Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Travel: Hong Kong Photo Diary - A Day In Central

Just a metro or boat trip away from Lantau (post here), we ventured in to Central for a day of exploring. I'd snapped the above pic a few days earlier on the way back from a Junk Boat outing, sitting on the front of the boat watching the skyline get closer.

My boyfriend hadn't been to HK before so I wanted to take him to a couple of the sites and everyone I spoke to told me we had to visit Grassroots Pantry and that it would cater for my veggie / gluten free / general dietary woes. I also wanted to buy things and walk on streets because I am easily amused.

But first, coffee. I love HK cafe culture and Coco Espresso's iced lattes and cold brew provided welcome relief from the crazy humidity. You can find my other favourite cafes here and on this trip we also visited N1 Coffee & Co in Kowloon where we picked up a bag of beans to take home.

I was very keen to take the escalators (my favourite thing about HK) up to mid-levels as a way of seeing the city without getting overly sweaty (humidity makes me grumpy). Hopping off at Hollywood Road, Grassroots Pantry did not disappoint - I had the vegan nachos with pulled jackfruit. My plans to pop back for some snacks were scuppered by a torrential downpour...more on that later.

We hopped in an Uber to the top of the Peak and got dropped off at the park rather than the viewing platform. No one else was around, I was wearing a vintage dress and sandals with absolutely no grip and it felt like a thunderstorm was imminent so we decided to go on a walking trail despite not knowing how long it would take to complete.

Despite my boyfriend having to carry my handbag while I tried not to slip and die, the walk was quite nice - the humidity was almost bearable and aside from some bugs it was peaceful. We saw this waterfall and speed-walked the last few hundred metres, arriving at the shopping centre right before a T1 storm.

One of us had a grilled cheese while we waited for the rain to stop. It didn't. I was actually enjoying it having not seen rain since April in the UK. We braved a rather terrifying tram ride down (ticking off another "HK must" in the process even if the windows were all steamed up) and then got wet all over again getting back to IFC Mall and I definitely didn't accidentally whack people with my umbrella and it's not really my fault because I am so out of practice using one but it didn't happen anyway. 

We found a Japanese restaurant in the mall and I had a cocktail which (I think) contained whiskey and lemon sorbet and it was very restorative, especially after viewing the menus for at least three other places and discounting them all. We also had some okonomiyaki fries which were delicious but not very photogenic and then hopped on the MTR back "home" to collapse in a heap. 


Thursday, 9 August 2018

Travel: Hong Kong Photo Diary - Lantau Edition

My second trip of 2018 to Hong Kong - back in March I visited with Lauren, staying in an appropriately-named hotel in Central and spending our days wandering, chatting and stopping for avocado on toast.

Fast forward a few months and a much hotter and more humid Hong Kong was waiting for us. My boyfriends's friends have recently relocated from North London to South Lantau and staying with them for a week was the perfect mix of HK's frantic city pace, chilled beaches, boat trips, gin-fuelled board game sessions and making them my friends, too.

Our friends' place had an amazing view over the beach and mountains. Most of our week was spent on Lantau itself - the humidity was a little crazy, even for someone who lives in Dubai (where it is actually humid, much to everyone's surprise) and I very much appreciated the  slower pace and being able to take frequent dips in the sea and pool.

Staying pale on the beach - borrowed the hat and beach cover-up because I packed way more "city break" than beach holiday and ended up not needing half of what I packed, including heels and my entire make-up bag. Blissful.

The "Big Buddha" is a Lantau must. We took the glass-floored cable car up to pay him a visit and then caught a taxi to Tai O. Walking up those steps in the humidity was not my least-grumpiest moment.

A HK first for me, Tai O is best seen by boat. Trigger warning: smelly fish but seeing the remains of the traditional way of life here was well worth it.

Grateful to have packed my prescription sunglasses, we spotted some dolphins off of Tai O - given the amount of plastic pollution in HK (and everywhere else) I was sceptical that we would see any but certain that there are far fewer now and that we were lucky to see the ones we did.

Our friends' favourite Lantau restaurant, The Gallery in Tong Fuk serves up amazing salads and (for the carnivorous) amazing steaks.... The menu is written up daily on a chalk board and the restaurant is unpretentious with beautiful, simple food done really well.

On our final evening, we took a mini BBQ down to the beach to watch the sunset with G&Ts and skies clear enough to see the stars. I never thought that HK was somewhere I'd associate with being super relaxed but there are so many sides to this city and, if time permits, you have to explore beyond Central and HK Island.


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

July Round-Up

Long time, no blog post.

July was all sorts of busy but in a good way - I spent less time on my phone and in front of screens and some WhatsApp messages didn't receive replies for...oh, at least 4 hours. Highly unusual for me. I spent quite a lot of time watching the World Cup and hiding indoors from the 50 degree heat in Dubai, and finally braved the crazy roads here and almost enjoyed it.

1. Welcoming July with my Bando planner. Diary entries included: trips to Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong, farewell drinks (because #expatlife) and friends making brief appearances in the desert (as in stop-overs, not mirages).

2. On the beach in Ras Al Khaimah - spent a weekend exploring another Emirate and did the world's longest zipline which was less scary than me driving back to our hotel on a motorway for the first time ever and the hotter-than-bathwater sea. 

3. Breakfast at The Sum of Us is a weekly must when in Dubai. 

4. I got my haircut for the first time in months at Y12 Salon - highly recommend this chilled salon at the Ritz-Carlton, DIFC. Not quite sure what I'm doing with my hair currently - the urge to cut it all off sometimes surfaces...

5. The prettiest gins at BBs in DIFC. 

6. A weekend in Abu Dhabi where friends cooked up an American-inspired feast, I played N64 for the first time and spent a lot of time cuddling their three cats.

7. Bookclub discussions and a book that everyone loved! Would definitely recommend this one if you're living / working abroad or thinking about it.

8. Lunch at Peyote in DIFC to welcome a new colleague to my work team.

9. A week in Hong Kong staying with friends in their beautiful villa in Lantau. More on this when I get around to opening my laptop again... 

August sees a trip to London for two weddings, finally hosting a dinner party and taking part in a yoga challenge (weddings on two consecutive weekends surely need some stored-up zen?).

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