At Home in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Travel Blog

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Sunday morning was exactly as Sunday mornings should be: coffee (David makes GOOD coffee with his espresso machine), loafing and laziness, fruit and cereal on the couch, and above all else -- FOOTBALL!  I was in HEAVEN.  Sometime around 1pm we pried ourselves off the couch and started our day: David off to a haircut and me wandering around his hood.

I walked up and down the streets in Soho (steeply hilly like San Francisco) ogling all the fashionable ex-pats eating brunch in sidewalk cafes, salivating over the “home-ness” of it all.  Wandered along a street filled with kitch and random wares a local might want, like Christmas ornaments and icicle lights, and bought myself a jade ring.  Why buy myself a jade ring for three times the price in HK than oh, say, sometime over the past month while I was in China?  Because I couldn’t go near a tourist-trap souvenir stand without wanting to strangle someone.
  HK is GLORIOUSLY free of touts and people screaming at you for your money.

I visited Mo Man Temple, an old temple proclaimed by the guidebook to be “very smoky.”  I didn’t give that a second thought; I mean, what the hell is a very smoky temple?  Guidebook was right: Mo Man is VERY smoky.  So smoky they’ve since installed big ventilating fans in the walls in the back to try to circulate the air.  It’s a small temple, and doesn’t look like much of anything on the outside.  If I had stumbled upon it randomly (as opposed to seeking it out), I would have poked my head in and gone “oh, that’s neat” and not given it the admiration it’s due.  There are incense coils EVERYWHERE.  Big cone incense coils hanging from the ceiling side by side by side, and smaller coils interspersed here and there for good measure.
Man Mo Temple
  Then of course there are the standard incense sticks people bring and light and wave around as they worship.  It’s small and low and red and has a few interesting-looking golden idols, and is so respectfully quiet and genuine and un-touristy that you can’t help but feel mellow and spiritual when you’re there.  As with all temples, it’s a no photo zone, so aside from the façade I have nothing to share.

From the temple I made my way back and met David for one of my favorite activities: grocery shopping.  Groceries required by an even BIGGER favorite: entertaining!  David invited his friends over for a wine and cheese party, and not only do I get to hang out and feast on wine and cheese (did you get that? WINE AND CHEESE!!), but I get to help shop and prepare and cook for eight -- does it get any better??  He wanted to do Italian, so we went to an Italian specialty store and sampled half a dozen different cheeses before making our selection.
Man Mo Temple
  I’m standing there at the cheese counter in this quiet little shop tasting cheese and going “that one has a nice bite to it” and “oooh, you can taste the merlot this was soaked in” and “that’s not a very smooth sheep’s cheese, is it?” like a regular person on a regular Sunday sampling regular cheese because that’s what regular people do and nothing is out of the ordinary.  Except EVERYTHING is out of the ordinary and I‘m SHRIEKING with joy on the inside: “Holy shit! CHEESE! Look at me, I look like a real person! More, more! GIVE ME MORE CHEESE!”

Once we got the groceries home it was after 4 o’clock and we realized we were both a bit hungry, having not eaten since cereal in the morning.  I mentioned seeing a Nepalese place on his street (literally EVERY cuisine you could want in Soho, as you might imagine is in high demand in an ex-pat neighborhood: British, French, Spanish, Australian, Mexican, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Indian, bars, pubs -- you name it), and he hadn’t tried it yet so we ate there.
  We shared lentils, rice, and a fantastic spicy cauliflower and potato dish.  It was DELICOUS.  Sooo good.  (Turns out the secret to good food in Hong Kong is to leave the Chinese neighborhoods and head for the ex-pats. All of a sudden your taste buds are out of hideous China and in wonderland.)  We met Biru, the owner, who bought us a round of beer and sat there amiably chatting to David about his Nepalese travels (having not been to Nepal myself I was pretty much lost).  It was a great lunch.

The wine and cheese party was a hit: a delicious selection of cheeses (an indulgence for everyone, me above all), fresh sliced caprese salad, grapes and pears and olives, a giant vat of penne with my fresh chunky tomato and onion sauce, and even ice cream and berries for dessert.
  Indulgence indeed!  It was DIVINE.  Over yummy  food and glasses of red I fell further in love with David’s friends.  I had visions of moving out here and being adopted by them and actively participating in the rotating dinner parties and brunches and such.  It was SO much fun, and I was up well past my bedtime.

Needless to say, the wine and cheese party was the highlight of my weekend.  No, scratch that.  Living with David and frolicking in Soho was the highlight.  All of it.  I felt right at home, was thrilled to meet so many amazing people, and absolutely loved the neighborhood and feeling like I was going about a regular weekend, rather than touring.  It was so great to be “regular” and have some down time.
  I loved it.  It was exactly the travel medicine I needed.
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Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Man Mo Temple
Small random shrine I stumbled upo…
Small random shrine I stumbled up…
Small random shrine I stumbled upo…
Small random shrine I stumbled up…
Small random shrine I stumbled upo…
Small random shrine I stumbled up…