Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hiking the Peak, Celebrating Easter, Eating at Our Favorite Restaurants, and Bidding Our Guests Adieu

Our busy days with Michael's parents continued after we returned from Thailand.  Feeling nice and toasty from the sun and pool and surf and snorkeling, we came back to a surprisingly beautiful Hong Kong, full of blue skies, bright sunshine and not a hint of humidity.  These are the days to be treasured!

We kicked off our Saturday morning with some very rewarding shopping (sportscoat for Michael's dad,  earrings for Michael's mom, and various goods and sundry for Michael's brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews) in the stores and markets in Central and TST.
Then, not wanting to waste our good fortune, we set out for the Peak, and were rewarded with beautiful views of Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, and all of Victoria Harbor.  First we saw the south side of the island - sleepy islands and boats, a reservoir,
 and the beautiful power plant of Lamma in the distance (yikes).
 Then we swung around to the front for the money shots.
 Mandatory selfie.

 We took a walk on Lugard Road.  It was one of the busiest days I've seen the path -- clearly everyone was keen to glimpse the views on a beautiful clear day!

After a week of dim sum, seafood, curry and Thai and Chinese delicacies, we figured that it was high time to switch cuisines.  We gorged ourselves at one of our favorite restaurant in town, Posto Pubblico, ordering spicy clams, deep fried calamari,
 their fresh made-to-order mozzarella,
and a variety of pasta dishes.  Everything was photographed under a heat lamp so I'm afraid it all has a bit of an otherworldly, eerie orange glow.  We ordered our favorite bottle of chianti classico (which I learned is only authentic if it has a black cockerel on the label), which tasted even smoother and lighter than I remembered.

The next morning, we headed to St. Joseph's church for Easter mass.  There were so many people that we had to stand in line despite arriving fifteen minutes before mass began.
Masses at mass.

 Everywhere you looked, there were so many people!  Many of the church attendees, particularly at this location, are Filipinas, belonging to the domestic helper community.  Michael and his dad stood heads and shoulders taller than everyone else.
After mass, we strolled up the hill to San Xi Lou for hotpot (how covenient).  Can you tell we were doing a tour of some of my favorite foods? 
 Michael's mom loves spice as much as me and I love her for it.  She understands the need for a (spice) fix.
After the meal, we strolled through the zoo, ostensibly to see some animals but also to try to walk off our nap-inducing meal.  We saw flamingos, red tipped cranes, and lots of various baboons and monkeys, including one very big and very old orangutan.

On Sunday night, we decided that we needed a lighter meal, and made our own salad and cheese spread and ate dinner in our new apartment.

Michael's mom knows how much I love flowers and she insisted on purchasing for me a big bouquet of flowers of my own choosing.  We went to the Sai Ying Pun markets while shopping for dinner and got this beautiful bouquet, as well as a mint plant and a basil plant that I will plant in planters on our kitchen balcony.  How sweet and kind is that!

We have loved having our visitors and, after they left for the airport bright and early on Monday morning, Michael and I both felt a bit bereft, missing our guests and the hustle and bustle of showing them the sights.  We are so happy that they were able to come visit us and get a glimpse of our lives and how we live!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dining on the Rocks, Snorkeling Koh Tao and Lunch at Sabeinglae

On one of the nights in Koh Samui, we went to dinner at the beautiful and quiet and very romantic Six Senses restaurant, Dining on the Rocks, where our table was set dramatically at the edge of a cliff overlooking smooth boulders.  The light of a full moon flitted over the glass surface of the ocean, which lapped quietly at the shore, providing a soothing backdrop to the lulls in our conversation. 

The food looked like art. 
The tuna amuse bouche.
The shrimp and scallop ceviche, artfully served on a plate of smoking seashells.
The grilled sea bass, in a fragrant broth.
We also went on a full day excursion to Koh Tao, one of the islands near Koh Samui, which is known for its abundant, beautiful snorkeling sites.  The first place we went was called the Japanese Gardens, and it was one of the best snorkeling sites I've done in a while, in its sheer breadth and variety of coral and fish.  We were probably in the water for an hour and a half or so, before we all returned to the boat for a hearty, tasty, home-cooked Thai meal.

After that, we motored to the other side of the island, where we again dropped anchor and snorkeled for another hour.  The second site was equally impressive, and I saw two medium sized stingrays, so translucent under water that they appeared milky and reflective, as if a mother of pearl film coated them.  Sadly, I missed the barracuda and the reef shark.  Overall, we couldn't have been more pleased with the snorkeling excursion.  They picked us up and took us home, door to door service, provided unlimited food and drink and fresh fruit, and were attentive and kind.  One of the guides took Michael's mom on a personal excursion, holding and guiding her, ensuring that she was able to see all the flora and fauna without coughing or snorting saltwater.  It was really wonderful, and, to my great relief, there was no stinging plankton in Thailand!

Finally, on our last day in Thailand, we went to Sabeinglae for a big lunch.
I had previously been to this restaurant for dinner.

The food was as fresh and tasty as I remembered it, but I think it's even better during the day because the view is stunning and adds to the atmosphere.

Color coordinated!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lounging by the Pool, Venturing to the Markets, and Grilling a Seafood Dinner

Our days in the villa went by in a relaxing, calm rhythm.  Much of the day was focused on this:
 Or this:
 Or this:
 And we felt very content and lazy looking out over the water, each day bringing a slightly different variation of color.

 The villa was very comfortable.

 This was my view on most days, from my air-conditioned perch on the living room couch:

In the middle of the week, we decided to venture to the market to purchase some fresh seafood.

 We also saw some chickens and their gizzards.

We ended up buying two pieces of tuna, prawns, mussels, squid and fresh eggplant, tomatoes and peppers.
We also some funky and cool vegetables, including tamarind leaf.

At night, we gathered around the table to enjoy the grilled feast.

Paired with wine and followed by a refreshing dip in the pool under the moonlight, it was a wonderful and satisfying meal.