01.01.2017

After church we went to visit Papa. Lunch at the foodcourt and taxi up the hill.

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Instead of going home or going to the market, mum and I went to the coastal seafood area and walked around. Obviously it being new year’s day and a public holiday there were people everywhere. There were craft stalls, helpers singing and dancing, people playing with kites, a busker on electric violin and a huge dog meet & greet area which we avoided.

Mum queued up at a bakery for pineapple buns while I visited the wine shop next door. Bought a couple of craft beers: a chocolate stout and an oat stout. The chocolate stout was the last bottle.

Early dinner at one of the multitude of seafood restaurants lining the waterfront. Most offered a set meal depending on number of people. The portions were small, so they were able to fit in more variety. For two people we had razor clam, salt & chili scampi, lobster with noodles, steamed fish, bok choy and fried rice. They gave us seafood soup since mum asked for it. The quality is…just like mass produced food, not too bad. I liked the razor clam and scampi; the lobster portion was too small; the steamed fish was one of those with a very soft texture that I don’t like; the fried rice was way too salty. It’s a touristy area and the food reflects that.

sis birthday dinner

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Dinner with Sis, G and Mum for Sis’ birthday. We were all going there separately so sis decided on Jamie’s Italian, so it’s easy for all to go to.

We got there early for happy hour. Not a great discount (less than 20%). We started off with cranberry soda, so unlike us to go for something non-alcoholic. Fear not, pretty soon we moved onto wine.

Some of the starters were at happy hour prices too so we ordered a plank (because Jamie) and arancini. For mains we had pasta (truffle for G, prawn for mum, crab for me) and sis had the garlic prawn starter. The pasta, we all agreed, was slightly overcooked. Next time we’ll make sure we say al dente. Too full for dessert.

The place was packed for a Thursday night. Okay, granted it’s the night before bank holiday. It was a great evening, very very happy with the chance to gather with family.

bbmm new watering hole

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Went to the japanese brewery for happy hour with mm. I hadn’t noticed before, their own beers are a free upgrade at happy hour whereas guest brews are discounted around 20%.

I knew what I wanted because I had their flight last time I visited. Usually when there’s an amber ale, that ends up being my favourite so my choice was beniaka. The staff were also nice enough to let us have a taste, mm described what she liked and the staff recommended an amber lager from Taiwan. It was very crisp, yet with a depth of flavour. I asked to try a sour beer from Denmark, it was more like a sparkling wine than beer.

Nice place, mm took a pic of their storage fridge and called the place our new watering hole.

After happy hour we went to a korean ayce bbq place. Relatively quiet, it’s a weekday. Didn’t eat as much as we used to but still quite a lot of beef, lamb, chicken, tongue which we wrapped in lettuce. We were there quite a while, it was 9pm when we left and it felt like 8pm.

cat café

My suggestion for bbmm meetup was to go find a happy hour place but mm came up with cat café so off to the kitty place we went.

This is the first time we visited this particular café. The usual: clean hands before entering, change to slippers, be mindful of the cats. One drink is included, mostly fruit teas.

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About half the cats were happily sleeping. And we could see that they are well cared for. A couple came and played with us. A lovely ginger with big eyes and a round face.

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Very active too. We were sat at the corner and he often came to the corner so he can launch himself at either one of our toys or the other customers’ toys at the other end of the café.

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The other was a white and black long-hair. He played with mm’s toy and even my backpack wasn’t immune.

Got a video of the two of them playing.

outing to tai o fishing village

Met with my great-aunt again, for a day’s outing. I’d forgotten that the place I wanted to go to, a traditional fishing village, involved a ferry ride plus a bus ride. For some reason I thought the ferry would bring us there. Never mind, both Mum and Great-Aunt qualify for senior fare and it was nice to sit in an air-conditioned bus for half an hour.

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The village is a traditional fishing village still occupied by fishing folk. A lot of them have turned to the tourist trade now, running dried goods stores, restaurants or boat trips. The houses at the village are rickety wooden structures built on stilts. It’s amazing how they have weathered the elements for so many years.

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There’s a lot of talk about the area being redeveloped, which would mean the stilted houses are pulled down. There’s a lot of resistance, thankfully.

It’s a weekday so the number of visitors was tolerable. We got there around 1.30pm and first order of business was to find lunch. Then walked around the village, across the bridge for more views of houses. There’s a sense that time stopped a few decades ago.

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Some of the other houses inside the village are made with tin cladding. We imagine they can get hot in the summer. Then again, most of them appear to be air-conditioned. There’s one house that’s abandoned. All the windows and doors are gone and it’s overrun with vines now. Creepy.

Great day out. Nice day that was cloudy but not humid. Lovely to spend another day with my great-aunt.

winewalk

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Sis and I went to a fun event called winewalk. 17 stores and restaurants in the area around fashion walk took part. For the price of a ticket, we get a wine glass and a passport and we can walk around visiting each participating outlet. They will give us a small serving of wine and sometimes there were snacks.

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We started at the Moët van. Even though it was flat (!) it was still delicious. Other places served mostly new world wine. Pacific Coffee had a nice Yarra Valley Pinot Noir. Simplylife/Minh & Kok served this Margaret River Cab Merlot that was truly awful; I discretely poured it away after one mouthful. The Japanese brewery Coedo had a California Chardonnay–I’m never a Chardonnay fan, it was okay but bland.

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Coast had a Yarra Valley rosé that was very good, but the server gave us such a small portion it was pathetic. Coast also had one of the better snacks: a small prawn cocktail.

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One of the more interesting selection was a French cider. The two girls we were sitting next to on the bench didn’t like it, but I thought I’d give it a try. It was pretty nice. Bear in mind that it’s a winewalk so most people expected wine.

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Almost time to go, I wanted to try the Yarra Valley Chandon Brut Pinot Shiraz at Wildfire because we don’t often drink sparkling reds. Ugh, now I know why we don’t drink sparkling reds, it tasted like cough syrup with a bit of fizz.

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Good thing we saved the best till last. Ted Baker served ice lolly with Veuve Cliquot. Arguable about whether VC is better than Moët, who cares! Both were great. Having a cool ice lolly was perfect.

I counted up my stamps, I visited 15 out of 17; Sis had fewer. Considering the small serving sizes and I didn’t finish each glass, probably around 3 glasses in total.

maison eight restaurant

R is an investor in a new restaurant called maison eight that is a three-in-one food & beverage destination: a huge bar space called the Ballroom including a cocktail bar opened by a celebrity bartender, an intimate French fine dining restaurant and a private function room. Soft opening this week, so we went off to try.

