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Friday, October 2, 2015

GAWA Day #17: Hong Kong, and the Best Fireworks Show I've Ever Seen

My flight on Asiana to Hong Kong was uneventful, a whole lot better than the agony and ecstasy of three days ago.  I even got to the hotel without incident.  My room is only on 5th floor, but overlooks Victoria Harbor.


The Sheraton Hong Kong now has a Platinum Lounge, which is better than nothing, which was the case until recently. Here, I learned some unsettling news.  First, there are two Golden Weeks in China, around the Lunar New Year...and NOW!  I did it again.  Yesterday, October 1, was something called National Day, celebrating the 66th birthday of the People's Republic of China.  This Golden Week extends through this weekend, and even on to Wednesday of next week for some.  Travel for foreigners is discouraged.

Surprise #2, all roads today into Kowloon downtown closed at 7PM and did not open until 10PM.  If I had arrived a couple of hours later, it could well have been midnight to check-in to the hotel.

Surprise #3 was that there are two executive lounges:  the Platinum one only for Platinum members of Starwood, which is, actually, pretty lousy, except that the staff is helpful, and a Towers Lounge at the top of the building, which I hear is excellent.  You need to pay the higher amount in "the Tower" to to be able to use that lounge.  Even Starwood Platinums can't go there.  This is symptomatic of Hong Kong, which has levels of acceptance in their higher society.  

Surprise #4:  Reservations for dinner were impossible, on this being National Day.  However, they were able to book me a reservation for lunch the next day at #8 on the Pellegrino Best Asian Restaurants list, 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana.  In comparison, My Best $200 Lunch of a few days ago at Jung Sik-dang is #10.

Shock #4 was a huge plus.  There is a 23-minute fireworks show from 9PM celebrating National Day (it was cancelled last year because of the Occupy movement), and my room has about the best view sight in the city, for below me at street level were tens of thousands waiting to watch the explosions.


And what a show:

Reportedly, 300,000 watched.  Even in my room behind the picture glass wall, I could hear and feel the explosions.

Breakfast here was another delight, for the buffet is similar to the Sheraton's in Japan and Korea, but with a Chinese theme:


I'm having a "small" breakfast because I plan to have a fabulous lunch today.

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana is Chef Umberto Bombana's tribute to the 1963 autobiographical film, 8 1/2, by Federico Fellini.  An Italian restaurant located in the Landmark Alexandra shopping mall, has on its walls artwork from Picasso and Dali.  Getting off the Tsim Sha Tsui Red Line at Central Station, Exit H takes you to the basement of the mall.  Two floors up by escalator is the restaurant.  I was one hour early, so that placed me in the bar.

People here dress rather casually.  A loud man dressed in shorts and athletic shoes complained about his table, so they accommodated him.  He sounded American.

Next to me was the  glass enclosed cheese/ham curing room (right).  I was tempted to have the set menu with matched wines, which would have cost around $200, ideal for comparing with Jung Sik-dang, but I was not that hungry and the setting was non-optimal.  Plus, I realized this would be just like Armani, the Italian cuisine I experienced in Tokyo.  My thinking was that there is a Morton's in my hotel, so, perhaps, I will have a late evening steak.  Thus, I ordered three appetizers and glasses of Prosecco and Red Meritage from Italy:


Frankly, each dish lacked in character, so understanding this was a major insult, I asked for some chili and Tabasco:


Not much of an improvement, but better.  I was tempted to have their world famous tiramisu, but asked for the check, and some ending items showed up:


I would say I was disappointed.

I decided to catch the Star Ferry back to my hotel, and was impressed that the entire walk to the port, about half a mile, if not longer, was covered, with tons of people walking around.  HONG KONG IS THE MOST ORGANIZED CITY IN THE WORLD!!!  Note the large Apple store:


Here is the view to Kowloon:


Star Ferry and Pixie in Hong Kong:


For dinner, I went one floor down to Morton's:


Amazingly enough, they were booked, but suggested the bar.  Insulted, unhappy, that is where I ate, a Caesar Salad, truffle fries and ribeye, with a Tanqueray 10 martini and Argentinian Malbec:


According to my server, the steak came from Chicago, which can mean anything.  But it was American, and it was good.  At this point my attitude improved, when I surmised that my room was right above where I was sitting:


Skip down to the next posting to see the similarity.  Astoundingly, save for the bread and fabulous truffle fries (which maintained the distinctive aroma till the very end, even when the potato was cold):


I should mention that this meal cost $200, which is insane.  I guess there are a lot of rich people in Hong Kong.

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There are six ocean storms, and the really dangerous one is Hurricane Joaquin, now at 130 MPH:


Here are the possible pathways:


However, the most likely one (the white line) shows that Joaquin will NOT make landfall over the USA.  However:


Tropical Depression Mujigae rolled over the Philippines and is down to 40 MPH, but is still expected to strengthen into a typhoon, with the cone of potential including Hong Kong around Sunday:


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