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HK Day 6: Flying Home

Day 6 was really a restful day because we only had to be at the airport at 4.30pm so this gave us sufficient time to do any last minute shopping and eat whatever we wanted to for the last time. And so we made our way to Langham Place to scout around H&M one more time and sure enough, we all came out with something. Langham Place is actually a great place for makeup lovers. The second floor houses all the big name makeup brands: Nars, Shu Uemura, Shiseido, Covermark, Smashbox and more… The only thing missing? Bobbi Brown. My friends were quite dismayed but then again, we were quite confident that that could be purchased at the airport.

While walking around the basement, I came across this cream puff shop that resembled Beard Papas and it was pretty good! Can’t remember the name of the shop but do try it if you are in the vicinity.

We then headed back to Mongkok to have lunch at Yee Shun because I wanted to try their pork bun and have the milk curd one last time. Along the way we came across this little shop that sold vintage clothes for HK$5 which is like S$0.80! And what’s more, if you buy 5 pieces, the 6th piece is free! I came away with three pieces, two for myself, one for my mom (will show you what it looks like in a separate post).

After that, we had to do last minute packing so back to the hotel we went and because my room was the late-checkout room, all my friends lugged their luggage in and started packing. It was quite a sight seeing a bunch of girls trying to stuff things in and strapping the luggage down with bag straps. Note to self: Bring a bigger luggage next time.

And the shopping didn’t end there. We continued the crazed spree at the airport with wife cakes, tea cakes, walnut cookies and more edibles. I even hand carried egg tarts back! We were so engrossed shopping (especially at the makeup counters. I bought Clinique eye cream!) that we had to sprint to the boarding gate.

All in all, I had a fabulous time. I have learnt so much. Not just about geography but about my friends and I remember feeling really down and melancholic when the plane touched down (I still do now) because I feel as if the fantasy is over. The irrational shopping, awesome food, beautiful memories…all gone. Time to get back to work, clear my flooding email inbox and resume the role of a responsible adult.

That’s the thing about holidays. Everything around you gets suspended. Time gets suspended and when you get back to Singapore, it’s as if everything starts accelerating all at once. But I guess that’s life. While I struggle to get back to real life and painstakingly try to fulfill all its demands, here’s wishing and hoping for June to come right around so we all can fly off and fantasize again!

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HK Day 5 Part 2: Lamma Island

Lamma Island is actually quite a scenic place. I like how it’s kind of out of the way (there are absolutely no vehicles at all except for construction trucks. People either walk or ride bicycles and there’s no internet you literally have to walk miles before you see a payphone) and how it’s tucked in the middle of nowhere. As a result it’s rural, quiet and rather pastoral.But despite that, it’s not all that backward. In fact, the toilets are rather clean and new (probably because of tourists like us) and the roads are paved. But being adventurous geographers, we chose to take the rockier roads and climbed all the way to the top!

As you can see, I didn’t get the memo that we were actually going to be trekking so I wore normal flats. You can imagine how cautious and careful I was trying to be as I climbed the rocky steps up. But all that effort was worth it because the view was gorgeous.

As we headed back to the village, we bumped into the village head and he graciously brought us around. If you are imagining an old fogey, you cannot be more wrong. The village head is this young guy who dons a basketball jersey and a rolex watch! Haha perceptions sure can be deceiving. And apparently, the village head isn’t the so-called big shot. There’s a chairman that he has to report to. Lol.

Imagine my horror when I saw my name scribbled on the sidewalk. Alot of areas are being cemented and as a result, curious tourists have been leaving their permanent mark on Lamma Island. This here is a cave dug by the Chinese who hid there with their boats during the Japanese Occupation.

We were in Lamma Island till about 7pm before we took the boat and subsequently train back to Mongkok to have Nao Lam Mee (Beef Brisket noodle). I have been craving for it the entire trip and I was soooo pleased to have finally satisfied that craving!

After happily nomming on food, we headed across the road to Argyle Centre which is like Far East Plaza here in Singapore. Ladies, if there is one place that you have to visit in HK, this is it. The variety is insane! Alot of Korean and Japanese inspired clothes, shoes and stationery. I saw a polka dot top selling for HK$25 there (can bargain lower actually) and I saw the exact same thing at Far East Plaza for S$50. Can you imagine the audacity?

