Saturday, July 11, 2009

1 of the city that never sleeps

It's my 4th visit to the city - and each time I return from HK - it's with a brimming luggage, assorted packages, thoroughly fulfilled palate and a bright grin - with the intention to go back again. What is it about the city that woos me (and the millions other repeat visitors) back time and again?

Anyone who's been to HK, or who hasn't, will be able to quote you that cute ditty from those HK tourism advertisements, "买东西, 吃东西, 买东西,吃东西". Literally it means shopping and eating. But HK is also more than that. Amidst the dazzling city lights and huge bargains galore, it is also surrounded by rolling hills and glistening waters. Within the city, there is a pulsating and happening beat to the city, something you can't quite put a finger on, but could feel it, nonetheless.

The first time I was in HK, I was struck by how marvellously efficient its MTR was, so similar to our MRT. In fact Singapore's MRT emulated HK's, right down to HK's Octupus card, their smart card in which they tap their way through MTR gantries and upon boarding buses (the counterpart being our EZ-link card).

I felt the same way again when I arrived in HK this time. Having arrived at HK at midnight (beggars can't be choosers when it comes to redeeming frequent flyer miles for free tickets), I was truly grateful for HK's efficient transport system - I was able to reach the hostel by 1 am.

This is the facade of the building that the hostel is located.


The mirador mansion, its facade under construction.
Such a grand name, in reality, it's just an old walk up flat.


At 1am, there were still some seedy characters milling outside the building and some touts, but they are harmless so long as you ignore them.


The dinghy corridor to the hostel


Finally, at the 'gate' of the hostel.
Online, the hostel's name was Venetian Hostel, but the hostel's name here is Travelers Friendship House.

My travel companion, Ms Tomoyo, had already reached HK (she took Jetstar, on a better timing).

Our hostel is an economical lodging in an excellent location, just 2 mins' from the nearest MTR, (Tsim Sha Tsui) and our room is air conditioned and has an attached bathroom (though the door cannot shut totally, thankfully there's a shower curtain that provided some privacy). I don't have complaints about the room. Except the very hard bed and very soft pillow, and generally old and decrepit furnishing. Other than that, for only S$37/ night, who am I to complain?

Breakfast the next day was at City Hall, a dim sum restaurant called Maxim's Palace. Highly recommended, albeit a little expensive. To get there, take the MTR to Central, get out from exit F, cross a subway and you'd see the City Hall. On weekdays, the restaurant opens only at 11am, while on weekends it opens at 10am. So do take note of the opening times, so you won't end up coming too early, like Ms Tomoyo and myself. So we went to a the nearby Maxim cafe (selling typical HK breakfasts like nissin noodles) and ate lightly, and thereafter took a walk nearby to kill time.

The ifc building, where EY HK is housed.
The view from its lower level rooftop garden is great.




We have a similar looking building back in Singapore, guess which one here bears the resemblance?



We killed some time and slowly made our way back to Maxim's Palace and ordered these.




My favourite dish of all

This is my favourite dim sum restaurant, so I've been returning to this place every time I visit HK. We also ordered ginger flavoured bean curd - it's superb. Until whatever the construction by the pier is completed, the view at the floor to ceiling window at this restaurant would probably be stunning.

Next on the agenda was to ferret out HK's H&M, the Swedish fast fashion chain, that isn't in Singapore yet. Seriously, when are they bringing H&M in? It's virtually conquered half the world, and it hasn't appeared in our shores yet? Astounding.

We found it at Queen Street Central, near Central MTR exit D2. This is where I kind of went crazy here. Belts, basic tops, trendy jackets, stylish totes, cute dresses, on sale!

H&M on Queen Street - on sale!


Night time at the peak comes up in the next post. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vacation Season

I've been neglecting the blog of late. Mostly because June has been a hectic month for me.

Having just came back from 2 short holidays barely a week apart of each other, I felt a deep sense of melancholy upon coming back.

The quick diagnosis is post holiday blues. :-( A quick antidote would be to take another day's break before returning to work, but even that sometimes worsens the condition, and delays the inevitable.

So anyway my first trip was a birthday treat to myself - to Bangkok for a couple days of good dining and shopping. Second trip was to Hong Kong, for more great dining and shopping. In other words, I was on a self-fulfilling mission to empty my pockets. hah.

Although most people know Bangkok and Hong Kong inside out already, I will still be blogging about them in my upcoming posts - mainly to share some of my favourite shopping haunts and eating places in these 2 cities.

Here's a picture taken at the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong, the city with one of my favourite night skylines in the world.





This might be one of my best pictures taken there (that isn't blurry). I realised the importance of a tripod from this trip.

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