It's 7.30pm on Friday and this update comes to you from the Tasca bar in the Novotel. My initial plan was to head back up to the roof garden in our hotel and repeat last night but a thunderstorm hit and all of a sudden the roof didn't seem like the best place to be! Can't be a bad thing to try somewhere new though, and the wine is still two for one during happy hour, WIN!! It's not a bad bar, a bit typical hotel, complete with piano player/singer. I'm currently being regaled with a version of Take Me Home, County Road (yes, county not country (!)) I shouldn't be mean should I, she is Chinese after all!
Well we've had another fantastic day, it was a bit of a late start as we had a late finish last night. Tom met me at the bar around 10.30/11pm and we headed over to Temple Street night market, the home of Temple Street Spicy Crab restaurant, for a late dinner. I'm sure I've bored you with the details of this place before - outdoor, plastic seats and tables, in fact plastic everything, and loo roll in place of napkins etc. but it does really great seafood. We had our absolutely goto favourite: jumbo squillas in spicy salt. We've looked all over for a sensible alternative to the word squilla but apparently that's what they are, or more accurately: squilla mantis. They're basically a cross between a prawn and a lobster and are sized somewhere in between the two. Absolutely gorgeous! We teamed this up with some other lovely seafood nibbles and a couple of Tsingdao beers and the whole thing was marvellous.
So because it was getting on for 1pm by the time we'd walked back to the hotel we slept until 9 this morning... A positive lie in!
Today we had planned visits to places we've never been before so we were looking forward to something new. We hopped on the MTR and took the 30 minute journey to Diamond Hill where we caught the bus for another 45 minute journey over to Clear Water Bay which, TOTALLY lives up to it's name. We've been to several beaches in Hong Kong before and none of them have really impressed; including the aptly named Power Station Beach (can you guess what that overlooked?!) and Stanley Beach which had bugs in the sand (yuck!). But this beach was really lovely. Our plan was to have a little paddle, which we achieved very quickly if for no other reason than to stop burning our feet in the sand (it was 36 degrees today!) and then move on to various temples in the area before walking over to a nearby fishing village for a late lunch. The aforementioned heat somewhat altered those plans! We couldn't sensibly walk anywhere in that. It's not so bad when you're relatively close to civilisation and know you can stop for a rest from the sun at any point but this is in the middle of nowhere. So instead, I managed to keep Tom on the he beach for nearly and entire TWO hours! This is no easy task: Tom does NOT like to sit still on holiday! And actually, this wasn't much different, while I laid on the beach (in the shade under a tree!) reading my book, he walked off round the bay taking photos occasionally popping back to say hi, cool down and rehydrate. After a couple of hours of relaxation in the relative cool of the shade, having ruled out the trek to the Temple as ridiculous, we thought we might be able to handle the walk over to Po Toi O, the fishing village, for lunch. It only took the three minute walk back to the bus stops to change our minds! It's incredible how daunting the concept of a thirty minute country (and very hilly) walk can feel when it's so hot and humid! Instead we were surprised to see a taxi rank, although we were unsurprised when after 20 mins there was still no sign of a taxi! After toying with the idea of walking and ruling it out again and again, reluctantly, we went to wait for the bus to take us back to Diamond Hill. Feeling all hard done to, we used the phone loaned to us by the hotel to google Po Toi O to see what we were missing (here's what you could have won...!) and, thanks to the wonder of Wikipedia we saw that the number 16 minibus goes there. The number 16, I'm sure I've seen one of those go past here! The minibuses in Hong Kong are a relatively recent introduction, they run mainly in the New Territories and are basically like a 16 seater taxi driving a fixed route. They'll stop anywhere along the route but you have to shout at them to let them know where. So we waited hopefully for the sight of the minibus - there are no timetables. After another hour (by which I mean about ten minutes in the sun!) the minibus came past and we hopped on.
We were so glad we persevered! Po Toi O was definitely worth it. It's not a place that can be described as lovely (despite the amazing surrounding countryside and greenness) as, typical of most fishing villages, it's very basic and run down, like stepping back in time. We've been to another similar fishing village, Tai O，but that's very touristy. This was completely different. Apart from the residents we felt like the only people there. It was a tiny place, basically a single concrete track (not a road, and barely even a footpath) between all the buildings, which are open to the point that you almost feel like you're intruding on someone's home, for maybe a quarter of a mile were it ends at a rocky beach. There are a couple of piers which give fantastic views of the bay, the surrounding hillside, and the makeshift rafts from which the locals fish. Some of the rafts are complete with entire portaloos!. The air is filled with the smell of fish laid out to dry in the sun, something we've become very accustomed to now, but found revolting on our first trip! Needless to say, this tiny village is known as somewhere to go for a great seafood meal, so we headed to one of the two eateries for lunch, which Tom very skilfully chose for us from the tanks surrounding the restaurant despite the expected language barriers. We enjoyed a large plate of steamed prawns with a chilli/soy dipping sauce, a large plate of steamed clams in black bean and pepper sauce, and a whole crab steamed in ginger and spring onion, all from tank to net to table in under twenty minutes and utterly delicious. We devoured the whole meal, in the open air, overlooking the bay just in time to take the minibus, the bus and the MTR back to hotel and get Tom off to his 7pm teaching session.
So now it's 9pm and I've almost finished my second glass of wine, which was brought without prompt at 8pm before I'd even finished my first - they'll never cheat you on a happy hour deal here! I'm due to meet Tom for drinks in Tsim Sha Tsui at 10.30 so I still have plenty of time to drink up, go back to the hotel (which has the free wifi to let me post this) before heading over.
We're planning cocktails at Eye Bar, which apparently has great views over the harbour, and then we'll see where the night takes us (I'm hoping food!).
Well I'm back at the hotel now to post this before I go meet Tom (in the second thunderstorm of the evening - impeccable timing). I just wanted to make a quick note on the photo attached to the blog post. The quality is rubbish because it's a photo of the display on the back of camera! I haven't taken any photos on my phone today, there's no way to transfer photos off my camera onto my phone/iPad and I can't post a blog post without a photo, so a photo of a photo will have to do!