Happy Days

27 March 2012

This weekends brief trip to Macau was pretty fun! I managed to take a cheeky day off on Monday so I could tag along on the trip to Macau with my family.  It was pretty much a repeat of our last visit, the same gorgeous hotel, pretty much the same food but I can't complain. It's a bit of a treat to be back so soon and It's not somewhere I visit often when I'm in Hong Kong. As soon as we hopped off the Ferry, we headed towards the dessert shop where there was a queue waiting for it to open. Traditional Chinese desserts are one of my favorite things ever! 
I had the same as last time, Waterchestnut dessert with egg white and coconut milk and other family members had almond dessert with egg white. We also had a bowl of Peanut tong yuen to share! Generally, Macau is pretty well known for it's traditional dessert shops and I've never had waterchestnut dessert outside of Macau, so it's a bit of a treat!
Afterwards we checked into the hotel where I proceeded to take photos on the balcony. Lots of pretty pink flowers...
Oh and of course I want to show you guys my best flying squirrel impression. This blouse from Bauhaus is super comfy and to be honest was pretty perfect for the feast we had on the evening. Perhaps it's not very ladylike for me to say...but it's the truth!
Blouse (Bauhaus) Top (H&M) Jeans (Uniqlo) Shoes (Converse)
Before dinner, we went to find the famous Lord Stow's bakery for their yummy freshly baked Portuguese tarts. It was super out of the way and when we arrived we found out that they were exclusively avaliable in the Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay, a stones throw away from the apartment back in HK which was a bit annoying!
The area was pretty and had a slightly more rural feel to it, despite it only being a 3 minute taxi ride away from our hotel. The parts of Macau I've seen before are the busy city, the large purpose built shopping malls, hotels and the glitz of the casinos so it was nice to breathe slightly clearer air in this area of Macau. Actually, the air was FAR cleaner than HK (which is super polluted) and makes me appreciate the crisp, clean air back home in the UK.
While waiting for the taxi back to the hotel, I spotted a couple taking pre-wedding photos (super popular in Asia) on the small jetty. Though it has to be said, I'm sure a lot of photoshopping will be involved because it wasn't exactly picture perfect down there, still it was pretty sweet to see.
After managing to hail a taxi we headed back to the hotel where I indulged in the Portuguese Tarts and of course took a photo before anyone had a chance to eat them!
They went perfectly with some Lemon and Ginger tea (oh how I miss Twinnngs!) which I happily sipped on next to the shallow 'relaxation' pool in the room which of course, I dipped my feet into.
Before Dinner there was a lovely Sunset but soon enough, we headed downstairs where we decided to have a Thai dinner in the award winning restaurant, Saffron downstairs. It certainly didn't disappoint. Oh the Thai green curry and Pad Thai were deeeeelish.
After dinner, we retired back to our hotel room where I had a bath in wooden bath tub (gotta use all the amenities right? (See this post!) and watched some Cantonese TV shows with my family. After a decent night's sleep we indulged in the breakfast buffet in the morning where I had my fill of Honeydew Melon juice and breakfast pastries.
We then checked out and spent the afternoon buying a whole heap of Macau baked goods to take back to HK. Everyone that comes to Macau seems to stock up on their biscuits, pork jerky and other foods. These are probably the best kind of souvenir shops everrr. After stocking up ourselves, we stopped by our favourite Portuguese place for some dinner. I really do love Macau's mixed cultural background and history!
Their 'African Chicken' was really good and the Lemon Clams are now a firm favourite!
It was a lovely weekend and I wish my parents/sisters back home could have been there with us! It seems strange that I've been away for a month now. Right, I'll be back soon with an Instagram round up post!


