From Singapore to Hong Kong – A VIPs Perspective

By , July 24, 2010 11:39 am
Thousands of screaming fans at the opening ceremony of the Dragon Boat Carnival

Thousands of screaming fans at the opening ceremony of the Dragon Boat Carnival

Press at the Opening CeremonyOK, OK… I know I’m not a VIP!! However, I don’t think that our friends at the HKTB see it that way. We have been pampered, escorted, wined and dined and generally been made to feel quite important indeed! – and this was just the first day! Who would’ve thought that I’d be sitting in a fenced off media area, stage-front for the opening of the Dragon Boat Carnival watching superstars from Korea strut their stuff, while literally thousands of screaming fans and groupies lined the fences with their banners and signs?

So here’s how it happened… the team of bloggers arrived at Changi airport at 6:30am yesterday (Monday, 23rd July) – or at least most of us were punctual 🙂 Very few of is had any sleep to speak of on Thursday night, as we were busy preparing and social networking until almost 4am (poor Alvin was stuck in the office until after 3am, I think – how’s that for diligent and dedicated… maybe he could come and work with me!!).

After a quite enjoyable flight with Cathay Pacific, we landed in Hong Kong around 15 minutes before schedule. Not one for sleeping much on a plane, I watched a movie before catching some shut-eye for around 30-minutes before we touched down.

As with any major international airport, the immigration queue was pretty substantial, and being one who doesn’t like lining up for too long, I leveraged my APEC priveleges and breezed through the diplomat lane (in hindsight, I feel bad that I didn’t wait with the rest of the team – but it did give me some time to ‘partake in my vice’ and also gave me the opportunity to watch everyone arrive through the arrival gate on the wide screen TVs they have set up at the airport).

We then travelled by charter bus to the hotel – many other bloggers have (and will) write more about the hotel, but as a regular business traveller across all of Asia Pacific and across the globe, I can tell you with certainty that for the price you would be hard-put to find anything better.

Upon arrival at the hotel, we were ushered into a private section (lounge bar) of the lobby where the pampering began (even got served what were like cream puffs of waffles, while the friendly staff looked after all the administration and checking in for us).

Next, we had around 40 minutes in our rooms to ‘freshen up’, familiarize ourselves with the amenities (and ensure that the wireless internet was all working well), a group of us reconvened downstairs for afternoon tea at the Hotel restaurant. By this time our stomachs were roaring in protest – so the afternoon tea was more of a ‘late lunch’ – and very well received.

The reconnaissance tour - scoping out our best route for the Bathtub Race!

The reconnaissance tour - scoping out our best route for the Bathtub Race!

The same group then travelled a short distance to the waterfront, where we took a stroll along the ‘avenue of stars’ (and I had a brief encounter with Jackie Chan), until we arrived at the location where the Dragon Boat races (and our now infamous bathtub event) will be held… let’s call this a ‘reconnaissance tour’. Any advantage we can attain is one worth achieving 🙂

On the red carpet again - Opening of the Dragon Boat Carnival

On the red carpet again - Opening of the Dragon Boat Carnival

We then received special ‘press’ passes and entered into the fenced off area for the opening ceremony of the Dragon Boat Carnival – the major atttraction were the group of Korean super stars, and I won’t even pretend to know who they all are (not sure if that’s a cultural thing – I suspect it’s more of an ‘age’ thing), but I’ve uploaded a couple of ‘crude’ iPhone videos and will embed them later below – if you recognize the artists, please comment and let everybody else know who they are.

Then came dinner!! Oh MY!!! How to describe this experience? Let me say to all of my male readers – if you want to impress your wife or girlfriend, this is the place to do it – Busy Suzie!! The name is a play on the well-known Chinese dining table, ‘Lazy Susan’. This is because the Japanese chef cooks in front of you and then serves the food on an ‘oar’ – after feeling the weight of this thing, it’s amazing that the chefs don’t look like Popeye with extra large forearms. The food was absolutely exquisite and the atmosphere completely unique. My fellow blogger and now good friend, Jerome has provided some wonderful images in his article here.

I really would love to write more – and will – but for now, I need to get ready to head off for another day of awe-inspiring adventures in this amazing place, Hong Kong!! Watch this space…

Official Opening of the Dragon Boat Carnival:  

 

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My screaming fans?? Wow, they really love the Aussie Pete blog!!:

 

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The drummers at the opening ceremony – so very passionate and dynamic:

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夏游香江 – 抵达。住宿

By , July 24, 2010 11:32 am

好久没有乘搭长途航班了。

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我们的国泰航空班机准时抵港。虽然大伙儿在机上都没什么休息到,但兴奋的心情还是喜形于色。

感激香港旅游局的安排,安排了小巴送我们到尖沙咀的 The Mira 酒店

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经过6千5百万美金重新整装后的新 Mira 酒店气派非凡,看来跟在网上看到的宣传照片落差不大,顿时对房间也有了期望。