I had to practice alot of self control and I chose to accompany my friend to check out bridal boutiques (there was 4 in that building) just so I wouldn’t go overboard with my spending (I came out with one crochet cardigan so I was relatively unscathed!) My friend bought back 7 cardigans, 2 pairs of shoes and countless tops and each item was like S$10-15? Just plain crazy.

After hauling, we all got tired and decided to have dessert… My favourite, Zi Ma Hu (Black Sesame Paste). I know we have this in Singapore but somehow, the ones in Hong Kong was finer and less grainy. I came out with black teeth but it was all worth it!


And we’ve come to the last day…

HK Day 5 Part 1: HK Observatory and Lamma Island

Day 5 was yet another sleep in day, and by sleep in I mean waking up at 9am. We usually wake up at 6.15am on average but hey, I guess that’s tours for you. My friends and I headed out to a local cha can teng and ordered a set meal each. Somehow in HK, cafes are famous for having different breakfast sets and they usually come with a bowl of macaroni, toast, eggs, SPAM and milk tea. For people who can’t speak cantonese, this is great because all you need to say is set A,B or C and they understand. In addition to our sets, we ordered some dim sum. One was minced pork wrapped in beancurd skins and some quail egg dim sum. Both were out of the ordinary but yummy nonetheless. And the best part was that breakfast was so cheap! Only HK$35! That’s like less than S$6.

After our hearty meal, we took a train down to the HK Observatory to learn about how climate and weather conditions are detected. Quite apt considering that these are the authorities that are helping Japan deal with the tsunami and earthquake situation.

We spent about an hour touring the place and we learnt about the various instruments used to determine temperature and weather conditions and were even shown the different warning signals used to alert the public if a tsunami strikes. After asking all our questions and gathering brochures and pamphlets like the kiasu teachers that we are, we finally moved out and took a boat to Lamma Island!

As you can see, it is very much like a small little fishing village that has rows of seafood restaurants. After much deliberation and bargaining, we settled on a place to eat (Peach Garden Seafood Restaurant if i’m not wrong).

So for HK$100 (S$20) we got 5 different kinds of seafood: squid, lala, scallops, prawns and fish along with stir fried baby kai lan, sweet and sour pork and fried rice.

The food was excellent. The squid was not at all chewy or hard. The scallops were sweet and the lala was juicy. I particularly enjoyed the prawn with the garlic seasoning. Definite thumbs up!

After such a heavy lunch, we commenced our exploration around Lamma Island.

Lamma Island Part 2 coming up next…

HK Day 4: HK University and URA

Day 4 was quite an interesting day because we headed to Hong Kong University to view the Geological Museum there. Behold, the magical globe projector that is simply awesome to use as a teaching tool. Too bad it costs a hefty $100,000. Not exactly cheap to install in every classroom. This here are actual fossilized dinosaur eggs! Apparently, someone broke one before and sadly, it was empty! Hoax perhaps?

Here is the extensive collection of rocks and minerals. Quite astounding. My favourite is the TV rock! Apparently, it operates like an optic fibre that’s why it is so crystal clear!

While waiting for the bus, some of my friends went off to buy Lau Sa Bao (egg custard bun) so we were happily nomming on the bus that took us to URA. While we were there, we sat in for a talk that revealed the extreme housing conditions of the people in HK. Quite shockingly, some people actually still live in squatter settlements no bigger than a cage! But then again, I’m not sure if this is just an excuse for them to promote urban redevelopment and gentrification. These days, we have to be wary of information sources *think scam sms on nuclear fallout*

After our very academic driven itinerary was completed, we decided to hang loose and go for KTV after dinner! I have never in my life, sang so many chinese songs! Thankfully I have wonderful, encouraging friends who rambled lines to me before the music came on. It’s really hard to read the old traditional chinese words!

Somehow or another, KTV-ing is one activity where time just flies by before you even know it! I sang from 8pm-1am! Not very clever considering our morning call the next day was at 6am but hey, we are only young once in our lives right? So yes, crazy jumping on couches, check. Moronic dancing and flailing of arms, check. And singing like there’s no tomorrow!

Day 5 coming right up!

HK Day 3 Part 2: Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui

After Sheung Wan, we decided to have the full HK experience and take the tram! And along the way, we saw many cool advertisements (Shiseido gave out balloons and Nike had a wicked billboard) and even bumped into a group of students who were also on a geography fieldtrip! What a coincidence!