In good company

21 March 2012

A very quick update before I call it a night here in Hong Kong, I apologise in advance for the blurry pics! I totally need a new camera. Anyway, last night I managed to finally catch Nic from Bang Bang She Shoots who has been visiting Hong Kong. It's a bit of a funny story actually, Nic is originally from Birmingham (aka home to me!) but who now lives in Tokyo with her husband but we met for the first time in Hong Kong. It turns out that her family actually know mine! I guess Chinese communities are quite close knit and everybody knows each other but it really took us both by surprise when we found out. Amazing.
Me and Nicole
I hung out with Nic and her lovely sister and in true blogger form, we caught up over some yummy food (Korean being the food of choice) at Kaya which I visited last Summer. Instead of opting for the Korean BBQ (which is definitely much pricier), I went for the Bibimbap (Korean mixed rice) which was super filling and yummy!
Not only was she lovely company but she surprised me with some Limited Edition Kit Kats! I'm actually a bit of a fan of the Japanese editions because they are impossible to get hold of outside of Japan. The flavour she gifted me was Almond Tofu dessert (which is sooo good and if you've ever had Almond Dessert, the taste is pretty close!). They join the other Kit Kat's I've tried including Sweet Potato and Matcha which were both gifted by my aunt's Japanese colleagues. Thanks again Nic for the Kit Kats, I just wish I had bought you something too!
Lastly, I had a stupidly cheap Sushi lunch today. For well under £10 we ate our fill and had some soft shell crab uramaki. Though, this place is downwind from a Stinky Tofu shop which really put me off my lunch. Ugh, it really is the worst smell ever, I can't even begin to describe how bad it smells and I can't understand people (like my dad) who love the stuff. It's perhaps fitting that around the corner I found this shop and I had to snap a photo. Maybe someone should tell them that F.Art isn't such a great name for a shop! Lovely.
Lastly, every day after work I cross a footbridge on the way towards Causeway Bay where I catch my bus home. I couldn't help but stop and snap this picture after I saw some tourists doing the same. I am definitely LOVING being in Hong Kong and moments like these, really make me smile!
Sunset in Wan Chai
So the weekend is fast approaching and my uncle has just landed in Hong Kong. My family have organised another trip to Macau to celebrate and I'm tagging along and staying at the same hotel. I can't quite believe my luck...


A lovely weekend

18 March 2012

This weekend's weather in Hong Kong has been glorious and a balmy 28c which has been a bit of a shock to the system as I was wearing sweaters and scarves in the week. Hong Kong's weather is a bit bizarre and it's like pressing a switch from Winter to Summer with not so much in between. Below is a picture I've taken countless times on my trips back to Hong Kong, it's the view from our apartment and my family live not too far from the Sanyo sign on Hong Kong Island.
I've been loving my new routine and managed to do a teeny bit of shopping over the last few days. One of which is grabbing a cheap bubble milk tea on my lunch break which was the hugest thing ever and also ridiculously cheap compared to back home. The evening picture of Causeway Bay/Sogo dept. store at night was taken after I finished work one evening. I catch my bus just outside SoGo and it's always buzzing with shoppers and tourists. I guess it's pretty much the equivalent to London's Oxford Circus. At the weekends you can barely move here!
sogobubbletea I managed to do a bit of shopping finally. I've been putting off shopping because this time, I am here for such an extended amount of time- it's not just a short holiday. I just don't feel the need to shop and also, I find things so much more expensive this time round. I knew I would finally break but I have family that are incredibly persuasive and love clothes just as much as me! I was lucky to find a few things in the sale over at Bauhaus which is a shop that is everywhere in HK...and the sales assistants are particularly persistent. I bought a checked red blouse which is a little cape-like and a cotton knitted sweater dress which has quite an interesting shape to it.
cape-checked blouse sweater dress Dress (Bauhaus, HK), Belt (Accessorize) Shoes (Zara)
The one thing I love about HK is that my favourite magazine, ViVi is only about £5 which makes it super affordable and about the same price as Vogue back home. It's been ages since I bought myself a copy because it's just so ridiculously expensive back home. So it was nice to flick through the familiar, visual-fest that is Vivi. The cover star, Ayumi Hamasaki is ageless...
Vivi I love make up and especially Japanese/Korean brands because they obviously work well with my skin tone. This makes reading Vivi here particularly dangerous as I can pretty much buy most of the brands that are featured inside. I bought my favourite eyeliner which was in this limited edition pink. kpalette eyeliner I love all things cute and I'm a sucker for Hello Kitty so couldn't help but buy these Sanrio cases. I really need to stop buying these but phone cases are everywhere.
iphone cases Today I spent the day catching up with my friend Claire who works as an English teacher at an International School in China. She popped down for the day and I took the opportunity to catch up and have some yummy Japanese food! Originally, I wanted to go to a sushi place I visited last Summer with my sister but in HK, the soaring rents mean that shops and restaurants close down all the time. We randomly stopped by Ka Ma Do at Lee Theatre in Causeway Bay and despite the quiet atmosphere in the restaurant (which sometimes is an early warning that the restaurant may not be there for much longer!) we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the sushi. 
sushi claireand sushi me and sushi My set lunch was huge and cost me the equivalent of about £10 and this isn't considered cheap in HK, just about average. Seriously, if you like Asian food then you really have your fill for a fraction of the price back in the UK. I totally should become a food blogger huh? 
cord holder A little random but I bought this earphone cord tidy because how could I resist? It's the most kawaii accessory ever and the bear looks like it's been lassoed by my earphones! I can't believe it's almost 3 weeks since I arrived in HK, this makes me so nervous. I really need to press pause because time is really flying. I have lots planned next week as my uncle is visiting for 2 weeks which means lots of eating out, let the feasting commence...


