"What would Chia do?", we asked ourselves when cousin Anna (Sheung Bo Wai) knocked on our hotel door at 8 a.m. and asked us what we would like to do today. Our local cell was dead and we didn't know she was coming. (Her friends were waiting for us at a dim sum restaurant, but for once we were able to decline a huge meal.) Macau was an option, but it is like Las Vegas with fancy gambling casinos and clubs, but this crowd doesn't gamble or drink. Then she mentioned a fishing village on a small island an hour away by ferry. Fresh seafood galore. BINGO!! That's what Chia would do. According to Michael, his Dad loves seafood.
On the ferry ride over, cousin Anna explained maternal family history to Chuni. Anna's birth mother gave her and her sister to her sister's teacher, who was Chuni's Mom's sister. Anna's birth father had died and her mother needed to go to Hong Kong to find work and could not support them in their small farming village. Anna came to HK when she was in her early 20's and found work as a sales clerk. Her Mom never came to HK, but lived in the city and did ok. The 2nd sister had a rough life as she stayed in the village and her husband, a Nationalist, was in prison most if the time. All they has was land and that was confiscated by the Communists.
We took a 1 hour ferry ride to Cheng Chau, which is off the coast of Lantau,
where the Monastery was located. We docked in a charming fishing village where people can rent rooms on top of shops by the water.
Since we passed on the big breakfast, Anna insisted on buying us a fantastic 5 course seafood lunch of clams, squid, shrimps and steamed whole fish. Michael beat me to the first eyeball, but I snagged the last one and the head. The shrimps and crabs were tedious to pick apart. Chuni said Chia would've put the whole thing in his mouth and spit out what he couldn't eat. So, in honor of Chia, I did the same thing. It was much easier. The food was so good, we stuffed ourselves as the local women played Mahjong next to us. We even got a box of tissue for napkins and, boy, we needed that! Michael said I was a kindred spirit with his Dad when it comes to seafood. I agreed and feel like Chia has become a wonderful e-pal through this blog! Can't wait to treat the Li's to lobster and steamers at the Parker House in Sea Girt when we get back home!!
After lunch we walked through the village and Anna insisted on buying us some local desserts of something rubbery and good involving red bean paste. We walked to the beach and people were actually swimming in the ocean!! There were life guards and everything! Chuni bought a pair of pink Hawaiian shorts as her dark capris were too hot. She looked so cute and it was one of 3 outfits of the day as she bought a light skirt later and changed again!!
We didn't have our suits, but we all 3 went in up to our knees. It felt really good. Anna said we were lucky that it wasn't a weekend or after 7/15, which is when their summer school break starts, or it would be really crowded. It was really hot! They sell frozen fresh fruit kabobs which, of course, Anna insisted on buying, and thick spiral potato chips on a stick which Michael tried.
We shopped a bit and headed back on the ferry. The higher fare seats are air conditioned, but we sweated along with the rest of the regular passengers. On the ferry, Chuni insisted I have a bite of one of the gelatinous desserts Anna bought. I was still stuffed but took a bite when Chuni screamed "Gluten! I bet it has gluten in it, don't eat it! " I couldn't believe she all of a sudden was concerned with that when she's been shoving starchy things in my face for the past 3 weeks without a thought to gluten.
As soon as we got off the ferry, we took the subway to Causeway Bay, the most popular area in HK social life, similar to Time Square. In fact, one area is called Time Square. We met Anna's daughter, Mary, and her son, Matthew, at an all you can eat Japanese restaurant ! I thought I was going to die since we had only eaten 2 hours before and snacks in between, but Chuni and Michael did not bat an eyelash as Michael started by ordering 30 pieces of salmon sashimi!! We were there 2 hours! Little Matthew was so cute and brought his iPad to play games with Michael. He was no short hitter with the food, either. Mary was gorgeous and owns a children's clothing shop. Afterwards, we went to see the lights on Victoria Bay and took a double decker bus back home.
Anna wants to take us to a much closer beach area at 8 am tomorrow and Mary is keeping Matthew out of school so they can go with us and spend more time with his newfound Uncle Michael! By noon, we must be at
College friend Lucy's house for lunch, before we catch our 5 pm flight back to Taipei.
Our time for this wonderful trip is soon coming to an end. I am so moved by the strong sense of loyalty and hospitality all of these friends and family have shown. Some have always been close to Chuni and Chia, but others haven't been seen for years or have never been met before. Without exception, they go out of their way to make us feel welcome and plan the most extraordinary excursions for us, as if we were the center of their lives while we ate here. We are never rushed (ok, except for Father Paul), and there are always more activities and treats than we have time to do or the stomach to consume!! This trip, Michael has met 3 new cousins and 5 new nephews and nieces and I've gotten to be the smiling shadow witnessing it all!!
Thank you, Chia, for letting me be you here! I'm honored to eat crab shells in your name any day! You have a wonderful family....