Category Archives: Hong Kong

Ode to Hong Kong

Image credit to Janice

Shimmering waters along the harbour
Reflect dazzling lights
Eponymous fragrance fills the air
Of a breezy Hong Kong night

I knew it was then
Didn’t have to be told
I fell in love with the city
Heartbeats unfold

Cadences of colour
Weigh down on the streets
Where the crowds blend
Where beauty and chaos meet

Tall and proud structures
Marvelous sights
Tastes inspiring your senses
Let passion ignite

Navigating the streets
On that first night with Karen
Looking for a quick bite to grab
But Sassoon is inexplicably barren

In nightfall ritual at HKU
Student halls run amuck
Hollering resounds from pride and spirit
Or a mahjong player out of luck

Restless nights go on forever
But swiftly birds bring in the day
I begin to grasp the city and its people
Its stride, beat, and sway

Guys and girls alike
Purchasing all that is cute
Check for stray hairs on any reflective surface
Glass, iPhones, Danny’s shiny suit

Christian’s abs are hungry
John steers us to excellent food
After savouring every morsel
We are in the karaoke mood

Pushing and squeezing on the MTR
Can’t help it, random bodies collide
Greasy dude in the corner steals a glance
Of Swee Lee’s scandalous backside

Life explodes everywhere
Hop on a double-decked bus
Taxis after-hours in abundance
LKF’s got nothing on us

Loitering in Causeway with Connie
Amidst a sea of price tags
It’s 4am at the library
Janice is still on 9GAG

Regal estates sprinkled in Repulse Bay
Show off their meticulous design
But glaring disparity looms above
Mong Kok’s blinding neon signs

In search of breathtaking vistas
Drag your feet past that hundredth step
Jacqueline exclaims “nice, eh!”
Upon reward of the uphill trek

Picturesque fishing villages frozen in time
Charming for a quiet stroll somewhere
Rolling viridian misty mountains
Provide a breath of fresh air

Back in the bustling, tireless city
Gleaming Lambos roar down the tunnel
Among aunties enrobed in LV
White collar elites spill out of Central

There once was a girl
Exhausted from boredom
Traveled halfway around the globe
To breath life into the forlorn

Took a plunge head-first
Look what I found
Companions, adventures, memories
Mosquito bites I can’t even count

Five months flew past
Time to part ways
I’ve learned so much from every experience
Grateful for every single day

It’s not really goodbye
Because we will meet again
No need for final adieus
Between us, my friend

Take these joy-filled moments
In ink, pour unto the sturdiest vellum
All that you have gained
Everything you wish to tell them

There’s something about this city
That makes you never forget
An excitable kind of warmth
Fills you like a touch so secret

Of this half year thus lived
I cherish the mundane
Vibrant and romantic
Hong Kong, my heart remains

Easter retreat in Guangzhou

I can’t believe it’s already May and we are into exams! These past four months have been a torrential, colourful blur, and I’m really starting to dread going back home. At the beginning of April I went to Guangzhou for the Easter break. The Qing Ming festival also happened to fall on that weekend so I got a total of 5 days off. HK is awesome in the sense that you are privileged with both Chinese and western statutory holidays. I decided to take advantage of these days to pay a visit to some relatives.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the stampede of Hongers who were thinking the exact same thing. The crowd at the Shenzhen train station was absolutely insane. Probably not as bad as Lunar New Year’s, but I would peg it as a close second. I arrived at around 3:30 and despite having trains leaving every 10-20 minutes, they were all full until around 6:30. Then I had a lovely time with the pushing, yelling, and rushing.

The first attraction I visited in Guangzhou was an area that was built in the style of Lingnan. The whole place was one of those tourist traps where they get you to buy food and pay for cultural ‘experiences’.

A Lingnan-style street

The best food was 双皮乃 (direct translation: double-skinned milk). It’s almost like eating cream with the texture of tofu. I had a cold one and it was really good.

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Shenzhen

I am majorly behind in blogging! About three weeks ago I went to Shenzhen because I got a multi-entry visa and wanted to get my money’s worth worked really hard during the week and deserved a break. Getting there from Hong Kong is quite easy, as the MTR goes directly to the HK-China border. From HKU it took about two hours. There are two border crossings, and we went through Lok Ma Chau, as it’s newer and is less crowded.

We met up with our friend from Shenzhen and she took us to dim sum, shopping, then dropped us off at Window of the World (she is too nice!). Dim sum was really good and relatively cheap, except certain starving kids got carried away with ordering food, and we had way too much leftovers.

This is like maybe 1/3 of what we had

The Shenzhen Metro is a lot like the ones in many other large metropolitan areas. Declining-balance card, or single journey tickets. Only stupid TTC runs on prehistoric non-electronic ticketing/tokens. I realize I bash on Canada/Toronto a lot, so I will say that the one thing TTC does right is having the ‘next stop’ announcements on their buses. Buses in HK all have crazy windy routes, so knowing when it’s your stop without knowing the area is extremely difficult and non-intuitive. I’ve under/overshot my stop countless times.

Shenzhen shopping was super cheap. I got a couple items including A&F (probably fake but look pretty legit) flipflops for around CAD 2 and they are the most comfortable flipflops ever! I need to go back and buy more pairs in other colours.

