Monday, May 28, 2007

What You CANNOT Do While Driving and Why

Received this note from the safety advisor a couple of months ago, and thought of sharing with you guys:

Talking on the phone while driving is not the only thing you are not allowed to do when you are on the wheel. Read below from the BBC website to see why you should not be distracted with other activities while driving, related not only to the dangers of mobile phone use...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Another Hotel Room Incident

Can't believe this is happening to me again!

I had a busy weekend traveling and working in China from city to city. This morning, I flew from Shanghai to Guangzhou with a male colleague from Beijing. Arrived at the hotel, found out they were over booked, and they let us shared a room. Well, not really that to be exact. They let us share a two-room suite. Believe that or not?

They were not honest at first (sound so similar to the previous Pakistan case). They took our credit card, swiped, made us signed the registration... and then we noticed the price quoted there was different from the confirmation email. Upon checking, only we found out they put us in a two-room suite.

In our culture, it is just not right to put a male and a female in a suite like that! Not that we don't trust each other, but it is against our culture, and it will certainly create family crisis (his and mine)! I'm sure my husband would mind, and I'm sure his wife would mind!

Since it was day time and our office was open, we changed to another hotel straight away. But was very disappointed with the first hotel - Ocean Hotel.

I am a bit numb about this kind of incidents already. Too many similar case has happened to me. What's wrong with the hotel industry? They tend to over book and take us for granted. This one some more claimed themselves 5 star! Wonder who decides the 'star' of the hotels????

When my colleague argued with the manager at the lobby, I was just too numb about it and kept quiet watching. Only to chip in towards the end. My colleague was so furious that he called up a number to complain (something like consumerism), but surprised to find out hotel is an area without any 'autorities' to look after. So, consumers are on our own, when it comes to hotel stays. What a finding!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hong Kong/Macau Sightseeing Tips

These are some (hopefully useful) tips for those who visit HK on your own.

Before leaving the airport, buy the Octopus card (八达通卡), that includes a return trip of the Airport Express (AEL), and 3 days unlimited ride of the MTR. It costs HKD300 per person, but is very useful and can save a lot of money, especially if you schedule all the trips to farther areas in the first 3 days.

In Macau, after leaving the port, go straight to the card counter to apply for a Macau Pass. I can't remember how much it costed, but with the deposits and all that, I paid HK$80 for a card. It can be used for multiple passengers, and upon leaving, you can return the card and get the deposit refunded plus the remaining credit. Very convenient and easy payment.
P1070446 - Macau card

Going to Macau
If you are a Malaysian, don't have to get entry visa. However, if you needed an entry visa to Hong Kong, then perhaps you'll need a Macau visa. And returning from Macau to HK, you'll need another HK entry visa. If you plan to go to Macau from HK, then make sure you have double entry visas for HK, otherwise you'll have trouble.

The most common way to Macau is to take the ferry. Because we stayed at Kowloon, we took the ferry from 香港中国客运码头, which is just next to the biggest shopping mall Harbout city (海港城-港威商场), walkable from where we lodged.

Most commonly used are Cantonese and English. If you speak Mandarin (like me), I'd advise you not to. Try to communicate among yourselves in English (if you can't speak HK-like Cantonese). I had bad experience in this. As I was talking to my sister in Mandarin, I was mistaken as Mainland Chinese, and I got very bad treatment. I didn't feel good for that kind of sub-standard treatment, but somehow understand why they treated the Chinese this way... that is another story...

Octopus Card
Octopus card purchased from the airport can also be used to buy things from retail outlets such as 7-Eleven. You may top up the value in any of those outlets. It can be used for buses, on top of the MTR. After the 3 days unlimited ride, you'll need to top up before you can continue to use the card, eventhough you have HKD50 as deposit initially.

Electric: The voltage is 220V/50Hz, same as Malaysia.
Get a book like this one. We relied a lot on the information in this book, but it proved that a lot of info outdated, due to the rapid changing market in HK. But nevertheless, the book provided a foundation for planing - at least on the route and what to do/eat.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Summary of HK Food Trip

There are a few things that I didn't list out in the blog in detail. One of the dinners, I had seafood with my friends, whilst my sister had hers with her friends. Due to time constraint, we just had the seafood in town, so nothing great to write about.

The night we returned from Macau, my sister's friend invited us to this Oyster Bar at Knutsford Terr (诺士佛壹) nearby our hotel. This is an expensive place, man! Having plates of oysters, of different species... really new experience to me -- call me uptown girl/woman! Of course, that meal costed over 2k HKD. * shock *

And the day before we left, we had dimsum for breakfast. Nothing to write about, just standard dimsum, nothing special. Not the type that we see in the TV.

