Sunday, May 31, 2015

Yuen Long Flea Market


I was up early today and was walking to the Long Ping MTR Station, which is the other side of Yuen Long.  I discovered this beautiful sight at the bottom of the Station:  A FLEA MARKET!

Has this always been here?

Does this flea market set up every Sunday?





These were the questions that were swirling around in my head.  These are the questions that I plan to ask some of the vendors next week, if they are still there…but I was in a rush to head down to Central...

One woman's junk is another woman's treasure!  I wonder what gems this flea market holds!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Swimming Cheung Chau

One of my favorite things to do in Hong Kong's blistering hot Spring/Summer/Fall seasons is to head down to the beaches for a lay around.  On our trip to Cheung Chau Island, we not only tasted a few treats and explored the Island by foot, but we also took a visit to Tung Wan Beach.

We headed down here in the morning when it wasn't as crowded.  Plus, I heard somewhere that it's best not to be exposed to the sun's rays from 11 am - 4pm.  We must have gotten there around 10 am or so.  So, we benefited by being early birds in two ways!

Tung Wan Beach is a little strip of beach that sits between the Warwick Hotel and a bunch of beach condos.  It sits right opposite the Cheung Chau Ferry Terminal.  It probably took us around 10 minutes to calmly stroll to the beach.

Warwick Hotel at the end of the beach
Things you can expect at Tung Wan Beach:

1.  Fair quality
2.  Changing/Bathroom facilities
3.  A lifeguard on duty
4.  A couple floating platforms
5.  Pretty nice sand

6.  A nice view out towards Lamma Island
7.  A snack kiosk
8.  A few rental places for beach toys, umbrellas, life vests...

Lamma Island in the distance

One of the entrances down to the beach is this stone gateway.  How many beaches do you know of that have these?

The water was pretty calm and there weren't huge chunks of debris in the water…like some other beaches around Hong Kong.  Though it's scorching hot these days, the water was pretty cold.  But, bearably cold.

It was a great beach, while it was empty!

I kid!

It was a pretty nice beach though.  And I feel lucky that we had it mostly to ourselves.  I take pleasure in having moments like these…as it's always so crowded everywhere!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Eating Cheung Chau

Like I said on Monday's post, one of the fun things for me to do on Cheung Chau Island is to try all the food…especially junk food, as my husband and I tend to be junk food junkies when we go out.  So, before heading out to Cheung Chau, we looked up some popular treats to try via some online blogs.

The first place we hit up was actually not planned, but just a quick snack right off of the ferry from Central.  A bit to the left of the ferry terminal was a little shop selling some mango mochi.

For 10 HKD, you can pick up a little mochi filled with mango puree.  Though mochi isn't my cup of tea, it was a nice little treat to start off our foodie adventures.

The next three places we hit up were along Tung Wan Road heading towards Tung Wan Beach.

Snack Shop #1
It's called Pirate King (or 海盜王張保仔 in Chinese) and it sells such things as shaved ice, fish cakes, giant biscuits, bubble tea and tofu fa (a sweet dessert tofu that is one of my favorite treats to eat!).

NOTE:  The link to the blog that we found this little snack shop on is in Chinese.  The page for this shop doesn't have very much of any reviews, but can be viewed here!

As we were deciding on what to try, we definitely had the idea to pick up a shaved ice.  It's the perfect thing to eat on a hot day, but we went for something that was a bit more unique…We went for the block of fish cake with sweet and sour/spicy sauce!

The fish cake was piping hot and made fresh, which I highly appreciated.  It was pretty nice.  A bit of salt and also a nice spicy dipping sauce came with it.  It was good to try something salty and savory after that mango mochi we had had at the ferry pier.

The Review:
1.  Presentation (3 out of 5)  Though this was just a fish cake on a stick, it's pretty difficult to share a fish cake on a stick as well as dip it into a little container with sauce.  They may have thought this was the best means of serving up this snack, but I could probably do with a paper plate!

2.  Taste (3 out of 5)  I'm not too keen on fish cakes, but the outside was nice and crispy.  I'm not the expert on how fish cakes should taste, but, it was nice.

