Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hong Kong 19 - 26 December 2009

Hotel: Mingle On The Wing

So I'm back to Hong Kong again.  Because I stayed in Mingle By The Park the other time, I thought it would be fun to stay in another branch of Mingle Place boutique hotel. This time, I chose the branch is Sheung Wan.  Booked the room from again.  Got a small one coz that's the only room was quite cozy and comfortable.
The techy lights, aircon control, do not disturb and please make up room buttons are really cool.  No wonder this is known as the tech-hotel.
I find it fascinating to have a Skype phone in the room.  Actually, this is the first hotel I've ever stayed in that has a Skype phone.  The strength of the free wifi was also pretty strong.  Being a boutique hotel, I think they did well by providing more toiletries than other boutique hotels I used to stay in.
The first trip on my no-itinerary itinerary was to make my way to Avenue of Stars to get my cuttlefish.  As usual, there was a queue.  I was standing in the freezing harbour breeze waiting for my turn to get a piece of the nice smelling cuttlefish.  I even stole some time to take pictures of the process.  The guy took a fresh piece of cuttlefish and place it inside the flat laundry iron looking thing to press the water out. Once it's dried, he proceeded to pass it through another machine that seems to flatten and break up the meat.  Cost me HKD20 for one piece but it was worth the price and the wait.
Met up with a friend to have some spicy noodles.   After that, we went for herbal tea.  I think it's a Hong Kong culture to have a warm cup of herbal tea after every meal. Once my friend left me to get back to work, I went for my dessert.  I love mangoes so naturally, I chose something with magoes in it.  Needless to say, it's yummy!
The Christmas decos around Nathan Road is quite nice.  Not sure if it was my camera or the decos are really purple-ish.
Woke up really early the next day for my Lantau Island trip.  Instead of taking the ferry like most would, my first trip to Lantau Island was via the MTR and bus!  Took the train to Tung Chung station and hopped onto Bus no. 23 which brings me to Ngong Ping where the Giant Buddha is.
The stairs at the Giant Buddha reminded me of the steps at Batu Caves. It's ALOT!!!  I had the feeling that I was definitely going to have muscle aches the next day.  Then again, the view and the whether was splendid for all these slow climbing.
The vegetarian food at the little canteen near the temple is yummy.  Didn't take the vegetarian package that includes entrance fees to see the relics though.  The soya bean curd we had at the base of the Giant Buddha was delicious.  It's really soft...not forgetting to mention that the bean curd is made using spring water.
Inside Po Lin Monastry, I saw huge artifects.  All the pictures below are actually gigantic.
Someone told me that if one touches the beard/whiskers (or whatever you call it) of these stone dragons, one will live a longer life.  No wonder a certain part of the stone dragon is so shiny.
After visiting the temple, we proceeded to walk to the Wisdom Path.  If you see from the top, you will realise that those pillars actually form an infinity sign.  The words on the wooden pillars were carvings of the Heart Sutra.
Once we had enough fresh air from up there, we decided to head downwards.  From Ngong Ping, we took Bus No. 21 to Tai O.  Tai O is a small fishing village that has lots of elderly staying there. I call that the little old folks home.  Everything on the little island is elderly friendly.  There was a tiny museum near the entrance of the island.  It's not very conspicious and entry is free.
Because it's a fishing village, it's hard not to see dried seafood products around the island.  If you are one who likes to buy dried products, it's cheaper here compared to Sheung Wan.  Oh, I saw someone prawning....
Saw some interesting sights whereby sellers are hanging fishes to dry and even egg yolk!!!  Let me explain the reason behind the egg yolk sun-tanning.  It is said that the fishermen uses egg white to fish.  And they did it by smearing the egg white on their fishing net to attract the fishes.  So all that is left behind is actually the egg yolk.  Too wasteful to throw away so residents decided to dry the yolks and use it as preserved food.  The houses on the island are surprisingly small and short.  Oh look at the's so green and fresh!
