Sunshine warming the urban-rural clash landscape
Leave the Pigeons alone!
Light on lake and gazing through the fountain
Only got slightly cold walking to the centre of the fountain…
Today I woke up to bright sunshine in Hong Kong, which was fortunate since my friend decided it would be nice to visit Cheung Chau. Cheung Chau is a small Island 10 km southwest of Hong Kong Island and is a very popular destination for tourism, as well as being renowned for its street food stalls.
In order to get there, we got the train (MTR) from Tin Hau to Central, picking up some breakfast from a bakery on the way to Tin Hau station. I’m ashamed to say that I caved into temptation and got a coffee cake for breakfast, but I still feel that this was a better shout than the spam, cheese and tomato ketchup bun my friend decided to have!
Upon arriving at Central, we headed to the ferry terminal (terminal 5) and just before we got there, were greeted by some stunning views of the harbour.
The view from Central, near the ferry terminal
This made me smile
Arrival at the Ferry terminal
I was somewhat apprehensive about the 35-minute ferry journey, having been prone to occasional bouts of motion sickness in the past. However, the water was very smooth and the journey to Cheung Chau seemed to fly by (no travel-related pun intended). The only slightly annoying point was that in the downstairs deck where we sat, the windows were quite murky so photos didn’t come out quite so well. Fortunately though, this was not the case on the ferry journey back 🙂
My attempt at taking a photo from next to the window on the way to Cheung Chau
Upon approaching Cheung Chau, you witness beautiful sparkling water, with boats and fishing boats dotted across the harbour and a backdrop of stalls selling everything from jewellery and clothing to food stuff and bubble tea.
I think my favourite view, however, was when we were able to observe the boats from dry land:
Walking along the harbour front was probably my first prolonged experience of the humid heat that my friend told me I would experience in Hong Kong. Whilst this occurs on the main island, many buildings, shops and restaurants have incredibly efficient air conditioning, meaning that sometimes you even find yourself reaching for your jacket! Nonetheless, the heat went hand in hand with the sun, which made all the colours of the harbour brighter and led me to make the urgent purchase of a pair of sunglasses (my original pair somehow broke in my backpack during my London to Hong Kong flight).
Alongside sunglasses, I found some over really nice gifts and was particularly impressed by a shop whereby you could select your own pearl from an oyster in a bucket of water. You then got to pick a pendant and watch the jeweller as she polished the pearl, drilled a hole into it (if necessary) and set it into the silver pendant (within whichever shape was picked). This is actually a gift for a friend I’ll be visiting soon, and I was also allowed to take a video of the pearl selection so have that to show her. But it does mean that I’ll have to block her from seeing this particular post on Facebook!
Although the island has plenty of street food, and although my friend was desperate to try a twisty fried potato that was being sold on a street stall as well as mango filled buns, he decided to take me to the Rainbow Café along the harbour front for lunch. This was a good place to go because although Hong Kong caters very well for Vegetarians, fish is a fairly big deal on Cheung Chau and many restaurants serving Hong Kong food on the waterfront were using fish or fish sauce in their dishes. The Rainbow Café, however, was a contrast to this since it serves some Western dishes too (one of the rare occasions where I didn’t have some form of delicious Asian food). However, I couldn’t complain too much because part of me enjoyed returning to the home comfort of potato wedges and garlic bread (I’m not going to lie though, Dim Sum still wins). What was particularly lovely was being able to sit in an air conditioned café, which was light and cosy with little bear cushions and lots of written messages from past visitors, and sipping on an ice cold Lime Soda. Total bliss when wanting to take a brief break from the glorious sun.
What’s more, the Rainbow Café has a service whereby you can pick however many postcards, write them and then pay for them to be delivered (including international delivery)- all whilst eating your food or enjoying your drink. So mum, dad and sis- postcards for you and the rest of the family should be there in a week 🙂
After lunch, we went back to roaming around the harbour front. As previously mentioned, there are lots of street food stalls (see the first picture below) and fresh or dried fish stalls (see picture two).
