Posts tagged: Hong Kong Tourism Board

HK2: The French Window in Hong Kong is Absolutely Sublime!

By , April 15, 2011 3:50 pm

The long entry corridors feature high ceilings, soft lighting and weathered blue-gray wooden slats
Let me continue with my Hong Kong posts, which got derailed a bit (my apologies). I might as well jump straight to the best meal of the trip. Dinner at The French Window! We remember it fondly til today. Even hubby with his jaded palate was totally blown away. This might be our best meal of 2011 too, even though it’s still early in the year.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) hooked me up with The Miramar Group which has extensive F&B operations in Hong Kong. Little did I know we would be swept off our feet with this new gem on the haute cuisine scene. It’s been around slightly less than a year, but press reviews have been glowing.

Firstly, there’s the award-winning decor (The French Window beat 361 contenders to win New York’s Hospitality Design Magazine’s “2010 Hospitality Design Awards – Fine Dining Category”). The entrance is deceptively simple. You enter a large, long and winding corridor clad with weatherbeaten blue-gray boards and shuttered louvres reminiscent of a rustic French chateau. The way is studded with beautifully curated plant displays. The wine fridges you pass offer you a glimpse of the collection they house.

The restaurant is located at the ifc mega-mall, but these walkways will transport you to another world. You will soon forget you are even in a bustling shopping complex.

The main dining area is an elegant setting of glass, metal and art deco motifs
The main dining area is an elegant setting of glass, metal and art deco motifs. There are black and white chairs, as well as plush sofa seating along the wall. The whole place is quietly imposing and yet warmly welcoming at the same time. At night, it is breath-takingly romantic (but that also means very challenging lighting for photography!).

The staff here are very well-trained, and not only see to your needs swiftly but also sometimes anticipate them before you even ask for it.

Chef Stéphane Haissant joined The French Window as their Master Chef in the beginning of 2011. Haissant has had stints at La Tour d’Argent and worked under Michel Guérard at Les Prés d’Eugénie and with Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton. Here, his brand of nouvelle cuisine celebrates natural flavours in bold and playful ways.

The magnificent glass jar of artisan breads!
We chose the six course degustation menu (about HK$800). The welcome bread basket is this luxurious glass jar of artisan breads – some of the best I’ve had in a long time. And they happily replenished this too!

Amuse bouche of Curried salmon sphere and harenga caviar, Carrot and ginger soup, Foie gras toast

Amuse bouche – not one, but three items!

Curried salmon sphere and harenga caviar (foreground, and right): I really loved this. It’s like a quail’s egg made of salmon, with just a hint of curry. The caviar brought it all together.

Carrot and ginger soup (middle): very light and just gently savoury.

Foie gras toast (back): oh what a decadent morsel that made us want more. And yes, there would be more foie gras coming up!

Ballotine de foie gras de landes, compoteé de champignons aigre doux - Foie gras ballotine, sweet and sour mushroom compote
Ballotine de foie gras de landes, compoteé de champignons aigre doux
Foie gras ballotine, sweet and sour mushroom compote

The foie gras here is positively divine! Hubby who normally hates foie gras actually enjoyed this and polished every bit. Trust me, that is some serious endorsement, folks! The veil of gel (maybe it’s collagen jelly) almost makes it look like a bride. The sour mushroom compote helped to balance flavours and cleanse the palate.

Saint-jacques pochées en escabèche, topinambour fumé - Poached scallops, smoked jerusalem artichoke
Saint-jacques pochées en escabèche, topinambour fumé
Poached scallops, smoked jerusalem artichoke

This was one large scallop, and it was still firm and cooked just right. The smoked artichoke was very gentle, flavourwise, and so did not overpower the scallop.

