First & foremost, I GOT MY BLOG REDESIGNED. For those of you who stop by here regularly you will hopefully notice that “Andrea’s Passions” has had a little facelift (and hopefully like it!). It’s taken some time to get perfect but I’m really happy with the finished result and can’t thank Matt (seriously the most patient man in the world) enough for putting up with me. Although now all the fun and reformatting begins…
That aside, I can’t believe it’s already October and I am two months down into HK living! My time here is flying by and I am now terrified by how quickly this experience is going to come to an end. I also appreciate that I’ve been utterly useless and not published one single post about Hong Kong but I feel enthused to write again now that I have my *shiny new website*, and have plenty of good content in the pipeline so please bear with me.
October was a fun and full-on month with several visitors stopping by. Michael & Will (who I also went to Marbella with last year) flew over for Part 1 of their “Asia Travels” (Part 2 to come later), with me doing my best to jam as many activities as possible into their short visit but us failing miserably to complete most of them in favour of visiting Hong Kong’s never-ending list of amazing bars (not the worst trade-off). We did, however, manage to complete 1 of 3 planned hikes, “Dragon’s Back”, commonly considered to be Hong Kong’s most loved trail due to how close and easy it is to get to from central Hong, yet once on the trail you are surrounded only by peaceful countryside and lush woodland.
It’s a relatively easy hike in comparison to some of the others which Hong Kong has to offer, with the trail taking you along the rugged undulating spinal ridge of the Dragon’s Back providing beautiful views either side to Clear Water Bay and Stanley. The hike ends in the popular Shek O village where we treated ourselves to a delicious seafood lunch at Cococabana and chilled on Shek O beach before jumping in a cab over to Cabana in Repulse Bay and having the most exceptional afternoon possible sipping champagne in a water tub on an open-air rooftop watching the sun disappear into the sea.
Josie popped by too, and I treated her to the number 1 Hong Kong tourist attraction, a trip up to Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island which therefore offers exceptional views of the surrounding cityscapes. The most famous way of getting up to The Peak is via the historical Peak Tram which has served the people since 1888, but of course I thought it better that we hike it on that particularly hot, clear-blue skied day… sorry Jose. Needless to say we had melted by the time we reached the Peak.
(Post-shower) Josie & I enjoyed a lovely early evening at the Armani Bar, where we were thrilled to learn that we could enjoy bottomless cocktails for £25 a head (considering the place is usually daylight robbery) until 7pm. Naturally we took advantage of this and, 6 bellinis later, it’s fair to say that we were well on our way to an excellent night… that sadly ended with food poisoning for me!
The end of the month revolved around Halloween celebrations, which are taken much more seriously over here than back home. Every shop, bar and restaurant was decorated to the nines and I loved how much of an effort everyone made with their costumes. A few of us visited Ocean Park, a theme park, for the October special “Fright Night”, which was absolutely epic. All of the staff and loads of visitors had dressed up and the special rides were amazing. A friend of mine also had a party on his rooftop with beautiful views of Wan Chai which was not a bad place to start our Halloween Saturday night celebrations.
And what better way to while away a hangover than on a “junk” (really just a boat as it was not a true traditional red-sail Chinese junk boat) dipping in & out of the sea and watching the sunset.
Visitors mean food (and poverty), since there is unsurprisingly (and very sadly) a strong correlation between good food and a hefty price tag. I started Michael & Will’s Hong Kong food tour at Ho Lee Fook, a funky modern Chinese restaurant renowned for its wall of gold beckoning Chinese lucky cats.
We also visited 22 Ships, Jason Atherton’s (yep, he’s well on his way to making his mark all the way out over here too) laid-back and utterly delicious tapas restaurant.
At Baan Rim Pa, my favourite restaurant in Phuket, Thailand, we tucked into their famous and sensationally good blue dumplings whilst perched on an open-air balcony listening to the waves crash against the rocks below.
Josie & I hit up Chom Chom, a much loved Vietnamese restaurant in central Hong Kong with what has been described as having a “cult-like following”. *Source of food poisoning questionable but almost certain*. That said, the food was delicious (and I will be returning).
Jose also treated me to an unreal meal at Hutong, where we gorged on Chinese food that I now know from living here to be designed entirely for the Westerner, but which was absolutely faultless. The incredible views of Victoria Harbour didn’t exactly hurt either and, unexpectedly, the heavy downpour outside only added to the romantic ambience of the restaurant.
A “detox juice” and smashed avo on toast kinda brunch at Aberdeen Street Social, the 3rd of Atherton’s outposts in Hong Kong, was also necessary post-boozy Friday night out.
Finally, I had an awesome meal with great company at Mama San, which essentially offers the very best of Asian fusion and was therefore always going to receive a big thumbs up from me.
Part 2 of Michael & Will’s “Asia Travels” saw the three of us fly to Phuket together for 5 days. We spent most of our days chilling by the pool and our evenings eating good local Thai food, though we did spend two nights experiencing the delights of Patong. We actually went to a ping pong show (at my insistence) as I wanted to see one for myself so as to be able to have a justified opinion on it. I thought I was going to be horrified from start to finish and want to rescue every girl in there; surprisingly, I left still wanting to rescue the vast majority of women in there, principally all of the girls tottering around in bikinis & heels forced to slime on men to try and get them to buy drinks, but I also left with a newfound respect for ping pong performers (for those who haven’t seen one, think much wider outside of the box than just ping pong balls… I’m talking live animals, razor blades, knitting needles…) who are not only talented (granted, it may not be a talent that many of us wish to pursue, but impressive it is nonetheless), but also seemed to genuinely enjoy being on stage and interacting with their audience… bearing in mind I was studying, hard. So now I don’t really know what I think. Thoughts?
On a much lighter note, we also spent a day at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, one of my absolute favourite ways to spend a day in Asia and which I would recommend to anyone & everyone as an incredible experience, just make sure you go to a centre that does not allow riding! Elephants are my FAVOURITE animal, I just find them so mystifying and complete & utter gentle giants, and the only animal other than dogs that I can personally connect with. They have such strong personalities and are so smart and sensitive and caring and cry, laugh, play, express compassion and grief, and have the most incredible memories (this is an amazing watch)! So yeah, I guess you could say I like elephants… I actually own a little baby nelly called Ewok in Amboseli National Park in Kenya (so many emojis I want to insert here right now).
I’ve fed and walked and washed elephants at the sanctuaries I’ve been to before, but this was my first time rolling around in mud and washing with them! It was absolutely amazing and a day that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
I managed to miss my flight back to Hong Kong so had to stick around Thailand for another day (the worst, eh?) but eventually made it back in one piece, sadly on the same day that the Thai King died.
All in all I had a pretty great October, and with the weather starting to cool and humidity lift in Hong Kong, I’m looking forward to getting out & about more and showing you around this wonderful country. Plus, I’ve got two weeks of back-to-back visitors this month so will be showcasing the very best!