6D5N Hong Kong 2014: Random Exploration (Stanley Market, Disneyland, Chunking Mansions)

Sham Shui Po

When I visit a country, I would hope to visit a local neighbourhood to check out how locals live. On the first day of my self-exploration, I chose to visit Sham Shui Po, located northwest of Kowloon Peninsular. Well, it wasn’t exactly a 0% touristy place as there were places like Apliu Street Flea Market which specializes in the sale of Electronic Goods.

It is home to a huge population of working-class and it is also one of the earliest developed residential district. My initial purpose was to take interesting photos of the aged buildings but the whole plan didn’t get far because of a sudden downpour :/

In the end, I only managed to take 3 photos before the heavy downpour chase me away.

It’s interesting to see how a developed nation like Hong Kong does not spend much effort in developing their “slums”. Looking at their windows and air conditioning units, it seemed like upgrading and renovation was never in their agenda since the 80s – early 90s. Then again, such places are able to retain the flavour of heritage, the culture and the experiences of the olden days.

As I was walking aimlessly down the streets of Sham Shui Po at 10 to 11am on a Thursday morning, the streets were crowded ans bustling with life (before and during the rain). There were shops selling electronic goods, handphone covers, fruits (with Thailand durains), meat, steamboat ingredients, telephone cards, clothes, street food, HK Cafes and the list goes on. It was a self-sustainable residential estate with everything you need within walking distance. The prices were really cheap yet bargain-able; probably one of the lowest in Hong Kong. If you can survive without a data card until you reach this place, do buy your data sim here. It is cheaper than anywhere else!

Shopping at Kwai Fung

Since my previous trip back in 2013, this MTR station has officially become my favourite shopping hideout. If you don’t already know, this is a stop along the red line, towards Tung Chung. It’s not too far off from the main area as the train is rather fast.

At the new mall, there was a Le Sucre bunny exhibition. So many cute little bunnies but no my wallet & luggage space cannot accommodate them.

Uh-ha! I do always have luck with celebrities right? I happen to catch a press conference of an upcoming TVB drama on a random thursday afternoon. As I have strayed away from TVB a few years ago when I cancelled by ch855 subscription, I am unable to recognize any of these new faces..

You’ll be surprise at the audience mix. I have totally no idea on why so many people have nothing to do on a thursday afternoon.. like seriously.. or perhaps half of the crowd were mainstream and non-mainstream media..

If only I graduated later.. I could have bought a toy like this for myself..

Visit to She goes to Seoul office ~~ 

The proud owner(s) of this online cosmetic shop is Lizzy and her korean Oppa.

To summarise, she met her korean boyfriend in Australia during a Working Holiday, during which, she started sharing about her life in australia on a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hkbusanoppa

After their working holiday ended, they decided to set up an online cosmetic shop based in Hong Kong, which brings in the less popular Korean cosmetic brands.

It’s only been less than a year but she is doing so well!

http://www.shegoestoseoul.com/

https://www.facebook.com/shegoestoseoul

It was really lovely to visit her in her cosy office and of course to meet her really tall busan oppa in real life. Wish them success and if you’re residing in Hong Kong, why not purchase your korean cosmetics from them?

Causeway Bay

Staying in Hong Kong Island is never complete without a Ding Ding Tram ride! I love this cheap and traditional transport that they still retain. I hope it will never be demolished. If you have the time to spare, why not save some HKD and spend 10-20 mins more to soak into Hong Kong’s tram culture? I’ll make it a point to ride this whenever possible.

(As of now) Here’s the one and only Forever 21 in Hong Kong. It is situated in Causeway Bay and I think it has 4 to 5 floors. I don’t usually shop at f21 but my friends do say that the items are slightly cheaper than Singapore.

There was also a captain america exhibition on-going at some mall in the area.

Not forgetting another of my favourite – iron man!

and causeway bay is also home to my #1 froyo shop – CRUMBS. It’s so nice that I want to franchise it back to SG T_T anyone out there with $$?

