Drinkies @Vinexpo 2014 Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

Date of Visit:  May 28 2014

One simply does not pass on a freebie – especially when it is a free trade pass to Asia-Pacific Vinexpo, no?!

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Vinexpo Asia-Pacific

Boy! Am I getting pissed today!! ūüėú

Spanning the entire 2 floors of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Level 1 houses all the New World Wines, whereas Level 3 is reserved exclusively for the French (and the odd Chinese winery or two, e.g. Dynasty, hoping to rub some Old World prestige into their spanking new establishments)

Since Vinexpo is the world’s premier wine and spirits festival, one should expect an impressive list of international exhibitors from over 30 countries.  The line-up of wines are mind-bogglingly overwhelming.  So one must definitely do a bit of homework Рresearch on the vineries, top producers, up-and-coming wines, etc-before attending!

Here are some of the wines sampled (pictures courtesy of Monsieur Wine Nut Рmy wine tasting buddy).

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Premium French…

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So much wine to sample…

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More wines…

Tasting delicious wines can get a tad¬†boring and tedious,¬†so I started looking for interesting labels. ¬†Now, do tell, how many of you buy wines on the account of the quirkiness of the labels? ¬†Be it the name or graphics? ¬†I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of that ALL the time! ūüėú

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A regal looking French Bulldog – my future pet! ūüėĄ

What about Hello Kitty sparkling wines?  I guess it is never too early to start training your kids to start drinking, right?

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Starter Wines for kiddies

‘No Sex For Butterfly’¬†is a new line from¬†Chateau de Valcombe, only available in some¬†Scandinavian countries and Belgium at the moment. ¬†A quirky¬†label with¬†an interesting story in that vines are sprayed with electrostatic powder containing female pheromones. Male pests cannot find females because of the scent on their own bodies, and females reject them as mates because they think they are female, too. In this way, the insects are controlled without use of pesticides, thus stopping the male pests ¬†from¬†breeding and spoiling grape crops (read here).

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I¬†like the crisp No Sex For Butterfly’s Chardonnay, but it was the Cabernet Sauvignon that blew me away. ¬†It was unusual as¬†both the nose and palate has hints of petroleum.

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Quaffable Grenache

I was also introduced to a friend of a friend who is the 3rd generation¬†of this estate. ¬†ūüėö ¬†Unfortunately, I¬†cannot appreciate the wines fully given the numbness from all the tastings¬†but I do like the labels designed by¬†an ex-Hermes designer – Pierrre Le Tan.

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20140528-190257-68577802.jpgDoes fast cars and wines mix?  Apparently not, but because the Chinese had over bought the Bordeaux 4 years back Рbidding up the prices in the process Рthey are currently  sitting on top of oversupply to the detriment of the Bordeaux producers.  So, what to do to?  Hence, the marketing gurus came up with the gimmick of beauties and fast cars to make Bordeaux sexy and desirable again!

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I missed out on the conferences, tastings, and master classes hosted by the industry experts, so next year, remind me to register early for the classes!!

My Pictorial Arvo @Art Basel Hong Kong 2014

Date of Visit:  May 14 2014

This is the 2nd Hong Kong edition of Art Basel, the world’s premier show of Modern¬†and Contemporary Art. ¬†I was lucky that I got a free ticket.

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Otherwise, I would¬†have¬†to fork out HK$300 for a day pass like what my friend did…

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Is this Art??  I can do this too!  In fact, there were several mono-coloured canvasses in the exhibition.  Perhaps done by big names.  And we all know, any doodles by big names conjures a hefty price tag (belt our your number Jessie J!)

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This is kooky! So cool and psychedelic!  Reminds me of Austin Powers! Yeah, Baby!

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The bizarre.  A life-sized mannequin of a hairy young girl cradling deformed baby??

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Totally outrageous!  A dog encased inside glass bubbles??  SPCA where art thou?!

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Waste not, want not... the next time you stop by for a Chinese, remember to bring home the scallop shells.

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The comical Рthe singing Banana Trio!  Inspiration from Casper The Friendly Ghost?

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A wake-up call, don’t eat too much

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But don’t starve yourself to the bones either!

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A bit of reality call Рthe post 80s generation?  Demonstrations!  Protests!

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A bit of logic!  My favourite 3 Ms: Chocolates, Junk and Post-It Notes!

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Recyclable art…

Buddha sitting on a pile of used clothing.

