Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What took me so long?

I'm ashamed to say that after over three years in Hong Kong, I'd never once been to the beach.  If you've ever really looked at Victoria Harbour then you'll understand why.  I've gotten too excited too many times over seeing a jellyfish swimming by only to realize it's yet another plastic bag (when I can see past the oil slick on the water's surface). But friends assured us that there are gorgeous beaches to be found, so we spent Sunday afternoon at Hap Mun Beach in Sai Kung.  

If you walk down the Sai Kung promenade, especially on weekends, you'll see an endless line of colored umbrellas and will be continuously approached by people asking "boat" and twirling their finger in a circular motion (this is the sign for boat?  I dunno).

The line of sampan hawkers:

These are the operators of various private ferries/sampans that will take you to one of the islands or beaches in the area - anywhere from a 10- to a 45-minute journey.  We opted to visit Hap Mun Bay Beach.  Don't pay more than $30 HKD for your ticket, which should include the return journey, and make sure you remember which ferry you're taking and what time the return journeys are - they fly different color flags and run all day.


From Sai Kung promenade it's a gorgeous 20-minute ferry ride to the beach.  Our ferry stopped first at another beach (Sharp Beach maybe?), so make sure you know which stop is yours.  

View from the ferry:

It was hot as hell, as usual, so the beach was packed.  But we rented an umbrella and found a spot easily.  There are also BBQ firepits, showers, toilets and changing areas, a spot to rent various equipment (we rented an umbrella - $100 HKD and a $100 deposit), and a small refreshment kiosk (note: they only stock Tsingtao and - shudder - Blue Girl, so if you want something else then bring a cooler).

Hap Mun Bay:

I'd read a lovely article in the South China Morning Post that morning about the rising incidence of flesh-eating virus in Hong Kong and how it lives primarily in warm seawater so I wan't too keen on jumping in, but it was that or heatstroke, so in I went.  And the water was... clear?  Rubbish-free?  Not what I was expecting at all.

Hong Kong weather being what it is, a thunderstorm rolled in around 3:30:

But only lasted about ten minutes.  The sun emerging afterwards:

No funny anecdotes, no exciting stories - just a recommendation to check out the beaches if you haven't already.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I will never get it right.

In an uncharacteristically grown-up move, Kelly and I invited our new mainland neighbors over for coffee.  I'd met the wife on a previous occasion - dragging home from a drunken trip to the store, dripping in sweat, she invited me in for coffee.  I declined and, at her insistence, foggily programmed her number into my phone.

A few days later in a brief moment of clarity I realized that we have to live next to these people, so I should play nice.  That brief moment didn't last long.

But then, a few nights (and beers) later, I decided that we MUST have them over soon.  We're adults!  We get to know our neighbors!  That's what grown-ups do!  (Right?)

So after a few texts back and forth, it was settled that they'd come over for coffee.  She would bring cake.  Great.

They arrive.  Kelly makes coffee for himself and the husband of the couple, but the wife and I don't drink coffee so we had water.  Yes, I guess I could've offered tea.  But I am a crap hostess (as further reading will prove to you).

There were four of us - Kelly and me, and the neighbor couple - and she had brought four little cakes from the local bakery.  Perfect!  Because I'm so considerate, I'd taken the time to go out and get small dessert plates so we could all have cake together.  So cozy.

We put the four cakes out on the table, start chatting - "So, how do you like the new house... Oh that's great... Some weather we're having!..." etc. - and I'm getting hungry.  So I grab a cake and start eating.


Everyone looks at me a bit oddly, but they take this as a cue to start eating. And to start CUTTING UP EACH CAKE INTO PIECES.  I somehow forgot the "sharing" thing that goes on in Chinese culture.  I just swiped one whole cake for me, when it should've been shared among us.  The three of them had bits of the remaining cakes while I silently swallowed my shame cake.

I am a Western barbarian and an ass.

But I took the tastiest cake, so I'm not sad.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dumpster diving in Sai Kung

Walking by the giant heap of rubbish dumpsters the other day, I noticed several mannequin bits.  Who the hell would throw away perfectly good half-bodies??

Hong Kongers will rummage through the trash to salvage a chair with three legs, but aren't jumping all over these?  I will never understand this culture.

They are now adorning my garden and classing up the neighborhood.