A Travellerspoint blog

Dragon Boat Festival

No class today because of the Dragon Boat Festival holiday. I had no idea that it was such a big deal for the Chinese that they would make it into a national holiday, but I guess it's been this way for many years now. I caught a glimpse of the dragon boats on T.V., but other than that, I didn't do much to celebrate. I didn't even eat the traditional zhong that is particular to this day. Boo... Hopefully I'll get a chance next summer if I end up visiting Hong Kong again. I would love to come back again, with exception of the long and painful plane ride.

I had no intentions of staying home on my one day off from school, so I texted my classmates Mike and Bex to see if they had any plans. Mike ended up having previous engagements, but Bex was open to hanging out. We decided to meet at Times Square in Causeway Bay because I needed to pull out money. Thank God they have Bank of America in Hong Kong! Well, it's called China Construction Bank over here. It makes everything so much easier. After that, we decided to visit the very popular Lan Kwai Fong since I never been there before and kept hearing how popular it is among visitors and youngsters. It was really quiet, since the nightlife doesn't start until dinner time (like 6). I was glad because I wasn't in the mood to be around drunk, rowdy people.

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Being pretty hungry, we decided to go to Balalaika Russian Restaurant. I realized I never tried Russian food before! And being the big food junkie I am, that was not acceptable (haha). When we first stepped inside, the first thing I noticed was how completely and utterly dead it was. There was not a single soul in sight besides the employees. We got two orders of beef shashlik, which is just a fancy way of saying beef skewers, and an order of Kamikazes. The shashliks were so fancy. They came out in two huge pans and lighted the entire thing on fire!! Never seen such a thing. I took my first bite and couldn't get over how amazing the meat tasted. I didn't want to leave a single bite behind. It was really that good. Now I'm determined to find a good Russian spot when I get back to Cali. They even had an awesome "Siberian Vodka Room" that was made entirely of ice! You get to wear giant fur coats when you go in. How cool is that?!

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Afterwards, I met up with Uncle 7 to take a ferry ride to Jordan district. It was nice to see Hong Kong from the open bay. When we got there, we did a bunch of walking around. We visited this really fancy spot that had really elegant architecture. It was not too big, but it was real pretty. We walked a little further for dinner and got some wonton noodles at Mak's Noodle. It was served in the tiniest bowl, I swear! Good thing I wasn't too hungry or I would have to eat dinner again. When we were done, we walked through a bunch of bargain stands that lined the streets. It was weird because there were a few that sold sex toys. What the heck? Sex toys being sold right out in the open?? Anyways, I did find a keychain that was a LV knockoff and a couple of cute color-changing clocks. They were selling imitation Rolex's that I wanted to purchase for Ricky, but I didn't know which style to choose. Will need to make a trip back.

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Before we headed back, we grabbed some desserts at a local shop. I've been craving red bean soup ever since I got here, so it totally made my night!

Posted by jenniferfer 06:22 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged food shopping family sightseeing Comments (0)

"Ladies Market"

Bargain Shopping at Mong Kok with Cuzzy Rachel

Hong Kong is known as shopping paradise for a reason! I met with Rachel at the Mong Kok station early noon to hit up the vast array of bargain stores in what is known as "Ladies Market" on Tung Choi Street. Let me say... this spot would make any girl happy. They had everything! Clothing stores, shoe stores, keychains, bags, jewelry, and whatever else you can think of. I had no idea where to begin. They even had outdoor stalls where they did gel nails and nail art for a steal of a price. For some reason, the salesladies were extremely persistent today. Not sure if it was because they can tell I'm a foreigner or that they just opened, but it came to a point where I was afraid to even touch anything. One lady held onto my hand and wouldn't let go until I forced myself away. It was kind of scary.

We went to this small, hidden restaurant to grab some Taiwanese food for lunch. I got a little overexcited when I found out they had tea there. It's been nearly a week since I last drank any, so I was going through some major withdrawals. My litchi green tea with konjac jelly tasted like heaven!! The food was good too. Especially this eggplant in spicy oil dish. It was back to Ladies Market after we finished eating, but I was extremely hesitant after seeing how pushy the salesladies here can get. We went through a few men's shoe stores, but there wasn't really any good deals. I guess ladies get most of the bargains around here. Rachel took me to another spot that was nearby that housed a bunch of boutique stores. Japanese fashion is extremely popular here, so a lot of the clothes have tags showing the item being worn by models in magazines (like ViVi). I think that's pretty clever.

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I didn't purchase too much, since it was hard to move around and I couldn't think straight from the heat. I did manage to find these cool leggings that I saw earlier and got them for an awesome bargain price. I'm glad I didn't buy it the first time around. As we were walking, we passed by this cart that was selling a lot of knockoffs. Marc Jacobs being one of them. They looked like the real deal! Of course, I had to snatch up a couple items. I ended up getting a large floral tote and a mini coin purse for around US$25 after bargaining. Not bad at all. There were tons of shoe stores too and I was trying real hard to control myself, but those who know me well know that I have the biggest weakness for shoes. I did end up getting a pair of grey sandals. I have an addiction that can't be cured! I don't go to Hong Kong often so whatever...

