Going to the Races!

After a great afternoon admiring Hong Kong from Victoria Peak, we decided to do something else very beloved in Hong Kong: attend a horse race!  Horse races occur every Wednesday and Sunday and we would attend the Wednesday night one at Sha Tin (note: if you are in Hong Kong and reading this, we were at the Sunday stadium due to construction at the Wednesday one, so check the location prior to heading out).  After multiple simple metro connections, we were dropped off directly at the horse stadium, paid the 10HKD entry fee ($1.33) and entered to try and figure out how to bet on a horse.  The stadium was full of locals who appeared to be in their home away from home.  We felt a bit confused and a little intimidated by all these experienced horse betters but then we found out that we had to know absolutely nothing to have a good time betting on a horse.  Even the “bad” horses can come out ahead unexpectedly.  They only required a minimum bet of 10HKD per race and we could select any number horse.  Eight races would take place throughout the evening.  We did the minimum bet each time, enjoying the 30 minutes between each race to eat some spectacular sweet and sour fish and beef curry (with some sort of marrow) and indulge in a beer.  It was fun to cheer for our horses even though they never won until the seventh race when we decided we would each do one last bet and then head back to Randy’s house.  John bet on number 5 and I bet on number 8 and at the last second, number five pulled ahead and took the win!!  We were ecstatic!!  Number five was not expected to win, so the payout was 8 to 1 and the total winning was 80 HKD or about $11.50.  It was enough to break even with our bets!  We figured we should definitely stop after a big win and headed back to central.

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We had one more night at Randy’s, so we planned to spend our last day exploring Lantau Island and trying to see the famous pink dolphins that live in the area.  It took a while to get there, but both the ferry and the bus ride were very scenic.  We arrived in Lantau Island which seemed a bit touristy but still had a lot of charm.  The streets were full of hanging dried fish and the water bank was littered with companies offering to take us out to try to see the pink dolphins.  They are supposedly bubblegum pink and nearly 90% of people who go out to see them have successful sightings.  We took the boat out but were unfortunately part of the 10% who missed out.  The ride was still pretty and we also got to see the cool “floating village”, essentially an entire village on stilts.  After the failed boat tour, we took a walk around and stumbled upon a path up the mountain with gorgeous sea views.  We walked along for about an hour, watching the sun set and hoping to spot a dolphin from above with the handy binoculars placed at the top for our viewing pleasure.

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We headed back to Hong Kong and stopped by the water to try to catch the end of the light show.  It was already over, but we still got to see the view of Hong Kong Island lit up at night.  We promised Matt and Liam we would stop by the Butcher’s Club to say goodbye, so we hightailed it back to Wan Chai to find a man sitting at the bar in the Butcher’s Club preparing for an eating challenge.  Matt played Eye of the Tiger while the poor soul attempted to eat two half kilo burgers and two PBRs in five minutes.  I think this would be an impossible feat for anyone and he didn’t end up finishing in five minutes; however, he DID actually finish all the food within about an hour, which is still quite incredible.  We had two burgers, fries, and two beers on the house (thanks Liam and Matt!) and ended up being convinced to go out with a bunch of American expats and Matt and Liam (Canadians, proud to be Canadians) to watch the USA World Cup game.  It had been a while since we were in a bar full of crazy Americans, and we definitely got our dose of loud Americans until after 2am that night!  Although we didn’t win the game, we still had a great time.

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We spent the next day getting some laundry done, grabbing a final lunch with Randy, and taking care of other odds and ends before heading into mainland China.  We stayed the last night with Liam and Matt again on our clothes bed (this was part of the deal if we agreed to go watch the World Cup came).

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It was amazing that in a week in one city, we could visit beaches, hike mountains, visit nearby islands in well under an hour, explore the city, go shopping, eat good food, go climbing, and meet awesome people.  This city will forever leave a good impression on us and is by far one of our favorite cities of the trip!  It wouldn’t have been the same without the hospitality from Liam, Matt, and Randy.  Thanks again guys for the epic adventures!  Now, on to the land without Google, Facebook, YouTube, or Gmail.  Yep, you’ve got it!  Next is mainland China!




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