Sassy Blogger

So since moving, I've made a point to get involved in organizations, meet new people, and just overall connect to the community. One thing that was a lifesaver in getting started was following the Sassy Hong Kong blog. It's THE blog in the city and a girl's dream to know where to go for food, salons, and general HK tips. 

I reached out to Sassy after a month of being here basically saying I had a girl crush on their blog and if I could help in anyway I'd love to. Long story short, I've joined the Sassy team as one of their freelance writers! My first article went live on their site this week so let me do a little bit of self-love and share it with you: click here. 

It's a food review and I got to stuff my face with deliciousness and write about it. Another reason why I love Sassy. Okay, now back to my blog... :)

HK ID Card

BOI (Boy of Interest) and I officially have our HK ID cards.. well, we have for awhile now. And besides the fact that it's one of the best pictures I've ever, ever taken (seriously, could my passport pic be swapped? I look like dipped my face in oil in that pic)... it is also the MOST convenient ID we've ever had our hands on. 

Take notes, America. This ID, the size of a license, is so efficient for traveling and proof of citizenship. I just flash that baby anywhere that requires ID and I am good to go. With all the travel we do, I can honestly say I don't dread the airport scene in HK. Besides the fact that their airport is so clean, organized, and modern; it also is incredibly efficient if you're a resident. I never have a line longer than 5 minutes. 

When we have to go through immigration or security (coming or going) we head towards the Hong Kong Citizen lines and instead of booths to show your passport we go through a 'card scanner'. I slip my HK ID into a card slot, it gets read, I scan my fingerprint and then the doors slide open (similar to a ticketing booth). There are multiple stands so efficiency is incredible. Every time we go through, we can't help but come out giddily smiling because we are so local and so much faster than those "tourists" ;)

It is no lie when I say that the HK ID process at airports will be one of the biggest things I miss about Hong Kong whenever we move back. Come on Trump, Make America Great Again with airport productiveness!...or, just let me cut out my ID pic and paste it into my Passport. 

Mahjong

Guess who just graduated Mahjong classes?! That's right, this girl. I am now an official Hong Kong local and you'll hardly recognize me as I blend in with all the old men in the park playing Maj on old stools. 

I took a four week course through the American Women's Association club that I joined. Being a huge fan of anything game board related I immediately signed up. This game isn't for those easily distracted though as there are about 1 billion rules and you have to learn all the different tiles and Chinese characters. Originated in China during the Qing Dynasty, this is "THE" game of Asia, especially with the older generation.

It is a four player game with 144 tiles and you'll find that the rules vary depending on what generation or country. Long story short, you have to learn all the different customs and think quickly or else you're that silly Westerner. The goal is to call Mahjong by having a completed set of tiles in a "run". I'm not going to even go into the types of runs you can have to win...basically, you need at least a run with 3 points to call Mahjong. And man, does it feel good to good to win because then you're the East direction for another round (and friends, you want to be East). 

Now that I can be competitive with another board game, all I need is to buy a Maj set to be a true player. These sets are cheap either, I tried to bargain for a gold glitter set (duh) and I was only able to get it down to $720HK...that's still 93 US buckeroos!! Eh, maybe I'll have to actually venture to the Kowloon side. . . whomp whomp. 

Until then, maybe you'll find me strolling the parks and taking betting with the locals. 

Beach Camping

We had the best weekend. We decided a few days before to go hiking (there are so many suggested hiking paths here in HK, it’s hard to see them all/pick). We decided to go to Ham Tin Wan Beach which is on the Sai Kung side of Hong Kong (so approx 2 hours away from our condo and then a 2 hour hike to the beach itself). 

We each carried a hiking pack loaded with just some sleeping essentials, toothbrush, and water. The hike was INCREDIBLE. Some of you might have seen via SnapChat since there were too many views not to share. Ham Tin Wan is actually a part of the Tai Long Ocean–there are 3 coves/beaches and you can camp on 2 of them. We went to the second cove, Ham Tin Wan–each beach is about a 40 min hike between each other. There were definitely some major inclines to handle but no complaining here–we just still can’t get over the fact that we are hiking in Asia! The views are incredible and it’s so easy to just pick up and go. 