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The bar is definitely huge and swanky, to the point of gaudy. Apparently it can hold 300 people and also has an outdoor terrace with harbour view. Large selection of drinks and specially created cocktails by Salvatore, the celebrity bartender from London. R had a couple of their cocktails, Sis had lychee martini and I had an old fashioned. Nice drinks. The bartender even made a raspberry mocktail for my niece.

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The restaurant is small and intimate. Largely French with 4 steaks as mains. I had lamb, sis had lobster, my niece had salmon soufflé and they made a risotto for R. Oh, they started us with 2 amuse bouches: duck and potato & cheese croquettes. We all loved the croquettes.

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My lamb rack was small–must have been a very, very young lamb. Suitably pink with braised vegetables. The salmon soufflé looked good too. The lobster according to sis was nice and suitably puffy when served. R ordered a bottle of wine, but they couldn’t find it, nor the second bottle he ordered. They served us a glass of house wine to tide us over.

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I had rum baba for dessert, it’s been a while. The other desserts–pannacotta, almond cake–were all good.

I can’t imagine what the bill came to, even with investor discount. Must have been astronomical. Definitely a special occasion place.

beer flight, hot pot

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Meeting mm for dinner, decided to go out early: a) to take old clothes for recycling and b) to explore one of the happy hour places near where we are meeting.

One of my newest go-to places is food street, which is going through a revival. We normally go to Simplylife for tea, sis and I went to Minh&Kok for Asian, mm and I went to Coast once for an attempted happy hour (she was so late the place had turned to a restaurant). There are new places serving burgers, steaks, mediterranean food, tapas, coffee, gelato. I ended up at Coedo taproom, which serves craft beer from its namesake brewery located in Saitama Japan. They have 12 beers on tap (5 of their own plus 7 guest beers) and a page of kushiyaki. Everything is quite expensive, I guess it’s the location.

I had their beer flight, 150ml servings of their 5 beers. I had about an hour to kill, so I was able to slowly sip each one. Each had a colour assigned to it:

  • ruri: blue pilsner — light and crisp, easy on the palate
  • shiro: white hefeweizen — nice wheat beer smell but a bit bland
  • kyara: brown IPA — one of the better tasting IPAs I’ve tasted, hoppy but not killed by the hops
  • beniaka: red amber ale — expected to be my favourite and it was, rich and smooth
  • shikkoku: black lager — smell and look of very dark beer but not heavy

The beers are about double the price of beers at neighbouring places, especially at happy hour prices. It’s marketing at work: “hand”-crafted beer vs standard tap stuff although the beers at the burger joint looks already quite good: 1664, Asahi, Guinness.

HMV opened up nearby, with almost a whole floor dedicated to a bar-restaurant. Wasn’t very busy when I went up, another possibility for happy hour and to meet up. We normally meet at the sofa section at Ikea, so having someplace else to sit down with a drink is great. They have Estrella on tap. Beer selection will never be as good as a British pub, but is miles ahead of American bars with their beer-flavoured water. I think that’s why craft beers are getting so much attention in the US: people are used to bland stuff (Bud, Coors) and when they are offered a bit of flavour of course they will be wowed. Compared with UK, Belgium, Germany where the beer already taste good and varied, the newer craft beers are merely one more choice.

Dinner plans was originally karaoke, which would have ended up mostly mm singing and me forced to participate in a few songs. We decided it was for another time so searched online and found an AYCE hotpot restaurant. The food wasn’t that good, it’s hard to screw up hotpot but they did it: meat was too fat or looked brown & watery, veg wasn’t washed properly. Definitely not going back there again.

moving day

The movers showed up at 10am, and started packing the things I hadn’t. Plus wrapping the furniture in a mixure of large cloth and plastic wrap. Seems like for local moves there is no need to wrap furniture in cardboard.

Sis brought me lunch and watched as the last boxes were brought downstairs. The medium sized lorry was just not enough to take all items so they ordered a small van. There was enough space for me to go with the lorry, and I was also able to navigate.

Not a lot of space in parents’ flat. The intended space clearance was not successful. I was able to fit bedroom and study furniture in my room so at least that’s a plus. They piled boxes in any space available. A bit depressing, thinking about trying to fit everything in. Sigh.

bbmm sunset

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After I finished selling the first of my cabinets on Saturday, mm drove over and we went for a short drive. She’s been on a Corona kick lately, so she brought a couple of bottles as well as a large bag of crisps. I brought lemon wedges. We found a bench in the waterfront park at cyberport and chatted for about 2hrs. Nothing much in particular, just her latest school stuff and my family stuff.

Nice day to sit outside. There were too many dogs at the park for me to be entirely comfortable; luckily the majority were well trained to ignore people.

When we left it was a glorious sunset over the water. This was from the iphone and not photoshopped.

selling stuff

I’m going to move to my parents’ permanently. It’s not worth keeping my flat empty more than 50% of the time when it can be rented out.

Though in theory everything from my flat will fit into parents’ flat, it will be cramped. So I’m selling stuff. There’s not a huge second-hand market here, but Sis suggested posting on the local expat forum’s classified section.

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First to be posted are two sets of small cabinets that were bought almost 20 years ago. After 2 complete trips around the world, they are still in good condition. I posted the 2-drawer set and got responses within a few hours. Sold to the first person who contacted me. To the second person I said I have a 3-drawer set, will she be interested? Yes, so I didn’t even need to post it. The first buyer sent his maid over today and we got the units into a taxi for her to take home (they’re only 5 mins’ walk away). The second buyer will pick the units up next week.

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Thus encouraged, I will post more stuff this weekend. Microwaves (one from Switzerland, one from UK), candles, prints, chairs, two Ikea side tables, wireless router that has never been used. Not expecting a lot of money; every little will go towards the cost of the movers.

I remember an ex-colleague said she’s addicted to selling stuff on ebay. Now I can see why. I’m mentally going through the content of my flat and figuring out what else I can sell.

asian lunch with sis

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Lunch with sis at a vietnamese/thai restaurant. It’s on a pedestrianised street nicknamed “food street” with lots of different types of restaurants. Aside from this asian themed one, there’s simply life, mediterranean, tapas, burger, steak, a taproom and around the corner a posh chachanteng and a gelateria.

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We had the set lunch with a choice of noodle dishes: laksa, pho, bun vermicelli, fried noodles. There’s an optional starter platter of rice roll, spring roll and satay. We ordered one starter, supposedly to share but I ate all of it. Sis had laksa and I had bun vermicelli with pork which is a cold noodle with crunchy salad and the ubiquitious nước chấm sauce.

All very nice. Sometimes it’s hard to find good vietnamese / thai places that are one step up from street food. This is by a large conglomerate, but done pretty well.

dinner with new friends

My uncle and his friends invited us to a dinner. We met them last year at my aunt’s funeral and shared a table at lunch. A mutual love of food sparked conversation and the invitation. The venue was one of those unassuming, untidy, diner places in a working class neighbourhood. They go there apparently often. The food was a mix of specials made by the chef and seafood brought in by the friends.