Instagramming 4

12 March 2012

In all honesty, I've not been taking any proper photographs using my camera lately. I find it so much easier whipping out my phone and snapping a picture. So here is the latest Instagram round up post plus a few other iPhone pics which is a good example of how I've been spending my days now that I am more settled in Hong Kong!
IG 4a
On Sunday we stayed at home and had congee at home. We bought some local take out food from the cafe downstairs including Cheung fun (rice noodle rolls) and some plain fried noodles. Black Sesame ice cream is one of my favourite things ever and I gladly devoured a pot with my family for dessert! This commercial building is opposite our apartment, no matter what time I look out, there is always some poor individual working over time in front of the glare of a computer screen. Last week was my first week of the next few months working in HK. Catching the bus in the morning and every single day hearing the 'doot doot' of the Octopus card (an even better version of London's Oyster card). Why is the Octopus card better? Well because you can use it on a crazy amount of transport but you can also buy things using it....like cake (oh yes!), plus mine is in this cute pass holder I bought in the UK from Paperchase. Next we have some Chocolate Milk from the fridge at work...the fridge is like a vending machine, it's FULL of different drinks for staff to drink from Coke to classic Vitasoy.
One of my favourite things is walking to Causeway Bay after work to catch my bus home. Often I have a look in the shops but it feels awesome because A- work has finished and B- it's the realisation that I am back in my favourite city. I love people watching when I am waiting for my bus. We live on the 24th floor of the apartment building, which is different to life back in the UK! My aunt's Japanese colleague helped her buy some Matcha Green Tea Kit Kats, a real treat because these are only available in Japan. The centre image is a random side street in Hong Kong, high rises, bright lights, taxis and people. Next is some yummy hot and sour soup which I had for lunch at another Shanghainese restaurant. So good!
IG 4 C
At the weekend, it's time to chill out and mooch around the shops! Sogo is a Japanese department store in the heart of Causeway Bay and I've grown up walking around this place with my parents whenever we visit! One of my favourite places is the food hall (always) and I admired the chocolates at Lucullus and of course we bought a few. Unfortunately they're cute but not quite as tasty as they looked! On Saturday we have our weekly dim sum which is a bit of a change from the usual Sundays back at home in the UK. After our dim sum we wandered around City Plaza at Taikoo Shing. There is a great Muji there and I spent a little while looking at all the snacks on display. Forget stationary and homeware, in HK (or Asia in general) it's ALL about the food, all packaged in the easily recognisable Muji style.
ig 4 d
Apita is another Japanese department store and the brightly coloured Japanese packaging is always fun to browse, yummy ice creams and lots of cartons of juice! Next, my aunts took me to one of the small traditional restaurant/cafes downstairs (different to UK cafes because they sell Congee/noodles/sandwiches etc. These kind of places are always a bit run down and I'm not sure I would actually go into them if my aunts didn't take me, it's definitely more for the older locals! I had some hot milk tea which is one of my favourite things! It's super strong though. I was super surprised to receive this card from my friend Carly back home! Yippee. I had some Yuzu Shu sake which is a citrus sake, really yummy, especially when mixed with some Sprite. We also had some traditional Jasmine tea at home and I particularly love the traditional style of this teapot.
IG 4 F Below the more contemporary commercial building is this older one in the picture above. Also used for commercial businesses, the different coloured offices are also full of people working overtime! I only noticed the different colours when I looked at the image on my phone which is kind of cool.
ig 4 e
Lastly, this is the lunch I had today. I had a plateful of dumplings and a couple of side dishes for only about £3. HK is bargainous if you look in the right places but if I didn't have family here, I wouldn't even know where to look or what to order! I'd be forever lunching in Starbucks probably (oh dear!). I also couldn't help but do some window shopping after work today. There are so many little malls in Causeway Bay and they all sell fashion that is influenced by Japanese and Korean fashions. This shop on the right had lots of items from Japan and these shoes are adorable! So far, I've been good and not done any shopping but I feel that this is about to change...