A street food stall One of many dried fish stalls
And just because this really impressed me:
See the fruit in the white crotchet coats? That is to maintain quality and ensure that the fruit does not bruise.
Much of the rest of the time was spent chatting and enjoying the sun or taking pictures. Oh, but we did find these really cool steps by the ferry terminal on Cheung Chau:
We only had to wait around fifteen minutes for the next ferry back to Hong Kong Island and the journey once again was relaxed and pleasant (cooler too since the windows were open this time). All in all, I’m very glad I got the chance to visit Cheung Chau- it was a beautiful place with a really friendly ambience.
I hope you’re enjoying these blogs so far! On Wednesday (or tomorrow since this is probably when I’ll post), I’m heading over to Tokyo so I hope to keep you informed. I am very excited for Japan, so if anyone has a heads up on what I should see there, let me know in the comments below.
Will blog again soon!
Bakeries and patisseries are rife in Hong Kong. Note to self: try an egg tart (bottom middle cake).
To be honest, I’d eat any of them!!!!
A street in Fortress Hill.
Advertising Halloween, Hong Kong Style, Laforet Shopping Centre (a less than conventional approach to advertising a scary holiday).
My travel companion pandering to the awkward vegetarian
Sichuan style noodle soup (dam dam mein), steamed vegetable dumplings, dipping sauce and at the front of the photo…
Pan fried spinach buns (san jin bao). Despite initial scepticism (I thought nothing could beat noodles), these are unbelievably delicious and just a bit addictive!
From Central to Causeway, politics permeating.
Most efficient metro system? My travel companion wanted me to say “simplicity and efficiency absent from London underground”. Which might be true, but nothing beats the Metropolitan line (childhood bias).
Hong Kong mini-bus
First scenic (ish) shot of Hong Kong. The harbour in the background, skyscrapers in the foreground.
Thanks to “no name travel companion” for making the cheesiest caption suggestions ever (and since I lack that level of wit, I had to reject them or my envy would overwhelm me).
Hope you enjoyed this slightly different (to my usual essays) blog post!
Hot Almond and Black Sesame Soup?
Black glutinous rice and wheat congee in coconut milk?
Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, but less than 24 hours into my arrival in Hong Kong and already I’m having a bit of a love affair with the food. The above soups are two traditional desserts which I’m told are popular with the locals in Hong Kong and which I got to sample as a late afternoon snack at Ching Ching Desserts, a dessert restaurant in North Point. Picking a sweet when a) the concept of having a soup for dessert is unfamiliar and b) the menu is full of glorious pages of colourful and varied concoctions definitely led to some feelings of confusion (although this also may have been a result of jet lag). But eventually, having just sat down after being caught in an unexpected bout of rain (and in spite of the heat and humidity), I chose the hot almond and black sesame soup, while everyone else went for black glutinous rice and wheat congee in coconut milk. My travel companion and his mum told me that if you take a traditional Chinese approach to medicine, almonds are good for the skin and thought to “nourish internally” whilst black sesame (which I had never tried before) is supposed to be beneficial to the kidneys, regulating many bodily functions. In addition, the soup was really nice- rich with a creamy texture and akin to the kind of sweet, warm drink you sometimes want to enjoy before going to sleep. As someone who is not a big fan of rice pudding, I was also pleasantly surprised by the black glutinous rice and wheat congee. I think the word “glutinous” made me reluctant about the dish but the texture was similar to porridge and the coconut milk base made it very tasty! The restaurant itself was small, casual and brightly lit, as well as being not too busy.
I also really enjoyed the dinner that my friend’s mum made, lettuce wraps filled with peppers and beancurd with a small bowl of sticky rice. The first snack food I’ve tried in Hong Kong (mango covered biscuit sticks), are also incredibly moreish and so far, I’m finding food to be very light. This means that you can eat something full on flavour without feeling as though you are caressing your very own food baby 🙂
Almond and black sesame soup The outside of the dessert restaurant
Flying with Cathay Pacific
The past 24 hours have been very eventful, mainly because they consisted of a last minute panic regarding packing, saying bye to my parents and sister at Heathrow, an 11 hour flight between London and Hong Kong and submitting a china visa application in Hong Kong.
