Sunday in Hong Kong started with absolutely amazing Dim Sum at Fu Sing Shark Fin Seafood Restaurant in Wan Chai (best pork buns i've ever had), a day of racing including the Hong Kong Derby at Sha Tin Racecourse, and Hong Kong hot pot for dinner in Causeway Bay at FF Hot Pot.
Racing in Hong Kong was great. We paid about US$15 extra and showed a passport stamp dated less than 3 weeks old to get into the 'members only' section of the track, which is a nice touch to make things more enjoyable for us tourists. The racecourses are cleaner than most of the ones in NYC, and there are SO many different ways to bet, also named differently than trifectas, exactas, doubles, etc. In a very smart tactic to help you to part with more of your money, guides who speak English and Chinese are standing around simply to help the racing fan figure out how it all works. Minimum bets are HK$10 (about US$1.25).
The races, like most of the rest of the world excepting the US, are run primarily counterclockwise on turf. We were there for two of the biggest races of the season, the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup and the Hong Kong Derby. The Derby here, interestingly enough, is for four year olds rather than three year olds because Southern Hemisphere horses (lots from Australia and New Zealand) mature later than ones from the Northern Hemisphere. Perhaps because of whenever the birthing season falls in the South? Sha Tin holds about 80,000, but even on the biggest day of the year, it was civilized and spacious. Nothing like a possible Triple Crown Day at Belmont. Picture of the setting below: racing surrounded by giant buildings and mountains.
Going for dinner was pretty amusing, as we were first seated in one restaurant and given the menu for the Hot Pot. Hot Pot basically means you order a variety of raw meats or seafood (chicken, beef, oysters, live shrimps, all kinds of offal, and god knows what else kind of mystery meats. Ox testicle anyone?) and its thrown into this boiling spiced pot of broth until it's cooked. Sort of a 70s meat fondue vibe. We sit, get the hot pot menu, until it's whisked away from us and we are given another menu with no hot pot choices. We keep saying "hot pot, hot pot, hot pot" like Bart and Lisa Simpson as we have no idea what is going on, and the communciation is sketchy at best. Finally, ten minutes later, some old guy motions us up, and takes us two doors down to where there's more space in the other half of their restaurant, and someone who speaks decent English acts as our hot pot guide. Yum. Although I think it was the culprit of the most horrific case of food poisioning in my life that appeared last night. More on that shortly because, after all, who doesn't want to hear about how sick I got????