Thursday, June 30, 2011

What Stanley has to offer

On my first trip, I missed out on Stanley although I was already halfway up there but something came up, and I never made it to the market.

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Stanley is a famous and scenic location, known for its beaches, scenery, morning market, and also its nightlife.
We woke up early on our last day to make that trip to Stanley to check out the market, which was known for being a shopping haven for tourists.

I would highly recommend taking a bus ride to Stanley; just ask a local if you are not sure which bus to take:)
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Trust me, nothing beats the bus ride all the way up the winding road to Stanley (it reminds me of our very own Batu Ferringhi stretch of long and winding road in Penang).

The bus is a comfy double decker, and of course, nothing beats the view of the upper deck:)
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It will be one memorable and thrilling, not to mention exhilarating as you experience the skills of the driver around the winding road.
(not for those who gets carsick easily:)

The journey from our location takes us through the streets and main roads
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Then we were going uphill; passing by the high rise residences on the way (Hong Kong is full of them everywhere, as mentioned, due to the high population)
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Spot the famous building at Repulse Bay; the hole through the condominium :)
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If you have the time, you can enjoy the beach at Repulse Bay
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Get off at Stanley Market, this is the destination to most of Stanley's tourist attractions!
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You will find yourself on the opposite side of the road, but just cross the road and you will find yourself facing rows of shops and stalls selling flowers and fruits, and yes, that IS Stanley market.
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The market is good for souvenir shopping and also a couple of interesting items:
1. Silk ties (good prices; a tie could cost only USD$1-2!)
2. Beachwear
3. Dresses
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If you are an avid shopper, be prepared to spend an hour or so here.
We were sticking to our tight schedule as we had a lot of places to cover on our last day, and we did not really shop much here (maybe not suitable for me either:p )

We took a stroll down the scenic walkway facing the famous Murray House, which is a Victorian era style building relocated from Central, and is a heritage landmark due to its history. This building is also the face of Stanley (main landmark)
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Al-fresco dining area
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View of the sea
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This is also similar to our Gurney Drive in Penang:)
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Pubs which come to to life at night; yes, Stanley is famous for the nightlife.
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It is sufficient to allocate 3-4 hours to Stanley; including the bus ride which approximates to 30-45 minutes one way, depening on your starting point.

There are other attractions in Stanley; such as the famous Thean Hou temple but it was quite a distance to walk from the market, therefore we skipped it. If you are interested, you could probably take that short walk to Murray House and the temple for a closer view.
There are road signs and directories on the streets to guide you, and there are also the locals.

We left Stanley by noon, to proceed to lunch downtown and to our next destinations:)
To be continued...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What to do on Temple Street (庙街)

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Hong Kong is famous for streets and night markets, and they are all located in the busiest parts of the city (are they the ones creating that buzz in the city?).
You'd be happy to know that most of them are linked to each other too.

You can take the MTR and land in Yau Ma Tei, Jordan and you will find yourself greeted by the bright neon lights and busy shoppers or working people pushing their way through the crowd.

Famous street/night markets like these include Temple Street Night Market, Ladies Market, Ap Liu Street Flea Market (famous for IT/electronics), Yuen Po Bird Street Market, Flower Market, Goldfish Market, Fa Yuen Street (famous for sportswear), Jade Market, Stanley Market, etc.

Of all these many many streets, I have been to two on my first visit; the ever famous and bustling Temple Street Night Market and Ladies Market which are obvious choices for ladies who are into shopping.
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(I will be posting on Stanley Market in my upcoming posts)

I was planning to visit other markets on my second visit, but somehow, I still end up in Temple Street.
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It is still busy as ever, and the excitement/hustle bustle in the air just seem to welcome you with open arms.

There are lots of things to shop for and do (besides shopping and shopping), and do be prepared to spend more than an hour or two here (especially if you are into street shopping or souvenirs).

A short list with tips would perhaps help, based on my own personal experiences :)

1. Shopping (stating the obvious!)
What to look for: Souvenirs, fake designer goods, graphic/funky t-shirts, cheongsam (traditional Chinese women attire), pyjamas, electronic gadgets, keychains, souvenirs, cutesy women stuffs.
Beware: High pricing - shop around first and try to bargain for a better price, notoriety of some of the pedlars as they may not like you touching their stuffs or haggling for prices, fake designer goods (illegal in most countries and may face problems at the airport)
What you may not expect: They even have hi-tech electronic products here; I spotted iPhone and iPad2 sold in one of the stalls!