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It was a feast! Started with fried plump oysters and whelks. Then chicken, a huge plate of roast pork, razor clams, giant abalone, fish. The seafood was fresh and simply cooked, mainly steamed.

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The oddest thing was, someone brought a bottle of royal salute 21. I think I’ve had a tiny taste at a duty free, but this was the first time I properly drank it. As befitting the unassuming surroundings, we had it in a normal water glass. It’s very good, caramel-y on the nose, smooth tasting, not a lot of legs though. I’ve never had whisky with a main meal, the whole bottle was almost finished at the end of the evening.

bbmm outing

Met mm’s family for lunch; they were entertaining a friend visiting from Canada. Afterwards we drove her mum and the friend auntie to ladies’ street so they can go shopping. We continued to the country park near where I went for the night race in september. It’d been raining for several days; we lucked out when we arrived, the sun finally came out.

We found an outdoor bar café and had a glass of wine each. Well, I had 1.5 glass and mm had half a glass because she was driving. Sat there comfortably chatting for over 1hr.

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We took a short walk around the waterfront afterwards. It was almost 7pm, so sunset had long gone. The pic is grainy, even modern iphones can’t compensate for the darkness. I had it resting on a railing, so at least it’s not blurry.

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We drove to a nearby town for dinner at the cooked food centre of a wet market. The sort of place where you sit on plastic stools at tables that use plastic sheets as covers. Food at these places are reliably good and this particularly place was packed.

We had lamb hotpot, a winter specialty. Belly of lamb simmering in an aromatic broth kept warm using a portable stove. Also came with a basket of lettuce that we quickly dunk in the broth to absorb the flavours. Plenty enough for 2 people.

School starts this week for her, apparently second semester is even more busy than the first so she needs to work hard. We’ll try to find some time to meet up whenever we can.

drinks and dinner with sis

My niece flew to the UK to spend christmas with robert and his parents. Sis isn’t going, so she asked me to go with her to drinks and dinner tonight, otherwise she will be too worried about my niece on the plane.

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We started off with prosecco and I also ordered a baked camembert to nibble on. Quite nice, but the bar didn’t have happy hour. We moved to another bar that had happy hour at the hotel next door. Sat outside, it was just about warm enough not to need a coat.

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Dinner was at a german restaurant called Berliner. Sis had two vouchers, one for a free cocktail and the other gave a discount, both had to be used by 31-dec. The free cocktail was a sweet gin and juice concoction. For mains we had sausages and more sausages. I ordered the huge sausage platter, ate around 1/3 and took the rest home.

best vietnamese streetfood

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We visited Nha Trang Thanh, which consistently makes lists such as the best cooked food centre restaurants around. What does cooked food centre restaurant mean? It’s basically a stall inside a wet market building, the type of place that is messy and just that little bit not-so-clean. This place has apparently one of the most authentic phos and vietnamese food around.

The owner was a very friendly and chatty auntie, apparently they are returnees, having emigrated to Canada and come back. She treated us like we were visitors in her own home, helping us order and making sure we have everything. I ordered lime soda and she told me to wait while she ran downstairs to the market to buy limes!

We ordered a starter plate of chicken wings, pork chops, vietnamese spring roll and cha lua (pork roll). At her suggestion, we ordered the beef pho, bun bung (noodles in tomato soup) and bun thit (cold vermicelli). The soup that the pho was served in was a broth made from beef bones boiled for many hours, it was tasty and yet not oily. Very nice.

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Dad ordered (or rather, Auntie made him order) the vietnamese drip coffee. We tasted a little, leaving the rest for tomorrow morning. Even I liked it, rich in coffee flavour but not bitter.

The bill, for all these, came to local $160 or US$20. No sevice charge, no tips. The best of street food.

gourmet eating out day

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Sis and I went out for lunch and dinner last week, the day when I was looking after my niece for part of the day. Lunch was at Jason Atherton’s Aberdeen Street Social. Downstairs is the more casual bistro. I had what was on the menu as sea bass “BLT” which was seabass, pork belly, sautéed cabbage, mushroom and a tomato sauce. The seabass was really nice, fresh and flakey. They should have served it with the crispy skin though. For a small additional charge, it came with a glass of wine and dessert, which was chocolate cake.

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Dinner was at Mr & Mrs Fox, a sprawling modern industrial-looking bar and restaurant. Noisy happy hour folks downstairs at the bar; we ate upstairs at the restaurant. Started with oysters, which were fresh but disappointing because they seemed to have washed them before serving. To me, that’s sacrilegious as all the taste of the sea is gone. My steak was a 16oz bone-in strip; rare and perfectly cooked. Soft and flavourful too. Their house wine came in draught form, so we could order any amount we wanted. We’d had wine already earlier so it was just one glass.

 

gis birthday lunch

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For gis’ birthday this year she picked lunch at jamie’s italian at the weekend. She even sent the email to all of us with the details. I’ve only been to jamie’s italian in the UK, so was wondering if the menu ported over well. First of, the restaurant was huge, must have cost a pretty penny in rent. We started with cauliflower fritters and arancini to share. Everyone ordered pasta for mains. Mine was supposed to be the daily special of mussel spaghetti (I think it’s spaghetti, we had problems understanding the waitress’ english). Definitely in the can do better category. The entire dish was bland, as if no salt or pepper had been added. The shells of the mussels were broken and the greatest sin of all, the pasta was overcooked. An italian restaurant that doesn’t know how to serve al dente pasta, argh. Everyone’s pasta was overcooked too, and we had to ask for olive oil to loosen the pasta.

 

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The dessert redeemed them a little. Gis had pavlova, parents had cheesecake and I had gelato: vanilla, chocolate and sea salt caramel. Gave most of the chocolate to parents and they really liked it. Originally I was going to look for a camera with gis but she was tired and wanted to go home. Mum and I did some food shopping then went home too.

 

run light stand race

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Whilst Chicago people are doing the ready to run 20 miler this weekend, I tested my race readiness by running a local 7k night race. It’s the first time I’ve participated in a night race.

Not a big race, around 1000 people. The race itself is along a dam then into a park. Took over 1.5hrs to get to the starting point, via train then bus.

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There were 2 races. The kids race started at 6pm, a shorter 1.5km distance. Those kids were fast. The winner of the age 6-8 category ran the distance in something like 6mins, which I can’t even do. What’s great was the top 10 in each category got prizes, and that probably covered every single kid in the race.

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The adult race started at 7pm and by then it was dark. They gave us temporary tattoos and the shirt was a little flourescent too. Some people were prepared with headlamps or made bracelets from glowsticks. Since it was along a dam and into parkland there were no streetlights at all. A couple of volunteers with glowsticks stood next to the various sleeping policemen along the way telling us to be careful. I couldn’t really see where I was going, I tried to follow people with lights as much as I could.