(Crumbs is no longer in operation – when I last visited in Sep 2016)

If you have the time to spare, do take a walk from Causeway Bay to Wan Chai. Along the way, you will a group of grannies under the highway bridge. These grannies are the ones that help you to “da xiao ren” aka hit little people. If there’s anyone that offend you or that you just want to vent your frustration, you can approach one of these grannies for help. I don’t really think this is black magic. I guess this is just an outlet for people to let loose on their anger. I would like to believe so too.

Near the place we stayed, there was a primary school. It was a cute sight to see students lining up outside with their mothers, grandmothers, maids, older siblings, etc. waiting to enter the school. As you can see in the photo, there are two representatives, presumably prefects standing at the school gate. I guess their main duty is to maintain law and order among the children and of course, to book the latecomers 😉

I guess it’s kind of sad that due to the lack of land, the schools are confined to concrete buildings like this. It makes me wonder if there was any physical education classes at all.. Perhaps there’s this super huge underground school hall? Maybe..

Stanley Market

Despite having visited Hong Kong n number of times, this is the first time that I’ve been to Stanley Market. Situated right at the other side of Hong Kong Island, it is indeed not very accessible. With the help of google maps, we took a public bus from Wan Chai.

As it was a Saturday, there were a lot of foreign workers in the bus with us. Along the way, there were many other beautiful beaches like repulse bay. If we had the time, I would have loved to explore all the places..

As the buses provide the stop location, we had no issues in figuring out where to stop. We stop when almost everyone else alighted – at Stanley Market.

Following the signs, we ended up at a market looking place. Surprisingly, the prices were pretty decent despite the place being so touristy. It seems to be a great hangout place for the angmohs..

After scavenging through the shops and realise that there was nothing much to buy, we finally reached the rocky shore.

and yes I do have a very flexible friend with me that day~~

The weather for spring is semi-perfect. There was adequate sunlight and sufficient wind to blow away the heat. I tried tip dip my feet into the water and it was really cold :s

As it was a Saturday, the streets were rather crowded.

There’s also a long stretch of boardwalk if you prefer to walk alongside the water.

Stanley Market is also a heaven for dogs and their owners. You should be able to see a large variety of dogs as you walk around these areas and most owners would have no issues if you would like to have a photo taken with their dog!

There’s also a pier where you can take a ferry to some other island. Didn’t look too much into it as we were running out of time :/

We even spotted two different couples taking their wedding photoshoot!

On the other side, there was a huge central area and I felt that I could just sit there all day and watch the children play..

At the top of the mall, there’s this beautiful rooftop area which would be a perfect place to sip on a cup of Cappuccino  while staring out into the blue sea.

Karaoke in Hong Kong

As it was my n trip, we had to try something new and there we go~~ to the KTV lounge at Wan Chai..

Neway is one of the famous KTV chain in Hong Kong. A little similar to Kbox in Singapore. Since it was a saturday night, we paid approximately $30 sgd for just 2 hours +/- of singing.

As the system was new, it was extremely difficult for us to select the songs and then I realise there’s an iPhone app which allows you to search for the songs! With my pathetic amount of battery life (no powerbank), we were able to choose some of our oldies like 5566 and f4. The conclusion is – the song selections is bad and their english collection is pretty crappy :/

This was the best song for the night. Doo Min Joon! You who came from the stars theme song – you are my destiny

We were then in for a great shock.

This screen appeared on our TV screen for at least more than 20 minutes and the police came in and asked for our ID. We were super freaked out but we told him we were foreigners and I showed him my driver license :/ Then, we went to the toilet and we realised that all rooms had this screen too and the people were just sitting patiently using their phone like it was something that they have experienced before.

What happened next totally pissed me off. So, we spent 20+ minutes because of the supposed police and then our singing time ended abruptly because time was up. They didn’t even bother to extend our time and they claimed there were people coming in after we leave. I don’t know how true it is but I kind of feel that if I were a local, I could have argued my way through..

Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience with the police check as if it was some tvb action drama and heh my friend said the policeman was handsome.

(Random)

Doo Min Joon is so popular in Hong Kong too.. from singapore airport to HK metro station..

Hong Kong Disneyland April 2014

The previous time I came to this place, I didn’t enter the park. My mum was just making use of the 3-day unlimited transport to travel to everywhere.. last trip I went to ocean park.. this trip.. no excuses, it was disneyland time!!