2. Eat seafood!
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What to look for: Plenty of seafood restaurants with tables set by the roadside (or ON the road) and aggressive people urging you to dine at their places.
You can also select fresh seafood which are live for them to cook.
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Beware: Prices not stated on the menu - You can browse through the menu for the prices before deciding. Also if you are into cleanliness, you might want to consider a better place for hydienic food.
I was told by local Hongkies to be careful of thugs or street fights which may occasionally take place here, however, the Hong Kong police force is an active lot and they are really good; they can be spotted anywhere on the streets.
You may also see Health Officers roaming this area, and you can tell when you don't see any tables on the road/roadside.
Recommendations: On both trips, I have dined at this Aberdeen Restaurant which is located on the corner, and can be spotted easily when you turn into Temple Street.
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Nice food, reasonable pricing, and friendly owners/waiters.

3. Dare to try some street food?
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What to look for: Heard of stinky/fermented bean curd that smells like it's out of a sewage? How about rolled up pig intestines which smells the same?
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Yikes, I am not that adventurous, but you can check out some of the fried fishballs/curry fishballs, snacks and delightful drinks which you can just buy and go? Enjoy them while you browse through the stalls in the night market.
Beware of: Hygiene!
If you are prone to tummy upsets (like me), then you might have to think twice about eating on the streets.
I tried drinks from Taiwanese stalls like these, and I liked it:)
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4. Try the local Chinese desserts/sweet soups (Tong Sui)
What to look for: Small shops squeezed in between shops with fluorescent lights and cramped spaces with small tables and everyone seems to have a small-sized bowl in front of them. You don't see wok or cooking, which makes you wonder what they are selling? That may be one of these shops.
If you are not sure, ask a local, ask for 'TONG SUI', they'd be happy to point to you where it is:)
There are lots of varieties; red bean sweet soup, mung bean which are the traditional types and some newer ones are cold desserts with fruits in it!
The Chinese in Hong Kong love their sweet soup desserts after dinner.
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5. Enjoy walking down the streets
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What to look for: Old buildings (these are old-fashioned flats but people still live in them!), narrow streets with mini buses/vans or taxis and there are even some fashion boutiques along the streets.
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You can check them out if you are not into the idea of open shopping.
Beware: Swaying mini buses, honking taxis, and maybe cockcroaches scuttling down the streets! (haha!)

If all else fails, go back to No. 1 or just enjoy shopping :)

Enjoy your street shopping/browsing/visiting!~

**Food posts will be in my Food blog, I will post the links here for you to jump to once they are ready, stay tune!**

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tips to enjoy Lantau Island

If you are in Hong Kong, and you are planning to visit Lantau Island (which, you are definitely bound to, especially if it's your first time to Hong Kong), there are several tips that I could share with you, since I have been there twice :)
(not bragging or anything, but I have picked up a few things which could be helpful to those hopeful travellers)

Lantau Island is an outlying island from the mainland or main Hong Kong Island, and this place is most well-known for the iconic giant statue of Buddha.
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However, besides the Buddha statue and the colorful Po Lin Monastery, there are a bunch of other attractions which one can visit, and should not really leave out of the itinerary (although even I myself have not been able to make it there), but let's run through the tips, shall we?

To reach this place, you will need to take the MTR and alight at Tung Chung Station


1. Start your day early; you will not regret it :)
Suggested itinerary:
8.30am: Take the cable car to Ngong Ping 360
9.20-9.30am: Arrive at Ngong Ping
9.30am-9.45am: Take a quick walk around Ngong Ping Cultural Village
9.45am-10.00am: Snap photos around the Piazza and also the Bodhi Path (Read here)
10.00-11.30am: Visit the Giant Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery
11.45-Noon: Go for Lunch @ the vegetarian restaurant by the monastery
12.30-1.30p.m: Go for the walk to the Wisdom Path and enjoy the scenery
2.00pm-3.00pm: Enjoy tau foo fah (bean curd custard pudding) and vegetarian cakes from the Deli Cafe (near the vegetarian restaurant)
3.30pm: Head down from Ngong Ping

2. Try the vegetarian meal at the restaurant by the monastery. It's good :)
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3. Get your tickets for the vegetarian meal at the above restaurant at the ticketing counter near the Giant Buddha.
If you get yours at the cable car station, that is for the vegetarian restaurant at Ngong Ping Village (i have not try this one before, so I can't vouch for it).
The ticket at the counter near the Giant Buddha includes the visit to view the Buddha's relic.

