Friday, January 31, 2014

Hong Kong travel diary day 7 the finale

Today was my last day in Hong Kong. I woke up feeling so depressed that I contemplated if I should illegally migrate here. Not that I could really...the sister and I woke up early and made our way to MongKok once more as I wanted to bring her to try an authentic cha chaan teng experience at least once.

We had a simple yet filling breakfast at Kam Fung Cafe and had lunch at Yung Kee Restaurant before making our way back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and catch a taxi to the airport.

Before I end this Hong Kong travel diary, I thought I will share with you snippets of my meal on Singapore Airlines. They do look after you pretty well and there is plenty of food to make sure you don't starve on your journey. Lots of movies/ tv shows to choose from as well! Would certainly consider using Singapore Airlines again:)

I missed having mixed nuts.

Airport OOTD: Promod denim shirt, H&M cardigan, random brand white shorts

Yours truly's infamous Adidas shoes that is not only comfortable but stylish hehe.

To sum up my entire experience, I think Hong Kong had certainly changed from a sort of hostile, underground country to a more open-minded and friendlier place for tourists to visit. Having said that, there are a lot of people everywhere so be prepared to push through crowds if you have to. Otherwise, just enjoy the trip and make sure you walk in the shoes of a local:)

Hong Kong travel diary day 6

Today was my solo day as the sister and friend had something on so they left me to fend for myself in Hong Kong. I googled up places of interest, taking into account how to get there (drew a map as well!) and decided to venture out early in the morning. It was the best experience of my life and I can vividly recall the scenes and scents that happened that day.

Hong Kong's MTR station is very efficient and after a few days train hopping, I knew which train to board to get to my destination. Looking up directions the night before had helped quite a bit...I did not get lost at all and easily made my way around Central *pats self on the back*

After a hearty breakfast at Tsui Wah Restaurant, I made my way around Central, in search of interest points and basically snapping pictures whenever I can. I found Tai Cheong Bakery and Lan Fong Yuen without much trouble (basically from walking along the same street). Got my egg tart and daily milk tea fix!

If I were to describe Central in a word, it would sum up to market. I came across the wet market and souvenir/ daily necessities sections of Central. There were so many locals (and a few nosy tourists like me) strolling along the hill-y steps with a few cats making a ninja appearance. How I missed that moment.

OOTD: Bershka varsity jacket, Zara printed tee, Topshop sling bag, Adidas sneakers (not shown)

I thought it was  important to wear clothes that enables me to move around freely and as it was slightly chilly, a warm-ish jacket would help. I thought I dressed like a typical Hongkie, what do you think?

The afternoon begun with a quick trip to the Hong Kong museum of history. I paid HKD$10/aud$2 for what felt like 3 hours in the museum. It was the least crowded part of Hong Kong and I learnt a thing or two and the country. Pictures are permitted but if you are planning to do something for commercial use, I would probably seek permission before proceeding.

The museum was filled with artifacts that showcased a bit of Hong Kong's traditional practices, local community cultures and basically it's historical transition. The aud$2 that I payed here felt more like a donation. I did not think it was extravagantly or unnecessarily priced so please do visit this place when you get the opportunity as it is a great way to learn about the country:)

The 1881 heritage site was located not too far away from the museum and from memory, it was the place to take wedding pictures. I literally saw 4 wedding photography sessions in progress that evening. Can't blame them as it is a very pretty and classy site to have photos taken.

I ventured out for the last time to MongKok aka night market streets as I did not think I will ever go back again (due to depart the following day sobs). Wandered around, popping by a few local malls and found myself starving and trying to get my bum into a restaurant/ cafe for dinner. All the dining areas are packed FULL of people at 7-8pm and some restaurants even had a long queue of hungry diners. I managed to sneak into a Japanese restaurant as it was probably easier to get a table for 1 and I did not regret it at all.

Was easily the cheapest Japanese meal I had and nobody rushed me around. Just sat there with a cup of hot, refillable green tea and basically ordering via an Ipad/ Tab and if necessary, pick plates off the train. Life is good.

Their soft shell crab was easily the crunchiest and succulent ones I have had in a long time. If you are in Hong Kong, do try their Japanese cuisine. I am certain you won't be disappointed!

p.s: did not blog about day 5 as there was nothing much. I met up with some friends over dinner and chatted with them throughout the night. Was fun putting myself in their shoes tho!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chinese new year baking made easy: Peanut cookie, Butter cookie and London Almond cookie recipe

Chinese new year is just 2 days away and yours truly is so bogged down with a backlog of blogposts, assignments and mandarin lessons (trying to improve my non-existing mandarin speaking and reading skills haha). Nevertheless, I told myself that it is utmost important for me to bake during this festive season, regardless of my hectic schedule.

