Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Hong Kong…the return journey

18 Aug

Since my departure to Southeast Asia was somewhat abrupt, and its summer time, it’s hard for people to make plans to visit me in Manila or meet me somewhere in Asia. My first trip to to Asia was also to Hong Kong in 2009 to visit a friend who was teaching English, so I am vaguely familiar with the city. It just so happened that my very first friend in the world was making her way to Asia for the first time to Hong Kong / Dauggon, China. It only made sense that I would go there for the weekend to meet up with her.

Landing in Hong Kong and traveling to the city is one of the easiest things to do. There is an Airport Express train which goes directly to the heart of the city, the IFC building, in 24 minutes, for less than $30usd round trip. Why there is nothing as efficient in NY or the US for that matter, is beyond me. The MTR in Hong Kong is equally as easy to use and just as quick and clean as the MRT’s in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Tsim Sha Tsui on Nathan road which is one of the tourist centers in the Kowloon area. It also resembles Canal street in that strangers approach you asking if you want bags, watches, and suits. For our first day we decided to get our shopping out of the way and were in the market for suits as well. I had a suit made in 2009 but I had left the receipt with the address somewhere in my parents house in CT. My dad had shirts made in 2011 and my mom had the information handy, so I emailed the tailor asking for an appointment. He never responded but my friend and I decided to go there in person and check it out. Turns out their office is now vacant and apparently they closed 7 months ago, but there was another tailor on the same floor, Vogue Tailors. We caught them on their way back from the US to take orders, always a good sign. We sifted through hundreds of samples, were measured from neck to toe, and told to come back at 6pm. From there we set off for Mongkok station and the Ladies Market. They have everything from Chinese amulets, phone cases, and paintings, to t-shirts, belts, and scarves. I really wish we had these kinds of markets in the US. We also journeyed over to the Temple Street night market which really starts opening in the late afternoon. Between negotiations we stopped to buy buko juice/coconuts and mangosteens which are abundant in Asia and very hard to find in the US. After our fitting we stopped to watch the “Symphony of lights” show at the star ferry harbor. The light show is every evening at 8pm and most of the buildings along Hong Kong harbour participate by arranging the lights on their buildings to music.

Another one of my favorite places in Hong Kong is Lan Kwai Fong and the Soho area. My friend used to live in soho right off the mid-levels escalator and frequented a restaurant called Wagyu, which I dragged my friend to for brunch one morning. Even since 2009 the area seems built up with more trendy restaurants and bars. One notable stop was the Hong Kong brew house with an extensive beer selection, live music, and reasonable prices.

Our last adventure was Victoria peak and the tram. In November 2009 there was virtually no one in que for the tram and we went right up. Now we were fighting Chinese and Korean tourists left and right. And by fighting I mean we pushed our way through adults and small children onto the tram car in order to grab a seat. Somehow we even beat a group of Germans who looked a bit nervous and were forced to stand for the ride up. The sky was crystal clear and we were able to see the entire city. Our feet were tired from all the walking so we went back to soho for a foot massage to end the day. I was sad to leave Hong Kong, I wish we had one more day. There is so much to do and so many good restaurants, it’s hard to get it all done in a weekend. I’m looking forward to getting the suit and dress I had made as a reminder of my second trip to HK.

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Binondo, Divisoria, and …Balut?

23 May

The April version of hemispheres magazine on united airways featured three perfect days in Manila. One of the places recommended is Lord Stow’s Bakery, which I first discovered in Hong Kong. They make great egg tarts, so of course I had to go. Fortunately, a coworker that’s staying here is adventurous as well and with the help of a local friend we took the MRT and LRT to Binondo, the worlds oldest china town. After our egg tart fix we walked around china town and made our way to the markets of divisoria. When I tell the people at the office that I went here they all think I’m crazy. It reminds me of the markets in India and Hong Kong. We walked around to buy souvenirs, I bought a new umbrella and by some miracle I found two dresses that fit! I say by some miracle because a) the clothes tend to run smaller and while I am short I’ve got nothing on some of the people here, b) the clothes run skinny, and these hips don’t lie, c) there are not always fitting rooms so its more a “hold it up and see” and d) they like this concept of “free size” or “one size” thus implying that it fits most Filipinas. So you can imagine my excitement when I found a store in divisoria that had a dressing room and free size dresses for people with hips. And then something awesome happened… I saw someone with a Cotton On bag. Which might have you thinking, “what in the world is cotton on and why is it awesome.” I first discovered cotton on in Australia and bought many a clothes there due to the fact they are reasonably priced and timeless, almost like American Apparel with flare. The second time i found Cotton On was in Hong Kong, and by some act of god I stumbled upon one in the Galleria Mall in Dallas Texas. Every time I find a Cotton On i have shopping success without regretting the hit to my wallet. The local I was with was kind enough to indulge me by hunting down the location and we were led to the new Chinatown mall where I promptly ran around the store with glee.

After that we were pretty shopped out and quickly made our way back to the LRT via tricycle. A tricycle here is basically a bike or motorcycle with a covered side carriage. It’s a little scary because its low to the ground and weaving in and out of traffic, but once you get over the initial shock it’s loads of fun!

Our evening plans consisted of a roof top pool party with some other coworkers that are here temporarily as we’ll but managed to find condos. On our way home from pool partying it up, our local friend remembered that I want to try balut. When you Wikipedia balut you may want to gag, but to me it just tasted like hard boiled egg and a hard plasticky shell, and I think it was worth the potential street cred I might now possess.

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