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Shredded papers as sculptural art?

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What about a mangled smashed-up car?

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Something contemporarily religious…

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Art Basel is basically an art expo with over 245 leading galleries from 39 countries.  Heck!  I even met a sister of a friend who runs a gallery in Kuala Lumpur!!

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I spent ¬†over 2 hours at the expo…and was dead tired…

Check out this man face-planted on the floor! Bet he WAS really tired! Zzzz…

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Any qualms?  Talk to me, better still, email me!

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Building a HK$100 Rump @ Tsui Wah, Hong Kong

Date of Visit:  Numerous

To build a butt like this, you need protein and LOTS of it.

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Lifted this kickass arse from the internet.

If you are sick of drinking protein powders and looking for some cheap protein cuts¬†to chew, ¬†I suggest Tsui Wah. ¬†The ones I frequent are in Central and Tsim Sha Tsui,¬†there¬†are¬†around 30¬†branches in Hong Kong-wide (and fast expanding into Macau and China too – it’s on the HK stock exchange). ¬†It gets pretty crowded during meal times, so you have to know how to time your visit!

My HK$1oo Sizzling Steak Set Meal was quick and simple Рarrived within 10 minutes!  It is also a proper 3-course meal Рsoup, main (sizzling steak) and coffee or tea!

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Chinese-styled Diner

My¬†bun… most delish and chewy…and a choice of sweet corn or vegetable soup. ¬†(I like¬†vegetable soup).

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Bun with butter and Vegetable Soup

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All’s calm before Steak before drizzled with Peppercorn Sauce

A little video clip… and I get SO excited with anything that sizzles on a hot plate!

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Bubbling steak

Sometimes, I choose to be naughty and go for a Hotdog!

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Hotdog

OR a Scrambled Egg Corn Beef Sub! (not as good as the Hotdog¬†ūüėě )

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Scrambled Egg Corn Beef Sub

Maybe a  Chinese Pork Burger?  (Gosh!  This is SO filling!)

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Chinese Pork Burger

The ABSOLUTE MUST is the Champagne Milk Tea

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Champagne Milk Tea

Hey Sista, Go Sista, Flow Sista… @ Wooloomooloo Prime, The One , TST, Hong Kong

OH MY, Oh my… goodness gracious me! ¬†How had my¬†blog stalled! ¬†Well, can’t blame me. ¬†I’ve got myself¬†a saucy¬†gal pal and we have been hitting the town. ¬†It never cease to amuse me how grotesquely retarded some guys are –¬†Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce sour?¬† Excuse me?? ¬†I don’t speak French, but I think I know what that means from ‘Lady Marmalade’!! ¬†F-Off Loser!

Some updates…

On my dating front, I’ve called it quits. ¬†Enough with phatic expressions and raking my brains with what to say. ¬†I don’t need more stress in my life! ¬†The last date – bless him,¬†he came all the way from Macau to meet me – was akin to meeting my¬†university professor, talking about archi-torture, deconstructivism and Zaha Hadid for 2 solid hours (?) – man, can you find a drier subject?? ¬†To my credit, I¬†¬†did try to read Umberto Eco’s works, hoping to make me more intellectual, I read, and I read, but I could not make any sense!¬†Daunting indeed…and unlike Zaha, I’m too feeble to stick to my guns to¬†pursue my dreams for over 20 years!

A promo clip of Zaha’s latest commission in Macau – City of Dreams Hotel Tower.

Deconstructivism, by the way, is ¬†‘anti postmodern’, basically a study of semiotics – signs, metaphor, symbolisms and a whole heck of goodness know what – I did attempt to understand it, but in the end, I figured, hey, why not¬†distort all the lines on my CAD drawings¬†– and voila! ¬†Deconstructivism! ¬†Elementary! ¬†But of course this is not what it is…

The past month I resumed¬†hiking, took up¬†belly dancing and been out on several wine masterclasses. ¬†I’m also making marked improvement in my physique, breaking my PRs and having lost 8 lbs of fat since January – and getting RESPECT in the gym. ¬†LOL

‘Nuff said, I met up with my uni mate on a wet melancholy day in Wooloomooloo Prime @¬†The One, one of my fav places in TST (previous¬†post here). ¬†We had the perfunctory 3-course set lunch menu…pics and¬†my 2-cents follows…

Date of Visit:  May 9 2014

Appetiser

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Smoked Duck Carpaccio, celeriac, Baby Spinach and Hazelnut Dressing

Tasteless duck carpaccio with a thick layer of solidified fat with neither a hint of smokiness about it.¬†¬†Hazelnut dressing was bland, I thought perhaps some anchovies might give some saltiness that the smoked duck lacked… ¬†The celeriac-slaw was alright – and the baby spinach too.

