June 03, 2011
New Territories and Chicken Feet!
Like most countries, Hong Kong is an economic dichotomy. We saw the really poor trying to live and we walked through malls and housing buildings for the super-wealthy. Some aspects of life are seen in all cultures I guess. This is the reason we ended up on this tour. We wanted to see the "authentic" Hong Kong--the country, not the tourist based city. Much like getting out to the North Shore of Oahu instead of spending your whole holiday at Waikiki.
We rode to the top of the mountains and overlooked all the islands of Hong Kong and saw how over the years, the people have "reclaimed" land from the sea and connected the islands for more room to build. The New Territories is the green farming and traditional family living in between the City and Mainland China. As we drove Gigi explained to us cultural histories of small communities and how many of them have histories dating hundreds and some thousands of years ago. We stopped in one village at a Temple. It was beautiful. The artwork was ornate and detailed in a myrad of colors. Gigi explained burial processes because of the shortage of land and money, most people only have a marker in the temple instead of being buried. She also showed us how people burn paper items for their ancestors to use in the next life. You can burn clothes, dentures, money and anything else you feel they need including Ipods and I-phone 5!
We stopped at an original walled city, decised as protection to the clan against enemies, these cities only had one opened that could be locked and all houses are built square, tall and no parcel of land is wasted. We walked through the narrow sidewalks that were literally only a few feet across, so people could reach out their windows and touch the house of the neighbor across the walkway. It was nostalgic and felt like we were in the movies of China hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
We finally ended the tour by looking across the bay at the border of China. Gigi explained that the body of water between in two countries used to be a high traffic place for Chinese immigrants to sneak into Hong Kong in hopes for a better life.
We met some friends later the in the afternoon in Mang Kok. We stood at the exit to the underground train system waiting for them and Hiva and I could not process the floods of people that were traversing into the train system and out onto the street. It was a sea of faces in a continuous stream--a bit overwhelming when you think that in the States, even the most crowded places have SOMEWHERE you can get away and let your claustrophobia rest. I asked our friends if it was like that because of the Holiday, but they said "Nope, it is ALWAYS like this." That would take some getting used to. We ate a traditional Chinese restaurant with them and Hiva and I ate starfish, squid legs, and I ate some chicken feet. They really were good. They were fixed in some kind of jalapeno teriyaki sauce and I enjoyed them. Hiva thought I was crazy and stuck with the starfish. I have to say that our favorite are still the steamed pork dumplings and the char siu buns (manapua in Hawaii).
We went to see the LDS Hong Kong Temple and it was so peaceful after the business of the city. I am so glad that we went there.