在九龙半岛住九楼酒店有九十九分的高兴。另外失去的一分是因为房间太舒服,让我不知道该出去探索香港还是留在房间~

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之前提到 Mira 大手笔提升装潢设备,也包括了结合了 Sony 40寸液晶电视为屏幕的 Sony VAIO TP1 多媒体电脑。第一次在40寸电视看到自己的部落格,感动到整个人趴在地上,哈哈~

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Bose SoundDock 也是另一个贴心设计,君不知现在有多少爱疯(iPhone)用户。

宾至如归的感觉绝对是一盘上等荔枝、草莓还有一些法式甜点所能胜任的。

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我的房间面向一部分的维多利亚港,可以看到 IFC。

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理所当然地也可以看到市景。

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当然还有种种展现这一间一千五百港币房间的特色,也不用一一言尽。

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因为用了 Ferragamo 产品后的我要上网更新部落格与你们大家分享啦~

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接下来,精彩的活动报告~!!

Day 1 in Hong Kong and it looks like Pete and Geck Geck got a head start on Darren and Violet!

By , July 24, 2010 7:31 am

Arriving in Hong Kong after what was for me an eventful preparation for the much anticipated trip to Hong Kong, which included having the drama of not being able to find my passport and warnings on the weather in the wake of Typhoon Chanthu which made landfall in Guangdong on the previous day, it was nice to first be greeted with sunny skies instead of the wet and windy weather I had anticipated, and then by the gorgeous hotel room in the Mira Hotel where we are being put up in.

The gorgeous room in the Mira Hotel that I am staying in.

The gorgeous room in the Mira Hotel that I am staying in.

For the few of us who had decided to follow on the optional programme put up for us by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), the first day started with afternoon tea at the hotel, followed by a visit to the opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival and the accompanying Cross-over concert, and culminated in the highlight of the day – a sumptous feast at the charming busy suzie Japanese restuarant.

The day culminated in dinner at busy suzie, a Robatayaki restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The day culminated in dinner at busy suzie, a Robatayaki restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui.

In getting to the opening ceremony, we took a detour to the Avenue of the Stars, where the very amusing Aussie Pete, the author of the best “What the Hell” blog category at the 2010 Singapore Blog Awards, managed to not only survey the route for Sunday’s bathtub race in which he is partnering the petite Geck Geck, the author of the best Modelling blog who was also with us, but also get his picture taken with Jackie Chan! Peter even got his hands on the paddle during the day’s events – Geck Geck too, which will become apparent further on in this post. I guess that you can say now that Pete and Geck Geck hold an unfair advantage over the other competitors – and besides, with their relative sizes, the bathtub would be loaded in a way it might actually plane (as in a planing boat)!

Aussie Pete got his picture with Jackie along the Avenue of the Stars.

Aussie Pete got his picture with Jackie along the Avenue of the Stars.

The opening ceremony and concert was graced by the appearance of Sherman Chung, a popular cantopop artiste and U-Kiss – a Korean boyband which, one the evidence of the many screaming fans who had come, popular with teenage girls in Hong Kong – not surprising I suppose, as amongst the members of U-Kiss, is the (I guess some would consider) cute Alexander who apparently has a Hong Kong father and a Korean mother and also speaks Cantonese.

The Hong King Dragon Boat carnival is officially opened.

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat carnival is officially opened.

Drum display at the official opening of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat carnival.

Drum display at the official opening of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat carnival.

Sherman Chung made an apperance.

Sherman Chung made an apperance.

But the highlight for the many gathered seemed to be the appearance of Alexander of Korean boyband U-KISS.

But the highlight for the many gathered seemed to be the appearance of Alexander of Korean boyband U-KISS.

which was greeted by the screams of the adoring teenage crowd that had gathered.

which was greeted by the screams of the adoring teenage crowd that had gathered.

and more screams!

and more screams!

Sherman was not without her fans though!

Sherman was not without her fans though!

Alexander charmed the crowd with his fluent Cantonese.

Alexander charmed the crowd with his fluent Cantonese.

Members of U-KISS on stage.

Members of U-KISS on stage.

U-KISS on stage.

U-KISS on stage.

Fans of U-KISS were out in full force.

Fans of U-KISS were out in full force.

Leaving the concert and with it the blast of great music and screaming girls which had my ears ringing for a while, we then made our way on foot through the busy streets of Tsim Sha Tsui towards busy suzie’s – but not before Pete was grateful to be finally able to find what he had been looking for several hours earlier.

Aussie Pete's saviour!

Aussie Pete's saviour!

The restaurant is located at former lighthouse building which is now part of the very charming 1881 Heritage complex, a mix of Victorian styled buildings which once were used as the Marine Police headquarters, a lighhouse and a fire-station. The complex was opened last year and also features a very exclusive boutique hotel, housed in Hulett House, which we were informed, had only six lavish suites and is booked up to as far ahead as November.

Hulett House in the 1881 Heritage complex is now an exclusive boutique hotel.

Hulett House in the 1881 Heritage complex is now an exclusive boutique hotel.

The former Kowloon Fire Station.

The former Kowloon Fire Station.

The time ball of the former lighthouse.

