#2094 | Doing Literally Everything in my Activewear

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Hong Kong
All photos taken on the Nikon Z6, and edited on VSCO

Hey guys,

In my mind hong kong is good for a couple of things, and those things mainly – nightlife, food, and the option of easy access to seasonal weather. Hiking, obviously, is conspicuously missing, a natural byproduct of the other thing I conspicuously lack; ie. a sense of balance. It was no small horror then, that on our recent trip to hongkong my two very fit girlfriends wanted to dedicate a day to hiking… even though one of them had recently sprained a leg doing the exact same thing in Jogjakarta. Why would you voluntarily elect to hike again a mere six months after being incapacitated by the very thing? Quite clearly this hiking business drives people loopy. And there is no point protesting against loopy, since logic plays no part in its formation, so off we went.

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Fit friend 1 and fit friend 2

We did the extremely touristy Dragon’s Back, which is admittedly very nice. Also I wore my new Lululemon tights which I am super in love with because they are both the most expensive (unfortunately) and the best (fortunately, but also unfortunately when taken in relation to the cost) tights I have ever worn. That is really all I have to say about the entire endeavor, as to elaborate would only serve to reveal my ineptitude towards anything that even vaguely requires hand-eye coordination. So it is here that I shall leave you, with an air of mystery and potential. (yeah, right.)

Here is a guide on how to hike dragon’s back, in case you came to this blogpost looking for pragmatic information and are now sorely disappointed or whatever.

x
Jem

#2093 | Tell me what to drink – LQV Hong Kong

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Red is the yummiest color
Pictures taken on the Nikon Z6, edited in VSCO

Hey guys,

If having a tall French man smile at you and tell you exactly what to drink is your kind of vibe, then you must make a point of swinging by Le Quinze Vins Hong Kong. I claim no credit for stumbling upon the place since our happy evening there was no coincidence – my friend who relocated to hongkong for work last year (and who now dubiously claims to be the hong kong tour guide extraordinaire ) led us there during our recent visit. A solid recommendation too, which led to this exchange:

me: hey i wanna plug LQV in a blogpost is that k
marcus: yes please note that i’ll be anyone’s tour guide for a modest fee
marcus: of a bottle of wine at LQV
me: that’s very reasonable indeed
marcus: as reasonable as the wine prices at LQV

So it goes.

If you’re headed to Hong Kong, it follows that you’re headed to a bar. It’s not like I have a pokedex of every single wine bar in hong kong, but I’ve been to my fair share over the years, and LQV is one of the more memorable ones. It joins a growing trend of wine importers that also sells bottles on the side, bars which are getting increasingly popular due to the advantages of scale (LQV has over 1,000 wines) and cozy hole-in-the-wall vibes (I’m pretty sure it only seats 30pax, max). It’s a great way to discover new wines, theoretically, though if you’re a cheerfully undiscerning winehead like me, the best part is really asking for recommendations and being extra delighted when the wines appear in the correct sort of glass, making you look like a more refined wino than you actually are. The wine, by the way, was excellent. And yes, it’s true, the place smells like a stale fart, characteristic of all serious wine bars that also serve cheese.. but if the rapid adaptation to the horrendously ugly iOS7 was anything to go by, people will get used to anything. So it’s not a deal breaker; in fact, possibly it adds to the place’s charm.

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Tee hee!

You know what the annoying thing is? When googling for the address of LQV Hong Kong to plug here, I realised they have an outlet in Singapore too. Seriously, what’s the point of my country specific recommendations then? But, yknw, having not been to the Singapore outlet I cannot in good conscience attest to the presence of a friendly frenchie, nor the lingering quaint smell of a stale fart. And with that, I present:

Le Quinze Vins
G/F, No.9 Swatow Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China
+852 2673 7636
12pm – 12 am

x
Jem

#2092 | How good does Crab Congee sound?! // Chee Kei, Hong Kong

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Photos taken on the Nikon Z6 and edited in VSCO

Hey guys,

So how good does crab congee sound, anyway? Crab is such a luxury, yet such an obsession with us Singaporeans, which is to be expected since our national dish is the debatably the chilli crab. All that is a roundabout way of saying, I suppose, that when we heard of a place in Hong Kong serving up golden crab congee, we kind of were all over it. Obviously.

