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Monday, 13 January 2014

Hong Kong Adventure 2014

Hey everyone!
If you're wondering where I've disappeared to, I've been exploring Hong Kong. Hong Kong is one of those places that I travel to quite often, like once every one to two years. However, each time is a different experience because I aim to travel to different parts of Hong Kong and discover new things. For this trip, I went to a few tourist attractions plus did some shopping at new places. This post will cover my daily adventure in HK while a separate post will be done on my haul. Read on to find out more!

Day 1

Upon reaching Hong Kong airport, I set off for the guesthouse to dump my stuff down. Headed out to take the tram up to the Peak. Lots of people were queuing to go up the Peak too, and the queue to buy the tickets took almost an hour. The Peak is one of those popular tourist attraction that lets you see an awesome view of Hong Kong from the top (provided it was a non-foggy day). You can take a bus or walk up too beside the tram ride. My family decided to take the tram up because we were showing her colleague around, who was a first timer in HK.
Look at the view! So many buildings!
As I've been to The Peak before, I decided to check out one of the nature trails available instead of shopping. So I dragged my sister to walk the Lugard Rd trail with me, which was almost 3 km long. The road was slightly uneven but there are pretty things to see along the way. It was also a bit spooky because the sky got pretty dark and there was hardly any people walking past us. All the walking gave me muscle pain for 2 days... which wasn't really a great thing to have considering all the shopping I had planned to do. However, definitely do walk the Lugard Rd trail since it gives a different perspective to the urban Hong Kong that people are familiar with.
A mini waterfall! It feels really nice to see nature in hong kong. 
a piece of  HK's night scenery. Look at all the lights!
In case you were wondering, here's my outfit of the day!
I actually wore my boots on the flight but changed to my converse for trekking.


I was soooooo tired from the trekking and queuing for the tram ride down that I skipped dinner and went to sleep. 

Day 2

It's day 2! Initially, we planned on eating dim sum at Lei Garden @ IFC mall. Who knew they don't take any walk-ins at all, just phone reservations! This is really silly to me, considering that we were there before they opened and they looked like they would have tables left over even after all the morning reservations. Instead went to another place in IFC mall for some dim sum but because the staff were so rude there, I did not bother taking photos. 

After our brunch, we went to Kwai Fung. We went to the mall that was just outside the MTR exit. Go to the old looking building, where the deals are better. This is a must go place for shopping because there are quite alot of shops selling clothes from xs-xxxxxxl at pretty reasonable prices. You can find some big-sized clothing on offer at around 6 sgd, which is CHEAP. The designs are quite nice too. Sadly, most sale items were winter wear, which are not suitable for wearing  in Singapore. I look forward to checking this place out in summer period. 

Next stop was Sham Shui Po, a place where wholesale shops can be found. I just wandered around aimlessly because I didn't have anything that I wanted to buy in my mind. Lots of sales going on, especially for shoes. If you're looking to buy winter boots and shoes, it's a great time to get them because they were selling them at 50% off. There were a couple of nice bags too and the prices are definitely cheaper than what you'd get at Ladies' Market. Seriously, don't go the Ladies' Market in Mongkok to buy stuff as it's like a tourist trap. Sham Shui Po sells almost the same things but cheaper. You can bargain too, which is always part of the fun of shopping in Hong Kong. Go to Cheung Sha Wan Rd in Sham Shui Po if you're specifically looking for fashion related items. 

Here's a look at my OOTD for day 2! 
I'm wearing my boots and H&M tights, Forever 21 skirt and a white sweater from Marks & Spencer.