The time ball of the former lighthouse.

busy suzie, a robatayaki restaurant named after an intended play on the word “Lazy Susan” to reflect the unique style of serving food robata style in which wooden paddles are used by the chefs seated in front of diners to pass the dishes which are prepared on the spot to them. This practice is said to have originated in the simple beach resturants of Sendai in northern Japan where Robatayaki traces its origins to, where fishermen cooked their catch over an open fire with only a boat oar to use. The layout of the restaurant is unique in itself, being arranged in a circular fashion and features a curved lounge bar and seating arrangements which is set in a modern contemporary fashion that is in keeping with the restaurant’s intended theme of old cusine served fusion style.

busy suzie features a unique circular layout.

busy suzie features a unique circular layout.

and wonderful decor!

and wonderful decor!

Pete got to practice with the paddle.

Pete got to practice with the paddle.

I must say the overall dining experience was really something to remember. We were provided with a superb selection of food exquisitely prepared by chef Iwagami Yoshiaki, which certainly went down very smoothly in the company of the HKTB’s representatives, the omy representatives and my fellow bloggers. With this it was back to the very nice hotel room, a soak in the bath and some long awaited rest to recharge for a second day packed with some more exciting events lined up for us by the HKTB.

A Robata chef at work.

A Robata chef at work.

Food is flown in fresh everyday ...

Food is flown in fresh everyday ...

Chef Iwagami San at work.

Chef Iwagami San at work.

Iwagami San preparing a Kinky Fish.

Iwagami San preparing a Kinky Fish.

Iwagami San.

Iwagami San.

Hands on the paddle.

Hands on the paddle.

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And finally, if you are ever at busy suzie's, don't forget a visit to this important place ...

And finally, if you are ever at busy suzie's, don't forget a visit to this important place ...

飞了!到了!

By , July 24, 2010 3:58 am

终于上了飞机。



睡了一会儿,便是晚餐 + 宵夜时间。很不错的料理哦!(因为餐盘在震动,相片不怎么好……)有鱼,有菜,有香菇,有水果,有菠萝包……

还有巧克力!

吃饱后,便又“闭目养神”。因为这两天略有轻微感冒,到了飞机降落时,耳塞得极厉害,很痛、很难受 >.<

只能拼命告诉自己,“吃得苦中苦,方为人上人”。在此类情况,不得不阿Q 自娱。

终于抵境,到香港了! 12.40。

香港旅游局细心安排,派了辆马赛地来接我到酒店,实在是贴心!


30 分钟的车程之后,便抵达酒店。香港旅游局,安排我们住进 The Mira。这酒店,单是大厅,就让人不能不住了,太美了!




接着,柜台服务人员 Kenny 送我上楼。套房里的一切,不能不说是,酒店的精心安排、布置,电视、电脑应有尽有!连浴室都有电视机!

我的钥匙卡

精巧的摆设



我接下来三个晚上的大床

浴室

电视、电脑

好了,是时候睡觉,真期待明天早上与其他博客们会面!

Not a MIRAge

By , July 24, 2010 1:39 am

For the trip, we are put up at The Mira Hong Kong. Other than the destination, I think the hotel is the next most important factor that makes or breaks a vacation. I think many of us put a lot of time into finding the best hotel that’ll meet our budget, needs and be at an easily accessible location.

Price-wise, The Mira commands a premium with rates starting from HK$1,600 (approx. S$280) a night. But after checking into it, I would say it’s worth every penny! Located at a prime area along Nathan Road, the hotel’s visage doesn’t seem like much. But it beguiles the avant-garde design and luxury within. Ok, I’m easily satisfied and impress.

Well, here’re some pics for you to decide…

An oasis within

When I entered the room, I was jumping literally jumping up and down in joy! First or all, the room isn’t a sardine jacket that most hotels are in Hong Kong. Secondly, it comes equipped with a full range of hi-tech gadgets – web surfing with the TV and a wireless keyboard, iPod dock with speakers, and a multimedia player (DVD, USB, memory stick, etc). There’s even a handphone provided in the room although I have no idea what it is for.

Next, there is quite some cool designer stuff in the room… silver packed sundries, specially designed water bottles, and we’re using Salavatore Ferragamo toiletries! My hair and skin feels expensive already.

Room interior

On top of that, the service was impeccable and the staff are really courteous and friendly, Walk out the doors of The Mira and it’s a different world out there. I would only say that the services I’ve experienced so far from places I visited today is that the Hong Kongers treat you like family. So it’s a ‘get the job done’ kind of attitude.

But the thing that delighted me the most was the welcome treats they left in our rooms. Designer sweets, black truffles chocolate and fresh, juicy strawberries and lychees. I almost didn’t want to go sightseeing. Such a waste to leave the room empty.

Sweet handcuffs

Before coming here, I checked out the hotel from its website and the photos made the place looked really good. Now that I’m here, the photos weren’t a smokescreen or a mirage. The place does look as good as the pics make it out to be.

And I’ve yet to visit the gym and swimming pool, which are supposed to be another ‘wow’ in the waiting…

For more photos, please visit my album A Lingering Fragrance.

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