Out of no where, there is this queue outside of what looks like a workshop.  Two old men were standing under the shelter making glutinous rice cakes.  There are 2 flavors - red bean and peanut.  I ordered the peanut one.  Looks like a huge Hainan cake cum tutu cake.  The grandpa will ask if you are taking out or eating immediately.  Coz if you are taking out, he will put more flour.  As we walk further, I saw some really interesting sights that I wouldn't have been able to see in Singapore.
This is the place where prawn paste gets fermented.  You can actually smell it from a distance.  Come to think of it, the first part where all the shrimps were put into the blue containers to ferment was quite unclean.  I can even see flies (lots of them) inside the container resting on the fermenting prawn paste.
More interesting sights.  Notice the PCCW stand?  That's actually for the elderly living in the island.  The 2 buttons are for emergency and police.  And the metal container used for burning incense paper was actually part of a washing machine.
I find some of the old houses quite fascinating as well.  The wall pictures I found along a stretched of wall are actually the bible in pictorial style.
The next day started with a visit to the Hong Kong Museum of History.  The first part of the museum shows Hong Kong during stone age time.  Don't quite understand what is going on though.  But as I proceed further, olden HK days start to show.  The life size exhibits depicted the lives of how people in HK used to live.
No trip to HK would be complete without visiting this famous dessert place.  Don't worry about it's location because they have branches all over the place.  In Tsim Sha Tsui alone, I actually come across one outlet every corner I turn into!  I tried the curry fishball cuttlefish thingie as well as my mango sago.
Towards the evening, we noticed that there was a food fair around.  Entrance fee is HK$10 and we get to sample small portion of quite a lot of food in there.  Of course, I also paid to get a bigger portion.  The gooey thing inside the yellow bowl was crocodile meat.  Didn't like it at all.
As I was wondering around, I saw an old man sitting in the middle of no where.  Upon checking out, I realized that he was actually drawing.  And I must say, his drawing is fantastic!  When it was time to leave, I hopped onto a Ting Ting (tram) and tap my octopus card.  HK$2 was deducted....that was really cheap!
Woke up rather early the next day because I am going to Mawan Island.  What's in Ma Wan that got me so excited, you might ask.  Well, as I was in the MTR one day, I saw a sign that says Visit Noah's Ask, Hong Kong's latest attraction.  I went back to my hotel and googled and found the way to get there.  From Central Pier 2, I'm suppose to take a ferry to Ma Wan island.  The ferry price was only HK$2.  Very cheap!  As the ferry was nearing the island, I could see a huge ark docked at the side of the beach.  It was a magnificent sight!  The slow walk from the pier to the ark was also very serene and enjoyable.
And we are here.  There are a few type of tickets to choose from.  Being my first time there, I selected the one that allowed me to enter all exhibits.  Abit wasted coz I didn't have time to visit all and also, some are for groups as well as kids.
After visiting all the exhibits, I went upstairs and notice that the animals (they are fake) coming out of the ark were dressed up for Christmas!  How cute is that?
Time to leave!  For those who are interested, they do have hotels where the ark is.  Staying there would also give you the opportunity and time to visit the park directly opposite the ark.  I didn't have time to do so because I practically watched every performance they had.
My last day in HK was a mixed filled with love.  As I finished my fishball noodles in Wanchai, I pass by this herbal tea shop right next to the Wanchai MTR exit.  I went in to have my herbal jelly and when I was about to leave, the aunty working inside the shop gave me a fluffy pen.  She then wished me Merry Christmas as I made my way out.  Had my last curry fishball at the airport before I flew off......sob sob...the curry fishballs here in Singapore is so different.  Doesn't taste as nice!
It was quite foggy so my plane had to stop in the middle of no where and we had to hop onto the bus to be transferred to where the plane is.  We were stuck for quite a while sitting in there and the pilot was explaining that due to the fog, they only allowed one lane to be open.  So all the planes had to queue.  To make things worst, the pilot explained that those who are landing are in a more dangerous situation, so we had to let them land first before we taxi and take off.
It was another memorable trip and I definitely look forward to more HK trips in the near future!

