Tel Aviv Diary - November 27-Decembeer 1, 2015 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 27-December 1, 2015

Day one – we went up to the ‘peak’ in hong kong while our room was being moved. The view of hong kong is truly remarkable but the way up was murder. First off we took the subway and wound up walking miles to the train station, or maybe I was just tired. The big torture was when we got to the tram – line well over 500 people long, we got shoveled into the trams and everything was very efficient, but very long. Very long. And once you get up there there are floors and floors of trash. Museums like Mme tussaud and trick the eye. We had sushi up there – and it was good. After that we went to the zoo. Much more fun – but for some reason the zoo with all its great assets – middle of town, monkeys, cute kids, etc – seemed just a little more boring than the Safari in Israel. Why? The animals seem more animated, more interesting. These look like they don’t have enough to do. Took a taxi home, worn out, and found ourselves in a new great room. The first room was overlooking the building site of the hotel next door, blocking the view of the water. Woke me up early and put me in a bad mood. Even though the breakfast had dim sum. When we got back our room had been changed and we were above the builders and could see the bay. It made the Harbour Grand hotel bearable and we had dinner at the Chinese restaurant in the hotel (too tired to look around for somewhere to eat and the information desk said there was nothing around.) Kwan Chauk Heen turned out to be very tasty

Day 2 – we discovered the neighborhood after breakfast. I had an address from the internet for men’s clothing at a discount and we walked up and down kings street and found lots to see but no discount outlet. I got a down vest that cost me 300 hong kong bucks – maybe 150 shekel – that I’ve longed to buy for months and in muji it was selling for 450. Wow. Ezi likes the looking but wouldn’t dream of buying and couldn’t be tempted to eat from the street. So in the afternoon we went to a better neighborhood – prada, burberry etc. He was less uncomfortable there, but shopping is definitely not his thing. For dinner we had Japanese at the hotel. It was very good, very expensive, and we had no feet left for going out. Shopping should be done by lovers of shopping. And not by people who are repulsed by such grand scale capitalism.

The evening was spent with a bottle of saki in the Japanese restaurant in the hotel, Nagomi. We had some sushi and assorted tempura there, some green tea ice cream – very good, very expensive. And not all that much food. Day 3 – the desire to see the Tian Tan Buddha was so strong we stood in line for hours to buy tickets to the crystal cable car. There were a few times I was ready to give everything up. First, I could have kept eating breakfast and looking at the great view for hours. Second we had to take two long trains to get to the cable car station. Third we waited forever. Fourth when I saw the cable car stop in mid air I was ready to pass my expensive ticket to someone else. But it was worth it, after all. We climbed the 296 steps to the Buddha and I got to mention my little prayer to him. I think he listened because on the way back I had a little conversation with a cow who seemed to understand my needs. On the way back we grabbed some sandwiches and gave up on dinner. We were and are worn out.

Day 4 – Ezi dragged me out this morning to the temple of Man Mo. I was literally dragging my feet because once again we had the long walk to and into the subway and we had to stand up all the way there. It’s just around the corner, Ezi said as we left the subway, but the map didn’t show him that it was about five flights up (on Ladder Street) no less. By the time we got to the temple I was aching all over. But I forgot everything after a bottle of some strange tea from the vending machine and the strange sight of a large oven at the left of the entrance. People were bringing sacrifices to the man who maintained the over – food? I wasn’t sure what. Something they bought at the temple and put on brown paper trays. No one else seemed interested in the sight. And inside the temple people were buying large incense sticks and burning them in front of the many statues while they prayed, bending three times and sometimes kneeling with their palms together. The worshippers were many, in all kinds of dress from jeans to suits, and very intense in their prayers. As soon as they left a man came and snuffed out the incense in a pot of sand and threw the sticks away. There were no explanations in English, except that these were the gods of war and of literature but the whole scene was incredibly impressive. As we descended Ladder Street we stopped at the street of antiques and finally did some serious shopping. Abacuses, chess sets, paint brushes – it was wonderful. the saleslady added it all up on her hand computer and gave us a nice discount, perhaps because I complained she did not use an abacus herself.

Tonight we went to visit someone in the suburb of Stanley. It was like being in some small town in florida. All ex-pats and English food. Another world entirely. We ate at a place called Pickled Penguins and I had fish and chips.

Tomorrow we leave Hong Kong but I wish I could learn more about this city.

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