Posts tagged: Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival

Hong Kong on my Mind!

By , August 29, 2010 12:01 pm


Lasting impressions of the Fragrant Harbour

On the evidence of the four activity packed and fun filled days in Hong Kong, courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), there is much to see and discover of Hong Kong. Four days certainly isn’t by any means enough and what it has left me with is a desire to return to the Fragrant Harbour for more journeys of discovery. The four days has certainly left me with much to savour: flavours of old and new that seem to complement rather than contradict in not just the cuisine, but in much of the culture and traditions, as well as in many of the day-to-day goings-on. That the trip has left me a lasting impression of Hong Kong there is no doubt. Along with this, there are many new perspectives that I have gained on places that I have previously visited, as well as the perspectives on a Hong Kong that has a memory of its past very much in how life goes on in the present, of which I have some very lasting impressions of:

Dragon Boats, Bath Tubs, Drums and Screaming Adolescents.

Food, Glorious Food!

Wonderful Sights,

Hong Kong Very Much as it is.


Dragon Boats, Bath Tubs, Drums and Screaming Adolescents!

When Pete just couldn’t keep himself dry sharing a bath tub with a model!

Mixing up bath tubs and dragon boats doesn’t always work out, as Pete and Geck Geck were to find out.

Adolescents screaming in UC Centenary Square to the beat of the drums!

The beat of traditional drums open the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, as Canto-Pop and K-Pop Artistes greet screaming adolescents.

Alexander seemed like the most popular guy in Hong Kong, much to Pete’s disappointment!

The one mighty scream for Alexander.

Adolescents screaming in UC Centenary Square to the beat of the drums!

The beat of traditional drums open the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, as Canto-Pop and K-Pop Artistes greet screaming adolescents.

More on the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival.

An overview of Day 3 and the Dragon Boat Races.


Food, Glorious Food!

Paddling Away to a Delightful Robatayaki Treat at busy suzie.

A wonderful treat to a fantastic dining experience and Robatayaki cuisine in the ambience of a circular restaurant in 1881 Heritage.

Shanghainese, Yang Zhou and Szechuan cuisine at the Hong Kong Old Restaurant.

A restaurant that built a reputation on the old money of Hong Kong which serves delightful Shanghainese, Yang Zhou and Szechuan dishes.

The Delectable Treats on offer in a Private Kitchen.

The delectable world of Margaret Xu, a former advertising agency owner who has decided to treat Hong Kong to her wonderful skills in behind the stove in her three table private kitchen in which she offers vegetables straight from her organic farm.

A French-Italian Restaurant Run for Charitable Causes.

Gingko House, a restaurant in Central in which you could be transported by the strains of La Vie en Rose playing in the background to the streets of Paris. The restaurant was started by social workers providing employment to the elderly as well as channelling its proceeds towards charitable causes.


Wonderful Sights.

The Wonderland that is the Mira.

The gorgeous world that you enter through the doors of the Mira Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The Market at Nelson Street.

Wanderings around Nelson Street in Mongkok.

A visual treat of Colour, Light and Texture.

The celebration of colour, light and texture on the streets of Hong Kong.

Sights of Victoria Harbour on Board a Replica of the Bounty.

Why there would have certainly been a mutiny on this Bounty.

In between Imagination & Reality.

A really interesting sculpture exhibition “In between Imagination & Reality” that was going on at the Atrium in Times Square featuring sculptures from two of Korea’s renowned contemporary sculptors, Yong Ho Ji and Hwan Kwon Yi which runs up to 22 August 2010. What caught my eyes were the sculptures of Yi, whose sculptures are made in distorted proportions that play on one’s mind in a way that it serves to confuse and confound what the mind makes out of what the eye sees.

The Amazing “Scarefolding” of Hong Kong.

An old practice still evry much in use in Hong Kong that is perhaps reminiscent of that in Singapore when I was growing up. It is something that one sees everywhere, being particularly hard to miss on the busy streets … bamboo scaffolding. This very old method of erecting scaffolding is used in much of the construction activity going on around Hong Kong, as well as in maintenance work on the exteriors of buildings and on the signboards that stick out from the buildings.

Hong Kong Very Much as it is.

All That Glitters!

Hong Kong at its most glitzy, where labels having made their mark in the western capitals have found not just a home, but have become an inseparable part of the heart and soul of what Hong Kong is.

