Thursday, February 27, 2014

First Fridays: Hong Kong Design Institute Gallery

This was my first time heading out to the Tseung Kwan O area.  It was also my first time visiting the campus of the Hong Kong Design Institute, which is right outside of Exit A2 of Tiu Keng Leng station.  My first impression of this Institute:  "What architecture!"  It is a beautiful campus that is filled with creativity at every turn.

The entrance to the Hong Kong Design Institute and the exhibit currently showing
The exhibit that I went out here especially to check out was Belgian Spirit:  Dress Code.  This was a fashion focused exhibit showcasing designers from Belgium.  There were beautifully handcrafted handbags, jewelry, hats, shoes, and clothing splashed all over a beautifully created space (of which was constructed out of brown paper bags, cardboard boxes, and black drapery.

"Belgian designers have a fashion concept, and they are easy to wear."
The really great thing about this exhibit was seeing how Fashion is understood in Belgium.  I really liked the fact that the clothing style is described as easy, simple, and transformable.

Wonderful paper bag walls

Second gallery

Designed by Ann Demeulemeester (

Quirky bandaid necklace by Isabelle Lenfant (

Eye glass frame designs by Theo (

The Dress Code exhibit runs until March 31, 2014 and is a free exhibit.  The Gallery opens at 10:00am and closes at 8pm every day but Tuesday.  The next exhibit (beginning on March 14, 2014 - ending June 2, 2014) is George Nelson:  Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

High Tea at the Mandarin Oriental

One of my most awesome High Tea experiences was in the Clipper Lounge of the Mandarin Oriental down in Central.  Though we didn't make previous reservations, we still were able to get seats for four after waiting ten minutes or so.

The atmosphere really made me think, "This is so Hong Kong."  It was classy.  It was historic.  There was a beautiful view of Victoria Harbour.  There were locals and tourists all gathered in the Lounge to have a great time with friends and enjoy the afternoon.

Earl Grey loose leaf tea


Our tier of sandwiches, savories, pastries, and cakes

The attention to detail
The Review:
1.  Presentation (4 out of 5)  I liked how the tea set was modern.  It was beautiful how the tea strainer was silver.  The individual bites were so lovely and attention was really paid to the details.  Finely cut garnishes were carefully placed and every bite stood proudly like it was a work of art.

2.  Taste (4 out of 5)  Definitely, a lot of effort was put into having well balanced selections.  Everything was enjoyable.  And the desserts weren't too sweet.  

3.  Service (5 out of 5)  Right from the beginning, we had incredibly hospitable waiters.  They presented us with the menus, asked which tea we would like, and then let us enjoy the afternoon.  It was great that they were so attentive in the beginning because they really used that time to settle us in and make us feel really special.  It was really great how they also left us to our tea and didn't keep checking back with us (unless we needed more hot water for our tea pots).  Really great service.

4.  Atmosphere (4 out of 5)  This is one of the top things that people do in Hong Kong, I have been told.  The Mandarin Oriental is beautiful, has a beautiful view of the Harbour, and is laid out beautifully.  There is enough light in the space that you can feel comfortable.  People are far enough away from each other to feel privacy.  

5.  Return-ability (4 out of 5)  I would definitely want to go back.  High Tea feels like a touristy thing for me, so it is quite fun!  It is quite the novelty in my life because, most likely, you'll find me at the local Starbucks getting my afternoon tea.  But, for a special occasion, I would definitely select High Tea at the Mandarin Oriental again.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Traveling Tuesday: Hong Kong History Museum's Cheongsam Exhibit

I traveled down to Tsim Sha Tsui this week.  In the lobby of the Hong Kong History Museum there was a free exhibit called A Century of Fashion:  Hong Kong Cheongsam Story.  When I first walked in, I was drooling!  In front of me were the most beautiful cheongsams that I had ever seen.

When I first moved to China, I had gotten my first ever cheongsam made in Chengdu.  My second cheongsam was a gift upon leaving Guizhou.  And my third cheongsam was a touristy type from the Silk Market in Beijing before I left back to Seattle.  I just love the style and really think it makes every woman look so elegant.  So, when my wedding came around, I definitely jumped at the chance to make a special cheongsam for that occasion.

Going through this little exhibit was an eye opener.  I mean, that phrase:  "You learn something new everyday…" really stuck in my head.  It was awesome to learn that this style of dress emerged in Hong Kong during the 1920s and really exploded in popularity in the 50s and 60s.

There was also an amazing five-minute video on how the silk clasps and buttons were made.  Out of a silk strip of fabric, glue was added to stiffen the fabric, it was folded over three times to create a streamlined stiffer strip, it was then shaped, and then sealed.  This video was, perhaps, the highlight of the exhibit (besides seeing Miss Hong Kong's beautiful cheongsam).  This exhibit is free for the public until March 3, 2014.  It is definitely worth going down to Tsim Sha Tsui to check out these cheongsams from some of Hong Kong's most famous women:  from film actresses to Cantonese opera stars and more.

Miss Hong Kong 1977 Cheongsam

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mémoire Mondays: Tokyo, Japan 2005

This past month, I had been backing up a lot of my old computers' files.  A swell of warm memories hit me as I was going through an album of when I lived in Japan.  Here are some photos of Ueno Park.  Everything touristy is here:  Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Western Art Museum, Ueno Zoo, Tokyo National Museum, National Science Museum, Toshogu Shrine, Kaneiji Temple, Shinobazu Pond and also the beautiful sakura trees.

