Saturday, 23 December 2017

The Motherland, Hong Kong

So yes, its Christmas Eve-Eve and I know my posts have been pretty inconsistent. Hopefully I will catch up to present day time by the new year. I have been taking a bit of a break from my weekly posts, I have been job hunting and continuing to code, learning some new stuff, and redoing some old.


So after my amazing trip to Seoul, I landed back in Hong Kong. Awaiting me would be a family gathering from my mom's side, and my cousin's wedding from my dad's. Busy is not a word that I hear that much, and I'm guessing its due to the fact that its ingrained in every citizen living in Hong Kong, that they do not know what the opposite of it is.

The business hub from near Admiralty station
High rise buildings are so common here that it actually makes me think that any building that has less then 3 floors is considered 'odd'.Nearly all buildings will skip the unlucky floor 4, which in Chinese sounds similar to 'death', and on the flip side the 8th floor will be crazy expensive to buy as it sounds like 'wealth'. Peh! Those crazy easterners, we certainly don't do silly shit like that over here, 7 reasons to be logical and not fall into those traps, especially if its Friday the 13th!

High rise estates are common here, better not be afraid of heights!
As of googling this now and pretending to be super informed, Hong Kong is the 5th most densely populated city per square mile. Arriving here its not difficult to see why. Estate high rises are so prominent here, just taking the bus from the amazing Hong Kong airport you pass so many tall but identical buildings, up seems to be the main strategy.

Pacific Place mall, a much more high end expensive shopping area

Could this be the poshest cinema in Hong Kong?

Mira Place in Tsim Sha Tsui jazzing up its mall with a Christmas promotion

Looks like Mr Doodle himself?
Welcome to Times Square, Hong Kong version

One of the longest flat-screen TV's I've ever seen
These great sky towers are not just for [super expensive] housing, they even apply to Hong Kong's great shopping malls which can easily have 10+ floors. Grand swanky shopping malls are pretty common in Asia, but they all got nuttin' on Hong Kong. Its common for me to walk around a mall, get confused about what floor I'm on, then a while later I'm actually at another mall and metro station without even realising it!

Your wireless touch metro card can also be used to buy items as well as for travelling around


The food here is awesome, and super cheap! So much so that actually eating out is cheaper then buying food to cook at home. But in Asia I find that this is a common theme. A common place that we'd go to is called Cafe' de Coral which is a franchised fast food chain for Chinese food. In Chinese its called (大家樂) is "everyone happy" which totally isn't the english translation lol. Its cheap, quick, tasty and efficient, all the things Hong Kong people want in their busy lives!

£4 duck rise with veggies and milk ice tea at Cafe de Coral - I am happy ::P

"Yum Cha" is well known traditional lunchtime Chinese food, where you choose dumplings and/or other mostly steamed delicacies off trolleys that are being pushed around by servers.

Typical dim sum you would get at a 'Yum Cha'. Xiao Long Bao has soup inside of it!

You could also try the "Da Bino" which is a hotpot of water that keeps boiling as you put ingredients in such as meat, seafood, veggies and then top the night off with some noodles with the amazing broth. Its messy, steamy and takes ages, which means great socializing!

Hotpots sometimes comes with two, one being a super spicy red broth, and the other one normal
There are tons of western foods here if your not that adventurous, all the familiar big names are here from MacDonalds to Starbucks will keep the culture shock down. Every mall has huge food courts with a wide variety of things to choose from.

3 Meat Dumpling Soup, cheapest Michelin food ever? Service certainly made it seem so!
I went to check out a Michalin star dumpling place, which was only £5! It was a special 3 meat dumpling noodle place which was delicious. For that price, its no surprise that the service was pretty rude, enough to shock any westerner that isn't used to it!


If there are any aspiring travellers apprehensive about going to Asia, I would say that Hong Kong is a great gateway to wean your way into the culture. Of course it being a British colony since the handover in 1997, it has a lot of western influences which make it an inviting place to visit.

When I pointed out the spelling mistake to the owner he replied "Ahhh, my wife... always doing things half assed!!" xD
Nothing like good ol' sexism to give that western feel!
English is prevalent for all road signs and metro. The metro is super efficient, changing lines has been smartly designed so that its across the platform. I wouldn't say that everyone can speak it, but most can, and if not they're pretty embracing about it.

Amazing views from a Skytop Bar in Wanchai

Upon meeting my friend, she had told that there are huge concerns and tensions of Hong Kong people about China's political influence of integration into their society. They see themselves as Hong Kong people and want to distance themselves from being the 'same' Chinese as communist China. It is the seemingly strange attitude of a colony that did not want to be returned back to its owners.

Incredible evening way high up in the skies!

Hong Kong's western influence business mindset has led it to prosper and thrive. I look out at the skyline and see how this city embraces its international partners, and also create its own Chinese culture with it.

This picture is confusing, makes me think its upside down for some reason!

With these great memories, I always find myself rather unsure about my connection to my motherland. On one hand I am of Hong Kong Chinese decent, but my British born personality makes me not quite feel at home. I would love to try to live in Hong Kong one day, but there is a side of me that makes me think that I'm too laid back for the hardcore working culture.

Spongebob Squarepants Dim Sum? Cant be good lol...

Until next time, cant wait!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

A Week in Seoul

I have been lacking in the blog posts lately, sorry... just haven't found the time. I have been attending family events, meeting old friends, making new ones and also trying to keep the coding work up as well. But in all honesty it has mostly stemmed from feeling rather overwhelmed with the amount of things to cover since there has been so much going on!