The Young and Trendy Hong Kong.

Granville Road and Granville Circuit – where some delightful treats await the young and trendy shopper.

Echoes of the Sheung Wan of the 1960s: Wing Lee Street and the ladder streets.

The walk along the staircases and terraces of Sheung Wan around the area where Wing Lee Street, a terrace that was made famous by Alex Law’s award winning movie 歲月神偷, or “Time, the thief” is (The movie is named “Echoes of the Rainbow” in English, a reference to the double rainbow that features in a scene in the movie). The walk took us back to a time to the Sheung Wan of the 1960s.

The Stairway … uh, wait a minute, Escalator to Heaven.

The Mid-Levels area that the escalators to the heavenly views of Victoria Harbour the location halfway up Victoria Peak provides to its exclusive and upmarket residents. This provides another stairway to a surer path to Heaven – the stairway that leads to the Jamia Masjid.

The Star Ferry.

The Star Ferry, where life comes to a standstill for nine minutes in Hong Kong.

The Tram.

The must ride on trams on Hong Kong Island.


The ‘Big Splash’ Conspiracy – Truths Unveiled

By , August 9, 2010 3:51 am

* Secret Cache of ‘undoctored photographs’ discovered
* Conspiracy goes ‘All The Way to the Top’

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BREAKING NEWS: On 8th August, 2010, a secret cache of previously unpublished photographs were found at Singapore’s Changi Airport in an unmarked briefcase. To date, no person or persons have come forward to claim ownership of what appears to be damning evidence of a conspiracy that goes all ‘the way to the top’.

For the first time, I am making these images available to the public.

Secret cache of previously unpublished photographs found

Secret cache of previously unpublished photographs found

When ten bloggers travelled to Hong Kong and had the absolute ‘time of their lives’ (all thanks to OMY and the Hong Kong Tourism Board), four of the team were offered the chance of a lifetime when we were asked to pariticipate in the International Media Bathtub Race as a part of the fun-filled and action-packed Dragon Boat Carnival.

As has been reported by more than one blogger on this very website, it is no secret that around the halfway mark of this now world-famous event, one of the OMY teams (featuring myself, 2010 Singapore WTH Blog Award Winner, Aussie Pete and 2010 Singapore Modelling Blog Award Winner, Ang Geck Geck) completely stole the limelight by capsizing their bathtub in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour (the ‘Fragrant Harbour’).

What has not yet been brought to light are the actual circumstances surrounding this capsize. Many accusations have been made along with certain assertions of this event perhaps being staged, or that we tipped the tub over intentionally -let me state for the record that not only are these accusations untrue and completely unfounded, it is now my belief that such commentary has been published with the complete intention of diverting the truth and covering-up the real story behind the event – for the first time, the ‘Big Splash’ conspiracy is about to be uncovered… let me say, friends, that this goes all the way to the top, and for fear of repurcussions, I will not be mentioning any co-conspirators by name while further investigations continue – JFK’s ‘magic bullet’ has nothing on this!!

CONSPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBIT 1.01 – THE DIVERSION
As has previously been published, accusations of ‘delusions of grandeur’ from myself, Aussie Pete. As thousands of fans lined the riverfront to cheer on our bathtub team, I could not help but be taken aback by the number of youngsters screaming my name and holding signs with my picture. This was a clear attempt (which worked) to divert my attention away from other now quite obvious techniques employed to ensure that Geck Geck and I could not only win the race, but would most likely fall out of our bathtub and into the harbour. Accompanied by enhanced and even doctored images, statements have been made that the screaming fans were actually there for U-KISS and the ‘Dream team’.

I hereby submit into evidence, Exhibit 1.01 – the original photograph of the diversion.

The following image shows one of the fans on the day and was previously published on this website and Facebook. Let me just call the ‘suspect’ in this part of the cover-up, “MR J”.

The 'published' and well-edited photo of one of Aussie Pete's fans

The 'published' and well-edited photo of one of Aussie Pete's fans

Here is the almost same image as discovered in the secret cache – before alteration… notice the difference?

The newly discovered 'real' picture showing the well-planned diversion

The newly discovered 'real' picture showing the well-planned diversion

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBITS 1.02 and 1.03 – THE FAULTY EQUIPMENT
Due to the diversion, the clear sabotage that is evident in the following photographs went unnoticed by both myself and my fellow bathub blogger… a clear hole in my oar, thereby rendering it useless in the efforts to disperse water and move our bathtub forward.

