I am so excited for this animated film from Director Tomm Moore — amazing storyline, cutesy illustration, and a really fantastic soundtrack!
I am so excited for this animated film from Director Tomm Moore — amazing storyline, cutesy illustration, and a really fantastic soundtrack!
I didn’t get to have all the coffee that I want back in Hong Kong but I took note of the interesting cafes that I saw while strolling around the area. Hopefully, they’ll be of help for you as well!
Most of these are found at Hong Kong Island – in Sheung Wan, Wan Chai, and Causeway Bay. Hopefully, this list will grow – because I’ll definitely go back soon! Maybe a lesson or two from the Coffee Academics… and an overcaffeinated vacation…
Ah! One can dream…
18 Grams Specialty Coffee
77 Wing Lok St, Sheung Wan
8am – 7am (I’m not sure if this is serious tho lol)
85 Jervois St, Sheung Wan
+852 3590 2686
LG/F 299 Queen’s Road Central
+852 2799 3398
Hung Hom, near HK Polytechnic Uni
By the time this reaches your screens, I’ll be in the airport, hovering towards the boarding gate because I’ve probably just arrived from work to catch a plane to the chaotic yet charming Venice-esque city of smiles. I’m with two friends who I’ll be traveling with for the first time and I have never been excited to be back in a city I’ve been before. The last time I was there, I was a bit tired from the Angkor Wat tours and I can admit that I haven’t done so much. Heck, I missed on having a bowl of authentic Tom Yum Goong served in the streets!! But I’m glad I did the temples then, because now I have time for other things like exploring the other districts like Pratunam and Ratchethewi and Khao San, and maybe take cooking classes, and Thai massage (perhaps with a happy ending… hehe) and so much moooooooore!
I was just on a trip last month, and even though this trip might really leave me broke and eating free food from the office pantry for the rest of the year, I wouldn’t care… (maybe not the wisest decision, but I’m so up for spontaneity right now)
Yes, I’ll be in this flight and will have a good time.
I promise to save up after though because plans for 2015 is slowly upcoming. PRETTY. AWESOME. SURPRISES. But scared as well…
Also, I’ll take this opportunity to congratulate my friend, Ella, who was with me last year in the same city. It was also my first time to go to more than one country and it was awesome and was a great year-ender for me. She’s now based in London and I got nothing but all the happiness in the world for her. Kudos to you, Ella, and keep calm and carry on! (I just had to.)
I’ll see you guys, soon! And with more stories to share 🙂
Being tired for the three days we were in Hong Kong is all right. Leaving is not :(
It was our last day in Hong Kong and it was a kinda sad day to leave. Hong Kong is such a magical place! But then again, life in Manila waits. So the first thing we did that morning to maximize our time was to head over to the In-town Check-in over at Kowloon station. This is so convenient! Imagine dropping your bags early on so you’d just have to be at the airport just in time for immigration and boarding. Saves a lot of hassle imho. ALL AIRPORTS NEED THIS!!! The process goes like this —
VERY EFFICIENT, HONG KONG. VERY. EFFICIENT.
Then we headed back to Sheung Wan for breakfast! There were a lot of interesting coffee shops around and it’ll be a shame not try even one. We holed up in Barista Jam and had my usual flat white. I love, too, that they also retail coffee brewers of every kind. It’s a small space but the crowd is lively and energetic for a drowsy Tuesday morning.
Then, for the last day, we caught Bus 15 in the Exchange terminus to go to The Peak to while time. We wanted to try the funicular but we found it expensive, touristy, and well… if we can go there without any queueing that’d be great, right? I love the Peak so much! It gives you a good vantage of the Hong Kong skyline and it’s a great place to spend a couple of hours. But other than that, there’s the usual shops, restaurants, oh… there’s this watch shop which offers a lot of discounts! I got a Casio watch for HK$ 100 (just US$ 13!!!!!)
For one last hurrah at dim sum, without even trying to look for it, we just saw the world’s
cheapest most affordable Michelin star restaurant on our way to the Airport Express via the IFC Mall. At first, we didn’t notice it because it has no English signs but the logo really seemed so familiar. Nica said we should eat there because there are a lot of foreigners eating there, and I was just like, I’m just really hungry. So we went in and as soon as we sat down we realized it is Tim Ho Wan! We ordered our usual dim sum, but we really had to try the pork buns, well… because it caused a ruckus in Manila. Verdict: the pork buns tasted way better in Hong Kong. As expected.
