Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hong Kong wishes

There is a certain beauty and a romantic feel to Hong Kong, especially in the relative cool of winter. I can't be sure I'd ever want to live there, but a visit can be simply sublime.

Tonight and every night
Let's go walking down this empty street
Let's walk in the cool evening night
Wrong or right, be at my side
The downtown lights...

I need a good walk after dinner; this is from an uncrowded Avenue of the Stars (星光大道) around 10:45pm. I was very lucky indeed; I had just seconds to compose this as one of the few (fake) junks still in existence came into view and made a brief stop.

(Handheld pictures at night can be tough to nail. You need a fast lens (here, wide-open at f/1.7) and as slow a shutter speed as you dare: a potentially blurry 1/30s was used here. Fortunately, the Olympus E-P1 has in-body sensor stabilization. Still, this exposure required a speed of 3200 ISO! No EV compensation. My EP-1 is truly marginal at high ISO. Hmm, a good excuse to get that new world-class Olympus OM-D.)

Not being much of a tourist, my ideal day in Hong Kong would revolve around guilt-free food and exercise. The idea being to pay one's dues before taking in a calorifically significant repetition, for example, of this:

Add in some shark fin soup beforehand, and ahem, you see the need to walk it off a bit before I can fit in that relaxing drink, maybe at the nearby and classy Intercontinental Hotel Lobby Lounge (Link: here)?

Or for a view from on high and a different ambiance, maybe the inside/outside Cocky Bar up on the 18th floor at The One? (Link: here.)

Of course, to ensure that one should be feeling absolutely guilt-free about the after-dinner Mojito, I'd suggest sweating a bit for a few hours before dinner: for example, I'm partial to exercise of the kind shown here. Your mileage may vary.

Win a few, lose a few, don't play too hard and make some friends. And, before that, if I manage to catch up on a few hours of work on the laptop in the early afternoon, then Life with a capital L is good (at least for today).

Unfortunately, there is a different kind of price to be paid for those sublime evenings.

The problem with travel across time zones is jet lag. I wake up early. There's nothing I can do about that.

Since I'm up early, I might as well take out the iPod and running shoes that I've brought along.

Hit the hotel gym for a light 30 minute workout before first light, as the city is still sleeping. If I time this right, by the time I finish, dawn's light has transformed my view of the cityscape from 45 floors up.

It's 7:30am and I'm 450 kcal to the good already.

A cooldown swim in the deliciously deserted 20m long roof-top heated pool. I can concentrate on my technique as I swim slow lazy laps:

I skip the whirlpool for the (Japanese-style serious) 43C water temperature of the indoor spa:

It's not onsen (温泉) water with mineral content, but as my leg muscles warm back up, I feel them slowly unwind. I may also use the steam room. In the USA, they may use peppermint in a plastic spray bottle, in Hong Kong it's Cassia bark bundles on the heater in the steam room. (Therapeudic effects are claimed. Balances ying and yang. Restores energy, improves the digestive system and eyesight. Or so it says. I'm sold. It feels good.)

(Nearly perfection, much classier than what I'm used to normally, I do wish they had laundry service for my running gear while I swam and unwound in the spa.)

By the time I shower, it has been an indulgent two hours since I got up. But hey, the silver lining with jet lag is that time is on my side in the mornings. With additional good timing, I'm ready for dim sum breakfast as soon as a decent restaurant opens.

I love to be first in a nearly empty restaurant. You see, near emptiness and tranquility is at a premium in Hong Kong. Congee (粥) accompanied by deep-fried, and slightly salted breadstick (油條), aka colloquially as 油炸鬼 (oil-fried devil), really hits the spot after the run.

Plus my favorite char-siu steamed rice flour rolls (豬腸粉) beautifully presented, and I'm good to go (back to sleep).

It's okay. It's only 9am, even if I nap, I've accomplished something today even if I'm feeling deliciously decadent.

1 comment:

  1. My breakfast! Hah, they are using my recipe!
    They forgot something, lotus seed! Too early in the morning perhaps! :-)
    "L"ife apparently is pretty good!