But the flight itself was a particularly interesting experience. As a girl who has travelled (at most) maybe 4 and a half hours in an aeroplane before now, I figured the flight might be challenging for me. However, I cannot condemn Cathay Pacific. Although I struggled to face my greasy hash brown and omelette breakfast after 8 hours (at that point) on a plane, the staff were helpful, the earlier dinner was was edible, the plane was nice and the woman at the check-in desk was amazing and gave me a better seat than what I had originally been allocated (still economy but with more leg room). So thank you to that lovely member of staff!
On the flight itself, I was lucky as I had another passenger next to me who was very nice, and who I ended up chatting with. And after 4 hours in the air went fairly quickly, I didn’t know why I had worried about being on the aeroplane for so long. However an hour later, I found myself inadvertently adopting a new persona. Picture Tigger from Winnie the Pooh on a long-haul flight and you’re not far off! Because, maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about knowing you have to sit for such a long time (even if you do stretch your legs) which makes you want to be doing anything but sitting still. I also had a massive struggle with sleep, which I think was because I could not trick my body into believing that it was in a natural sleep-like horizontal position (as you normally are in a bed or in a sleeping bag). I’ve discovered in the past that I can’t sleep in cars or on trains, and I can now add to that as I couldn’t sleep at all on an 11 hour flight! However, feeling sick with tiredness couldn’t numb how excited I felt when I first spotted the islands of Hong Kong and their skyscrapers from the sky. And whilst I really struggled with jet lag during the late afternoon, taking a nap and having some food helped me feel more human again.
Initial impressions of Hong Kong
This is a tough one because as previously mentioned, tiredness and jet lag have definitely been affecting me today. Also, I’ve not done too much exploring yet! But on first impressions, so far so good.The places I’ve seen have a brilliant buzz, the metro system is efficient and shop and café fronts are so much more colourful than what I am used to back in the UK. Although I have caught sight of a few protesters from a distance, this isn’t really something I wanted to focus on as my blog across all counties is intended to be from a tourist’s perspective surrounding food and attractions. I make this point just because I know a few people might have stumbled across my blog post under the category or tag “Hong Kong” and expect to see a minute-by-minute account of what’s happening politically. Nonetheless, I hope you found some interest in what I had to say 🙂
Thanks for reading!
SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?
That’s the question the majority of us confused graduates get asked when we finish our studies. For the minority that know, I am in awe of your focus and ability to discover what you want out of life. For the rest of us, we’re faced with a number of options… post-graduate study… job… graduate training schemes… volunteering… or…
Yep, I didn’t think that would be my immediate decision either 🙂 But since it is, I’ve decided to write this blog in order to articulate my musings, share a photo or two, get ridiculously excited about food (I am besotted, thankfully so is my travel companion) and just generally describe where I am and what I’m doing.
So to the introductions- I’m Olivia and I’m a 21 year old British student who has just graduated from university.
During my time at this glorious place, I was fortunate enough to meet a multitude of people who were both entertaining and inspiring (slushy but true). I stress this point because honestly, had you asked me a few years ago, never would I have considered taking some time out of education or the world of work to travel. But things change and having completed my degree, I decided that now was the right time to spread my wings a little and immerse myself in some different cultures. Since two of my close friends come from different parts of Asia (Hong Kong and South Korea respectively), I decided that travelling to learn more about where they’re from and other nearby countries could be a lot of fun!!!!
For the first part of my journey around Asia, I am travelling with a friend (soon to be long-suffering travel companion) and am going to Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and China before returning to Hong Kong. After these 6 weeks, I have decided to go it alone and settle in Melbourne for a while… in spite of having absolutely nothing set in stone there. Which could represent foolishness or become a mark of successful spontaneity (hopefully the latter). I’ll keep you guys updated on that front.
Feel free to comment on any of my posts (all feedback would be hugely appreciated) since this is the first time I’ve ever blogged and if there is something I could be doing to make it better (from the reader’s perspective), I would really love to be able to make those improvements!
Hope you enjoy my blog!!!