Monday, May 31, 2010

Lei Yue Mun Seafood

Jen here. After our hike, we hopped in the car and drove to Lei Yue Mun, a fishing village in HK well-known for its fresh seafood. I've been told by multiple people to go there, but this is our first time. Roy's boss hadn't been here since she was a young child and back then it really was just a fishing village. Now it's surrounded by normal HK city-life. Even as we entered the area, we got to choose between paying to park in a normal parking lot or paying to park in a huge parking garage. The actual market that we walked into is to the left of what is pictured right here. This just seems to be a remnant of the old run-down fishing village, so I thought it would make a neat photo. I had a hard time getting photos; I only brought my ~85mm lens...which is not ideal for photos in small spaces or capturing a large environment. Sorry!

As you enter the market place, there are several restaurants and tanks of live, fresh seafood dying to be eaten (or rather, will be dead soon so you can eat them...). Some of the seafood stands have their own restaurants (or vice versa), and so did ours. We sat down at our table and then promptly went back into the market place to select what we wanted to eat that night. A man from the restaurant stood ready with bags and recommendations and we pointed and picked. Roy's boss led the charge, as Roy and I had little idea of cost and taste--we're not that experienced with seafood (although Roy is more experienced than I am). She pointed and picked and asked for our opinions and then we headed back into the restaurant and our guy took the bags of seafood into the kitchen.

Our meal began with 1000 year eggs. Yum. :) Yes, that's sarcasm; they do not look appetizing. They are eggs that have been "preserved" or "pickled" in some black stuff, which makes them black in color and slightly translucent (imagine black jello for the egg white). The eggs are quartered and you eat one quarter with a piece of pickled ginger (which is pink). I was a little nervous to try it--I think I may have tried it before but I don't remember it's taste. Roy tried one first and said it really wasn't bad, so I followed. It wasn't bad. It didn't have much flavor...and the pickled ginger really helped mask any of the undesirable flavor. One of G's daughter's loved them and kept eating them. :)

Next came freshly boiled shrimp, with everything still on--big bulgy black eyes, shell, tail and all. Hmm...this will be interesting, I thought. G had one of her daughters demonstrate how to peel the shrimp for eating. (And I am actually SO excited that I learned how to do this!!) First, you break the head off; I used my fingernail to help separate the head from the body. If you really want a treat, you can suck the brain/liquid out of the head. I passed on that part. Second, peel off the shell. Third, pinch the tail in order to remove it. (Step two and three are interchangeable) Then enjoy! The shrimp were pretty good.

Out came a plate stacked high with pieces of what G called the "Peeing Shrimp"(pictured at right before death). We've head them called Squill...who knows what the real name is. They were huge and had a tough shell that you had to cut and dig the meat out of. The meat was DELICIOUS. My favorite dish of the night. It was sweet and not fishy; it tasted like crab, but more sweet. Mmm...I could eat some right now. :) I could have eaten those for my whole meal. Yum.

I am beginning to forget the order so I'll just write as I remember. We had a whole fish; I have no idea the kind. It was very tender and came right off the bones. It was pretty good. My portion had a little fish skin on it...and I'm still not enjoying fish skin. Apparently it is custom to serve the honored guest the fish head--I am so glad G does not run by this custom. She knew none of these Americans would want the fish head. :) Thank you.

Conch. I had to get a photo of these guys--sorry it is poorly focused. There were enough conch so that each of us could have two. They were brought out in a ceramic pot filled with broth. I fished out one of them and waited for instructions. To get the conch out of the shell, stab the meal with a toothpick and pull it out. Then break off (or cut off) the end part of it, which contains the intestines or something... Then enjoy! Praise God for changing my tolerance for new food and giving me a clear mind to try new things. I ate my first one and enjoyed it. Roy wasn't sure whether he wanted a second one, but I knew I definitely wanted a second one. Mm... It was a little chewy, but not bad. I liked it. :)

This post is way too long. I will continue on another post. Enjoy! :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hike with Monkeys

Jen here. We had a fun adventure a few weekends ago. Roy's boss invited us, along with another friend, to go hiking at Kowloon Reservoir with her family. Though we enjoy hiking, we haven't made many attempts to check out the hiking options in Hong Kong (and there are many places). Delighted in an invitation to hike, we accepted and eagerly prepared. We met them at 2:30pm on a Sunday, so we attended the morning service at church--we usually attend the 5pm service--and then made our way to Central.

