Nothing refresh me like a vacation no matter how long or short it is, especially at this time of the year when I have a case of “cabin fever”. Recently I had taken ten days off to Hong Kong, but minus two days of traveling I actually only had 8 days to eat and shop. Even it was a little too short, it was a nice break. I can’t really complain, because I missed that heavy snow dump at home, and on that day, I was running around in 25 C temperature with my short sleeves t shirt.
I left YVR on Feb. 21, and as I was there very early, I had plenty of time to check out all the stores and the food court. Since I had a queasy stomach that day I decided that the sensible thing to eat was a bowl of congee. I thought it would be the safest thing to eat out of all the choices in the food court, but I was not prepared for the blandness of it. Basically the rice was parboiled and then put through a blender and then boiled again to the consistency of a gruel, and threw in a few pieces of ground beef, and for the final decorative touch a couple of pieces of sliced Chinese doughnut which tasted like last night’s left over. The congee was bland and the beef had no seasoning, it was the plainest bowl of congee I had ever tasted. I was quite upset that I had to pay almost 6 dollars for it.
On my way back to Vancouver, I was once again left with more time than I needed at the airport. I love Hong Kong airport, there are so much to see and to eat. They got a couple of good bookstores stocked with the latest magazines from North America, it is a good place to catch up with the latest Hollywood gossip and other news. They also have many souvenir shops from name brand clothing to famous snack shops. You will not be bored while waiting for your flights. I love the food court because they have so many choices there. This time I wanted to try something other than my regular fast food, and I found this nice little place with a traditional flare, and just like any airport restaurants the prices are higher than the local eateries, but I love the look of it, and so I decided to try this one out. When I got there it was quite early in the morning and I was the only patron there, but after a while I noticed a handful of the airport staff came in for breakfast, so I assumed this must be a popular eating place.
Since I am obsessed with congee, I had ordered the traditional Hong Kong combo, which comes with a bowl of congee with salted pork and perserved duck egg ( somtimes known as the century egg) and a plate of steamed rice roll.
I was not disappointed at all, the congee had a nice consistency which was neither too heavy or too watery, and it had generous portions of meat and egg in it. The congee had the right touch of seasoning and I loved the way they served the steamed rice rolls, instead of putting the soya sauce on it , the sauce came separately, for those who are watching out for their sodium intake they can add whatever amount of sauce they desire.
Before I finally reached Vancouver, I had a three hour lay over in Narita, Japan. Even though it made the traveling time longer, in retrospect I do appreciate that break, it made the long flight home a little tolerable. Since I had never visited the Narita airport, this gave me a good opportunity to explore. I was really impressed by all the facilities and services available for travelers, they have rooms for kids to hang out, places for travelers to shower and to catch a few hours of much needed sleep. In addition, I found the toilets quite interesting, they have bidets and other equipments to help with personal hygienic issues and to make sure you know how to operate they have very clear instructions for these personal equipment:
As I wandered around the shops in the airport, I observed that they have this very popular cake package in all sorts of sizes, and judging from the displays in the shops these “banana cakes” must be the item to bring home. I was tempted to buy a small box, but the thought of extra hand luggage really did not thrill me, so I passed up the opportunity even though they look really good. ( They look like little bananas nested in a nice little box).
Even though I felt really bloated from the plane ride ( my usual travel ills), I could not pass up the opportunity to try out some authentic ramen as I stumbled upon them. I love Japanese restaurants, because there is no guess work as to what you are ordering. They have these wonderful displays in their window and if you do not speak the language, you can always point to whatever you fancied.
For my lunch, I had ordered the Japanese seafood ramen, the prawn was not only big, but it was very fresh, and I really loved how the coating stayed on even in the broth and to me the broth is one of the most important ingredients for a good bowl of ramen, and in this case the broth had excellent favor. The ramen was cooked to the right consistency, it was neither chewy or over cooked. This was one of the simplest and cheapest ramen on the menu, and it cost me 980 yen which was approximately about 11 dollars. I also ordered a cup of coffee along with my meal, and as a coffee lover, I had to say it was an excellent cup of java.
On the topic of beverages, I noticed that Japanese like wine and beer with their meals, there is a very extensive menu , and both at the shop and on the flight back home, I noticed that Japanese like to accompany their meals with beer. It seems to be a must have item for all meals.