101littledragons

a lifestyle blog about living in Asia

Earth Hour in Hong Kong

ImageThe Island I now call home – Hong Kong Island. 

ImageThe Bank of China Building… lights off

Lights on… lights off…

Looking over the iconic skyline and beautiful lights of Hong Kong is one of my ultimate favourite things to do (in the world!). I don’t think I will ever get tired of the concrete beauty that lines the Island. Day and night – this city is mesmerizing. The laser show and frantic lights are always on.

After spending a full day at uni/at the High Court for a mock trial, I came home absolutely exhausted… and then remembered… Earth Hour! I have previously ‘celebrated’ Earth Hour with my pals back home… this involved turning off every light in the house. I also took pleasure in implementing a no phone policy – which my friends hated me for… [Living in the dark is much easier than living without your phone.] This year, I was curious to see if HK could actually observe Earth Hour. This city seems to be connected to one giant Duracell battery that never dies – the lights flash on and off – at all hours.

My roomie was agreeable when I insisted we turn off the lights in our apartment… and come 830pm, I watched the lights turn off in the Hopewell Centre (a landmark in HK that also happens to be viewable from my bedroom window).

Considering I was so exhausted from my long day, I didn’t feel like venturing across to the Kowloon side to look across to the harbour. Instead, I trammed to central, took a few photos, trammed back and then walked along the harbour in Wan Chai.

Hong Kong doesn’t feel the same without the flashing lights. It feels sleepy. Or, perhaps, I felt sleepy?! But as I was walking, the most unusual song came to mind:

Baby when the lights go out

every single word cannot express, the love and tenderness

ill show u what its all about

baby, I swear, you will (so) come to me,

when the lights go out

[circa nineteen ninety something?! Thanks Five – for that fabulous flashback]

Happy Earth Hour, Hong Kong! You did it – naturally the city was still well lit… however the landmark buildings had ‘turned out the lights’ 😉

PS I realise there are a number of other songs about lights – but for some reason this popped into my brain?! Child of the 90s… our minds work in mysterious ways!

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 IFC – lights off

ImageHSBC Building – lights offImage

ImageHK Convention Centre and ICC Tower – lights off

ImageICC Tower – lights off

Imageone hour later – lights on

Observations from my cup of coffee

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Prime-time street viewing – sitting on a couch next to the windows that peer out onto Queens Road East, I watched and pondered for 3 hours. Sipping my Starbucks caramel macchiato and nibbling on a croque monsieur, I observed the following:

  1. A pedestrian got hit by a (slow) moving van as he crossed the street. I have seen so many near encounters but never actually imagined that cars wouldn’t slow down for pedestrians! In my world, ‘pedestrians have right of way.’ That rule doesn’t exist in HK. Look left and right – and whatever you do, don’t bother trying to cross in front of a car, even if it is slowly approaching and there are a number of pedestrians around you.
  2. A big black butterfly, the size of my palm, fell to the ground and lay on the pavement – its deathbed. I always notice bugs and insects – however, I’m always inclined to think they are giant cockroaches… I was pleasantly surprised to see a butterfly, and then equally as disappointed as I watched it flap its gentle wings, hoping that no one would trample it.
  3. A dog wearing shoes. Admittedly, every time I see an animal dressed up in clothing I laugh. This was particularly funny because the owner was taking the dog for a walk – it wasn’t in a home setting. Cute shoes, too.

Watching the people of Hong Kong… an endless source of amusement. 

Tadpole eggs and bubble tea

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Sweet Rose drink with basil seeds

The bubble tea phenomenon is nothing new- in cities around the world this Asian drink has become a favorite for many. The conventional milk tea with tapioca was a daily indulgence in the first month I moved to Hong Kong. And naturally, on my short trip to Taiwan (the origin of milk tea), I just HAD to have it all the time.

With over 100 varieties, and at only $16 HKD ($2 AUD) for a large size, I’ve slowly tried the unusual and interesting flavors and jellies only on offer in Asia. Most recently, I noticed that basil seeds were a popular addition to these milky/fruity delights.

Yes, that is right, basil seeds. At the Chinese New Year market a woman stopped us to sell what looked like tadpole eggs. She couldn’t explain exactly what it was but proceeded to tell us ‘it good for you’ and that it can be added to drinks and desserts. You can imagine my surprise when I saw it on the bubble tea menu. I can’t really explain the taste; I think it depends on what you have as the base flavor/drink. However, it has a semi jelly feel on the outside and if you put the seeds in between your teeth they are obviously rather hard.

