Saturday, 21 May 2011

HK life

True HK weekend, Thursday nite at Beijing and Hyde club, the latter with brilliant DJ Josh Wink until late...

Then Friday nite started with nice steak in Argentinian steak place LaPampa in Soho, second time real meat since I'm in HK, after brilliant evening in Wooloomooloo in Wan Chai earlier this week..

Later on to Volar club wiht Tamara Sky it's definitely a rumor that HK does have no electro clubs..

Today woke up at 3pm, spending the afternoon with brunch and reading about Borneo at the Press Room just next door, probably one of the best locations to stop the time here in HK ...

Friday, 20 May 2011

One week left in HK

So I got lazy again writing my blog .. apparently almost one month passed by.. - so the last weeks in short fast forward..

Beijing continued to be great, we went to the Summer palace on Saturday, and in the evening tried to eat a Peking duck but as the restaurant had too much waiting time, we went for Peking pig. On Sunday I went for the great wall which was a bit crowded, but nonethless cool, Kung Fung show and cool Hutong shopping street in the evening. Then on Monday on my way back to the airport I checked out 798 art district, which is definitely worth a longer visit than just 2 hours, tons of galleries, caffees, just cool stuff..

Bangkok: so the next weekend I went with Nitesh, a work colleague, to Bangkok, temples, foot massage, go-kart at midnight, clubs, clubs, footmassage, Scirocco bar (one of the most awsome rootfop bars, even by Hong Kong stanards), thai boxing venue, fantastic food, brilliant food, rooftoppool at hotel and back to HK...

Bali: first May weekend, celebrating Buddha's birthday, I went four days to Bali to a surf camp. Basically the concept was eat, sleep, surf -- brilliant.

Next weekend my stomach wasn't feeling well but nonetheless enjoyed hanging out in HK, incl. very cool rootop place Sevva in downtown and visit to Lamma island on Sunday.

Which brings me to the coming weekend which is HK action again, before I'll head off for other places next weekend, likely Bali, maybe Borneo, we'll see...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

3 weeks in HK - Beijing Easter weekend day 1/2

Thursday, April 21

My first three weeks of HK are already over, time to start exploring beyond home turf..

So on Thursday, I left office in a hurry at 16:55 in order to catch my flight to Beijing at 19:00, but turns out the HK transportation system brings you from your desk chair in central to the airport in lesse than 1 hour, all in time from office to gate at about 1h15, brilliant.

Then, my arrival in Bejjing, less brilliant: no taxis whatsoever (huge lines), no airtrain (closed?) so took a bus that brought me in the vicinity of my hostel, advised by a Chinese guy sitting next to me who pointed out where the stop was (no English stops indication in the bus), then got a taxi to bring me to the hostel, finally arriving around 1am, no internet, no bar, thought it can only get better (and it did get..)

Friday, April 22

Slept out, great breakfast, Tiananmen square, Mao mausoleum closed (only open until noon to give the imperator some rest I guess..).

Then some hassle at the National Museum of China, quite a good insight into how commusim works: nothing moves and you don't know the heg why. Interesting exhibition on the Chinese interpretation of the last couple of hundred years of history.

Some rain, which led me to get a brilliant pink umbrella for 30 yuan. Then proceeded into the Forbidden City, actually some great timing as the ticket sales closes at 4pm, and the closing time is 5pm. So bying a ticket at around 3:30pm means that most people are exiting and the place is almost quite (well, check the pictures).

Afterwards watched the sunset in Jingshan Gongyuan park, good stuff.

Then proceeded to the dim sum evening of my hostel (Happy dragon, can be recommended) where I met Keltoum, David, Dan and another English guy. Afterwards we headed out for our first underground Beijing experience, some punk club, which turned out to be closed due to sound problems.. - yet luckily found another one with a great American funk band. Afterwards enjoying brilliant and hot original dinner for 65 yuan for three people including three big beers at around midnight (thanks again to the guy that ordered the same meal that his group enjoyed for us in Chinese)...

More pics

Sunday, 17 April 2011

My first two weeks in HK - weekend April 16/17

So my third weekend in HK is coming to its end, luckily my lazy Sunday coincided with rainy weather, which gave some room to sleep, drink coffee, read the China morning post, and plan my trip to Beijing next weekend plus thoughts on where to travel in the upcoming weekends.

All this was well deserved, after I had an early start again yesterday (April 16) at 8:30am to to join the CS dragon boat (big boat, believe around 25 people, paddles on the side) race team in Stanley beach, a 20min taxi ride from downtown HK (passing through Deepwater and Repulse bay) and a different world.

Starting at 9:45 with first introductions we went on the water for 1 hour of intense paddling - 2x750m plus 4x500m full speed race like sets (and a coach in the front of the boat that complains about "tea-bagging" in the back) really get the best out of your entire body ...

After that Nitesh (a work colleague from the same floor) and I had a deserved beer at Stanley beach front (not very much worth the visit itself).

Then I nurtured myself with a good curry in Saigon restaurant, before heading to the Dragon´s back trail, probably the most famous trail on the island, and accordingly populated with people that probably have issues spelling the word "trail" (incl. a couple of incidences of flip-flops..).

The trail ends near Shek O, a very nice beachtown, where I spent the rest of the afternoon, returning to HK at arond 8pm.