I would love to attempt tricky recipes such as the chinese love letters, tapioca chips or even kuih bangkit but as time showed no mercy, I have decided to compile a list of easy recipes to use. The results were as expected as I have had a rough idea of what to do. Do give these recipes a go if you are stuck in a stick situation like me!:)

Peanut cookie recipe as seen here. I have used this recipe many times now and I think its a pretty good one to keep in your recipe book. Just be careful of how much oil you add as peanuts do have oil in them!! Too much oil = broken cookies :(

Butter cookie recipe (makes about 30 pieces) :

180g butter, softened
1/3 cup icing
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cornflour
1 cup plain flour
50g glace cherries, chopped

Beat butter with icing sugar until the mixture appears well combined (about 5 minutes) before adding in your vanilla extract. Sift cornflour with plain flour and incorporate the wet mixture to it. Place mixture into a piping bag and pipe whatever shape you desire (mine cracked a little due to poor piping boo). Top with your cherry piece and bake at 150C for 15 minutes or until it appears slightly browned.

London almond cookie recipe (makes about 35 pieces, depending on how much dough mixture you have) :
125g butter
75g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp rice flour
250g whole almonds, lightly roasted
50g almonds chopped finely
450g cooking chocolate

Cream butter and icing sugar together until it appears well combined (about 5 minutes) before adding in your egg yolk and vanilla extract. Continue to mix for an extra 2 minutes. Sift plain flour with rice flour and add wet mixture to it.

Make sure your almonds are cooled before encasing them with the dough mixture. Make sure the dough is not too thick or thin when wrapping the almond otherwise it might fall apart or overfill the little cupcake paper case.  Bake at 150C for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate and add a small knob (about 20g of butter) to it for ease of spreading. Once the cookies have cooled, quickly spoon the chocolate over them and sprinkle with the chopped almonds. Refrigerate and enjoy!:)

That was not too difficult, was it. I think the butter cookie and london almond cookie recipe is pretty similar so you could definitely make a bigger batch of butter cookie and use half of it for the almond cookies. Make sure you have some pretty red containers to store your cookies! I am sure your guests will be very pleased to rock up at your place hehe:)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hong Kong travel diary day 4

Our 4th day in Hong Kong begun with a maniac rush to the ferry station to purchase tickets to Macau. From memory, it costs about $25 per person for a one way ticket although you could possibly purchase a return ticket for the same day. Maniac meaning that there were so many people rushing and literally filled the entire floor which made it difficult to move around. We managed to get the our tickets at the right time and decided to sit around in Starbucks whilst waiting to meet up a friend.

I love Starbuck's green tea latte. It tastes so much better in Hong Kong for some unknown reason! New mission in life? To sample Starbucks wherever I go haha.

We got to our Venetian hotel via the convenient buses provided by the casino hotels. One could easily catch the wrong bus and make their way back to the starting point without having to pay a penny. Not too bad considering these hotels can be a bit costly if you are on a tight budget. Not forgetting to mention that these buses do drop you off at certain tourist sites. Transportation allowance saved!

Our hotel room was *ahem* quite grand, admittedly, considering we did pay a fair bit among the 3 of us. No regrets there as it was very luxuriously designed.

Ate at the Chinese restaurant downstairs which was alright but a tad costly taking into account that we could have easily gone to the food court for some cheap and yummy eats. Too bad we were rushing for time boo!

Got to the main street (think it's a bit off Senado Square) and were immediately greeted by rows of food shops to entice tourists to purchase souvenirs to take home. I must have walked past the same branch a dozen times haha.

Arrived at this apparently famous durian ice cream shop which was alright but if you are rushing for time, may be worthwhile giving it a miss.

I liked how the streets still had Portuguese names and a few preserved buildings which is rare to see these days.

Kicking myself for not trying these as it was quite a popular thing in Macau.

Found Senado Square, which I think is quite a beautiful sight. There's something mystifying about it. Not sure if it's just me!

Ruin's of St. Paul's ~ one of the biggest churches in Asia when it was first built but sadly, was destroyed by fire in 1835. Still standing proud when I cast my eyes on it. Here is an uncommon view for your pleasure!:)

The view after tackling the stairs which led me to the doorstep of  St. Paul's. A mix of casinos and older buildings.

Random dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Was alright although if we had knew better, we would have gone to the casino's food court.

Venetian hotel's impressive shopping floor. A reminiscence of European structures in this seemingly outdoor layout. I had always thought it was outdoors from pictures and could not believe how clever the architecture (s) were. Very clever indeed. On a side note, if you are shopping with cash, change will be given in Macau currency instead of HKD.