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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Obviously one of the very best parts about living in Hong Kong is the food. When I stop and think about it, I’m a bit surprised I’m not tired of Asian food but considering I basically have access to any type of cuisine from the Pacific Rim, it would be presumptuous to say I’ve come close to exhausting my options.

With family members visiting, ¬†local friends showing me to places I’ve never tried and striking out on my own, I’ve come across enough noteworthy places that I felt I needed some place to keep record of them so that I can return to them again and again.

Back at home, apps and social networks like Yelp could help with organizing these types of things. But I have a strong feeling even if Yelp did exist here to the extent it does in places like the Bay Area, it wouldn’t really matter. Eateries are changing all the time in Hong Kong. Due to high rent costs, restaurants and dai pai dongs (those little street stands you don’t take picky eaters to) close down or relocate rather frequently and without warning.

Add to that the challenge of recognizing a lot of places based off their Chinese name — and sadly, I could not read Chinese if I was thrown into a tank of Chinese-girl-eating sharks — and the fact that so many of these streets and storefronts look alike, it becomes even more imperative that if I really want to remember where these places are, storing their physical location in my head is not always going to work.

Enter Google Maps! It’s really brilliant that Google has so many handy products like this. I’ve pinned all the places I’ve enjoyed on my “Favorite HK Food Spots” Google Map and will be adding more as I go along. You can follow my map should you ever find yourself in Asia’s world city. ūüėČ

I think it should be made known that I’m no foodie. I don’t know p√Ęt√©¬†from… something less fancy. But I’m adventurous (last weekend I ate pig skin with the follicles in sight!!!), I appreciate good value and if the food¬†tastes like it was made with some amount of care, it’s usually fine by me. I don’t need a twelve course meal at the top of the Ritz (though I will take it) — I just want to know where I enjoyed that really hearty bowl of noodles the other day.

Let’s EAT!

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I think I’m becoming a Swede-o-phile. Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon. Swedish meatballs. CLOGS.

Every time I’m in Lane Crawford, pretending I can afford everything I touch, I get creepy happy feelings about different articles of clothing I come across. And every time I check the tag, they’re from Acne, which is a Swedish brand. This is the last piece I went crazy over.

I think it’s gorgeous.

Acne Mallory Noise Print

These pictures are instances that made me laugh or become more curious about things as they are here. AKA I have inside jokes with myself.

Necessary disclaimers:
First and ¬†foremost: I am a horrible person. Don’t worry, I know.¬†Secondly, all photos in this post were taken without anyone’s permission. Should the subject(s) of any of these photos find this blog, my name is Caroline Park and I live in Buttonwillow, California, USA.

I saw this Siberian Fur Store from across the street one day. I will be back with updates once I actually go in.

Camille and the desperate Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, teaching me Chinese. In addition to the subtitles, it’s really dubbed into Chinese. How fantastic is that?

I was just wondering who Baby might be. I think this makes the first coffee store I’ve ever seen.

Okay. Did they truly mean being on drugs while driving will lead to death or did they mean to write, “Drunk driving may be your journey to death”? Because they couldn’t have meant that driving drugs will lead to death. And also, wouldn’t it be more effective if this were written in Chinese as well? More questions with no answers.

Frogs this big are really freaking gross.

People take naps everywhere with no regard for… anything. (She had carry on luggage standing about five feet away from her, completely unattended) They nap in subway stops, while the subway trains come and go. On random benches. In parks. Truly my people.

The library in Central is huge and it literally has everything.

I really did feel bad for taking this but his shirt said “Rastafarian MARIJUANA COUNTRY” and that makes him the best accidental hipster I have seen up to this point. (His shorts were cutoffs!) How much do you want to bet someone at Coachella this year was wearing that exact same outfit? He’s a fashionista and he really doesn’t even know it! (His belt was by Diesel!)

Where I will be getting everyone’s wedding presents from now on. This shop specializes in making 3D shadow boxes with hand drawn cutout pictures of the couple. This was a “Pirates of the Caribbean” themed box but trust me, any theme you want, I’m sure they’ve got it.

Again, I felt bad for taking this picture (I’m not kidding, I really try not to take pictures of real life people because it feels wrong) but his shirt had a basket of cats. And it seemed like he matched his shirt with his¬†shoes. So this means he knew there was a basket cats on his shirt.

A close up of the cats on his shirt. Not that there is anything wrong with this at all, it’s just a very accidental hipster choice.

I laughed to myself not only because her bag says, “BOB MARLEY, Jamaican singer who popularized reggae” but also because this is probably the only black person I have seen in Hong Kong thus far. The diversity situation here is rather dire.