Those things that we didn't manage to eat are: smelly toufu (臭豆腐), 2-mix (两溝), etc (mainly street foods).

As for what I loved most? They are the 九记牛腩 (Gao Kei Beef Noodle) and Seng Cheong Crab Porridge (诚昌水蟹粥). I missed them so much. Yummy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Macau Food (part 2) - Central

After tasted what we listed in Taipa, we went back to the Central and headed for other stuff in our list.

Restaurant Platao (九如坊)
This restaurant is located on a side lane after the McDonald's in the Central. My friend highly recommended it for its Biscuit Mousse (木糠蛋糕/木糠布丁). This looks like a fine dining restaurant, more pricey than the other outlets we had before. The Biscuit Mousse costs us HKD48, just for 1 piece.

Though it doesn't look good from the picture, it tastes very well. It is like ice-creams layered with biscuit powder. Something quite unique that I've not seen elsewhere. Worth trying.

Yee Soon Dairies (义顺牛奶公司)
After tasting the nice stemed milk in the Australian Dairies, we had high expectation of this cafe. Quite disappointed, coz the steamed milk (双皮奶) tasted quite awful that I couldn't finish it - for the first time, we pushed the food to each other. :P

But then, its Ginger Milk (姜汁撞奶) is very different! Ginger mixes very well with the milk, the nice ginger smell and fragrant makes the whole dessert superb. We both fighted for the last spoon. What a big difference!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Macau Food (part 1) - Taipa

In Macau, there are basically two places we need to go, i.e. the Taipa (sorry can't write the Chinese word, coz not a standard Chinese!) pronounced as Tam-Zai, and the Central or called Dai-San-Ba (大三巴). In Taipa, there are a couple of streets with famous Portugese foods. And the Seng Cheong (诚昌) porridge is one of the two food I can never forget in this trip.

Seng Cheong Crab Porridge (诚昌水蟹粥)
It is highly recommended by my HK friends. It wasn't in my original food list, but due to her high recommendations, we started with that. I was really glad we listened to her.

They cooked the porridge with crab that is full of cream/role/羔. The porridge looks yellowish with the roles mixed well.

We ordered the small one, but came so big, coz they cook it minimum with 1 crab. We also ordered their fried fish balls. When we first saw the food, we thought we would not be able to finish. But we were wrong! It was so tasty that we finished everything, and we didn't feel enough! OMG, I am never fond of eating porridge, but this one is just too tasty to forget. My sister and I keep talking about this again and again, checking with everyone who've been to Macau about this... It is just so, so, so tasty I don't know how else to describe it.
(just to show you how big the bowl is, and we finished them!)

The fried fish balls are quite unique too. It is to be eaten with the black vinegar. A good dish to go with the porridge.

We were there at 12noon, just right after they opened for business. Slightly later, the outlet was full with people waiting for a table!

Pronounced as San Hou Lei. Just a small outlet along the main street in Taipa, humble looking small coffee shop. It is famous for its Portugal Egg Tart. We knew from the book that it is also good for its Milk Tart. So we ordered both.

You must try the milk tart. It tastes so differently rom normal tart. In fact, their tarts' pastry is very soft and crispy, very fragile. We had to eat with care, otherwise they all spread out and you may end up holding nothing! The filling of the milk tart is similar to those that we had in steamed milk (双皮奶), like milk custard. Not too sweet, just nice.

And the Portugal tarts... at first I didnt' like it coz I hate my food burnt, and it has too many burnt marks on the surface. But then... after eating it, I realised that the taste of the egg tart is actually enhanced by those burnt smell. Not a healthy way of eating, once is enough, but worth to comment that it tastes different, better than those in KL!

Cafe Tai Lei Loi Kei (大利来记)
Here comes the (original) highlight of my Macau trip. Macau is famous for the pork chop bun (猪扒包). It is famous, mainly because of this cafe Tai Lei Loi Kei. And this cafe is famous, because (from hear-say) it uses wood to bake their buns. Yes, the bun is more famous than the pork chop. Due to environmental issues, this outlet looks like the only outlet has the license to operate with wood.

The freshly baked pork chop bun is only available at 3pm daily. Before 3pm, queue has already formed. We went on a non-peak day, but it has no difference!

Dadadada! The long waited pork chop bun is here!