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Rachel had a family thing to attend to, so I wandered off on my own to Langham Place. Another one of the many shopping malls that are in Hong Kong. I didn't really do much browsing because I had one thing in mind that I had to get, which were the Shu Uemura eyelash curlers that a few girlfriends back home wanted me to get for them. After that I stopped by Causeway Bay to find those cheap jelly shoes I saw the other day, but had no luck. I ended up getting really lost and walking in circles. My feet were dying by the time I headed home. I did find the small alleyway of boutique stores where I saw this cute black blazer the other day. They're cheaper here than anywhere back home, so I got one. I needed a casual one anyway.

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Finished off my night with the street cart noodles once again. LOVE the cheap food here.

Posted by jenniferfer 00:40 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged shopping Comments (0)

Stanley Market

Ahhhhh I remember now...

Today I got to spend the day with my sweet grandma, Chung Yi. She didn't have to work until late in the afternoon, so I asked her if she could take me to visit the restaurant she works at since I was curious of how it was. We went to a restaurant right around the block that was called Tai Hing Roast Restaurant for lunch. It reminded me very much of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Vegas. I don't know why I keep making Vegas references (lol). I must go there too often. Anyway, it was newly remodeled and looked pretty modern. I've noticed that a majority of restaurants don't serve cold/ice water in Hong Kong. It's strange. They only serve hot water or hot tea. Is it like that in Asia in general? When I asked for ice water, they just gave me a cup of ice. I assumed that I just pour the hot water in there myself, which worked out just fine. I got myself some crispy pork with rice and a iced lemon tea. Yum!

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We decided to go take a walk afterwards to digest. It turned out to be a bad idea... Taking walks at noon in Hong Kong is like asking for heat exhaustion. We were both dying. Well, me more than her. I'm not used to the high humidity at all. I was a nasty sweat monster! GROSS. We walked along Quarry Bay Park, where there was a nice open view of Hong Kong across the waters. Too bad being by the waters still made no difference. All there was was hot air blowing against your face. We called it quits not too long after and headed back home to lounge in front of the a/c. Can't do without a/c in the summers here. I heard it gets even worse in August! Oh my gosh, I'm not looking forward to that at all.

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After a little rest, we were off to Stanley where my grandma works. We boarded a double-decker bus and climbed the long hill. Along the way I saw big, fancy hotels and homes along the beach. Wow, this must be where the rich part of Hong Kong lives. When I say rich, I mean really rich because these were some decent-size homes. As we arrived at the top, I saw an open marketplace that was filled with tourists. This spot was catered to tourists as they sold traditional souvenirs and t-shirts. Imitation is huge here and they do the job pretty well. Sometimes you can't even tell the difference between what's real or not. I got suckered into buying keychains from this persistent sales lady. I didn't get much of a bargain for a bargain store! She was trying to completely rip me off, but we managed to bargain it down to half the price (US$12.85) which is still expensive for some dinky keychains.....

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Once you walk past the marketplace, you reach this nice beach area that was lined with restaurants and bars. Here you see a mixed crowd enjoying a few drinks, and most can speak English. Seems like a fun place to enjoy with friends. It made me miss my friends back home! There was a ice cream truck parked along the sidewalk, so we both got ice cream cones to take a break from the heat. Then we walked a little further and reached the Murray House, where my grandma works. It was a huge place that housed restaurants of different cuisines. As I walked into the place, I got flashbacks of me visiting with my family when I was very small. Those were the good days. Back then, we were a lot closer as a family but we have drifted apart through the years. It saddens me how it's that way, but we can't dwell on the past right?

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Since my grandma had work, I boarded the bus back home by myself. Luckily, I got off on the correct stop. I was so scared that I wouldn't know where to go, but I guess I'm getting a little more familiar with the streets of Hong Kong now. On my way to the elevator, I decided to stop by the cheap shoe store once again. Oh my was it packed! I could barely move around and there was only a fan blowing warm air. I was suffocating. I managed to find a pair of cute Vivienne Westwood knockoffs though. I've been looking for a pair of cute wedges, so I was pretty happy with my purchase.

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I finished off the night with street cart noodles from downstairs. You basically create your own noodle soup and they charge depending on how many items you get. It was only US$2.70 for a huge bowl with three items. What a deal!

Posted by jenniferfer 07:56 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged beaches buildings shopping family shoes Comments (0)

Let's Explore Shall We?

Meeting Cousin Rachel and Shopping

Today I ventured out on my own to do some shopping. There's an awesome bargain shoe store right below where I live and how cheap everything is just blows me away! They have shoes of all styles and colors... Best part of it is that they are pretty much all below US$15. I think I just fell in love with Hong Kong. Of course, I had to pick up a couple. I ended up only paying $15 for two pairs. I'm in love I tell ya!! There are also small jewelry/accessory boutiques that sells relatively cheap stuff. There wasn't much that suited my taste, but I did find two rings that were pretty cute.

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Since I had dinner plans at 7 PM and there was tons of time to kill, I decided to walk to one of the nearby shopping centers called Cityplaza Mall. That's the thing about Hong Kong... I always have time to kill here, but there seems to not be enough back in the states. Too bad it can't be the other way around. I don't have much to do around here besides eating and shopping, literally. It would be very bad if I do too much of either, so I constantly have to regulate myself. I remember visiting this mall when I was a lot younger. It seemed a lot bigger back then. They have a awesome food court that sells all types of food, like the Rio buffet in Vegas. I ordered pan-fried udon with pork katsu. It was pretty big-portioned and super cheap. Something like that would probably cost near $10 back home, but was only $3 over here. Loves it! Also, I just discovered that some Shu Uemura products are cheaper here! They're popular eyelash curler is one of 'em. Scoooooore!

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With a little more time to kill, I wandered into Causeway Bay first to check out the spot. It was like the Rodeo Dr. of Hong Kong. They had all the luxury name stores and it was fully packed with bustling shoppers. My feet were killing me from all the walking from the day and I was wearing my TOMS. I don't understand how the ladies here wear high-heels and still manage to walk so gracefully everyday. They are c-r-a-z-y. When my cousin Rachel finally arrived, it was like we were friends for a long time already even though we haven't seen each other for more than a decade! We got along really well and had tons to catch up on. She took me to this hip spot called caffè HABITŪ the table, which was inside this swanky home goods store, G.O.D. It was really nice, but too bad I didn't have much of an appetite. I just got myself a blueberry cheesecake and cappuccino brulee. It was decent in taste. We both agreed that a bowl of wonton noodles would be enough to make us happy (haha).

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After, we did what girls do best, shopping! Rachel introduced me to all the good spots, such as Times Square and the small street market that sold bargain clothes and accessories. There was even a cart that sold cute jelly shoes, but too bad they didn't have my size at that time. I need to hunt that place down when I go there again.

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I ended up getting doggy treats and a tribal-styled maxi dress. They don't provide plastic bags at markets here! I had no idea... I got charged HK$0.50 for a bag when I bought the treats. It's no biggie, but it just took me by surprise. Overall, I had a lot of fun. It's always great catching up with family and spending some quality girl time together.

Posted by jenniferfer 17:34 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged shopping family shoes rings Comments (0)

Culture Shocked

It was late start day today, so I didn't have class until 4 PM.. Meaning lots of time to kill. I was a lonely soul wandering the unfamiliar streets of Hong Kong. I decided to leave to Wan Chai (where my school is) early and figure my way around so that even if I do get lost, I will have plenty of time to find my way. It turned out to be a good idea because I got lost plenty of times. One good thing came out of it - I found a boba joint! The spot was called Gong Cha and it's pretty big here. I'm glad, since the last time I came here nearly 10 years ago there were little to no spots selling boba. Oh, and it's not called boba here... everyone says "zhen zhu." Apparently, "boba" is considered inappropriate. I got myself green milk tea and must've said it wrong since they didn't give me ice. So it was basically room temperature... Yuck.

I got hungry along the way and decided to sample some of the small restaurant stores here. What's awesome is that there are endless possibilities! And they are mostly very affordable. I picked one in complete randomness. The place was called Relish Noodle and they served Sichuan food. Yummmmm. I was lead along the narrow hallway lined with booths and was told to sit at a booth where two young ladies were chatting away. What was going on?? I had to reconfirm with the man, "I'm sitting here?" He nodded yes. I felt completely awkward sitting there alone and sharing the table with complete strangers, but I guess it's the norm here. Anyway, I ordered myself a bowl of dandan mein (or dandan noodles). They do it a little differently here. It's served with soup and you get a choice of adding dumplings, beef, or whatever suits you. When I finally found my school building, I still had time to kill. I decided to walk to Causeway Bay to do a little shopping and only picked up a cute ring.

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My class went by fast as usual and I had no plans, so I decided to go check out Victoria Harbour with Bex (my classmate). We ended up taking a taxi and, oh my god, I was scared for my life! The tall hill we climbed was extremely narrow and I couldn't help but tense up each time we passed a car. It was pretty nerve-wrecking I must say. Once we reached the top, we went through the shopping center to reach the Peak Tower. You can't visit Hong Kong and not visit this famous spot. It took about four escalator rides to reach the rooftop. The view from up there was absolutely breathtaking... You can literally see all of Victoria Harbour! The pictures I took don't even compare to how beautiful the city lights are in real life. Afterwards, Bex and I went to grab dinner at Spaghetti 360. I can't recall exactly what I ordered, but I know it was some type of crab meat pasta. It turned out to be better than I expected. The taxi ride back was even worse than before. He was horrible at braking and seemed to feel the need to stomp on the brake pedal each time instead of just of easing into it like most people do. I don't get car sick that easy, but this guy was just THAT bad. NOTE TO SELF: Avoid taxis if possible.

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Posted by jenniferfer 07:21 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

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