Marketman & Family just got back from a short trip to Hong Kong. Manila is our home, and we love it most of the time, but gosh is it nice to go to a city that just gets it! Where things work! Where efficiency is normal! Where Filipinos appear to be 3x more productive, despite originating from the same gene pool! From the plane, we cleared customs in no time (single line opening up to several officers, the most efficient queuing method, according to experts) â€“ instead of the pick your line in Manila and get screwed with a long wait time when you have a drug smuggler up front â€“ and I might add, Mrs. Marketman says the same works in womenâ€™s bathrooms in Manila where you pick your stall too!), by the time we got to the baggage carousel, our bags were out, we bought our train tickets in less than 45 seconds despite using a foreign charge card, and got a 30% discount to boot because 3 of us were traveling together. We went towards the train and as we got there, a new train pulled up and we got on, no wait. It took 28 minutes to the Central depot (exactly as stated, 28 minutes), then as we got off the train we immediately found the free shuttle bus that left just 30 seconds later for our hotel. The bus announced our hotel not five minutes later over the PA system and we were checked into a fabulous 44th storey hotel room with a terrific view of Hong Kong harbor (thank you to an old Hotel Gold Card from my working days YEARS ago when I spent over 100 room nights in the said hotel, or we would have been facing the mountains)â€¦
The bellhop who brought our bags up to the room within 3 minutes of our getting there, was Pinoy, and he was pleasantly surprised to find out we were too, then the housekeeper that arrived a few minutes later with the extra bed for the Kid was also Pinay, and surprised again that we were too. She brought us a nice pot of Chinese tea and three cups and we were unpacked and enjoying the tea within 75 minutes of landing at the airport which was over 40 kilometers away! Soon after the tea, we decided to hit the upscale grocery in the mall below our hotel and this post is about our heavy merienda/dinner fare that first evening. First â€œoh my goshâ€ find was a half loaf of rye bread from the venerated Parisian baker, Poilane; I know, you are thinking, how good can the bread be if it was flown in, but for a heavy dense loaf that was more than a day old, it was superb. Add to that find two cheeses, a ripe brie, which was 45% fat, and made from unpasteurized milk (so much better than the sanitized stuff), and a delicious Reblochon plus a nice thick wedge of Pate de Campagne and we were in business. All of this sliced and wrapped for us by incredibly knowledgeable and efficient Filipinas behind the deli countersâ€¦ Next I hit the fruit section and could simply not resist getting three ripe apricots from Australia and some cherries from the island of Tasmania, also in Australia.
The golden cherries were a whopping HK$240 a kilo or roughly PHP1,600 a kilo, but I really wanted to see what the fuss was all about so I bought just 200 grams of this literally, â€œgoldenâ€ fruit. Back at the room, I popped a cherry into my mouth and it was sublime, superb and definitely worth the extravagant cost. These were definitely amongst the finest cherries I have ever tasted, sweet, juicy and delicious. Not as dense as some of the deep red cherries I have had in the past, these were described by the Kid as more like a peach hiding in a cherry. Really very, very good. We looked at and tried other golden cherries in the markets from New Zealand and elsewhere but nothing compared to the first batch of air-flown Tasmanian golden cherries on that first evening. We also got some bottled water and some softdrinks and we feasted back in our hotel room as we watched the junks in the harbor zip here and thereâ€¦