Chee Kei is a local place with several branches, the one we visited this time was near our hotel in Causeway Bay. There was a short queue which moved quite fast, so we were seated in about ten minutes and ready for some yum yum in our tum tum business. You can order ala carte or in sets, and it’s quite good value for money at approximately 70 to 100HKD per set depending on what you get. Chee Kei is primarily known as a wonton shop, but dont be fooled – the permanent queues outside the outlets are there for the crab congee. For wontons abound in hongkong but crab congee is one in a million.

And of the fabled congee? It comes in a little bamboo pot, with a crab sitting atop a steaming bowl of pasty golden porridge. Golden, because the porridge is blended with crab roe, which makes it absolutely magical.

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Golden golden goodness

Dont get me wrong, everything else was good too. But that crab congee: it was something else. Chee Kei recently opened in Singapore but the crab congee seems to be firmly a hongkong exclusive. All the more reason to go back to hongkong, i suppose.

銅鑼灣店
Causeway Bay Shop
香港銅鑼灣波斯富街84號
84 Percival St., Causeway Bay
Phone: +852 2890 8616

x
Jem

#2091 | a stream of consciousness aboard the cx635

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Hey guys,

So I want to tell you guys about that time I got upgraded at the gate for a flight, which was approximately two hours ago. I always find that I feel the immense need to write about my air journeys and possibly it’s because of the bubbly solitude of flights that creates more space in my head to fill with thoughts and random observations which sometimes includes the throwaway musing that actually i am the most talkative person in the world, except usually 90% of it sits in my cranium and doesn’t leak down to my mouth. And that was a thought that also occured to me today as I was sipping on my house red wine in premium economy which was chilled although red wine shouldn’t really be chilled, but which was very sweet anyway because it had been enhanced with the delicious knowledge that it was premium economy wine which i had done absolutely nothing to deserve but was being given anyway.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I was walking to the gate in a sort of grumpy mood because our flight had been delayed and the grumpiness was equal parts because it had been delayed and because i was not surprised that it had. Indeed, I have taken more delayed than undelayed flights on Cathay, for a Cathay flight to be delayed has become sort of routine. In fact, the last time I was in hong kong, the flight home was cancelled and it was because they had misplaced their aircraft and it never arrived. So I had to stay in the airport hotel unable to sleep because I was anxious about being bumped to the morning flight which of course led to me oversleeping and almost missing my morning flight. Also, when I was 18, I had taken a Cathay flight which had been delayed five hours because there had been a security threat on board and they had to get the police to come escort him off and this was right after I had seen a documentary on 911 so it was very dramatic and I was sure that would have been the end of me. Which it wasnt, but all this is to say that my impression of Cathay Pacific has been less than stellar.

I thought about whether to include that whole spiel as it seems ungrateful to rag on an airline that had upgraded (spoiler!) me to premium economy but then I thought, it’s all true what I feel about cathay and anyway even people can do both great and annoying things, what more airplane carriers. So they’d not be mutually exclusive. Anyway as I appraoched the gate and scanned my boarding pass, the machine emitted an alarming bleep and the stewardess took my passport and struck out my pass and gave me another one. And I couldnt help noticing that the new boarding pass she gave me had been pre printed already and was lying on the gate counter so this all seemed very premeditated.

why are you giving me a new pass? I asked her, and she was all like, so your seat has been changed. And this made me even grumpier because it seemed to me evidence of an overbooked flight, but then she raised her very perfectly manicured eyebrow and pointed at my new boarding pass which now said premium economy and suddenly all my grumpy feelings evaporated from my being and floated up to who knows where.

!!!