There were also a group of visually impaired runners with their guides. They were fast too. The guides had lights and shouted warnings when they approached. I always get a warm feeling when I encounter disadvantaged athletes.

My time was…okay. Faster than normal training runs, and conditions were similar. Even though it was night, it was still hot and humid. I hung around for a little bit to watch prizes given out. The top male runner finished in 23mins; the top runner in my division finished in 37mins.

 

bbmm beach drinks korean bbq

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It’s a special-for-this-year-only public holiday today, which has zero significance for me except mm has free time. We drove out to one of the beaches, sigh, it’s terrible with the public holiday crowd. No street parking so we headed straight to the paid car park.

My original intention was to walk around the beach then explore the shops around the town. I remember there is a cheese and wine shop that is interesting. Instead, we plonked ourselves at the outdoor bar at the beach and ordered a couple of glasses of wine. A cab for mm and a german pinot for me, both were good. Chilled, in chilled glasses, which was strange, but in the heat everything got to room temperature quickly.

Mostly mm did the talking, telling me about her new classmates in her new course. My job is to be supportive and to tell her to chill out a bit, it’s only been a couple of days, no need to get frustrated at people who aren’t perfectionists.

Didn’t go anywhere else after the bar, we were both hungry so we took ryan back to mm’s car park and took public transportation to a korean bbq. We noticed that no koreans ever tend to go to these buffet places. We had beef, lamb, pork, chicken, sausages, mushroom as well as lots of lettuce and chili sauce. The banchan wasn’t impressive, only the pickled cucumbers passed muster. Nice to have a day out to chat and catch up anyway.

tableside service restaurant

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Went with mm and a couple of ex-colleagues to an italian restaurant owned by a friend of one of our ex-colleagues. It’s only been open a year or so, the decoration looked straight out of something old school. Lots of tableside service items, the caesar salad was made tableside by the manager. He had a nice light touch, explaining the ingredients as he added to the bowl and the dressing was just thick enough to coat the salad leaves without being stodgy.

We also shared a salmon pasta with cream sauce and a mixed grill of prawns, lamb chops and pork chops. They also offered spaghetti carbonara cooked tableside, the pre-cooked pasta was brought out and warmed, then added to an entire wheel of pecorino. The heat of the pasta is enough to melt the cheese so it acted as a sauce. We saw other people have it, didn’t order it for our table.

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Dessert was the ultimate tableside dish: crêpe suzette. Again, the manager’s light touch was appreciated, he made the caramel using sugar and water but only added a small knob of butter. Lots of orange juice and two flambés: brandy and grand marnier.

Since our ex-colleague knew the owner, the wine (an average bottle of italian cab), coffee tea and dessert were free. Quite nice to go to an old school place and try the food. The staff there were attentive and the food was pretty good.

all-you-can-order japanese buffet

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Mum decided we should have japanese for lunch. Casual japanese restaurants are almost all all-you-can-order buffets: they have a thick stack of order sheets for various categories of food and we just tick what we want. We had 3 platters of sashimi, some sushi, tempura, grilled food, salad, soup, grilled pineapple, ice cream mochi. Drinks included too, mum had soft drinks and my dad and I ordered loads of hot sake.

This type of buffet normally has a time limit of around 2hrs at dinner. At lunch, they gave us 3hrs. Even better.

The sake got my head spinning a little when I got home so I decided against going running. Too full for dinner, just had some fruit.

dad’s birthday at pizza express

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For my dad’s birthday this year they decided to go to pizza express. While I was in the US, sis was invited to this new branch as part of a focus group. She took my parents and they ate a lot, free of charge. So I guess that’s why they wanted to come back.

Raining heavily, but it was okay to go there. We had a selection of pizzas and pastas. I had a lava pizza which is burrata, cherry tomatoes, olives and basil. We ordered a dessert combo, the restaurant put a candle on it and also gave us a pavlova on the house.

#83: kayak, stand up board

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Task #83 of 101.1001 are 3 activities with family. This is 3 of 3.

Sis invited me to go on an outing at the beach today. My niece had a playdate with one of her school friends to go kayaking. Very easy, rent a kayak or stand up board from the people at the beach, that was it. No need for life jackets, although we thought we should have been offered the option. The part of the beach was quiet and not very deep anyway.

I tried both kayaking and stand up boarding, both for the first time. The light kayak was very easy to handle, and I went out past the parked fishing boats to one of the buoy markers. I was a bit wary of the stand up board, starting off sitting and paddling around, but after a while I found courage to first kneel then stand up. Took more concentration than sitting in the kayak, trying to keep balance.

Great fun. Only around £5 for an hour, and we could swap between kayak and stand up board as we wished. I think it may be a new activity, will try to get mm to come with me next time.

wine, cheese, ramen

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Met up with sis and niece for lunch at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. Walked there quickly, so spent the entire meal being still very hot and sweaty. Didn’t eat a whole lot as a result. Went to visit their new place. I like it very much, open plan living/dining/kitchen (albeit very small kitchen with no counter space). Lots of storage and decent sized bedrooms. Sis needed to get rid of some of her cube shelves so I claimed a few for myself—finally I can unpack the last few cardboard boxes scattered around my place.

We dropped off my niece for a playdate and went to happy hour. I’m still coughing badly but since I’m not on any medication I reckon I was okay to have wine. There’s a new craft beer place but we didn’t go there, definitely no cold drinks whilst coughing. We also ordered a cheese plate, 3 varieties but not very generous.

Quick dinner at a ramen place, they had 3 types of ramen—regular pork, miso and ox tongue. Unusual to see ox tongue ramen so we both ordered that. The ox tongue was great, very tender without the unpleasant gamey taste. The broth lacked depth of flavour though, seemed to be mostly chicken based, which couldn’t compare with the thick slow cooked pork bone base in other places.

fancy lunch with sis

Went to lunch with sis for her birthday. She wanted to take me to this restaurant where robert is an investor; it’s fine dining but there is a relatively reasonable set lunch. The restaurant is on the 28 and 29/F of one of the entertainment buildings in the central district. Fancy decoration, the upper floor is a bar with an open terrace; the lower floor has an open kitchen. The manager is a French guy who is knowledgeable and friendly. Apparently the head chef is a big shot, award winning or Michelin star or something like that. Many business people as well as ladies who lunch. Uh oh, we were two ladies lunching there too, does that make us one of them? eeeeek.

