Today I forgot about looking for needles in haystacks and decided to play tourist for the day. But I shunned the Peak, left the consumer madness of Tsim Sha Tsui and headed a few stops along the MTR to Sham Shui Po/Shek Kep Mei to find a very different Hong Kong. Tenement blocks, bamboo scaffolding. Not a designer label in sight, and buildings with character and style. Row upon row of street shops selling textiles, crafting stuff, computer wares, affordable fruit and vegetables, a crazy flea market, all hummingwith a very different energy fromTsim Sha Tsui. But the real reason for my for visit was to join the queues for a Michelin star rated dim sum house – Tim Ho Wan. As a solo diner I didn’t have to wait very long. In HK real estate is so expensive nobody bags a table to themselves, space is at a premium. So I shared my lunch table with a man from New York City. In between our slurpings and delighted squeaks he told me that they have a Tim Ho Wan in New York too, but he said this one was way better and he wanted to experience the real deal. I’ve had many many Ha Jiao in my time, but these were absolutely the best dumplings I have ever tasted. A Michelin star-lunch for £8, anyone?
This next bit will probably only be of interest to Harbour Spa Groupies.
Some seven hours later, my legs and feet were screaming ‘no more’, so I popped into Kowloon Park, for my daily swim. I love this place. It’s probably not for everyone, but it’s a 5 minute walk from my hostel and opens at 06.30 and closes at 10.00pm. A huge municipal indoor and outdoor pool complex that is accessible for everyone and costs about a pound a swim. Fantastic shower facilities for elderly and disabled, and many many of them swimming. Everyone warms up with exercises and tai chi for quite some time before they get into the water, which is clean, and a perfect temperature. You have to walk through a continuous shower before you can reach the pool. Most swimmers wear swimming hats, but considering there is so much Asian long dark hair it seems amazing that I never see any. There are always cleaners mopping and cleaning, wiping out the lockers, which all have keys and there are lots of them. The hairdryers are mounted on the walls, adjustable heaters/dryers, which was very useful when I had no towel. The showers are clean, easy to use and very hot if you want them to be. When things break, this is what happens :
And repair it they do. Quickly.
Mass Transit railway, Mass(ive) swimming pool. The Hong Kong people are excellent at managing large facilities, efficiently and cost effectively. Why oh why can’t we? Harbour Spa?
On the down side, HK ers have this rather horrible habit of publicly spitting. They are fined if they do so in the pool, so they spit into the drain that runs round the edge. Let’s not do this at Harbour Spa ladies! And you’ll be happy to hear this is not a habit I will be bringing home with me.