It seems prudent to contextualise my excitement: being randomly upgraded has always been one of my life dreams. People dream of buying cars and houses, but not I. I just want to be the subject of a random airline upgrade and also to watch Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo do the live duet from The Point of No Return at least once in my lifetime. The second will never happen it seems, since Sierra has gone on to greater things, and who knows where Ramin is now, probably fronting Jesus Christ Superstar on some stage in Osaka. And the first has stubbornly refused to happen. Until now.

I have been upgraded once, just once before. This happened on ANA on the way back from Tokyo some years ago, where I’d been sent for work. My sister had come along with me on that trip, and the system hadn’t registered that we were passengers so it had given our seats away. The woman at the counter had looked very stressed about this and apologised so many times, she was the picture of Japanese Anxiety which if you’ve read Amelie Nothomb’s Fear and Trembling you’ll know exactly what I mean. Her anxiety was creating anxiety in me so to calm her down I pretended to be ~super calm~ and I said: please dont worry about it at all to which she said I’m SO SORRY and I said dont worry please and we seemed to be caught in this endless loop of mutual reassurance until she went aha! and put us on Premium Economy. And I was so excited I wanted to pee myself. She seemed really pleased to have found a solution too. In fact the only person who didn’t seem pleased was my sister who didnt understand how significant this was for me, to have been upgraded, even if it weren’t a random upgrade but rather, a sort of very luxurious apology for a minor inconveneince. She just went, so it’s like the same, but with bigger seats? which made me wonder seriously how we could have been related at all.

But no, this was my first time being truly randomly upgraded and I felt the very precient click of things falling into place and my life dreams being held gently and allowed to take flight. I got to my seat and there was so much space in it I could actually cross my legs and read my book quite comfortably. And of course, there was this wonderful sunset throwing golden dusty light into the cabin and it all seemed very cinematic and beautiful.

Because I was so excitable I spent a lot of time poking around which greatly annoyed the lady next to me who had obviously paid actual money to be there. I guess my behavior was what you’d associate with someone who’s soul truly belongs in Economy. I made my chair go up and down and messed with the drink holder and asked for blankets and water and looked through all the movie selections even though I dont watch movies on flights. I was a little bit too obvious staring at my row mate’s tv screen because she spent an hour watching the advertisement for the Hong Kong Airport over and over again!!!! Instead of an actual movie! Like, lady, you just came from the airport. It was alright. Wait till you see Changi Airport.

Perhaps the most amazing thing even to myself was what transpired when mealtime rolled around. For reasons like nausea and stuff I dont really eat on airplanes, I find it an awful experience. Firstly, motion sickness. Secondly, the food’s always very whatever. Thirdly, if you say yes to a meal, it stays in front of you for hours and they dont take back the tray for what feels like forever and you cant really do anything else with the space being occupied in front of you, not even get up and go to the toilet or reach for your bags, and all you can do is regret saying yes to the meal. But when the stewardess asked me about my meal choice I actually said, without hesitation, that yes I’d like the lobster sauce pasta please, which amazed even me.

It’s funny that they called it lobster sauce pasta because obviously there was nothing in there that was even pretending to be lobster meat, it was just pasta with prawns covered in lobster flavored sauce. But it was delicious. I was doing a lot of thinking while eating, I was thinking things like i cant believe im eating on a plane! and this stuff is delicious! and is this really delicious or am i just thinking it is because I am happy about being upgraded? And I also asked for a glass of red wine and felt very fancy about the whole thing. I finished the pasta even though I wasnt hungry, it felt only right. And then the stewardess gave me some strawberry ice cream and I was like do you have the adult flavors? and she looked at me and she was like, this is the adult flavor. Anyway it was very good.

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Good.

