Sawadee ka, Mövenpick! Sun, August 25 2013

Our second time in Thailand :) First time in Phuket! We picked Mövenpick mostly because its location. The hotel is on Karon Beach, on the west coast of Phuket, and a 10-minute car ride to Patong which is the most popular town in Phuket with its late night happenings.

We also picked Mövenpick because it’s right across the street from the beach. The hotel has two entrances with main entrance on Patak Road East (4028) and a smaller back entrance on Patak Road West (across from the beach). We used the back entrance a lot more because we often get dropped off there by car or tuk tuks. Both entrances are close to shops and restaurants :)

The hotel lobby is gorgeous and very open.

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There’s always soothing authentic Thai music playing in the lobby.

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We had a room with sea view and the entrance of the room was facing the mountains and the local community.

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LOVE the smell of Jasmine flower :)

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They welcomed us with a plate of fruit!

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Pretty good-looking view, huh? ;)

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After putting our stuff down, we went to check out the rest of the hotel. And OF COURSE we went straight to the spa first to make a booking! Now, I know what you’re thinking.. Why go to the spa in the hotel when their prices are so much more than others around town? Welp. We just love the quality of the experience. Seriously, how often do you go to Thailand? Might as well spend that extra dollar or two! (A couple-package was like $250US, and it was AMAZING!)

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Here’s the Studio Cafe near the back entrance. You can find snacks, coffee, and the Mövenpick ice-cream here!

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There’s always a crossing guard there to help you cross the road safely!

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Here’s what a real tuk-tuk looks like. Most of the tuk-tuks on the street of Phuket are more like tiny-mini trucks.

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Daily breakfast by the pool!

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Clouds were gathering on our first swim in the pool…

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Managed to get a drink at the pool bar though!

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It’s raining but whatever! It’s alllll good :)

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Hong Kong Museum of Art Sat, August 24 2013

Man. Hong Kong was so hot we didn’t want to do anything outside! On the last couple days of our vacation, we met up with our beloved friend, Denise (of SUPERWOWOMG.COM), for a quick dim sum lunch in Central. Afterward, we kinda just ran out of ideas of what to do so we just decided to take the Star Ferry to cross the beautiful Victoria Harbour. The Hong Kong Museum of Art was right there near the ferry terminal, a quick walk over and we were in Air Con!

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*No idea what was going on here…*

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Just look at this below. Movement and control. What do YOU see??

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Love these illustration of Hong Kong breakfast food!

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I love this city. Always.

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Hong Kong Disneyland Thu, August 22 2013

With my Disney benefit, so Hong Kong Disneyland we went! I was told that the park is small, I was told that visitors from the mainland would cut lines, I was told (by the weatherman) that it’d be a scorching hot day. All didn’t stop us from not going because A) it was free, and B) some of us had never been so might as well!

To get there, one of the ways is to take the MTR and get on the Disneyland Resort Line (transferring at SunnyBay). It’s a special train that was built and sprinkled with Mickey’s magical dust.

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SUPER sunny day! It was SO flipping hot!

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Guys. I found another Kayiu! WITH THE SAME SPELLING AT ALL! Disneyland is truly MAGICAL! :D *Side note: I love balloons!*

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The twins :)

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Love, love, LOVE her costume!

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Okay. Aren’t these just the cutest balloons you’ve ever seen?!

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公和荳品廠 Kung Wo Soy Products Thu, August 22 2013

So before we went on our trip, I did A LOT of homework. And a lot of my research was taken from OpenRice.com. It’s a website that manages restaurant reviews generated by users, and there’s tons of it. You can fiter by neighborhood, cuisine, price range, ratings… It’s a site that I can trust, and often can get a sense of what people are talking about by looking at the submitted pictures. You might be also wondering why it’s called “open rice”. In cantonese, the characters 開飯 are pronounced hoi fan, means “let’s eat”. You use it like a verb, “What time to hoi fan?” meaning “what time is dinner starting?”. Now, if you take each of the character and translate them directly, you’ll get hoi as in open (or start something), and fan as in rice. Things often get mistranslated there though, people can make mistakes in translating each characters separately verus translating the phrase or word. In this case with Open Rice, they decided to keep the weird brand name that makes absolutely no sense to westerners so they could keep a common phrase short and sweet. The Cantonese language is all about short and direct (and filled with slangs) so why not keep things interesting and odd and go with OpenRice?