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Captain, we’ve hit a bit of turbulence

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I am much too lazy and worn out to string together comprehensible sentences, much less post many photos (also partially because I don’t have many… see below). So I will just use bullet points. Everyone loves bullet points! Continuing from where I left off during reading week, some of the highlights were:

  • Pizza Hut with some of my girlies. Pizza Hut here is no joke. It’s high class and the restaurants are very classy and have an extensive menu selection. I had escargot as part of my meal.
  • Meeting up with Redford for dinner at Crystal Jade. Best xiao long bao and ramen noodles ever. EVER.
  • Meeting up with Wesley for dessert at Tong Pak Fu & shopping at Causeway. Mango shaved ice with marshmallows & fruit. Mmmm…
  • Meeting up with Red again for dinner at Modern Toilet and drinks in Langham Place. The very top floor has these really nice bars. We went to one that advertised ‘buy one, get one martinis’ so we were really smart and ordered 2 different martinis. Turns out it was buy one, get the same one, so we were rather amused when the waitress brought us 4 drinks.
  • …I don’t even remember what else I did for reading week. I guess the rest was relatively low-key.

Famed xiao long bao at Crystal Jade. You can also see part of the ramen

Shaved iceeeeee

After that I had a hella crazy week of school. Two assignments and two midterms burnt me out a little, so I thought it’d be a good idea to go to Taiwan for a weekend trip. Also, it was dirt cheap. Unfortunately the trip didn’t really turn out how I’d hoped.

The good:

  • Flight exceeded my expectations; I highly recommend Thai Airways.
  • Hostel was nice and clean. The staff were really helpful with any questions we had, and it was in a prime location, with the train station and subway (MRT) right outside our building.
  • Taipei is a nice city. Not as crazy and fast-paced as Hong Kong, and the locals are soooo nice when we ask for directions/favours.
  • Foodgasms everywhere. I think the best thing I had was on the first night at Raohe Night Market. It was a whole squid, fried in some kind of batter, and drizzled with various sauces.
  • I felt like we hit most of the places I really wanted to see, and made good coverage for essentially 3 days: Taipei 101, Raohe Night Market, Babe18 (nightclub affiliated with Room18), LUXY, Wulai, Shida Night Market, Shilin Night Market, Yangminshan, and Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. Wulai and Yangminshan would theoretically take you entire days to fully explore.
  • LUXY has the most stunning interior of any club I’ve ever been to. Also I enjoyed the atmosphere at both clubs.
  • Everyone can speak putonghua, so we were able to get around quite easily.
  • The areas surrounding the city are naturally very beautiful.
  • We met a really really nice cab driver who took us all the way from Yangminshan to the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall for TWD 200.

The bad:

  • I lost my camera. Yes, the very camera I said I just purchased in my last post. Yes, it also means I lost my memory card, not to mention all the photos from the first day. Yes, it was completely my own fault for leaving it in the back of a taxi. Yes, I am still hating myself.
  • After I lost my camera, I was so depressed, I didn’t want to spend money. So I didn’t buy/eat much.
  • On the third day, we went to Wulai. It was a positively gorgeous place, but not even halfway through the day, my friend’s camera battery ran out so we have no photos of some of the best parts.
  • The exchange rate we got was horrible.
  • I got no sleep the night before we flew there. Damn java sockets project.
  • We went up Taipei 101 about an hour before it closed, and didn’t realize there was an outdoor observatory until they were ushering people out. We begged the security guy to let us go up for 2 minutes, and he gave us exactly 2 minutes.
  • We were late in leaving for the airport on our way back, and had to taxi it for a ridiculous TWD 1000. Though if you think about it, it’s actually only about CAD 18 per person. But still. If we left earlier, we could’ve taken an airport shuttle for 1/5 of the price.
  • After this trip, I would definitely not ever go on a multi-day trip with only one other person whom I don’t know very well. We did have a lot of fun, but constantly had conflicting opinions of what to do.
  • I thought I got about 13 mosquito bites. Turns out I missed some small ones and I have around 20. I’m pretty sure I got all of them during the night. Must’ve been a few bugs hiding in our room.
  • Yangminshan was a big letdown. We MRT’ed, bussed, bussed more, and walked a lot to get to the “flower sea” which was supposed to be really pretty. It was just a bunch of calla-lilies, half of which were dead/wilting, in a small area that wasn’t even nice to look at. On the other hand, the area we went to was maybe 10% of the entire park. It’s gigantic.

To summarize, Taiwan as a place was amazing, but due to some unfortunate circumstances and events, I felt like I wasn’t able to enjoy it fully. I will definitely be going back there to explore and eat more (and hopefully take some photos!), but probably not anytime soon.

Mini-vacay in Thailand

I spent the first part of reading week in Thailand, to escape the foggy gloom in Hong Kong. My travels did not get off to a great start, as my digital camera decided to crap out on me the night before we were supposed to leave. I couldn’t quite accept the fact that I was going to be camera-less in Thailand for five days, so at the airport, I spontaneously bought a new camera (it wasn’t that spontaneous; I had done some quick market research on Canon point-and-shoots beforehand). I love my new camera! It’s loads better than my old one. Don’t ever buy Kodak cameras. Ever. But I digress.

We met up with one of our tour guides at the airport, and set off for Bangkok International Airport. The flight was very enjoyable, and I highly recommend China Airlines. For a two-hour flight, we were provided with all the food and amenities you would expect on an overseas trip.

Bliss

Once we landed, we met up with our other tour guide, who is actually Thai and speaks fluent Chinese. Our tour guides were very nice and always translated everything in Mandarin for us, since most of us couldn’t understand Cantonese. We then shuffled onto our coach bus and were whisked to Pattaya, a beach town about an hour drive from Bangkok.

It was hot as all hell, but thankfully we had some mild air conditioning on our bus. We were a group of 12, and probably annoyed the other people on our tour by being loud, obnoxious, and late many times.

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