Monday, March 26, 2018

Bye Bye Macau. It's Back to Kowloon.

Bro shopping for fruits in Yau Ma Tei.

Oce we decided to leave Macau and return back to Kowloon, we once again had to figure out how to get the bus back to the ferry terminal.  Yes, we could've easily taken a taxi but as a responsible traveler, I always try to take public transportation first and the buses in Macau are plentiful, cheap and if you are in any of the tourist sites, there is always a large display with a map marked with the tourist spots and the bus numbers that will take you to each of them.

From A-Ma Temple, we knew we could catch the number 10 bus to get us back to the Macau Outer Ferry terminal (Terminal Marítimo).   We headed back to the bus stop where we initially got off and there on the carousel was the bus route information for bus 10.  We knew we were standing at the correct spot. So, we kept an eye out for all the coming buses, looking for the number 10.

It was quite a few minutes before a 10 bus came rumbling down the street towards us.  The door opened and as usual, I let Bro board ahead of me as he has to buy the tickets.  He asked, "Terminal Marítimo?" and the ever so rude driver simply shook his head and waved us off the bus.


We were momentarily confused.  So much so that we actually walked back to the display board to double check that we had the correct bus number and indeed we had.  So, scratching our heads, we walked back to the stop.  There, a much friendlier local told us that we actually had to be on the OTHER side of the street to catch the bus back to the terminal.  Duh!!

So, we crossed the street and found a larger bus stand, servicing several different routes.  We found the one for the 10 and waited.  This time, when we asked the driver if he was heading for the terminal, we got a nod of the head.  Finally.


The 10 took us on a different route back to the ferry terminal than the number 3 bus had gone on from the ferry terminal to Senado Square so it was a small opportunity to see more of Macau.  This bus does swing by more of the casinos.  Maybe on another trip, we'll have to enter one of them just to see what they're like.  I'm expecting Vegas in Macau.

The bus pulled into the ferry terminal parking lot where all the casino shuttle buses are parked.  We crossed the road, entered the terminal, and headed upstairs to the TurboJET counter to buy our return ticket for the 3:05p ferry back to Kowloon.  With tickets in hand and some time to spare, we actually did some shopping at one of the specialty food stores in the terminal.  I never did any reading on what foods are things you must try when in Kowloon, except for the Portuguese tarts, so entering the one shop, I was surprised to see all the different types of cookies Macau is known for.  Apparently, almond cookies are the island's main specialty....and I learnt this, from of all people, Bro!  I think one of his tennis partners told him this.  So, we looked for almond cookies and we saw several different types.  Bro wanted THE almond cookie.  I had no clue.  I would've Googled to get answer but we lost our phone signal somewhere in the sea between Kowloon and Macau.  I don't know he didn't bring this up when we walked by a gazillion Koi Kei Bakery shops.  Once I did figure out what they were, they look very much like other types of Chinese molded cookies I've had.  I do love those cookies  - crumbly in texture and slightly sweet with the aromatic scent of almond or sometimes, peanut.  Too bad, we didn't figure what it was while we were in the terminal because we left empty handed except for a canned drink that I bought.

Soon, it was time to make our way to the departure lounge.  All day long, we had been guided by good signage and then we get confused trying to figure out where to go to get to the departure lounge.  We thought we followed the signs only to end up in a place that was obviously not the place we had to be.  Eventually, we got on the right path.


We cleared immigration and then waited for the boarding announcement.  Here, Bro was surveyed by two people, who appeared to be representing the Macau government's tourism bureau, to answer a few general profile questions along with questions about how his visit to Macau was.  He was still answering questions when the other people in the room had gotten up from their seats and were heading down the boarding ramp.  I had to rush them along because I was not about to miss the ferry!  They wrapped up quickly and handed him a pen as a token of their appreciation.  We scurried to board the ferry.


The ride between Macau and Kowloon, on TurboJET, takes only about an hour.  While I enjoyed our very brief visit to Macau, I was very happy to be back in Hong Kong.  I like it here better; Hong Kong's more my kind of place.



We had done our sightseeing for the day.  With nothing else on the agenda, we could simply chill out the rest of the day.  But, I still had one place I did want us to go to and that is a restaurant called Mak Man Kee, another venerable Hong Kong eating establishment.  Mak Man is located in the Jordan neighborhood, just a short distance from our apartment on Temple Street.

While it is incredibly easy to make your way around Kowloon on the MTR, the place is also very walkable.  So, from the China Ferry Terminal building, we decided to walk to Mak Ma.  We retraced our steps to Nathan Road and walked all the way to where the restaurant is located at 51 Parkes Street.  Google Maps led the way.

