Friday, April 29, 2016

Parade in Yuen Long

It was one of those mornings when I found myself in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time.  I was on my way out when I noticed drums beating to my right along On Ning Road…and down the way a parade was starting up.

Someone told me it was in honor of Tin Hau, but I'm not too sure about it.  I do know that the Labour Day holiday is coming up on Monday…but I sort of think that this little parade was not related to that!

So, if anyone has an idea what this parade was about, please let me know!

Catching the parade was quite exciting!  Though it was small, it was mighty!  Reminds me of the parades back home…we used to go to them all the time in Hawaii.  We used to sit out on straw mats on the main street and wait for the parades to start.  I think, back in the 80s, people still really enjoyed seeing parades…I feel like I've sort of outgrown them.

Outgrowing parades?  Well…the last time I was in Disneyland (3 years ago), I didn't even care to see the parade.

This morning, though…made me relive the memories of the great times I had watching dancers, marching bands, and floats…

Perhaps I should catch parades more often!

***Scenes from today's parade!***

Monday, April 25, 2016

Simply Life Admiralty

When in doubt, eat at Simply Life!

Well…it is the easy choice at times!

I think we're just addicted to this place right now.  Every weekend…every holiday…and in every district…we've been finding ourselves having lunch at Simply Life.  It's just the, again, easiest choice these days…plus, the menu has always been really nice.

And the set lunch menu is always a good value for what you get.  For 108 HKD (plus a 10% service charge), you get a soup/salad, main entree, and a drink (coffee/tea).

I feel like this place is like McDonalds…way back in high school.  I used to go there all the time during our lunch hour and order from a menu that I knew…and when something new came out, I'd test it out.  That's sort of what the menu of Simply Life is to me (and that's saying a lot because I love McDonalds!)  

I still have warm fuzzy feelings over the McDonald's pancakes that I used to order when we'd go on family road trips!  

We were down in Admiralty dealing with some US Consulate affairs…and decided to pop into Lab Concept, which used to be my favorite mall to visit.  It's connected to Pacific Place and also the Admiralty MTR Station.  It's a really convenient mall to visit and also has some really awesome shops like EVERY COSMETIC brand, Pandora, Top Shop, Urban Outfitters, The Body Shop, M&S Food, a Starbucks and a few other eateries...

It's a great mall to window shop through…

The Simply Life here also has a slightly different menu to that of Yuen Long's Yoho Mall's Simply Life.

There was a chicken burger on offer and I love burgers, so it was an easy option for me to try.

The cool thing about the Admiralty Simply Life is that they gave us different breads along with our soup/salads.  The one in Yuen Long gives the same type of bread (if that makes any sense) every time we've been there.  It's nice to try something new every now and then…

We also got the fish, which was called the Seared Barramundi.  I'm not familiar with barramundi, but I have seen it on menus a lot here in HK.  It was nice, none the less.

The food was pretty nice…and the restaurant was even more impressive.  I've never been to this Simple Life before, but it is really quite rustic looking.  A chic kind of rustic.

The lunch hour started around noon…and there was already a line up outside the restaurant.  The limit for lunch was set at an hour…so, we had an allotted hour to order, eat, and enjoy before we had to leave.  I think that's probably the nature of most of the eateries down in Admiralty?  If anyone knows…please let me know.

Because, just from observation, it's crazy busy during the lunch hour and people really do have a limited time to eat before they head back to work.

So, I totally understand the one hour limit…

Do, I mind it…eh…I don't really because I wasn't in Admiralty to really chill for the afternoon!

Besides the main restaurant area, there is also a bakery, where you can order pasties and breads to go.

It was a good afternoon spent.  And it was nice to experience the hustle and bustle of the Admiralty lunch rush hour.  It makes me wonder if I'd ever be into working in an office and living the 9 - 5 life!  It's attractive at times…

Friday, April 22, 2016

Amazing Find: Allergy Season

It's S.P.R.I.N.G.!

It's that time of the year when my allergies start acting up.

I know it because my nose will be running and my eyes will be watering from the "cotton" fluff that these trees will be starting to produce…

All over Yuen Long…"cotton" fluff will be flying in the air, sticking to my hair, and getting caught in my mouth...

So, when I start seeing these red flowers dropping all over the sidewalks…I know…

Spring is now in full force!

I'll be one of the millions who will be wearing a surgical mask around the next couple of days…weeks…(until summer comes).  And isn't that the most attractive look in the world?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Light Rail

One of the great things about living up in the New Territories is that there is a Light Rail system.  It's a mini set of trains that run along the streets and get to the places where the MTR cannot get to.  

In Yuen Long, the Light Rail runs along Castle Peak Road.  There are mainly FIVE stops:

1.  Shui Pin Wai (which is near the Yuen Long Plaza and the Yuen Long West Bus Terminus)
2.  Fung Nin Road
3.  Hong Lok Road
4.  Tai Tong Road (which is the main intersection)
5.  Yuen Long MTR Station (which connects to Yoho Mall)

The entrance and exits are quite open, but there are Light Rail staff there to catch anyone who hops on without paying!

Speaking of…in Seattle, there have been a handful of people who I've seen just jump on the Light Rail without paying.  But, there are the Light Rail "police" who jump on at random times to check people's tickets.  It's such a hard system to apply trust to…when you don't have a clear ENTRANCE and EXIT gate!