Okay, enough of that. Back to Kung Wo Soy Products 公和荳品廠. When I first saw them on OpenRice, the local authenticity drawn my attention. With real estate spiking everyone’s rent, it’s becoming harder and harder to find small businesses in Hong Kong. A mom-and-pop shop like Kung Wo was instantly added to my “grab-a-bite” list. Located on Pei Ho Street (北河街) in Sham Shui Po (深水埗), Kung Wo does it all producing all kinds of soy goodness. With the outdoor markets going on, I was afraid not being able to find this place. But look! Good thing I read Chinese, and spotted their sign from a block away. (located right after Alibaba Halal Food and A. Kashmir Curry House.)

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On the left side of the shop, you got your fresh tofu, tofu puffs, bean sprout, and fresh soy milk. On the right side, you got a lady who’s been mastering the fried tofu for probably too many years to count.

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Fresh tofu like this is becoming harder to find because the process is too time-consuming. And I feel that it’s easier for the younger generation, like myself, to grab pre-packed tofu from the supermarket. I wish New York has a tofu place like this!

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We didn’t get to try the fried tofu this time ’cause we really weren’t hungry.

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But we did get a cup of fresh soy milk…

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And a bowl of cold sweet tofu pudding sprinkled with brown sugar!

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Later on we went to the Lady’s Market and Langham Place in MongKok (which we enjoyed visiting last time). Before leaving the mall, we decided to grab some light snacks at the food court – some Taiwanese fried chicken, and veggies. I don’t know what they put in the seasoning but it was SO good!

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千両 sen-ryo sushi Thu, August 22 2013

Our trip to Hong Kong is not completed without going to 千両 Sen-ryo. Sen-ryo is a chain sushi restaurant with many locations in Hong Kong. We usually go to the one in TST, inside the The Sun Arcade on Canton Road. We got there around 6pm near dinner time so they had started dispensing tickets for seatings. They didn’t have that last time when we visited a couple years ago, but it wasn’t a big deal, we just asked the reception for seats and she printed out a waiting number for us. (You can also take a number yourself from the touch-screen.)

Many sushi restaurants in Hong Kong feature the conveyor belt which is very common and somewhat popular. Sen-ryo also offers dishes from off the menu, and if there’s a kind of sushi that isn’t on the conveyor, you’re welcome to order it off the menu for the same price. Each dish is priced differently by the color of the plate, and the server would tally up the plates at the end of the meal to calculate the total cost (and of course, add those items that you had ordered from the menu also). Depends on what kind of sushi it is, a plate (usually comes with 2 pieces) could range from $18 to $45HK. Some of my favorites? Marinated tuna, real crab meat, crunchy shrimp roll, and spicy scallops!

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Don’t forget to have the mochi ice-cream!

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the past and the future Mon, August 19 2013

I’m a Hakka so of course I grew up in a hakka village. The New Territories of Hong Kong houses hundreds of villages, and ones like, Kat Hing Wai 吉慶圍 has greatly preserved its village’s 500 years of history. On the other side of Yuen Long near Tai Tong, however, it’s where I spent my childhood hanging out with my 30 cousins, and eating poon choi 盆菜 at special village events and Chinese New Year. Life was simple and almost everyone knew everyone because chances were, you’re related to them one way or another. On one corner of my village lays a very old school, a couple old houses, and a chi tong 祠堂 (ancestral hall) for worshipping our ancestors.

Because of the age of the building, the back of the school is half-collapsed, and everyone is told not to walk in there anymore. My mom had once told me that when my brother was very young he used to attend some classes there in the 70′s, and he would cry his way out of there. As also told by my mom that there were talks in town about saving this old school. I’m not sure if it’ll end up happening but I sure hope it gets saved somehow because it’s an important part of the village.

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I think it’s pretty cool that people still live in these old houses. It’s definitely not as common anymore.

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Here is the place, called chi tong 祠堂 (ancestral hall), where we worship our ancestors on special holidays, and more importantly on Chinese New Year.

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Here is a list of the people/villagers who donated to re-build this ancestor hall in 1989. You can see some of the names had been washed away by rain and humidity.