When we left this morning, the sidewalks were relatively people free.  At this time of day, there are so many people walking the streets here that Bro has jokingly decided that the Chinese government needs to revise its two child per family policy to one child for every two families. 😁  He's been here three full days now and he's convinced it's way too crowded!  Indeed, there are a lot of people here but so far, it's not impeded our ability to get around or even to be seated for a meal.  You just have to get used to a lot of people noise.  Personally, I absolutely love Hong Kong, probably my favorite city in Asia.  To me, it's as if NYC had been transplanted to Asia.  Of course, there is some bias on my part as I am Cantonese by descent and in many ways, Hong Kong is part of the place that I would call my homeland.



It wasn't easy finding Mak Man Kee - it's such a humble storefront and apparently, it was recently forced to give up the neon sign that once hung outside the establishment.  But greedy travelers don't give up and we did find the place which you can't miss if you have your eyes peeled a window through which you can spot a guy working behind a large pot of boiling water!

Mak Man specializes in Hong Kong style noodles that are especially scrumptious because they are made with duck and not chicken eggs.  The noodles are served with simple shrimp wontons.  This is all the serve and they are so good at it that the humble restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2017!

The restaurant is teeny weeny and like many Chinese restaurants has zero ambiance.  But many foodies like me care less about the surroundings and more about the quality of the food.  I was really looking forward to my meal here as I am an absolute noodle freak!

You seat yourself and there's really no need for a menu here.  Not a whole lot of choice.  Noodles wet (aka soup) or dry (aka sauced) or just the wontons.  We ordered two bowls of noodles with wontons and a plate of Chinese vegetables to share.  You can order drinks.  I don't know what they offer as we just sipped from our water bottles.  Sorry the photos are not all that great.  In all honesty, I was too giddy with excited greediness that I pretty much could not be bothered to take photos.



I would say that less than 5 minutes after you order your food and it's delivered to your table.  The noodles were as Cantonese like them - chewy (due to the addition of akaline water when mixing up the dough) and a deep yellow color from the rich duck yolks.  The wontons had been put at the bottom of the bowl, the noodles were piled on top and then the simple, clear broth ladled over everything.

There were five wontons which seems so little except they were the size of golf balls and they were filled with nothing but chopped shrimp that had been shaped into a ball.  The wrapper was paper thing so it was as if the balls of shrimp had just been lightly glazed with a hint of a sheet of pasta.  I am going to steal this idea and make them at home.  The wontons were so, so, so simple but so, so, so delicious.


The bowls weren't large but again, we're trying really hard not to overeat so we both passed up on ordering seconds.  Oh man, that was a very simple but another soul satisfying Cantonese meal.  If I lived in Hong Kong, I would be a frequent diner here.

Happily filled with a bit of food, it was time to head back to our apartment.  But....not before we got some dessert.  We stumbled upon a small stall selling snacks and drinks.  We had to check out the menu.  I passed up on the snacks but I could not do the same for the drinks.  I chose grass jelly with sago and coconut milk.  Something only Asians can appreciate and nothing I can get in the US but....I have all these ingredients at home that I can whip up this super delicious sweet drink.  Except I would not serve it with a straw as I am very anti-straw (i.e., anti-plastic trash) for environmental reasons.


We took a slight detour on the way home when we crossed a street that had been closed off to cars.  Up and down both sides were vendors selling fresh produce and other items.  We decided to check it out.  We are on day 3 of Bro having gone without any fruit so I know he's pining for some.  I was hoping he would find something here and in fact, he did.


I think it's true pretty much everywhere in China but especially for the Cantonese.  It's about food 24x7.  We used to joke that as you are eating breakfast, you're already thinking about lunch and dinner meals are planned out over the lunch plate. 😀  There is so much fresh food to be found in Hong Kong, it's no wonder why people don't really need big refrigerators or freezers.


I think every neighborhood has its weekly or perhaps daily street market.  For worker bees, it's especially convenient to be able to get fresh ingredients on the way home.




Even the neighborhood butcher was still open for business and selling.  As a cook, I envy anyone who can buy their meat this fresh; meat that has perhaps never been packaged in styrofoam or even, ideally, never seen the inside of a chiller.  Every piece was butchered from an animal that was slaughtered either earlier in the day or worse case, the day before.


Of course, as night falls, business in the restaurants begins to pick up.  For the past three nights, we've been saying we need to splurge on a seafood meal.  We say that every time we walk past a vendor selling seafood so fresh, it's still sitting in water.  Perhaps tomorrow night and that would be our last chance since tomorrow is our last full day in Hong Kong.


You can easily wander between Jordan and Yau Ma Tei and even get a bit lost but you can't miss Temple Street.  Just look for the strings of red flags strung up between the buildings, over the street.  We're almost back in our Kowloon home!


Tomorrow is another *road trip*.  We're heading to Lamma Island!

Goodnight from Kowloon!