| We all pretty much clonked
out as soon as we got to the hotel, as evidenced by the picture that closed
the preceding page, and after a fitful night of sleep it was up and at 'em
for our first real day of vacation.
The MTR, the extensive underground Hong Kong railway system, was a block
from our hotel and the first thing we did was to buy "Octopus" cards, which
are prepaid debit cards that allowed us to ride any of the trains, buses,
or ferries in Hong Kong. Then, we took the MTR to Kowloon Bay Station where
we met Mr. Kwan. The Kwan's used to live next door to Ting's family many years
ago when they all lived in Kowloon. Ting had no memory of the Kwan's at all
as she was only 8 years old when she left Hong Kong. Mr. Kwan was a jolly
fellow with a couple of missing front teeth that in others might have added
a certain sinisterness, but on him, only added a bit of innocence to the
overall jolliness. We walked to his daughter Mabel's apartment to visit with
Mr. and Mrs. Kwan (Mabel was away on a business trip in North Carolina).
Mrs. Kwan, a short lady with a perpetual smile, was hospitable to the point
of aggression. Our teacups were filled at every chance. Like most Cantonese
conversations between more than 2 adults, there were at least 2 going on
a once and they all seem to be arguing with each other, although since Ting
knows the language, she knew that they were just trying to catch up on all
the missing years (rapidly). Ting tried hard to translate all the juicy tidbits
for Randy, so he could keep up with the dueling conversations in the room.
After an hour or so, we made our way down to the mall that is at the foot
of Mabel's apartment complex. We settled on Mei Sum (Beautiful Heart) Restaurant
for Dim-Sum. As an expression of hospitality, Mrs. Kwan made it a point to
keep our plates filled with food. Ting noticed that she did not put much on
her own plate. At the end of the meal, there was a flurry of hands reaching
to grab the check and Ting won (for this round). We then waddled out of the
restaurant with full stomachs to check out the surrounding mall. The mall
was huge with at least nine stories of shops. While Mom and Mrs. Kwan were
looking at white-gold necklaces, Ting found herself a beautiful white-gold
It was already 3:30 by the time we were done with the visit. Mr. Kwan walked
us to the bus that would take us over to Hong Kong Island to Ting's parents's
Optometrist. The bus trip took at least 1/2 hour. After a bit of hunting,
we finally found Canaan Optical on Stanley Street. Ting's parents have used
them for ages and ages -- they never switched to an optometrist in the States
(and Ting thought she had a long way to go to San Jose to get to her hairdresser!).
Both of Ting's parents had their eyes examined when they were there, but both
nixed the idea of getting new glasses since their prescriptions hadn't changed
and the glasses would have cost over HK$2000! That seemed excessive even
in US dollars!
We got back to the hotel around six o'clock and had a couple of hours to
rest before dinner. Mom had made plans to have dinner with Mei Ying and So
Mui for dinner at 8 pm. Mei Ying and So Mui used to rent the extra room in
our apartment and baby-sit us kids, so they were almost family. Ting remembered
So Mui but couldn't recall Mei Ying. She did remember that So Mui disciplined
her quite a bit when she was a kid and she used to be afraid of her. Now Ting
towers over her. Funny how perspectives can change!
We settled on dinner at Fuk Yuen Hot Pot Seafood Restaurant. Hot Pot restaurants
are popular even in the States. A pot of hot water sits on top of a burner
at each table. Waiters walk around with heaping plates of raw food that the
patrons cook themselves in the pot. It seemed to be a great deal for the restaurant.
We do the cooking for them, but it sure is fun and thus the popularity of
After the meal, we made our way to the Temple Street Night Market. The Night
Market featured several blocks of street vendors selling all varieties of
merchandise. Ting bought a phone power adapter since her phone was running
out of batteries and it had registered "Roam" even though it was not supposed
to work overseas. At $4 for the adapter, it was a worthwhile purchase, even
though it turned out that the cellphone couldn't link up to the local network.
It was close to 11 pm by the time we made it back to the hotel, so we turned
in for a well-deserved rest.