Any big plans for the weekend? Working at my second HK Art Fair has been fun, but really I just love any excuse to be in this bustling, expensive/expansive, international metropolis they call Hong Kong. Truthfully, I’m even more excited to have the DiploMan join me here so we can watch The Avengers on Sunday! drink beer and order pizza at 2am at a shady bar in Wanchai.
After this weekend, we only have eight more (!!??!) weekends left in Guangzhou, many of which are already booked for side trips or weekend events. We’ll probably be able to squeeze in one more trip to Hong Kong in one of our last weekends in town, but just in case….I’m soaking it all in.
Heaven. aka, Kitchen Market. A little slice of heaven in an otherwise normal Chinese city.
What looks like a very empty and bland strip mall is actually a small portion of buildings connected by overhangs that are dispersed over the course of several huge city blocks. You could spend hours- days, even- and not be able to visit the entire place.
As with all other markets in Guangzhou, this one caters to mostly customers who purchase in bulk, hence the presence of many industrial-sized machinery and whisks and strainers the size of my head. I asked one store if I could buy a bread knife, and she even refused to sell me just one, on the principle that I was buying just one.
Pots and pans for miles, tins and bowls, meat mallets, mixers, pasta rollers, bar utensils- it was all there.
I had a freeform list of things I was looking out for, but unfortunately my list became bigger rather than smaller. Luckily I had made a mental pact that this was just a scouting trip- that a real trip would come later (along with Barrett), but I still managed to walk away with two ceramic casserole dishes ($3 each!) and a silpat mat (for $10!!).
In doing some trip research before leaving for Phuket, I discovered a small archipelago just off the Northwest coast of Phuket called the Similan Islands. Owned and preserved by Thailand’s National Parks System, the Islands are available to visit only between November-May. Moreover, only four of the nine islands in the archipelago were available for visit (and one set up for camping), so as to preserve the both the reefs and sea turtles who spawned on the beaches. The more information I was able to dig up on information on the islands, the surer I knew this was someplace we just HAD to visit. As soon as I mentioned the islands had limited access and sea turtles, B agreed.
Being very uncharacteristic of the DiploMan and myself, we decided to book a set tour to the islands (and blew almost a third of our budget doing so). Really, there was no alternative- our lack of knowledge for how to get around Thailand prohibited us from hatching any genius plans to reach the remote cluster of Similan islands. Plus, this two-day-one-night package was all inclusive, from picking us up at our hotel in Patong, to transporting us an hour and a half via speedboat to the island, to multiple snorkel sites around the islands, to lunch on the beaches and our own personal tour guide throughout.
I don’t regret a penny of this purchase- it was far and wide the highlight of our trip. The beaches we visited had sand that reminded me of a coarse flour meal, the water lapping up against the rocks assured me why the color Aqua was named. the DiploMan and I scoured the night for critters and creatures (as much as I could scour the night), and found sea snakes, crabs, land snakes, fruit bats, and glow in the dark plankton that lit up when you hit the water. I became adept in my snorkel abilities, and with the 30 or so foot visibility under the clear waters, saw sea turtles, an octopus, a moral eel, and hundreds of reef-dwelling fishes. Minus the mosquitos- those darned creatures- I’d say it was a pretty ultimate experience.