And... can you guess how disappointed I was? It wasn't tasty at all! The bun was very hard and dry. No gravy, just dry hard bun and a piece of dry pork chop. I felt like choked to death, trying to eat and swallow the bun. I don't think it is due to high expectation. It was just too dry. I saw people eating just like that, no gravy, no sauces. Wonder what makes it so famous! The one sold at Mid Valley in KL is even better. Maybe I am not good at food tasting, I guess.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hong Kong Food (part 5)

Pronounced as Gao Kei Ngao Lam, this is my most favourite restaurant along with another one in Macau. I have been thinking of these two outlets nearly everyday, and when thinking about them makes me more hungry coz they are just so delicious. My sister thinks the same too, so it is not just me!

This outlet is very difficult to find. You probably need to take a cab, but we walked coz we had a map (from a book that we bought in KL book store). It is in between Central (中环) and Sheung Wan (上环). We exited from Sheung Wan #E2, walked along the Queen's Rd. C. (皇后大道中), go into Wellington St (威灵顿街). After seeing 莲香楼on our right, we turned into Aberdeen Street. Enter the second right lane, and this outlet can be seen prominently.

Its soup is clear but very tasty, with full flavour. It is famous for its Curry Beef.

We order curry beef with... can't remember what it is called - pic, very soft and tender.

But... what makes it unforgetable is the yee mee noodle (伊面). I never know just plain yee mee can be that tasty. Their yee mee is unlike ours (deep fried already and preserved for long). Theirs is fresh, tender, 咬起来有口劲! In fact, don't have to order its beef noodle, just the plain yee mee noodle is good enough! I miss it very much...

Pronounced as Lok Heong Yuen. Along the way, we originally wanted to eat the roasted goose (烧鹅), we walked the Wellington Street and reached this outlet called Yong Kei (镛记). But when we reached the outlet, we were frightened by the entrance - looked too grand and expensive, we ended up didn't eat anything.

Just opposite the Yong Kei, we saw the Lok Heong Yuen, also recommended by people. So, we went in to have their Polo Bun and Tea.

Wow, their polo bun, looked simple, but as described by others, very tasty. The taste is actually further enhanced by the piece of butter inside!

We were also recommended to try its mixed pie (杂派), but I would tell you not to waste your money and stomach on this. Too salty and not nice! What a big difference between the two...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Hong Kong Food (part 4)

Hing Kei (兴记)
This outlet is famous for its claypot rice. It is located at the Templer Street, exit C of Yao Ma Tei station. We ordered one with pork-neck meat, and a plat of fried clams.
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The clam is tasty, but the rice is just so so. It comes without any seasonings, and we have to add them ourselves.
P1070261 P1070256

Maybe we didn't know the technique to mix the sauces, it wasn't tasty at all. We checked with the owner before doing it ourselves, but she said 'just add them based on your own taste'.

I think our claypot chicken rice in KL taste better. So, you can skip this outlet, unless you don't trust my taste bud or my mixing skills. :P Oh, maybe you still want to try again, coz before we left we then found out their famous is with glutinous rice. We ordered normal rice (didn't know about it earlier). So, maybe still worth you a try?

This 'Beef Ball King' is pronounced as 'Lok Yuen Ngao Yuen Wong'. Located at the Garden Street (花园街), nearby the Women Street (女人街). This restaurant specialises in all types of beef balls, but also sells other stuff like fish balls, sliced beef, etc. It is most famous for its 酱暴牛丸 (soup filled beef ball).

We ordered a bowl of black pepper beef ball and beef ball with fish maw (花胶酱暴牛丸).
P1070385 P1070387

They look the same from outside, except the one with soup and fish maw filling is slightly bigger. We have to be careful when eating, coz the soup/filling can literraly burst out, hence called the 'sauce-burst beef ball'. Look inside this beef ball, you can see a piece of fish maw and soup... :)
Well, actually I don't find this filling making the beef ball more tasty. It is just the experience - fun. That's it. I won't go back again. ;)

Different types of 'balls'.

Road Sides
There are a lot of road side stalls selling fish balls and other snacks. Worth trying. My sister is crazy over the curry fish balls. Sorry no photos, coz situation not condusive for photo taking while walking rapidly.