Filet de rouget saisi, risotto à la courgette - Seared red mullet, zucchini risotto
Filet de rouget saisi, risotto à la courgette
Seared red mullet, zucchini risotto

This was our unanimous favourite. The fish was grilled to perfection. It was so delicious. But the real eye-opening surprise lay in the zucchini risotto. As I played with it in my mouth, I wondered if there was actually any rice in it. It felt like there were rice-sized grains, but each of these had a turgid crunch and sweetness that rice could never yield. True enough, the maitre’d told us they used purely zucchini to simulate rice. It’s all cut into rice-like grains, and cooked in a gorgeous savoury puree. Phenomenal!

Pigeon contisé au foie gras grillé à l'américaine, champignons boutons en sangria - Grilled pigeon stuffed with foie gras, buttom mushroom sangria
Pigeon contisé au foie gras grillé à l’américaine, champignons boutons en sangria
Grilled pigeon stuffed with foie gras, buttom mushroom sangria

The chef is quite famous for his grilled pigeon. He combines traditional and new methods to bring about a fresh take on this French dish. The tender, smoky pigeon absorbs the fatty rich flavours of foie gras, and the meaty aroma of mushrooms. And he does not stint on portions. This was very filling!

Crème légère à la vanille, coulis de fraise et gelée au thym - Light vanilla cream, strawberry coulis and thyme jelly
Crème légère à la vanille, coulis de fraise et gelée au thym
Light vanilla cream, strawberry coulis and thyme jelly

Now, thyme jelly. If you were as unsure as I was about a herb-flavoured jelly in a dessert, you’ll be as pleasantly thrilled and amazed at how well it works! In fact, it was the element that heightened the otherwise standard combination of vanilla and strawberry to a different class. Thyme jelly! Who would have thought!

Palet sablé au citron jaune, caramel au beurre salé - Yellow lemon sablé, sea salt caramel
Palet sablé au citron jaune, caramel au beurre salé
Yellow lemon sablé, sea salt caramel

More dessert? A wet one and a dry one, why not. I love the crackling thin slices of candied lemon. Dip the sable biscuit onto the sea salt caramel piping on either side, and enjoy.

Fabulous coffee
The perfect way to round off such an amazing meal is with fabulous coffee that’s truly robust and aromatic. This felt great in the winter month.

Petits Fours
Coffee was served with petits fours, which included some stellar chocolate, but we were really struggling at this point in time. I never thought I could be so full at a French fine-dining restaurant.

Fantastic view of the harbour from ifc
The harbour view from ifc forms a spectacular backdrop to your meal (this view is taken from a balcony, as the floor-to-ceiling glass window was a bit too reflective for photography). The French Window also looks beautiful in the daytime in a different way (you can check out the website for photos).

We hit upon the idea of taking the ferry (instead of the MTR) back to Tsimshatsui where we were staying. It was a gorgeous way to end the evening.

We really enjoyed our three-hour meal here, and we can’t wait to come back. Our most heartfelt thanks to the Miramar Group (a great pleasure meeting Connie) for hosting us, and to Vivien of HKTB for making this happen.

THE FRENCH WINDOW
Podium level 3, IFC Mall
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2393 3812
Open daily
Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm;
Sun/public holidays 11.30am-3.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm.

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’

_____________________________________________________
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!!

Ms Matchmaker’s Guide to Hong Kong #4: THE Makeover

By , August 6, 2010 6:59 pm

Some of my lady clients at Lunch Actually simply refuse to believe me when I tell them,

“There are no ugly women, only lazy women…!”

Hence, I was extremely excited to find out that 4 of us (Elaine, Geck Geck, Gin and I) would be undergoing a makeover by Celebrity Stylist Celia Wong! Celia is a well-known stylist in Hong Kong and she has worked with stars such as Kelly Chen and she has also been featured in various magazines.

Our first stop was of course Celia’s store/office somewhere at Causeway Bay. The name is cute! dada! 🙂

P1030832

Celia started out by asking us about our preferred style and our objective for the makeover. For me, I told her that my usual dress style is ‘corporate’, so I would like to try something different… perhaps something more ‘lifestyle’. And I did share with her that my favourite colour is purple.

She got to work really quickly, and chose a purple dress for me. But subsequently, she felt that the dress might not be the best choice, so she chose a second attire for me. I must honestly say that what she has chosen for me is not what I normally would wear… but I guess that’s what a makeover is all about right? 🙂

Here’s the ‘BEFORE’ photo, courtesy of Alvin from omy.sg.

Violet - Before Makeover

Actually, that’s not really the ‘BEFORE’ photo since I had some light makeup on. The following is really the ‘BEFORE” photo… after my makeup artist Anita from Make Up For Ever Academy has wiped away the makeup from my face. 😉

Violet - No Makeup

As you can see from the BIG grin on my face, I am rather pleased with the make up!

Violet - During Makeover

I am so amazed by how BIG she has made my eye appear! I really believe that makeup can do wonders! However, that did take about 1.5 hours though… 🙂

And the ‘Finished Product’?

Violet - After Makeover (a)

What do you think? 🙂 I am still not sure if this is something I would wear on a regular basis, but it’s good to know how I would look in something more frilly and feminine. 🙂

And the team that made it all happen! Celia and Anita!

Violet - Makeover Celia and Anita

And here I am, with the rest of the girls – Geck Geck, Gin & Elaine, together with Celia. Photo courtesy of Elaine.

Violet - Makeover Group

Actually, I have done quite a number of makeovers in the past when I am interviewed by some magazines. But this is the first time that I have had the chance to capture the ‘Before’ and ‘After’ process. And I am so happy to share these shots with you.

I hope this has proven once and for all that by spending some time and effort, we can all look absolutely gorgeous and beautiful! 🙂

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]

Ms Matchmaker’s Guide to Hong Kong #3: My Love Affair with the Fragrant Harbour

By , July 30, 2010 8:50 am

The truth is, I have found this trip to HK rather challenging to blog about.

The reason is… I am not really sure I can be classified as a tourist… and the trip is sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourism Board after all! 🙂

Prior to the trip, I asked my HK friend, “Hey, what are the attractions I should check out in HK? I am going as a tourist this time!”

My HK friend replied, “唔好讲笑啦!你係四份之一个香港人哦!” In other words, she’s saying, “Stop kidding me! You are a quarter of a Hong Konger!”

Erm, I guess she’s not wrong. I actually go to HK once a month because we have a HK branch.

Come to think about it, HK and I go a long, long way back…

My “love affair” with the fragrant harbour HK started when I was 5 years old. That was my first overseas trip, and my parents brought me to HK for a vacation. Looking at the photos, I had a blast at Ocean Park!

My first trip to HK without my parents was when I was 17 years old. And that was the first time I stayed in a HK condominium. It was indeed an eye opener! I have been told that Hong Kongers rarely would invite friends to stay in their homes. The reason is not that they are not hospitable or not friendly. The reason is because they do not have space in their homes! My friend’s place is probably quite big compared to the normal standard, but compared to my home in Malaysia (where land is not as ‘precious’ as in HK), it is really rather tiny. I remembered my friend’s kitchen… after both of us squeeze into it, there’s hardly any more space for a third person!

And finally, when I turned 28 years old, my dream of working in Hong Kong finally came true! After my numerous visits to HK where I enjoyed myself so much, I told myself, “One day, I want to work in HK!” Having quit my job in 2004, I was not too sure how I was going to fulfill this dream. The opportunity presented itself when we decided to set up a Lunch Actually branch in HK, having done our market research that there is a demand for a modern dating service in HK! And that was when I started my monthly visits to HK.

What do I love about HK you might ask…

There are so many things that I love, and here’s just among the top 5 things I love about HK!

P10402431. The Energy and The Vibrancy of the City

If there is a city that never sleeps, it has to be Hong Kong! Many shops in the shopping belt are opened till 10pm or 11pm. When you walk around Causeway Bay or Tsim Sha Tsui, you will feel like it’s 8pm when in fact it’s already 11pm! There are still lots of people walking around or out shopping! Some people find the city claustrophobic. But I love the hustle and bustle of the city. I like the fact that people go around with a sense of purpose and urgency. I expected to take 4 months to set up our HK branch, but it only took us 2.5 months, and I think a big part of it is attributed to how fast and efficient the Hong Kongers are!

