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One Lovely Blog Award

A few weeks ago, Ruth at bluebalu nominated me for a One Lovely Blog award. I am now writing a very belated thank you! Ruth is an expat working in Hong Kong who writes a blog about living there. With entries about various subjects, from food to people to weather, bluebalu is a wonderful blog to read as she notices many things locals would not. After Ruth stopped by my blog, she inadvertently introduced me to other HK bloggers. I am reading her blog still so I can live vicariously through her.

Thanks Ruth for this award even though I was no longer qualified to be nominated with your Hong Kong-themed awards since I was back in Canada.

I’ve learned that there are a few things to do when one receives this award:

  1. Honour the person who awarded you.
  2. Nominate 15 other blogs for this award.
  3. Tell readers 7 things about yourself.

I’d like to nominate some blogs that I simply enjoy reading, but I don’t think I can get up to 15.

Bake + Bike – Sarah is currently working in Ottawa and posts beautiful pictures of her bike rides in the area.

One Healthy Munchkin – Chelsea writes a very relatable healthy living blog. I really   enjoy her entries related to her nutrition studies as well as her recipes and restaurant reviews.

Adventures in Heritage – Kayla’s writes about being a heritage professional. There are many interesting entries about heritage in Southern Ontario.

Just Live It! – I love reading Nicole’s blog for a mix of everything: food, style, fitness, life and most of all her positive attitude.

Opalla on Trails – I like Opalla’s blog especially for the pictures she takes on her power walking routes and on the trails. I think anybody at any age can take a note from her about “aging gracefully.”

So since I nominated five blogs, here are 3 things about me (instead of 2.3).

1. I share the same birthday as my older sister. I’m surprised she wasn’t more annoyed that she had to split her birthday with her younger sister.

2. I commuted an hour each way on the train for six years for high school. Lots of people watching opportunities, but more like sleeping opportunities.

3. I don’t mind large creepy crawlies like spiders and those centipede-like ones, but I get very nervous around ants.

Thanks again Ruth for the award! I am so flattered you thought of me.

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Roots Pt. 2

This week I gave myself a low-key weekend, but I still managed to keep busy. On Saturday I visited the University of Hong Kong, my parents’ alma mater. HKU is located in the western part of Hong Kong Island. It celebrated its centenary last year in 2011.

After four years of complaining about climbing the stairs in the math building of my undergrad university, I now realize I didn’t have it so bad. HKU is built on a hill and there are so many stairs! There is one main elevator that takes you to the “ground” level.

The main building, Loke Yew Hall.

I got a better shot of the architecture from the back, plus a glimpse of the water.

The Lotus Pond in the middle of campus.

Statue of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen by the Lotus Pond.

BBQ pork and rice for lunch at the canteen. While the campus was quiet since classes were over and it was a Saturday, there were surprisingly more people than I expected. I suspected many were high school students who had been accepted to HKU.

After, I met up with my friend for dessert. But first a walk down (thankfully, not up) Centre Street near the university.

And what do you do when the road is too steep? Build an escalator! Granted, this might be for the extension of the subway line to the university, but that’s only my speculation.

For dessert, we went to her childhood favourite spot, Yuen Kee Tong Shui, for some traditional Chinese dessert: walnut cream, black sesame paste and cake. I swear I didn’t eat all of this. Tong shui means sweet soup. The shop is over 100 years old and claims to be the oldest dessert shop in HK. The creams were made of ground walnuts or sesame, and were slightly thick. Another similar dessert is almond cream made with ground almonds. Other tong shui include red or grean bean soup, but I don’t usually like those as much.

The cake unfortunately was dry. However, the two creams were lovely. They were smooth, not too sweet and warmed me up after being outside during a brief rain shower.

On Sunday, I had a traditional Chinese breakfast with my Uncle on my Dad’s side in Kowloon: fish congee and coriander, turnip cake and fried noodles to share.

He brought me to the cemetery to pay respects to my grandmother who passed away last summer. I was very grateful I got the chance to see the place where she was buried with my grandfather, especially because I couldn’t make it to her funeral in Hong Kong last year. I think she was watching over us, because it was drizzling when we drove to the cemetery, but when we got out of the car to pay our respects, it was dry. Once we got back in the car it started pouring.