3.  Service (5 out of 5)  The lady that was working behind the counter was rather chattyperhaps she was a morning person, but she made the wait for our fish cake seem pleasant.

4.  Atmosphere (4 out of 5)  The Pirate King is located in a little square area, so there are a lot of places to sit and eat.  It's also in the corner of the square, so you can tuck yourself into the corner and be out of the way of other customers.  The funny thing was, there were about four other customers and their partners all eating standing up (alongside ourselves)...eating their shaved ice or fish cakes on sticks too!  So, the little area around the shop was crowded with standing people eating their snacks!

5.  Return-ability (1 out of 5)  I think, because this was street food, I might opt to try other street foods than come back here.  I would come back to try the other snacks though, but this might be the only time I will try the fish cake.  It was a nice little place.  I know the people are nice…so I might return to try other things.

Snack Shop #2
The next food stall to the left of the Pirate King was called the Welcome Food Court (or 時來食坊 in Chinese).  Some online blogs praised their GIANT FISH BALLS because of the portion and taste.  We went over to see if their praises met our expectations.

The GIANT FISH BALLS were 10 HKD and you got to select different sauces to accommodate your fish ball:  satay, spicy, curry, fresh, pepper salt and deep friend.  I'm thinking that the "fresh" option was just plain?

We opted for the curry sauce because CURRY FISH BALLS are actually one of Hong Kong's popular street foods.

The Review:

1.  Presentation (3 out of 5)  Again, food on sticks.  It's pretty tough to eat, though sort of fun.  It is messy.  I could have done with a paper plate!  Plus, I felt like the curry sauce had dripped all onto the ground by the time I was half way through my BIG FISH BALL.

2.  Taste (3 out of 5)  This was pretty similar to the fish cake we had had a hot minute ago.  The curry sauce was nice, but it was not as thick of a consistency as I would have liked.

3.  Service (5 out of 5)  The woman behind this counter was pretty outstanding.  There were about a group of 5 - 7 kids ordering at the same time as three other parties of people and she kept on cracking out the fish balls at a consistent pace.  There was a really short wait period!

4.  Atmosphere (3 out of 5)  There were more people around Welcome Food Court than I had anticipated.  So, just imagine a little under 15 people standing in front of this little shop eating their fish balls on sticks.  Also, imagine everyone's fish balls dripping with various sauces.  Messy!

5.  Return-ability (1 out of 5)  The fish balls weren't as GIANT as I thought they were going to beso the novelty of returning is not there for me.  It was nice to try, but I'd also like to try something different next time round.

Snack Shop #3
It's called One Come Desserts (or 一來甜品 in Chinese).  This just looked like a good place to pick up some cold mango smoothies.  I think we were mainly drawn to this place because all the kids seemed to be keen on it.

The Review:

1.  Presentation (4 out of 5)  These mango smoothies just looked so amazingly refreshing!  The only thing isI wish there were a lid of some sort because I got a bit of dust in mine when the wind blew.

2.  Taste (5 out of 5)  Fresh mangoes blended into a smoothie are absolutely delicious!  And it was coldit gave me the perfect brain freeze.  Delicious!

3.  Service (5 out of 5)  The service was quick.  I like when service is quick, especially when the woman was making drinks and shaved ice for a dozen kids or so at the same time.

4.  Atmosphere (4 out of 5)  There was actually a public sitting area right in front of this shopso we had somewhere to sit, in the shade.

5.  Return-ability (1 out of 5)  There are so many places to pick up drinks that I would most likely test out some other places before returning to this place.

Afternoon Tea @ U Can Cook

We were drawn to the name of this place because it reminded us of Martin Yan's saying, "If Yan can cook, so can you!"

U Can Cook is a more western foods type of restaurant (maybe Italian inspired?).  There is a dessert section and a dining section across the street from each other.  It serves up dishes like salads, pastas, steaks, and soups.

We shared the German sausage w/ salad and an all day breakfast set.

Iced Ovaltine and an Iced Lemon Water

Caesar Salad

German Sausage

1.  Presentation (4 out of 5)  It was pretty.  And I liked the variety of plates the food was served on:  ovals, rectangles, and circles!  They really wanted the food to look colorful.  Everything was clean.