Main Course

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King Fish with Purple Coleslaw, Crispy Almonds and Yellow Capsicum Sauce (HK$218)

The King Fish was severely overdone and tasted like rubber. ¬†We asked to change which the waitress graciously allowed. We noticed later, that this is the most popular choice¬†in the resto, and perhaps due to our earlier complaints ¬†the cook took care to not leave the fish too long on the grill (as we noted none were returned to the kitchen). ¬†Kudos to us!¬†ūüėú

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Slow-cooked Cajun Spring Chicken with Creamy Lentils, Cabbage and Fresh Lime (HK$228)

The chicken fared better.  Juicy and succulent but unfortunately not properly cooked in the middle.  By then, I was too full to complain Рthe creamy lentils and the cabbages paired well.

Dessert

My friend ordered Tiramisu, while I had the cheese plate. ¬†I should¬†be¬†on carb-cycling diet at the moment – Day 1: ¬†High-carb Low-fat; Day 2: ¬†Moderate-carb Low-fat; ¬†Day 3: ¬†Low-carb Moderate-fat; Day 4: ¬†Zero-carb High-fat. ¬†It’s an easy plan to follow if you are a hermit in a cave, but because I like to go out, I tend to be on Day 3 most of the time… so far, I’m still making progress in the gym… but I really need to be more disciplined by NOT eating out if I want a more dramatic transformation!¬†ūüėĪ ūüėĪ¬†ūüėĪ

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Tiramisu with Amaretto, Lady Fingers and Chocolate Tuile

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Cheese Selection wit Dried Fruits, Nuts, Apples and Crackers

We took time to finish with our complimentary tea and coffee¬†– watching the¬†the rain drops beating on the windows and the grey skies clearing to reveal a very clear unpolluted skyline of Victoria Harbour, it was the best¬†3 hours spent in perfect girly¬†talk. ¬†Flow Sista! ¬†See you in June! ¬†ūüėė

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Raindrops falling on my window

Peruvian Immersion For A Day @ National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Date of Visit: March 29 2014

If your much anticipated hiking trip to Peru is cancelled what would¬†you do? ¬†Well, Bestie and I made¬†a road trip to Canberra to gawk at the¬†exotic Inca treasures¬†of the ancient Peruvian civilisation at the National Gallery of Art in Canberra – aptly called ‘Gold and The Incas: Lost World of Peru”¬†(here).

The exhibition¬†is a¬†key component of Canberra‚Äôs centenary celebrations in 2013 and also significant in that it marks the 50th anniversary of Australian-Peruvian diplomatic relations, and is organised in co-operation with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. ¬†As such, the works of art are lent by the Museo Nacional de Arqueolog√≠a, Antropolog√≠a e Historia del Per√ļ and its fraternal collections, the Fundacion Museo Amano, the Museo Larco and the Museo Oro del Per√ļ – museums that were on our trip’s agenda –¬† as well as the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.

Would it  surprise you that the Inca Empire lasted only 100 years?  This is a very short time for such a vast and famous enterprise!

In a nutshell:

“The Incas conquered all of Peru and much of Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador. ¬†The state governed from the capital¬†city of Cuzco by a system of duties, taxes and rewards. ¬†20,000km of roads enabled efficient and speedy communication.

The Emperor was The Son of The Sun God and the pinnacle of an extremely hierarchical society.  The Inca state region demanded scarifices, human and animal Рeven textiles were burnt as offerings to the Gods.  Architecture, e.g. the famous World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, was the glory of the Inca culture (and still is!).  Temples, palaces, terraces and fortifications of huge stone blocks were fitted together, mostly without masonry.

Sadly, our knowledge of Inca society is filtered through the world view of Spanish chroniclers. The Inca state of at least 12 million people fell very rapidly, due to superior European military technology, civil war and new diseases, especially smallpox.  Perhaps 90% of the native population, more than 10 million people, was killed or died of disease and famine after the conquest.

