The Final Countdown Begins in Hong Kong

These were some of the hardest posts I had to write during my time in Hong Kong. The last few days, the final countdown, the end of a life-changing semester. Let’s start the clock.

June 4, 2010

I’d finally arrived at home and was now blogging from my couch after a jet-lag induced 12-hour coma. What a semester I’d just had, with a splendidly jam-packed last week in Hong Kong!

Let’s pick up where we left off. Having proudly finished my last final in around two hours, I headed off to the horse races at Happy Valley one last time. My girlfriends and I didn’t feel like going out to party that night at Wan Chai (we were already a little worn out and it was threatening to rain) so we spent forty minutes wandering aimlessly attempting to find an MTR station. Yes, even after four months we still got lost quite often in Hong Kong – but again, no worries, I never felt even remotely unsafe there, and we saw more of the city because we were so directionally challenged.

Party central after the race horses at Happy Valley.

Thursday was my first full day of absolute freedom, and what did I do you ask? Well I went shopping! Now my definition of shopping is a little different from many people’s – it consists of much more looking than buying. For the afternoon, I went to two connected malls, one called Pacific Place which had a ton of designer stores that were great fun to look at (and completely out of my price range – at that point). That evening, I and a friend of mine, Mina, went to Soho and had dinner with another friend of my brother George’s named Rob, who is a pilot for Cathay Pacific and happened to be in Hong Kong that day on a layover from London. 

Bistro Manchu where Mina and I met Rob for dinner. I highly recommend it.

Bistro Manchu where Mina and I met Rob for dinner. I highly recommend it.


Rob is one of the nicest people I’d met yet! He was so interesting and engaging, and had great stories to tell me about George and his friend Wesley when they were in college. Wonderful dirt for later. We all met at a restaurant he recommended called, “Bistro Manchu,” which was gorgeous and had great food; based almost entirely on his recommendation we sampled dishes like tiger salad,Xiao longbao (that was all me), deliciously prepared aubergine, string beans, a really good fried, spicy fish dish, and mutton wrapped in pancakes. Everything could not have tasted better, and it was fascinating to talk to Rob about everything he’d done in his life and how he liked London, etc.

Mmm... strawberry daquiri.

Mmm… strawberry daquiri.

After that, we went to a couple of different bars I’d never been to before, Soho Corner and Lei Dau, and then Rob headed back to his hotel (the jet lag for him was finally setting in) and I met my friends for one last Thursday night in LKF. At first I ran into some other HKUST students heading for the all-you-can-drink club, Fever, but the friends I wanted to hang out with met me at another bar: Billion. It was both Henry and Mina’s last night in Hong Kong, so the three of us and Jessica and a bunch of the European exchange students danced there until 2:30 and we just couldn’t dance anymore. By the time we got back to campus at 3 AM, Henry and Mina had resolved to finish packing, then watch the sun rise before boarding planes bound for the US around 8 and 9:30, respectively. Ugh. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that – though my own packing story really wasn’t that different, but you’ll hear about that later.

On Friday I went shopping with the aim of buying some last-minute souvenirs, mostly for myself, I’ll admit. I went toMongKok and Ladies’ Market – the best places to buy souvenirs cheaply.  What a lucky break I caught that afternoon! I ended up with two new jade bracelets, a Hong Kong t-shirt, earrings, and a dress (which I got for much less than normal because the two cute Indian guys selling in the next stall liked the way I looked and quoted me a low-ball price when the store owner had stepped away!). I also had a bubble milk tea (couldn’t ever pass that up either) and some street food.

The amazing pineapple fried rice (displayed in a pineapple) at Phukets.

The amazing pineapple fried rice (displayed in a pineapple) at Phukets.

I got this dress for a steal because the stall owner thought I was cute!

I got this dress for a steal because the stall owner thought I was cute!

That night, I went out to dinner with the grad student I met a few weeks ago, and we went to a Thai place in Soho called, “Phukets Thai Restaurant” that I’d found a few days prior while exploring Central and Soho on foot. The food and ambiance of the restaurant was really nice – I tried green curry for the first time, along with pineapple fried-rice, fried prawn cakes, and stir-fried beef and veggies.

After dinner, we decided to try to find a bar for a drink, but since it was Friday night in Central, all the bars in LKF were extremely crowded and noisy and boisterous, so I mentioned the bar at the Peninsula that Rob had told me about the night before with amazing views of the harbor from the 28th floor. We ended up at Felix’s (the name of the Peninsula’s bar), which had super-pricey (but also very good) drinks and unbelievable views of the harbor and Central! It was so beautiful and we ended up sitting there enjoying the view and chatting until 2 in the morning when the bar and restaurant closed and they shooed us out. I would even recommend using the bathroom there because there are floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the city and the harbor in each bathroom where they put the sinks. Just stunning. It was a fantastic night.

I’m fully aware that that was only two days I covered in this post, but I wasn’t kidding when I said the final week was jam-packed beyond belief. Stick around for my next post and the continuing countdown – the closer we got to the end, the less hours of sleep I got as things got more and more crazy! 

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