In the afternoon I went to the Hong Kong Museum of Heritage in Sha Tin to view the Picasso exhibit, on loan from the Musee National Picasso in Paris. The museum in Paris is being renovated and some artwork has been distributed to galleries around the world, including Toronto. What a wonderful opportunity. There was also an exhibit on the New Towns in Hong Kong. It’s an interesting concept to me to plan a whole new town.

View of the river by Sha Tin Central Park.

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HK Eats: Hui Lau Shan

I have mentioned my love for mangos in this blog before. That is why Hui Lau Shan sounded like the perfect place for me. Hui Lau Shan is a chain restaurant that specializes in purportedly healthy desserts and drinks with a focus on fresh fruit, particularly mangos. I had read great reviews about it so when I passed by one in Causeway Bay, I popped in for tea (I am really adapting to the HK eating schedule!).

Like always, I was overwhelmed by the extensive menu, but they had an English menu upon request. The menu had many variations of desserts with mango. In the end, I chose glutinous rice balls in mango juice with fresh mango and mango ice cream.

The dish was refreshing, but I also was a little disappointed because of the hype. My favourite parts were the fresh mango chunks and the mango juice slush base that was sweet and had a deep mango flavour. I found the mango ice cream gritty. I later read that they use a lot of mango pulp to make the ice cream. That might have explained the texture. I didn’t find the mango ice cream to taste intensely of mango though. I was most disappointed in the glutinous rice balls. They were too doughy and hard. They might have been too cold.

I definitely plan on going back to Hui Lau Shan to give it another try. I think I was most turned off by the glutinous rice balls so I will either try the sago version of this dessert instead or try something new like mango pudding. I do like the concept of using fresh fruit in desserts.

Hui Lau Shan has many locations. I went to one on 2-6 Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.

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Couch to 5K Updates

It’s been a few weeks since I gave an update on my Couch to 5K program. I have continued the program more or less. I mentioned last week that I was feeling under the weather. Unfortunately I developed a worse cough so I took a break from the program. It was frustrating doing that since I was just getting into the swing of things, but I didn’t want to get even more sick.

My shoes are aching to go out!

I can look at the positive side of taking a pause this week though. I realized how much I like having a consistent program and that I really miss the exercise. I did complete Week 2 (run 90 seconds, walk 60 seconds) and two out of three runs for Week 3 (run 3 minutes, walk 3 minutes, run 90 seconds, walk 90 seconds x2).

The other “positive” part of getting a cough is trying Chinese medicine/symptomatic relief that my aunt has kindly given me:

Pei Pa Koa (Apricot). It’s a dark syrup and very soothing. It leaves a tingly aftertaste, but it’s not minty. The bottle says it is a “herbs, loquat and honey extract” originated by Nin Jong from Beijing in the Qing dynasty.

“Bat see guaw”*: I’m not really sure what this is but I think it’s dried fruit. It has the texture of dried prunes and it is also very soothing. You keep it in your mouth like a cough drop, but I like it better than cough drops since it doesn’t make my tongue too rough.

* This is how the Cantonese sounds to me and not the “official” written English name.

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Review: Australia Dairy Company

Australia Dairy Company is a cha chaan teng in Kowloon. Over the years, it has become a must visit every time I come to Hong Kong. I love their steaming bowls of milk custard, a traditional Chinese dessert. It has also become a must go for many people, including tourists. On this visit, my tablemates were not locals either. The first three spoke French and the second group spoke Mandarin. Still, many locals come here for breakfast and tea as can be demonstrated by the all-Chinese characters menu.

I found myself in a line, a good sign of the restaurant’s popularity, but I was inside within a few minutes. You wouldn’t go to Australian Dairy for the service or the relaxed atmosphere. The servers, all males and dressed in white smocks, were very efficient, maybe a little brusque. They wanted to take my order very quickly and get me out of there quickly too.

I ordered hot milk tea, hot milk custard and a scrambled egg sandwich, having practised this in Cantonese several times before 😉

The milk custard came out first after a few minutes. Australia Dairy kept many of these bowls of custard steaming so that was likely why it was ready so early. I was not sure how they kept them all so fresh, but they must be very popular. Each spoon was a delight. It was creamy and smooth and had the right amount of sweetness.