Day 3

Day 3 started off early--we left to go Wong Tai Sin in the morning at 8am! Wong Tai Sin is a popular temple that even has its own MTR stop. There's now even a mall there, which I find quite inappropriate to have near a religious site. But that's just my opinion. I'm not a particularly religious person but I decided to go to Wong Tai Sin just because it's interesting. I've been to this temple once a few years ago, and it was a terrible experience because I was choking from the huge amount of incense smoke there. This time round, it was better because it was early morning and less people praying (like a hundred people at least, which is not that many). I went to have my fortune told! There was a bunch of fortune teller stalls set up to read your fortune. I think the chinese believe that you have to pick the stall that attracts you, because it is fate pulling you towards it. Haha.There are also fortune tellers that speak English and I spotted a couple Caucasians having their fortunes read while I was there. I picked this shop that was brightly decorated with red which screams 'Chinese!'. The guy at the stall spoke mostly Cantonese. He could speak Chinese but his Chinese was harder to understand than his Cantonese. Thus it was lucky that my mum was there to act as interpreter for me and my sister (I could understand most of what he said though). Besides having him to decode my fortune slip, I also got my fortune read. As in the one where he read my palm, face and 8 characters. It was pretty interesting for me, as this was the first time I did something like this. My future sounded pretty good from the way he said it (it may be true!). I'm slightly skeptical about the whole fortune-reading thing but it was good fun to be able to tease my sister about hers. 

Look at all the people! It's not even 10 and there are so many people.
For a day out to the temple, I dressed pretty casually. I brought my scarf along to act as a 'mask' to filter out the smoke. I'm pretty sensitive to air quality so if I smell too much incense smoke in a day, I can end up with a sore throat. I'm also wearing the comfy stretch jeggings from uniqlo and converse. It's quite a plain and simple outfit, which enable my bright orange scarf to stand out.

After that, went to eat dim sum at the Star of Canton restaurant in Kowloon area. My mum keeps wanting to go there for the view. From the restaurant, you can see a very nice view of Hong Kong. There're also helicopters that will keep landing at the helipad nearby so it's quite entertaining to watch while you wait for the dim sum. The price of dim sum in this restaurant is rather expensive, but the view, food and service are quite worth it. If you ever decide to go there, you should call and book first to get the table nearest the glass wall to look at the view! If you can eat prawns, you definitely have to try the siew mai there, it's seriously the best I've had so far in my life.
A look at all the dimsum I had(left to right): char siew chee cheong fun, fish porridge, baked char siew bao, har gao(prawn dumpling), sharks' fin dumpling in soup, siew mai(best one), the inside of the char siew bao and prawn chee cheong fun.
After the dim sum feast, we went to walk off all those calories by shopping! We went to the building called China Hong Kong Centre at Tsim Sha Tsui. It's the building after walking past Harbourcity building. This centre has outlet shops, which makes it a good place to do outlet shopping besides the one at Tung Chung. I prefer shopping at the Espirt outlet here instead of the one at Tung Chung because it is more accessible from where I stayed. However, go on to Tung Chung Outlet Mall if you're looking for high-end outlet shops like Coach and sports brands like Puma. The China Hong Kong Centre does not have many outlet places to shop, but it is a less crowded because people usually go there to take the ferry to Macau and China. I bought some clothes from Esprit outlet and also checked out the shoes at the Aldo outlet while there. The place where I actually spent the alot of money at was at The Marketplace, which is a supermarket in Hong Kong. It might sound absurd that I'm doing grocery shopping in Hong Kong, but it is actually pretty cool to check out the stuff there. Usually I grab a couple packets of instant noodles there because flavours like black garlic, tonkotsu soup are unavailable in Singapore. This time round, I found pocky flavours that I've not seen in Singapore like Rare Cheese and Mango, and also Calbee chips. I also tried out the chocolate milk from Kowloon Dairy, and it was super chocolatey~ While queuing to pay, there was this super rude guy who rudely demanded that we let him go ahead first because he just had one item to pay for while we had 2 baskets. It annoys me to find such rude people even when I'm overseas. So with 2 HUGE bags of grocerie, we headed back to the guest house and had a short rest. Later at night, we headed to Mongkok for dinner. 

