Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 01/08/2005.
Hopefully by now you'll have worked out how our Hong Kong visit cycle works, and can take a reasonable stab at when Year Of The Monkey 3 is likely to appear here.
1. Shatin and the New Territories
My previous visits to Hong Kong (including the one in 2001 discussed here) have been closely clustered within a short distance from the Star Ferry terminals on Kowloon and the Island. There's lots of tourist fun to be had there, it's true, but there's so much more to the country than that. Which is why this year's four-part journey starts in the New Territories, the large stretch of land going up from the Kowloon peninsula towards mainland China. It's more rural than the high-tech sprawl people associate with Hong Kong, as borne out by the horrendous collection of insect bites we both pick up in the space of four days. At the same time, new towns are springing up all over the place: such as Shatin, our base for this part of the holiday, which The Belated Birthday Girl astutely identifies as being the HK equivalent of Woking.
Shatin's your typical Asian new town: a cluster of shopping malls held together with overhead walkways. Everything you need is within a single compact lump in the centre of town, including - inevitably - a cinema. Surprisingly, we've only one local movie to report on this trip: the latest one by superhack director Wong Jing. Last year, with the Infernal Affairs craze at its peak, he remade one of his old comedies as Love Is A Many Stupid Thing, mixing in parodies of the most famous scenes from Infernal Affairs and stealing some of its supporting players for his leads. This year, with Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle tearing up box office records at home and doing rather nicely internationally, he's done it again: Kung Fu Mahjong uses the landlord and landlady from that film (Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu) and puts them up front as the mentors of young mahjong genius Roger Kwok. It's fun to finally see one of these films with a local audience, who whoop it up - and, more importantly, understand the rules of mahjong enough to be able to enjoy the dramatic tension of the games, which we certainly didn't. But really, this is business as usual for Wong: cheap local gags, a crashingly unsubtle Kill Bill parody, and a curious midsection where the romantic subplot is spectacularly derailed by suicide and brain damage.
Once you venture out of the urban centre of Shatin, there's quite a bit of stuff for the culturally minded. The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery sounds like typical exaggeration when you first hear about it, but in fact it's an understatement: there are closer to twelve thousand statues of the big guy stored there. You pass a couple of hundred statues on the uphill climb to the Temple, depicted in a variety of poses. Once you get to the top, you're rewarded with one of those temples that combines kitsch charm and total serenity at the same time, the ideal spot for endless photo opportunities featuring Buddha in the foreground and highrise blocks in the background. It's one of Shatin's acknowledged tourist spots (so much so that a fake 10000 Buddha temple has opened up just down the road from it): the other big one is probably the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. This is a total bargain for your HKD10 admission: a huge building with several permanent exhibitions and a few rotating temporary ones, so sprawling that we have to miss out an entire wing dedicated to the history of the New Territories. Of the temporary displays, the memorabilia collection of former Cantonese opera star Ng Kwan Lai is delightful, while an exhibition of Huizhou Vernacular architecture shows you how the buildings in those old Zhang Yimou films were constructed to a carefully defined standard. All this is done with just the right balance of old historical objects and spiffy multimedia work.
The main attraction of the New Territories is viewing it as an extended border between Hong Kong and mainland China. It's easy to get on a KCR train and head north, getting out at each stop and watching things change a little more: until you get to Lo Wu, where you can't proceed any further without a visa. Looking at the guide books, we like the sound of the traditional market for the Hakka community at Sheung Shui. Unfortunately, when we get there, we find that since the guidebooks were written the market's been torn down and replaced by yet another shopping mall. A little south of there is the town of Fanling, which is a much better proposition. For a start, they still have a market - a large covered affair with all manner of fresh food and dry goods on sale. The most astonishing sight is a stall selling the paper replicas of worldly goods that people have burned with them when they die: I particularly like what appears to be a young executive set, including a paper cellphone and PDA. Related to this is the Fung Ying Seen Koon Taoist temple, where a lot of that burning takes place. They do a lot of work here to promote Taoism throughout the world, using new methods (they run taoism.org.hk) and more old-fashioned ones such as feeding travellers - and as it's traditional for The Belated Birthday Girl to pop up in a different font in these travel pieces to talk about restaurants, that must be her cue...
