I could feel my last beer sloshing around in my stomach as we dashed for the departing ferry.
“I think I’m going to throw up,” I said to Siobhan, as I slowed to a jog.
We panicked at the gate, went up the wrong way, and ended up on the boat without paying. But who cared – not us – we were on the bloody boat.
Siobhan turned to me: “That was so ‘Sex and the City’, Season 3, Episode 1.”
Except we weren’t on the Staten Island, we were on Lamma Island. Oh, and I wasn’t wearing heels. Everything else was exactly the same, though. Exactly.
It was so good to see a friend from home.
Siobhan has also done a stint at the International New York Times, so she knows her way around the city. For that reason, we strayed from tourist traps in attempt to tick off activities that were new for both of us.
Almost as soon as she arrived, I whisked her off to dinner at Chungking Mansions – hub of so-called low-end globalisation, cheap guest-houses, and *very good* Indian food.
The following day we were keen to tick off a “fishing village” – given its proximity, Aberdeen, in Southern District, was it. No, we didn’t dine at Jumbo Kingdom, one of the world’s largest floating restaurants, but we saw it as we sailed by on a sampan.
From there we sailed out to Lamma Island – one of my favourite spots in Hong Kong – for dinner and drinks and that mad dash home again.
Don’t stress – we managed to cram in some dim sum during her trip. Tim Ho Wan, of course, in Sham Shui Po. Hot tip: pork buns and doggy bags don’t mix.
Siobhan had already visited Mei Ho House, formerly part of Shek Kip Mei Estate, but was willing to go again. It’s a lesser known museum, but free, and worth a visit. It’s also the last remaining example of a “Mark II” building in a single-block configuration.
A devastating fire in December 1953 left thousands homeless; the resettlement estate was built to house those survivors. By default, it kick-started the city’s public housing development.
From there it was a quick trip to Chi Lin Nunnery: a Buddhist temple complex in Diamond Hill. Founded in 1934 as a retreat for Buddhist nuns, it was rebuilt in the 1990s following the traditional Tang Dynasty architecture. It’s a breath of fresh air, literally, amid the chaos of Kowloon.
After a spot of shopping and silk stocking milk tea, it was time for me to head back to work and Siobhan to head back to New Zealand.
It wouldn’t be long before I followed her.