Monthly Archives: December 2013

Macau

Along with the Singapore trip, we spent two days in Macau as well. I had always imagined it to be the Las Vegas of Asia since all I know about it are the casinos. There’s the Venetian, MGM, etc. Ones that mimic the Vegas ones.

There are two classes of ferries that you can take to from Hong Kong to Macau – fast (TurboJet) and slow (Cotai). We took the slower ferry from Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal  and it took around 1.5 hrs to get there which isn’t bad. However, you have to travel with your passport because it’s another territory of China. Upon arrival, it was a bit confusing as to where to catch buses that go to the casino vs. Other hotel buses. We eventually found the one for the Venetian and there were so many other hotels/casinos that we passed. Huge places!!!!!

Spent time wandering around the casino before we headed back to the ferry terminal to catch our bus to the hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Royal Macau in the older parts of Macau. It seemed kind of sketchy at first but when we pulled up, it was a beautiful place! The rooms were nice and the “extra” bed that we actually paid for was an actual bed. They wheeled in a whole bed and placed it next to the other ones – so cool! I hadn’t seen that before.

My mom’s friend’s cousin actually lives in Macau so we met with her for dinner that night. We wandered around and went to the St. Paul’s Ruins (lots of steps and have always seen it featured in HK drama shows). There were these almond cookies that were delicious! A particular company had numbered how many franchise stores there were and it was up to 16, I think. Crazy but really cool.

The architecture of the old buildings were reminiscent of the Portugal colonial days – very beautiful structures. It really sucked on the second day because it mostly rained so we didn’t get a chance to walk around as much. I got some shots of the buildings. We went to Lord Stowe’s for their famous egg tarts. OMG!! It was amazing! The tart was still warm from the oven; the crust was flaky; and the custard was the perfect consistency (not to liquidy and not to hard). I ended up having two of them because they were so good.

Also, we saw mainland China. It was bizarre to think that “another country” was just across a lake/river. From a port city (where ship makers/manufacturers were abundant) to abandoned warehouses that are dilapidated and most people don’t know they exist or only come to do photo or video shoots because of the atmosphere they give off.

I must say that Macau wasn’t the “Las Vegas of Asia” as I thought it would be. It’s quite beautiful and full of history – definitely worth a visit!

Tagged , ,

Singapore

It’s been 5 years since I last saw my friend Ruth. Every time I go on a trip or mention anything of one, she hounds me about visiting her either in Singapore or Malaysia, depending on where she is at the time. This time, it so happens that she’s in Singapore and considering the flight from HK to there is only 4-5 hours, I had no excuse. My sister decided to come with me as well so we went to a travel agent to book the flight in order to get on the same flight. Ruth took us around each evening and we were very grateful for that! It was great to catch up with her and when we saw each other, it was as if no time had passed between us – which is exactly the friends I want to keep.

It also wasn’t too expensive compared to a flight from Toronto to Singapore. Flying with Cathay Pacific has its perks when within Asia – so much cheaper! Also, staying in a hostel was a good choice, though a last minute booking landed us at a place called Matchbox The Concept Hostel. I liked the idea of it but not in reality. We stayed in a dorm style room but instead of bunk beds, they were cargo style boxes stacked two high and nine wide with lockers on the other side of the room to house our stuff. The mattresses were too thin and it was just uncomfortable to sleep on.

Three days in Singapore was just a day short of being the perfect amount of time. It’s a metropolis that isn’t crowded. The accessibility by public transportation is very similar to that of HK but less people, which is great. You can get from the airport to the city centre by subway as well as be able to walk to most places, which is great. They also have a tourist pass which allows for unlimited travel on most public transportation routes for a specific amount of days. This worked out perfectly for us since we got the three day pass. It occurred to me while we were there that there aren’t any natural resources for the country to export so tourism and services are a major economy driver and boy do they know how to cater to customers.

It’s an expensive place to live though. The exchange rate was almost on par with the Canadian dollar (1CAD to 1.2 SGD). Alcohol is too – we paid for 3 drinks which came out to 42 SGD and they weren’t fancy drinks!

We visited as many different places as we could – Little India (really cool since we arrived just after Diwahli so decorations were still up), Gardens by the Bay, Orchard Road for shopping, Chinatown, Clarke Quay, Fort Canning Park, etc. It was nice to get a good sense of travelling around and the different places.

My favourite part of the entire trip other than seeing Ruth was the food!!! I travel to eat and this trip was no difference despite the short amount of time. First night was all about the chilli crab – steamed and sauced to perfection along with other foods such as noodles, rice, shrimp, etc. It was so delicious at Jumbo Seafood. We also went to Little India and ate at the restaurant sitting atop the Mustafa Centre (the Bazaar is open 24/7). It was nice to see parts of Singapore from atop. Then there are the hawker stalls – traditional Singapore/Malaysian food. OMG! There were so many things to try that I don’t remember the names of all the dishes, so here’s a picture of it! Hawker Food

Tagged , , , , ,

Vacation Time!

Once every year, I try to take a real vacation from work where I am virtually off the grid (no email or phone) so that I can take my mind off of the office and just enjoy myself. For my two weeks this year, I went to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Macau with my sister, my mother and her friend (also one of my best friend’s mother). It was quite the journey – full of activities/sightseeing, food, and hanging out with friends.

My original list of things to do and eat included (in no specific order):

  • Celebrate Mom’s birthday
  • Go to the Peak
  • Eat lots of street food (especially chee cheong fun AKA rice noodle roll since it’s served with a peanut sauce, hoisin sauce, hot sauce, soy sauce and sesame seeds. Here’s a good example of how it’s made)
  • Shopping at the markets
  • See the Big Buddha
  • Visit Ocean Park
  • Jog
  • Dim Sum
  • Visit museums (Here’s a list of the museums and it’s free admissions every Wednesday)
  • Hang out with friends and family
  • Take the ferry
  • See the Hong Kong night skyline at Victoria Harbour
  • Relax
  • Visit immigration about getting a HK identification card

It’s an extensive list but I was being very ambitious until the end, when I realized that I managed to accomplish most things minus seeing the Big Buddha and visiting Ocean Park.

It was a learning experience in terms of: learning more about myself (how I like to travel, personal growth, lifestyle choices), learning about my mother and her travelling style, learning that my sister has a whole different side to her when she’s with her boyfriend, and that I’m not sure I could live in Hong Kong.

Let me elaborate. Hong Kong is a fantastic city to visit because it’s a modern city where there is constant movement. The pace of life is definitely faster than life in Toronto, even their escalators are moving twice as fast so you don’t need to walk up them to go past people; it already gets you to your destination faster! Time is money and money helps you accomplish more things in life (this is true for most places) but people of Hong Kong also don’t have time for bullshit. Eating at a restaurant is often about ordering when you sit down, get your food quickly, hoover your food down and getting out of there as soon as you’re done to move onto your next task. This process is repeated for most of your day: buying groceries, getting on public transportation, and shopping.

After being there for two weeks, the constant go-go attitude of Hong Kong people made me not really want to live there because it’s fast, really fast and if you don’t get on the bandwagon, it’s hard to fit keep up in all aspects of life. However, it did make me realize that I should be more productive with my time and do things that I want to accomplish without procrastinating. You end up feeling better about yourself because 1) you’ve accomplished your goal, 2) you have more time to accomplish your other goals and not having any regrets and 3) hard work yields results (an intrinsic feeling of success).

This post has mainly been about Hong Kong. More on Singapore and Macau to come!

Tagged , , , , , ,