Almost every artefact that survives Рwhat we see at the exhibition today Рwas buried with their owners.  As the cult of the dead infers, both noble and common people were interred in different ways according to tiers of importance Рfrom ruling lords, priests, military leaders and retainers Рas exemplified by their respective accoutrements and placements in their graves.

A rather kooky rite is that adorned mummified Inca elites form¬†part of annual postmortem ceremonies where their corpses were paraded around the city of Cuzco.”

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Poster Child of the Exhibition: Gold Relic of the Sun God

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Children’s’ Discovery Area where photography is permitted

In summary, this is a well-curated exhibition with over 200 objects showcasing ¬†exemplary artefact from each period of the Peruvian civilisation¬†¬†from gold regalia, intricate jewellery and striking vessels to elaborate embroidered and woven cloths. ¬†So, don’t miss out!

*****

It is only appropriate to round up our excursion by having a Peruvian themed lunch at the Sculptural Garden Restaurant.

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‘Cones’ (Bert Flugelman, 1976/82) in polished stainless steel

Finding it needed a bit of detective work as it is located outside the gallery, tucked away to the side of the garden and in a tent by the Marsh Pond.

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Sculptural Garden Restaurant

In the¬†Marsh Pond (part of the sculpture garden) is a powerful work by Dadang Christanto, an Indonesian artist based in Darwin. ¬†The¬†pond is filled with bronze heads with extra eeriness supported by the mist-maker. ¬†His works speaks of¬†victims of oppression and social injustice. ¬†If I remember correctly, this piece, “Heads from the north’, ¬†is about the genocide in East Timor.

(PS: ¬†Would I want to hold¬†a reception in the¬†restaurant by a pond filled with¬†heads? ¬†Probably not!ūüėį)

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‘Heads from the north’, Dadang Christanto (Photo credit: http://www.pbase.com)

For this special occasion in conjunction with the exhibition, the interior of the restaurant is styled by designer Megan Morton to play up combinations of colour, good times and of course, corn Рto accentuate the joy of food and family that the Peruvian culture delights in!

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Interior of Restaurant

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Maize ‘Chandelier’

Only Set Lunch is served in the restaurant.

What we got for our 2-course Set Lunch at $35 per person…

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Wholewheat Damper

ENTREE

Presented on a wooden paddle pan as is very fashionable now,  we have Ceviche of Salmon with Lime, Jumbo White Corn and Coriander.

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Ceviche of Salmon with Lime, Jumbo White Corn and Coriander (GF)

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Jumbo White Corn

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Quinoa: Baked quinoa toped with avocado wasabi cream and a rocket leaf. This is bourgeois peasant food!

MAIN COURSE

Sometimes, it is best not to heed recommendation of a fellow diner who you don’t know…

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Twice-cooked Beef Short Rib with Chimichurri and Huancaina Potatoes.

This is a plate of disappointment of sorts: ¬†The beef was dry¬†– yet¬†full of¬†fat! ¬†The most obvious¬†explanation is that it is not a good cut of meat which has been pre-(over)cooked and reheated thus rendering it very beef-jerky-like in texture. ¬†The exotic sounding ‘huancaina’ is basically a spicy cream which is otherwise ‘meh’.

Check out my leftover plate of fat!

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FAT!! Fat-Die-Me! ūüėĪ ūüėĪ ūüėĪ

Not a very satisfying lunch,¬†so a Diet Coke at the Gallery Cafe is in order…

Hiking Dragon’s Back to Big Wave Bay with Lunch @ Happy Garden Thai, Shek O

Date: April 11 2014

My first hike in 2014 is none other than the notable¬†Dragon’s Back to Big Wave Bay. ¬†This¬†route¬†is¬†also named the ‚ÄėBest Urban Hiking Trail in Asia‚Äô by Time Asia, boosting¬†stunning views of Shek O, Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay), Stanley, Tai Tam, and the South China Sea. ¬†I had wanted to do this¬† trail¬†for the longest time, but never got around to doing it until today – it being short and sweet and very easy as I’m still recovering from a foot injury.

For newbies, hiking in Hong Kong is a breeze since nature and the city are simply¬†a stone‚Äôs throw away. ¬†Here, it’s simply a tap¬†of Octopus card and you are on your way!

Our meeting point is in Shau Kei Wan MTR Station Exit A3 where we caught Bus #9 to To Tei Wan village, heading for Shek O .