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For starters sis had duck foie gras terrine with citrus cranberry chutney and I had marinated quail salad with summer truffles. The terrine was full of flavour and smooth in texture. The quail was tender if a little salty. There was a lot of shaved truffles on my plate.

hkondining08tartare hkondining12cheese

We both opted for beef tartare for mains. It was fabulous. Fantastic cut of meat. Perfectly chopped, perfectly seasoned with subtle onion and capers. Topped with a runny poached egg. To finish we had the cheese board. Lovely cheese too, all from France, some not readily available here. We ordered a bottle of Fleurie—their wines are a bit expensive so I tried to get one that was good for a hot summer’s day that won’t break the bank.

Overall, a great meal. Definitely fine dining, and I’d probably feel uncomfortable at the prices at dinner. We plan to take our dad for for his birthday coming up in August.

father’s day

champagne

We had our pre-father’s day lunch a day early. My dad picked the restaurant (german pub buffet) and made the reservation himself. Sis and I paid though. Nice buffet, with salad, seafood, a really delicious poached salmon, pork knuckle, roast beef, sausages, sauerkraut and a small beer included. Dessert wasn’t as exciting, they had mango and blueberry dreyer’s ice cream which was more than enough.

Parents went off to the market and library. I was supposed to teenager-sit my niece in the evening because sis and Robert had a dinner. Most of the afternoon was spent sitting on sis’ armchair and reading. For dinner I made salmon and broccoli. Quite a late night, didn’t get home till 11pm.

running, ramen, whisky, curry

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Woke up early at 8am, even with the aircon on, it was hot at night. Decided to brave the 32ºC weather to do my long run. Supposed to be 8miles, so I did the just-under-12km route to the end of bowen road and back. I was pretty exhausted towards the end, and my shirt was so completely soaked, it had taken on a darker colour altogether.

Had ham and egg sandwich (which I cut into rectangles, see yesterday’s post) then met Sis and niece for more lunch of ramen. Cute cartoon of how to eat ramen at this authentic hole-in-the-wall place where the chefs were from Japan. I took my niece on the train to her school friend’s place so they could work on their school project while sis went off to do some errands.

Met with sis at the fcc and introduced her to bourbon—she had a bit of a cough and wanted whisky to clear it up, I thought the sweetness of the bourbon will be more pleasing. I had a Glenrothes Special Reserve, which I thought was surprisingly nice.

The good thing about a long run is I didn’t have to worry about calories. Had fish soup followed by paneer korma. The korma was delicious, very creamy and not spicy at all. Vegetarian to boot.

sunset from bus

sunset20150528 sunsetlionrock

Had early dinner with my dad, we decided the restaurant wasn’t worth going back to—indifferent service, mediocre food. Did some basic shopping then we caught separate buses home (he has senior discount, so he can take any bus; I took the cheaper one).

Sat on the upper deck, caught a bit of the sunset. While it’s all very nice to see a sunset, I’d rather it was raining and the temperature cooler.

crispy skin sea bream with cauliflower cream

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Had lunch with my college friend CH, we’d only recently started getting back in touch after not seeing each other for more than 10 years.

We went to a spanish restaurant and amongst the choices of wagyu beef, iberico pork, lobster, seafood fettucine we both chose…fish. Most of our conversation evolved around her son, schools, travelling and keeping healthy. It’s strange, we all seem to feel our age lately. I would never have even considered ordering fish at a restaurant until recently.

That said, the fish was very good. Crispy skin, fish flaky and cooked perfectly. I just feel like I’m turning into the middle-aged boring person who orders fish and skips dessert. Oh yes, I don’t drink as much either, whereas I would have been able to finish off most of a bottle of wine, it took me the better part of a week to drink a bottle of wine lately.

It’s not a bad thing, staying on top of our health. Still a way to go: even less coke, more running, get a body check.

mum’s birthday

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For mum’s birthday this year, we had dinner at an italian restaurant near a) sis’ place, b) my old office. We stayed home for lunch cos it was so hot. Mum had her regular physiotherapy session which she didn’t want to reschedule. I went earlier to stop by the apple store to get her a new ipad—she said it was fine to get it later but I wanted her to have her present on her birthday.

The restaurant wasn’t crowded, mostly people at the bar out front taking advantage of happy hour. Mum had salmon, Papa had lasagna, sis had veal, my niece had spag bol and I had spaghetti aglio e olio. I asked mum over the weekend what sort of cake she wanted and she said cheesecake, so I made blueberry cheesecake. I asked the restaurant when I made the reservation if they would let us bring a cake and they said sure thing, no charge. Very nice of them! When we arrived, the manager took the cake to keep in the fridge, after our mains he brought it out and the staff had decorated the plate and put a few strawberries as decoration. I scattered more blueberries on top. It was well received, it’s one of the lightest cheesecakes I’ve ever made. We gave the restaurant a big tip.

I think Mum was very happy at her birthday celebration. She seemed to have a good meal and she complimented me on the cheesecake. She was happy, of course, with her ipad. Yay!! If she’s happy, we are all happy.

village on the river

After 2 months’ of inactivity, mm’s car’s battery died. The mechanic from roadside assistance arrived quickly and we all spent a considerable amount of time trying to find the battery!! The car is a hybrid so there are 2 engines under the bonnet; ah, modern engines, we couldn’t find the point for jump starting the car. The mechanic had to call in to his colleagues for help. The battery is actually located underneath the back passenger seat, strange.

rivervillage01farm rivervillage02farmer

Anyway, we got the car started and went off to charge up the car with a long drive to the countryside. We ended up at “village on the river” 河上鄉 where uncle wong lives. Had all-you-can-eat sweet tofu and walked around the canals and farms. Luckily there was a breeze otherwise it would have been a very hot day. The fields were photogenic and we saw a woman farmer crouched in the middle of the field.

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Between the fields and the canal there was a corner where we spotted a bunch of old pianos, just abandoned there. So sad. No clue how and why they were there.

maureen fusion restaurant

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maureen04lamb maureen03noodles

Sis, bless her, invited me over to her place knowing I’ve had an intensive couple of days. She and my niece took me to dinner at a fancy fusion place called Maureen (I think the owner’s name is Maureen). Their spiel is that they sous-vide their food. We had the tasting menu:

  • smoked scallops with oyster sauce
  • “perfect” egg with mushroom truffle sauce
  • braised duck leg with plum sauce
  • lamb rack with hoisin wine sauce / lobster with salted duck egg
  • lo mein with pork broth
  • chocolate mousse with fruit

My niece had marinated cherry tomatoes and noodles. Overall, it was okay. Not stunning, and definitely not as fancy or chefy as they purport to be. The “perfect” 63-degree egg was creamy, I found it overcooked. The duck was tender but like any duck we get a restaurant and the lamb, um, I make better lamb rack (I’m not being cocky, I make lamb racks that people like). The noodles were good, the pork broth the best thing on the menu—rich, intense with depth of flavour. Not much comment about the mousse, it was like warm cream that came out of a nozzle although the chocolate flavour was present.

