re: Nottingham

Taking a tour around my own city.

As much as I love reminiscing about my travels in Asia, let me introduce the city I’ve been living in for the past two and a half years to my blog. A friend from Hong Kong recently came to visit for the day, giving me the perfect opportunity to revisit some old sights, share new favourites and also try something new.

A newly discovered favourite, for years I had mistaken Ye Olde Tripe To Jerusalem for a regular pub. Walking inside, however, you’ll be surprised (spoiler alert) at its quaint interiors, having been built into the rocks under Nottingham Castle. My first visit involved cramming into a cosy alcove, making for quite a primitive experience as we ate lunch surrounded by the uneven graffiti covered rocks that made up its walls. It does get incredibly busy here, but on my second visit (~11:30, weekday) it was decidedly quiet and we easily managed to secure a table, eavesdropping on the tour group that had assembled next to us.

After a satisfyingly filling lunch, what better than a short walk to Nottingham Castle? It’s a lovely vantage point from which to view the city, although apart from getting excited at seeing the clock tower of University Park’s Trent Building, the view is nothing truly spectacular. Alongside permanent displays in the castle museum, there are also changing rosters of exhibitions to discover – that we easily spent a couple of hours going through.

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Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side as we arrived at Wollaton Park, suddenly turning gloomy and overcast. We took refuge inside the mansion (known locally as Batman’s crib) and buried ourselves in its history, as told through a new exhibition of delicate paper cut outs that sprang from the pages of open books. There’s also an incredible collection of taxidermy animals within these rooms, although some displays can benefit from better lighting options to be able to appreciate the craftsmanship of this archaic form of perseveration.

I’m still waiting for snow to appear in Nottingham, so I can only say that the best weather conditions in which to walk the grounds of Wollaton Park is sunny and hot. There should be more deer roaming about (we only caught a sad glimpse at a far-away herd) and the sunshine brings out the best in Wollaton Hall’s intricate features. This condition also applies to visiting the University of Nottingham’s main campus, University Park. It’s pretty much what convinced me to apply and boats are also available to rent in the summer, making for that quintessential UoN experience.

We ended our evening with a new venture, Sexy Mama Love Spaghetti. An undeniably eye-catching name crudely scrawled across its exterior, it might be somewhere you’d quickly walk past on any normal occasion. But having heard great reviews, we decided to see for ourselves. The restaurant itself is a tiny squeeze, even for a small person like me, but the food was delicious! Ordering the king scallop linguine was the best decision made that night, it was cooked so perfectly. We both felt the risotto Milanese was lacklustre and the portions were slightly on the small side, but the staff and general atmosphere of the restaurant were lovely.

~

re: ferences

re: Macau

Part two of my guided adventure.

Arriving at the Ruins of St. Paul was a little underwhelming, although I have a tendency to imagine things much bigger than they usually are, so don’t be dissuaded from my thoughts. Somewhat surviving three fires, it is still quite a magnificent structure to visit and marvel at its determination to remain standing throughout such unfortunate circumstances. Since we arrived around 5/6pm, the site itself was incredibly crowded, making it difficult to get a photograph without someone in the background. Instead, we took advantage of the remaining sun and relaxed on the steps with a cup of milk tea and grass jelly before heading off to the next location.

To be truthful, I was actually pretty amazed with The Venetian. There’s a certain charm to all its artificial beauty and it was fun to see what is basically a giant shopping centre structured in this way. There are real, working gondolas equipped with gondoliers to explore its artificial canals, but which we skipped on account of the huge queue and limited time we had there. A very quick breeze around the shops and a visit to Lord Stow’s for their famous Portuguese egg tart (delicious, but a little too greasy) was pretty much all we had time for before we headed back to the port to try and get an earlier ferry back.

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If you find yourself with a return ticket far later than you wanted to stay on Macau, you are able to wait in a reserve queue for an earlier ferry. At the front of this queue, it’s very likely you’ll be admitted on board! We were thwarted by huge reserve queues for earlier ferries, so ended up taking the ferry back at the original time. It’s also worth noting that you can take the ferry back to either Hong Kong Island, or Kowloon, depending on which is more convenient for you! (The ferry does not dock only in Kowloon as my friend Sandy adamantly insisted).

Although it’s only an hour from Hong Kong to Macau, I’d like to return and stay for a night or two to fully explore the city and nightlife. While the private tour was great in allowing us to see the main sights for that day, we really didn’t have much freedom to just walk around and discover sights for ourselves. I’d love to go back and walk around Macau’s old town as well as walk its strip of famous casinos in the evenings!

re: Hong Kong

Unmissable Sights, pt II.

