Friday, February 24, 2012

Zoo Babies

About eight months ago twin orangutans were born to a mom from the Hong Kong Zoo. Twins in this species are somewhat rare. At the time of their birth Mom rejected them. Since then they have been hand raised and are now trying to be reintroduced to their mother. A few weeks ago the babies were finally put on display in their nursery. A visit to see them was in order and the viewing did not disappoint.

It was an overcast, foggy day with patches of rain. This actually made it better because few people were spending time at the zoo. Upon arrival a stop to see Mom and Dad was the first order of business.


And Dad.

After that it was off to the nursery. Luckily there were so few people about that it was easy to spend 20 minutes just watching them roll and tumble and play with their toys. They are in a child's pool lined with cloth and blankets and filled with toys and gym equipment. There are a few staff who work with them trying to teach them how to be orangutans. Taking photos through the glass was not optimal, but even so you can see how adorable they are.

I plan to check back quite often to see how they are growing and getting along. This little guy and little girl are certainly zoo stars.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fun with Food

In the past two weeks we have had some very interesting meals and I thought I would share some of the unique items we have consumed.

We first went Tsui Wah. This is a Chinese restaurant chain in Hong Kong that adds western touches to many of their dishes. One of our favorite items is a condensed milk bun. It is a large soft bun that is topped with condensed milk and then baked to form a deliciously sweet topping. The buns are then toasted and served. At our last visit to Tsui Wah Rommel and I decided to have iced milk tea to drink with our meal. It comes in a stoppered bottle and since it would not be good watered down by melting ice, each bottle is served in its own ice bucket with a straw so that the bottle is constantly being cooled.

Another restaurant that is quickly becoming a favorite of ours for a light evening meal is on Gough Street and has its Chinese name emblazoned above the door.

It is commonly known as the Beef Noodle Restaurant. Despite its limited size and limited menu, it is a very famous restaurant here. The menu consists of bowls featuring two kind of beef and three kinds of noodles. Our favorite is the brisket in traditional broth with one of the noodle varieties. There are a few alternate selections and of course veggies, but at least 80% of what is served is one of the beef noodle dishes. Inside, customers share tables and sit on small stools at the few tables available. The staff never has to walk more than a few feet to serve anyone.

As wonderful as this meal is, we have discovered that just down the block is a delightful dessert place called agnes b. We love the feel of it and have decided that it reminds us of Cafe Lalo on the Upper West Side of New York City. (That is the cafe where Meg Ryan meets Tom Hanks for a blind date in "You've Got Mail.")

Besides the cafe, there is a small flower shop inside as well. It always smells wonderful. The specialty of the house is the dessert selection. This time we had a Jasmine (white cake, vanilla creme and a lovely pocket of sauce on the top), a heart shaped dark chocolate mouse cake finished with lavender and this amazing red dusted chocolate sphere (filled with chocolate cake, chocolate mouse and chocolate ganache) with a heart shaped cut out and a bit of edible gold leaf inside. The cafe caramel comes with the signature b. in caramel sauce on top of the foam. The hot cocoa is topped with the freshest marshmallows I have ever had.

Yesterday, Barbara took us to Loyal Chinese Restaurant for lunch. This is another award winning restaurant known for its roasted goose. Of course we had to have some of that.

The restaurant os located in an older building on Wellington Street and was constructed with the most amazing stone and tiles and winding stairs. Barbara says she likes to take us to eat because, unlike most westerners, we will try almost anything that is ordered. We do have our limits (no innards) but have found most of our Chinese friends don't like those either. This day's "test" was a Century Egg. It is a duck egg that is sealed in a coating and buried in soil to cure. It really doesn't take 100 years, but it is in there for quite a long time. When the egg is removed and opened, the white of the egg looks like a clear brown jelly and the yolk is dark greenish gray. It is served with thinly sliced fresh ginger and when you add the kick of the ginger it tastes quite a bit like an old fashioned deviled egg. We had heard of these eggs and thought it was one delicacy we could pass up. But when presented with it at the restaurant, we decided it was our opportunity to be brave. And, as usual, we were pleasantly surprised!

Our adventures in food have certainly been beyond anything we ever dreamed. Some have been very exotic, but as you can see our day to day dining holds some adventure of its own. And just so you know, we have plenty of American, Italian, Mexican  and more to choose from as well.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hong Kong Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday (too many candles to count) and for the first time in my life it was actually warm! I came close once in San Diego but caught a cold being too optimistic. Yesterday was not hot, but comfortable with just a sweater.

As a little girl I always wanted a garden party, but snow and freezing temperatures always seemed to get in the way. There was still no garden party, but an open air lunch at Cochrane's with Rommel and Anna fit the bill very nicely. 

After lunch I spent a few hours trying out my birthday present from Ken.

It is a Canon EOS 600D with an 18-135 mm lens!!!!! I have been craving this camera for several years. Now I have one! The learning curve on it will take some time, but I decided to check out the auto shooting to start. So after lunch I headed down to the ferry docks to try out my new toy.

One of the things I love about wandering with no set agenda is the opportunity to simply observe the little things that make wherever we are so different and yet so much the same. Ice cream trucks and families posing by the water are universal.

Ferry boats with Asia's World City in the background are a bit more unique.

There were still some lanterns on display from the Spring Lantern Festival that marked the end of the Lunar New Year celebration.

And then I met Naomi and her mom. I was drawn to Naomi because her high ponytails reminded me of Kyle at that age. She was sweet and charming and, like Kyle, she was quite the talker. She even agreed to pose for me.

Chinese Valentine's Day was also yesterday. They actually celebrate both here with the western one being more promoted.

I headed back to the ferry terminal to make my way back home. The sights on the harbor never fail to intrigue me.

Back on Hong Kong Island I just snapped away taking photos of the things I see every day. We so often forget to take a moment to enjoy the familiar parts of our everyday landscapes.

After a brief rest, it was off to dinner. Our friend Rommel hosted a group at the Park Lane Hotel's evening buffet. There were nine of us and the food and conversation were both exceptional. The group was quite diverse because along with Hong Kong both Singapore and the US were represented thanks to some business meetings schedule for the week. 

I think I ate my weight in seafood!

It was a fun evening and combined with all of the well wishes from all of my friends back home, it made for a pretty amazing birthday - for an old lady.