I hereby submit into evidence, Exhibits 1.02 and 1.03 – photographs of the faulty equipment.

The sabotaged oar is clearly visible in this newly discovered picture

The sabotaged oar is clearly visible in this newly discovered picture

The hole in the oar went unnoticed due to the very clever diversion tactics

The hole in the oar went unnoticed due to the very clever diversion tactics

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBITS 1.04 and 1.05 – CO-CONSPIRATORS
Let’s just call the (previously unpublished) following people in these photographs, “THE D TEAM” and “MR A”. Upon the capsizing of the bathtub, photographers all along the waterfront were ‘picture happy’ as they took part in the humour associated with the moment. How the high level people involved in the cover up managed to ‘photoshop’ absolutely everybody’s images, I will never know, but the following images show the real story…

The photographs as published online:

The moment it happened - as previously published

The moment it happened - as previously published

The rescue boats arrive - as previously published

The rescue boats arrive - as previously published

The photographs found in the secret cache – notice the ‘extra bodies’ in the water? In one, two people clearly assisting the tub on it’s lateral movement into an overturned position… in the second, one unidentified man in the water clearly revelling in the fun of it all:

Discovered Photo - The "D Team" clearly pushing the bathtub

Discovered Photo - The 'D Team' clearly pushing the bathtub

Discovered Photo - "Mr A" seems very happy indeed about the "Big Splash"

Discovered Photo - 'Mr A' seems very happy indeed about the 'Big Splash'

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBIT 1.06 – MORE SABOTAGED EQUIPMENT?
I hereby resubmit Exhibit 1.05 as Exhibit 1.06 – notice also, the extra weights attached to the underbelly of one side of the bathtub? These items seem to resemble the 2010 blog award trophies. It is important to note at this juncture, that only a handful of people are in possession of these items – ten to be exact… if I take myself and Geck Geck out of the equation, that leaves just eight people having access to these ‘weights’ – this means that (at least) three of our fellow bloggers were in on this overall conspiracy (3/8):

Only ten of these 'weights' are in existence - eight are unaccounted for

Only ten of these 'weights' are in existence - eight are unaccounted for

FURTHER HINTS:

Absence of the 'missing footage' only further supports the Conspiracy Theory

Absence of the 'missing footage' only further supports the Conspiracy Theory

Another blogger, let’s call her “Ms E” filmed what was depicted as ‘clear footage’ of the actual capsize as it happend in real-time. “Ms E” briefly showed us this footage on her video camera shortly after the race. The comment she made at the time, was that she ‘knew’ we were going to flip over, so she zoomed into our ‘Big Splash’. Suspecting at the time, that something was awry, I requested a copy of this video on a number of occassions. At first, “Ms E” used the excuse that she needed to ‘edit’ it – what for, I still do not know. Then the following day, she suggested that her computer or the video or something ‘crashed’ so she still could not provide a copy. On the airflight home, I provided “Ms E” with a memory card to download the raw footage to share with me – this time I was told that it was too inconvenient to perform this task on the plane. I have on numerous occassions asked “Ms E” for a copy, but to date it has not been forthcoming – I suspect that the original footage is now long gone 🙁

The night before the ‘big race’, one very senior member of the touring party invited me out with two other people in his gang. They suggested that we should go and savour some of the local HK food as a ‘light supper’. Let me state clearly here, that this was actually wonderful – the local roadside food was sensational – crab roe balls, prawn balls and fish balls on a stick… very nice, but very filling and more than just a ‘light’ snack. The gang (let’s call them “MR A”, “MRS R” and “THE CAMERAMAN”) then took me into one of the many late-night restaurants for dessert!! I was actually dubious at the time as to why they were trying to fill me up with so much wonderful food after an already enormous dinner – in hindsight and after suggestion of the same, I now understand that it was a clear ploy to increase my weight to further destabilise the bathtub on the following day.

I should have realized this the next morning, when the same gang (including one more member, otherwise known as “MS SK”) invited me for a 9:00am ‘heavy’ breakfast… no sooner had my stomach been once again filled to capacity, I returned to the hotel to change for the race and was then accompanied by the entire remainder of the touring party for a ‘late breakfast’ at 11:00am… wait a minute – I usually eat three meals a day… in the hours leading up to the bathtub race, I was pretty much tricked into eating two dinners with dessert and two full breakfasts. I must’ve weighed at least 5kg heavier than my normal (already overweight) body mass. Clear intention by the conspirators to ensure that it would be difficult to keep the bathtub upright – further evidenced by the aforementioned “MR J” who practically forced an extra fried egg and sandwich down my throat at the 11:00am (second) breakfast.

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBIT 1.07 – SOME CO-CONSPIRATORS SPYING ON THE AMOUNT OF FOOD CONSUMED

Previously published as 'papparazzi' - now identified as potential 'Spies'

Previously published as 'papparazzi' - now identified as potential 'Spies'

SUMMARY
Further evidence is still being collected, but the above ‘truths unveiled’ are already enough to warrant a full and detailed investigation into the ‘BIG SPLASH‘ Conspiracy!!

Hong Kong Paaartaaay – A Video Pictorial

By , August 4, 2010 3:23 am

I was feeling a little ‘creative’ tonight (it’s a shame that my talents do not match my desires), so decided to savour the memories of our fabulous Hong Kong trip with some of my favourite moments in a short flash video pictorial – thanks and also apologies to all my fellow bloggers from whom I’ve ‘borrowed’ many of the pictures… :p

Sit back, turn up the volume and PAAARTAAAY along with me – Enjoy!!

[youtube 6FX8_GejWa8]

Day 3 in Hong Kong and finally able to get a feel of the gorgeous hotel room

By , July 28, 2010 6:37 pm

Having had two fully packed days of excitement that the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) had planned, the ten bloggers were provided with an opportunity to sleep in on Day 3. We were all grateful for it, having caught very little sleep amidst the excitement the night prior to the trip. And I suppose for the members of the two teams preparing for the much anticipated bath tub race the next day, it was a time to get some needed rest. With my body clock waking me up at a time when I would usually wake putting paid to an hope I had to sleep in, what was left for me to do was to savour the gorgeous room that the HKTB had arranged in one of the 66 “Coolest New Hotels in the World” as the Condé Nast Traveller Hot List for 2010 would have it. Indeed, The Mira does qualify as super cool, a feeling you get just stepping into the lobby. Based on the information kit provided by the hotel, the Mira has a total of 492 guest rooms and 56 suites and specialty suites, the rooms are decorated in one of three vibrant themes: Red, Green and Silver, furnished with handpicked fabrics and materials and feature the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen, a 40-inch LCD TV, 500GB Sony Personal Computer / Entertainment Centre, Bose in-room soundscapes, a “My Mobile” Nokia phone service (which assists guests to connect anywhere, anytime, inside or outside of the hotel) and complimentary high-speed WiFi and wired Internet.

The Mira is a stylish boutique hotel at the corner of Nathan Road and Kimberly Road in Tsim Sha Tsui which opened in 2009.

The Mira is a stylish boutique hotel at the corner of Nathan Road and Kimberly Road in Tsim Sha Tsui which opened in 2009 (all images of the Mira are courtesy of the hotel).

The three coloured themes that the rooms are designed in: Red, Green and Silver.

The three coloured themes that the rooms are designed in: Red, Green and Silver.

Indeed, the room was really cool, and having already used the Bose sound dock the previous two nights, I set out to discover what else was cool about the LCD TV and the Sony Personal Computer. What was a really nice touch was just this, combined with the wireless keyboard, one could do just about anything on the internet from the comfort of the luxurious bed, or from the red Jacobsen Egg Chair in the red themed room that I was in. Super cool!

The PC and Wireless Keyboard.

The PC and Wireless Keyboard.

Room One, a lounge which is seamlessly woven into the hotel's lobby.

Room One, a lounge which is seamlessly woven into the hotel's lobby.

Yamm: an international buffet restaurant.

Yamm: an international buffet restaurant.

The day’s activities started at 11 with brunch, and I guess I was so engrossed with what I had at my disposal in the room, that I had almost forgotten about the time. Brunch was at a café prior to making our way to the promenade where the much anticipated bath tub race was to be held. If there was tension between members of the two rival teams at brunch, it was not really evident. Darren seemed intent on fuelling up with food, while Pete was all cool and smiling. Violet was her usual talkative self and Geck Geck was a picture of cool composure. There was some evidence of paparazzi gathered outside the café, but that did not seem to affect our stars.

Darren was intent on fuelling up before the race.

Darren was intent on fuelling up before the race.