After that, Claudia took us to this small quaint little cafe. A cat cafe to be more precise! And being the cat lover that I am, I lovedddd it so much! So many adorable kitties that were so tame and affectionate!

And the food though a tad pricey, was so pretty! And it tasted absolutely awesome. Perfect for tea, methinks. Feast your eyes! That white cat in the pink frothy cup is edible chocolate!

After our sumptuous feast, we decided to hit the shops once more, this time for cosmetics. I am soooo jealous because HK has brands like Nars, Smashbox, Paul and Joe, Kate, Jill Stuart and even brands like Bobbi Brown, Shu Uemura and even SKII are so much cheaper than in Singapore, a good $5 cheaper (for SKII it’s like S$100 a bottle?) in fact. And I realised that Hong Kongers love beauty products so much, that every 20 steps you take, there’s a Sasa just right in front of you. As a result, I succumbed to temptation and bought My Beauty Diary Masks (it’s like S$10 a box! Dirt cheap la!), Bobbi Brown concealer and pot rouge and stocked up on Kiehls Rare Earth series. And they have LUSH! Mad jealous I tell you. I bought Porridge and Bohemian to make myself feel better. Lol.

And while we were making our way back, we took the Star Ferry at the IFC building and stopped by to see the night lights around the Avenue of Stars and despite the hazy misty foggy weather, the skyline was still beautiful. This here is the Arts Museum. It was closed though so we couldn’t visit. Pity.

Day 4 coming up tomorrow!

HK Day 3 Part 1: Central and Sheung Wan

Day 3 was the most powerpack day ever and the beginning of what would be a glorious food trail. Today was alittle different. Because our field study was going to be conducted in Hong Kong Island, we could sleep in and head out at 10am for breakfast and the local cha can teng (cafe) and hey, as the saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans do so likewise, we ordered food that was characteristically ‘Hong Kong.’

As you can see, that is basically french toast with condensed milk, maple syrup and honey, pork and kiam chai noodles, toast with luncheon meat and egg and of course, the famous pineapple bun that is slathered with butter.

We are happy happy campers. And after our hearty breakfast, we decided to do some exercise and so, we headed to… H&M. The most wonderful place on earth. I went to H&M three times on this trip, to different branches (Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Central which has like 4 storeys la!!) and all three times I bought something. My poor poor wallet.

So after our shopping, we walked around Central looking for pink signs (which was part of our study) and there was really quite alot of interesting places to see! First stop, Pottinger Street. This was quite an interesting street because it sold alot of knick knacks for locals and it primarily specialises in party stuff. Kind of like Concourse here in Singapore, only that it is a street sidewalk format.

And as we meandered our way around the city, we came across the typical butchery shops and wet markets that sold gorgeous flowers and fresh seafood. It was quite an eye opening experience to see these shops just side by side to say a modern boutique. I love how it’s an organized mess.

And after all that walking, we had to stop for a light snack and what could be more satisfying than the best egg tarts in the entire world? Tai Cheong Egg Tarts. Just thinking about it makes my eyes water.

After having such a heavenly dessert, we trudged on to Sheung Wan and there, we found a whole row of shops selling jade and other precious stones, antiques and amulets.

We also found this gorgeous staircase which seems to resemble the staircase featured in HK dramas (you know the scenes where the guy piggybacks the girl up a long flight of stairs?) Anyhow, we thought it would be a perfect camwhoring spot. H&M should pay us for publicity man.

After our camwhoring, we headed towards Western Market which is this old colonial building, much like Raffles Hotel and Chijmes and to my surprise, it is actually a place that houses alot of textile merchants.

And because I wasn’t quite interested in shopping for textiles, I sat down at Honeymoon Desserts to have my mango pomelo sago, an absolute must-have in HK. I know we have a franchise here in Singapore but somehow, the original is still the best. It was chocked full of ingredients. Sweet tangy mango chunks with bittersweet pomelo… it was so refreshing and yummy!

Stay tuned for Day 3 Part 2! Lots of cute kitties and more shopping!

