Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Soo hye, Jens' boss, introduced us to a hidden gem in Singapore. Gatsby is an elegant little restaurant in an area called Chijimes, near City Hall. Excellent food...and the best part? All main courses and drinks 50% off, every single day. The worst part? They are changing management and are closing down the location. We made it there two days before it closed down for an excellent meal of pasta and steak (for the boys).
Soo hye even spoke with the chefs, to find out which restaurants they are moving to next (He even has a favorite meal!). So hopefuly we'll enjoy food that good, that cheap in Singapore again.
So, we headed over to (my favorite!) Menotti cafe for some delicious Italian dessert. Like most of our local and non-German friends, we are STILL trying to figure out the correct, German pronunciation of "aphel strudel mit zanna" :P
From left: Soohye, Jens, Sean and I at Gatsby in Chijmes.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Sitting at the "Vegetarian" table was quite the challenge. Our office has a handful of vegetarians and/or Halal-only people, but it took THREE times for them to actually bring vegetarian food to the table "oh, you don't eat fish?" "Fish sauce isn't vegetarian?"...
So, eventually, we ended up with veggie food that they did their best to make look like meat...we even got a yam pastry dish that they made in the shape of a fish!
Tuesday afternoon we had a Lion Dance come into the office. Deafeaning loud drum players, colourful red costumes and a giant "Lion" played by two Chinese dancers. The Lion went around to every desk in the office and "ate" an orange left for him. He also left us a message before leaving the office..
Monday, February 26, 2007
Friday, February 23, 2007
Delapidated buildings with modern stores on the first floor in Mongkok, an old fashioned tram on HK Island and high class hotels in Tsim Sha Sui provide a refreshing juxtaposition.
For all of you skimming my site, this slideshow is a brief overview, and I've added details so click to see my comments on FlickR. Pics and stories continue in the 2nd HK all-in-one post below the slideshow!
We splurged for our first dinner in Hong Kong...found a cute little pub on Nathan Road called Delaney's. You'll never guess what I found, after 6 months...a veggie burger! Fattening pub food, but the apple pie and custard dessert made it all worth it. Reminds me of London...wow, I miss that place a lot.
Hong Kong boasts one of the world's best night views, on Victoria Peak. Unfortunately, although we tried 3 times, we never saw a perfectly clear view...too much fog in winter I guess. Still beautiful by the Tsim Sha Tsui Harbourfront.
Nightlife...Lai Kwai Fong is so much livelier than Singapore's Clarke Quay. Although the streets were full of foreigners, most likely due to the Chinese New Year, the bars and clubs had a fun atmosphere.
Soho, however, remains my favorite place. It only took me two days to find the city's best Italian coffee shop. If you're in the area, visit Portobello's on Shelley & Elgin...cute atmosphere, couches, strong espresso and delicious chocolate cake, yum! Although I will say their local bakeries beat Singapore's by a million times...they have REAL wholegrain, rye, wheat bread; everywhere.
Basically, we spent Saturday Sunday and Monday touring the city, nightlife and excellent HK Museum of History. Not to mention shopping at the rows upon rows of stores, outlets and luxury malls.
Lantau is a Hong Kongonian island we visited on Tuesday. Very very touristy...not a bad place to visit, but seeing as the "historical" buddha statue was acutally made in 1970, it's a bit commericalized. Lunch at the vegetarian monastery...ick!!! Mushy tofu and bland veggies. Many of you know I'm no artist with chopsticks...but you try eating corn soup, with big chunks of corn-on-the-cob in it...with plastic sticks!
Our last day was perfect, a recap of our favorite places, dim sum at Luk Yu Tea House and more shopping. Perfect...except the part where we had to leave on our hurried trip to the airport. Yikes, they're not kidding when they say arrive 2 hours before the plane leaves. One late bus, and United Airline's thorough handbag check made us seated in the plane 15 minutes before takeoff...BARELY made it!
P.S. Want another (non veggie) perspective on Singapore? Check out Sean's blog
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
- Fresh, sweet, tropical fruit: Whenever you want it, at every food court, as fresh fruit, cut fruit, juice or milkshakes. It really would be a great business idea; set up those food courts at home. Our food courts have one choice; grease. With the trend towards healthy eating in North America, I think it could work!
- Authentic Thai food: The one food I will miss...we'll see how the restaurants back home compare to the amazingly spicy veggie food that the Thais cook.
- Singapore's location: proximity to so many countries I wouldn't have thought of as typical holiday places before my trip (Cambodia,Thailand, Laos, Hong Kong). Beautiful Malaysian islands, Indonesia, and the Philippines add to the list.
- Friends!: I've met so many people so far, locals and Europeans that I know it'll be hard to leave. It's great how many exchange students you can meet at one event. When I'm in Europe (hopefully really really soon!), I'll visit you all :-)
Things I miss...
Ok, so I've gotten used to paying double for my cappuccinos, swallowing a bit of greasy hawker veggies and getting hardly any customer service at all in most venues, but what do I miss most about the Western world?
- Food (still on the list): No, I have not gotten used to the local Chinese and Malay food, likely because there are very few veggies. Yes, I still want to be able to find Italian food easily for a decent price, be able to have a veggie option on every menu. I have, however, eaten more Indian food here than in the whole of my life...quite funny actually!
- People that walk at a semi-normal pace: Notice, I did not say 'normal'. Everyone that knows me, knows I like to walk fast. It's easier to get places that way! Here, they CRAWL. Not kidding. Soooooo slow. Painful, actually. What's a bit more annoying is that (even though they drive on the left), they don't walk on the left. Or, on the right. Just randomly, anywhere, right, left, middle, weaving...even in organized places, like the escalator in the train station. At first I thought it was my own, fast-walking self that was overreacting, but I've confirmed this with many other foreigners; they need to sort it out and speed it up!
- Recycling!! Despite Singapore's anti-litter campaigns and horribly strict where to eat/drink/smoke rules, the country does NOT recycle. It is so difficult to find a recycle bin. I believe I've seen TWO since I've been here. In addition to this, they feel the need to give you two or three bags for everything you buy, or every take-away meal you get (even if it comes in a box!). I've got the most quizzical looks from vendors after asking they don't give me a bag. For a clean country, they need to waste less!
- All of you back home... Miss ya tons...we're going for a real, Italian, decent-priced cappuccino at La Pasta at the UofA as soon as I get home (atm, may be early August)! Anyone that's there...tell them "Cappuccino Girl" misses them!
Ok, enough complaints...but really, quite reduced if you check my September entry. At any rate, Sean and I are heading to Hong Kong in 3 days, so I'm likely to be off Blogger for about a week. Will post pics before I go though, so sorry to anyone that's checking my flickr...I'll post more soon!
Saturday, February 10, 2007
night...quite beautiful. The Valentine's day "Youth & Love" party in the park was not quite. Foreign Youth Club, an international organization, apparently known for great events, hired a tone-deaf band, empty bar, and cheap vendors for the occasion.
I can't really complain though because I met some really great people (Valentine's Day is a bit overdone and depressing for most of us anyway!) I also got to see a few AIESEC members I hadn't seen since last semester.
We actually ended up ditching the party and headed towards Timbre, a bar with great live music. I'm not one to celebrate Valentines, but it was a fun night out!
Top Right: Petina, Kristin, Anne, Sean and I at the Valentine's party
Below: Damien, Anna & Melissa, Heineken's, & good music