In the evening Nitesh and I headed to Kowloon to check out the Ozon bar, seemingly the highest rooftop bar in the world, topping the ICC tower. Unfortunately there was a huge line up (also because they had no door policy, so the crowd was a mix of "ugly tourists" and dressed up clubbers..) and at some point our thirst was stronger than the regret for the sunk time spent in the line, so we headed to the bar of the W hotel (Living room) and then further to the Luxe Manor (Baba bar), before "coming home" to LKF street and the Hollywood bar where there was finally the party crowd again...

More pics

Monday, 11 April 2011

Sunday recap

Alright, thinking about it know that I have time, there was more to Sunday than the pisco sour punch on the terrasse ...

Initially I planned my day around having a sunday afternoon project meeting at 3pm, so the brunch with Christian and Florence was not held at the free-flow champagne location.. but to compensate we afterwards went to awfully chocolate in Caine road in Soho, single product pushed to perfection..

Afterwards I went towards down-town-down-town, checking all the very cool buildings like HSBC, Bank of China etc -- my favorite is Lippo Centre, really unique structure. Then headed towards Hong Kong park, quite an oasis in the city, with fancy birds and all the Asian people getting out their big guns (in terms of camera lenses).

From there to wild Wan Chai market, pretty much everything mixed from fish to toilet paper, just standing there and watching the people is well worth stopping by, plus found a cool temple that was totally quiet, unlike the one on Hollywood road. Rest of the evening I already described in the last post .. --- pictures to follow as soon as I have more time ..

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Sunday sundown

View from the Totts' bar roof terrace (Hotel Excelsior, 34th floor) in Causeway bay, with views to central (the large tower in the back to the right hand side is 2 IFC) - glorious ending to a great weekend ...

Saturday, 9 April 2011

HK - first week

So I just went out to find apr├Ęs sun lotion and found Si Chuan noodle soup, the latter being part of my quest to try all restaurants in the vicinity of my apt (think I have to limit it to a 200 meter radius, otherwise won´t be successfull).

The rest of the day I was venturing on Lantau, based on a recommandation by Florence, a friend of mine whom I met on Wednesday (drinks on the roof of LKF hotel to be recommended). Lantau is the island where the airport is located, but it`s also very famous for it's trails and its giant buddha.

Taking the ferry in the morning from HK centre to Mui Wo, I got on the first section of the trail, winding up to Sunset peak (869meters, from sea level..), then going down again (think to around 350meters elevation) and taking on the second challenge, Lantau peak (934meters), afterwards heading to Ngong Ping, where the big buddha is sitting/ chilling.

Ngong Ping was initially a (I guess) rather quiet monestry, but then in 1993 some genius had the idea to install "the largest sitting bronze Buddha" in the world (31meters height), connecting the whole place with a cablecar (where you can pay extra to get a crystal cabin with glass floor..) in 2005 and the turning the whole place in a major tourist attraction.

But still have to give some credit, the Buddha ist quiet impressive, at least when standing below it (from Lantau peak it took my 5 minutes to spot it). Anyways, great day but a healthy portion of stairclimbing up and down (Chinese trails seem to be mostly rock staircases, plus seem not to have flat sections..) and not so much sleep last week so early bedtime for today.

Bits and pieces...

Friendlyness (1): I read in my smart guidebook that Chinese people will hand you business cards holding it with two hands, and initially thought it was a legacy, but in fact it is very common, including return money in restaurants, credit cards bills in the supermarkets etc. - will follow the "when in rome do like romans do" and see what happens..

Friendliness (2): people generally do rather not greet on trails (some even don't look at you when passing); as the trail was not that crowded, it seems that feeling empathy with the other folks that enjoy nature is more a concept from the central alps (I do not intend to adapt to local habits..)

Smog: Tuesday was a public holiday, but I decided not to go hiking because it was foggy. Wednesday morning in the early morning coffe talk I learned that Tuesday had been a clear day. Seems to be a fact that especially HK downtown is quite often in a cloud of grey and any tendency towards sunshine is welcome.

Outdoors: it's amazing how fast you can get into nature here, basically taking the Soho escalator (15min) from downtown brings you already in the trees, and taking ferries or the subway adds another ton of possibilities, plus there are lot's of short and long trails around on HK island as well as new territory.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

HK day 2

Quite a late start at around noon from my place which is near Sheung Wang metro station, venturing towards the Lin Heung tea house. Imagine a crowded place with 98% Chinese people, where you first need to fight for a chair and then for food; it was brilliant - next time I will attempt to order a menu after I managed the infighting at the dim sum trolleys quite good after a while this time...

Then took the escalator up Soho, checking out some side streets as well as Man Mo temple on Hollywood street, strange mix between temple and kiosk.. - afterwards got myself two (probably overpriced) green jade dragons in Lascar row and continued the escalator uphill.

While the dragonshop sales person wanted to discourage me from climbing to the peak I luckily met two Germans at the top of the Soho escalator who put forward a strong recommandation to go ahead - and it was well worth it, leaving the skyscrapers behind and entering real and quiet jungle until arriving at the peak tower crowded with tourists again. Hypothesis: all great cities have a great house mountain and a larger amount of water nearby, this would include Hong Kong, Vancouver and Zurich (and to the extent it is a "city": Bergen), putting NY and London a bit on the sidelines ..

After enjoying the peak views I went back via Bus (15), finding out that it was running to the "other" star ferry terminal, and hence took the tram back to my place, feels a bit like "back to the future" when riding an ancient doubledecker tram between blinking skyscrapers, quite an experience in itself...