The ticket stubs were toy story themed as they just open the toy story rides not long ago.

Having been to disneyland in USA, the atmosphere is really different here in Hong Kong. Perhaps disney is more commonly linked to western culture and english speaking. I kept feeling like there was somewhat a misfit in an Asian-based  Disneyland :/

As this was the latest addition to this park, it was the first section which I wanted to cover and from the photos, you can see that it seems like a private park for me 😉

 

 

This ride may look mild but it is in fact quite scary and we didn’t take it eventually =/ scaredy cats. thankfully i wasn’t traveling with a daredevil or i will be peer-pressured to take all the rides..

Here’s a very childish but cute ride which goes in circles.

This was the army parachute ride which may look quite mild but ohmygawd once you’re on it, you will actually start screaming for your life as it drops at a rate which gives you a heart-drop D:

I managed to sneak up my camera to take these awesome photos from the top!

We were able to take photo with buzz lightyear and a rather rude jessie. shall not elaborate on how rude she was but i was so tempted to file a complain against her. argh. most prob it’s a guy inside the mascot. Anyway, apparently buzz light year wasn’t in toy story land but in tomorrow land. so we went over there to look for him. It’s a pity but he wasn’t available for photo-taking that day as it was raining.

First thing we did was to get fast pass for Space Mountain. Space mountain was a pretty amazing ride and it was different from the one that i’ve taken in japan and usa. I guess technology has improved tremendously over the years and the ride only got more thrilling and exciting. I left the ride feeling quite giddy :/ perhaps it’s my age catching up on me..

Here’s one super cute cotton candy~~

Then we went to queue for the buzz lightyear ride which was pretty much the same as the one i’ve taken in USA.

Basically, you sit on this cart and hold a gun. As the cart moves ahead, you have to use the gun and fire at those targets.

Since I was pretty experienced at it, heh, my score was 38,200 against my friend’s 5,000 =D

Being in disneyland, mickey shape would be a common feature in every single thing that you can think of. Even this cup of hot chocolate couldn’t escape mickey’s icon.

We went to watch the lion king show which was a really great musical with (i think so) live singing and spectacular costumes and floats and music. If only it could be longer~~

We had lunch at the beauty and the beast dining hall. I love how they themed it so well from the lighting to the tiles to the waitresses uniform.

Got myself a japanese bento set which wasn’t exactly fantastic. Then again, theme park food is hardly ever nice..

The weather was really terrible and if I didn’t remember wrongly, it was raining from 12 noon all the way till the fireworks at 9pm. Although most of the outdoor rides were still in operation, getting wet and cold and risk falling sick wasn’t exactly appealing. We ended up spending most of our time taking photo with all the mascots. There was winnie the pooh, mickey, minnie, goofy, chip and dale, donald duck and the princesses~~

I really love Disney’s giftshop~~ They have such a huge collection of duffy but I managed to resist myself from buying any home..

I ended up buying this waffle as it was really cute! The taste was just average for the price I paid..

There’s a huge range of handphone covers all selling for approx 300 HKD and I actually bought some of them off taobao last year at a quarter of the price.. hmm.

As it was getting dark and cold, we decided to seek shelter in a restaurant.

We ordered the mushroom soup truffle and it was really delicious! (I take back my words on how theme park food taste horrible)

Ordered some wings to go along and the bread was complimentary.

 

It’s funny how I told my friend to eat really really slowly because we had to kill the time until it was 9pm for the fireworks. Despite ordering only two small dishes, we were sitting there for a good 2 hours =/

The fireworks show was pretty decent and well worth the wait. It’s also different from the one that I have watched in USA. I thought it would have been the same.

Tsim Tsa Tsui 

If you exit via TST MTR station exit D2 before 10am in the morning, you’ll be in for a great shock. This queue started in the middle of nowhere and for a moment I thought there were queuing for the money changer at the start of the queue o_o There were people of all age, nationalities. Some were even armed with luggage. Back then, I thought that perhaps they were queuing up for some special bus to the airport or something..

Well, we ended up asking a random person in the queue what was this whole thing about.

Yes, this was the reason for the insane queue – Jenny Bakery. Some supposedly heavenly-tasting butter cookies. The conclusion was that I didn’t bother to queue though it will probably take lesser time as compared to the queue for my japanese food few nights back.

