On Sunday, we decided to go see the Alexander Grantham, a retired Fireboat. It is located in Quarry Bay Park ( which appears to have at least two playgrounds, possibly more). Getting there was relatively easy, it was only one stop from our hotel. Calvin appeared to really enjoy the Fireboat but seemed nervous about falling off the side (which was well fenced-in so it would have taken real effort to “fall” off).
After, the Fireboat, we gave in and let Calvin play in one of the larger parks. As a plus, there was free government provided wifi so I had a chance to check email. We thought our hotel had free wifi but that turned out not to be the case. So, a chance to check my email was welcome. While Jaeger watched Calvin I also attempted to find lunch. However, as I’ve already mentioned, Google seems to have a hard time figuring out where things are in Hong Kong so it took both of us looking to find something.
We wandered into a section of town that, if not tourist-free, seemed relatively free of white tourists. When we arrived at the restaurant, the restaurant staff seemed very excited to see us, or, Calvin at least. They spent the whole time hovering over him. It was like having a celebrity in our midst. He was a little cranky and I explained that he was probably just hungry (though having that much attention probably didn’t help). Upon hearing this, one lady bustled back and brought out a small dish of pickled zucchini which, I am sorry to say, Calvin turned his nose up at. Upon seeing this dish didn’t meet Calvin’s expectations, she went back and came out with a piece of chocolate which did indeed improve his mood.
Jaeger ordered food and made sure to include some noodle and tofu, Calvin’s favorite things. However, the noodle was interspersed with skinny bean sprouts that Calvin didn’t like. Not to worry, one lady helpfully took the serving chopsticks and moved the sprouts he had discarded to another dish and then gave him another helping of noodle, attempting to avoid as many sprouts as possible. She also served him some more tofu and cut it up into little bite sized pieces for him. I mostly looked on in bemusement.
After lunch, we walked toward the Coastal Defense Museum. I always find it educational to walk inner areas, sometimes overly educational but not in this case. In the parts of Hong Kong we had been in prior to this, everything had been meticulously clean. There were signs everywhere saying things like, “This handrail disinfected every hour” or “This facility is regularly cleaned.” Our best guess is this is post-bird flu epidemic but we’re not sure. The restrooms are always very clean, even if it’s occasionally difficult to find a sit-down toilet (the handicap stalls usually have sit-down toilets). We haven’t seen any panhandling and very little of obvious homelessness*. We didn’t see any at all in the central area. On the way to the coastal defense museum we noticed several twin beds, complete with box springs, sheets, and blankets, under some stairs but that was about it and it was so nicely made up I had trouble deciding exactly what the situation was.
We got to the Coastal Defense museum, paid for our tickets, and then went up an elevator and our to a breezeway that took us on the path to the museum building. Along the way we saw various examples of cannons and other guns. Calvin seemed very concerned about the safety of them and kept telling us to be careful. The museum was a little above Calvin’s level so I took him back outside and read stories on the iPad while Jaeger wandered around and learned interesting things. Here also, the middle-aged female security guards seemed enchanted with Calvin.
Jaeger thought it would be interesting to attend an evening Christmas service at the local Anglican church so after the museum we went back to the hotel to change. We stopped to have a light supper of hot drinks and pastry and then continued on to the church. In central there were massive numbers of people, mostly Filipino women, sitting down huddled in groups on the side walks. Apparently maids are very common in Hong Kong and most have one day off on Sunday. So, they all get together to play cards and talk on Sundays.
We arrived at the church a couple of minutes before the service started. It was packed and we had trouble finding seating, apparently all the foreigners had the same idea we did. Eventually, we found two seats and I set Calvin on my lap. This was a “lessons and carols” service and everyone in the congregation had lit candles. it proved to be an interesting balance act holding a candle in one hand and stabilizing Calvin in the other.
The service was mostly in English though they did have small parts spoken in Catonese, Mandarin, and a Philippiano speaker. I’m addition, the program was printed in English on one side and Chinese on the other. The congregation was invited to join in the singing several times. Unfortunately, we were in an alcove that couldn’t see the platform and behind us was a very loud singer who seemed to have a different vision of tempo than the choir director/organ. As a result, our section was often woefully out of sync with everyone else. Calvin fell asleep before the end of the program.
Once again, I carried him home and tucked him into bed with only minor mutterings.
* Having been here longer, I now have seen people panhandling, though not a lot (certainly a lot less than Boulder). On my walk back to MTR one day I saw several people panhandling on one of the walkways I took. These were people with very obvious physical problems. It’s possible that begging is more common in the evening, when I’m already back at the hotel.
Our Hong Kong/Taiwan Trip: