Jun 24, 2013

Hong Kong Travelogue: Spending the night at Kau Kee & Lan Kwai Fong (Day 1 - 7 Jun 2013)

Finally a cooling shower and clean laundry after all the sweat. Feeling refreshing, I made my way to Central to meet up a local friend of mine, Wilson.

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On the way to Central

Being a first timer to take MTR on my own, it was not a tough chore. There are plenty of direction boards that lead you to the right direction. MTR stations and trains are well ventilated and systematic. You wouldn't feel suffocated even in a crowded train. It is also where you want to be at after a walk in the hot and humid summer. At certain MTR stations, you get to tag for HKD2 rebate if you depart or arrive at the same locations. Ain't that cool?


Look at the red and orange lines

There are two MTR lines connecting to Central: Tsuen Wan Line (Central MTR) or Tung Chung Line (Hong Kong MTR). I took the Tsuen Wan Line and reached Central MTR. I exited at H, Alexandra House. First I saw Prada shop on my left, then Ermenegildo Zegna on my right. I was awed.

Looking left and right, high and low, my friend was nowhere to be seen. My feet thought it would be good to have a stroll and enjoy my first evening in foreign land.

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This is Hong Kong's traffic

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If Hong Kong is jam, most likely it is human jam.

Traffic was clear and hardly any jam. All you can see is double decker buses, trams and fierce taxis roaming the street like a boss. Nor forgetting nice cars parking at the side of road. As I walked, breezes blew past me and frankly speaking, I like this feeling of walking on the street without worrying about reckless motor drivers or cars.

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View from Chater Road

Soon, the text came in, paging for my location. How could I tell besides that I was along the Chater Street? Thank goodness for my One2Free data plan, else he would have difficulty looking for me.

It did not take me long to realise that this Hongkie friend of mine is not so Hongkie after all. He doesn't know the streets well as he doesn't eat Chinese food. So the two lost birds relied on Google Map and Foursquare to find our dinner place, Kau Kee Restaurant, at Gough Street.

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Finally my Kau Kee!

One thing you have to bear with in Hong Kong: there is always queue at famous eateries but if you come in small pax, you get tables easily. Actually, I really don't mind sharing table as it gave me the sense of blending in to the local culture.

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Beef brisket mihun soup (HKD36) :)

We ordered beef brisket mihun soup and curry beef tendon and brisket thick noodle. To begin with, I liked the beef brisket mihun soup very much as the soup base tasted of beefy goodness and mihun absorbed all of them generously. Beef brisket was pretty lean, soft along with slight resistance. Unfortunately, there were only 6 pcs of brisket in a bowl.

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Curry beef tendon and brisket with thick noodle (HKD 36) :(

On the other hand, this curry beef noodle fared badly to my standard. I have to declare that I am never a friend of tendon and the fact that there were more tendon than brisket. Not only that, the curry base was too spicy, even to my Malaysian standard. One thing did right about this noodle was the thick noodle resembled thick wantan mee wasn't too bad to go with curry. Both of us did not finish half of it :(

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The famous Lan Kwai Fong

After the heavy dinner, we walked to Lan Kwai Fong and found ourselves cosy in Zinc, which is reasonably priced during happy hour and plays good music. There is a big Buddha temple bell hanging right on top of the entrance, which I felt it was inappropriate and even despising.

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Signature Flirtini (HKD55-60 during happy hour)

After flipping through the menu, I decided to go with something sweet, i.e. Signature Flirtini, made of vodka, pineapple juice, champagne, raspberry liquor and fresh raspberries. It turned out to be a brilliant choice; it was very good, especially with the smashed fresh raspberries. No doubt It was a lady drink, being red, sweet and sexy *lip smacking*

Before the happy hour ended, I decided to have a pint of Guinness draft and it turned out to be an awful choice. Not only the foam was not smooth, the brew tasted metallic and just bad for my picky tongue. DON'T order them!

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We left around 10.30pm and got to the ferry terminal on Hong Kong Island. The view overlooking Hong Kong mainland was simply beautiful; the neon lights brimming the night sky, so bright that the cloud was milky white. The wind brushed against us was simply calming. No doubt a good place to have some me-time. Also, if you try to kill yourselves, you can try to jump into the sea. Just be careful with the obstruction. LOL!

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The bokehlicious

By the time we were leaving, the ferry terminal was still operating. We took a 5min ride and reached Tsim Sha Tsui, where there were still quite a crowd there to take photo with the big ducky. I thought it would be good to take one first, in case the next round I come in the daytime, it is worse (and I was right).

By the time we reached Tsim Sha Tsui, it was past midnight but thankfully, Tsuen Wan Line operates until 1.22am. Stay tune for Day 2's food hunt!

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The ducky and the duck face from yours sincerely

Jun 16, 2013

Hong Kong Travelogue: Journey of Discoveries (Day 1 - 7 June 2013)

My sleepiness got the hang of me after the flight took off. I slept for an hour plus, which felt like 2-3 hours. My butt felt sore after sitting in the same position for hours but my Crumpler was heavy and bulky.

I was placed between two male strangers. Hence I couldn't move much. On my left was a 60s uncle, listening to music on his pad and playing angry bird game. On my right was a 30s guy, sleeping almost throughout the journey.

After two hours, I decided that I seriously needed a stretch. I asked the uncle on my left to give way for me to head to the lavatory. That lavatory session was perhaps the most refreshing time aboard. Don't get me wrong, my body was almost numb.

30minutes before landing, this uncle on my left and I started to talk. Then only I found out that he is Hong Kong resident currently staying in Malaysia, stopping by Hong Kong to bring a friend around before his business cum personal trip in China. Quite a friendly dude I would say but he spoke pretty soft. At least he spoke proper English. Also, I wasted no chance to practice my Cantonese!

Soon, the plane landed. I must say, Hong  Kong airport is a very easy to navigate and systematic too! I was led to find myself needing to take a train transit to immigration and baggage collection. This was interesting.

First stop was the immigration. They have around 10 counters opening to accommodate the filing crowd. The queue was long but the wait was less than 3 minutes long. When it was my turn, it was done in 30 seconds. I was amazed by their efficiency.

Second stop was the baggage collection. Being first timer, I headed to enquiry desks and asked in English, "AK1656 baggage is at which lane?". I was promptly led to another side of enquiry desk. Then I asked again, this time in Cantonese. Again, I was responded within 10 seconds. Whoa, what else I could say?

Baggage collection was no hard chore. Right after I was done, I wandered around looking for exit and I came out from another terminal instead. Feeling a little adventurous, I decided to look around for 1010 shop to get my new broadband prepaid sim. I ended up googling the location. It is right at the departure hall at level 7 area F. Just walk along the row and you will find 1010 shop.

I had around 3 persons queuing right in front of me waiting to get my hand of my broadband sim. Korean, Chinese, maybe Japanese? The staff was very responsive and spoke excellent Chinese. I got my mobile broadband prepaid sim (compatible with iPhone 5) for HKD100 and they activated my weekly unlimited surfing for HKD78. I still had HKD19+ balance in my account.

I took a double decker bus, S56, from Terminal 1 bus station to Citygate Outlet for HKD3.80/pax. The journey was about 10minutes. The bus was very well air-conditioned and equally economic! What so interesting about Citygate Outlet? Yes, you can find a lot of discounted items here. For example, a Couch handbag is HKD4600 with 30% discount. I went to New Balance and Nike shops but nothing strike my fancy. Moreover, their stocks are very limited. Food wise, it really has nothing to shout about.

I left after half an hour or so and headed to Tung Chung MTR where I grabbed my first Octopus card. It costed me HKD150 with HKD100 credit. After three months, you may return the card and get back your HKD50 deposit. Alternatively they would charge HKD9 for early return.

Then my course was set from the station to Tsing Yi MTR, where Maritime Square is located and had an hour of look-see-look-see before the lunch promo started at 2pm at Federal Palace. There were pretty large crowd waiting for the lunch promo outside the restaurant too. I was told they were all Hongkies queuing to enjoy their tea time.

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*Random Dim Sum Restaurant in Maritime Square*

To begin with, I didn't have any high expectation as it wasn't in my to-eat list. Apart from the crunching smooth beehive fried wu kok (HKD16) and the decent soupy roast goose lai fun (HKD25.80), the lau sha pao (HKD16) and XO sauce fried carrot cake (HKD18) were plain disappointment. There wasn't any tongue scorching salted egg yolk fillings but thick skin; there wasn't crispy outer skin on small cubes of carrot cake and garnishing/condiments to go with the carrot cake but floury and bland carrot cake.