First of all, there's nothing better then visiting somewhere when you have an enthusiastic host that is also one of your best friends. It makes all the difference when they know all the good local places, but also knows what you like and adjusts to that as well.

I had a fantastic week, and it was very packed. I thought it would be better to list em out in case any of you guys were thinking of visiting as well someday;

View from Bukhansan Peak


Itaewon - Is close to where the American army base is situated, so since then it has been built up more catered towards foreigners. There is a wide variety of shops, bars and restaurants to choose from, mostly Korean attempts at foreign foods.

I went to one called South Side, an American bar with a rooftop view. Strangely enough we weren't really in the south! Unfortunately it was too cold so it wasn't officially open at the time. When going drinking bars will typically give out unlimited free snacks like nuts or crisps, and encourage customers to eat as to not get drunk too quickly.

Gangnam - The most famous area and now more internationally recognized since Psy's song. Its a place that never really sleeps, and has a lot of bars, clubs, shops, and great places to eat all throughout day and night.

Karaoke bar in Gangnam

There are also some very interesting places in Gangnam. A favourite hangout spot for us is Rainbow, a hippy shisha bar. It sounds weird to say, but that's why we love it. A Korean hippy shisha bar in Gangnam! Its a relaxing place to hang out and drink, and a unique experience!

Jandari-ro (nearest station Hapjeong) - Up and coming location, quieter version of Gangnam. Maybe the 'older', more relaxed style place so I've been told. Here we saw the typical restaurants,
shops, arcades and karaoke bars, but we found this beauty... a gaming bar!


Korean food is one of my favourites, but its not for everyone. For one thing most of the dishes will be spicy, so be aware! Most of the dishes will come with sides, which will be small plates of pickled vegetables, and of course the world famous kimchi.

Korean BBQ - This is classic first meal that a Korean would typically take his visiting friend to. You will be given raw beef, belly pork, or prawns to cook on a grill on a custom table. The idea is to get some meat with chilli paste sauce and wrap it in a lettuce leaf to eat. With all the sides like garlic, kimchi and rice, you can mix and match how you please!

The BBQ grill. This version has space for an omelette to fry on the outside.

Gingseng Chicken Broth - Another common food that Koreans like is their broths in a hot claypot. Most of the time this will come with a small bowl of rice to eat it with, as well as the sides. I've known my Korean friend a long time now, and in all this time I never tried this before! This amazing broth is a small whole chicken with rice inside it! The broth has gingseng, garlic and chestnuts as well as other herbs... awesome! The restaurant was pretty traditional, meaning sitting down style.

Japanese Ramen - Not traditional Korean, but we felt like some ramen and my friend knew this incredible Japanese ramen place in Gangnam! Great food to help cure my hangover!

Vatos, Itaewon - After meeting a developer in Itaewon, he took me to a Mexican taco place! It had some cool beers that I'd never heard of and tacos. In UK we don't eat these that often, so its hard to compare it, but for me it was great!

Manimal Steakhouse, Itaewon - This was an American themed slow cooked meat restaurant in Itaewon! There was so much meat that it would make Atkins dieters proud! 


Korea has a lot of amazing sights, and just the old school traditional but also on the flip side some really amazing futuristic locations! Something for everyone.

Cat Comic Cafe (Jamsil) - Gonna start off a bit weird. In Korea, cafe's are all the rage! Next to restaurants and shops, they're probably most common business! Of course you will see Starbucks and The Coffee Bean franchises around, but there are a ton of small cosy hipster coffee places too! My friend found an amazing cat cafe which specialised in having a huge collection of comics for you to read. It was so relaxing and fun to chill and have the cats wandering around doing that they do, which I'm sure is not caring what your doing!

You would go grab a comic book and chill in the booths. A cat might choose you when wandering around. 

Steam Room Bath Houses - In and around Seoul there are huge stream houses which basically have different varieties of sauna rooms on the top floor. These range from salt, clay, menthel, ice cold and increased oxygen rooms. The other floors contain other things such as baths, places to sleep or relax to read or whatever, a place to eat, table tennis and even a gym. You can spend up to 12 hours in there at one time, even overnight!

Amazing view from an overpass on the way from the Korean bath house

Gyeongbokgung Palace - Close to where I had the chicken broth, we went to check out the palace. Unfortunately we got there too late at like 4pm and it was closed to go inside. The view is still amazing though, and it was really contrasting to look one direction at this super traditional building and turn the other way to see Seoul's huge futuristic skyscrapers.

Koreans has made it a trend to dress up in traditional costumes when visiting the palace

Insadong-gil (Anguk) - This trendy area is touristy but has a cool outdoor hipster mall with a lot of unique shops. It spirals all the way but for you to check out the shops and the view

Outdoor game stall?

Cheonggyecheon Stream - This man made 10km stream cuts through the heart of Seoul is a great place to walk. At the time there was a lantern festival happening so there was cool displays of cartoon characters

Dongdaemun History and Culture Park - This amazing curvy building was designed by the same architect  (Zaha Hadid) that did the London Olympic swimming pool. It replaced the old Dongdaemun staduim. In fact one of the stadium lights is still left here.

Hiking in Bukhansan Mountain - If your up for a bit of a hike, you can try and reach the top which is 822m high. With their hobbies, Koreans are extremely serious meaning that they are totally over the top in kitting themselves out. Once you reach the top, you have an amazing view of Seoul. Just be aware that it gets quite rocky so trainers and heels could struggle

Korean flag posted at the top, 880 meters up!

Overall I had an awesome time, my friend really showed me why he loves Seoul so much, and I cant deny that its an amazing place! Hopefully if your thinking of going you will check out some of these places.