The South China Sea Holiday- HK & On the Sea, Day 2

Hi world, I am back with my 2nd installment. It has been a tiring week trying to adjust back to the rhythm of life. I didn’t expect my post-vacation syndrome to hit me so badly. Was completely a zombie on Monday. Recovered gradually after that, but whenever a plane flies past our office building, I felt the wanderlust.

Anyway let’s cut the chase and here’s what happened on Day 2.

After breakfast we took the Silka West Hotel shuttle bus service to Ocean Terminal to board Superstar Virgo. Our HK relatives accompanied us all the way to the cruise centre and even assisted us with the check in. The bus driver zipped through the streets at crazy speed cos he had to make certain stops before reaching the terminal within the stipulated time as printed on the shuttle bus schedule. Nevertheless I managed to get some shots of the HK street scene with much difficulty.

All different sorts of businesses clustered together under rustic buildings.

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Condominium in HK

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Ocean Terminal is located at Tsim Sha Tsui, and it is connected to Harbour City Complex. The area is another vibrant and busy shopping district with branded outlets littered everywhere. We had some time to walk around before boarding but honestly I wasn’t interested in the shops because… they are just everywhere.

The check-in for the cruise was one hell of a chaotic. The terminal is located in one corner of Harbour City, instead of being one building by itself. Expect lots of swerving and zigzagging while making your way towards the terminal, made worse by the crowds.

We were told by the staff that we could not bring water on board, so we had to dispose it at the nearby dustbin. Just as we were about to get back into the queue, we got intercepted by this troop of China tourists who are boarding the cruise as a tour group. There were over 200 of them if I am not wrong. Fortunately the staff allowed us to rejoin the queue after cutting off part of the tour group, and luckily the China people were understanding enough. Just then, we saw this Punjab family at the boarding area and they were drinking from their bottles. What the…

Here’s the full view photo of Superstar Virgo, shot a few days later. I didn’t get any discount even though my horoscope is Virgo. Grrr.

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Having boarded Royal Caribbean before, I wasn’t expecting a lot from Superstar Virgo in terms of its facilities and dining because you pay for what you get. The people on board also created altogether another experience as well. Majority were Asians, with Mainland Chinese being the most. But since fate brought us together onto a ship then I guess we share some affinity with each other or something.

Had the mandatory fire drill exercise and then we had our super late lunch/tea break. There was already a crowd of Chinese waiting outside the Mediterranean Buffet (the dining area only opens at certain periods) omg.

Some auspicious coin sculpture at the Piazza. My mum took this photo while we were queuing up to book shore excursions at the Tour Desk. The Tour Desk, Reception and Piazza are all located on the same deck. .

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The programme guide which lists the performances and activities on board for the day. There are also mahjong tables and tiles for rental for the mahjong addicts. Luckily my dad had no kaki with him.

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There are 2 options for free-of-charge dinner, namely at Mediterranean Buffet and Genting Restaurant. We settled our dinner at Genting, which gives passengers the choice of either Western or Chinese. The dining area is also divided up depending on which arrangement you choose so you just head to your table number given to you outside the restaurant.

We chose Chinese food (cos the Worst Travelling Partner refused to try Western food) and only the chicken broth soup was memorable. Dishes are served quickly, but no way there would be waiters assigned to your table who will shout “time for yummy yummy” or ask if you want bread while holding a bread basket (Wow it has been more than a year and I still can remember them!).

For the fitness junkie, there are yoga classes on board. And they are held at the Galaxy of Stars, which is actually a bar. *Inserts Okay Face meme*. The sea was rough that day which made the ship rocky (you can even feel it while walking), so fortunately there weren’t any crazy balancing poses.

And finally (I guess most people are bored now so I am ending soon) here’s our stateroom. My aunt chose the cheapest room so here’s what we got. The interior designer probably got a mural of the sea painted to compensate for the lack of a proper seaview.

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Of course I took the upper bunk. No way my parents could have climbed up the ladder. Luckily I didn’t fall off the bed while sleeping. In fact I had a good night’s sleep cos of the wave movement and we were pretty tired from yesterday’s walking and today’s adjustment to yet another environment.

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Yeah that’s it for Day 2. I apologise for the lack of photos because the day has been overwhelming and I wasn’t in the mood to snap photos because I had to first familiarise myself with everything foreign before helping the old folks.

Part 3 coming soon~

The South China Sea Holiday- Hong Kong Day 1

Hello world I am back! Thank god for the long weekend because I am not ready to work. I am still experiencing some fatigue because of the rushed itinerary and we traveled by air, land, sea and foot in a span of 6 days. It was a fun trip apart from some minor mishaps caused by the Worst Travelling Companion, which I shan’t bitch about it here because it is inappropriate to do so.

Anyway here are the day 1 highlights:

Mandatory view-from-airplane photo. Luckily for us typhoon Chan-hom already left Hongkong so we had a safe holiday.

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Touched down in Hongkong after a 3.5 hour flight. Our HK relatives fetched us from the airport. In fact they were the ones who brought us around during our 2 night stay here. Anyway I wasn’t informed of what they planned for us because I know nuts about Cantonese and I don’t want to annoy them by constantly asking for the itinerary, so you can safely say that I was kept in suspense the whole time.

Presenting to you the Octopus card, the near equivalent to Singapore’s EZ-link card with a lot more functions. Got them at the airport. We commuted in all sorts of HK public transport.

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Boarded the bus to Citygate Outlet for our first stop and 2nd lunch.  Fortunately the bus was equipped with a luggage compartment if not it would really be a hassle. Yes we brought our luggage there instead of checking into the hotel first because our first stop is located nearer (relatively) to the airport.

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Lunched at Food Republic. Initially I wasn’t looking forward to it because food courts are also everywhere in Singapore and I wanted authentic street food. Some of the food court stalls are commonly seen too- Pepper Lunch, Singapore Chicken Rice etc. Settled for this 煎饼 (Fried Crepe) which surprisingly tasted good, apart from the salty 菜脯 (preserved radish).Oh no I forgot the cost already.

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Afterwards we head to Ngong Ping. 2 of our relatives kindly volunteered to stay behind to take care of our barang (and partly because they are getting on age and don’t fancy walking a lot). Anyway, Ngong Ping 360 supposedly one of the “must see” tourist attractions and is located at Lantau Island, which I didn’t know it existed until I visited. The concept behind NP360 is to strike a balance between the nature and the local lifestyle of Lantau.

Took the cable car from Tung Chung Terminal whereby you can see all the breathtaking views of the HK mountains and cityscape. The weather was a welcome change from the humid SG and HK weather. The trip lasts about 20 mins and cable car services close at 7pm.

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We first entered Ngong Ping Village which is a culturally themed village. Attractions include this Action Movie theatre, many souvenir shops and international eateries like Subway, all housed in traditional Chinese architecture. It is very touristy I would say. Not very worth to devote a large amount of your time there.

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On the way to Po Lin Monastery to see the world’s largest Buddha statue. You can even see it during the cable car ride. IMG_1911

Ran into unexpected tourist attractions! I have never seen cows loitering in tourist populated areas. It was damn random. They dont give a damn about people and cameras as long as there is grass for them, so they most probably won’t kick you away unless you piss them off. Just beware of their shit though. There are also large stray dogs around.  2015-07-11 16.55.22

Supposedly one of the more “authentic” local style eateries. The whole setting reminded me of the drink shops at Pulau Ubin.

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At the bottom of the Tian Tan Buddha attraction. The statue looks near to the camera, but there is actually a long flight of stairs blocked by the incense burner.

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This is the view you get after climbing 268 steps! The wind was so good and of course we were reluctant to go down.

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The sunset on our way down.IMG_1949

The closing time for most attractions in Ngong Ping close at 6pm, and the security guard will just shut the gate even though many people are still inside. You have been warned. Overall I would say that the place is worth a visit provided if you are into Chinese temples, a nature lover, or wish to find your inner harmony or something (by avoiding the touristy areas). To get to Ngong Ping, we took Bus S1 from the airport to Tung Chung Terminal, and the Ngong Ping cable car terminal is just nearby. Tickets cost HKD 165 for a round trip. On a side note, Citygate Outlet is damn famous for outlet shopping for those who are interested.

Headed to our hotel next via MTR. The hotel we booked is called Silka West Kowloon Hotel, located at Tai Kok Tsui. Nearest MTR station is Olympic. I will do a more detailed review of it in the subsequent posts because this post is getting long (and people are losing attention yes?). Anyway, the train looks empty but it got crowded when it reached the Disneyland interchange.

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Had a late dinner at a eatery selling zhi-char a few streets away from our hotel. I forgot the name of the place because we merely wanted to settle dinner. After which we went to Argyle Centre at Mongkok for shopping. It’s quite late at night but it is when Mongkok comes alive.

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SASA! Sasa and Bonjour are one of the major cosmetics/drugstore players in HK and they are everywhere. Again I will post up a more details about shopping in a separate post.

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It was midnight when we got back to our hotel. Our HK relatives went home first and we got lost woops. It is damn hard to orientate yourself at night especially when you are in foreign land and Tai Kok Tsui is in an outskirt location.

Okay till next time!

Latest Food Hunts/Haul

Just wanted to share my latest food haul/hunts. Many people are going to scream at me that kids in Africa are starving etc etc but calm down everyone, I do finish my food because I am a broke person.

Cold Storage organised a Shizuoka Food Fair at Plaza Singapura from 19 to 28 June. I didn’t know about it until I passed by the atrium. Apart from Shizuoka produce there were other commonly seen titbits like Calbee potato sticks, Matcha Kit Kat etc, condiments and Ramune soda. Anyway here is my 1st haul (I went twice). I forgot the pricing but the goodies are made available at all the Cold Storages islandwide after the event.

-Wasabi Crackers: Not advisable to stuff the whole cracker into your mouth because you will be gagged by wasabi. But as a wasabi fan I love it.

-Bourbon Japanese snacks: Bought it numerous times already. I became a convert after my module mate introduced them.

-Assorted Chocolate: Haven’t tried all them but they are good so far.

-That waffle looking bag of chips: Taste was forgettable. Woops.

-Green tea Potato Chips: I haven’t tried them yet. Woops.

-Bonito and Tamago Furikake: Ditto

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My 2nd Haul got dispersed so I collaged them:

-Seaweed: Haven’t tried them but they don’t come in the typical sheet form so it’s worth a try.

-Grape and Peach Candy: Was an impulse buy because I was falling short the limit of my $20 Cold Storage voucher. Haven’t tried it yet either.

-Potato soup: It looks unique. Where else can you find readily consumed soup in a yoghurt-like packaging with a straw? Anyway I bought potato flavour which taste great.

-Bitter Chocolate: I already dismembered the chocolate bar for easier consumption. It isn’t very bitter to be honest but still good.

-And bought my 3rd helping of Wasabi Crackers

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Freshly cooked Japanese street food were available at the fair too and got sold fast. The croquette was sibeh salty because the counter staff asked if I wanted some sauce to go with the croquette and I said yes. All the mochi/daifuku are red bean filling but they are satisfying.

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Chanced upon Geladiso near my workplace and had dessert there after lunch. Tried Cherry Wine which was nice by itself, but the flavour got completely masked by the mountain of toppings. I felt I was eating toppings than the gelato itself. Anyway the shop also sells cold pressed apple/orange juice which taste damn sweet. Other than that… I see that it has potential and maybe I should give it a second chance sometime soon.20150623_134458-1

YH posted a photo of a jar cake from Stay Home Mum Cafe and I got tempted by its pretty packaging. Bought the Japanese style Strawberry Shortcake and Matcha Tiramisu on one fine weekend. The Shortcake was awesome but Matcha Tiramisu was a bit… bland.

Latest purchase is Blueberry Cheesecake, yet to try. I visited around 4pm and most of the flavours were sold out already. Anyway I have decided to set a goal for myself which is to try every flavour on their shelf. The cafe also encourages a environmental-friendly mindset by launching a jar-recycling project, which is quite useful cos I don’t think I would need so many jars at home.

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Last Friday’s free lunch, ordered from Makisan. Now sushi doesn’t come in seaweed wrap. The crepe wrap was a bit flimsy but it was innovative. The order took quite a while to arrive cos it was a big one and we were happy to have a Makisan outlet near the office. Anyway the delivery guy was waiting downstairs for us to collect the food cos he couldn’t go up to the office. I ended up carrying 12 boxes of sushi, 4 bowls of salad+ some other boxes of sushi in another bag (lost count), coupled with a mountain of utensils/condiments and drinks. He was quite nice to help me reduce the number of carriers though.

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2 weeks ago Friday’s lunch. I ate the whole platter with soy sauce and wasabi can you believe it?!! This is heaven.

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Yesterday’s dinner: Tori-q and Wow Tako because the mum didn’t cook. Accompanied her and my aunt to shop and change their phones. Now my phone is older than theirs pfft. Both aren’t exactly new but still one of the popular Japanese street food players.

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My goodness that was a hell lot of food. My church friend whom I haven’t met for quite a while said that I put on some weight but it happened that I was wearing a sleeveless top that day. I still redeem myself by dancing and yoga-ing as usual.

In other non-food news… I had my first ever meeting with a client vendor because they wanted to see how their menu will be reflected on our company’s website. Their office location was rather out-of-the-way and I ended up cabbing there alone because my colleague who was supposedly going with me was on urgent leave. They are very serious about the partnership (because they are a quite a big player) so I also felt the stress. Still it was quite a good learning opportunity.

Will be going to Hong Kong from the 11th to 16th with the parents and my language-barrier relatives from my father’s side. My aunt bought the wrong package whereby the cruise (Superstar Virgo) departs from Hong Kong so we have to fly there one day earlier. What the Fudge. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the trip will be smooth and I will just mind my parents’ business because my aunt is the worst travelling companion ever (opinions are subjective but this is my opinion). Well I gonna miss work a little but I will compensate by working harder when I get back (and I think I have been working hard for the past week and will continue to do so this week).

Lastly I have planned out my timetable for next semester. The modules offered suck and so I am left with limited choices. HY4230 is compulsory; not that I am interested anyway. I have never taken any southeast asian history so I am pretty screwed. And no, I am not going to do any thesis or independent study. Maybe I should go work part time to get some working experience on my free days because the degree is getting me NOWHERE (in history-related or any editorial jobs). #angst

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PS. I just realised most of my hunts/haul are Japanese food. Surprised not surprised.