The Sweet Rose drink with basil seeds was so refreshing and most definitely exceeded my expectations. It was the perfect companion for sitting in the sun on a Sunday afternoon.

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For the love of CAKE – Give up something you love… make a sacrifice…

 

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Have you ever tried to give up something you love? Temporarily? What about long term?

 

For 40 days and 40 nights, I will NOT eat CAKE. I love cake… I love cake more than anything. When I exit my apartment, there are 3 cake stores within 50 m… Some of the most beautiful cake stores have branches within walking distance and it kills me – Sift, Zoe and Princess – amongst the other local bakeries – with sweet sugary Chinese delights. And, have you ever noticed that there are always cake stores at MTR stations? Why?!

 

We are now officially in the period of ‘Lent’. A time to give up something you love, make a sacrifice [as a way of showing your love and appreciation for jesus???]. To be honest, I’m not that religious… I don’t know why we as Christians make sacrifices during Lent – I can only speculate… So before y’all think I’m preaching – I’m not – my message goes to the core of compassion. My mission is twofold: show compassion and discipline. And, how else does one show compassion in 2012? By giving up something… even just for a week…

 

I eat cake at least 2 times a week. I have lined up for over an hour to visit renowned cake stores… (such as Serendipity3 in NYC). I have also made a point of seeking out the best pastry chefs…(trying delights created by Katrina Kantani and Adriano Zumbo). Basically, I take the view that a party is not a party without cake… I live for cake.

 

With so many cake stores at every turn, the question is, will I make it?

 

Pics from Sift, Zoe and agnes b. Image

 

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Pop-Up Food Event

One of my dear friends is foodie – having interned with a food magazine in HK, her food recommendations are always spot on, she knows where to go and what to try! So when I met her for a casual lunch and ‘study’ session at Heirloom, I was not at all surprised when she proceeded to tell me that there was a food event we MUST attend.

I was delighted to finally sit down at Heirloom. With outside tables, and a girly chic interior, it has the classic trendy café vibe I miss about Melbourne. My intention in heading to Hollywood Rd was to chow down on a taco! You know what I’m talking about – I was in a taco mood!!! Conveniently, my friend responded with the following:

“Ohhh no! You can’t have a taco for lunch! Let’s get tacos tonight! Yardbird is doing a special pop up food event!”…[ Yardbird is one of my friend’s fave restaurants]

A pop-up event??? – to be honest, I’ve only ever seen these during fashion week!! In a fashion setting, there will be a ‘pop-up’ show – basically out of thin air – the only details given are location and time. More recently, I read that this is happening in the retail sector with familiar brands taking over vacant retail spaces.

One blogger commented that:

“Demand from diners is further proof that the pop-up trend will continue to grow… Pop-up restaurants are trendy, in high demand and can vanish as quickly as they appear, making them awesome but often elusive for securing a table.”

Essentially, my friend wanted us to attend the collaboration between Hecho and Yardbird – they had taken over a small burger joint and started serving tacos and other Mexican delights– one night only. Thinking we would be smart and get there early, we were surprised to see that there were already 100 people in the line up at 550pm! We waited for just over an hour to get into the very small converted space. MMMM mmmmm what an experience.

What did I scoff down?

One Carnitas Steak Taco

One Tomato Quesadilla

A bite of Pork Belly Taco

Would I attend a pop-up event again?

Highly likely 🙂

 

The crazy line upImageImage

The Yardbird teamImage

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For more food porn from this event, please check out my friend’s blog – I promise that her pics aren’t blurry 😛 Some things never change 😉

http://eatingclub.tumblr.com/

Thanks to:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/property/popup-shops-bolster-retail-strips-20120313-1uy6y.html

http://www.scenebylaurie.com/nyc-scene/food/pop-up-restaurants-the-latest-food-craze/

 

 

 

 

 

5. Be part of a Bridal Party

A year and a half ago (if not a little longer), I was fortunate to be asked to be a BRIDESMAID for one of my best friends – as you can imagine, it was such an honour and privilege to be included in a special group that would assist in making my friend’s day magical.

Finally, the day rolled around, 16 February 2012. So off I went – 9 hour direct flight back to M-town and a 2 hour drive down to Sorrento – a loverrrrrssssss paaarrraaaddiiiissse! The lovely couple had decided on a casual and relaxed atmosphere – a true reflection of their relationship – and as such, the wedding ceremony was held on the foreshore of the beach, with the reception to later be held at a venue overlooking the rolling waves and beautiful sunset. (How cliché does my description sound?! To die for!)

