re: hiking

going walkabout.

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I have never been one for the gym, but this year I vowed to be more active and what better way to do it than go hiking? Fortunately Hong Kong has so many great hiking trails, some easier than others, but each providing a variety of stunning landscapes to cheer you on. I’ll admit that for me, the idea of hiking (seeing beautiful views, getting away from the city) greatly eclipses the reality of the actual workout involved. Which is why it might have been a better idea then to start off with something relatively easier than Tai Mo Shan, HK’s highest peak. But in my mind, hiking = walking, walking = easy, therefore hiking = easy! (Has psychology taught me nothing on illogical thought processes?!?)

Googling directions on how to get there, my friend and I both came across the same blog with instructions to head to Tsuen Wan MTR station and catch a taxi to a point called Lead Mine Pass, where we could start the trail (MacLehose 8). However, upon hailing a couple of taxis, it was clear that the drivers did not know of this place (or did not want to take us??). To be clear, we had the Chinese translation, Cantonese speakers and even pulled the location up on Google maps, but alas it was to no avail. Luckily, a man came to offer help and here I will relay the instructions that got us to the hike’s starting point.

  • Exit A of Tsuen Wan MTR station. Turn left and look for stairs heading up to the highway overhead.
  • Catch the 51 bus (double check that it’s going the right way!)
  • Ride 9 stops and get off at the stop County Park.
  • Walk a little downhill towards the Country Park Visitor Center for the starting point of MacLehose trail 8.

With Hong Kong’s harsh temperature drops, I was overly cautious in wearing 5 layers of clothes, which I promptly had to strip, as we were fortunate enough to be blessed with sun! It was really the perfect weather for this hike, no humidity and warm enough to wear a t-shirt comfortably. We passed some people along the trail ambling by, casually decked out in warm fleeces and sweaters and I don’t know how they weren’t overheating O-O.

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If you’re thinking of attempting this, make sure to bring lots of water (and snacks), since the majority of the hike is made up of stairs going up the mountain. Going up the hike, it may be advisable to save taking pictures until you pass the picnic area/carpark. The best views are from this point onwards and unless you want an abundance of identical photos, each increasing only slightly in viewpoint I would just save the photo-breaks until then. Here, there’s a rock a stone throw away (heh) from the main viewing point, where you’re free to take a musical interlude and act out that iconic opening scene from Disney’s The Lion King, (lion cub not provided). Another cool thing to look out for is Shenzhen! Spending most of my time on the island side, it’s easy to forget that Hong Kong is actually, physically a part of China.

After this point, you can choose to hike up to the weather observatory and carry the hike on from there. Limited by time, we chose not to hike the rest of the trail and instead re-traced our steps to catch the bus back to the MTR station. Choosing to carry on, I think you would end up in Tai Po within 1 or 2 hours. Altogether, it was a really enjoyable hike and it’s currently 01.00am and I can’t think of a witty way to end this post, so I’ll just leave you now, with the promise of more hikes in the future! (Any recommendations?)

 

re: Chinese New Year

happy new year… again (?!)

Something a little bit different today! Making sound on those New Year resolutions, I was surprised by how quick it was to edit this little video. Not sure why the thumbnail looks like it was filmed on a potato, but click play and bask in the wondrous picture quality of the iPhone 6s (that is, if everything went smoothly in the uploading process)!

Happy Year of the Monkey everyone!

~

re: we need to talk about ramen

a new competitor for favourite food enters the ring

Processed with MOLDIV

After an embarrassingly long absence since my New Year’s post, I’m back to reignite my food series, (does the term series still apply if there was only really one post?). Today’s food interest is RAMEN! To tell the truth, I have had a long and ambivalent relationship with ramen. Eating the instant packets as a child, I thought I was a ramen lover – how different could it be from the delicious Chinese/Vietnamese-style noodle soups that my grandma and mum made? Then I ate in restaurants. First came Wagamama (Leeds), where I was enticed by the photograph of a spicy chicken ramen only to discover the broth was absolutely tasteless and the noodles so-so. I was confused! Perhaps it was just that particular branch? Later, convinced by my friend’s enthusiasm for Wagamama’s ramen, I tried again (Nottingham). Where she seemed to be enjoying her bowl, I was wondering if pouring in half the condiments on the table would make my broth less bland. Writing Wagamama on my list of places never to visit, I left disheartened yet still optimistic on finding an authentic and satisfying bowl of ramen. Fast forward through the years and I have tried ramen in many places, each hit and miss (majorly miss) in terms of taste. Had I fooled myself into thinking I liked this particular food? Even eating ramen in Japan, wasn’t something that made me think I could eat it everyday for the rest of my life.

However, I am the type of person willing to try foods again and again, in case my tastes have changed. For example I never used to liked bubble tea (a Taiwanese drink with tapioca pearls) until recent years when suddenly the sensation of chewy pearls in my drink didn’t seem to bother me anymore. So this week when I suggested going for ramen, my friend was quite sceptical. But actually I was more excited to sit in a solitary booth where your ramen appears from behind a bamboo screen than for the ramen itself. Upon arriving at Ichiran, we were greeted by an enormous queue, but since there was only two of us dining, the wait wasn’t too long! The sheer novelty of having your own personal dining bubble was a dream – apparently they were designed to let the customer fully immerse themselves in the flavours. Speaking of flavours, you can customise the ramen on levels such as garlic, chilli, etc., even adding extra noodles when you’ve finished with the first. Thankfully, the ramen was not a disappointment! It was full of flavour (maybe a little too salty to be very critical), the noodles were a nice texture and it’s definitely a place I’d go back to! Only downside is that it is a bit pricey, 89HKD for a standard bowl, then 10HKD on top as service charge. But otherwise, a place that reaffirmed my ramen love!

 

Tried and tested:

  • Ichiran – Lockhart House, Block A, 440 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay
  • Janya Tomato Ramen – 468 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok