Saturday, 30 November 2013

My Hongky Kong! Part 2 - #Foodie



Such a late part 2, I'm so lazy haha! 

There's nothing better in my opinion then spending time with friends eating! Its a great icebreaker and you get to enjoy some great food as well (hopefully). I spend a lot of time meeting people and had the pleasure of enjoying some amazing food in Hong Kong!


THE CHEAP 'N DIRTY

The food within this category I would say is definitely one for the cheap ones. Foreigners might shy away from this because for this price, it seems kinda dirty and crowded. But that's part of the experience! What is interesting is that the cheap and dirty style foods are still appreciated by everyone pretty much, even the wealthy embrace it here, all that matters is the taste!

STREET FOOD - Here you will see market stall style foods being sold. Usually meat on a stick like fishballs or battered food, its kinda made for walking and eating. Super cheap stuff, like $5 HK Dollars which is about 50p or just over $1 usa!

Various fish/meat balls, seafoody stuff and sausages on a stick!
These street food venders like stay open for real late so it can be a good snack on the way home after clubbing or a late night out.

LOCAL RESTAURANTS - These might seem kinda shoddy but in fact they do fantastic food. I remember in London there was a cheap Chinese restaurant place that was famous for terrible service, but it was cheap so it stayed in business! Kinda like that these local places seem kinda dirty, and actually its now a given that you get some boiling water and rewash your bowls! Oh, and also the menu is in Chinese most of the time, but most people can still speak some kinda English.

I remember having this awesome "Ying Yang" rice dish at a local restaurant, which is a white sauce and a tomato sauce with rice!

A more food court style place where the food is great and the prices are cheap! But yea, wash your bowls...

I've also heard that the old Hong Kong Airport has now used that space to be a massive outdoor marketplace seafood place.


THE MIDDLE GROUND

These are basically less dirty, but a bit more expensive options. More formal, but still fun!

YUM CHA - This directly translates into "Drinking Tea" but is used as a term to describe having lunch. The lunches would consist of many small dishes, mainly dumpling style foods like various prawn dumplings and even the foreigner favorite Cha Tsu Bow (BBQ Pork Bun)!

Yum Cha at a restaurant in Sha Tin... 3 Floors of it!
What makes these different to the Chinese Restaurants in my locals where I live here, is that in Hong Kong they have these women who push trolleys around with food on it, and you basically take what you want and then they stamp your order. You can order things too, but generally most of the food comes to you!

HOT POT - A hot pot is where they have a big pot of boiling water on a stove on the table, and you put the ingredients into it to cook it and eat. There is loads of things from veggies, meat, seafood, and lots of sauces. Some places will give you like a half split hot pot, one side for spicy and the other for non spicy. Its messy, has tons of food, and lots of fun!

One of my favorites because its like even more social then usual! Afterwards you can drink the soup too!


SPECIALTIES - This includes foreign foods, fast foods, and specialist places. Hong Kong has tons of non Chinese foods too, its pretty westernized. There are Maccy Ds, Pizza Hut, and KFC here too, but they have their own ones as well. Cafe De Coral is like their own fast food, but for Chinese food! Super cheap, like £3 for duck and rice which in UK is usually like £5!



The famous Pork Buns (on the right) at Tim Ho Wan at Central! So famous that it got some Michelin Stars for it! We had to queue up for a white to get a seat, and they were great!
Shanghai Food! - Sweet and Sour Soup, Corn Chicken and some Pickled Veggies!
Top left one of my favorites, Dumplings with Soup inside of it! 
One of my favorite places I went to was in the new Hysan Place Mall (yes, they feel like they don't have enough malls) Food Court in Causeway Bay. Its a Japanese fast food brand for steak! Cant believe the price, how fast it was and how amazing the steak was! You get it kinda raw, but still cooking on your hot grill thing, then you mix it all up with some rice and sauce when it cooked enough for you.

Pick yo' Steak at Pepper Lunch!
Let it cook to how you like it... This was about £8!
Nomomomomomomomom! Delicious! 
And of course, there is the 3rd category, which is actually the most uninteresting... the posh rich food. So I wont go into that! 

Food is great... so how are us Asians not so obese? I reckon one of the biggest reasons is that we drink a lot of tea, and walk a lot because the cities are close together and crowded so you don't need a car to get around. Man... all these #Foodies made me full!

Part 3 coming soon!












Monday, 18 November 2013

My Hongky Kong! Part 1 - Up and Up and Away!

I've actually been back in UK for about 2 weeks now, and in comparison to the previous 2 weeks of that in Seoul and Hong Kong, I can definitely say the pace of my living has slowed down dramatically! Hence, me taking 2 weeks to blog about Hong Kong! Either way, it was a very memorable trip to my mother homeland, a special place in my heart!


EAST MET WEST BACK TO EAST!

I am 100% a city person, I cannot imagine living in the countryside, I would be bored outta my mind. That is one of the reasons why I love Hong Kong so much, its the hustle and bustle, the crazy skyscrapers, the insane crowdedness (ok not a huge fan of that tbh), the busy busy attitude, great food, and funny people!

One of the most interesting things I think about Hong Kong is the western influence it had, and still has to this day. Unlike all the other eastern cities that are imitating the west, Hong Kong literally had the western influence when the British ruled over it before the handover in 1997. What was more interesting to me since returning a few times, was that China had actually hardly touched the city, probably not wanting to interfere with the economy. So things like the Chinese Yuan has not even been implemented, and the Hong Kong Dollar still rules strong.

On top of this, you westerners will be happy to hear that most Honkies speak English. I'm certainly happy about this, considering how bad my Cantonese is... in fact grammatically, I'm still thinking in English which is not good. However, in Hong Kong people actually like to mix it up and throw in some English words in their Cantonese sentences, it seems fashionable or something? Maybe that is the western influence.


If your scared of heights in Hong Kong, your gonna have a problem...
Hong Kong  50% of the population is in some form of public housing. Most people live in tiny flats on high rise buildings, at a subsidized cost. This started in the 1950s when the government's makeshift homes for China's immigrants had a fire which destroyed 50,000 people's houses. Since then huge tower blocks has been built all over Hong Kong, and it has become the norm to go upwards towards the sky for more space. This seems the norm not just in Hong Kong, but all over Asia, where in the West its considered that only the wealthy would be living in high rises.

Livin' on up high, on the 22nd floor! What a view, but don't look down!

View from City Airport Shuttle Train, High tower blocks built even so close to the river.

Hong Kong is split into four territories, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Lantau Island and the New Territories. Hong Kong Island is the southern Island, and Lantau Island is the western Island, which holds the airport and Disneyland. Kowloon and New Territories are connected to China geographically, and are north of Hong Kong island.


Kowloon is considered the poorer area of Hong Kong, but its still hugely popular because of the markets, shops and food! The great transportation in Hong Kong also allows for people to travel around quickly, allowing for the crazy action filled days that they so much love to have, but more of that later...

I mainly hung around the Kowloon area this time, Mong Kok (in Chinese pronounce Wong Kok???) and "TST" (Tsim Sha Tsui), but checked out some "CWB" (Causeway Bay) which is near Wan Chai, a more western bar/club area.

Mad signs all over the high streets in Kowloon...

"Sneakers Street" in Mong Kok area famous for getting some cheap kicks!

Converse and Crocs at Sneaker Street

The street signs light up at night!

MALL MANIA!

No doubt in Hong Kong they love their Malls. They also combine their love of high rises and malls and put them together to create the most insane tall shopping malls! In fact, I've sometimes managed to walk around from one subway station going to a mall, end up at another subway station in another mall... and never actually setting foot outside! 

Even tho Mong Kok is within the "poorer" area, doesn't mean that there isn't any crazy malls! Langnam Place having one of the longest escalators going up to the 15th floor, so high up!




Part 2 coming soon...!






Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Seoul's Got Soul Part 3 - The Wedding


This was a great and interesting experience for me. I hadn't been to a Wedding since my brother's and before that I went to a few as a kid. I didn't really have a clue about the formalities and stuff, especially for Koreans. However, the bride and the groom are "western" Asians, so this wasn't going to be as traditional as a typical Korean wedding would be. Fortunately I was with a friend who knows all that stuff so all I had to do was just follow his lead!

Another "interesting" experience for me is actually dressing up all formal. Like in a suit and all that. Its pretty fun to dress up for an occasion every now and then!