Tsim Tsa Tsui, being situated on Kowloon Island, is home to Chunking Mansions. This building is so amazing that a professor wrote an entire book about this building. “Ghetto at the center of the world – Chunking Mansions, Hong Kong by Gordon Mathews”

This place is so interesting that upon my return, I watched Wong Kar-Wai’s famous movie – Chunking Express. After the movie ended, I watched 3 more of his films over the span of two days.

The curiosity I had for this building increased  Then, I went to the library to borrow the book and read about half of it. I hope to be writing an entire entry solely on Chunking Mansions in the near future. There’s so much that I would like to share about this special place.

Anyway, the main reason we went in that day was to visit the money changer and of course, to explore the once-dodgy building.

Prior to visiting this building, my friend read an article whereby a student was raped in a guesthouse last year. Not wanting to miss out on any chance of adventure, we decided to explore the guest houses in this place. Not wanting to squeeze with the crowd waiting for the lift, We chose a quieter block and a lower-floor guest house with a bright and bubbly name – Princess Guest House.

The lift experience was highly claustrophobic and xenophobic. It could only fit up to a maximum of 8 people of which only my friend and I were the only chinese. The rest were Indian/Arab/White.

When the lift door open, we felt that we have traveled back to 20 years ago. Just half a minute ago, we were in the hustle and bustle of the first floor and now we were in this stale and windowless environment. Out of the 6 units, as seen in the floor plan, 2 were guesthouses, 1 was left door-less and vacant, 1 was a residential unit and I don’t remember the other two.

Yes, please look at the picture below. The exterior of Princess Guest House looked far worse than our expectations of ‘Princess’. Everest Guest House, on the other hand, looked slightly more modern. However, it seems like Princess Guest House has a better rating as compared to Everest on booking.com.

Anyway, the worse part of this experience was that we waited for more than 15 minutes to get from the third floor to the ground floor. For each of its 5 blocks, there are two lifts serving odd or even numbered floors from Ground floor all the way till 17th floor. This means that every single lift that passes through 3rd floor is full when going up and it is also full when going down as there are 7 floors of residents/tourists/misc people traveling up and down every moment. We stood there helplessly watching the lift door open and close again and again.

I wanted to take the stairs but my friend was strongly against it. I only knew the reason after I googled – The stairways were home to drug addicts and homeless people.

and so we waited and waited patiently until there was a lift with enough space for both of us to enter. “I couldn’t get into the lift” could just be one of the lamest but true reason on why you’re late for work :/

In the past weeks, I’ve read a lot about Chunking Mansions and its residents. I’m hoping that I will have the courage to experience a night’s stay in one of the guesthouses. Now that I understand their backgrounds of every individual (the touters, the indians, the arabians, the south africans, etc.) that live here, maybe I’ll be less afraid of them and perhaps truly enjoy this budget stay and the other side of what Hong Kong can give me.

(Maybe)

Haircut in Hong Kong

It was a random decision to go for a Haircut and we were walking the whole Nathan Road from Tsim Sa Tsui to Prince Edward MTR Station to look for a hair salon which was not over $100 HKD, with customers and not dodgy. It took us forever but we managed to find this hair salon called Page 1 Hair. It was an all-male staff hair salon and the shampoo-ing and cutting was done by two different people (possibly different ranks). The shampoo-ing was done by a rather young man and it was pretty mediocre compared to the ones that I had in Taiwan and Seoul. My haircut was done by the most junior hairstylist (there was a name list with their prices) and it didn’t turn out too bad. Perhaps it was the language barrier, there was barely any conversation going on between myself and the stylist. I guess I can’t really ask for much as it was only $16 SGD for shampoo cut & blowfry. hmpft. no more next time in hong kong for my hair.

Harbour City Mall

Taking the Star Ferry is always a favourite on my list in Hong Kong. For a really cheap price, you’ll get to enjoy the breeze, enjoy the scenery and sink into Hong Kong’s culture. It’s really a pleasant surprise to see Spiderman waiting for me at the entrance of Harbour City. It’s one expensive advertisement and I’m pretty impressed with it 😀

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