We found this 'bake cake' (烧饼) along the roadside near the Beef Ball King, tried it... very tasty. Soft texture, with very nice custard filling. Not too sweet, not sticky. It is just like omochi, but fried omochi. :)

Pronounced as Gong Wo Tong. It is a small outfit specializes in Chinese herbal stuff. It is most famous for its 龟苓膏, a type of black colour jelly made of Chinese herbs, very good for cooling the body and detoxification. Theirs already sweetened, unlike ours which we have to add sugar. Nothing special though. But I liked the 龟苓茶, which is the liquid version of the same herb. To my surprise, it is not bitter or sweet, but savoury. Just like normal soup! That is new to me.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hong Kong Food (part 3)

Australian Diaries (澳洲牛奶公司)
Although in Chinese it says 'company', but in fact it is a restaurant, or to be more accurately - Coffee Shop. We are actually quite pissed off with this restaurant, and I wasn't supposed to promote it due to my bad experience. But to be fair, their steam 'double-milk' (炖双皮奶) is the best that I've ever eaten. I still miss the taste, though I might not ever want to return to that outlet. I have no photo to show, coz we were badly treated there.

First, the staff trying to intimidate my sister. When my sister ordered the steam milk, he asked what type she wants. My sister asked what types are available, he got impatient and sort of scolded my sister, asked her to read the menu. Their fried-egg and toast are also famous, I tried ordering that too, and I was again asked what type of fried-egg and toast. I didnt' know they have so many types, got panic, simply pointed at one in the menu, without really knowing what's the difference between each of them, coz he didn't want to give us time!

Then, a plate of fried egg and toast came - actually thrown to the table, in between my sister and me. Naturally, I thought it was mine. When I placed it in front of me, the same guy came, scolded me loudly at the same time took it away and chuck it in front of another customers opposite my sister (we shared table): "This is not yours, other people's!"

Then, when our drinks came, we didn't know whether it was ours, tried to confirm with them, no one wanted to entertain. We had to ask the other customers whether they ordered the same thing.

Then, the steam milk didn't come. We asked another guy. He told us there is only one type of steam milk, and the first guy didn't place the order for us, actually!

Okay, apart from the incident, I have to admit their steam milk is the best in town, and the fried-egg with toast is also the best. I didn't know simple fried-eggs can be like that - very smooth, very tasty. The milk is like toufu-fa, texture and sweetness is just perfect. I really miss them, but would not return.

This restaurant is located at Parkers Street, off Austin Road, off Nathan Road.

Okay, that's all about what we had in Tsim Sha Tsui. Next will blog about other locations.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hong Kong Food (part 2)

Again, I don't have the English name of the outlet. It is pronounced as Hang Fa Lao, around Haiphong Road (海防道). This restaurant is famous for its glutinous rice ball (汤圆). It is not made of normal glutinous rice, but the sago (西米皮汤圆). You can see from the pic that it is somewhat transparent, due to the different ingredient used:

Another famous dish is the XO-Sauce fried Cheong-Fun (XO酱炒肠粉). The restaurant uses a lot of the sauce, hence very tasty, compared to others.

My sister also recommended me to eat their 18-grains-rice (十八谷饭). It is made of 18 types of grains, includes red beans, green beans, oats, corns, etc (you can read from the poster). In terms of taste, unbelievably good, can eat on its own.

We shouldn't have ordered the beef fillet wrapped mushroom dish, to go with the rice, coz it wasn't tasty at all, and I had hard time chewing it. :P

Macau Restaurant (澳门茶餐室)
You must eat the roast pigeon in this restaurant. Highly recommended. One bird costs HKD30. We shared one bird, not that we cannot finish one by ourselves, but we want to save our stomach to eat as many variety of food as possible. We only had the pigeon in this restaurant, after we stepped out from 杏花楼. :)
I have eaten roasted pigeon in other places before, but nothing beats this. The taste, the texture, the fragrant, hmm... everything is just the perfect combination. It is so crispy that I'd like to eat the bones! We actually forgot to take photos, immediately attacked the bird already. Can you find the missing leg of the bird? It was in my stomach already. :P

I know we have Hoshinoya in Malaysia also, but I've not seen this salmon flake/role rice. Have you? Very tasty!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Cancelling Holiday

I have to cancel my holiday. I've paid for the air fare, luckily not too much coz via Air Asia, but still a few hundred for the two of us. Have to cancel because both my children are sick.

Leaving sick children behind when traveling for work, is different from leaving them behind for holiday. I can't pass my own guilt, so decided not to go tomorrow morning, though it is only nearby -- KK only.

Luckily we haven't booked our accommodations. We originaly wanted to stay in those cheap ones like the backpacker type, somewhat couldn't decide on the exact place. In a way, lucky for that, otherwise we will have to pay for additional cancellation fee!