Noah's Ark
33 Pak Yan Road, Ma Wan, New Territories, Hong Kong
General Hotline (852) 3411 8888 | General Fax (852) 3411 8889 | Email  

More pictures available here

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bangkok 9 - 14 July 2009

Hotel: Bangkok City Inn

The hotel we stayed in is conveniently located within walking distance to Erawan Temple, World Trade Centre and train station.  There's even a cheap massage place within 2 mins walk from the hotel.  We paid only S$45 per room per night.  Breakfast is normal and filling but hey, for that can't ask for too much.  I thought that it is a very good bargain!  Arrival at the airport was easy though I must say the immigration queue was long.  For the moment, I thought the whole world has arrived in Bangkok!

Our first stop was the Safari World. I don't normally take pictures of the toilet...ok, sometimes I do if the toilet looks out of the ordinary.  The theme looks really "nature".
When you visit any zoos, shows are a must.  The seals are so cute...I felt like I want to bring one home.  The dances were hilarious!  They actually dance with human!
We spent a LONG time in the bird feeding area.  With food in your hand, the birds will come to you automatically.  They are a really hungry lot...and super cute too!  Best of all, they are so focused on the food, fear of human became their last priority.
The next show we went to was the Beluga whale performance.  The whales are big but their actions are nimble.  I love how they allow the trainers to stroke their heads just like how a puppy dog would.  We were very entertained by their performance on the whole. 
Being a zoo, there are also other animals roaming around.  The baby elephants were seen roaming around with their handlers for pictures to be taken.  All photos can be purchased at the souvenir shop near the entrance.  There is a section of the safari that teaches you about ostrich.  No real adult ostrich in there except for hibernating eggs and hatching baby ostriches.

Another highlight of the safari is feeding the giraffes.  This is where you can come up close and personal to the long necked friends.  They don't bite, they are only interested in the leaves you are holding in your hands!
To enter the open zoo, we boarded a bus.  This is basically to prevent us from being seen as food to the animals roaming in there.  Animals were moving around in herds of their own kinds.  The park was quite big and the buses was moving at snail's speed so you have the time to take pictures.
For dinner, I brought my friends to Cabbages & Condoms Restaurant. They serve authentic Thai cuisine at reasonable price.  Chef recommendation will be the roast chicken.  It is yummy but because I am a big fan of Tom Yam Soup, we had to order that...and oh, my favorite kang kong too!

This restaurant was started by The Population and Community Development Assosiation [PDA]of Thailand.  It is a non-governmental organisation existed to created AIDS awareness while promoting family planning.  Condoms were available readily around the restaurant.  Even pretty flowers were made of condoms!

On our trip to the Grand Palace, we decided to take their public transport instead.  We queued like every one else at the bus stop.  It takes us only B14 for the 30 mins journey.  Very worth it. Upon reaching, we realised that the Grand Palace was closed in the morning for some Buddhist function and will only be opened from 12pm onwards.  A kind soul who looked like a tourguide approached us and explained that we can actually hop onto a Tuk Tuk and wander around the area (there are quite a number of temples we can visit).  He hailed a tuk tuk for us and got us a good deal of B40 for a 2 hour ride around.  The tuk tuk driver even stayed with us while we walked around the various temples.
We were told that the Jade Buddha is a must go.  They actually change attire for the Buddha in accordance to the seasons.  After the 2 hours tour of temples and jewel showroom, we headed back to Grand Palace and caught sight of some re-touching work.  Looks like a tough job re-touching the paintings on the wall.  I wouldn't be able to do it.
Bangkok has always been a country I love visiting so stay tune for more BKK trips...there will be more to come :)

More photos available here

Safari World: 99 Panyaintra Road, Samwatawantok, Klongsamwa, Bangkok , 10510
THAILAND.  Tel : ( 662 ) 9144100-19, 5181000-19 Fax : ( 662 ) 5181022, 5181033, 9142959.
E-mail :

Cabbages & Condoms Restaurant: 6 Sukhumvit 12, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110. Tel: 66 2229 4611 ext. 266 (Thai), 331 (Eng). Fax: 66 2229 4632. Email:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hong Kong 30 January 2008 - 3 February 2009

Hotel: Mingle By The Park

This is my first trip to Hong Kong.  Guess what?  I flew there all alone!  Knowing that Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city, I didn't think I will have much problems moving around.  And I was right.  I flew in via Cathay Pacific.  Being my first trip on top of being alone, I try to play safe. Before we flew, I saw the worker refueling the plane.  Food was the plane was good!  The shrimps were yummy!!! Upon reaching HKIA, I took the Airport Express to Hong Kong station.  Do note that the cost of single journey  is HK$100.  So please remember to top up your Octopus card.
I had always had a secret love for boutique hotels.  Not that I don't like big hotels but I felt that a boutique hotel is usually small, cheap, comes with free wifi and located very very near public transport.  For this trip, I chose Mingle By the Park (booked from  I like how it is so close to Wanchai MTR...within walking distance.  The interior of the hotel is also quite unique.  They tried to replicate the half-century-old vintage 1960's "balcony" style "Tong Lau" residential building.  The bed is just enough for one person.  The room is too small to squeeze in another bed.
 As I settled in, I had some time to walk around the area where I stay.  For lunch, I went to 新豐記魚蛋牛什大王 for my fishball noodles.  I really like it alot that in the few days, I ate quite a few bowls. Oh...I saw some Hello Kitty Chinese New Year deco along Central station.  So cute!