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Walking around the area, you can see how the village has changed over the years just by looking at the houses that were built. These houses are commonly known as ting uk 丁屋 (offspring’s house) in Cantonese. They are restricted to be 3-floor with 700 sq. ft. per floor. If you are an indigenous inhabitant, meaning whose ancestors were inhabitants there before the commencement of British rule in 1898, then you have a special right to apply for a permit to build a ting uk 丁屋. Not everyone has the means to just build a house but Article 4o of the Basic Law, “The lawful traditional rights and interests of the indigenous inhabitants of the “New Territories” shall be protected by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.states that village tradition should be kept and protected. There has been on-going controversy about these ting uk 丁屋 because there has been cases of villagers “selling” their permits or “partnering” with real estate developers, turning ting uk 丁屋 into more profitable developments. I think the loop holes which I don’t even totally understand need to be filled because it simply doesn’t follow the original meaning of “keeping the tradition”.

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Hong Kong Heritage Museum Sun, August 18 2013

Having lived in Hong Kong for my first 15 years, I had never been to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. So I thought this time would be a good time to go because the Bruce Lee Exhibition is currently showing. Located in ShaTin, the museum is surrounded by apartment buildings and next to the Shing Mun River. After having brunch with my folks, we actually went with them to TaiPo to purchase some steaks from this one supermarket. Because? I guess they had really good steaks (which did turned out to be great :)

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I first went online to reserve spots for us (but come to think of it now.. not sure if we actually really needed to do that). If you’re going on the weekends and want to make sure you get in, here is the link to make the booking: http://blor.lcsd.gov.hk/Bruce_Lee_Exhibition/public/Welcome.php. The exhibition is free with museum admission which only cost $10HK (about $1.25US, museums in HK are very affordable to the public). And I guess for crowd control purposes, you’re required to choose a time slot to be in the exhibition. We got there pretty much right near our reserved time so we just went in and didn’t need to wait. We started out with a Bruce Lee documentary (some parts in English but mostly in Cantonese with subtitles). We both enjoyed the film that lasted for about 45 minutes. The rest of the exhibition was great, it covers most of Bruce Lee’s past. I was surprised to see sketches of the choreographed actions step by steps from some of his movies. There were no cameras allowed so I have no pictures to share here. You just gotta go see it for yourself (only if you’re in HK of course, otherwise, that “ticket” is gonna be an expensive one!)

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After the exhibition, we wandered through the museum and there was a huge section dedicated to Cantonese Opera.

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There was a big screen hanging from the ceiling displaying different kinds of masks the characters use in Cantonese Opera. I thought that was really interesting so I stood there and took several pictures.

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What was also interesting to me about Cantonese Opera is the old posters and programs they produced. I was drawn to the monotone and duotone printing on newsprint. That speaks so much history to me from a Graphic Design standpoint, I can picture the whole process of making negatives, setting type, burning plates (probably metal ones), and running that offset press. (Gosh, I miss working with an offset press!)

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And check out these gigantic, highly-decorated, signs they used to make for the shows.

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Finally, I leave you with this yummy-looking lunch we had at the museum.

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Video Arcade & Gundam Exhibit Sat, August 17 2013

Food in Hong Kong can be very cheap. For breakfast, you can get filled up with a typical Cha-Chaan-Teng-style 茶餐廳 meal for $30-$40HK (That’s $4-5US). Fast food chain like Fairwood 大快活 offers a big variety of food for everyone. Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner, you can spot traditional Cantonese dishes, western dishes, Japanese dishes.. Fast food in Hong Kong doesn’t necessary seen as fattening or unhealthy either (including McDonalds!). If you’re needing a quick, affordable bite, places like Fairwood 大快活 might be your answer.

For this breakfast, I had scrambled eggs, toast, and a piece of thin-sliced chicken cutlet.

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But wait! For $2US more, I could add a bowl of noodle soup with shredded pork and preserved/pickled veggies. So why wouldn’t I?? :D

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Okay, back to the event of the day. With the homework I previously put together, I found this video arcade called Namco Wonder Park in Causeway Bay. It’s located inside a good-looking mall (like most malls in Hong Kong.. clean, blasted with AC, filled with restaurants in the upper levels and shops in the lower levels, and even offices or apartments in the upper upper levels).

Namco is a Japanese brand, merged with Bandai in 2005, and together they are a huge gaming company. So it only makes sense that they have video arcade machines, and this place is all about that!

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This card, like a debit card, will store all your “tokens”.

