Saturday, December 5, 2015

Where There is No Starbucks

Of course there is; this is Hong Kong after all where Starbucks is almost as plentiful as in Seattle, but I have yet to see one in my new neighborhood. It is full of small businesses, and men with blowtorches are not an uncommon sight. Many of the buildings are still of modest height and splotched by weather. When I look down at the street, people pushing handcarts are already at work by daybreak. I really, really like it here.

Yesterday I went back to Sai Kung after picking up a refund for my unused nights at Ascension House. Sai Kung has an alley filled with Thai restaurants, and after having sampled grilled pork and Isaan sausage (both very good with a fantastic dipping sauce), I was hungry for more. Sawaddee Restaurant had a little row of tables in the alleyway that drew me there and I ordered grilled pork neck, papaya salad Lao style, rice (sadly not sticky, but steamed) and Thai lemonade. It was all good, infinitely better than anything I've had in Hong Kong's Thai Town at Kai Tak, with real Thai flavors in every bite. It was also around 20 USD, reminding me that I was still in Hong Kong, where high rents demand high prices, but it was worth it after three weeks of subtle Cantonese meals.

Sai Kung is pretty and completely user-friendly, with a town square, a park with shade trees, sweet little streets, Western-style restaurants with English menus, and even a bookstore with books in my language and the best magazine section I've seen in this corner of the world. But today and for the following two days, I want my full measure of Kowloon grit and noise and prickly sweetness. Bring it, Sham Shui Po.

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