 

HK Day 2: High Island East Dam and Sai Kung

We set off really early at 7am and we took a cab to High Island East Dam and I will just say that the cab ride was the freakiest ride of my life. It’s kind of like Genting Highlands where the road is really steep, narrow and winding and my cab driver would accelerate on the bends as if he was some crazy race car driver aka Formula 1. I seriously feared for my life there and then and when I got out of the car, I felt nauseous. Thankfully the feeling dissipated after I walked around abit.

For our inquiry study, we had to formulate a hypothesis to explain why the landform was as such and my group picked this site because we were intrigued by the column blocks and the differing colors of rocks.

After the field study, we stopped to take a group photo and look what we found! Aren’t they just absolutely adorable?

Claudia absolutely melted when she saw them and they were so obedient! They could actually obey commands. And the cuteness doesn’t just stop there. I saw even more cute dogs along the way! Tada!

That’s when I realised that Hong Kongers really love their dogs! After saying goodbye to all the cute puppies, we boarded yet another boat that took us around Sai Kung, the place renowned for its seafood.

There, we viewed more spectacular landforms from our boat. I just love the beautiful greyish blue sky and the green sea. What a refreshing change from our usual cityscape! The pace of life seemed to have slowed down tremendously and I had time to reflect, rest (the sea sick pills made me drowsy) and breathe.

And at night, we decided to have supper at Yee Shun (since it was near our hotel in Mongkok) and have their famous milk curd! I highly recommend the ginger tea one! It was so potent and good though they are famous for the double whipped variety.

More of my HK adventure coming up! Stay tuned to part 3: Hong Kong Island, H&M and more!

HK Day 1: Tung Ping Chau and Tolo Channel

Hello everyone! I’m sorry that I’ve been so MIA. I JUST got back from Hong Kong last night and already I feel the pangs of longing and dread. I really really didn’t want to leave H&M, Sasa and all the awesome food behind. And so, this is going to be a fond reminiscent recap of my wonderful time in HK. Please bear with me!

Okay, I went on this 6 day trip and it was primarily an educational trip where I learnt about rocks and landforms as well as urban geography using Hong Kong as a case study. But of course, with all ‘work’ vacations, there is also time for leisure and I felt that this time round, I definitely had a good mix of both.

Disclaimer: Day 1 and 2 are purely physical geog stuff so I’m sorry if I bore you to death. The fun exciting photos of shopping and food will only come from day 3 onwards.

We started out day 1 touring the Tung Ping Chau where we saw so many varieties of sedimentary rocks.

As you can see, we had quite alot of fun along the way. Claudia found a rock shaped in the form of a cookie as Su Mei found corals! I have never seen corals up close before until this trip. It was pretty awesome!

Luckily for us, we had a professor of geology from Hong Kong University who came down and taught us rock identification and this is us trying to differentiate natural and unnatural items that are commonly found on the beach.

And of course, no fieldtrip is complete without the mandatory camwhoring shots with the beautiful landscape. You will see more of Matt’s awesome posing in later posts.

After walking on for eons, we all got tired and headed off to the jetty for our boat ride along the Tolo Channel and along the way, we saw some spectacular views of the coast and rock caves!

And after a long arduous day, we got off the boat and headed back to land where we feasted on ice cream! The yummiest ice cream was really from those small little ice cream trucks selling softie soft served ice cream. It’s so milky, creamy and soft and it’s only HK$8! I had it twice on this trip, along with curry fishballs and other street hawker food!

Stay tuned for part 2

Hong Kong Street Style

In just about four days from now, I will be on a plane to Hong Kong! The land of yummy pineapple tarts, HK drama serials and H&M! And in my eagerness, I decided to go suss out what everyone is wearing given that it’s 18-27 degrees Celsius now. I mean, when you’re there you want to do your best to blend in and ‘go native’ right? And so I went to lookbook and found some awesome Spring wear, all modelled by the same person: Mayo Wo.

And if you actually just limit your search to Hong Kong alone, you’ll realise that she tops the best of all time list! And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you why. Her style is so distinctive and it really showcases her personality!

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I simply adore her flirty, feminine style and it’s perfect for Spring what with the cheery pink hues and flowy chiffon material. I also love her bowler hats and knee length socks which seem like signature accessories for her. Somehow, despite experimenting with so many different palettes of colour and different designs, she has cultivated a niche style, that girl next door chic! Major likey! She has definitely inspired me and my wardrobe for my HK trip!

To see more of her looks, check out lookbook.


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