I had assumed that there would be many obligations and responsibilities of a bridesmaid – but after my experience, I think many of these obligations are reserved for the Maid of Honour and Best Man. Or perhaps, the fact that I live abroad influenced my input, or lack thereof… OR, and this could be a better description, the Bride was just so organised that there was nothing left for us to do!

On the morning of the wedding, we had our hair and make up done, enjoyed a glass of chammmpppeerrrss and beautiful fresh fruit for brekki. To be honest, I was expecting a few bridezilla moments but everything was really relaxed! Being the cry baby that I am, I was also expecting that I would tear up. This didn’t happen until the actual wedding ceremony and was very brief.

It was such a surreal moment. Finally, my dear friend was going from Miss to Mrs, and as she described it to me the night before the big day, she was entering the happy realm of life long lovers – just like our parents and grandparents before us. Marriage brings with it a level of finality. Once that paper is signed, man and woman are devoted to each other for life. As a witness to my dear friend’s love for her new husband, I was in awe at how quickly things change – how a little girl’s dream of finding love can come true. Naturally, the romantic in me (which is well hidden most of the time) was intrigued. Being part of the bridal party brings about a new appreciation for just how special that day really is – it provides a first hand account of the feelings and emotions of the bride and groom – the excitement as well as the anxiety that comes with waiting for the big moment.

4. Do the Accent Tag Test

G’day Mate, Hows it goooiiinnn?

I love travelling. And, I absolutely LOVE meeting people from around the globe and trying to imitate their fabulous accents… (yes, I’m one of those annoying people – we should form a club?!)… As an Australian, my accent has always been a source of entertainment to the foreigners I’ve met. Particularly, my floor mates in residence (in Canada) would always point out how I ‘say things in a funny way’.

I’ve now come to the conclusion that my accent is not the only source of amusement for my international friends… It is the aussie slang that ever so naturally rolls off the tongue… words I don’t even realise are ‘Australian’… for example, ‘out in whoop whoop’… ‘bottle-o’… ‘feral’… etc

One of my new friends kindly pointed out to me that he often has to look up Urban Dictionary to understand what I’m on about… He is convinced I’m speaking a different language. The accent doesn’t help. Accordingly, he suggested a tag test to prove that I ‘say things in a funny way’.

My friend= a HongKonger, who was raised in Canada and lived there for approx 15 years of his life… and now based in HK.

Me= an Australian… Melburnian, through and through, raised and educated in Aus… and now based in HK.

The test

Gather two or more people with different accents/from different places in the world and ask them to say the following:

Garage

herb

schedule

figure

jaguar

lieutenant

water

advertisement

vase

route

tomato

leisure

address

ate

buoy

aluminum

aunt

wash

oil

theater

iron

salmon

caramel

fire

sure

data

ruin

crayon

toilet

pecan

boat

again

probably

spitting

image

coupon

syrup

pajamas

caught

Small things like this make me laugh. I definitely think that you should try this with your international friends. Of course there are many many more words that could be added to the list – are there any obvious ones that come to mind? Please share!

 

3. Learn how to take a photo

On a recent girls trip to Taiwan, my lovely friends thought it would be a good time to tell me that the quality of my photos/ability to snap a shot without blur and my interpretation of artistic photography was substandard… in other words, my photos were rubbish 😛 a harsh reality…

As a snap happy gal who LOVES to take pics of everything, this was rather disappointing to hear… Sure, I knew that my photos were sometimes blurry… and that they weren’t always that great… But, hey, the process of taking a photo in itself makes me happy. Hmmm so I did what anyone else would do in that situation and blamed it on my 4 year old camera… arguing that it wasn’t as high tech and fancy as the new cameras on the market.

About 3 weeks later, my 10 year old nephew sent me a link to a ‘big and professional’ looking camera. “Jacqui, do you think you could buy this camera for me and bring it back to Melbourne with you?” Naturally, my response was yes – the camera was rather pricey in Aus and I knew I could get it much cheaper in HK. If my 10 year old nephew was taking up photography as a hobby, then surely his 24 year old aunt could do the same! Why not?!