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We spotted this girl dancing away with one of the machines and she was pretty good at it!

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Ooooooooohhh… real Mario Kart! That was super fun!

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Big drums, anyone?

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Umm.. we saw this guy playing this guitar-hero-like game. His fingers were on fire! Way too fast for us to even tell WHAT was going on.

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Then, we spotted THIS. It’s a gundam game that Adam jumped in with no hesitation. Inside the machine, it’s got a globe-like screen that makes you feel like you’re inside a real gundam. We fussed with how to get this game started for a REALLY long time. And because everything was in Japanese, we just couldn’t tell what it was saying at all! So with our frustration and Adam’s determination to play it, we went to find help. The manager basically got us pass the “home screen” but the rest was still pretty hard to understand while Adam tried to make any selections.

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10 minutes later, Adam came out and claimed that he still had a lot of fun! Too bad we couldn’t understand a thing.

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Oh, and we saw another game that’s like the mother of air-hockey. It can be played with 4 players, and the fun is that it doesn’t only have ONE puck. The game will more or less randomly drop down a whole bunch of pucks, and that’s when you go crazy to score as many as you can. My arms were quite exhausted after a game but it was a load of fun!

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And of course, we had to play Street Fighter which I beat Adam multiple times ;)

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I believe on a different day, we went to see the giant outdoor Gundam statutes outside of Times Square in Causeway Bay.

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I was too tired to walk so I gave the camera to Adam, and he took some good shots!

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Bakery and Street Food Sat, August 17 2013

I loved walking around Mongkok – there’s just so much to see. We stopped by this one bakery because Adam wanted to grab a bite to eat real quick. This local bakery was like heaven to me. Yea, sure. There are Cantonese/ Hong Kong style bakeries back in New York but they become nothing compared to the real ones in Hong Kong.

Check out these dan tats, or egg tarts. There are 2 kinds of crust – a cookie crust or a flaky crust. I love them both but most of the time I go with the cookie crust because it’s less messy to eat, and I like the crunchiness. And look at the price!! It’s only $2.50HK per tart! NY bakeries charge $1US, that’s $8HK, per tart!

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Here are some other traditional cakes and pastries. NOM NOM!

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The Pineapple Bun. Don’t be fooled, there’s actually no pineapples inside this bun :) It’s called that because this bun simply looks like a pineapple. (Okay, this bakery doesn’t do it quite right!)

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OMG. I LOVE this shredded coconut bun!!

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I like cakes from Hong Kong style bakeries because they’re never too sweet, and they’re super creative most of the time. Beside the typical chocolate and vinilla, they offer great flavors like green tea, mango, red bean… It’s truly where “east meets west” :)

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Green Tea Mousse Cake, it’s only $10HK a piece!

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Chicken Pies, anyone? :)

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When you’re in Hong Kong, you gotta try street food. There’re some classics like 雞蛋仔 gai dan jai (mini hot cakes), fish balls, shu mai. I picked up a bag of salt and pepper squid that was crunchy and chewy. Like many things in Hong Kong, street food can often go in and out of trends.

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And this is what ice-cream trucks look like in Hong Kong :)

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Yonge Piggies Sat, August 17 2013

Here’s a place that was on my “grab-a-bite” list while I was in Hong Kong. After going to the ACG convention in Wan Chai, it was already past lunch time. It took us a while to decide where we should go to “grab-a-bite”. With the mind-set that we were gonna have dinner at home with my parents, we couldn’t go for a full-on meal given that it was already 5pm. We looked at the google map that I created (where I turned my list into a map for easy searching while we’re on-to-go) and decided that we’d just hop on and off the MTR to get some Yonge Piggies :)

Yonge Piggies is located in Sheung Wan of Hong Kong Island. It was a quick trip from where we were, and super easy to locate. I think I first heard about Yonge Piggies on either Sassy Hong Kong or The Dim Sum Diaries. The Yonge Piggies‘s website looks great, and I love all the artwork that was done for the brand. More importantly, their menu just sounded good.

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Love the open kitchen!

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And check out this sweet menu display! I secretly wish instead of a “printed” board, they would have used a real alphabet sign. That would have been way cooler!

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We ordered the Classique Poutine and a Sausage Platter with cheddar and hickory smoked sausages. They were delicious! Oink oink, Yonge Piggies!

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