Dinner! It was ok. My stir fried beef hor fun was tasteless, despite the looks. :(
We were planning to bring my mother's colleague to Ladies' Night Market but because she was feeling unwell, we ditched that plan. Instead, my mum brought her colleague back to rest while my sister and I went to Argyle Center to shop. Argyle Center is like Bugis Street with air-con and many floors. There're little shops all crammed inside and it's quite fun to walk. It is definitely more comfortable than squeezing with the crowds at the Ladies' Night Market. This place is my sister's favourite place to shop. The stuff are pretty okay and you can find some good buys there if you patiently walk into every shop. It was quite late when we went there, so some of the shops were starting to close already. We did a quick walk through to see what's for sale and bought some stuff. I just got myself a headband because I fell in love with it at first sight. Another headband to my growing collection! ^^  We ended up reaching the guest house at almost 11:30pm, just short of the curfew that my mother gave us. Whew! I spent some time repacking my luggage to fit all my new goods in before sleeping at 2am.

Day 4

This is the unexciting and miserable day of my trip. I FELL SICK!! I woke up with a sore throat which got worse throughout the day. Anyway, we headed out to Wan Chai in the morning to check out the wet market. The wet markets in Hong Kong is very different from the wet markets that you see in Singapore, so it's a fun experience. You can see the butcher and his different parts of meat for sale, seafood being kept alive in water for freshest possible quality and food that you can buy to eat. There're also food shops selling food for takeaways. All these stalls are crammed into a few streets and it was quite fun to see what's for sale. Also, because it's open aired, it doesn't smell as bad as the wet market in Singapore I feel. 
Fresh food for sale!
From Wan Chai, we took the tram bus to North Point to check out the dried goods shop and the usual watch shop that my mum likes to visit. Sitting the tram is a cheap mode of transport that still reminds me of the old Hong Kong. It's one of those unique things that you've got to do in Hong Kong but can't experience if you're with a tour group. The ride cost 2.40 HKD for adults, regardless of which stop you get off at. It's a good way to see views of Hong Kong that you would not catch in more urban/tourist areas like Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. So if you want to experience a small fragment of the local life, take the tram! 

At North Point, we went to the watch shop that my mum frequents and I finally bought myself a watch! After that, we walked the locals' market street, which sold things like clothes, wallets and other mish mash of stuff. The prices are cheap compared to popular shopping places, so it's a good place to check out for good deals. You can get dried goods like dried scallops, herbs etc at good prices.  From North Point, we took the MTR to Causeway Bay to check out the shops there. Causeway Bay is a popular shopping area with major shopping malls like SOGO and Times Square. There's also the first Forever 21 in Hong Kong there, and the range of clothes they carry is wider than what you get in Singapore (This is my opinion). As my throat was feeling terrible by then, I rushed everyone to go back to the guest house. It turned out that I was having a fever then so I immediately took some medication and went to sleep. In the afternoon. (Imagine how much time I could have spent on shopping....) I slept. Woke up. Went back to sleep again. It was a continuous cycle of sleeping and waking up until the next day, when I actually could feel that I was better. 

Day 5

With my body more or less recovered, I woke up feeling pretty happy. It was the last day I had in Hong Kong and I was determined to get all my shopping done! I spent most of the day looking for the cosmetics and skincare samples that I wanted. Hong Kong is like my cosmetic paradise. There are more brands available in Hong Kong(because of the bigger market) and the price of Japanese cosmetics are cheaper than those sold in Singapore. Even drugstore brands like Revlon are cheaper, and they sometimes release new products faster in Hong Kong.  With my wallet ready, I scanned every Watsons, Sa Sa, Colormix and Bonjour for cosmetics and skincare products. I usually get my face masks from Colormix,Bonjour or Sa Sa, depending on which shop is selling them cheaper. For example, My Beauty Diary masks were on offer in Sa Sa and Bonjour at the time I went(no they weren't expiring yet), while Colormix was selling the masks at regular price. Sa Sa, Colormix and Bonjour are great places to check out for things like perfumes, cosmetics and skincare. They sell things cheaper than what you'd pay for at the airport, especially Bonjour. Bonjour may look like those convenience stores and you might feel slightly suspicious, but they're selling good stuff. I also like to check the shops out for things like sample sized perfumes and skincare( they have brands like Lancome, Estee Lauder etc), which make great gifts for female friends. In different branches of the shops, the things that can be found differ. Some branches may carry other brands like Canmake and Lavshuca while some don't. It depends on where you go to. I personally like to check out the Watsons and Sa Sa in Central area because I notice they seem to carry more brands than other outlets. However, this time round, I didn't go to Central at all. Instead, I searched the Tsim Sha Tsui area hoping to find the things I wanted. I got myself 2 boxes of face masks from Colormix and an eyeliner from Watsons. I was in quite a rush as my family had to bring our luggage to do in-town check in at Kowloon station before going to find my relatives in Tsuen Wan.

