I promised I’d write a post about my trip this summer. That was two months ago, but better late than never. Not anime, but I went to Japan, so I figured people might be interested.
The reason I went on this trip in the first place is because I had to present at a robotics conference in Hong Kong. I had just graduated and was taking a vacation for the summer, so I figured, since I was already over there, why not see Asia?
Anyway, I went to the conference, saw a bunch of friends from all over the world, gave my presentation. My presentation kind of sucked because I was distracted by these two guys who came in, sat right in front of me, and proceeded to talk over me for the first five minutes of the presentation. Threw me off. Oh well.
Then I skipped most of the rest of the conference to see Hong Kong! I had dim sum everyday, obviously. I love dim sum.
The first day, we went to this 5-star Michelin rated restaurant. The cheapest 5-star Michelin rated restaurant in the world, I believe. The barbecue pork buns (shown above) were to die for. Seriously, hands down some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.
The rest of the food was pretty good but not nearly as amazing. I tried chicken feet for the first time. Yuck. For those who haven’t had it, it’s basically a bunch of chicken skin wrapped around bones. No idea why people like those.
The next day, we went to some random restaurant near our hostel. Somewhat surprisingly, it was really good! Aside from the barbecue pork buns, it was actually better than the 5-star Michelin place. Some of the more interesting ones were the cute custard buns shaped like three little piggies (bottom right), the wasabi-filled buns (bottom-left) and the mushroom buns which were painted and shaped to look like mushrooms (not shown). It was all delicious! The dish this restaurant had mastered, though, was the pineapple bun. These were to die for.
One of my friends had come a week earlier and had already scouted things out. He had never ever had dim sum before (he’s from Ecuador) and had gone by himself to one of the places with the carts. He had no idea what to do, got freaked out, accidentally ordered chicken feet for his second dish, and proceeded to flee. So we decided to go again with a dim sum expert (myself) in charge. His nickname for the place was “the warzone”.
So we went back to the warzone. It was a warzone, like he said. But we had no trouble getting a table, although initially we had to share with a family of three. It was delicious, we had an enormous stack of like 15 dishes. There weren’t any particular things that stood out, unlike the previous two restaurants, but everything was generally great.
For the final day, we returned to the restaurant from the second day.
In terms of non-dim-sum food: well, we were always pretty full from brunch, so it wasn’t the biggest priority. We did go to one fancy restaurant (a waste of money, the cheaper places were all better), ate at the conference banquet (a nine-course meal— it was kind of nuts; a few of the courses were great, like this one crab one), and we went to a beef bowl restaurant.
The beef bowl place was pretty darn great. A real hole in the wall. I’d eat there again for sure. Somehow we didn’t end up going to a Hong Kong cafe type place… but I’m not a big fan of them anyway.
Oh, we also had desserts at a Buddhist temple. I had mango pudding, it was amazing. The temple had this vegetarian cafe, and some random lady sat with us and told us about the temple and Buddhism. It was a great time there.
I also had this other mango thing at some dessert place. No idea what it was, but it was delicious. One of my friends from Portugal got a durian dish there. I told her she was nuts, but she initially said she liked it… only to take like two more bites before changing her mind and quitting.
On to less pressing issues, such as the things I saw. For one of the earlier days, we skipped the conference and went to Lantau island. Hong Kong is a region composed of a number of mountainous islands. Generally only the flat planar areas are occupied (extremely densely) and the steep slopes of the mountains are covered with jungle. Lantau island is one of the bigger nearby islands, and it has the airport built on what I believe is artificial land nearby, but the island itself is more of a rural area. Which is kind of weird seeing how it’s like 15 minutes away from downtown Hong Kong, but that’s how it is.
Anyway, we took a cable car which goes over the mountains. This is one of the craziest cable rides I’ve ever took. It goes over the ocean (see above) over multiple mountains and travels what seemed like a very long distance. It was an amazing view.
We got to the Buddha, and it was big. There was this huge set of stairs which was quite a challenge for me. Oh, I should mention that I was a cripple for the first half of this trip. I had gone on a backpacking trip the week before, and my knees had completely given out (too much weight and downhill? not really sure why, one of the people I went with had the same thing happen though). So I had to hobble up and down stairs. Getting into the subway was quite the challenge. Anyway, I thought I was feeling better, so I decided to climb up the mountain to get to the Buddha statue. Big mistake. Getting up was fine, but going down… my knees would have gotten better several days earlier if not for this.
Next we headed off to the nearby temple, and talked to the nice Buddhist lady over delicious vegetarian snacks. And instead of taking the cable car back, we took a bus to a nearby fishing village. It was pretty cool driving through these scenic roads in the mountains, and then through a bunch of rustic fishing villages on the coast.
We took a ferry back to central Hong Kong, which also had some beautiful views.
The next day (I think? kind of forgot which day was which) we went to Victoria’s Peak. It’s the mountain behind Hong Kong city, which has some amazing views of downtown Hong Kong and Kowloon.
We took the train up the mountain, which was pretty awesome in its own right. Had to wait in line for a while though.
At the top it was packed with tourists. Stupid tourists. We went hiking through the jungle at the top of the mountain, all with a view of downtown.
It was amazing.
Then we had to wait even longer to get down on the cable car.
Hong Kong is a big shopping destination. I tried to avoid most of that. There were some pretty cool things though.
One was the night markets, these outdoor markets which were filled with junk, counterfeit goods, and sex toys. Seriously, there was an entire block of sex toys.
Another was the fish market. It’s a street that sells nothing but fish. All the shops had bags of fish pinned to the wall which you could buy. An interesting experience…
I also went to some random park that was a Chinese garden. It was pretty, and interesting how it was in the middle of the city. There were a ton of old men in the park lounging around and chatting.
We also attended a protest for the anniversary of Tienanmen Square. This continues our weird and entirely unintentional tradition of attending political protests in other countries while at robotics conferences… Last time it was the Portuguese Communist Party anti-austerity rally (don’t ask how we got involved in that…).
Anyway, some hippie girl was trying to explain things to us, but I had a better grasp of Hong Kong history than she did. That night, the police gathered outside our hostel room. They were clearly onto us and knew how big a threat we were. Fortunately we escaped and were able to leave the country.
Next stop: Taiwan!