Grace and family picked us up and we were off. We don't ride in cars very often since we don't have one and because public transportation goes practically everywhere. There's something fun and relaxing about riding in a car with people you know all heading to the same destination. It's cozy. It's familiar. :)

When we pulled into the parking lot at the beginning of the trail, we saw a monkey! Wah! (The HK version of "wow") This monkey was only the first of many we saw during our hike. This photo was actually taken at the end of our hike; this time many more monkeys came to be fed by the people.

Grace was nervous the monkeys would be aggressive, especially if we had food. A little way into our hike, Roy asked for one of the oranges we packed. I discreetly passed it to him and he began to peel it. At this point, only one monkey was in sight, and it began to make funny noises and bear its teeth. It ran towards Roy and a few seconds later we saw other monkeys running our direction. Uh oh. :) By this time the rest of our group noticed Roy with the orange, and moved away from him...and the monkeys kept coming. Big ones, little ones, even a few tiny baby monkeys attached to their mothers' belly. Roy had an audience and they wanted food. Roy stood his ground, stared them down and ate the orange in a handful of bites. Haha, the monkeys did not succeed. Out of pity Roy tossed the monkeys the peels of the orange, and we moved on. Comical. They weren't physically violent, just as aggressive as the guys selling watches in TST (a prominent tourist area in HK).

All in all, the hike was great. Seeing monkeys roaming around the forest was exciting and new. They were kind of like the squirrels in Athens, Ohio. They are just life...and pretty well-adjusted to people. We got to chat and see a bit of God's creation (as well as a man-made reservoir) and spend time with co-workers.

Great day! And wait until you hear where we went after the hike...more to come.


Jen here. A co-worker recommended we go to a revolving restaurant for the buffet, one day we went. It's called R66; R for Revolving (I think) and 66 because it takes 66 minutes to complete a revolution. We were one of the first people there for the lunch buffet and had a lovely little table by the window (yay!).

Our revolution began with Central and then shifted to Happy Valley Racecourse. Happy Valley (Chinese name is Run Horse Place) is an exclusive district. There are but a few buses that go there, or you can ride the slow tram. I know a few people who live there. :) It's known for the horse racing. Who would have thought that with 7 million people and minimal space there would be a massive horse track on HK island? There Happy Valley (see photo).

The meal was delicious--an all-you-can-eat buffet. Salads, noodle soup, fried rice, veggies, broiled fish, roast beef, chilled seafood, etc...more than we could ever try! Dessert was most tempting, as they had all sorts of sweet cakes and pastries, and a chocolate fountain! One of our dessert plates is at left (notice I said one...). As we ate, we got to chat about our hopes and desires for the future, and of course take the occasional photo. It was a fun date! :)

Looking at the photos, you may ask "Is it always smoggy in HK?" No. Though I was beginning to think it was, I now know it isn't always grey yucky yuck outside. For a long while we had a really bad pollution index (or something). It was so bad that they (whoever they are) advised people to reduce their amount of time outside. It was so smoggy. Yuck. I missed the sun and the sky. But I can attest, I have seen lots of blue sky recently and we have had many sunny days (as all my clean and dry laundry confirms). So, Praise the Lord for that! About a week ago, we had a terrible storm, but the day after the sky was so crisp, clean and beautiful! Thank You, Lord! The photo at left is of southern Happy Valley/Wan Chai. The standout building fascinates me. It is just so huge! One of our schools we teach Chess at is near that building. Every time I pass it I wonder how strong it is...and if it would ever fall over. Enjoy!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mom at Lamma Island

Jen here. And the Mom-visit saga continues...There is a beautiful side to HK, believe it or not. A scenic side. Thus, we took Mom to Lamma Island. Yes, it's not most-scenic or most-beautiful, but it is close and scenic. :)

Lamma Island is a small island of HK south of Hong Kong Island (where we live). We took a mini-bus to Aberdeen (Chinese name means son of Hong Kong...) and caught a ferry to Lamma. While waiting for the ferry, a woman offered to take us to Lamma via a junk for a small price ($150HK). See photo of a junk at right: We turned her down and took the ferry for about $50 total.

