Aug 25, 2010

Making Wife Cakes in Hong Kong

Hong Kong never fails to impress me. The airport is very nice but the best part is the transportation into the city. After exiting the baggage area there is a transfer desk where John and I purchased train tickets into the city. Without leaving the airport we boarded the fast, clean train for the 30-minute ride into Kowloon, one of the main districts of Hong Kong. Once the train arrived in Kowloon we took the elevator up one level to the bus that delivered us to our hotel. The bus is included in the ticket. It was smooth and hassle free which is important as our flight from JFK was 16 hours. Getting around Hong Kong is painless especially considering that Hong Kong is located on several islands. But between the bus, subway, and ferry systems it all works smoothly and senior citizens are half price.

Hong Kong is considered one of the world’s most expensive cities but the Hong Kong Tourist Board has one of the best tourist programs we have ever run across. Their Kaleidoscope program offers many free tours based on the culture, history, and nature of Hong Kong. We have taken several. This time we signed up for the Chinese Cake Making class. John and I joined eight other people at the Wing Wah Cake Shop to learn how to make Wife Cakes. Wife Cakes are actually made by men for their wives. It seems that long ago a wife sold herself into servitude to get money to pay for medical treatment for her father-in-law. The husband was so impressed by her sacrifice and wanted his wife back so he created the Wife Cake which he sold in the market. They became very popular so he was able to earn enough money to buy back his wife.

Most of the Kaleidoscope programs are free but the junk boat ride cost about $5. It is the only authentic junk boat still plying the waters of Victoria Harbor. The views of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island from the junk boat are incredible. Hong Kong Island is lined with skyscrapers that continue back from the waterfront and seem to climb up the mountain. The average residential skyscraper is home to between one and two thousand people.

The junk boat, named Duk Ling, dropped us on Hong Kong Island where a short walk took us to Exchange Square where we caught a bus to Stanley, best known for its bargain market. Hong Kong is a shopper’s delight offering everything from the most exclusive shops to unbelievable bargains.

We spent our first three nights at the InterContinental right on the waterfront. Each morning at 6:30 we met Master William Ng on the pool terrace for a free Tai Chi exercise class. From our room we are able to watch the nightly laser light show emanating from both sides of the harbor

The last three nights we spent in the Peninsula Hotel, considered the best hotel in the world. They have a fleet of Rolls Royce cars to serve their guests, their own helicopter, and just added two Mini Coopers, which they say are perfect for shopping trips. Walking into the Peninsula’s pillared lobby is like walking into another era. The in-house musicians play while people enjoy afternoon tea. No matter how many times we visit Hong Kong there is always something great to see and do.