Moving to Japan was the first time that I had really lived away from home.  It was also the point in my life that kickstarted my life living abroad.

I remember riding the train from Gunman prefecture into Tokyo and thinking about all the things that I had accomplished.

1)  paid my own bills
2)  made new friends
3)  cooked
4) traveled a country
5) explored temples, onsens and cities
6) figured out transportation
7) learned a bit of Japanese
8) and learned to be independent

Being a twin, I always had my sister as a safety blanket.  Anyhow, I had been running all these thoughts through my head as I was riding that train.  I kept thinking that that was my last trian ride in Japan.  It was a beautiful ride.  It was a beautifully sunny and extraordinarily green day.  It was a great train ride and, thankfully, not my last!

Eating roasted chestnuts in the park

Exploring the temples in the park

Visiting the National Science Museum

Enjoying the Spring

Friday, February 21, 2014

First Fridays: Tai Sang Wai

I want to try to do something new on Fridays, which is why I am going to call this series of blogs "First Fridays."  Though I have been to visit this wonderful village many times, this is the first time that I have taken photos and shared them with others.

Today, I went to visit a friend of mine out in the Tai Sang Wai village in Yuen Long.  This village is known for their fish ponds, which supply fish to local markets, and the wild wetland birds of the area.  Every time that I am out walking the ponds, I see a couple of birdwatchers here and there with their massive lenses.

Banana bunches growing everywhere

A wooden boat in one of the ponds

The clouds came in a few minutes after we walked out over to the ponds 
A beautiful rustic building on stilts surrounded by banana trees

Housing sprawl from the main village area

My friend calls this Banana Lane, which reminds me of how Anne of Green Gables named places on Prince Edward Island

Can you spot the King Fisher?

Drained pond 

House guard dog
I can see why people love to visit this place.  There is always something interesting to find.

During the past few weeks, the villagers had been busy draining last season's ponds and filling up this season's ones.  It has been a huge scale operation, which my friend's family is constantly discussing.  For me, it was just fascinating to learn about huge ponds being drained.  It was also interesting to see last season's fish crop being replaced by new ones.  I am not sure if sharing photos of deceased fish might appeal to anyone reading this blog, but I'll be happy to email you a photo if you are interested.

Anyhow, this village is always such fun to visit because it is so quiet and far away from the sights and sounds of the city center.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Afternoon Tea at Disney

This week, one of my good friends and I headed over to the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel's Walt's Cafe for afternoon tea.  The Hotel was a wonderful place to explore on a cold and dreary day.  Though "cold and dreary" make me feel so nostalgic of home!  The staff were out-of-my-expectations accommodating and amazing.  Overall, the experience and the atmosphere were just what I needed to start off my week.

The maze, which really makes me feel like I'm in the Queen of Hearts' garden in Alice in Wonderland.

Earl Grey for my beautifully gray, overcast day.

Bottom tier:  miniature macaroons, mango and custard pudding, raspberry cheesecake, and sugar cookies

Middle tier:  Sourdough ham and cheese sandwich, shrimp with cucumbers and carrots, and a salmon caper sandwich

Top tier:  Cranberry scones and butter scones

Butter, jam, and cream
The Review:
1.  Presentation (3 out of 5)  I liked the novelty of the Mickey Mouse shaped scones, cookies, carrots, and the like, but the sandwiches and cakes were just thrown onto the plates without much thought towards the presentation/arrangement.

2.  Taste (2.5 out of 5)  It was average.  Nothing really stood out.  I liked how there was a mix of savory and sweet, but the sweet was a bit too sweet for me.

3.  Service (4 out of 5)  I liked when people smiled and attended to us right when we entered Walt's Cafe.  They refilled our tea pots with hot water, broke down the tiers as we took our time with the dessert plate, and boxed up the bits we didn't get to eating.

4.  Atmosphere (4 out of 5)  Being in the Disneyland Resort is just wonderful.  There was music playing.  The staff were dressed up in period pieces.  And the decor just took me to another world.  I just loved the Cafe and the Hotel!

5.  Return-ability (2.5 out of 5)  I would probably not return to Walt's Cafe for afternoon tea any time soon.  It is a fun place to take family when they are in town.  In fact, if my mother wants to check out what afternoon tea is like at Disney, I'll definitely take her.  If I'm feeling home sick and in need of a reasonably priced afternoon tea, in a great location, and with great people surrounding me, then I probably will return.  But, not any time soon.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Plan

My husband asked me, "When you leave this world, what do you want to leave behind?"

The first things to rush into my mind were all things that I still need to do with my life:

1.  I need to travel more
2.  I would like to try more High Tea places
3.  I want to start a family
4.  I need to be with my family more
5.  I want to write a book
6.  I need to make this city my home
7.  I would love to purchase my own home
8.  I need to learn the language of the land
9.  I would love to stick with my amazing part-time job and remain part-time
10.  I want to continue dancing hula with my wonderful hula pals
11.  I want to skate more and continue feeling youthful
12.  I want to write a blog

I'm sure I can add a lot more to this list.

With all the things that I want to still do, what will I be leaving behind that is meaningful?  What will I leave behind that will benefit the world?  I left my previous job with a great motivation to find my mission in life.  After a few months of delving into the world of part-time working and part-time living, I have acquired so many new interests, friends, and experiences.

I want to start this blog with recollections and stories from my past, with thoughts of the moment, and my goals and plans for the future. I want to write as much as I can and leave this content behind for whomever might find it interesting.  Who knows how this will all pan out.

The marina back home 
My new urban jungle