We got in a little after 8:30 p.m. and were in bed by 10:00 p.m. I assumed I would sleep until 7:00 a.m., giving me a good 9 hours to get over the jetlag and have me well-rested enough for our first full day in Hong Kong. Everything was going according to plan – until about 4:30 a.m. when my wife started tossing and turning, then turned on the light so she could read, then turned on the t.v. so she could have something to listen to while she read. I buried my head between two pillows in a desperate attempt to stick to the plan but, when 6:00 a.m. finally rolled around, I gave up, turned on my laptop, and got to work on my blog. I was halfway through figuring out how to post pictures when my wife turned off the t.v. and asked me to keep it down as she was going to try to get a couple of hours of sleep before breakfast.
Posted my latest blog entry, worked out, showered and dressed, then headed downstairs for the complimentary breakfast buffet that was included as part of our package. To be honest, the term “continental breakfast” has always evoked bad memories of the cold omelets, blackened toast, and individually packaged peanut butters I’d have to endure whenever my family stayed at a Holiday Inn. And so, I wasn’t expecting much this morning – and was totally blown away by a buffet that would put some of Las Vegas’s best to shame. Pictured above (Photo #1) was my breakfast, comprised of: Eggs Benny, bacon, turkey sausage, ham, perfectly cooked sablefish, some of the best dim sum I’ve ever had, and two pieces of tomato strictly for decorative purposes. And, of course, what breakfast would be complete without dessert: blueberry cheesecake, an almond cruller, and a steamed egg-yolk bun.
We worked off breakfast with a walk through Hong Kong Park and an afternoon of shopping at Pacific Place Mall where I purchased two pairs of sunglasses, vowing not to lose these like I lost the last pair I vowed not to lose that I got to replace the last pair I lost. We checked out a local museum/gallery and it was only after we had climbed the stairs, passed the smiling security guard, and entered the empty display room that we realized we had wandered into an exhibition showcasing the history of Chinese stamps and seals. I glanced back at the doorway, foolishly believing we might be able to beat a hasty retreat, only to discover our escape blocked by the hopeful-looking curator whose smile, I believed, belied a soul borne of desperate loneliness. Or he may have just been hanging around to make sure we didn’t swipe anything. In the end, it was equal parts guilt and pity that kept us there for the next half hour, leisurely perusing the hundred or so stamps and seals, and their accompanying stories. By the time 12:30 rolled around, I still wasn’t hungry but reasoned that skipping lunch would be tantamount to a lost opportunity so we checked out Ye Shanghai, located in the mall. We started with sharkfin soup in brown sauce, then followed with some steamed mini pork bellies, steamed pork dumplings we enjoyed with the house homemade X.O. sauce, and finished with a couple of steamed red date paste buns. A fantastic meal.
On the way back to the hotel, we passed a little dessert boutique and picked up some French macarons (chocolate and green tea, and caramel). As I later sat in my hotel room, eating the macarons, a great sadness came over me. I’d liken it to going to Jersey as a kid to visit your aunt Fanny, having such a good time that, in the back of your mind you’re already dreading the prospect of having to leave her for another year – except that instead of Jersey you’re in Hong Kong and instead of aunt Fanny it’s French macarons you’ll be bidding a tearful goodbye.
The concierge informed us that, despite the fact it was going to be an incredibly busy evening, Petrus, the hotel’s premier restaurant, was able to squeeze us in. In the end, they were able to accommodate us only because we happened to be guests of the Shangri-la. Lucky us. We arrived for our 6:30 p.m. sitting to a completely empty restaurant. As I looked over the menu, I couldn’t help but notice the absence of the hairy crab promised on the poster in the lobby: “Hairy crab festival at Petrus until November 30th”. When I inquired, the waiter informed me the festival was over. And when I pressed him, referring to the poster, he first blamed a change in the kitchen staff, then pretended not to understand what I was saying. So, I settled for a very good lobster bisque with too few uni-stuffed ravioli, a very good white truffle risotto, and an excellent turbot that I only got to taste because my wife didn’t like her duck dish and I offered to switch with her. The duck was good. But not as good as my turbot.
We’re back in the room now and it’s almost 9:00 p.m. I plan to read for an hour and be asleep by 10:30 p.m. With an all-day tour to Lantau Island booked for tomorrow, I’m hoping to catch up on some lost sleep.
Well, that’s the plan anyway.