2.  Taste (3 out of 5)  It was mediocre.

3.  Service (3.5 out of 5)  The staff were nice.  

4.  Atmosphere (3 out of 5)  It was uber crowded in this tiny restaurant.  The tables were very close together, but I sort of like that atmosphere.  It feels like a real Hong Kong style restaurant to have a lot of people crammed into a small space.

5.  Return-ability (1 out of 5)  There was nothing spectacular about this place.  Though the people were nice and the food was all right, it didn't SING to me.  I'd opt for some place else next time.

We were so stuffed at the end of this meal... 

Before we left, though, we ran over to a highly recommended bakery to buy some of the FAMOUS CHEUNG CHAU PEACE BUNS.

Kwok Kam Kee Cake Shop
This was one of the most popular bakeries that we read about from a bunch of online food blogs.  The Kwok Kam Kee Cake Shop (or 郭錦記餅店 in Chinese) is located at 46 Pak She Street near the Pak Tai Temple and also close to the Cheung Chau Bun Tower grounds.

There are a variety of bun fillings available for 10 HKD a bun.  We got taro, red bean, and two lotus paste filled buns.

LEGEND TELLS IT that if you eat a bun then it'll give you luck for the rest of the year.  So, I guess that means we'll be returning to Cheung Chau next year to re-eat our year's worth of luck!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Visiting Cheung Chau Island

The EIGHTH day…

...of the FOURTH month…

...of the LUNAR calendar…

Every year, around Buddha's birthday, Cheung Chau hosts its annual Bun Festival.  This is the time of year when Cheung Chau fills with people in every nook and cranny from the island's tallest cloud to the lowest rock bed.

It's these times when my husband and I decide to make a trip to Cheung Chau a few days before all the festivities begin, which brings me to this week's Cheung Chau focused blogs!

Though we missed out on being smashed between thousands of excited people to view the famous parade of floats…

Though we totally decided to miss out on watching various teams climb to the top of the bun towers…

..we didn't feel too bad because we did get to spend some quality time together on Cheung Chau when there were not a lot of people visiting.  And we also managed to grab a few famous Cheung Chau buns for our ride back to Central.

The most common way to get to Cheung Chau Island is to head to the Central Ferry Piers and hop onto a ferry to Cheung Chau Island.

Once landed on the Island, there are several things that you can do:
1.  Explore the Island on bike

2.  Shop around the main downtown area

3.  Eat amazing foods

4.  Visit the temples

5.  Go for a swim at the beach

6.  Just see what the Island has to offer...

***Some cool things about Cheung Chau***

I love the bun paraphernalia!

love the old buildings over run with banyan trees.

love the quiet streets when there is no influx of loads of tourists.

love the specialty shops.

love how you can find everything you need at the local shops (from toys to slippers for the beach).

loved finding this handicrafts boutique especially because I got a lot of wonderful gifts for my family here.  It's called My Arts if you are ever wandering around Cheung Chau and find it, please do check it out!

love seeing the wall murals that are spotted all around the Island.

love bumping into interesting and unique properties like the one below.

love seeing how much this place changes over the year.  There is now a Lock of Love "wall" along one of the main streets that goes towards Tung Wan Beach.

love the unique things that shops fill themselves with (mah zhong plushies!)

love how every few steps is a place to find a new snack or a place to shop for interesting souvenirs.  The streets are so compacted with so much eye candy.

love finding some awesome bargains on beachwear.

love how you can rent bikes for an hour or for a day.  There is so much of the Island to see and having a bike will help you get out to The Ancient Rock Carving or the Cheung Po Tsai Cave a lot more quickly than by foot.

I also love how rental places now tell you that it is illegal to have someone riding in the back seat of the petty cabs, but people still do it.

And, finally, I love how you can find a peaceful bit of view along the waterfront.  It'll be forever a beautiful sight to me to see boats anchored in the water.  There is something so lovely about this sight.  It sort of reminds me of the boats anchored in the harbors around Seattle, too.  Just a lovely, lovely sight.

If someone out there has the same feeling as me…maybe you have a better way of explaining why this is such a lovely sight!

Hope you enjoyed the photos of us wandering around Cheung Chau Island!