Hong Kong: Science Museum and Money

Today's Random Facts:

About street numbers: Hart Avenue is shaped like a letter "Y," with all three legs of the "Y" being called "Hart Avenue." This gets even funnier when you discover that my hotel is at 8A Hart ... and Joy Cuisine, which is around one of those corners AND ACROSS THE ROAD, is listed as 8 Hart.

During the day, the touts on Nathan Road want (fairly badly) to sell you a suit, some shirts, or a watch. We seem to have a consistent gender split: the men are selling these items, and women are selling massages. If you give the men even a few seconds, you'll find out the suit will be fitted. They're still there in the evening, and they extend their range a bit, my favourite offer coming in last night: "watches, hashish?" Wow! Together?! How great is that?

Bamboo is the preferred scaffolding material here. I guess I've become used to it and don't think about it much anymore. They'll use it up to 20 stories: it's strong stuff.

photo: Along Nathan Road (November 26)

Men crawling up the second and third storey of bamboo scaffolding

I returned to A-Plus Kitchen for breakfast. Not as good as Joy Cuisine, but too much of a good thing can make it less appealing. At A-Plus, I tried the "New" item on the menu: "Smoked Duck Breast Spaghetti in Lobster Bisque." This came in a huge bowl with coffee and a croissant for $33HK. The "lobster bisque" was mediocre at best - essentially a creamy tomato soup with a hint of something that might have been lobster. But the smoked duck breast was kind of fantastic: duck bacon. Very smoky, really delicious. The two were a poor combination, as any quantity of the bisque overrode the flavour of the duck. So I ate them separately and enjoyed it.

Another day of drizzle in HK. The dance of the umbrellas is incredibly entertaining from the sidelines, less so when you're in it on those very packed sidewalks. Especially when you're in the core and there's a bus queue that's doubled up on itself and narrowed the remainder of the sidewalk to room enough for one as dozens try to pass in each direction.

I went to the Science Museum around noon, and it was a blast. It was Wednesday, and on Wednesdays most (all?) museums are free. This has the disadvantage that the place was swarming with kids. But it also has the advantage that the place was swarming with kids. They make great photos, and I enjoyed their enthusiasm. The place has a lot of fun hands-on stuff: one of the more memorable ones had the kids pulling "cord" from a giant electrical socket to see where it took them on a screen. Through the wall and to the electrical poles outside the house. And they had to pull pretty hard, so they got teams ... it was fun to watch and photograph. At 1300 there was a performance of "The Energy Machine," a ball and track machine that occupies about a third of the building, stretching through most of the building overhead. The balls were a good 10cm in diameter. They fell and whacked and bounced and spiralled - it's hugely entertaining. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjl9VVxWauE ) Their hall of mirrors is pretty damn good too: it's the same kind of tricks you may have seen before, but they've got a LOT of them, and several are quite clever. There was lots of other stuff, but you get the general idea.

I made a bit of a run for Two IFC, one of the bigger towers on the Island. The 55th floor houses the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and they were having a tour at 1430. I made it, but the tour was - as I'd guessed it might be - in Cantonese. Mostly one big room (at least the part accessible to the public), and the displays were all double-labelled, so I did fine reading for myself. Did you know that the HK$ has been locked to the U.S.$ at a rate of $7.8HK (+/-5%?) since 1983? 33 years! And I didn't know it was locked at all. Had an interesting chat about polymer vs. paper with the guy at the desk: HK is using a $10 polymer bill, but they're sticking with paper for the higher denominations as they think the available security features are better. I explained that a wad of polymers was a lot thinner, which he seemed to find interesting. I think he was interested - I mean, he works at the monetary authority. We speculated that their polymer may be thicker. He also pointed out that giving envelopes of cash at Christmas and Birthdays is a very big thing in HK, and paper money (as opposed to polymer) then becomes a cultural issue - an interesting point. I was fascinated by the security features, and particularly three counterfeit bills they had on display. I would have been taken in by all three of them. One I would have spotted immediately had I looked closely - but who does that? In that case, the front-to-back printing registration was off, a thing that was immediately obvious when you shone a light through it. And the other two would have fooled me even if I'd looked closely - possibly even with the real article right next to them.

Part of my reason for going there was the view: it's on the 55th floor. And the views were indeed fantastic. But it's through glass on a wet day, so it was a photographic fiasco. Too bad. I'll have to hope I get to Sky100 on a clear day, which is looking less likely as time goes on.

My next stop would have been the HK Museum of Art, as usual based on information from Rough Guide. But the Museum of Art closed for a multi-year renovation in 2015. So I went back to Golden Computer Centre, where I entertained myself with the incredible variety of computer parts and accessories available. I managed to pick up several interesting items, all for under $20CAN together.

The last stop of the day was Mak Man Kee Noodles (like the HKMA, recommended by my HK expert) at 51 Parkes Street. Finding it was entertaining: street numbers are relatively uncommon, and two doors down was "Mak's Noodles." Happily I persisted and found the right place - despite it not having an English name on it. I was packed in at a one metre diameter table with a couple and another person who'd walked in at the same time as me. The waiters and arriving or departing patrons bump you as they pass - they have no real choice. I got wanton noodle soup and ... I think it was "Chinese broccoli" with oyster sauce. Really good wantons.