Our working hosts take a deserved lie in after the stresses of the week and the weekend begins a little later. The weather, although humid, is still relatively overcast and although we all want to go to the beach there is no rush.
Taking a taxi, we go up to the Peak and have lunch at the Peak Lookout cafe which dates back to the 1940’s. It has fantastic views from it’s large terrace over the whole of the south side of the island and is surrounded by mature trees. It’s a popular spot with both locals and tourists in the know as it’s menu offers something for everyone. You can have burgers, steak or ribs from the BBQ , a variety of Chinese and Indian dishes, salads and a great variety of seafood.
Lunch over, we take another taxi to Shek O, a small town with a great beach just about as far as we can go on the island. The taxi takes 5 of us the 10 miles or so for around £10. Only the masochistic and the vain need their own car in this place. The drive commences with a descent back down to Central which confuses me and sets the old cabbies brain a-ticking, but really there is no other route and in any event ,we get a view of the eastern suburbs of Causeway and Quarry bays on the motorway route. After the tower blocks are eventually left behind, we climb the hills through thick vegetation and undeveloped land. Glimpses of beaches and expensive houses occur every few hundred yards as HK son points out the route of the “Dragons Back” walking trail over the hills.
Just before reaching our destination, we see the exclusive Shek O Golf and Country club. This was founded by the largely British movers and shakers in the Twenties led by the directors of the legendary Jardine Matheson. The club still maintains high levels of exclusivity and has serious influence over the sale and purchase of the stratospherically priced houses on the fringes of the club. Mere wealth is not enough, you need to be connected! On the course itself, the players visible from the road have caddies that appear to be little old Chinese ladies with broad straw hats.
Shek O itself has a lovely beach just beyond a low rise, relatively undeveloped village. On exiting the cab, we are immediately accosted by a diminutive and feisty Chinese lady who wants to rent us deckchairs and is not about to take no for an answer. As it’s 4pm we negotiate a price of around a £1 a chair and she is soon back with 5 old-style seaside deckchairs. As we want to find space further along the beach we make as if to carry out own chairs which we only manage with difficulty as this tiny ball of entrepreneurial energy wants to carry all 5 for us.
We enjoy our time on the beach which has fine sand, undeveloped hills on all sides and small islands off shore in the South China sea. It has lifeguards and ominously a floating boom some 30 yards offshore which surely marks the presence of a net to deter certain marine creatures from greeting the bathers. This being China, not every shark will have an obvious fin either.
The lifeguards leave, the older members of the party become fatigued by beach football and the ablution facilities are braved in the wake of a Saturday beachful of users. A taxi is soon hailed and it’s back to Central Hong Kong to change and go out for dinner. The view of the city on the motorway back as the sun sets is exceptional although very difficult to photo from a moving car.
The day is rounded off in great style, we have enjoyed a good many exceptional meals on this trip and tonight was another superb experience. We are taken to Bombay Dreams, an Indian restaurant in Wyndham Street, central Hong Kong. The food here is of the highest quality and the restaurant itself surpasses any from the sub-continent in style and decor I have ever been in before.
We start with Palak Patta Chaat, spinach leaves coated in lentil batter, deep fried and then assembled on a plate and covered with ginger , chilli, yoghurt and chutney. Main courses include Kadhai Gosht Kali Mirch which is Boneless lamb marinated in yoghurt and crushed peppercorns cooked in a “Handi” and Baingan Bharta, a dish of Aubergines with onions , tomatoes and garlic. We also sample a chicken biriani, a peas pilau, a creamy dhal and some great breads. As is traditional with all curry meals we over order and the shadow of Mr Creosote falls across the table.