Day 2, I decided to go to Disneyland for a visit.  Took the train from Wanchai to Central and then walk to Hong Kong station before hoping onto the Tung Chung line on my way to Sunny Bay.  From there, I took the Disney train.  It wasn't too difficult to spot it coz the entire train ranging from the windows to hands has the Mickey head shape.

My visit to Disneyland Hong Kong was not really satisfying despite the fact that this is my first trip to a Disneyland regardless of which country it is in.  I paid HK$399 for single day entry.  The price certainly didn't correspond to the size of the park. I only manage to catch the Lion King show and not much activities coz most of them requires me to queue for a long time.
Waited for the street parade.  This is a must-see if you are in Disneyland.  Catch your favorite characters go by in their movable homes.  Try to catch a good spot at the main street.  It gets crowded too.
After the street parade, I went to visit Mickey's house.  As it is near Chinese New Year season, Mickey's home is fully ready to welcome you with it's CNY decorations.
Other activities that I tried was the train that goes one round around the park.  Need to queue though.  The good thing is that one train fits alot of people so the queuing was cut short in that way.  There was also a pianist the cycled his piano around the streets while playing.  I think that is really brilliant.  At least I was entertained while on my way out of Disneyland.
Day 3 started with church service.  I joined my new friends for dim sum lunch at Tsim Sha Tsui. After that I headed for Apliu Street (MTR Sham Shui Po). Apliu Street has a huge flea market selling electronics, photography, audio products (both new and pre-loved).  After my short walk around, I decided to head for Temple Street.  Being my first time in the island, I naturally stopped at the wrong station (MTR Yau Ma Tei).  Since I was hungry, I went into the shop right next to the station for some curry fish ball noodles.  Not too bad, I should say.
After figuring my way around, I realized that the nearest station is Jordan MTR.  I was greeted with Lion dance upon arrival.  It was crowded but I managed to squeeze my way in.  Someone who must have realized I look abit touristy decided to give up his front view for me.  Anyway, I started to shop around Temple Street (otherwise known as Men's street) after the whole lion dance show.  Getting hungry, I went to try out stew egg.  I saw from TV that it looked nice but one first bite, it taste abit....hmmm...tasteless.  I finished the entire bowl (quite small actually) but it wasn't the best thing I had.
Towards the night, I went to Avenue of Stars to watch Symphony of Lights that happen every night at 8pm.  The entire show comprises of light shows and music.  Quite fascinating but it gets kindda crowded from 7.30pm onwards.  So if you want good place to stand (or if you walk further down, there's places to sit), then try to appear earlier.
Day 4, I met up with my colleagues from the Hong Kong office for lunch.  They brought me to this restaurant (Tsim Chai Kee Noodle) that supposedly serve great tasting wanton mee. We had to share tables with strangers but my colleagues told me that it's a norm in Hong Kong to share tables.  After lunch, we had herbal tea and again according to my colleagues, people in Hong Kong never fail to have a cup of herbal tea after meals.  Walked pass mid-level on our way back to office.  The overhead bridge escalator thingie is really long.

After a good chat with colleagues in the office, I headed for The Peak.  Bought the Peak Tram ticket + Madame Tussauds combo tickets for HK$225 (return trip).  It was slanted all the way up.  Quite difficult to stand.  Good thing I got a seat.  When I got there, I shopped around the place awhile before heading into Madame Tussauds.  Saw many life like famous people in there and of course, I took alot of photos.  Decided to head for sky terrace for some photos.  Because I didn't purchase it together with the combo, I got it separately...can't remember how much though.  Taking pics was a challenge with a flimsy tripod because it's quite windy up there and my tripod kept swaying.  When it's time to go back, I had to fight with the crowd again.  It was a torture....even though the train comes in rather short intervals...the amount of people waiting for it is hilarious!
The trip on the whole was enjoyable.  Best is that I can do downtown check in at Hong Kong MTR station.  So what I did was to drop my luggage and do a quick round in IFC mall before heading for the airport via airport express. 

More pictures available here