Leap of Faith

We all survived the typhoon, hurray! The rain wasn’t even that bad, it just got really windy. A couple of trees near the dorm fell over, but that’s all. Another one is supposed to be coming, I think, but I think it’s going to stay even farther away from Hong Kong than the last one did.

On Friday, after all the typhoon business blew over (hahaha) I went hiking on MacLehose trail, near Sai Kung. It was a perfect day for hiking: warm, but a little cloudy so the sun wasn’t beating down on us. We got caught in a bit of rain toward the end, but it was okay. The trail is over in New Territories, and has some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen.

It takes a little over an hour to get to Sai Wan beach, but the trail is super easy – just like the last time I went hiking, it’s a paved sidewalk almost the whole way. Sai Wan is also beautiful, and split in two parts by a big section of rocks. It’s pretty strange – one side is very clean, but the other side has trash all over the sand. It probably washes up there from other beaches or people dumping from boats… really sad.

After the beach, we veered off the path to get to what we were really looking for: Sheung Luk Stream. It’s got a couple pools, but the one at the very top is both the cleanest and the deepest.

If you climb up to the top of the rocks, the jump is about 20 feet. It took me a bit of convincing, but eventually I mustered up the courage to do it. Oh my god, it was amazing. The water was cool and refreshing, and I got such an adrenaline rush from the jump! Afterward I just kept saying over and over again, “I can’t believe I just jumped off a cliff.” Then I did it again.

To cancel out all of that physical activity, I had plenty of desserts this weekend. On Saturday, I went for dumplings with a local friend, and then afterward we got dessert. He went for grass jelly with fruit, while I chose what translates to “ice flower.” It’s sort of like halfway between ice cream and shave ice. So light and refreshing! I got strawberry, but they also had mango, chocolate, durian, and Yakult. The place was right by school, so I will definitely be going back.

After that – FIREWORKS. October 1st is China’s National Day, and Hong Kong had the most amazing fireworks display I’ve ever seen in Victoria Harbor. Seriously, the entire sky was filled with fireworks for 20 minutes straight. I’ve never seen anything like it! They even had fireworks that formed the characters 中国 (China), but I couldn’t get a good picture. Apparently they spent something like $8,000,000HKD on the whole thing. Crazy. Also, the whole area by the water was PACKED. Seriously, the sidewalks were completely full and they even closed down the streets so we could stand there, it was insane!

Have you ever heard of rice pizza? Me neither. Today I went with a friend to a mall in Sha Tin and we had rice pizza for dinner. It’s literally just pizza but with rice instead of crust. She had been there before, but I had no idea what I was in store for. It was really good! One of the most interesting things I’ve ever eaten. And not nearly as filling or fatty as regular pizza, either. We got one with salmon and mushrooms, and one with chicken and mango. The salmon one was kind of cheesy, but I don’t think the chicken one had any cheese at all! I liked that one better. Mostly just because I love anything with mango. I couldn’t figure out how they get the rice to stay like that, though, because it’s not super sticky or crunchy or anything. Food mysteries.

After we stuffed our faces with the rice pizza, we walked around the mall until we were hungry again for dessert! We went to Honeymoon (not the same one as last time) and it was soooo delicious. I think other people had the same idea as us, because that place was hoppin. Seriously, the rest of the mall was pretty empty by that time, but Honeymoon was packed. Everyone wants dessert!

We got a “mango pancake,” which was a little dumpling-type thing with fresh mango and whipped cream inside, an icy sago soup with fresh mango, bananas, lychee jelly, and green tea ice cream (I love their green tea ice cream!!), and warm peanut/sesame tangyuan in black sesame and walnut soups. In the picture on the menu, the bowl is split diagonally with half black sesame soup and half walnut. I think they were rushing a little in the kitchen since it was so busy, so unfortunately our soup came a little bit mixed together. It still tasted great, but I really wanted to taste the walnut soup on its own! There’s always next time, I guess – makes for a great excuse to get more dessert!

I’m gonna come home super fat if I don’t slow it down with these desserts. Seriously.

Mango Rice Noddles

This is officially my longest weekend ever. No class from last Friday through next Thursday because of 中秋节 (Mid Autumn Festival)! We only officially get Monday evening and Tuesday off, but I already have no classes Friday, Monday in the daytime, and Wednesday. Basically I never go to school.

Friday I went on a four hour hike on Lantau Island to a small fishing village called Tai O. It was such a long hike, but totally worth it. It was a paved sidewalk almost the whole way, which was very strange to see on the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere, but it made it a lot easier. Tai O is amazing – all the houses are up on stilts for when the water comes in, and the marketplaces have all sorts of crazy things. It’s mostly dried fish, but all kinds of fish – I saw dried shrimp, squid, seahorses, even blowfish. I even saw what looked like a dried shark! Just on display at the storefront though, not for sale.

Walking around, we saw someone making those bubble waffle things! It was really neat how they do it – you pour the batter into the mold, which is sort of like a waffle iron except handheld. Then you hold it over hot coals until it cooks! This one was way better than when I got it a little while ago in Mong Kok; that one had been sitting out for awhile (aka not blog-worthy), but this one was nice and fresh. It tastes just like a waffle, but the shape just makes it way more fun. It’s like bubble wrap!