Here's my last OOTD! Here, I'm wearing my new dress that I bought from a shop in Kwai Fung and my usual jacket. Knee high black socks and my black boots helps to elongate my legs and keep me warm. I'm actually very happy that I finally got to try the knee high socks+short dress combo. You can't dress like that in Singapore on most days because it'll be too warm.


In Tsuen Wan, my relatives treated us to more dim sum! Overall the food was pretty good, and I definitely would have eaten more if I was feeling well. The water chestnut cake was pretty good and it was nice to eat something soft when my throat was still slightly sore.


We then went shopping (again) in  Tsuen Wan area. Tsuen Wan is one of those out of the way places but it has at least 3 big malls all located in the same area! It's rather similar to Tampines I guess, but bigger. There's Citywalk, Citywalk 2, Tsuen Wan Plaza and a Aeon Jusco. I finally got a new backpack from Aeon(check out the haul post coming soon) which I'm super excited to use for school. A new backpack was one of those things on my shopping checklist and I was glad that I could find one that I like. I also went to the Sa Sa at Citywalk to use up the vouchers I got from buying some things from another Sa Sa earlier in the day. The vouchers are useful. It gave 10hkd off for min. 50hkd purchase in a receipt, so I got 1+ sgd off for every purchase.

 After more walking around, we took a cab to get to Tsing Yi, which is one of the stations that you can take the airport express from to the airport. If you were thinking that we'd be done shopping by now, you're wrong! I actually zoomed to the Sa Sa at Tsing Yi Maritime Square because I finally saw Canmake! Usually I won't have such a hard time finding this brand but because I went to less Sa Sa outlets this time, it was quite a challenge to find it. I wanted to get their new slim gel eyeliner pen that was just released but there weren't any new stock left. Instead, I got the new liquid liner which was really smudge and oil proof (I've very serious about my testing lol). It was 56 hkd and with my 10hkd discount, I paid 46hkd. Hence I paid less than 10sgd for a good liquid liner!  After all the cosmetic craze, I went to grab some dinner at my family's favourite place: Cafe de Coral! It's one of those franchise food places that serves pretty nice grub at decent prices. After dinner, we killed some time at Starbucks. This might seem random, but can I just give the restroom at Maritime Square a special mention? The restroom is like hotel class-- super clean and expensive looking. I love the fish/ocean theme of the wall collage made with buttons that decorated the walkway to the restrooms. Super cute! 

We finally headed out to the airport at 9:30 pm. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 1.30 am so we had lots of time since we already did our luggage check-in earlier.The airport was having an exhibition for their arts festival if I remember correctly. Took a couple shots of the Chinese Opera props and costumes because they were so cool. Plus you hardly get to see them up close in real life.
And that's all for my Hong Kong trip this time!  I was kind of sad to be leaving Hong Kong so soon, but it has become something of a home for me. It is at once familiar yet strange to me. I can move and go almost anywhere in Hong Kong without having to feel scared or worried, and I love listening to the people talk. I was also slightly sad that I did not get to eat enough cakes from this trip. Haha. Seriously, the cheap cakes at the MTR station shops are also very nice. I hope you've found my post about Hong Kong interesting. If you're planning to go to Hong Kong yourself, maybe this will give you an idea on what to plan for.
Look out for the post on my HK haul that's coming out next! 

Till next time.
Love,
El   xoxo

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