Hong Kong, day 4
Wednesday was the big day for Mei and Joe but with the wedding not starting until mid-afternoon Melinda and I had enough time for a few more tourist stops. We visited the Hyatt's breakfast buffet once again, which really was a good idea in retrospect, given that we never found much for breakfast eateries. Then a couple of stops up on the red MTR line to visit flower market road and the Yuen Po Street bird garden. Flower Market road is lined with florists, not surprisingly, and at 10a when we walked through it was also lined with their delivery trucks, depositing flowers from elsewhere and picking up outbound bundles. I only wish I had a need for a dozen bright red roses for only a few USD.
Flower Market road turns when it meets Yuen Po Street where we found a line of shops selling small birds in small cages. Parakeets and finches mostly but a few parrots and cockatiels. The wild birds were cute, too, trying to steal the birdseed that would escape from the cages onto the ground. The scene is iconic Hong Kong but sort of depressing in a way, mostly because the cages are 8" on a side and the birds spend all their time flitting from one side to the other (in about a quarter second per flit).
Back to the hotel with plenty of time, we get changed and catch a cab at the Hyatt Car Park. Melinda wrote down the name of where we're going in Chinese but the valet also just tells the driver were to go. It's slow driving from the hotel across the harbor mostly as we wait for lane merges into the cross-harbor tunnel. The trip gets us there in plenty of time, in part because we were told a time 30 minutes earlier than we actually needed to be there. Heh. Driving in Hong Kong is not for the feint of heart: cars are like the ice molecules in glaciers, deforming like a plastic around immovable structures (utility poles, traffic barriers). Private cars couldn't account for more than 20% of traffic; lorries maybe 25%, and the balance - more than half - are identical taxi cabs. Taxis are very inexpensive in Hong Kong -- the trip we took included two toll fares and was pretty long but added up to less than $20 USD. Between taxis and the MTR both being ubiquitous you really don't need your own car in Hong Kong.
The ceremony was outside on the bay-side deck of the country club with maybe 25 people in attendance (including me, Melinda, and another of our friends from San Francisco, David). With the exception of a few readings the entire service was in English, and even the readings were read twice, once in English and once in Cantonese. Post ceremony then group photos, then cocktails in the country club, and a wedding banquet reception a few hours later. Mei brought Settlers of Catan for we San Franciscans to play, which was pretty nice. We played alongside some lively mahjong players. The banquet was 12 courses but the first dish was my favorite: roast suckling pig. Pork, crispy, deep fried - how could this not be tasty? I also enjoyed the red bean soup at the end as the dessert. During the banquet several people made toasts and shared stories about the newly wed couple but all these were in Cantonese; I just smiled and watched politely. As per tradition Mei changed her dress several times during the banquet and she and Joe made a tour of all the tables in the room to greet everyone and to have a toast. It all seemed pretty nice; seems doable. 8)
The return trip was much faster, with no traffic to slow us down. Also, the driver knew some bit of English, and he knew that our hotel used to be elsewhere several years ago. I wonder if the Hyatt has just
reopened recently. They're still doing construction on the building (seems like there's construction everywhere around Hong Kong).