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*Beehive Fried Wu Kok (HKD16)* - :)

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*Roast Goose Lai Fun Soup (HKD25.80)* :)

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* Lau Sha Pao (HKD16)* :(


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*XO Sauce Fried Carrot Cake (HKD18)* :(

Few interesting facts about Hong Kong's MTR:
1) escalators are rushing fast and you have to put down your phone and watch where you step on. Else, you might end up face down, phone fly or worse, leg goner?
2) there are plenty of exits in each MTR station. You have to know exactly where to exit. My advice is download the MTR mobile app (link) if you have access to data or check the map at each MTR station before you embark on any footwork.

Other than that, I must say the design of residential area in Hong Kong was superb. The supermarkets, market, shoplots, restaurants, kindergartens, bus stops are usually located below the blocks of houses. Sometimes even MTR station! So all you need to do is take a lift down to get whatever you need to cook a meal downstairs; send your kids to school downstairs; take a train to work downstairs. It is very self sustainable and safe too as there are few security measures being put in place even for a typical residential.

The market place itself was another discovery: the market is opened from morning until 7pm (in Malaysia, market is opened from morning until 12noon at most); the market is equipped with fans (sometimes there are markets equipped with air conditions!).

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It was such a bliss to be able to put down my Karrimor Munro 65litre backpack once I had arrived at my destination. Nap would probably be wise but my mind and body was just too excited to take a rest. Probably I could use some juice for my devices :D

More updates coming your way.

Jun 11, 2013

Hong Kong Travelogue: Fast & Furious (Day 1 - 7 Jun 2013)

My mind went blank the moment the pang of realization hit me real hard on my face as I reached for my phone and checked the time. Yes, I overslept. Supposedly to catch a Skybus at One Utama at 3.45am but it didn't happen. My tanner half woke up as I shouted "fuck" and I wasn't kidding. It was 5.21am and my flight was 7.10am.

I was awed at how rational my tanner half was despite the sleepiness. He gave me a ride straight to LCCT and we reached in less than 40 minutes. Throughout the ride, I was quiet and anxious with all my thoughts, as if my mind and body were separated. My eyes kept flicking to see the clock and my fingers kept tapping on phone to check the distance to LCCT.

LCCT was packed as usual. I ran with my Karrimor backpack with my green flat, definitely not meant for such purpose. My body was tired but I was left with no choice but to run to the international departure section.

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*Sleepy morning*

I got hold of the nearest AirAsia staff and asked for baggage check in counter. Thankfully the staff was friendly and gave the direction in few seconds. However the baggage check in lanes were no shorter. In front of me were 2-3 check ins  and it was dreadfully slow (in my case as it was 6.10am, the final call for the baggage check in)!

I kept checking my watch and hoping that the process went on faster. After few minutes (which felt like ages), it was my turn and I asked politely if the baggage check in staff could help to print my boarding pass as I was rushing for my flight and they happily obliged! Hallelujah, AirAsia definitely made my day!

I had the urge to pee but I dared not risk it. I ran to the international departure hall and the police/custom was saying, "Sudah lambat ke Cik", I didn't remember what I said other than a "Ya" with a smile. The "amazing race" continued. I ran down the escalator and finally stood in front of my boarding gate, only to find out that they were still boarding the Surabaya flight. I simply couldn't express how relieved I was and I texted my tanner half about it.

It was 6.30am and I thought I could use a breakfast before the boarding for Hong Kong opened. I ordered myself a crunchy peanut crispy roll for RM6.50. Slightly pricier but oh well, did I have a choice? After I paid for it and got my change, my crispy roll decided to land face down on the floor. Ah, crap, you gotta be kidding me! Within 3 seconds, I quickly dived for the poor hot roll laying flat on the ground. Guess my mom taught me well.

Chocolate Peanut Crispy Roll
*Chocolate Peanut Crispy Roll*

After 10 minutes or so, the boarding to Hong Kong had started. I was still half way through my breakfast but the queue was long. I ate it as fast as I can and the final few bites were literally stuffing my mouth to the maximum capacity. Once I was done, I ran towards the boarding gate, then slowly followed the proceeding to the respective platform as instructed.

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*My AK1656 Flight*

My fast and furious boarding experience had then came to an end as I was sitting in the cabin and waited for the flight to take off. I made it, with the help of my tanner half and the AirAsia staff. My Hong Kong trip was happening!

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