Our hotel, the Regal Riverside in Shatin, serves dim sum in its Regal Seafood Restaurant, and seemed to attract locals as well as hotel guests. No English menu was available for the dim sum, but a combination of helpful staff, and some limited ability to read Chinese characters (from my Japanese studies) meant we had plenty to eat. For me, the steamed prawn dumplings are always a dim sum highlight, and here was no exception, although the prawn cheung fun, which gave me especial pleasure as I worked out for myself what it was from the Chinese menu, were also good. Another key part of the Hong Kong eating experience is the chain restaurant, often in a shopping mall: they serve excellent and interesting food. The Shanghai Mian restaurants specialise in Shanghai cuisine, which is known for heavy use of oils and spices. The dish I chose was a spicy, oily eel in chilli soup, which was very good indeed. The quantity of it, and the concealed slippery clear rice noodles it contained, made the rice I'd ordered with it superfluous, and meant I didn't finish it, but it was certainly tasty. Spank's choice of chicken in wine soy sauce was fiddly because of the lumps of bone, but I believe the flavour was good. The final place I want to mention is the vegetarian restaurant at the Fung Ying Seen Koon Taoist temple in Fanling. A lot of Chinese vegetarian food can be bland and uninteresting, but the menu at this temple was varied, and the food tasty and well presented. Both our choices of mushrooms with cashew nuts and tofu in black bean sauce were excellent and full of flavour.
There's one other reason why Shatin is popular: horseracing. Shatin Racecourse is apparently the most high-tech in the world, starting with the entry gate (where you can use your Octopus travel pass to pay the ten dollar entrance fee), and continuing with computerised betting and giant video displays. The first race we actually bet on (after hanging back a little to see how it all works) isn't actually on the course: it's the Yasuda Kinen, transmitted by satellite directly from Tokyo. I put twenty dollars on a horse called Asakusa Den'en, and am somewhat freaked out to see it win at around 14-1. Despite all the signs warning punters of the dangers of gambling addiction (a new feature since my last visit in 1997, I think), I go nuts and put fifty bucks on my next horse to win, only to see it lose. The loss of this, er, four quid snaps me out of my downward spiral, and for the rest of the day I stick to twenty dollar win and place bets. I end up a couple of hundred dollars in profit by the end of the day, which can't be all bad.
2. Hong Kong Island (plus a quick digression Kowloonside)
For the Hong Kong Island part of our trip, we return to the Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay, which was where I stayed back in 2001. It's a decision that pays off from the moment we check in, when the guy on the desk talks us into paying out extra for a room on the executive floor. Which may seem like a mark against the hotel, but it means that we can check into our 31st floor room immediately, and look out the window to see that the famous Noon Day Gun is perfectly visible directly below us. And it's 11.58am. So our time on the Island starts off with a view of the Gun going off from a wholly unique angle.
The service at the Excelsior is fabulous throughout, and the staff are willing to do anything to help. But it's hilarious when we ask the concierge about booking for Karen Mok at the Hong Kong Coliseum on Kowloon. "Oh. You like her," she says frostily. Well, maybe like is too strong a word. But like most of the pop stars in Hong Kong, Mok has an international reputation from her acting performances in films like Fallen Angels and So Close: it's enough familiarity to get us along to our first Cantopop concert to see how they do these things here. What we get is three full hours of stadium pop, with a huge set, dancers, and frequent costume changes. You suspect the show is less about the music and more about Karen spending time with her fans; working the front rows of the whole arena, accepting gifts of soft toys and flowers, and posing for photos. Musically, it's a bit more ambitious than the usual slushy ballads of the genre, with several fun upbeat numbers included in the set. And there are a couple of bonuses for the HK movie fans - a creepy but emotional tribute to the late Leslie Cheung sung to a floating projection of the actor/singer, and the glorious sight of the whole arena going into sex meltdown as Andy Lau charges onto the stage for a guest appearance, only for Mok to rip his shirt open.