We had a bottle of Italian wine that was good. Will i go back to this restaurant? Probably not for the tasting menu. Everything on the menu came under the category of “something good-something bad.” May be for the noodles, because of the broth.

beat the banana 10th anniversary 5k race

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5k (GPS=4.83km) 34.48min 7.12min/km

I ran the beat the banana race in London a few years ago. The idea is to run after a guy dressed as a banana. Definitely a fun run, organised by the World Cancer Research Fund.

Today’s race had around the same people, the course was along the harbourfront. The 5k was billed as an “elite” race; there was nothing elite about it, it was the only 5k during the event. The other races were 3k fun run and 1k kid’s race. There weren’t any people dressed as bananas on the 5k, just on the other two shorter races, which was disappointing.

No chip, and the organisers obviously put more emphasis on fun, family and charity aspect. The course measured 4.83km on my GPS. There were volunteers telling us we’d reached 2km when it was just over 1km. The halfway mark was labelled 3k on the course map. Not “elite” but still sort of fun.

A grotty, foggy, muggy, humid, cloudy morning. I ran the bulk of the race with steam on my glasses, it was that humid. Then at somewhere between 3-4k my knee gave out on me. Sigh. Managed to get to the end. Grabbed the goodie bag, the sponsored banana, a couple of bottles of water and hopped on the bus. Home by 9.30am.

brussels sprouts pizza, veneto rosso wine

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Sis and niece took me to pre-birthday dinner. The restaurant we wanted to go to had a private function so we ended up at motorino’s. Ordered two pizzas to share: brussels sprouts with pancetta and four cheeses. Both really really good. I like the sprouts one better, it was light and the veg was just charred giving them a crunchy texture. Sis was surprised we ordered two white pizzas (no tomato sauce); I wasn’t bothered, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to have tomato sauce on a pizza. I remember in Rome, having this most delicious pizza with potato and a little cheese. Simple.

At her place she opened a bottle of veneto rosso wine. First time I tried it, apparently not expensive. I like it. Will keep in mind for italy trip.

family lunch at middle island

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Family lunch at middle island. We got there early, my niece and I even ran on ahead to catch the small boat whilst sis walked slower with parents. Sat outside on a day that was hotter than it’s been all winter. Should have worn short sleeves.

Ordered a mixed bag of food—calamari, pizza, fried rice, steamed veg. The main course was BBQ steak, prawns, salmon, sausage and chicken satay. The great thing about middle island is the big BBQ pit that the staff start and tend for us. I was put in charge of the cooking, and luckily I got everything cooked properly.

Went down to hang out at the beach for a while after lunch. My niece and I scrambled around the rocks (or rather, she scrambled around nimbly and I carefully negotiated the rocks), threw stones and she made a zen rock formation. Took a family selfie too, but no selfie stick, heh.

Was really tired, so it was a good thing we got home by 3pm. Took a nap even.

CNY year of the sheep

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The obligatory CNY greeting. Year of the sheep this year. Woke up, hugged parents, got red packet from them, sent greetings to sis and mm, spent the day reading and watching tv. Had a chuckle to see the previews of the Great British Sewing Bee; I don’t think it’ll be as popular as Bake-off. Yes we had the non-vegetarian version of the traditional vegetarian dish 齋 for lunch accompanied by abalone and turnip cake but that was it.

winebeast bistro with sis

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Met sis for dinner at a new place called winebeast. It’s a bistro in a narrow street behind the market, next to a couple of other new hipster-looking place. The restaurant itself was incredibly small, with barely any room for the staff to walk between guest chairs. We didn’t have a reservation, got a couple of seats at the bar.

The owner recommended a bottle of cornas—I was looking at côtes-du-rhône and châteauneuf-du-pape and cornas is from the same region, priced somewhere in between the two. It took 20mins of breathing, then it tasted great.

winebeast03tartare winebeast04lamb

Sis had beef tartare, she thought it was too sour from the vinegar or citrus added. I thought it was quite nice, although I did go for a 12km run earlier and was hungry. I ate half her portion, since she had a late lunch and still full. I ordered slow cooked lamb shoulder with chickpea purée, carrot, mushroom and a mango & kumquat sauce. Well cooked, perfectly medium rare, although the fat wasn’t all rendered off properly. Pleasantly surprised by the generous portion—I expected fine dining portion sizes and sis reminded me that it’s a bistro, with a french owner and french chef.

I tried the dessert of poached pear with mulled wine ice cream. The pear was just poached and the ice cream was more like a sorbet, which worked out well.

A very nice meal. Not cheap, but we didn’t feel cheated.

island outing

hkcchau002beach hkcchau003beach

We’ve been meaning to go over to the outlying islands for a while, so we met up at the pier and took the ordinary ferry over. It took around 1hr, twice the time of the fast ferry at half the price—we weren’t in any hurry. Surprisngly for a weekday there were quite a substantial crowd. We had a leisurely lunch at a small café and then headed out for a walk along one of the beaches at the side of the island away from the crowds.

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After the beach we headed inland with a soft target of one of the retreat houses. There are a few retreats there on the island—away from the main streets it’s peaceful and quiet. The Salesian retreat wasn’t actually open, but the hike was pleasant and we came across some nice views.

We came back to the main street and spent some time at a tea shop that was closing down. Dinner was quick noodles and congee. Another slow ferry back and we discovered that we both had direct buses home. A great day out.

wetlands outing

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Good day for an outing to the countryside. We drove out to near the wetlands area (actual wetlands is enclosed and needs a ticket). First stop was an organic farm. They have vegetables in a hydroponics system, vegetable patches all over the place that were growing lettuce, carrot, turnip, beetroot, bok choy and even a jackfruit tree. They also have goats, rabbits and carp, more like for pets I think. The main attraction of the farm is a lily pond that has a rickety walkbridge made from wooden crates and plastic pontoons. We were trying to spot lilies hidden amongst the leaves. Nice.

nam032pier nam059house

A short drive along a single lane road brought us to a dead end lane with a small parking area for 5-6 cars. Just beyond that end point is a walking path along ponds and fields. A rickety broken wooden pier is a popular spot for wedding photographers. Beyond that we could see tin huts of a village through the tall weeds.

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The village has a few houses and a store selling soft drinks, sandwiches and noodles. The village sits on a narrow river (more like a stream) with a sign advertising the shortest ferry crossing. And the crossing is very short. A boat takes passengers and bikes across in 1 min. Seems to be quite busy, while we were there 3 sets of people crossed already, two sets on bikes, we think it’s because it’s on a popular bike route. Next time we’ll explore where to rent bikes.