Actually, if I can afford the destination, I'd pretty much want to go to Europe. I am still hoping that the company will send me there for any meeting or training. Our headquarter is in the Amsterdam, though lots of meeting is in London. I know some people went to Hague for training... still dream on that... :P

Friday, May 04, 2007

Hong Kong Food (Part 1)

Our main purpose of going to HK was to eat. :P Sounds like greedy fella! I had so many things in my list, achieved a lot, but still unable to eat a lot! :(

I had a hard start, trying to organize how to blog about the food we had. I've decided to categorize based on locations, though some of the restaurants have outlets in other areas, and some are franchised. I will start with Tsim Sha Tsui, where we lodged.

I'm sorry I don't have the English name of this outlet, but it is pronounced like 'Hui Lao San'. This is the place people go for Mango desserts. We ordered the Mango Twins, which was on promotion.

These are the real things:

The one on the left is mango ice cream with mango cubes and gravy. They used Philipino (or Thailand??) mangos (as I was told by my sister), hence have very nice fragrant. The mango gravy is actually real mango paste.

The same mango gravy is used in the other cup, replacing the ice-cream with glutinous rice balls. To my surprise, the glutinous rice balls mix better with the stuff better than the ice-cream. This one is tastier than the other. Guess that's because I don't really fancy ice-cream stuff. Others may rate it differently.

Another must-have in this outlet is the mango omochi (芒果糯米糍).

It is not a normal omochi, inside the glutinous rice skin, is a piece of real mango chunky.

Their curry-mix is also very famous. Whenever my aunt goes there, she'd definitely order this:
I didn't expect the curry in HK is really spicy, like the authentic Indian curries.

And where can you find this outlet? It is everywhere, actually. Even at the airport.

Hong Kong Sightseeing (part 2)

Wong Tai Sin Temple (黄大仙庙)
Wong Tai Sin is the most famous temple in Hong Kong. In HK movies, we always watch people going there on 1st or 15th of the month to pray and get the 符 (spell-paper), etc. As I am a Christian, I just go there for sightsee and take some photo, while my sister prayed - she wanted to 还神, don't know how to say that in English.

I was told that the current temple is actually moved from another place. Not sure what do they mean by 'moved', I'm sure not the physical temple! :)

Can you see my sister in this photo? ;)

P1070418 P1070420

Women Street (女人街)
Shopping is a must-do if you go to Hong Kong. In Women Street (or 通菜街), it is like our night market, where a lot of stalls are set up and they sell a lot of cheap stuff, which we can bargain.

I am not good in bargaining, and I don't find many stuff worth buying, except a few, if compared to those I get from Beijing/Shanghai, or even in the China Town here in KL. But it is still worth going. Socks are cheap. I spent only HKD10 to get 3 pairs of men's socks. HKD5 for kid's socks (how come kids' are more expensive than men's?), exactly the same brand/pattern I bought in Malaysia costed me around HKD20. :)

Bought some cheap shirts for myself, cheap but nice looking! Two t-shirts for DH, with fun prints and comfortable to wear.

To get to the women street, you got to exit at the Mong Kok MTR station. Along the same area, there are a lot of stuff to see. Just so much that made me nearly lost my way - of where to start!

In fact, nearby Women Street, there are Garden Street (花园街), Goldfish Market (金鱼街), Sports-shoes Stree (波鞋街) etc. All named after the types of things commonly sold there. A lot of food too! Along the Garden Street, there are a lot of eateries that you can eat the whole night. My sister told me when she was first there, her colleague brought her to eat 11 types of food, but she can't remember how to get them already... Sob, sob, sob, I couldn't taste those that she mentioned!

We also went to the Esprit Outlet at Tsim Sha Tsui, but I forgot how we got there. A pair of pants costed me around HKD100, which original price is near HKD500! I bought two pieces.

Aji-no-Ichiban and Sasa outlets can be found just anywhere you can see. The merchandises they carry is slightly different from here. For example, I bought this Seaweed Wasabi Tempura:
Image004 Image019
Very tasty, whoever I offered this loved it. But can't find it in Ajiichiban here...

Some branded goods are cheaper in HK, but some are not. It is wise to check out the price here in KL first. For example, for Shu Uemura products, some are cheaper and some are more expensive. If you think it is cheaper just because of one product, you might end up spending double to get something from overseas!

Oh, one more thing, in Mongkok and Templer Street, you can see a lot of shops for prost. Photo below says '1-night-stand'. You know what's the business lah! I can see guys standing in front of malls, handling out name cards of prostitutes. Can't believe it is that open in Hong Kong - didn't see this in movies though...

There are a lot of other fun things to do, but we just didn't have the time to cover everything. So, play with our priority, we decided to forego many of them. :)