Woke up and said goodbye to Carrie and company. I wasn’t able to find any locker storage place, so I decided to risk taking my baggage to Lantau. This turned out to be a pretty poor decision, but it actually demonstrated the situation I would be in if I had to walk a long way with my backpack.
I got on the train and made my way to the Tung Chung station, where I was supposed to meet Kate. The scenery on the way there was really beautiful. I got to the station but couldn’t find the right 7-11. Apparently 7-11 is to Hong Kong as Starbucks is to Denver. I saw several that were right across the street from each other.
After walking around a lot, I finally asked a guard where the ATM was that I was supposed to meet Kate at, and after I went there I finally found her. After that we went to a nearby restaurant in the mall there and had some amazing dim sum, all summing up to about $80 Hong Kong, which is a bit more than $10 US.
After filling our stomachs up to the brim, we headed out to the Po Lin Monastery, where there is a huge bronze Buddha statue. We took the gondola ride over there, but looking out the window we saw this really cool pathway that would have been a great hike (though we didn’t have the time for it). The Buddha statue was at the top of a lot of stairs, and because I had brought my heavy backpack I was sweating a lot when we got up there. It was alright.
We then followed a path off to the side of the attraction and through some forest called the Wisdom Path. At the end there were these tall halved grey trees with writing on them, and they stood almost mystically in the surrounding fog. It was really cool and more interesting than the Buddha. Plus there weren’t as many tourists in that area. Got some good photos to turn into HDR.
After that we took a roller coaster bus ride over to Tai O. I really liked this ride because it was crazy going down that mountain path at full speed in a bus. And it was standing room only so I had to hang on to the hanging handles for life. We made it though.
Tai O was beautiful and sleepy and smelled a lot. I mean incredibly smelly, with dried fish and shrimp paste and wetlands everywhere. Walking along the roads there were many dried seafood snacks. No cars, just a lot of bikes. We went down a small path near a river to get a better shot of the houses there, and all of a sudden this guy pops up out of nowhere and offers us a boat ride. At first we were a little skeptical, it could be a scam. But we decided to go for it anyway since it was only $10 HK each.
This turned out to be a great decision. He took us to see the “wetlands” which wasn’t really very exciting, and then offered to let us look for the pink dolphins for another $10 each. I knew we wouldn’t see any pink dolphins, but decided to go for it anyway because we liked the boat ride.
On the boat we got a great view of the houses that were all on stilts. That alone, and the view of all the old men with their fishing equipment, and all the slowly rusting houses, it was fantastic. He brought us out to the bay and the fresh wind was exciting. He only spoke Cantonese, so I spoke through Kate to him. I asked him various questions, like how old he was (58 but he looked 40. Said it was something in the food of Tai O) and if this was his main business (He does this and also had a seafood drying business on the side). His name was Wah Gor, or Brother Wah. I really have to thank Kate for this experience because if it wasn’t for her, I would have never been able to do that. We even saw some touristy boats riding along, and I’m sure they paid a much larger price and it would have been crowded with annoying tourists.
We got back and he showed us the large baskets that he used for drying out the seafood. Later we saw a lot more of these with actual fish in them and took pictures. We walked around some more, visiting my first Asian temple along the way, and headed towards the old Tai O Police station. On the way we had to walk by this incredibly pungent smelling area where they were making shrimp paste. The smell was almost unbearable and almost gagged.
Also witnessed a poor little girl reluctantly getting a haircut and crying about it. Interesting to see it in another culture. Also saw a pair of dogs that had the same head and would look in the same direction at the same time.
The police station was blocked off, so we didn’t want to break in and headed back. Kate took my bag at some point, and I kept on checking to see if she wanted me to take it back because she was a lot smaller than I. But she eventually took it the entire way. Strong girl.
Went back to her apartment. I had wondered aloud earlier what the inside of those apartments would look like, and as fate foretold I was in one soon enough. I met her parents there, who did not speak English but were incredibly friendly. Took a shower, which didn’t quite get all of the shrimp paste smell off of us, and rested.
These people were such great hosts and I kept feeling guilty, like they were putting so much effort into making me comfortable. Her father made this very “ho may” (delicious) dinner. This involved fish, scallops, some kind of egg dish, some sort of vegetable in a good sauce, and some kind of pork fried thing that was hard to eat because it had bones in it. As with most meals I’ve had, I kept and open mind and an open stomach and it was good. I tried to force myself to eat until I physically couldn’t, partially to show that I liked it. If someone makes me food, I feel awful if I can’t finish it all. Or if it tastes bad, I won’t say anything and keep eating. Like the fried pork. It was good, but I just didn’t want to be pulling bones out of my mouth.
After dinner I got very tired and took a nap. Then when Kate woke me up to see if I wanted to go to Central to party with her friends, I was just so exhausted that I couldn’t go. She didn’t go either but that turned out to be a good thing since she was so tired the next day.