I bought 2 of the pretty Nikon P500 – one for me and one for my nephew. This camera is my new LOVE. It is amazing. I have not stopped taking photos since I bought it – such great quality… And as my brother said to me the other day whilst browsing through my pictures – “see, even people with no photo skills whatsoever, can take a nice photo”…

Learning how to take a good quality photo is a MUST! And, honestly, I don’t really think it matters what camera you have – as long as you enjoy the process (and it doesn’t turn out blurry), what more can you ask for?!

2. Celebrate Chinese New Year (in China)

This title could provoke some commentary in itself… I guess I shouldn’t restrict it to celebrations in China, because the celebrations extend to other parts in Asia. Moreover, I live in Hong Kong SAR – and even though HK was returned to China, the PRC influence and dominance is still somewhat rejected.

Enough with the political and geographical aspects and back to the reason for this post!

Although I have experienced CNY celebrations in Sydney and Melbourne, these celebrations are rather tame in comparison to the displays in HK.

Currently, 3 day new year lunar festival – today is the first day of the year of the dragon – and from what I can see from my window – the city is dead. everyone goes to the temple and receives lei see’s from their elders – red pockets full of money. My friends say it is their prime income for the year as their chinese relos and all ppl who are senior (including in the work place) give out red pockets. This is one tradition i havent yet been lucky to participate in – although a Chinese friend did say i can go collect from his parents. Hard to reconcile with western thinking though.

For the last 3 days leading up to new year, ppl attend special flower markets and fill their houses with cherry blossom, red flowers and particularly, with the most peculiar orange fruit branches. Tonight they will hold a dragon parade – I will be going with some international kids but some of my local friends say they have never been because they have so many family commitments. Super Chinese families today will also hold a tea ceremony. Tomorrow night – the 2nd lunar day, there will be a firework extravaganza over Victoria Harbour. The 3rd day, I will go to the Chinese New year races in Sha tin – not an old school tradition more of a modern activity, but I have been told that if I win money at that particular race day i will be prosperous for the remainder of the year. im then going to a bbq – i must admit i got pretty excited at the idea of a snag… however, after sharing this excitement my chinese friends corrected me – chinese bbq is different to the aussie kind :S

The city is decked out in red and gold decorations and the attitude of the people has really changed- everyone is polite and they almost look joyful. lol even my washing lady was warm and wished me a happy new year.

I was fortunate to win some chinese new year turnip and taro cakes from the Sky Marriot. I had some ppl over on the Saturday night before the holidays and we got to share it… calling it cake is misleading though… because it has to be fried with egg. So that is what i did – real house wives of hong kong, here I come!

That basically sums up what ive been doing/how I am celebrating the end of the year of the rabbit and start of the year of the dragon.

I am so happy I decided to stay and enjoy the holiday period in HK – such an enlightening experience. I would definitely recommend timing travels with CNY. The atmosphere in a city like HK is so different at this time of year.

 

Things you must do: 1. Write a blog

The hardest part in writing this blog is deciding where to start. For years I have toyed with the idea: ‘perhaps I could write a blog about food’… ‘perhaps I could write a blog about fashion’… ‘about law students/lawyers’… Ah – the first two ideas are not at all original… and as for the third idea – writing about the legal profession – well, I think we can all agree that lawyers are boring 😉

It has been 17 days since I cheered Happy New Year (in the conventional sense), and it is only a few days off Chinese New Year, so I figure this is an appropriate time to start my one and only new years resolution: to do ‘101 things you must do before you are too old and boring’. AND – funny enough, writing a blog is on that list!

  1. Write a blog = achieved.

During the Year of the Dragon I will aim to tick off ‘must do’s’ and will share my experiences in this forum. Every now and then I might feel the urge to blog about food, fashion and lawyers, because these 3 things form a big part of my life. However, I guess my goal is somewhat misleading…

You see, the ‘guide’ that I am following lists some ‘must do’s’ that I have already accomplished – things I don’t feel I absolutely NEED to do again.  Nevertheless, they are things that I recommend trying – for example, make an origami crane (I did this on a high school visit to Japan), start a band (in year 7 there was ‘Girls with Attitude’ and in year 10/11 there were too many bands to remember), spend Christmas in another country (one year it was Czech Republic and another it was Canada), have fun in the snow (Perisher – Australia, Porters – New Zealand, Whistler – Canada). . . etc. . . etc. . . I can count 10 ticks already . . . This blog is my 11th tick.

Thank you in advance for reading my blog and contributing your comments/thoughts.

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