asia,  hong kong,  travel

A smorgasbord of success – Day 5


After awaking to find I had fallen asleep with my laptop and camera on my lap, I went about my morning rituals a bit slower than usual. I had first thought that I might try to visit the Hong Kong Botanical and Zoological Garden, but the idea of trudging about in the heat was a fatiguing thought. I settled for a happy, air-conditioned standby: shopping. Causeway Bay is reputed to be one of Hong Kong’s major shopping areas, and it was just one stop away on the MTR. Perhaps what should’ve factored into my decision was the fact that it was Sunday morning. Thankfully, I hadn’t arrived too early; however, many shops were still closed. I started out in Times Square, which apparently has 16 floors of shopping. What was slightly bizarre was that the opening times didn’t seem to be consistent, even within the same mall, as some stores opened at 10:30, others at noon. A brand unbeknownst to me caught my eye, Massimo Dutti, and after a bit of browsing, seemed quite reasonably priced. I ended up with a pair of black skinny jeans for around $70 CAD. The mall had a mixture of western and more unfamiliar brands, but enough closed doors led to my eventual departure from the mall. I spent a bit more time wandering the area, poking my head into a few other malls clustered nearby. My time was relatively short, as I had to be back in Wan Chai for a lunch.

I popped into McDonald’s, as is my custom when abroad for a quick bite. I did notice a few culturally sensitive menu choices, include a milk taro mcflurry. I soon met up with my fellow SFU congress attendees, and we wandered off towards our dim sum destination, the East Ocean Victoria City Restaurant. Much like last night, we simply marked down the number we wanted of a particular item. There were three pages of choices, and there were a plethora of options for everybody, including a few more unusual choices, such as pig’s blood and chicken feet. Everything I sampled, mind you I was fairly tame in my selections, was delicious—baked BBQ pork buns (super tasty!), shrimp dumplings, deep fried eggplant, etc. And the food kept coming! I suppose we hadn’t realized how much we had ordered until it started coming out in droves. But we did a fairly impressive job of finishing everything off, and they did give us little plastic Tupperware containers to take things with us. It was nice to have a last gathering of SFU folk, particularly before I head back to Chicago and start with a new school.

I made a quick pit stop at the hotel before heading over for the last day of the conference. We had one last presentation from the SFU team, so we went and supported her talk, which happened to be the last talk of the last session. I sat through a plenary talk and the closing ceremony, which had less pomp than I expected, but we did find out where the next ICPhS would be held in 4 years: Glasgow! At that point, everyone was ushered into the Grand Hall for the conference banquet. It was a beautiful space, with its soaring ceilings and a foyer with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city and Victoria Harbour. It was also apparently a historic space, as the hall was where Prince Charles formerly handed Hong Kong over to China back in 1999. The tables were very fancily set, and each one had a black-clad waiter standing next to it, looking somewhat foreboding. Nine courses were scheduled, including bird’s nest soup (made with nests constructed from birds’ saliva), baked sea conch and abalone. This was obviously not the day to start feeling less plump. As we only had a half table, we were shuffled over to another table, as they couldn’t serve a half table. It wasn’t long before the army of waiters came parading out with our first course. The dishes were tasty, though after awhile they did start to blur into each other. A couple of courses into the meal, they brought a bit of entertainment, namely a ‘face changing’ (bian lian) dance. Apparently, this is a rarity to see amongst westerners, as it is rarely performed abroad as foreigners are not permitted to learn the art form. It consisted of predominantly a single performer on stage, and it was characterized by the rapid changing of face masks. I’m always a sucker for interesting cultural dances, so it was a neat presentation. The dinner was pleasant, as was the company, and after before long, all the courses were complete. Three of us headed back in the direction of the hotel, stopping in at a local bar, Mes Amis, for a drink (mojito for me!) to cap off the night.

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