re: Hong Kong

Off The Beaten Track, pt. II.

Pt. II of Off the Beaten Track, because I like small bite-sized blog posts.

If possible, I would just skip the idea of a ‘holiday’ altogether and live in Hong Kong for a couple of months, explore its offerings at a lackadaisical pace and soak in the sun.

Kowloon; the suburbs.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Venturing a bit further out when visiting Kowloon and you’ll find another local favourite, BBQ! From my experience, it’s around £20 for all you can eat food, usually without a strict time limit on your stay. Depending on the place, this can also extend to all you can drink, or be limited to just one free drink. In any case, it’s always good to carry a bottle of water on your person at all times when in Hong Kong.

I’ve written partly about this about this before, but if you’ve already trekked out to Kowloon, why not make a day of it? Go for a bike ride and work up an appetite to truly take advantage of the all you can eat deal in the evening! It’s another local past time and it’s easy to see why. Being away from the inner city allows for designated bicycle lanes and you can follow one route that takes you all the way from Tai Wai to Tai Po. Don’t worry about the cycle back either, you can return the bikes at another location and take the bus or taxi back to the nearest MTR station once finished. There’s really no reason not to do this when visiting Hong Kong, you’ll find your view of the city thoroughly broadened and return with a fresh perspective that most visitors won’t have acquired.

CNY: Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Finding yourself in the city during Chinese New Year, make sure to visit Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree! During the festive period, the area’s full of interesting sights from food, souvenirs and traditions. It’s a small but packed occasion, enjoyable nevertheless for visitors who wish to experience the community spirit of a 700-year old village. The wishing tree presents a fun opportunity to take part in a tradition wherein you attach your new year’s wishes onto a (fake) clementine (satsuma? orange?) and throw them up into the tree. The higher the branch, the more likely your wish will come true! I made two attempts at this when a young girl snatched up my orange (and wish!) before I could pick it up again. Equally hilarious was watching my friends throw their oranges only to accidently bump some poor stranger on the head.

Regarding the TST parade, this you can definitely skip. We secured a spot quite early on and found it not worth the wait. Rather than a continuous flow of music and celebration, there were 5/10-minute wait times between each section and the while the performers were wonderful in their own right, the majority of (if not all) floats were pretty much just decorated pieces of advertisement. I can appreciate a celebration of a country’s brand and businesses, but this was too much.

So this concludes my series of posts on Hong Kong! I hope this has proved useful or at least enjoyable for those who slogged through and read what I have to say – it really is appreciated, thank you!

re: soba, so good

cat cafes, fireflies and soba.

Meeting up with my friend Hazel (who chose to study abroad in Tokyo!), we visited her favourite cat café. Although there were many cute, exceedingly fluffy cats (and a kitten!), the space itself was pretty small and so visitors to the café were all politely vying for seating space and attention from the cats. The staff there were super considerate and if you did manage to get a seat, they would often relocate a sleepy cat onto your lap to love forever. With streaming eyes, my visit to the cat café was a short stay, since I was stupid and forgot to take my allergy medication with me.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
It’s like looking into a mirror.

I know I just wrote about having lunch a short while ago, but everyone else was hungry so we stopped by a 100-yen sushi place for second lunch. I love 100-yen sushi and I only wish I ate more of it during my trip! The quality is good, at least much better than the western equivalent Yo!Sushi (second on my list of hated Asian chain restaurants after Wagamama). Speaking of cheap deals, a trip to the 100-yen store resulted in me disregarding my already overweight hand luggage and going a little crazy on stationery – another thing that’s much better in Asia than the UK!

Later in the evening, we took a train to the outskirts of Tokyo for a local firefly festival. Huge crowds surrounded the small stream where the fireflies were released into and having never seen a firefly before it was pretty exciting to spot at least two dancing in the night. Sadly, the festival didn’t culminate in fireflies magically lighting up the vicinity like some whimsical Disney movie, but it was fun to experience the atmosphere of a local festival. Since it was very family oriented and held in a quiet neighbourhood, most stalls, including the delicious looking food vendors, were starting to close by 9.00pm, so we had to catch the train back into Tokyo for something to eat.

Luckily, Hazel knew of a cheap soba place open 24 hours so we all headed there and even though there was only 7 of us, we filled the whole restaurant. I’m not sure if my perceptions were skewed by hunger, but the soba was amazing! Costing only 530-yen for a bowl of soba, rice and some sliced pork belly (there are even cheaper options), this was the most inexpensive and satisfying meal I’ve had in Tokyo so far. Keep a look out for the small unassuming restaurants!

Apologies for the lack of photos in this post, I went on a massive purge through my photo library a couple of months ago and it seems nothing was deemed worthy enough to keep. Why do I do this to myself.