One of the classic tourist things to do when visiting Hong Kong is to take a ferry to Lantau Island, where they have the biggest outdoor statue of Buddha in the world at the Po Lin Monastery. It's still as impressive as I remember from when I last saw it eight years ago, possibly even more so in the scorching heat: some of the more crazed tourists are putting their hands on the solid bronze of the statue and watching their skin cook with morbid curiosity. However, the effect is slightly undercut by the continuous sight and sound of flying helicopters, travelling to and from an enormous construction site next door to the monastery. Pretty soon there'll be a theme village and a cable car, which could be bad news for the bus companies who've had almost exclusive tourist transport rights to the monastery till now. We have vegetarian lunch at Po Lin, which is okay but not as good as the one we had at Fanling a few days earlier, and also more expensive. Therefore on this evidence, Taoism must be better than Buddhism. But, hey, it's not my place to talk about food here...
Hotel buffet breakfasts can be disappointing, but the breakfast at the Executive Lounge in the Excelsior Hotel is fabulous. The scrambled eggs are properly scrambled, and must be replenished frequently because they are always moist. As well as the traditional cooked breakfast, options include excellent pastries, very good cheeses and breads, a small selection of dim sum, and a daily changing noodle or fried rice dish. And the lounge itself, being on the 31st floor, has terrific views over Victoria harbour. All this is included in the Executive room rate (as indeed are afternoon tea and cocktails). One of the best international restaurants we tried was M at the Fringe, which serves excellent dishes in a stylish ex-pat environment. My fritto misto was a fabulous selection, including soft-shelled crabs (one of my favourite foods), and Spank enjoyed his African Chicken, too. ToTT's, the Excelsior's 34th floor restaurant has fabulous views of Victoria harbour, but unlike the Executive Lounge, anyone can eat there: and the food, cocktails and stunning views make this another of the best places to eat on Hong Kong Island. My prawns & scallops were succulent and delicious, and Spank's swordfish steak looked moist and perfectly cooked. There is also entertainment from a cheesy cabaret band - very Lost in Translation.
The out-of-town feel of Shatin is totally absent from Hong Kong Island, of course, but there are still some similarities - notably when you visit Happy Valley, Hong Kong's other racecourse. The facilities at Shatin are much better, particularly when you want to eat: your choices at Happy Valley are limited to an overcrowded tourist restaurant, or stalls by the side of the track selling Chinese snacks. It's all a lot more rough and ready, and it's full of gweilo expats who hog the beer tents and have to have the betting slips explained to them. But because of its location, Happy Valley has the mother of all skylines as a backdrop, and when you're at a nighttime race it's a wonder to behold. It's also wondrous to see just how much cash is turned over at these events, which are (theoretically) the only legal gambling allowed in Hong Kong. One week after the meeting we attend at Happy Valley, torrential rain will cause the racing to be abandoned for the first time in three years, and the government will throw a fit because this results in the loss of ninety million HK dollars in potential tax revenue. That's how much money we're talking about here.
Racing of horses is a fairly regular affair, but racing of dragon boats is less so. On the day of the Tuen Ng festival, an official public holiday in mid-June, dragon boat races are held in several locations all over Hong Kong. We start the day at Stanley Harbour, traditionally the site with the biggest crowds, and even though we get there around 8.45am it's already rammed. We start off struggling for a viewpoint near the finish line, then eventually end up on some rocks that provide a decent view of the middle of each race, but not the start and end. We make the tactical decision mid-morning to take the bus to the Aberdeen races, and they're much more fun. For one thing, Aberdeen has more local teams, whereas Stanley tends to be full of corporate expats: for another, the course is laid out in a nice straight line with room for spectators all along it. We head back to Stanley in time to grab a prime spot on top of the team huts for the finals, with teams gathered in every spare bit of space for pep talks. Hence our overheard quote of the day: "It's come to my attention that in the last race, some of you stopped paddling. Now that's a classic fucking schoolboy error."
Every Hong Kong guidebook tends to throw in a section on Macau as some sort of compulsory bonus. It's easy to see why: it's an hour away by ferry, and while Hong Kong was the main British foothold in China up till 1997, Macau was the same for the Portuguese until 1999. And where Hong Kong gets its flavour from the head-on collision between Eastern and Western culture, Macau has the added confusion of the Portuguese element in the mix - mainly visible in street names and culinary options. But the Chinese influence is still predominant, notably on the roads, where the horn is frequently used as a fourth pedal. Travelling from Shatin to the Island, there was a definite sense of life shifting up a gear - on the cab ride from Macau ferry port to our hotel, it definitely feels like a downshift, despite huge modern landmarks like the Macau Tower and the enormous glittering casinos.