Once we arrived to Ham Tin, we went to this little shack restaurant they have on the beach for tent rentals and food. We posted up on the sand and just enjoyed our oasis the rest of the night while eating fried rice and watching the wild cows and dogs on the island running around. Although it felt like we were sleeping on cement, we surprisingly got a great night’s sleep, woke up for the sunrise, and then headed out at 8:30am for the hike back. Our legs love us, we are just going to have to live on a mountain the rest of our lives to keep up with the legwork we’ve been experiencing here. 

Nothing more to say than HOLY COW this is our new home?!…oh, and we also snuck away with the tent…

Man Mo

Man Mo Temple– about a 15 minute walk from our apartment located in the middle of Central. It takes up 3 blocks but is nestled into all the other tall buildings. I was so excited to walk upon this gem. People can come in, take the incense to light and then bow in front of their stand of choosing. It was beautiful to explore and see all the offerings (red ribbons hanging from candles for wishes and fruit offerings to Buddha). 

I had to walk out after 5 minutes just because of all the smoke from the incense…hard to breathe. However, a nice serene experience in the hustle of the city. 

Dim Sum

Lesson learned: definitely make a reservation. We decided Saturday morning to grab some Dim Sum and well, everything was booked solid. We got really lucky and just went into and they squeezed us in if we ate under 45 min…for us, no problem. We ordered Hong Kong pancakes,  peppered tofu, crab legs (not pictured), rice rolls, boiled lettuce, and bbq rolls. 

Unfortunately, this was probably my least favorite meal since living in HK. Especially since I swear there was a beetle of some sort in my rice and I pretty much tried not to vom the rest of the time (Jay took it and wouldn’t admit that it was a beetle so he threw it on the ground). 

But it mainly came down to no flavor. It was fun to partake but pretty bland. So to go with our lesson learned, we have to make a reservation at a acclaimed restaurant for dim sum for the best…

Because if you can squeeze into a restaurant during peak hours on Saturday then you’re probably going to get a bug in your dish.

dragonback

Our first hike: Dragon Back Mountain. 2 hours, amazing views, versatile terrain, and one hell of an adventure. Recommending to all our family visits!

friend?

We are really trying to make new connections in Hong Kong. There are so many expats living here so we are excited about meeting people from all over the world. I’ve already joined AWA (American Women’s Association) and connected with local bloggers but the more ideas and connections, the better!

One way we could both meet people was by joining a gym. Today, I took my first exercise class to try to meet people (btw, I took TRX so you might as well call me Arnold now). Well, there was this girl right next to me and she was around my age. She had on PINK yoga pants with the OSU label–great starter convo, right? Wrong. Turns out (after a few seconds of me awkwardly pointing to her hip where the logo was) that she had no idea about OSU and could barely speak English. So first attempt at instant gym friendship = fail. Maybe Pilates holds a better chance for an English gal?

Btw, take of those yoga pants girl, don’t mislead a real Ohioan! 

egg tart, anyone?

Waiting in line at the infamous Tai Cheong Bakery in Central (check out that handsome man on the far left). Known for their Egg Tarts, Tai Cheong Bakery first opened in 1954 and is a HK favorite for locals (it even has it’s own museum at The Peak with a life-size egg tart!). Once you get past the idea that it’s an egg desert, it’s really delish. I’m a fan of all things egg-named…egg nog, egg tart…count me in!

HK education

Few things I have discovered while being here so far:

1) Hong Kong natives smoke and well, it’s annoying for my outside cafe days. 

2) Hong Kongese also speak very loudly, especially in places that are more suiting for a serene and quiet setting. Clearly no secrets here. But on the language note, you do not need to know Cantonese to get around here. In fact, when speaking to locals about taking language classes they highly recommend to not learn the language as most people on the island know broken Cantonese.

3) You want the door held open for you? Forget it here. Actually, expect it to be slammed in your face quite often. You also might experience the QST (quick slip through).. this is where you open the door for yourself and someone slips through before you so they don’t have to touch the door at all. 