It was so weird when I saw this man (before he turned around): he looked Latino. And yet he was wearing that hat. It was almost like a joke was being played on me. But I got excited for a moment because I’m not kidding, diversity here sucks.

I know, I’m sorry.

While this might look like a portico off the coast of Lisbon (or maybe I’m just wishing it was), it’s actually a house in a small neighborhood about 45 minutes from me and walking distance from the largest financial district in Hong Kong.

If you’re going to visit Sheung Wan, you might as well bring your camera because you’ll want to take pictures of everything. It seems the HK Tourist Bureau is aware of this as that would explain the large number of tour buses that trammel through the tiny streets every hour, releasing curious tourists to scale hilly stairways in search of all the character Sheung Wan has to offer.

Stairs and humidity. My faves.

But it’s not just the historical sites that make this part of Hong Kong such an iconic staple amongst tourists.¬†From a small altar at the end of a doorway to a “front yard” of Astro Turf, all contemporary details and traditional remnants in this neighborhood seem perfectly placed, as if part of some larger, more deliberate portrait. The funny thing is they’re not — everything is where it lays because it serves a larger purpose than being placed on someone’s photo blog. And yet, that’s what everybody seems to love about this hood.

Coming from the Central MTR stop, it’s next to impossible not to ingest some amount of car exhaust or completely avoid any physical contact with one of the 93 million people who walk past you on your way there. But it would be inaccurate to say all of Hong Kong is like this. No sooner than you were starting to feel a bit suffocated do you find yourself in the bucolic solace of this quirky, quiet area.

Unfortunately this particular WordPress template isn’t very conducive for displaying photos but I’ve included a good number here anyway and will eventually post the rest on my photo blog (link will be up soon!). All photos were taken on an iPhone so any shakiness can be directly attributed to the amount of walking and stair climbing that took place that day.

Man Mo Temple

Probably the most political piece in all of HK.

“Today is your last now what?”

My favorite!

650!!! I miss you.

It’s always fascinating to see what you can tell about a place by the buildings that occupy it. Sheung Wan is a good mix of old and new Hong Kong. It offers a representation of how varied Hong Kong’s architecture is, contrasting other areas like the Westernized federal edifices in Central, which hosts¬†large European-columned and corniced buildings.

In some senses, there is a bric-a-brac feel to Hong Kong architecture. Not counting the ominously massive malls built in the past ten years, other neighborhoods look completely different than Sheung Wan while still managing to offer a layer of this SAR’s history: the Opium Wars, Japanese occupation, British colonization, more wars and post-modernism, and now, resuming its identity as China’s first “special administrative region”.

My interest in re-visiting the area came about after watching¬†a short report¬†Monocle¬†had produced on Sheung Wan that highlighted a shop called Fungus Workshop.¬†As it turned out, finding the workshop became way more difficult than I could have imagined — like trying to locate the 9-3/4 platform at King’s Cross Station as a muggle. For those unversed in Harry Potter speak, it’s virtually impossible.

The directions I had scribbled down along with my super crude hand-drawn map and¬†the screenshot of Google Maps’ directions all had failed me (I have no wifi on my phone, just like the old days). So before the novelty of this little adventure completely wore off, I relented and started searching for a place to ask for directions. I passed this place twice before deciding, “Oh alright, I deserve a San Miguel.”

208 Ducuento Otto (Photo courtesy of LifestyleAsia)

If you come visit me, I will take you here (without getting lost). I had read that Sheung Wan is an emerging magnet for trendy restauranteers and shop owners (just around the corner is a Lomography Gallery Store — so essentially this entire neighborhood is hipster paradise too) and true to life, 208 is one of many chic eateries on Gough Street.

Being fully quenched, I set out again walking up about 500 more streets/hills/stairs and back down until finally — F I N A L L Y — I found it, wedged in between two other tiny streets that were smashed in between two medium sized streets that were no where near the main roads. It made me feel not so bad about getting lost and now I know Sheung Wan well enough to be a tour guide on one of those buses, or at the very least a tour guide on how to get to Fungus Workshop.

And all in all, it was completely worth it. The shop was beautiful, owned by two couples who craft their own leather goods and offer classes to anyone who wants to learn how to work with leather and make their own goods. Participants learn hand-stitch, lining, fastening and leather finishing, ending up with several small products like a small camera bag, handbag, coin purse, an organizer.

I hope if I end up staying here long enough, I can try my hand at a handmade leather class at Fungus. It makes me happy knowing that people make a living off their passions and those passions include returning to bespoke crafts. And that people seek out these places and keep them alive is a really wonderful thing as well. The class was packed for the size of the room with everyone thoroughly engrossed in their individual projects.

