't too busy. The food overall was not bad -- I had cream of mushroom soup, followed by parma ham with rocket leaves and slices of parmesan, and then a palate cleanser of lemon and lime sherbet before the main of rack of lamb with roasted vegetables like eggplant, squash, string beans and potatoes. The dessert wasn't very good, but not too sweet -- a brownie with vanilla ice cream. We also got a glass of sangria each, all for HK$450 ($58) each. The owner even gave us two complimentary shots of schnapps. Sangria and schnapps aren't very Italian, but anyway...

Before 11pm we wandered down to IFC mall and groups of young people were converging there as they didn't have the money to splurge on high-priced restaurants but they wanted to see the fireworks too in Victoria Harbour.

We checked out Isola and the bar upstairs on the rooftop was packed with people lining up to get drinks and more people piling in. The rooftop area of the mall was getting busy and security guards tried to control traffic there. We managed to escape to the Four Seasons and hung out at the lobby for a bit before going back up the escalator again by midnight.

By now the crowd to Lan Kwai Fong was a massive sea of black heads funneling through the maze of barricades to get to the area. We were so glad we were not in the line.

When it turned midnight we were just above Hollywood Road and everyone along the streets, restaurants and bars erupted into cheers. All of a sudden it was a really festive mood. There was even more celebration at Staunton Street a few second later, with a computer-generated countdown that encouraged people to make more noise. At its version of the stroke of midnight, balloons fell from above and Auld Lang Syne was played.

After Caine Road things were very quiet and we had a glass of Champagne at my friend's place before I walked home, and again things were relatively tranquil as I walked down Aberdeen Street and avoided the Mid-Levels escalator and those partying along it.

In the end it was a relatively quiet beginning to 2011, with hopes that it'll be better than 2010.

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