4. Take photos at a 360 degrees while you are up near the Buddha statue

5. Make sure you do stamina exercises a week before you go to this place; you will need it for the steps leading to the Giant Buddha :)

6. Take photos along the way up the steps, the scenes of the giant statue behind you just keeps getting better!:)

7. Enjoy the cool and crisp breeze on the top, it's really lovely :)

8. Check out the wooden bracelets around the stalls beneath the Tian Tan (Giant Buddha statue), they are reputed to be the famous souvenirs around here.
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However, be ready for the prices and don't be pushed into a purchase if you can reach a compromise.

9. Take a walk to the Wisdom Path and enjoy the serenity of the place.
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10. Don't forget to enjoy a bowl of Tau Foo Fah (bean curd custard pudding) for dessert! You can even take away to enjoy at the hotel later at night if you want!
This is the best I have tasted in Hong Kong, and I promise you will love it!:)

While you are there, try the unique vegetarian cakes at the same Deli Cafe next to the vegetarian restaurant. (That's where the Tau Foo Fah came from too)

11. To be honest, you can skip the Ngong Ping Cultural Village if you are rushing for time. (but that's just for me, my personal opinion, nothing against the village:)
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12. If you have MORE time, you can re-do the itinerary above, and include Tai-O fishing village! It is a really picturesque location and I have always wanted to go there, and still I missed it on my second visit.
I can only oogle at photos like these:(
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(If you have been there, drop me a mail and I would love to hear/read about your trip there:)

13. Bring along a cap and an umbrella, in case it is too hot or if it rains.

14. Bring extra shirt (sweat after all that walking) and a BIG bottle of drinking water too:)

15. If it's your first time here, you can try the new cable car with the crystal cabin which offers you 360 degrees view of the scenery as you travel to the tourist attraction.
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If you've tried that before and it's your second time here, you can try the bus :)
(I did that on my first trip, it was not that bad, but you may need motion sickness pills:p It is a lot cheaper though, and it works well if you are not great with heights:)

16. Bring along a sweater, in case it gets chilly. It is after all, on a hilltop and by the countryside.

17. Enjoy your fresh air and nature!

18. Check out the view of Chek Lap Kok International airport while you are on the cable car.
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(Hazy view)

19. Find out which general and the time for you when you are at the Bodhi Path

20. Take home some cakes from the Deli Cafe (have i mentioned it already?)

21. If you are the sporty or adventurous type who's into a good workout while on vacation, you can try the hike up to Ngong Ping :D
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22. Depending on your luck, sometimes it could be really hazy or misty up there or on the way up there.

If you are thinking that a few hours or even half a day would cover Lantau Island, then you are just planning on visiting the Buddha statue and the Po Lin monastery and then you're heading back; then that's the amount of time you need.
If you are planning to take a leisure walk around to enjoy the place, then you got to be here really early, and still, you're probably going to leave after 3pm unless you can pay the bus or the cable car to speed down the hill for you.

So, plan well, and make sure you have enough water and batteries for your camera for the day!:)
Enjoy your trip to Lantau, and if you need more help, you can contact me too!~
(just click on my profile at the right of the page;)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Answer is....

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When I published this photo in my blog two days ago, I had no idea that it was going to garner a small group of responses, and almost drove one crazy!~

Well, I wanted to post the answer a little later, but fearing the sanity of those who guessed, I will be revealing here:)

Ashley, as mentioned, you were really close to the answer, and I was not kidding about it:)

These are actually, get the word, FIRE-Beaters (though, it was a close translation of the functional word from Chinese)
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These were found along a path in the clearing of the woods; well, not exactly the thick forests you are imagining but one that ones takes a short leisure walk to enjoy the scenery.

I think they were the villagers' odes to putting out fires fast, and maybe it was an effective method concocted by the locals.
I found these rubber flaps really interesting and when I saw them, the first thought that came to my mind was that these were mops/cleaning flaps and boy, was I amazed to see the instructions/signs.
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Guess it really worked, and after doing some research, they do actually exist and are effective due to the rubber's anti-flammatory material.
Now, how about that?

Have you seen anything like this before??