Then Saturday I went to Macau, which was awesome. Macau used to be Portuguese territory, so the mix of culture there is so unique. All of the streets have Portuguese names, and you can definitely see the Portuguese influence in the architecture, but everyone is Chinese! Plus, it’s sort of like the Las Vegas of China – tons of hotel casinos. Ones you’ve heard of too, like the Venetian and the MGM Grand.

We walked around a bit getting some street food… EGG TARTS!! They’re hot, with a really buttery crust and eggy filling. They sell them all over at little shops along the street for ridiculously cheap. Also, if you walk around the marketplace people will try to get you to eat samples of whatever they’re selling, like these awfully dry cookies and amazing beef jerky thing. You could basically eat a whole meal there for free! I also got a delicious matcha milk tea with red beans (my favorite) instead of my usual boba. For some reason, none of my friends like red bean… they’re crazy. But anyway. We went to the Ruínas de São Paulo, one of the most famous landmarks in Macau, and that’s basically it. I’d definitely like to go back and explore a little more and see what else Macau has to offer; I feel like there is so much more to see there!

After all that adventuring, I was feeling pretty tired today and just stayed local. We went to a place in Hung Hom called Dumpling King for dinner, and had noodles and 饺子, or pot stickers. It seems like dumplings are the only time I can get vegetables! I had some that were all veggie and some with spinach and pork, plus freshly made soy milk. They were pretty greasy, but very fresh – you could tell they had just made them.

Then we went to a place right next door for dessert, and of course I got sago – mango with fresh mango chunks and grass jelly.  It was sooooo good. Seriously, sago is my new favorite food. Someone else ordered peanut 汤圆 (tangyuan), which is sort of like mochi filled with peanut butter and served in a sweet broth. And then, one of my friends ordered…. mango rice noodles. Or, “noddles,” as the menu said. I don’t know what the waitress thought she ordered, but it definitely wasn’t mango rice noodles. It was a big bowl of grass jelly in this ridiculously strong sesame soup with a little bit of mango on top.

I didn’t think it was that bad, just too strong. I was the only one who didn’t make a gross face when I tasted it. Next time, I think we’re all going to order by just pointing to the pictures.

I have a new favorite food.

Sago. Well, sago pudding. This is my new favorite food dessert food. Sago is kind of like tapioca, and they put it into a cold, sweet soup. It’s so light and refreshing and not too sweet. I swear, I can eat that stuff everyday! They make lots of flavors with different fruits in the soup.

I’ve been having too much dessert lately. On Tuesday, I went to a dessert place called Honeymoon (it’s a chain, you can find them here) with some friends and a couple of local students. We had no idea what to get, so we told the local girls to just order whatever they wanted us to try. I didn’t get any photos, unfortunately, because it was right after class and I didn’t have my camera, but I will definitely be going back! We had a lot, so let’s see if I can remember it all.

  • Pineapple parfait, which was like really icy ice cream. Very light and sweet.
  • Durian mochi things. The local girls thought they would gross us out, but I actually liked it! I don’t mind the smell of durian like a lot of other people do. Durian is that big, spiky, smelly thing.
  • Mango sago with vanilla ice cream and pomelo (a type of citrus).
  • Tofu pudding with sesame soup and green tea ice cream. The tofu pudding is white, not quite as firm as Jello, and tastes like almonds; the sesame is black and thick with a nutty flavor; and the green tea ice cream was like forest green and tasted like TEA. I mean hardcore, straight up tea, not the sugary stuff at home. But honestly, take a second and imagine those colors. Black, white, and green. The presentation was beautiful when it came out, but when it got all mixed up in the bowl that stuff looked like Star Wars. I’m not kidding, intergalactic desserts here in Hong Kong.
  • A really eggy warm custard served IN THE EGG SHELL. I don’t know how they hollowed it out but honestly I don’t want to know. I want to keep believing it was magic.
  • These warm, mochi-like dough balls served with crushed peanuts and I think honey. You stick one of the balls with a toothpick and roll it in the peanuts. By far my favorite.

Needless to say, this dessert was basically an entire meal and I am SO SAD I didn’t get pictures. That’s why I brought my camera last night when I got dessert again!

This time it wasn’t at Honeymoon – we went to some hole in the wall type place here in Hung Hom, right by the dorms. We had mango/pomelo sago, strawberry sago, and a coconut custard thing.

The custard was so good! It was warm, which I wasn’t expecting, and not overly coconutty.

I love sago pudding. It is my new go-to dessert for sure. The mango one here was even better than the one at Honeymoon, I think, and walking distance from the dorm! I better not get fat from all the sago I’m going to eat.

My classes here have been riddikulus. (Yes, I did just say “riddikulus,” like the spell to vanish a Boggart.) My computer science classes are pretty awful. They’re on Monday and Tuesday evening until 10 o’clock at night!  Both are pretty big lectures, and all the students talk nonstop. Seriously, they just jabber away in Cantonese the whole time while the professors talk. Don’t they get upset or offended? That kind of disrespect would never fly at CMU. There were some other exchange students in my Artificial Intelligence class, but I am not exaggerating when I say that I am the whitest person taking Networks. People were staring at me like I didn’t belong in the room! They’ll just have to get used to me, I guess. At least I’m not blonde; then the stares would be even worse.

I found something else familiar at the grocery store the other day and decided to buy it. Let me know if you guys recognize this…