I get tired just thinking about all the walking and climbing stairs entailed with this trek but the amount of mobility you have to have to live here is slowly becoming a reality for me. And anyways, I’ve always thought the best way to get to know a place is by foot.¬†That was a peek into one area of Hong Kong. More on the way! ūüôā

I read this at least once a week, if not everyday. It’s like getting my five servings of fruits and veggies for the day. Fiber for my self-esteem. And someone once told me fiber is good for you.

“The Adventures of Unemployment: A Series of Hope and Ambition”

By Josephine Park, a talented artist and filmmaker who also happens to be my very good friend

I hope she doesn’t kill me for posting this. But I’m far away and I think she likes me too much to do that.

I still can’t go shopping (read: still unemployed :() but like Carrie Bradshaw once said, “When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I would buy¬†Vogue¬†instead of dinner. I just felt it¬†fed me more.” I feel you, CareBear, even though I’m too frugal to dish out HK$70 on a mag. So instead, I window shop and people watch.

I’ve always had an affinity for menswear because it’s so simple and so universal — there’s almost a greater responsibility on a man to sufficiently express his style with two, maybe three, pieces of clothing than a woman with the infinite tops, bottoms and accessories she could choose from. After all, fashion is more about how you wear something than what you’re actually wearing. A lot of times I’ll see a guy wearing something that I give a silent nod of approval to because secretly, I wish I was a guy and only had to deal with shirts, pants and cool shoes too.

This is basically a mix of stuff every guy should own or at least, “Stuff I’d Wear If I Were A Boy”.

A.) I wish everyone could look good in a bomber jacket with a huge shearling collar or a super distressed jean jacket but they can’t. A well-fitted wool coat¬†is another story. If the shoulders, sleeve and waistline fit, then there’s very little room for error with this article of outerwear and it will never look annoyingly trendy. Plus it looks good on your girl if she gets cold.¬†(A.P.C¬†Knitted Wool Blend Jersey Coat)

B.) Men underestimate the power of a good flannel shirt. I could do a survey of 100-200 girls on their opinion of flannel shirts and I’m almost positive that 80-90% of them would say they like flannel on a guy (and I can’t vouch for them but I’m inclined to think gay men feel the same way). 80% ain’t bad so why wouldn’t you own one? People should just trust me on this. (J Crew Secret Wash in Vintage Jade Check)

C.) Kind of like wool coats, a guy can’t go wrong with New Balances.¬†Whether you’re a nice-guy or not-mom’s-favorite-look kind of dude, New Balances are a no-fail option. Unless they have gigantic rubber soles, which tend to make everyone look like a 53 year-old engineer at Boeing (or¬†Steve Jobs, which I guess is never a bad thing). But if you still think they’re too Silicon Valley chic, then you might be happier with these. (Which I’d also happily own)

D.)¬†I’m such a sucker for guys who wear patterned socks well.¬†It’s no surprise to me that this has become such a huge wedding party trend.¬†I actually put “being able to pull off patterned socks” in the same category as “being able to hold an intelligent conversation” because I think they say that much about a person. (Etiquette Clothiers Sailor Stripes Socks, Brooklyn Circus)

E.) I don’t know about $200 denim that requires no washing for one year but I always think it’s worth investing in something you know you can wear at least 100 times, rather than throwaway clothing that lasts two washes. And jeans¬†of all things should really be considered an investment when you think of how much abuse they take. Not too wide, not too baggy and absolutely no flare, please.¬†(Lee for J Crew 101 Slim Rider Jean in Rinse Wash)

F.) I love when guys wear plain sweatshirts (the one pictured is actually a James Perse cotton-cashmere waffle knit). They serve to flatter the shoulders and the arms, no matter what type of body you were blessed with. Clean lines and good for color blocking too. You can bet if I were a guy, I would own one in every color of the rainbow except any shade of pink or red. And probably not brown either.

G.) For a while, maybe still now, a big percentage of the US male population was donning v-neck tee’s like it was the only mancard needed to stay socially acceptable. (Most are totally wrong and don’t have the right to wear a shirt like that with their physique) I’ve never been a fan of them and while I think they are slimming and a better alternative to say, any shirt you should only wear to 24 Hour Fitness, I’d rather people stick to good ol’¬†crewnecks. Imagine wearing a plain crewneck with those printed socks? Uh, yum.¬†(Textured Cotton T-Shirt,¬†Levis Vintage Clothing)

H.) Down vests, nylon or otherwise, are always nice to see on guys, especially because I think more guys are capable of pulling them off than they are aware. That is unless you think you can pull it off without wearing a shirt underneath. To that I would say, “Hell freaking no.” Of course, no one does down vests better than Uniqlo.¬†(Mens Premium Down Ultra, Uniqlo)