03 June 2014

HK Day 7: Last full day

On Thursday, we woke up at 6:30 AM as usual - still not fully adjusted to HK time!  However, we made good use of the time by catching up on a couple days' worth of the travel blog and uploading photos to Flickr.  In addition, Gwen got super creative in securing an upgrade to business class for our return flight (woo hoo!).  To make a long story short, we received an offer to upgrade to business class for what struck us as a reasonable increase in fare.  However, for various reasons, we were unable either to pay the fare increase online with our credit card or make an international call from either our cell phones or hotel room to secure the upgrade via phone.  Ultimately, Gwen was able to call our credit card customer service via Google Talk, and they were able to push the transaction through.  It'll be nice having business class for the 14 hour leg from Dubai to DC!

Around 10:30, we headed out to dim sum at Maxim's Palace at the Hong Kong city hall, which was highly recommended to Todd by a partner at his firm.  After walking around the block a bit, we finally located city hall and Maxim's Palace (which is one of a handful of restaurants in city hall, another of which confusingly is called Maxim's Cafe). 

Maxim's Palace is a large, beautifully appointed ballroom / banquet hall.  Though it appeared totally packed, we were seated in just a few minutes and quickly were brought piping hot tea.  Shortly after that, we had chosen almost too many items to eat from the numerous carts that came by frequently.  

Items we tried included char siu bao (three different kinds), bai tan gao, dan tat, sweet bean soup, shu mai, and zhong zi, all of which were super.  Also great were the carts themselves, which were state of the art.  Each cart listed each item for sale in English and Chinese and provided the price of each item, and some carts even included screens showing videos of the items!  Overall, this restaurant was a huge hit with us -- we were stuffed until 9pm.
Afterwards, we visited a series of stores in Mong Kok that qualified as ... interesting, but unfortunately some of them were not as cool as we had hoped.  We did get some good souvenirs out of the excursion, however.  We checked out a $12 dollar store (where we picked up a couple cut strawberry-shaped dishes), a place called Sim City contained floor after floor of electronics items (where we picked up a couple lighting cables that appear not to work due to Apple's greediness), a shopping mall, and an outdoor market that we think was the Ladies Market (which seemed quite a bit larger than Temple Street).  We declined to buy anything at the Ladies Market, though many vendors were quick to drop their asking prices after the slightest bit of haggling, because we just weren't sure whether was could place any faith in the items there.  If you buy a watch, for example, how can you know if it will work two weeks later?

After wandering around for hours and racking up 14,000 steps on Gwen's FitBit, we decided to give our sore feet a rest at a noodle place in the Langham Place mall, where we grabbed a quick late dinner.

As our last act for the day, we decided to buy Gwen a dress to wear for the next day's adventures.  Sadly, this task proved much harder than expected!  We had read a blog post claiming that Mong Kok has a giant and excellent Esprit outlet.  However, the outlet was quite challenging to locate, as it is underground and only marked with fairly modest on the street (modest signage really doesn't cut it in Mong Kok, where there are so many lights at night that it feels like day on most streets). After many trips around the block, we did eventually find the outlet, but found it very underwhelming and would not recommend that others make the trip.  We decided to go back to the real Esprit just a few blocks away, buy Gwen's dress at a fairly reasonable non-outlet price, and call it a day.

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