4) Food is served as soon as it comes. They have appetizers on their menu but really that’s just for show. Your main dish could very well be served before your appetizer and everyone’s food is not served at once. Eat while it’s hot here, it’s not considered rude. Side-note: make your food decision fast, they come to the table and you need to be prepared for everything, not just drinks. 

5) Tiger Balm is medicinal ointment here. You have a cold? Tiger Balm. Sore muscles? Tiger Balm. Headache? Tiger Balm. Bad mood? Tiger Balm. I purchased that miracle cream ASAP. 

6) Foot massages are HUGGGEEEE here. I see one every 20 feet. Definitely foot fetish in Hong Kong. Not sure if it’s from all the walking or hills, but people love their toes rubbed. 

7) Very safe and very clean. I do not feel uncomfortable anywhere I go, including alleys. It’s also incredible clean for such a large city. Early every morning they clean and wash down the streets…New York could take a lesson here. 

8) Drivers on the left hand side of the road instead of the right like the US. However, on escalators you stand on the right and pass on the left. Escalators are a big transportation here so key to know this lesson.

9) Bags at a store or grocery market cost money. I have a rolled up travel one on me at all times now. 

10) No tipping here. 10% service charged on most restaurants. 

11) Since everything is priced here in HK$ I have to calculate in my head what it is equivalent to in US$. Conversion rate is about 7.7 HK$ to 1 US$. So ya, would’ve been nice if it was a simpler number for me to have to divide mentally. 

12) When given back your credit card, receipt, ticket, etc locals give it back to you with two hands and always look you in the face to say thank you. I love this.

13) Milk Tea is popular here. I thought it would be some cool, new drink. Turns out it just Lipton tea with a side of milk. Truly exactly as it’s written and not tasty.

More lessons to come as I keep observing.

park gal

Went on an adventure yesterday around Hong Kong Island to explore the two biggest parks: Hong Kong Zoological Park and Hong Kong Park (yes, so differently name it makes it so easy to know which is which). 

These parks are incredible though, and definitely more than just a leisurely stroll–you will definitely get that thigh and glute workout going as Hong Kong is never short of inclines. Both parks have all sorts of caged birds like flamingos, red crowned crane, and the very rare American duck…I also swear they caged a pigeon and a raccoon. But regardless, it’s an amazing experience and definitely more jungle than it is park. Especially at the HK Zoological Park where there are orangutans and monkeys making all sorts of noises I’ve never heard of.  

At the HK Park, closer to the financial district, there is a massive aviary for birds and it is nothing short of where the Pteranodon are caged in Jurassic Park. It’s incredible. The best part though are the views, each park is equal when it comes to amazing backdrops of the city surrounded by mountains and wildlife. I cannot believe this is our new backyard.

wái 

We’ve made it to Hong Kong…we are officially “Hong Kongers”/ “Hong Kongese” / “Hong Kong Chinese” (apparently the name for a true citizen is still TBD across the globe). 

The travel was surprisingly a joy (actually no surprise at all, Business Class gave me so much joy). After sipping the champs and reclining totally flat (hello airplane heaven) we both slept 8 hours. Which basically slapped jet lag in the face. 

Our new set-up is quite nice and comes with sassy building title: The Mood. Looking at it from outside it’s pretty much a tall toothpick. I still have no idea how we do not sway in the wind–it is incredibly narrow as each floor is just one unit. Over this past week we have made considerable changes to make it more cozy (i.e. fuzzy blanket & eucalyptus Diptyque candle). 

The biggest thing we noticed when walking into our apartment was the humidity level. There are two dehumidifiers in our unit and we empty both twice daily. When I say empty, we literally take out a bottom tray that is filled with water and dump it out in the sink…it’s around 3-4 gallons daily. That’s the level of humidity here. 

There are some random smells I catch outside from the locals but I have not yet figured out what it smells like; it’s just not appealing. A mix of fish, rice and possibly steam? Stay tuned. 

All and all, it was an easy first day or two and we love living in Central. Definitely the area for fun bars, restaurants, and expats. Oh, and LKF (Lan Kui Fong, the street for all the major clubs) is just a block away–> looks like Rachie Shit Facie & Blackout Hirsh will be making more than just a few appearances while living here.