The area has many shallow ponds. We spotted an elderly woman casting her nets from her little boat. She was wearing the distinctive fishing hat worn by the local people.

nam098bird

It was almost sunset when we left. Birds were beginning to stir and we saw some water birds around. Not having enough knowledge we guess they are herons?

We loved our day out. Good weather. Clean air. Greenery. Lots of wildlife, we could hear cicadas, birds, crickets along our walk. Great to get out of the polluted city.
 

walking around stanley

201501stanley04

We met with a couple of college friends for tapas lunch, then took a bus ride to the southern beaches, finding ourselves in Stanley. Weather wasn’t great, it started raining the minute we got off the bus. We took cover in the indoor mall and then mcdonalds for a while.

201501stanley01 201501stanley02

It was also sunset when we came out. Cold but the rain had gone. We walked around the stalls (not full of tourists, must have all gone), the harbour and the watersports beach. Stayed a while at St Anne’s church, mm wanted to see the inside and say some prayers.

Took another bus back out to the central area and had noodles for dinner. Raining again.
 

bamboo noodles

bamboonoodles201501

Every travel and food show has been there: Bourdain, Bizarre Foods, nomad chefs, adventurous chefs, Hairy Bikers, even Samantha Brown. In a cramped, unassuming kitchen a thin, middle-aged man in grubby t-shirt and shorts kneads and presses noodle dough by bouncing a bamboo pole up and down using his bodyweight. Every single visitor then proceeds to sing their praises for said noodles, which have a smooth, fine and al dente texture. A far cry from mass produced noodles.

There’s a mesmerising quality in watching the sifu make the noodles. Or it’s Bourdain’s narration. Or the edgy cinematography. Or the haunting score. It seems…romantic.

Parents thought it’d be a good idea to try, after watching an episode of the Hairy Bikers. The branch is opposite the big messy computer centre and near the food court where we get chili prawns. I had the basic wonton noodles. Always go for the most commonplace item, because if they can’t get the staples right, they shouldn’t be in business. It was good. The noodles had a great chewy yet smooth mouth feel, the wontons were decent and the broth was light. There were jars of pickled turnips that was a bonus. Since it’s where I sometimes go for computer stuff or gadgets or to the market I’ll likely visit again. 

exploring the parks I run in

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8.22km 69.50min 8.30min/km

If I’m at home I run along Bowen Road, which is a 12km round trip if I go all the way to the end and back. At parents’ place I run at two different parks. Shorter runs I go to a small park nearby (which I’ll call park A) which has a small football field, 2 basketball courts and a jogging path. It’s not even a running path because it’s only 265m around and usually overrun with old people. One circuit of the jogging path together with 2 circuits around the football-and-basketball area just about makes it to 1km.

For longer runs I go to a larger park (park B) that has several full-sized football pitches, a swimming pool, tennis courts and an athletics track. For odd reasons they close the track at weekends, but there is a marked running path that goes all the way around the athletics arena that measures 600m. The trail (pic above) that surrounds the various playing fields in the central area is 1km so between the 2 routes, it’s already 1.6km (1 mile).

Parks A and B are next to each other on the map, separated by the famous checkboard hill, that was where airplanes made the 47° right hand turn before landing at the old airport. As an aside, watch the video, it shows how planes used to make that spectacular (and dangerous) landing in the middle of a crowded city onto a runway that has notorious crosswinds.

Anyway, I tried to look on google map and street view to see if the two parks are connected. Couldn’t really tell, but it seemed like there is a narrow path that goes up the hill and back down. So I went exploring today. The answer is, yes, the two parks are connected. As expected, from park B it’s a steep, narrow path partially hidden by trees that leads to about 100 steps on one side of the hill, then a steep and winding road down the other side that ends up at park A.

waterdeptfield01

What was utterly charming are two discoveries at the top of the hill. The first is a lookout point, now partially blocked by trees. I guess that’s where plane-spotters used to go to look at planes landing at the old airport. The second discovery is an enclosed field with a big open grass/dirt area in front and a few benches at the back. Only one entrance which is gated. The sign says something like water department recreational park (can’t remember exact name, forgot to take a pic) and it’s right next to a few buildings with water department signs on the outside. What a discovery. The pic makes it look bigger, I’d say it’s about the size of a football pitch. Hard to get to, with steep access up and down, there were only about a dozen people there. I’ll try to go there again next long run. 

we’ll be back #occupyhk #umhk

After 79 days, the last of the #occupyhk #umbrellamovement camps at Causeway Bay was cleared on Monday, following the Mongkok site clearance two weeks ago and the main Admiralty site clearance last week. There was polite, peaceful resistance to the end.

About 20 people were arrested, adding to the 200-odd arrested and 900-plus whose ID card details were registered by police at Admiralty. Those arrested included Uncle Wong, a elderly supporter who had already been arrested last week at Admiralty. Go Uncle Wong!

What next? The CE declared the end of the protests and people went back to going about their daily business, or so the blue ribboners think. Students and protesters are regrouping.

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That the Movement lasted over 2 months is beyond everyone’s expectation, but its scale and spontaneity are unlikely to be repeated in the near future. The next wave of activities will likely be smaller, more covert and unexpected like #9wu shopping trips and guerilla banners. Communication will continue to take place over social media. The idea, as the last ditch banner in Admiralty said, is that we’ll be back.

oclp356ribbonumbrella

As for me, I’m tucking my yellow ribbon and yellow umbrella away into my coin holder. This way, they’re with me all the time but not forgotten. When the time comes again, they and I will return.

p.s. after I published the original post, I received a couple of messages on twitter. I think we’re onto something.

 

antipasti buffet lunch

panevino2014121302 panevino2014121304

For early family christmas lunch we opted for an italian restaurant near my place. We all chose the antipasti buffet which came with unlimited prosecco and soft drinks. Quite nice food: salmon, cold cuts, salad, grilled vegetables, stuffed tomatoes, bread. Worth it for the prosecco, not so value for money for mum and niece, I had niece’s portion of diet coke.  

st stephen’s beach and sunset

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On sunday we drove out to st stephen’s beach for a bit. It’s a small beach near Stanley that is as uncrowded as you can get here. A small sandy beach with a pier for people to try fishing. One small bar-café and a few bbq pits. Accessible by car only. Or yacht — there were a couple anchored outside the swimming area.

ststephensbeach03

We sat at a free bbq pit facing the sea and did a little planning for Christmas presents. We got there at 4.45pm and by 5.30pm the sun was going down. We had a good view of sunset. 

lobster with noodles

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The restaurant near the library my dad goes to changed hands and is offering a meal deal of lobster or whole chicken for the equivalent of £3. Other items are normal price. Went with parents and we ordered the lobster, plus steamed fish and roast goose.