It was so good that as I was eating my meal one of the thoughts that flashed in my head was I should write all these things down before I forget so once they took my tray away I got my laptop out and started tap tap tapping away. So in the present, the present of writing this post, I am actually still in the air, hovering somewhere above Indonesia or Malaysia. I’ve probably ruined dinner for myself but I feel no regret whatsoever. In fact, I think I may have another glass of red. This entire business of sitting in 32A when I belonged in 42C has greatly improved my outlook on the airline, even though (or perhaps especially because) it happened so randomly, with no expectations, no obligations, and probably occured due to a mistake on someone’s part when doling out seat allocations behind a computer screen. And yet it has revealed so much not just about the airline, but about me, to myself. More and more thoughts are bubbling in the forefront of my mind, about the lady next to me, the seat recline, the ingredients in that overwhelmingly orange lobster sauce. But the loudest one is this: how amenable I am, how easily I sway once shown the tiniest bit of kindness. I am perhaps not as firmly rooted in my opinions as I assumed I was before.

X
Jem

#2090 | Shari Shari Kakigori will change your dessert life

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Hong Kong
All photos taken on the Nikon Z6, 35f1.8

Hey guys,

Kakigori is a sort of Japanese shaved ice dessert, in essence the Japanese counterpart to Singapore’s ice kachang, korea’s bingsu. And yet the Japanese do it better. I say this not lightly: Shari Shari Kakigori is, like, life changing.

I tried it for the first time last June when Hong Kong was at the peak of its relentless humidity, and thought it quite magical. I second guessed myself though, I thought possibly that could have been attributed to the consumption of anything cold in that weather. And this year, again, I went back in the dead of winter. Still incredible, and this time, my two girlfriends reflected the delight on my face, confirming Shari Shari as straight up ah-mazing across the board.

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Ahmaaaaazing!

There are several Kakigori stalls around Hong Kong, but Shari Shari is indisputably the best. Shari Shari only has two outlets, one in Central and one in Causeway Bay, and I’ve been to both. They’re both tiny, and there’s always a queue snaking around the outside of the store. The one in Haven Road on Causeway Bay, which is where I’m at this time, is surrounded by other dessert stores, some of which also serve kakigori. But Shari Shari is notably the most popular – the rest are always only half full. Expect to queue for at least half an hour, but know that it’s worth the wait!

Where Singapore’s ice kachang is icy and Korea’s bingsu is packed powder, the Japanese kakigori is fresh snow that melts in your mouth. The ingredients they favor are different too, all sakura and matcha and tea. We went for their best seller, the Earl Grey shaved ice, which comes with mochi on top and milk pudding + peanut powder in the middle. It’s very fluffy – and the earl grey flavor is evenly spread out so you dont end up with a melting puddle of flavorless ice at the end of the affair. And, most importantly, the flavor is delightful. The secret, apparently, is in the water – they claim to import their ice from hokkaido, the water giving the kakigori a cleaner, silkier taste. This also creates the illusion that your dessert is light, guilt-free, and almost healthy, which of course is exactly that: an illusion. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that it’s so damned good. Literally redefining the standards of an ideal dessert, actually.

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Earl Grey Kakigori

Because they’re made to order, each Kakigori’s shelf life is pretty short. There are rules to kakigori enjoyment – you have to finish taking whatever photos you want in 20seconds before it start to melt, you cant divide the mountain of ice into smaller bowls (it ruins the integrity of the ice apparently), and there’s a minimum order of HKD35/perpax. The three of us shared one kakigori and also ordered a delicious chocolate souffle to make the min. order. Everything was excellent.

Other flavors available include Hojicha, Mango, Raspberry, so on and so forth. I tried their seasonal flavors the last time and the Earl Grey this time, and the earl grey is still my favorite. It’s now a staple on my Hong Kong itinerary, and a strong recommendation to anyone headed to HK. And if you’re in Hong Kong over the summer, note this down as a compulsory activity. Stat.

SHARI SHARI KAKIGORI HOUSE ( 氷屋 )
Address: G/F 14 Haven Street,
Causeway Bay Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2529 1223
Opening Hours: 1:00PM – 12:00AM Daily
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShariShari.Kakigori
Direction: 7 mins walk from Exit F1 of Causeway Bay MTR Station.’

or

Address: 47 Staunton St, Central
Hours: Varying, normally about 1-11pm

Prices: Approx 70-80HKD/kakigori⋅

x
Jem