The Airport Express takes just about 24 minutes to take you to the airport… which is in an outlying island away from the city side. There are just two terminals (PAL is in the second one) but we were directed towards Terminal 1 because we already checked in at the MTR (yes it is redundant but I can’t get over how efficient it is.) There are a lot of shopping opportunities here but let’s skip that. Let’s focus on the fact that there’s Popeye’s Fried Chicken there!!! Without thinking, we queued in and got biscuits and chicken because why not. Who cares about waistline (oh but wait, I doooo. Nooooo. HAHA!) And it was just easy to while time here because everything is so organized… I only wish the same for Manila.
I need to be back soon!
Typhoon Yolanda, known as Haiyan internationally, the strongest typhoon to hit the planet, had made land fall in the Philippines a year ago on this month. It has destroyed millions worth of properties and has taken a lot of lives. Those who survived has barely managed… if it weren’t for people, here in the Philippines and elsewhere in world, jumped in to help them. It helps restore faith in humanity as the whole world lent a helping hand to the survivors, something as a Filipino I am grateful for.
There is more to Hong Kong than skyscrapers and fast pace. We got to know the countryside and the side of the city that's a bit quieter than the rest of Central.
Day 3 and the walking wasn’t backing down! We headed to Lantau Island where the Tian Tan Buddha is. It’s the big bronze (was it??) Buddha bronze statue you see in postcards. Lantau is the biggest outlying island in Hong Kong and has the country feel on it – save for the humongous number of tourists though! We took the train to Tung Chung station and rode the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to the island itself. It lands you to Ngong Ping Village where you can walk to the Tian Tan and Po Lin Monastery (thousand Buddhas!)
Took us an hour or so to get to the island – including the time to queue for the cable car. Ngong Ping offers Standard Cabins and Crystal Cabins for HK$ 150 (US$ 20) and HK$235 (US$ 30) respectively. I am so glad we didn’t take the crystal cabin no matter how tempting it was. It will make you see how many hundreds of feet you’re high up. The Standard Cabin made me light in the head already and was thankful to see ground after. On the way back, I was a bit braver but still heights are not my strongest suit… so maybe no Crystal Cabin for me… ever!
There’s also a trail for hikers up to the Tian Tan Buddha. You may start by taking the ferry to Lantau from the pier at Central.
Throngs and throngs of tourists flock towards this part of Hong Kong as the Tian Tan Buddha is one of its most famous attractions. But there’s a laidback feel and you should feel comfortable enough to walk side by side them. Right beside the cable car station is Ngong Ping Village where there are a respectable lot of establishments to keep you from famishing yourself, or deprived of souvenirs.
One can easily spend a half day in Lantau, but there’s really nothing much to do there. Still, I really appreciated the calm break from the fast-paced city side. Very country mouse moment right there, folks! Now if you ask me, I believe that in every city there is a patch of quietness and it’ll just take you a little more strolling around… and a bit of research. Back in Wan Chai, we headed for the quiet yet really straightforward and downright artsy alley called the Star Street Precinct. The goal is: to pay homage to the Monocle store, and you know, get my monthly fix of read – which is cheaper by around PhP 200 elsewhere but Manila.
On our third day we were starting to feel the fatigue creep up, and we were in much need of a massage already. So off to Google to find the nearest to us. We found a small massage place which offers authentic Thai massage called Nirvana. It’s along the main drag in Wan Chai – Johnston Rd. – but may be a bit difficult to spot as it is in the nondescript Tung Fong building. The massage was a-ok, and the only masseur is a cute Thai guy *hihi*
A bit of a side story: we were strapped for cash because we didn’t anticipate our, errr… lack of resistance to purchase things. All’s good though since we brought our ATM cards but, boom! BPI requires you to call before to activate your ATM for international use. So if you plan, or even just for backup, save yourself from the hassles of roaming charges and call the bank (any, for that matter, just to be sure) before leaving. BPI was kind enough to expedite (usually takes a day, I guess) because we were really in dire need.
Oh well, what’s a trip without the misadventures? You only learn and become a better citizen of the world. And saves you the hassle on more important trips! Before that day ended, we rewarded ourself with fastfood (because, stress) and off to the Temple Street Night Market where we totally didn’t find anything interesting but saw the local life at night which was great – makeshift karaoke booths in the streets, hawkers, that escalated quickly porn DVDs and lots of sex toys.
I wish I brought mandals… there you go, another lesson!
Day 2 is about touristy things and lots of walking... jeez it was gloriously tiring, but I'll do it all over again
The first agenda of the day was to see pandas at the Ocean Park. We had coffee and croissant at a local Starbucks and got to Admiralty station for the bus. Unfortunately, there had been a reroute, so we got back to the MTR to Tin Hau. I just have to spend a moment though to say that the signs were put up the night before and it was so efficient and traveler-friendly of that move right there!