Due to our late start, the small ferry schedule and plans made later that evening, we only had 1.5 hours to hike, so we booked it. Lamma Island is known for its hiking trails and seafood restaurants. You can easily ferry to one side of Lamma, hike across the island and ferry home from the other side of Lamma. The trail we hiked was paved but we got to stop and walk around in the sand at a beach along the way.

The views were nice and there weren't too many people. I almost forgot I was a ferry ride away from 7 million people packed into skyscrapers. :) The terrain was green and hilly. Being an island, we saw many a rock-lined coast. It was nice. Check out this photo...beautiful, eh? Little do you know that just to the left, there is a huge power plant, which I strategically did not include in the photo. Now you know.

At the ferry pier there are numerous seafood restaurants ready to feed hungry, hiking tourists a full assortment of seafood...and you can even choose the creatures you want them to kill and cook right there. The servers tried to lure us in, but we could not be swayed, for we had to get back to HK Island right away. We enjoyed the hike, but were a little sad we didn't have time for a seafood feast. Ciao!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Games with Mom

Jen here. Mom left over a month ago, but I still want to write more about her stay. :) We so enjoyed having company; Mom was a little taste of home and familiarity.

Roy and I wanted to have Mom's stay be similar to a holiday celebration. We'd have lots of snacks around, lounge on the couch, talk and play games. So we did. We played many a Scrabble game and a few other choice games as well (Rummikub, Pounce, Chinese Chess). Check out our travel-size Scrabble board in the photo. Also, notice the yellow chess clock on the side? Yeah, we used it to ensure I would not take hours to make my next word...It was needed.

Another fun aspect of Mom's visit was that she got to see our everyday life. Roy and I still had Chess classes to teach and our normal life happening, so Mom got to experience that. We made sure to take a few rides on the tram and walk along the streets of the less-touristy HK. Here's a bike Mom shot a photo of...we see these all the time. Did you know this bike can carry three propane tanks? Yes, one hanging on each side of the rear tire and one in the front basket? Interesting way to transport propane tanks, eh?

Roy often mentions the unique blend of new world and old world ways in HK. They have trucks, cars, cranes, construction equipment, etc...but in order to transport bricks up the large set of steps by our apartment, they put them in baskets, hang two baskets on a stick that is put over their shoulders and then haul them up the steps two at a time. They do this all the time (not just with bricks). One evening, Roy had two bags packed full of chess sets, a printer, chess clocks, etc...and he had to bring them home (and this route entails many steps). So, he borrowed one of the bamboo sticks that the workers used to carry the bags up to our apartment. I didn't know about this until the next day when Roy said he needed to return it. We snapped a picture then. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mom in Macau

Jen here. On April 12 we took Mom on a trip to Macau. Macau is another Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China...sort of like Hong Kong, except it was colonized by the Portuguese instead of the British. It has a unique feel of old world and new-world-casino-ness. Roy and I went to Macau once in the late summer, and we took a tour (an organized one, with a bus and all). This time around we wanted to plan our time in Macau. We got a map, rode the buses and went where we wanted to go (namely, the old part of town).

Macau is so interesting! It's my first exposure to Portuguese...which is close to spanish. Check out this street sign.

The Catholic influence is everywhere. From the Rua Da Ressurrecao (Street of Resurrection) to tons of churches, or used-to-be chs, such as these remains of a cathedral (who's that sharp man in the red?):

Chs right next to Chinese temples. It was disappointing how similar the Catholic ch buildings were to the Chinese temples. With statues arranged in little coves of the building, fitted with a kneeling place, candles, etc I wondered, what's the difference? Go to the Chinese temple, offer incense and pray to one god, then go to the catholic ch, pray and offer incense to another statue. Yay. (Sarcasm) I don't know what has been taught in Macau; I just see the buildings set up...

The sidewalks in the old-town were so cool. They were mosaic-like with black and white tiles, and had all sorts of designs. Along some sidewalks, there were waves and along most others, you would see all sorts of sea-creature shapes. See, a crab:

Macau was not without the Chinese feel of Hong Kong. Here's a little shop that sells dried fish. In taking a photo of the shop (ok, mainly the fish hanging on the fence), I accidentally snapped a photo of this guy. Is he giving me the stink eye?


Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Jen here. We had a visitor in Hong Kong! Roy's mom stayed with us for about 11 days and we had such a great time! I'll detail her stay over multiple posts. Enjoy!