Macau Tower dominates everything around it, so it's disturbing to discover that having constructed one of the ten highest manmade structures on the planet, nobody in Macau seems to know what the hell to do with it. You have two options when you arrive: the inner observation deck on floor 58, or the outer deck on floor 61. The view from the inner deck is splendid - you don't really get a sense of the scale of Macau at ground level - and is enhanced by a few sections of the deck having a glass floor looking straight down onto the ground. By comparison, the 61st floor is a bit dull - it's still mostly behind glass, but with a slightly open bit at the top. At the moment this floor's the property of AJ Hackett, the bungee jump people, who are running various climbs and jumps around the top of the tower. "What's your excuse for not doing it?", sneer the adverts, trying to debunk every objection you could think of, but curiously forgetting to include "it won't be as good as climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge" in there.
Macau has its share of tourist traps, aside from the casinos. The Maritime Museum is unusual, in that most such museums would concentrate on naval warfare, whereas Macau's focusses on their long fishing history. Macau is actually named after the goddess of the sea A-Ma: she rescued a group of shipwrecked fishermen, and they were so grateful they built a temple here in her honour (a story depicted in the museum by a cheesy mechanical diorama). The three floors of the museum cover the fishing trade of Macau, the history of nautical exploration and the technology of seafaring, gently pointing out in the process how the Chinese invented it all several centuries before the West did. The other major tourist location is the building that houses two peculiarly unrelated museums; the Wine Museum (a collection of Portuguese national costumes accompanied by bottles of the wine from each region) and the Grand Prix Museum (a collection of cars and displays from Macau's racing history).
But remember how I said that the only legal gambling allowed in Hong Kong is on the horses? Well, there are no such scruples in Macau, which is why daytrippers from HK flock here. Some of them stop off at the Canidrome: the only greyhound racing track in the whole of Asia, and one of two racetracks in Macau. (I'm initially keen to check out the other one, but lose interest when I find out that despite being called the Hippodrome, it only does horse races.) This is a much smaller scale operation than the horses in HK, with skinnier odds and much less money being bet. Possibly as a consequence, the spectators seem to be having more fun: it's all a lot less life-or-death to them. The races are fast and easy to follow, and the betting system is identical to the HK one, with the option to bet in either Macau or HK currency. The BBG gets several wins and ends up well in profit, which is amusing given her legendary hatred of dogs.
But the real betting action takes place in the casinos, and Casino Lisboa is the best known of them all. There are four floors of gaming action, though the top two appear to be for members only: of the remaining two, the smoking floor curiously seems much more fun than the non-smoking floor, even though the games are the same. Our chips, as it were, are pissed on by the discovery that the minimum bet is 100 MOPs, or roughly eight quid. We each set ourselves an upper limit of 500 MOPs - trust me, nobody else in that room was working to that restriction - and manage to spunk it away in a little over ten minutes, on the high/low game and a blackjack table with a suspiciously lucky dealer. To add insult to injury, we finish off by taking advantage of their off-track betting facilities for the dog races, and lose on that too. We walk home to emphasise our pauper status, and also because we can't find the bus stop.
Macau is famous for two things: gambling and food. In particular, Maccanese cuisine is highly regarded and frequently referred to as the original "fusion" cuisine, being born out of Portuguese, Chinese and African influences. So, Macau is famous for Maccanese cuisine, but also for Portuguese food. One of the best restaurants in Macau for this type of food is A Lorcha, and we had one of the best meals of the whole trip there. Spank's salted cod fillets may be the single most delicious item I tasted the whole holiday, and that is saying something, considering some of the wonderful food we ate. And my clams in white wine and coriander, a house speciality, were probably the best clams I have even eaten: plump and yellow, no hint of grit, and a most delicious sauce. As is traditional, we washed this down with a half-bottle of Vinho Verde, which complemented both dishes perfectly. Macau is made up of a peninsula and the two islands of Taipa and Coloane, which are now linked together with big bridges and so much land reclamation that you'd barely know they were islands. Taipa is famous for trendy eateries, and Pinocchio was apparently the restaurant that started it all. The food was certainly good - I had eels, and Spank had some grilled fish - but not as memorable as A Lorcha.