Macau Part 2

08 March 2012

Oh it's been such a long week! It's almost the end of the 1st week of my 2 month stint working in Hong Kong which explains the lack of posting. I've not really been up to very much apart from working and being at home but I'll put together an Instagram post about my typical day later on. Firstly, let's complete that last post on Macau, I sooo wish I was back there and chilling out in that hotel room. Swoon!
Cheesy wardrobe shot
We only stayed in Macau over night so on the Saturday we checked out about mid-day. Not before I took a photo in the walk in wardrobe area of the Hotel room. Yeah it's cheesy but it had to be done! After we checked out we wondered next door to the adjoining hotel, The Okura.
Banyan tREE
As I mentioned in the last post, where we stayed is a group of 3 hotels which are all attached. The hotels are The Galaxy, Banyan Tree and Okura. The Galaxy which is the biggest and slightly cheaper of the three, is if I'm honest, a littttle tacky (evident in the previous posts pic of the colour-changing water feature) and the Okura and Banyan Tree are the swankier of the two. Both the Okura and Banyan Tree employ staff from the relevant countries to provide an authentic experience for the guests. I would love to stay at the Okura one day mainly because it's Japanese themed and has lovely tranquil water features inside. Though, it's a little pricey but actually significantly cheaper than say a 5 star hotel in London. My aunt is familiar with the Okura and wanted to show us the Tea Ceremony room. We followed one of the hosts who was dressed in a Kimono to the special area of the hotel where the Tea ceremony is taught. There was an authentic Tea Ceremony master who teaches guests the ancient art of Tea Ceremony (at a fixed price). Unfortunately I didn't have time that day but one day, I would love the opportunity to actually have a go at learning the symbolic ceremony.
Tea ceremony Okura
Sake Bar
The Okura also has the only Sake Bar in Macau which is an interesting feature...not that I drink Sake regularly, Rice Wine makes my head spin! Afterwards, we hopped in a taxi and headed back to the older part of Macau, away from the glitz of the hotels and Casinos!
Macau Money
Our first stop was for some authentic Portuguese food at Restaurante Escada which is literally round the corner from Senado Square (Pics in this post) and housed in one of the traditional Portuguese buildings. I think decent Portuguese food is hard to find nowadays in Macau but this place wasn't too bad. I'm sure that the Portuguese-Macaunese food has a slight Chinese spin too, especially with the rice dishes!
Duck baked rice
Portuguese Chicken
Above are Portuguese Duck and Baked Rice, andPortuguese Chicken. Below are Clams in Lemon and Stuffed Crab. The Clams and Crab were my fave!
clams in lemon
Stuffed crab
Kind of wish they hadn't placed the Olives like 'eyes', not that it bothers me but it's a bit silly!
We soon left with very full stomachs and we wandered around the old town and of course, I took plenty of photos! These old buildings are still occupied with the ground floors mainly filled with small restaurants and shops selling traditional foods and random trinkets.
Macau old street
Macau old street
I love this area of town. Most of the shop owners are of the older community and I was surprised to see washing hanging up just beyond those red shutters in the tiny rooms upstairs!
Macau windows
This door is kind of new and the colour is super vibrant and not authentic at all but I had to take a photo. I quite like the contrast between the brand new fittings and the tradtional Chinese ornamental knocker. knocker
Macau is a funny old place. Like the door above, it has a big contrast between the old and new cultures, it's a clash of different personalities from Portuguese, Chinese, Old Town and the glitz of the Casino culture which draws in a crowd from all parts of Asia. It's probably a place where you don't need to stay for more than two days as you do run out of things to do quickly. People from HK visit mainly for the traditional foods and as my dad has always mentioned, the nostalgic feel of the old town which is reminiscent of Old Hong Kong before the onset of skyscrapers. The fancy hotels with fancy luxury malls cater more towards the wealthy Mainlanders who visit and drop their cash on luxury goodies. So soon enough our short trip to Macau reached it's end and we all hopped on the Turbo Jet ferry and whizzed off back to Hong Kong in one short hour!
turbo jet
congee and prunes When we arrived back home, we stopped for a light dinner. One of my favourite traditional Chinese meals is Congee which is definitely a comfort food. So yummy! On the right is a purchase from Macau that we all snacked on. It's a packet of preserved prunes which on paper sounds kind of dodgy doesn't it? I'm sure most Chinese readers will be familiar with them, they're kind of sweet and sour. But seriously, I used to eat these ALL the time when I was little and they make me feel so nostalgic!

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