Continuing this simultaneous journey down memory lane/informational piece for potential visitors to Hong Kong, I should note that these destinations aren’t in rank order. It’s whatever comes to mind quickest, which I suppose has its own bias, but I assure you they’re all worth visiting when in Hong Kong! Anyways, here’s part two of unmissable sights:

Star Ferry & TST harbour

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Hong Kong is at its most attractive when you’re stood on the TST promenade looking out across to Central. Get the Star Ferry in the evening and experience the magic once you’re out in the open water surrounded by the lights from either side. Admittedly, I’ve never had enough interest to get there in time for the light show (it takes place on both sides of the harbour), the city lights glittering off the dark waters alone provide enough enjoyment for me.

You’ll be surprised (or not, considering Hong Kong is a 24 hr city) at how many people are casually roaming about or relaxing on the pier during midnight hours. I found it a perfect place to grab drinks from a nearby 7/11, find a comfortable spot to perch on and chat the night away with friends. If you’re feeling hungry, there’s bound to a place open late at night. 3am dim-sum is, in fact, the best concept ever when it comes to late night snacking.

Another point of interest to include is the Avenue of Stars (now temporarily the Garden of Stars as renovation work takes place until 2018). For film lovers out there, it’s a wonderful tribute to the people who established Hong Kong cinema as its own entity in the cinematic landscape. Even if you’re a bit clueless on Hong Kong cinema, it’s fun to find the names we all know and love, i.e. Jackie Chan and there’s also a Bruce Lee statue (srsly, who doesn’t know Bruce Lee) to pose in front of. To be honest, I couldn’t appreciate it fully, the first time I visited (had I even watched any Cantonese movies before?), but after taking a Hong Kong cinema module in first semester, I found it a really great informative exhibit of talent and creativity.

Dim Sum & Street Food

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As I typically describe it to my friends, dim-sum is reminiscent of Spanish tapas. Usually eaten for lunch, you choose a variety of dishes to share with your table. A popular spot to go to is Tim Ho Wan, an affordable, yet delicious Michelin star place with a couple of branches within Hong Kong. The one in Central MTR station (weird, I know) is quite small and usually has huge queues, so I often go to the branch in Fortress Hill/North Point. It’s likely you’ll have to wait a couple of minutes beforehand, but it’s worth it! My friend swears by their famous (?) pineapple char sui buns, but I’d rather just eat more of everything else. Hong Kong style seating arrangements means you’ll probably end up sharing a table with some random strangers (it’s ok, you don’t have to share food, just table space), but personally I like the amusement that comes with sitting next to a random person.

For street food, head back to Mong Kok and peruse the area around Ladies Market for new foods to try. Fish balls are a Hong Kong staple, and egg waffles are on that list too. But for something a little different to western tastes, try the pigs blood soup with intestines! If you’re not up for being ~too~ adventurous, there’s always the relatively safe option of stinky tofu. Sure, it might have a very potent smell, but it does taste good! The array of food options out on display never fails to catch the eye and they’re a perfect snack to grab when you’re caught up in the rush of this fast-moving city.

Chi Lin Nunnery & Nan Lian Garden 

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When my friends came to visit, it was in the midst of Chinese New Year celebrations that we visited Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Gardens. We stopped off at Wong Tai Sin Temple beforehand and it was packed full of people burning incense and putting up offerings to welcome in the new year. The atmosphere was amazing, extremely busy and colourful, so it was pleasantly surprising to find a spot of quiet in the nunnery and gardens. Of course, there was still a huge amount of people around, but overall much more peaceful within the grounds. Stepping into both is like walking into a different world. The architecture is modern in age, but still retains the timeless elegance of the past, making it easy to forget you’re in a city full of technology. It’s funny to see the contrast in styles when you look up and see the tops of the sky scrapers peeking through against the foreground of the idyllic grounds.

This wraps up what I think are items on any traveller’s guide to Hong Kong. If you want to hear more about my most beloved city (sry London), watch this space, I’ll be writing up a summary of the things that may not feature so prominently in guides to Hong Kong, but which are equally as important!

re: Merry Christmas!

Deck the halls with boughs of holly fa-la-la-la…

For most people, the month of December indicates a slew of festivities and a brief respite from the world of work. For myself and most other students, December is a frightening month full of coursework deadlines, exams and revision. Complimenting 2016’s gifts, this year I also have the pressure of applying for jobs, to secure some sort of stable future after I graduate. Quite a stressful way to spend the holidays, but alas, the things we must do.

In any case, I’d like to take the time to thank everyone who reads/follows this blog! Whether you celebrate it or not, hope everyone has a great Christmas break. Take the time to relax for a moment and enjoy the luxury of just doing nothing before scaling the mountain of work again. My housemates and I celebrated with our own little Christmas dinner about a week ago, so it feels a little strange to be doing it again with my family, but I’m excited to return home and have one guiltless day of eating food and watching movies!