4. Kowloon (plus a quick digression Islandside)
If the Island is the business end of Hong Kong, then Kowloon is the tourist end, so it only makes sense that we finish our holiday here. Hit the streets in tourist gear - in my case, a Panama hat and a shirt with more than six colours in its pattern - and watch as people swarm all over you trying to sell you suits or spiritual enlightenment. All the cool buildings may be across the harbour on the Island, but Kowloon is where you can get the best view of them - either through the window of our harbourside room at the Royal Pacific Hotel, or just walking along the promenade at Tsim Sha Tsui East, specifically along the stretch they call Avenue Of Stars. The prom has been tricked out Hollywood style, with stars from all periods of Hong Kong film history represented on paving slabs, featuring the handprints and autographs of the more compliant, less dead ones. But at 8pm every night, the lighting of a dozen or more of the Central skyscrapers is played around with to a disco beat, to create the world's biggest lightshow. Having spent all week sniggering at the 2IFC building for its ludicrously phallic nature, it's hilarious to watch it shooting green laser jizz out of the end of its tungsten-illuminated glans. The whole show is magnificently foolish in its scale, and you can't help but giggle in awe.
The prom at TST East is also the location for even more dragon boat racing, because one week after Tuen Ng comes the International Dragon Boat Race, which lasts for an entire weekend. TST prom is more geared towards large crowds, so it's a lot easier to see the races from start to finish. But curiously, the whole thing feels curiously lacking in atmosphere when compared to the local races. It transpires that the International race has been in trouble for a while now - the move to TST has been partly an attempt to increase its popularity, but a failure to attract sponsors this year has made things even more difficult. Most of the teams seem to be representing the key businesses in Central, rather than being properly international. Still, I enjoy the antics of the so-called Lichtenstein Navy team, whose team song appears to be the word "Lichtenstein" sung repeatedly to the tune of Here We Go.
The racing comes during a surprisingly dry spell in our time in Kowloon - for the most part, it's rain and mist all the way, making a mockery of our Friday night trip up the Peak to get another look at the view. Luckily, this being tourist country, Kowloon is where the museums are. The Hong Kong Museum Of Art is as enjoyable as it was when I visited last time, and still as exhaustingly huge. My favourite section on this visit is a temporary exhibition dedicated to local artist Hon Chi-fun, who seems to change styles every few years on a whim: while the BBG is most taken with a metal sculpture I totally failed to get the name or artist for, though you can see it here. The Space Museum is just down the road from the Museum of Art, and was probably state of the art twenty years ago; but it's really starting to show its age now, with many displays not working or seriously out of date. As the BBG notes, it really needs the Chinese space programme to kick off again to revive interest.
Best museum by a country mile, though, is the Hong Kong Museum of History. All the audiovisual stuff works and is relevant, from tiny booths displaying Cantonese opera extracts to full size theatres showing highlights of seventies movies and telly. Nothing if not ambitious in scope, the museum starts with the geological evolution of the terrain, looks at the key clans who occupied the territory in the early centuries, and documents HK's response to the various people who've marched into it like they own the place, be they British or Japanese. It climaxes with footage of the 1997 handover ceremony, and pretty much stops there - hopefully they'll continue to keep it up to date, as it's a fascinating and rewarding piece of work.
There are some restaurant locations in Hong Kong which have such fabulous views that they would get custom whether the food was good or not. These last three restaurants all have prime locations, and yet all serve excellent food. Habitu is an Italian restaurant in a mall right by the Star Ferry pier, looking out onto Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong skyline. The atmosphere was stylish yet relaxed, and the food interesting and top quality. My melon risotto was pleasantly cooling for the hot Hong Kong summer, while Spank enjoyed the roast duck. Many of the facilities and attractions on Victoria Peak are currently closed for renovations, but thankfully Cafe Deco is still open for business: a large, attractive, modern restaurant with plenty to look at, and more importantly, an eclectic but tasty menu. Spank had the tandoori ostrich, and I went for the tandoori sea-bass. Unlike so much tandoori food in restaurants in the UK, there was no vivid red food colouring: the food was just marinated with tasty spices and tandoor baked, and was all the better for it. There was also an extensive wine list, and we picked a very enjoyable spicy Hyland Shiraz from Penley Estate. For our final meal of the trip, we booked a table at Felix at the Peninsula Hotel, the only restaurant in Asia to make it onto Restaurant Magazine's recent list of the world's Top 50 restaurants. The restaurant is Philippe Starck designed and is fabulous to walk into, and the views from the restaurant are, of course, stunning: even from the toilets. The food, more fusion or modern European than I'd been led to believe, also lives up to expectations. My seared tuna had definite Japanese influences, served with wasabi, and wild and sticky rice. Spank went for the more traditional steak, which was perfectly cooked. Washed down with the Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot - one of my favourite Aussie reds - it made a perfect final meal of the trip.
I'm afraid the final image I'll have to leave you with is of me having a wee in the gents at Felix, and using my free hand to take the picture above - in a supreme gesture of decadence, the urinals are pedestals positioned directly in front of a floor-to-ceiling window looking out over Hong Kong from 28 storeys up. Which reminds me once again that Hong Kong is probably my favourite place in the world. It was touch and go there for a couple of years: since I was last here I've been utterly blown away by Tokyo, and wasn't sure if it had supplanted HK in my affections. But in the end it was one of The BBG's friends, who'd visited both places back to back, who crystallised the difference between the two for me. Tokyo is full of stuff, but incredibly tightly focussed - everyone comes away with an impression of high speed and high pressure living. Hong Kong is equally full of stuff, but it's sprawling like a mad thing and much more relaxed about it. And for my money, I'd say sprawl is better. Being a monkey, and all.
General: we travelled to Hong Kong by Cathay Pacific, and were very impressed by their range of inflight movies. Travel within Hong Kong was via all the public transport options - KMB buses, MTR subway, KCR trains, the Star Ferry and trams - and the Octopus card made paying for all of them a breeze, as well as paying for anything else from drinks in 7/11 to entry to the races. (Octopus is what London's Oyster wants to be when it grows up, and it's interesting to see Octopus/MTR on the list of bidders [dead link] for the future development of the London card.) BC Magazine is a handy freesheet for information about what's on, and the South China Morning Post is the best English language newspaper: though the latter's website requires payment for any level of access, so screw 'em. Holiday snaps by both myself and The BBG are hosted by The Unpleasant Moblog, and links to them are given at the end of each section.
Shatin/New Territories: we stayed at the Regal Riverside Hotel, which was perfectly fine apart from the lack of curtains in our room. But who needs sleep anyway? Shatin Racecourse is much more technologically advanced than its website, honestly. There are also sites for the 10000 Buddhas Monastery, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the Fung Ying Seen Koon temple (webmasters of taoism.org.hk). We saw Kung Fu Mahjong at the UA Shatin cinema: it doesn't appear to have an official website, but the HK cinema-to-video window is so short that you can already buy it on DVD. The BBG recommends eating at the Regal Seafood Restaurant, Shanghai Mian [dead link] and Fung Ying Seen Koon. Shatin photos by both me and her are available.
Hong Kong Island: we stayed at the Excelsior, and it rocked. Go Executive if you can, and eat at ToTT's if you can't. Racing fans of all stripes can visit the sites for Happy Valley Racecourse, Stanley Dragonboat Races and Aberdeen Dragonboat Races. Food fans can visit M at the Fringe and see all manner of arty stuff at the Fringe Club afterwards. Spank and The BBG both took photos, and a couple of video clips that'll require QuickTime (or any other player that can cope with .3gp files).
Macau: Pousada de Sao Tiago is an old fort that's been converted into a rather lovely hotel. When there, visit the Macau Tower, Canidrome, the Maritime Museum, the Wine and Grand Prix museums, and (if you've got more money than sense) Casino Lisboa. For some reason, neither of the restaurants the BBG recommends have websites - Pinocchio used to, but it seems to have gone [dead link] now, while the best I can do for A Lorcha is a Frommer's review. Make do with pictures by her and me instead.
Kowloon: the Royal Pacific Hotel offers sensational views across the harbour, but it's coasting on its location and is a bit disappointing once you've stopped looking out of the window. [Subsequently revamped, so it may be worth another look.] On rainy days, you can visit the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Space Museum, and the Museum of History. On dry days you can visit the International Dragon Boat Races once a year, and the Avenue Of Stars every night. We ate at Habitu, Cafe Deco (which is actually on the Island but it messes up my format) and Felix, and took pictures (mine and the BBG's).