Geck Geck was cool and composed, as was Aussie Pete.

Geck Geck was cool and composed, as was Aussie Pete.

Were these paparazzi gathered outside the cafe?

Were these paparazzi gathered outside the cafe?

Pre-race tension ... Darren giving Pete the cold hard stare!

Pre-race tension ... Darren giving Pete the cold hard stare!

By the time we got down to the promenade, a large crowd had already gathered and although Pete imagined (or hoped) that the screams of excitement were directed at him (see my previous post on the bath tub race), the largely teenage crowd had in fact come to see the stars from the Korean entertainment network KBS. We were to discover that the four had almost missed the boat or rather, bath tub … as we were a little late for registration. Well, register they did, and it was fortunate that they were able to, as we would have certainly missed out on the excitement of Pete’s and Geck Geck’s big splash into the harbour.

Were those Pete's fans?

Were those Pete's fans?

Pete's turn now!

Pete's turn now!

We're gonna win it says Pete!

We're gonna win it says Pete!

Go Singapore!

Go Singapore!

The reporter was on hand to interview Pete for what was to be his famous victory which somehow became a dip in the harbour.

The reporter was on hand to interview Pete for what was to be his famous victory which somehow became a dip in the harbour.

The crowd excitedly rose to catch a glimpse of Pete's famous dip.

The crowd excitedly rose to catch a glimpse of Pete's famous dip.

Darren and Violet came in second.

Darren and Violet came in second.

We had to leave behind the excitement and electric atmosphere of the Dragon Boat races that were going on, but not before catching a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team receiving an award, and the presentation ceremony for the Pink Spartans a team of breast cancer survivors and supporters from Singapore who won the Pink Dragon Boat Racing Breast Cancer Survivor Invitation Race.

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The crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team which included members of U-KISS.

The crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team which included members of U-KISS.

The Pink Spartans.

The Pink Spartans.

Saying goodbye to the races.

Saying goodbye to the races.

It was time for some rest and relaxation at the hotel, and then for me, a walk around town. I somehow found myself taking the Star Ferry to Central and back just for the fun of it, I guess something I would devote another post to. I made it just in time to catch a quick shower and dress up for dinner, which was at the Hong Kong Old Restaurant on the fourth level of the Miramar Shopping Centre, just across Kimberly Road from the hotel. The popular restaurant which serves Shanghainese cuisine and also features dishes from Yang Zhou and Szechuan we were told was named in a way to discretely draw reference to the “old money” in Hong Kong, a reference to the wealthy Shanghainese that had settled in the territory.

The Hong Kong Old Restaurant in the Miramar Shopping Centre.

The Hong Kong Old Restaurant in the Miramar Shopping Centre.

Entering the restaurant.

Entering the restaurant.

The menu.

The menu.

Dinner was an interesting affair, perhaps with the mood lightened by a loosening of tongues brought about by the familiarity of having been together for three days, some Tsingtao and perhaps due to the face that it was our last evening as a group, most choosing to return as scheduled the following day. The food wasn’t quite the usual Shanghainese fare that I had previously been used to, with a variety of very interesting concoctions which included pig trotters that had been soaked in vinegar prior to cooking, in typical Shanghainese fashion we were told. The highlight I guess most would say was dessert, ice cream that had been fried – simply delicious! After dinner, there was still time to walk through the emptying streets, which some of us did, ending up around the Granville Road area – which I would again attempt to cover in another post. After that, it was our last night to savour the interestingly cool hotel room, before we say goodbye to what had up to that point been an exhilarating three days in the Fragrant Harbour.

The Tsingtao may have helped with the loosening of tongues ...

The Tsingtao may have helped with the loosening of tongues ...

Umm ... a few of us couldn't resist more of the beer ...

Umm ... a few of us couldn't resist more of the beer ...

The excellent food was the highlight.

The excellent food was the highlight.

An egg dish...

An egg dish...

I even tried the pigs trotters ... something which I usually wouldn't even look at.

I even tried the pigs trotters ... something which I usually wouldn't even look at.

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Point, point, shoot, shoot ...

Point, point, shoot, shoot ...

mmm!

mmm!

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More point, point, shoot, shoot

More point, point, shoot, shoot

Fish!

Fish!

Objects of desire!

Objects of desire!

Someone had seconds ...

Someone had seconds ...

The super model had fun as well!

The super model had fun as well!