The milk tea came out next. This was also very smooth. This may have been my personal taste, but I thought that the tea could have been stronger or steeped longer to balance out the creaminess of the evaporated milk.

Lastly, the scrambled egg sandwich on toasted bread arrived. Their scrambled eggs are apparently a fan favourite. There used to be even a Facebook fan page for the eggs. My eggs were very rich. I felt there was too much butter though (yikes, is there such a thing?)  and on the dense side. The toast was perfectly crisp. While the eggs were tasty, I didn’t understand the hype around them.

I will definitely keep coming back here, but I will probably stick with the milk custard. The steamed egg custard is also quite tasty as well.

Australia Dairy is located at 47 Parkes Street, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

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Roots’n’routes

Most of my explorations so far have been on Hong Kong Island where I live and work. Although I am by no means an expert on Central, I can find my way around. However, I’m still unfamiliar with Kowloon. I was able to change that a bit when I went to the Hong Kong Museum of History in Kowloon last Saturday. Afterwards, I walked around the surrounding streets and once again, it was wonderful just to walk and soak up the city.

My morning started off in Central. I had breakfast at Lan Fong Yuen, a famous cha chaan teng. Cha chaan teng means tea restaurant. They serve HK-style, casual and homey foods. I hope to write more detailed posts on the restaurants I go to so I won’t describe too much right now. I have to mention though that their silky smooth milk tea gave me a much needed caffeine boost to kickstart the day!

My mom brought me and my siblings  to the History Museum when it opened about ten years ago. I vaguely remembered the visit, but I was glad I went again. The museum was split into two parts: first, the natural history of Hong Kong and then each of the Chinese dynasties’ influences on South China and Hong Kong. There was also a feature on folk culture in HK. I was pleasantly surprised that I was familiar with some of the traditions mentioned such as writing marriage proposals, which is carried on today more or less.

Bun tower–this is continued in a modified form. Traditionally, people would race up the tower made of buns and try to get a “lucky” bun, but on one occasion it collapsed and some people died. Now they do a safer version of this tower.

The second part picked up from the Opium War and the cessation of Hong Kong to Great Britain. The exhibits continued through World War II and modern HK up to the handover to China.

Cute British mail boxes, many of which were removed from the streets just before the handover.

I loved seeing the museum’s pictures of places in Hong Kong that I was familiar with but also saddened by how many beautiful buildings were torn down in the last half century.

When I was younger, I felt that the whole museum was about “history” or a “long time ago.” During this visit I soon made the connection that the exhibits in the second half were within my grandparents’ and parents’ lifetimes. I felt touched to learn more about my parents’ lives. My parents were always open about their childhood and I was eager to listen, but unfortunately never took it to heart.

It was never my intention to find my “roots” during my two months here, but that was partly out of ignorance and fear of too intangible a goal. The museum and my trip here so far have made me more interested in learning more.

After the museum, I made my way to get some wonton mein (noodles) for late lunch, and then I popped into one of my favourite places in Hong Kong, Australian Dairy, for dessert, milk tea and a scrambled egg sandwich, a fan favourite on the internet. I definitely overate, but I chalked it up to not being in Kowloon enough. Pictures to come!

Sights in Kowloon: Bowring Street Market

From Kowloon side, looking across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island.

In the evening, I had a lovely dinner with my mom’s cousins. My grandmother is the oldest of ten children, and my mom is the oldest of her generation. To put things in perspective, my mom’s youngest cousin is the same age as my sister. Now I have second cousins about twenty years younger than me, yet we are in the same generation! It was a great day thinking about my family.

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Hollywood Walk & Roll

I’m still taking short walks during lunch. It has been raining more though and I’m not as keen to go out (but I still try!). I also started feeling under the weather yesterday unfortunately, but hopefully I am preventing it before it gets worse. Here are some highlights from the last couple of weeks.

Exploring Hollywood Road and SoHo (“south of Hollywood Road”). This area has a lot of funky and hip restaurants and bars.

Along Hollywood Road: it looked as if the wall was just standing there.

Various restaurants

I followed a wayfinding sign to go back to work, which led me through a walkway behind some buildings. I found an interesting housing complex.

 Neat alley.

Have a good weekend! I hope to recover, but still do something fun.

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