It’s very odd, lobsters in this part of the world are cooked either in a brothy sauce or a heavy cheese sauce and served over e-fu noodles. This is the type of noodles eaten at birthdays for longevity and have a nice taste. The lobster was all chopped up, and there was enough for 3 people.
 

lunch at panevino: antipasti, spaghetti aglio e olio

panevino02antipasti panevino03spaghetti

We went for lunch at an Italian restaurant called Panevino. It has been around for a long long time near where I live, and sometime in the past year opened a branch at this new location. They have a set lunch of antipasti buffet and a bowl of pasta. The antipasti buffet was good, they had salad, olives, roasted vegetables, mushrooms, stuffed tomato, grilled polenta, arancini, tortilla and bread. The pasta in the set lunch were standard like bolognese, pesto, carbonara. I had my favourite spaghetti aglio e olio.

A small additional charge for non-standard pasta, dessert, coffee tea and wine. The add-on charge was minimal so I had a small glass of red wine and mm had coffee.

We don’t normally go out for Italian because we can make pasta at home. This was decent value because of the antipasti and the pasta was good too. 

nano day 06 | 3658 words 25576 total

oclp371duckpokemon

3658 words | 25576 total

Had lunch with mm at the marriott lounge — salad, noodles, curry, a little pasta, dessert. She had a 50% off card she borrowed from a friend so we took our time and sampled as much of the food as we liked. Afterwards we walked around occupyhk main site, it’s the first time she visited. Still lots of tents and more artwork. We came across an origami station and a display table with umbrellas, pikachu and giant duckies. Very cute.

Got home at 7pm, so with futzing around and shower, writing started at 9pm. Two hours and 15 later, I got to 25k. Halfway in 6 days, that’s about right, looking at the past few years.

This is the point when the story gets a little rambling, some of what I wrote will definitely need to be either rewritten, moved or deleted altogether. I’m not bothered, it is what it is. The point is wordcount, nothing else. Heh, I’m not only preaching to the converted, I’m preaching to myself. 

occupyhk: a personal view

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This week marks one month since police threw 87 cannisters of tear gas at unarmed people who were fighting for something quite fundamental: a say in the way their city is governed. The background and development of how #occupycentral turned into #occupyhk and #umbrellarevolution have been well documented and analysed. Here are some personal thoughts, observations and pictures.

“time is on our side”

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One thing is clear, the movement has been very polarising within the community and within families. From anecdotal experience the older generation is against the movement; to them it’s foreign-influenced troublemakers stirring the pot, and the students should go back to school and not disrupt traffic. Overheard:

woman in her 70s: I hate them, I can’t go to the wet market
another woman: how about going to another market?
70s woman: [no answer]

70s woman: my bus had to divert around Nathan Road, it’s so annoying and added an hour to my journey
other woman: take the MTR
70s woman: I don’t like the MTR, I have to walk up and down all the stairs
other woman: there are lifts in all stations
70s woman: [no answer]

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At the other end of the age spectrum, younger people seem to be more supportive of the movement; they have travelled/studied/lived abroad and are exposed to diverse, global views through social media. Those in their thirties and forties see the changes in society over the past decade and want a better future for their children. In his NYT op-ed, student activist Joshua Wong said:

I would like to remind every member of the ruling class in Hong Kong: Today you are depriving us of our future, but the day will come when we decide your future. No matter what happens to the protest movement, we will reclaim the democracy that belongs to us, because time is on our side.

He’s right. Reminds me of the age divide in issues like marriage equality, religion and gun control in the US. As millennials grow and enter the workplace, their political views, which are more progressive and tolerant, will become more prominent and important. Time is on their side. In 25 years, Joshua Wong will be in his forties and in prime earning and contributing power; the woman in her 70s will hopefully be still be with us and enjoying life but but will have less influence on society as a whole.

“still a very easy place to do business”

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Personal experience is positive. Less traffic means less pollution, I have walked more; the first few days when all my local buses were cancelled, I walked further to catch other forms of public transport. I allow more travel time and actually find the MTR less crowded. I am moved to see the discipline and ingenuity of the protesters, from wi-fi ready study areas and free tuition to donations to gardening and recycling.

Although the anti-occupy rhetoric focuses on the effect of disrupted traffic and the perceived effect on the economy, article after article has found that HK is still a very easy place to do business:

Tourism to the city actually increased. Only one of 15 economists surveyed by Bloomberg has lowered their Hong Kong GDP forecast for the year. And Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was world’s second-best performing index in October.

The PRC is outwardly not getting directly involved, their strategy is more clandestine. From blocking all news behind the Great Firewall or only showing one side of the story, to perpetuating the foreign-agitator conspiracy theory, to limiting the number of travel visas. They are “punishing” HK by not letting hordes of tourists come to grocery shop for baby formula, defecate in public and launder money through property purchases. Mayhap that’s not punishment after all.

Ever since the handover, the attitude of mainlanders towards HK is that HK cannot survive without them since they prop up the economy through tourism, water supply and fresh food imports. In actual fact tourism accounts for only 5% of the GDP [pdf]. HK has enough reservoirs and desalination plants to move towards self-sufficiency, the government has not move forward on total water management [pdf] for obvious reasons. Rice is imported from Thailand, and surely China is not the only country exporting meat, fruit and vegetables!

what next

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A small poll showed that protesters are willing to occupy for a year if necessary and, from the oganised nature of tent cities, some are digging in. Pragmatically though, blocking three main traffic arteries for a year may not be popular in the long run.

Time to add other activities to spread the message..

oclp245lennon

The movement’s supporters come from all walks of life. There is plenty of room for ideas and creativity. It is a humbling experience, visiting the sites and seeing all the artwork: the awe-inspiring Lennon Wall with post-it notes of encouragement, the origami umbrellas, the sculptures and artwork make the sites a living museum of civic disobedience.

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Recently, a picture of Chinese president Xi Jinping holding an umbrella won a journalism prize. HKers wasted no time in photoshopping the image and co-opting President Xi into the movement. He is everywhere at the protest sites. The support extended to adorning waxworks of Chinese leaders at Madame Tussauds with yellow ribbons.

A large banner demanding universal suffrage appeared on the Lion Rock, an important local spiritual landmark. A group of runners ran 106km around HK, tracing an umbrella shaped route via GPS. Students at the University of Hong Kong graduation ceremony held a sea of yellow umbrellas. Postgraduate students at the University of Science and Technology bought 689 yellow umbrellas to display on the lawn. These are exactly the small, subtle activities that cumulatively keep the movement alive, in the news, and silence the anti-contigent’s cries of “traffic disruption.”

Hong Kong has been forced to change for the worst in the past 17 years. It took the actions and bravery of 17 year olds to shake the community out of lethargy. Change must happen, and it must be for the better.

More pics on flickr: occupyhk