I haven’t seen theme parks abroad plainly because I’m
boring like that almost always alone traveling so it was kind of refreshing to see the humongous park. But I’ll be honest that, I wasn’t so thrilled – haha! Signs of ageing, indeed.
The Ocean Park houses a lot of zoo animals including this sad-looking but adorably cute fish that Nica and I couldn’t stop staring at! He’s like that chubby-faced kid from Up!
AND FINALLY! PANDAS!!!! But lazy pandas, at that! I think s/he fully know that he’s being watched and that s/he’s being a troll for not moving. Huhuhuhu, that all our HK$ 320 (US$ 42) went to because spending half a day there with the hot sun above and the throngs of Hongkongers slash tourist crowd was too much to bear. I think half of the island’s population were concentrated there on a Sunday. So yeah, we watched this lazy panda, which I’d correct myself was just making kuyakoy (moving its feet sublimely as it slept) on us, and the playful red panda enjoying the tourists’ attention.
We were a bit disappointed with the pandas, so we went back to Sheung Wan to grab lunch. We ate at this nondescript diner with no English menu and a TV with horseracing on all day. Pretty legit. I felt like a kung fu scene from one of those movies we used to watch when we were kids would happen anytime. Flip all the tables, flying kicks, and flailing people. The works. But nah, it was just a peaceful meal with bouts of arguments in Cantonese, I think, whether who won the race and if their bets earned money. Beats me.
We continued walking from Sheung Wan to Soho and the Aberdeen area (yes, walked) and saw these quirky wastelands (!!!!!!!) There were a lot of home stuff, but mostly were artisanal or curated so I guess that’s why it was a bit expensive. But, I got a few things like a wooden postcard (another !!!!!!!!) and we just passed through. We were looking for PMQ which was at the end of Soho bisecting Aberdeen.
PMQ or Police Married Quarters is formerly what you think it is. It was transformed into blocks of creative shops selling artistic items from toys, postcards, books to clothes, furniture, and food. In Manila, we have these kind of stores, but not on steroids like these ones! We were just in time, I think there was an event there and there were a loooooot of people – both locals and foreigners – checking out the good stuff. I had an amaziiiing time looking at the stores. The stuff they sell there were on the pricier side though, so unless you came with a big budget, don’t expect to bring home a lot of stuff. I brought home a couple of postcards, a biographical photo-poetry book, and a really good shopping experience.
The walking didn’t stop there. Oh god, can you imagine our aching feet?! But the city is too charming to resist. Literally, the place is a living and self-manifesting art in itself. Walk a bit and you’ll see great street art and the next would be a slew of local market finds like meat, vegetables, and oh dim sum ingredients (I think that was Graham Street Market, one of the oldest in Hong Kong!) We rode the train back to Austin and lucky for us, there are a lot of dim sum places in the area so, hello dinner!
We wouldn’t mind egg tarts for dessert really (from another store with no English menu again.)
As you’d know if you’ve been reading up lately – I’ve been trying to get weekends to be really interesting for me. Life has been a bit routinary for me, and I badly want for weekends as terrific as they can. This would usually involve sleep deprivation, a big gash in the pocket, and random bouts of fatigue come the work week. For the past few weekends though, since I came back from a very off-budget trip (with another one boding in a week,) I’d rather myself spend weekends holing up in my apartment. This has given me a time for contemplation – mostly on how the past weekends went and also on life, yolo-ing, and the grand scheme of things. Read more
The hustle continues on Day 1!
Travel in the city center is easy because it is interconnected by one of the massive train systems I’ve ever seen in Asia. Clearly, I haven’t been to Tokyo because I heard it’s crazier there – but this is far better than where I come from! I like it when the trains are interconnected in stations and I need only one card to access all the lines. Convenient!
So from the ferry ride, we walked to the nearest MTR station… but ended up in IFC. Forgive this Apple fan who hadn’t seen a legit Apple Store. I just had to pay homage even if there are more people in there than in the food court (crazy, right?!) This one’s in IFC. The one in Causeway Bay (yes, I also went there) is also packed! W O O O O O O W .
The apartment we booked in Airbnb was nestled in the Austin neighborhood in Kowloon. It’s a nice quiet neighborhood; quite raw and feeling very local. It’s also near the MTR, convenience stores, and more importantly dim sum places – so again, very convenient. The stress from the trip from Macau is starting to wear off as the Hong Kong Hustle actually begun!