It’s hard to remain dry with a model in the tub!

By , July 27, 2010 8:25 am

I guess that was what Pete found out, much to the dismay of his cheering fans ashore in Sunday’s Media Bath Tub Race that was held at Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong, part of the weekend’s highlight, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival. The exciting race, which saw the team from the Philippines winning, also featured two teams representing omy.sg, one with Pete and model Ang Geck Geck, and the other with Darren and Violet, who eventually came in a close second to the team from the Philippines.

Screaming girls cheering for Aussie Pete?

Not cheering for Pete as Pete might have imagined. A face amongst the thousands of fans who had gathered to scream at the sight of the KBS dream team.

There were literally thousands of screaming fans gathered for the race, and as Pete would have it, they would have been rooting for him in the race. Having made all the necessary preparations in the run up to the race, the two teams from omy.sg were expected to do fairly well, and based on the strategies that were discussed by the repective teams, it seemed like the teams had everything worked out.

The race started with the blast of a horn, and from the vantage point of the media cordon amongst the very large numbers that had turned out, as it turned out, to greet the Korean Dream team from the KBS network which included U-KISS with the popular Alexander, who were taking part in an international media networks race (and not disappointingly for Pete, Pete and Geck Geck – although I must say that both have got star qualities). As the race progressed, the clumsily fashioned “bathtubs” laboured their way forward to the almighty efforts of the teams of two that seemed to want to have their bathtubs capsize with every stroke of the paddle, and midway through the race, spectators got more than what they had bargained for as with a big stroke of the paddle, Pete had put his weight to the starboard side and while not as graceful as the dolphins in Ocean Park, the sight of Pete and Geck Geck falling into the depths of the Fragrant Harbour appeared to be graceful and choreographed (hmm, maybe it was staged). The incident was greeted not in stunned silence, but with a big roar from the crowd … and any fears for the safety of the two was quickly proved to be unfounded by the quick appearance of the rescue parties (maybe it was the pretty damsel in distress that they were all concerned with).

The moment it happened, it did appear to have been a carefully choreographed move.

Into the depths of the Fragrant Harbour went Pete and the model.

The rescue.

I guess it was certainly a blast for the participants in the race, as it was for the fans who caught a glimpse of their KBS heroes, and for us bloggers to have had a chance to soak in the atmosphere of a dragon boating event in the very home of Dragon Boat racing as we know it today. The race also featured teams made up of breast cancer survivors and their supporters in which a team from Singapore, the Pink Spartans won.

Darren and Violet paddled their way to second place.

The soaking wet pair after being rescued from their bathtub adventures.

Even the buoys seemed to give Pete and Geck Geck a perfect 10!

Day 2: Hong Kong, the city of contrasts

By , July 25, 2010 7:03 am

The second day in Hong Kong began with the promise of a beautiful day that greeted me through the window of the hotel room and after breakfast, on the advice of the very informative Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB)’s PR escort, I decided to have a look at the wet market near Langham Square. So, armed with a map and my camera bag, I hopped on the very efficient MTR system at nearby Tsim Sha Tsui station and in a breeze, found myself at my destination for 5 Hong Kong dollars, three stops up the Central Line to Mongkok Station.

The modern and efficient MTR - a wonderful way to get around.

The modern and efficient MTR - a wonderful way to get around.

In contrast, the old tramways can be hot and uncomfortable - but they do provide an interesting way of getting around northern Hong Kong island.

In contrast, the old tramways can be hot and uncomfortable - but they do provide an interesting way of getting around northern Hong Kong island.

Mong Kok MTR station - the gateway to some of the street markets of Kowloon.

Mong Kok MTR station - the gateway to some of the street markets of Kowloon.

Stepping out of the station and up through a modern shopping mall – the very interesting wet street market on Nelson Street, set amidst ageing and tired looking residential cum commercial buildings, sat right next to ultra modern shopping malls and a very posh looking hotel, my very first impression of the area was that it was one of contrasts. I suppose that this isn’t remarkable and very typical of much of Asia, but why it caught my attention was that it probably typified what Hong Kong as a whole has been and still is very much so today.

The contrast seen from the glass windows of a modern shopping mall towards a traditional street market.

The contrast seen from the glass windows of a modern shopping mall towards a traditional street market.