2. The Cantonese Language

My mother tongue is not English, nor is it Mandarin, it is actually Cantonese! My dialect group is Hakka, but because my mum does not speak Hakka, we ended up speaking Cantonese at home. Do you know that as compared to Mandarin, Cantonese might be even more difficult to learn because Mandarin only has 4 different sounds (or some may say 5), but Cantonese has 9 different sounds! When I come to HK, I feel as if I am home… because everybody speak Cantonese! And when I connect with people in Cantonese, I just feel instantly closer to them! 🙂

3. The Tram or better known as ‘Ding Ding’ to the locals

The tram system on HK island is convenient and affordable. In fact, it’s extremely cheap! You can get from one end of the island to the other end with HKD2. Yes! That works out to 40 cents in SGD! I love to take the tram especially in the winter months. The cold wind will be blowing on your face while the tram saunters through the new and the old Hong Kong. I remember telling my friend how much I love taking the tram. And she said, “我睇你叮啲几耐!” (Let’s see how long you can take the tram!) Haha, and she’s right! Because when the summer months come by, it becomes extremely hot and humid and I do not advise you to take the tram then, unless you want to have a free sauna treat!

4. The Desserts

Hui Lau Shan Mango Dessert Drink

HK is a food paradise, no doubt about it. But more specifically, it is a desserts haven! If you are a mango lover, you have to check out 《许留山》which serves delicious mango-themed desserts! You cannot miss it because its branches are spread all across town. Another of my favourite haunts is 《满记》(Honeymoon Dessert) which has absolutely amazing durian pancakes! And if you enjoy milk-based desserts, I love the 双皮奶 (double skin milk pudding) at 《杏花楼》. I always have it when I am in HK! 🙂

5. A City of Contrast

new old contrastIf you love contrast, you will love HK. It is a city where you can have a delicious and fulfilling meal by spending either HKD30 or HKD3000. You can admire the amazing skyscrapers or enjoy the serenity of its mountains. You can go clubbing at Lan Kwai Fong or enjoy a relaxing day at the beach at Stanley. You can shop at Prada, Gucci, LVand the likes or you can hunt for a bargain at Temple Street or Ladies Market! The options and opportunities are endless and in my opinion, that is what makes this city always exciting and intriguing.

You will always think that you have it all figured out, and then it will throw you yet another surprise!

And that is why HK is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world.

What about you? What would make it to your top 5 list for Hong Kong?

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!

Ms Matchmaker’s Guide to Hong Kong #2: Discovering our Not-So-Humble Abode…

By , July 25, 2010 1:25 am

As the saying goes, ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’… I shall let the photos do the talking…!

Hong Kong OMY

We were warmly welcomed at the airport. Our transport for the next few days will be the minivan! 🙂 From the airport to the hotel, managed to capture some street scene of HK!

When we arrived at The Mira (the gorgeous hotel that we are putting up for the next 3 nights, we were warmly welcomed by their hospitality team.

Hong Kong OMY1

And when I got into my room, I was suitably impressed! 🙂

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And being the gadget-crazy person I am, I simply love all the gadgets in the room! 🙂

1) Do you see the mobile phone below? It’s a mobile phone that you can bring with you wherever you go and if someone calls you at the hotel, you can pick up the call even though you are out shopping! How cool is that?

2) And there is a super big flat screen which is connected to a PC, and you can use it to go online! 🙂

3) Check out the wireless keyboard. So you can access the Internet from the comfort of your bed!

Hong Kong OMY2

Hong Kong OMY3

Love the hotel that we are staying in. It’s so cozy and comfortable that sometimes, I contemplate staying in rather than going out! 😉

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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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!

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