Our first order of business here is to actually eat dim sum (hehe, what a dim sum lover would do?) but we first headed to IKEA and checked some stuff. Nica and I just moved in together temporarily and it’s been a hobby to look for home stuff (very tita.) And I need those Swedish Meatballs because we don’t have Ikea in Manila… yet!
Checked out the Occupy HK protests in the main drag as well. The crowd staying there was dwindling but I think it’s livelier there than in Admiralty where it originally began. Quick side story: I was actually scared our trip was gonna get cancelled because of this – same as when we were in Bangkok last year, the coup d’etat began. While I’m somehow interested in conflict tourism, I wasn’t particularly psyched of the thought. I’m sensing a pattern here. Hmmmm…
Pretty, pretty Nica!
And finally time for dim sum! Now, Hong Kong is home to a lot of Michelin stars, but I heard Din Tai Fung is a must if you visit the city. Since we’re in Causeway Bay and there’s one nearby, we might as well line up. And oh boy, the line was long but they group you by how many you are in the dining group – so lucky for us, we’re just two and we were just 15 minutes in the line and we were seated. Generally, the dim sum was awesome! We didn’t eat that much because it was like second dinner already. (Now I’m hungry writing this now. Argh.)
I’ve heard that coffee is great (and a bit (sic) expensive (sic)) around here, so it’s a part of my goal to try a coffee shop a day! Preferably, third wave (no scoffing.) My first stop would be The Coffee Academics. It was a bit hard to locate but all worth it. One of the best and well-executed flat whites I’ve ever had. Plus the crowd is vibrant and lively. I imagine myself hanging out there if I had the chance to live in Hong Kong. (I wish, wish, wish…)
I wasn’t ready to give up my night yet even if I flew out straight from work. I just had to check out the nightlife, particularly at Jervois street, where a lot of friends I knew went, too. This is Volume BEAT and can you see how incredibly energetic the place is?!
Now, I will cap this post with a very interesting story. So after all that schnazz at Volume and I had my
volume dose of boys, I was a bit drunk and must have made out with some guys when I headed out and decided to go home. I was stupidly waiting for a bus because I didn’t know that the buses there aren’t operating all day. I got bummed of the empty roads and asked someone in the streets if a bus will come anytime soon and he was kind enough to check the bus schedule for me. I was a bit worried, and flash-sobered-up, this time around because I know taking a cab here can be expensive! Eventually he, too, got a cab because he’s got something to do asap.
He asked me to join me in his cute Chinese accent, “I’ll buy you a cab” since his destination is on the way (go Kuya Cute Chinese why not! HAHA!) Without thinking doubly, I rode the cab with him, and I guess he looked like a good person so I did anyway. Midway, I was thinking if he’s gonna scam me or kill me or whatever. I chose to just pretend sleep to hide that I was nervous and we got to Austin in no time (and me apparently unharmed.) When I was reaching to my wallet to pay my share, he stopped me and said his boss will pay for the cab ride so he’s treating me the fare (!!!!!!!!!!) /faith in humanity, restored!!!
A few weeks back, my blog partner Globe Telecom, reached out to me to participate in a photo shoot for Project 1 Phone. It’s an honor to be a part of this wonderful project and to work with such talented people!
Project 1 Phone, the country’s biggest mobile phone recycling campaign, has tapped global electronic waste recycling specialist TES-AMM.
TES-AMM combines state-of-the art technology with in-depth knowledge of environment and waste management techniques to provide reuse solutions and recovery of precious metals of end-of-life electronics such as computers, cell phones, peripherals, and TV sets.
All the units that Globe will collect through Project 1 Phone will be turned over to TES-AMM Philippines for proper recycling and recovery.
Through recycling, Globe’s Project 1 Phone hopes to do away with e-waste and lessen the harmful effects on the environment. Old cell phones and their batteries have toxic components such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury as well as plastic parts that usually have brominated flame retardant. These chemicals can intoxicate the environment.
Your old phone can still do wonders even in the age of techy and trendy smartphones! They can turn classrooms into more conducive spaces of learning!
Project 1 Phone encourages people to donate their old phones to Globe Telecom, which will, in turn, contribute to the building of new schools in Aklan.
The old phones and devices that Globe will gather shall be turned over to TES-AMM, a leading electronics waste recycler which will take responsibility for at end-of-life products to ensure that they are managed responsibly.
Project 1 Phone
Photo by Sandro Paredes
Makeup by Xeng Zulueta
A CSR Project by Globe
Outtakes from the shoot after the jump — Read more