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The second part of the day started with a coach ride under the Victoria Harbour through the Cross Harbour Tunnel, which our HKTB Media Fam Facilatator told us interestingly was also referred to as the “No-excuse tunnel” as when it was opened, it took away the excuse of wealthy men who lived and worked on opposite sides of the harbour for staying overnight on the side of the harbour on which they had their offices to be with their mistresses whom thay had kept on that same side (the ferry operated until 11 pm). Lunch was at the popular French Italian restaurant Gingko House (another contrast!) on Gough Street in Central. What is remarkable about the restaurant was not just the ambience in which you could be transported by the strains of La Vie en Rose playing in the background to the streets of Paris, but also the fact that the restaurant was started by social workers providing employment to the elderly as well as channelling its proceeds towards charitable causes.

The Cross Harbour Tunnel is also referred to as the "No excuse tunnel".

The Cross Harbour Tunnel is also referred to as the "No excuse tunnel".

Gingko House, a popular restaurant on Gough Street run for charitable causes.

Gingko House, a popular restaurant on Gough Street run for charitable causes.

The setting and music transports one to the streets of Paris.

The setting and music transports one to the streets of Paris.

Gough Street itself is a contrast of old trades and bohemian shops and cafes.

Gough Street itself is a contrast of old trades and bohemian shops and cafes.

A popular tradition on Gough Street - a queue for the very popular noodle stall.

A popular tradition on Gough Street - a queue for the very popular noodle stall.

Another very bohemian shop near Gough Street.

Another very bohemian shop near Gough Street.

Ending up in Causeway Bay after lunch where the ladies were having a makeover session with a famous Hong Kong stylist Celia Wong, I somehow ended up wandering through the sea of people that seemed to fill every inch of the lively streets of shops, shopping malls and restaurants and cafes. Amidst all this, was another startling contrast – stumbling into some of the quiet and run down side lanes and back alleys, was like stepping into another world that existed behind the façades of the buildings and the busy streets that they faced where another dimension existed. What was interesting this time around was stepping into a store named GOD, due not in any way to devine influence (except for the devine objects of desire that the store sold – GOD being an acronym for “Goods of Desire”). Again, the store was all about contrasts, with modern objects sold bearing features that were reminders of yesteryear.

It is always nice to know that GOD can be found in Causeway Bay.

It is always nice to know that GOD can be found in Causeway Bay.

Causeway Bay is also a contrast of old businesses and ...

Causeway Bay is also a contrast of old businesses and ...

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and the modern ... a modern art work seen in the atrium of Times Square.

and the modern ... a modern art work seen in the atrium of Times Square.

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The sea of people in contrast with the ....

The sea of people in contrast with the ....

the relative peace found in the sidewalks and back alleys ...

the relative peace found in the sidewalks and back alleys ...

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I guess the highlight of the afternoon was the tram ride which allowed Aussie Pete and myself to get to the Central Piers where we were to board the Bounty, a replica tall ship of the infamous HMS Bounty (for which I would devote another post to) for a dinner cruise around Victoria Harbour. The charming double decker electric trams which started service in 1912 are run by Hong Kong Tramways and offer routes along the northern coast of Hong Kong island, providing the visitor with a very interesting alternative to the MTR and the taxis to get around the Central and Causway Bay areas.

The trams are good fun for two Hong Kong Dollars a trip.

The trams are good fun for two Hong Kong Dollars a trip.

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Getting off the stop near the Central MTR station, the walk to the Central Piers took us pass the beautiful neo-classical former Supreme Court Building, which is now houses the Legislative Council (Legco), the General Post Office which has an interesting collection of coin boxes which are small scale replicas of post boxes used in Hong Kong throughout the years, and the International Finance Centre (IFC) Building which was Hong Kong’s tallest building until this year when the International Commerce Centre (ICC) Building was completed. Finally able to rest out feet after the earlier excursion around Causeway Bay at a cafe on the pier, we could now look forward to the mutiny that was to come on the Bounty.

The former Supreme Court Building, now the Legco.

The former Supreme Court Building, now the Legco, stands in contrast to the skyscrapers (the tallest of which is the IFC) it sits in the shadow of.

The Central Piers where the ferries to Kowloon (Star Ferry) and outlying islands can be taken from.

The Central Piers where the ferries to Kowloon (Star Ferry) and outlying islands can be taken from.

The Star Ferry.

The Star Ferry.

A replica Chinese junk coming in to Pier 9.

A replica Chinese junk coming in to Pier 9.