Mom arrived late Friday night (April 9). The next day we headed to Repulse Bay and Stanley Market for a small tourist experience. Stanley Market is a normal touristy market--lots of shops with nicknacks, chopsticks, Hong Kong souvenirs, shoes, clothing, scarves, etc. It is usually crowded, especially on a Saturday. We looked in many of the shops, but nothing jumped out at us. None of us are big spenders.

We stopped off at Repulse Bay Beach on our way home (Mom got to ride her first mini bus to the beach) and took photos, etc. I love seeing even just a little bit of nature. It's so rare to me...last year in Seattle, I saw the gorgeous mountains everyday on my way to work...and frequently watched the sun set on the ocean. Ahh... But this year, I have to put forth more effort to admire God's creation (the nature part). Repulse Bay is a little snapshot of that.

After our beach extravaganza, we crossed the street and visited our much-loved Marketplace at Jasons (a grocery store). The Marketplace is reasonably priced and has more western foods than our local Park N Shop. We showed Mom the different food options (including shelf milk, dried seafood soup packets, etc) and did a little shopping ourselves and then headed home.

It was so nice to have family visit. :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Food, Food, Food

Jen here. Hong Kong is a great place for food. And boy do I mean great. If you want it, you can get it. Name it, it's here. Chinese (all styles), Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Italian, Greek, South African, Mediterranean, Philippino and American--and that's not even all. It's just all that my naive food-mind knows of.

Here are the two dishes we ate at Stoep, an African/Mediterranean restaurant on Cheung Sha Beach: Roy had the rainbow trout(check out how he ate it right off the bones!) and I had fish and chips (yes...I'm not very risky...)

God has been good to me in exposing me to more things. I used to be such a picky eater...but since going to college, marrying Roy, moving to Seattle and now living in Hong Kong, I eat way more things than I used to.

Here are my favorite foods to eat here in HK:

Vietnamese Pho in Quarry Bay. There's tiny restaurant near our church that a few of our friends from church introduced us to. Sure, the first time we were there, there were a few bugs crawling under the glass table-top...but the old lady with the silver tooth who works there is so sweet and always smiles at me. One time she even brought me and Roy forks and napkins (napkins are rare in restaurants--you have to bring your own). How sweet!

Gai dan zai, also known as bubble waffles to me. :) It's like I'm at the Ross County fair every day! I can just walk into our local Park N Shop and tell the lady "Ngoh yue yat ghoh gai dan zai (I want one egg waffle)" and I have an instant, hot, chewy waffle of sorts. I love them! If you come visit, I will definitely buy one for you! :)

Dim sum, but that goes without saying. Who doesn't like dim sum? Little bits of many hot dumplings and rolls full of veggies, meat, seafood, etc. Mmm...

Omelets and tomato soup from The Flying Pan. The only 24-hour breakfast joint in HK, or so they say, and I love it. It's more sentimental to me than it is delicious. I mean, the food is good. A big omelet, with homemade tomato soup (made with real tomatoes), toast and fruit juice, who couldn't like? I enjoy it immensely, but mainly because it reminds me of Coney Islands in Flint, Michigan. It's a sense of home for me there. Breakfast in the evening, in a diner, with Roy, with friends, ah. Familiarity.

A burger at Fatburger. Believe it or not, it's been difficult to find a good burger in HK. Not impossible, but difficult. We tried Freshburger, but it was so not frozen and nasty. And sure, there's McDonald's, but I want to real burger, with a thick patty. We tried some other western restaurants, but their burgers were like Red Robin--expensive and not that great either. And finally, we found Fatburger. Sounds so nutritious, right? We don't eat it very often, but when we're desiring a burger, we now know where to go. Mmm...

I'll take a break from listing my favorite foods in HK. I could go on and on. I enjoy having a home that we can eat at home, make our own food the way we like it, try to cook new things and when we want to, we can go out to eat and try something new.

One of the hardest things in moving to HK was staying in the hotel for two weeks while we found an apartment. I know, my life is so difficult (sarcasm)...but really. To be at the mercy of all these strange and unusual restaurants and flavors was super hard for me. I longed to cook my own food, from familiar ingredients. And now, I can. :)

So, if you come visit, fear not, for I can cook normal, delicious food for you out of the same (or nearly the same) ingredients you use at home!