We continued our battle against jet lag with a morning workout before meeting up Lexton, Colin's friend from high school. He's an NYC Chinatown native who lives in Hong Kong while playing for the Macau soccer team, so exploring with him on the first day to get our bearings was definitely helpful. He promptly directed us to buy an octopus card – the HK metrocard that also works as a pre-paid card for places like 7-Eleven.
First order of business was a stop at Sam's, a famous HK custom suit maker who's walls were covered with celebrity faces and messy autographs thanking him for his services. Colin loves a perfectly tailored suit, so he took great care in selecting every detail from the fabric (charcoal) to the lining (light blue paisley) to the lapel design. I was mostly impressed with the systematic efficiency that guided the many foreign customers through their abundance of customization options and fabrics. Clearly marked diagrams of dapper, Western-looking men did the trick.
We figured a rainy first day made the Hong Kong of Museum a sensible next stop. To be honest, it was meh. The Warhol exhibit was temporarily closed (opening right in time for Art Basel) so the remaining exhibits of calligraphy and ceramics were only mildly exciting. Given my type-obsessed tendencies, the calligraphy portion did stir up a bit more enthusiasm. I'm always quite impressed to see how artists approach variation in character stroke when the placement and thickness of each line is so imperative to its meaning. And then there was a three-headed unicorn.
The special Warhol entrance to the museum was a misleading bright start given the gloomy weather outside and the meh-status art experience inside.
Even traveling with a current HK resident, we got a little lost in the search for one of Lexton's favorite ramen spots – Butao Ramen. I guess that's half the fun, right? Wandering in search of noodles? Butao's approach was similar to the Meatball Shop: A finite number of mix and match options for ramen your way. Lexton opted for the Black King base that boasted a deep squid flavor, while Colin heated things up with the spicy Red King. It was basically a giant bowl of chili broth. Scrumptious! (I got a pretty basic options. Not very experienced in the ramen realm.)
Lexton's Black King ramen.
Colin's Red King ramen.
Another obligatory trip: Speed walking through the Ladies Market as much as possible, glancing at the fake goods and crowded stalls. We stopped toward the end to purchase the card versions of Monopoly and Scrabble, per Lexton's recommendation. The entire concept of the Ladies Market baffles me. It's rows and rows of the same low-quality items with minimal price variation (if any), and barely any noticeable purchasing activity. I was keeping my eyes peeled for the possibility of a creative salesman trying out a different display or call out method to catch the attention of passersby. Not any to speak of. I did, however, find the gem below. No, I didn't buy it.
After the ramen I didn't think we could possibly eat anything else – until Lexton introduced us to our first two street foods: Crispy waffles folded in half, oozing with butter, sweetened condensed milk, and melted peanut butter to start, followed by spicy, flattened fried chicken. If that doesn't make you drool then you're crazy. I would have those waffles for breakfast every day if I liked going to the gym to burn it all off. Walking by the other stands serving the same delectable sweetness and smelling that peanut butter is a constant temptation.
We finally headed back to the hotel for nap time...where we forgot to set alarms and slept for far too long. Jet lag kicked our asses, after all.
Colin makes traveling incredibly easy for me. His level of preparedness and research for how we'll approach experiencing a city is so buttoned up that it feels like we're being spontaneous. No lists. It's all in his head. Of course, my hyper-anxious-self questions this sometimes, so he agreed to make some lists to calm me the fuck down.