It's good to be home

Especially now that the coldest February of all time is over.

Minus three I can handle.

Totally unexpected

I decided to order some char siew (BBQ pork and pork belly) with rice at the airport just in case, and it was actually really good.

But because I wasn't expecting it, I failed to take a picture, so instead you get a new year dragon.

Bye bye, Hong Kong. See you again real soon.

And god bless

The bus driver of the A 21.

She totally stopped and picked me up when she didn't have to, smiling, "Timing is everything."


Back alley barbershop

Just in for his regular straight blade shave.

Beyond pleased

To have discovered an awesome congee place on the forth floor of the local wet market. 

Especially since I only found out at the last minute that it was tucked away on the fourth floor of the wet market, where I wouldn't have otherwise found it.

Did I mention that I loved Hobg Kong's labyrinthine buildings and their secrets? 

And because

It seems to now be my signature move, I just rescued an old Chinese lady, who was clinging to some scaffolding, unsure of her footing and afraid to cross the street. 

So we crossed.

Turns out she wanted to go down the street a bit, so we went. Where to?

McDonald's, where she appears to be a regular.

A neon blur

Was how I wanted to experience HK. 

So far so good.

My hotel sort of wasn't where I thought it was, and then it was actually a different hotel, all of which had to be discovered through hand gestures and the universal sign for sleep (plus the words Wing Wah, as it turns out building names are much more useful than addresses), since there was no doorway on the street I expected to find it on.

I am staying in Mong Kok, a working class district that is one of the most densely populated areas of Hong Kong, and the heartland of the triad gangs.


For the record

Hong Kong is more exactly like I imagined Hong Kong would be than I even thought possible.

(Well, except for the drizzle, though I am enjoying the neon haze that it produces.)

I fucking love it.

Edit: and that was even before I discovered their glorious public toilets!

When using

The Central to Mid-levels Escalator System, whatever you do, don't wail against the flow.

Also, it occasionally (and adorably) refers to itself as a "travelator."

And then this surprise came out

While in Mong Kok

Go for dim sum at a Michelin 2-star in a 5-star hotel two blocks away from the fleabag you're staying at.

Tsing Ma Bridge to Lantau

The world's longest road and rail suspension bridge!!!!


Theoretical wifi

Webus is the wifi available on the bus system, but I have been having a helluva time getting it to work. Luckily, a kind young man has been helping me make sense of my map vs the bus map.

Also, on the flight here, I sat beside a Penangite who lives in Windsor... on Partington!



My first night in Penang, I had dinner with two guys who brought me to the New Lane hawker stalls. We had char koay teow and char koay kak. I failed to take pics.

My last day in Penang, I had the (in)famous teow from the Lorong Selanat lady. She was not wearing her usual goggles.

It was very very good, but at 10RM, I'd say you don't need to seek it out specifically.

For dinner, I finally managed to find the kak guy I had been looking for (in all the wrong places). I got the large for, I think, 5RM. That I would recommend.

It's cocktail hour at the E & O

And everything is all right.


Religion and char koay teow

In Ipoh, for dinner, I wound up ordering char koay teow from a Malay (Muslim) hawker stall, which they recommended as their specialty. It looked like this:

Now, your standard ckt (this one happens to be one of the most famous in town) looks more like this:

The former was served in a brown soupy sauce that was heavy on the cockles. 

Cockles are typical, as are bean sprouts, flat rice noodles, shrimp, and eggs. 

But... the standard version is fried. In lard. And usually served with bacon or some other pork product.

None of which I considered before ordering my Ipoh char koay teow. 

Later, Souther, Hotter

For the record (and not to rub it in or anything) it has been stinking hot the entire time I have been here.

I even had a heat rash for the first ten days.

The old E & O

That's the Eastern and Oriental, if you don't know.
Pool, ocean, mountains.

I discovered it by accident, looking for ocean access one day, and dropped in for a tour (and to use the ladies, natch). It is a glorious old hotel, though I am staying in the new section, because how can you pass up a balcony like that?

Did I mention the bathtub? And the black and white checkered marble floor?

In addition to the ladies prayer room

I have run into a number of other quirks of being in a majority Muslim country.

Spare prayer rug.

That's the qibla in the ceiling, so you know which way to face (towards Mecca) when the call to prayer sounds.

And then there's this, but that's just a particularity of Malaysia.


Ipoh train station

New theory

Malaysia gained its independence in 1957.

This is where the automotive industry was at that same year:

Think that might explain why cities here are chopped up by highways and almost unnavigable on foot? (Last night, Googlemaps wanted me to hop a guardrail and dart across two onramps and two off ramps to get where I wanted to go.)

Forget KL, which is is nothing but highways proper - little Ipoh is bisected by at least two major 5-lane one-way arterials.

And somehow it's still easier to walk anywhere but Penang (where I have had it confirmed on good authority that the drivers really do gun for you).

Clearly a huge pipocalypse party

Will be happening here.

Book your tickets now.


Nasi kerabu

Which was named for me by two charming Malaysian foodies, who then proceeded to buy me dinner.


I would stay in the park and enjoy them a little longer, but there is lightening to the south and the Malay food of Kampung Baru calls.