#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

#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

#2087 | Sleeping alone in a foreign city; a love letter to solitude, safety.

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Shoreditch, London

As someone who’s shared not only a room but a bed with two sisters her whole life I can tell you the peculiar feeling of having a room to yourself is a sort of quiet wonder. I was in London for a month and a half during the tail end of 2018, completing my editorial traineeships with Aitken Alexander Associates and 4th Estate Harper Collins London, and during that time formed an intense emotional attachment to my proverbial room of one’s own.

And what of this particular room? A month and a half was too long for any self respecting adult to reasonably impose on a London based friend, and hotels were out of the question (too expensive, too.. cold) and so short term apartment rentals were the way to go. I spent months prior scouring Airbnb for options and eventually settled on a studio apartment in Shoreditch for several reasons – proximity to both my workplaces, familiarity with the area (my best friend used to live on Liverpool Street), box-ticking all my requirements, and also just the fact that I really, really like Shoreditch for its buzzy vibe.

Over the last year in particular I’ve received many variations on the same email, asking how I ensure safety when travelling alone. That’s a post for another day, but here’s a little starter. Even though I’ve written a guide to picking Airbnb listings prior, the requirements obviously shift slightly when you’re travelling as a single woman, so some of the features that were especially important to me were:

double lock: one at the entrance to the building and the other being my actual door
corner room (so it’s harder for me to be followed even if someone else enters the building with me)
first floor room (so only one flight of stairs to tackle with my luggages)
bustling nightlife – I was actually living above a nightclub (so I would never, under any circumstances, be walking home in a totally quiet street)
washer and dryer (so I could do laundry frequently without having to leave my apartment at weird hours unnecessarily)

It was also important to me to have a place with some natural lighting because I’m a tropical plant who flourishes under the sun, much to the chagrin of my dermatologist, so the corner apartment was perfect for me. I rearranged the furniture once I checked in to create a little sunlit corner where I could get my work done, and the amount of love I have for it is kind of ridiculous:

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And thus I was all set! Many mornings I spent having a coffee there before work, shooting off Singapore bound emails, many evenings spent tap tap tapping off the keyboard whilst working on something or the other.

The kind of peace of mind one gets when living alone is unique in how all consuming it is, how it creates a kind of excitement that hums in your belly as you move about your new space. I read 29 books in London and hauled home another 65. With unprecedented space, both physically and mentally, I confronted a lot of work that had to be done. I signed up for two gyms – a 2 week F45 trial (20 pounds/week) a 13 minute walk from my apartment, and BLOK London (100pounds/30day trial), a 5 minute walk – and worked out from 630-730am every morning before work. I bought groceries from the co-op a 5 minute walk away, I cooked the same thing everyday and felt happy to have some kind of routine to hold on to. I set up my chromecast on the wall-mounted TV and used it only once, I set up my google home mini and spent most evenings reading to the background lull of sleep time jazz. I bought candles, I bought flowers (the columbia flower market a fifteen minute walk from me). I existed, happily.

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My queen sized bed (mine, mine, all mine!!) meant I could read on one end and sleep on the other: by the end of the month I was bed-sharing with about twenty books. The small bedside table was incredibly useful (i dont have one at home); I bought a little lavender packet from the flower market and left it there, I perched my night time skincare there on the table, lit a candle before bed each night. Tea, I drank a lot of tea in London. It was edging winter during my time there, so take the fuzzy feeling you get when imagining cozying up with a book with a mug of tea and a candle burning, and triple it.


I mentioned earlier living above a nightclub, which I was fully aware of before touchdown thanks to the multitude of airbnb reviews that you should definitely look at before booking any listing. I wanted to live above a nightclub: on one hand perhaps it provided a romantic grittiness, a sense of being in the hub of a city, on the other, it was a safety-related concern, which I know seems counter intuitive on first glance but actually made sense for me.

Having travelled both alone and in groups, I can confirm that one of the most terrifying things weaved into the female experience when travelling is a quiet walk home.. worse when it’s quiet and dark. I could more or less triangulate the location of my airbnb (they normally dont give you the exact location till you book) and prior to my trip had mapped the possible transport routes (for work, for socialising, for points of interest) outwards. There were two major busstops near my place (Great Eastern Street and Shoreditch High Street) which had brightly lit paths to my apartment, they also serviced so many buses that I could essentially get all around London without having to descend into the tube network more than cursorily if I so chose. This was a huge plus point for me budget wise because buses are significantly cheaper than tube rides, and it adds up. Same goes for tube lines – I was in between Old Street, Shoreditch High Street, and Liverpool Street stations, and had already determined that the paths from all of them to my apartment were main streets. Obviously nothing would guarantee safety, but all one can do is minimise opportunities for danger. Being a bit of an obsessive planner myself, these were all things I sorted compulsively before my trip, despite the slightly ditzy aura I know I carry with my person, leading to perpetual looks of surprise whenever I unfold my pre-travel mind maps..

The fact that I was above a nightclub (with another three or so in the area) meant it would always be noisy because in my experience, the concept of a weeknight has no bearing on a Londoner’s capacity to get turnt. This meant I would never have to walk home alone, there would always be security personnel outside the clubs (which is something people dont think about, ever), and even though I might have to sidestep vomit more often than I’d like, if anything serious ever happened, the sisterhood of tipsy partygoers would probably always come to my aid.

So at night: the chorus of partygoers formed my white noise, in the day: I got into podcasts, especially after discovering they could be casted to my Google Home. I listened to countless podcast episodes whilst making breakfasts and dinners, and then happily settled down to eat with a book.

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ingredients, tea, home made lemon water

It was a nice surprise that my studio came with an oven in addition to a microwave, washer, and stovetop, meaning I could bake salmon without having the smell linger in the room for days afterwards. I remembered thinking that this place was so perfect for one, and I remember with some embarrassment how I congratulated myself heartily on having located this place.

Really, there was very little of the studio that I think I could have improved upon. It was essentially self sufficient, meaning I was never forced out by necessity, and each time I had to leave it was because of something I chose to do – go to the gym, to work, grocery shopping, to catch a musical. Amenity wise I think it had all a girl would need in a tiny, compact space – a huge wardrobe with ample drawers, a mini couch for pre-shower eveningtimes, lots of power points, fast wifi, a very space efficient toilet.

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cold weather favs: laneige’s water bank series, elizabeth arden’s probiotic and retinol series, and the supergoop sunscreen which i now swear by!

(I’d always wanted one of those toilet cabinets that hide things behind a mirror!)

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And of course, also how damn well located it was.

Perhaps the most unexpected yet amusing part of my life above a nightclub were the one sided conversations I partook in, the fly on the wall persona I adopted. In the middle of the night (usually thursdays or saturdays), fragments of conversation would waft up to me in my half-asleep state. Once I heard a girl scream she’s not interested you asshole which made me smile because girls backing girls will always make me smile. Another time: Nah, man, I’m not tired, are you tired, which was so clearly a lie. Once a fight broke out downstairs and I rushed to my window to peep through the blinds, it was a lot of posturing on the streets, like a cockfight that attempted to impress the girls looking horrified. But my favourite was the one time I woke up to the distraught sounds of an alcohol addled voice: I wanna call him man, I wanna call him and the responding chorus no girl – take her phone – what’s her passcode – dont give it back – give it back!

Lying in bed, I shook my head, half smiled, and said: Don’t call him, girl.

No one heard me. I went back to sleep.

Book the same apartment here
SGD35 off your first trip when you sign up for airbnb at airbnb.com/jemma

x
Jem