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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We’ve Arrived!

By , July 23, 2010 7:09 am

We’ve arrived! *Roaring to go! You should see everyone’s faces before this shoot. So worn out and tired from the early flight. A quick snap before heading to the hotel.

If The Mira was a person, she’d be a woman who long for taste and stylish living and would instantly recognize a well-made designer chair. Stand close to her and you’ll sense her charming sensation of freshness. The fragrance smells sophisticated and summery. It could be distinctly Ferragamo.

When we arrived at the entrance of the Mira Hotel, we were greeted with the plain, black mirrored glass door. Simply put, the unassuming exterior design looks just like an entrance of a shopping center. Step in and you’ll be amazed with its sexy fin-like structure in monochrome palette, beautiful chandelier and stylish furnishings.

Wait. Inhale. The scent delivers a light yet burst of ripe lemons and citrus floras. This is definitely something very memorable about the Mira. LOVE IT!

The refreshing scent and all sexed up furnishings! *snap snap snap!

Stand a chance to win a trip to Hong Kong! Log on to My Hong Kong Travel Blog where you can vote for your favourite blogger! Voting ends 31st August 2010.

The colourful kaleidoscope that is Hong Kong

By , July 18, 2010 10:28 am

It is always nice to look forward to a trip and even with what has proven to be a hectic week that I haven’t been able to leave behind and what promises to be another hectic week before my trip to Hong Kong, I have allowed myself to look to it excitedly with the anticipation of a curious child. The trip, courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), and in the company of bloggers – winners of their respective categories in Singapore Blog Awards, who on their on would make any trip interesting, would be made even more so with the host of activities that the HKTB is planning for us. Hong Kong has been one destination that has always fascinated since the early days of my childhood. Back then, it was the likes of Bruce Lee who seemed to be what Hong Kong was about, and in many ways, Bruce Lee did epitomise what Hong Kong was about: a sprinkling of the west and a lot of what was essentially east. There were of course the wonderful stories of food, bustling streets, and a city that never sleeps, which was certainly enhanced by the only other trip I have made to Hong Kong which left me with a deep impression of the colourful kaleidoscope that is Hong Kong.

Hong Kong gives me the impression of a colourful kaleidoscope with the promise of food, shopping, street life and excitement awaiting the visitor.

Hong Kong gives me the impression of a colourful kaleidoscope with the promise of food, shopping, street life and excitement awaiting the visitor.

This time around, I can look forward to the hospitality of the HKTB on the four day trip that will introduce the “Hong Kong Summer Spectacular”, which runs from 11 June to 31 August this year, and features a series of promotional activities. Of theses activities, one would be the highlight of the trip, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, which runs from 23 to 25 July. The centrepiece of the carnival would be the SaSa 2010 Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races, which will feature 191 dragon boat teams from 12 countries and regions, which would be held in Victoria Harbour. While the teams are in action in the water, a carnival atmosphere would be created up on the East Tsim Sha Tsui promenade where spectators can visit the San Miguel Beer Garden, which will tempt visitors with beer, fragrant food and live performances. A Dragon Boat Fun Plaza will also be on hand to offer cultural entertainment. Incidentally, the races will also feature a bathtub race for the media, and four of my fellow bloggers, Darren, Geck Geck, Violet and Aussie Pete (lucky chaps!) have been selected to participate in this event which looks like a whole lot of fun! And it does look like Darren and Aussie Pete are planning to have as well as provide a lot of fun based on the preparations they have mentioned their respective posts.

Map of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival venue.

Map of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival venue.

Artist impression of the San Miguel Beer Garden.

Artist impression of the San Miguel Beer Garden.

The theme for the Hong Kong Summer Spectacular is “Hot Events, Cool Place”, and in line with the theme, the HKTB has lined up a host of other activities, information on which can be found on the Discover Hong Kong website. The HKTB in conjunction with Visa, is also running a promotion during the period: the “Visa go Hong Kong Super Shopper” contest, in which local and visiting shoppers spending over HK$3,000 on their Visa cards would be entitled to enter an online lucky draw.

Besides the activities that the HKTB has lined up for us, we would be having free time to explore some of Hong Kong on our own, and this is something I can look forward to as one of the things I like doing on any trip is to discover a place at leisure. I guess with all that in store for me, I can’t help but allow myself to look forward to the trip with a tinge of excitement.

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