When entering the Light Rail platform, you have to "doot" the Octopus Card on the Entrance Machine (for a lack of better words to describe!)

When exiting, you "doot"the Octopus Card again and an automatic charge for the distance traveled will be deducted.

The platform is pretty standard…with some benches and an overhanging cover to protect patrons from the rain.  Times of the oncoming Light Rail cars are also displayed on the platform.

A map, which is pretty tough to figure out at first (but comes in time) is also available at every stop.  So, you can stand there and study where to go!

On some platforms (the bigger ones in the city centers) also have Octopus Card recharging machines.  So, if you find your Octopus Card empty, you can always top it off at one of these machines.  English language option available!

The Light Rail is pretty handy during those times when you just don't feel like walking the 15 minutes to the other end of Yuen Long!  It's often quite crowded though…just like the streets, but it does make life a little bit faster!

A word of caution…always watch where you are going when crossing the street…I've seen people not even look both ways before crossing over the light rail track...

…and a HUGE SOUNDING HORN from the Light Rail conductor will blow and totally make your heart stop!  Because there are no barriers when the Light Rail goes by, it is pretty dangerous to cross the road without the OK from the Cross Walk Sign.

The Light Rail System extends from Yuen Long to Tuen Mun and a few places in between!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Yuen Long Amenities

One of the great things about living in Yuen Long (besides the bike trails, proximity to the Tai Tong County Park  and food) are the public amenities.  Most, of which, are clustered in the same area:  along Yuen Long Tai Yuk Road.

The first public amenity is the  Yuen Long District Sports Association Jockey Club Complex (long name!).  It's a space where the locals can participate and organize sporting events right in our district…opposed to traveling down to Kowloon.

While reading up on the sports complex, online stated that this complex was built back in 2011.  It was meant to "nurture public interest and participation in sports" as well as developing young athletes.  It's a wonderful sounding place, where there are a myriad of sporting activities that can be joined.

I haven't really joined any of the activities, but I have seen people practice dragon dancing outside of the building.  And inside the complex there is a wall of plaques and even a window of trophies that have been won.  So, it seems like this complex is quite busy with activities.

It's like the YMCA almost…where kids can go and do their sports thing and get off of the street (like the streets are that bad here!).

Right outside of the Sports Comlex is a beautiful walking area…where there are benches to sit out and enjoy the sun.  The walking area goes straight towards Yuen Long Park.

It's also where my favorite scent lingers…osmanthus bushes run along the median of the walking area…

Along the way to Yuen Long Park is the Yuen Long Swimming Pool…the public amenity I probably use the most.  It was this year that we realized that there was the option of swimming through the winter, as the main swimming pool is now a heated pool.

Usually, in the summers this place is packed, but, in the early mornings, there are only a few older citizens swimming in the lanes.  So, if you like to do laps, the early mornings are ideal!

It ranges from $17 - $19 HKD for admission into the pool.  You can also buy a monthly pass for $300 HKD if you swim daily.

In the evenings, this place is a great place to take a stroll.  There are always people out with their families just walking and enjoying the cooler evenings.

Yuen Long Park, again, is where this pathway leads to.  This place is often quite busy during the spring, summer, and fall…because it's a great place to just chill and hang out.  This past weekend, people were out with their families, setting up tents and picnic blankets…it was quite a nice scene.  It makes me think of Capitol Hill in the summers…when everyone is just sunbathing at Cal Anderson Park!

Another public facility that I use a lot is the track at the Yuen Long Stadium.  Often times, I've seen the Yuen Long Football club practicing here too.  It's actually a really fun thing to watch them train…though I've never really seen a game.  It's nice to know that we have a football club of our very own.  Makes me think that Yuen Long is bigger than it really is!  I mean, most days, I can walk from one part of Yuen Long to the other in 15 minutes…along Castle Peak Road…so, it seems like quite the small district to me!

Usually, during the early mornings or late afternoons are the best times to walk/run the track.  It's free, just walk in and jump on the track.  It's quite nice and padded.  And people like to stick to their lanes, just like the swimming pool, which is nice.

A little bit up the road is the Yuen Long Theatre, where quite a few English shows can be seen. But, I do admit that the majority of the time, I'd rather head into TST or Wan Chai to see the shows because they're always bigger, better, and badder.  The shows that I've seen at the Yuen Long Theatre were all right.  They do make for a nice little date night activity though.  And it is nice to have a theatre nearby.

The final public facility that I'm blogging about today is the Yuen Long Town Hall.  It's like every other town hall, I guess.  There are spaces that you can rent…there are events held inside…and there are administrative things that go on here that deal with Yuen Long district.

Right beside the Yuen Long Town Hall building is a little play ground and also court…another public facility!

I actually didn't realize that there were a good amount of public amenities in Yuen Long.  It does make living here quite nice.  Most everything is in  walking distance, but I guess everything in HK is quite in walking distance (since districts are pretty much self contained).  There are loads of places that are child-friendly to go to…like the swimming pool (where they also offer swimming classes) and the park, where a lot of the locals celebrate festivals at.  It's a really nice little district to live in…I should realize that more often!