I met up with my friend and we quickly made our way to the wedding. We were running a bit late so we made our way towards the building and asked the security guard for the wedding. "22nd Floor" he said (in Korean) and we made our way up there. In the elevator we met another guest for the wedding. Always a good sign that your going in the right direction!

Wrong! The doors opened and quite impressively my friend knew we were at the wrong wedding! I had a quick look at the bride and groom and sure enough they were not my friends lol. How did we manage to find another wedding going on?

We quickly got back down and asked the guard again, and found out that we were in the wrong building! Wow, it must be like the Wedding Street! The correct location was the building next door!

Now I've been told that this was going to be a secular wedding. Many Koreans are Christians but apparently require some kind of religious "exam" to qualify for a traditional wedding. So what I was told was that secular weddings are very practical and very fast!

We arrived a mere 10 minutes late and the bride and groom were already at the front exchanging their vows! We sat down, and witnessed the vows, a song, speeches from the fathers and bowing to the families... and it was over! Quick as a flash, but no quality lost in tradition or class. It was great to see my friend be so happy!

Wedding Location!

The Wedding is Done!

After the wedding ceremony, there were photos with family and friends. I ended up being pushed unexpectedly right to the middle, behind the bride and groom and made my best attempt at not looking too awkward haha. My friend hadn't even met up the newlyweds before and this was their first time meeting... at the photoshoot! 

Once the photos were done, we made our way to the reception in the other room, where there was a full buffet of food waiting for us. The bride and groom also did another formal ceremony in another room, where they dressed in old traditional formal wear and did more bowing to the families and a tea ceremony. Then after that, they went round the reception to thank all the guests for coming.



AFTERPARTY!

After the buffet we headed over to the after party location. For me this was pretty convenient as it was actually close to where I was staying in Sinsa, which is South-Central Seoul, South of the river. This meant me and my friend could chill there a little bit before we left. We got a little lost (getting a reputation), but it was ok as I knew that the bride and groom were going to be understandably late, as they were having the busiest day of their lives, not only doing all the ceremonial stuff, but also looking after both sets of parents and families.

They had rented out the upstairs of a Korean bar, and there were a lot of drinks!

The After Party Location! With MTV Projected on the Screen too! (??) lol

Drinks!

Afterwards we headed to one of the biggest clubs in Seoul called "Octagon". I guess its shaped like that or something? At this point I'm pretty wasted lol so I don't really remember too much... but I guess that's the point? Anyways, it was a fantastic day and I'm really glad I was able to make it. A few of our friends were unable to attend which was a real shame as it was a lot of fun. Congratulations to the NewlyWeds!



GOODBYE SEOUL!

On my last day in Seoul I ended up chilling out and meeting one of the friends I made at the after party. He had an interesting situation with this trip, a great story for the future! It seemed that we were pretty much the only internationals that were still around, as people had to get back to work. So we ended up finding this specialty Bibimbap place, where you can choose your rice, type of ingredient and sauce. Kind of like a Korean version of Subway for Bibimbap!

Bibimbap is basically rice, meat, some veggies, and some spicy bbq kinda type sauce in a [still hot, sizzling] stone pot. You mix up the ingredients thoroughly and eat!

It was really good reminiscing over the night before. I'm really thankful actually that I didn't have to rush off like everyone else and got a chance to relax a little. My next stop was going to be Hong Kong, and my friend here was going to be there next week too, so we made arrangements to meet up there too.

One of the things that I've noticed about Seoul this time was how much more the plastic surgery adverts have come up. It could just be the location I was currently in, but it kinda shocked me how openly aggressive they advertised it. Even in the west, I don't think this would be as aggressively advertised. 

All of these adverts for plastic surgery at Sinsa Station... all on the same E


I took the very convenient shuttle coach back to the airport. I kinda found it hard to find at first, but asked a hotel and they directed me to the right stop. Its always a great idea to ask hotels for help in other countries, they are almost guaranteed to speak English and should have the information your looking for. The trip is like 45 minutes, and has some pretty amazing views of the city and some interesting red sand dunes. Don't really know why its red lol


I had a great time in Seoul, this was my 3rd time and hopefully not the last! Of course going places its always gonna be better when you know people living there. Next stop Hong Kong! My motherland...



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