Knowing me and my mental capacity for remembering names,¬†¬†I had got Shau Kei WAN¬†Station mixed up with Shai WAN Ho Station. ¬†Luckily, I realised my mistake when I couldn’t locate Exit A3 and made a quick dash to Shau Kei Wan¬†which is only the next MTR stop away -where the rest of the 21-member crew are waiting – ¬†duh!

Amenities are provided along the trail, so people with weak bladders can hike in confidence knowing that there’s ¬†public toilets at the beginning and also in the middle of the trail before the descent into Big Wave Village. ¬†The trail is clearly marked¬†with sign-posts of a¬†cute¬†squiggly¬†dragon.

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Hike Statistics: 8.5km, 250m ascent, < 3 hours. (Don’t believe what the sign says: 1km 1 hour?)

We started our hike with 20 minutes or so of walking uphill.  No problem with that as I LOVE uphills.  It is downhill that I dislike.

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Gradual ascent on mostly concrete steps

The day was slightly overcast with a nice cool breeze Рperfect for hiking, but not so for viewing scenery.  Nevertheless, this is IT!  What do you think?

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Shek O Lookout from Dragon’s Back

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Shek O Village

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Shek O Golf Course

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More pano…

Over weekends, flying kites or paragliding are popular sports at the highest point of the ridge, known as Shek O Peak.

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Big Wave Bay from afar: A little peek of sand

One¬†do meet a mixed bag of¬†people walking the trail: ¬†Hikers, runners, people in casual gear and flip-flops‚Ķ and a toddler with his dad, however, I was bemused by a¬†bunch of hikers from Mainland all kitted out in professional hiking gears complete¬†with walkie-talkies as though they are on expedition. ūüėú

Dragon’s Back is basically an ‘easy-peasy¬†trail’, in that, I can assure¬†the older gent recovering from stroke whom I see everyday in my local park walking with his stick to try this trail.

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Well marked trail: Direction to the Village painted on the ground

Big Wave Bay is¬†purported to boast the largest waves in Hong Kong. ¬†Despite the name, I see only water lapping¬†on that day, no rips, but there’s still some surfers out to make the best they can – and families making the most out of their day. ¬†This beach is rather small, ¬†around the size of Tamarama in Sydney.¬† I was told that it gets very crowded in summer.

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Big Wave Beach

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Families enjoying their day on the beach

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A Local Surfer Boi

There is a bus terminus in Big Wave Village where one can easily get public transport back to town. However, we continued on our walk to Shek O for lunch, walking past Shek O Golf Club.

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A recommended Chinese resto by a fellow hiker

We ended our hike with a ¬†lunch at Happy Garden Thai. ¬†The food is alright, there’s a Set Lunch Menu which is very economical, so remember¬†to ask for it. ¬†I also made acquaintance¬†with an interesting South African lady who has been cycling around the world for 7 years over 58 continents! ¬†Hats off to¬†her¬†tenacity of ¬†travelling solo on her bike – I have never travelled solo before, and don’t think I ever will! ¬†Follow her adventure here.

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Happy Garden Thai

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A huge dish of Fried Chicken Kway Teow (part of Set Lunch valued at HK$37 which includes a bowl of soup, add H$5 for a soft drink)

My seemingly-healthy-but-not-so healthy lunch choice: Spicy Beef Salad‚Ķ.ūüėĎ ¬†(In hindsight, should have asked for NO dressing as all!)

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Spicy Beef Salad (HK$68)

 

 

QF127 From Sydney To Hong Kong

Date of Visit: April 5 2014

I am a regular at the Qantas Biz Lounge because¬†it code-shares with Cathay Pacific. Thus¬†far, I’ve yet to¬†take pictures of the lounge simply because it looked rather ordinary and overdue for¬†a freshening up.

For this trip to Hong Kong, I took Qantas because I wanted to use my¬†flight credits from my cancelled Peru trip – THE trip that I’ve been anticipating for over a year. ¬†Why am I not going? ¬†Because the travel agent made a mistake with my name thereby¬†‘lost’ my Inca hiking trail permit! ¬†Either that, or she left it to the very last minute (end of January) to book when in essence any hikers would¬†know that the permit is released in the beginning of the year! ¬†Needless to say, due to reasons unclear to me, and I’ll just leave it at that and happy to get a full refund!

Seeing Marc Newson design early in the morning – 6am – is entirely different under softly-litted illumination. ¬†I’d say the design looked good!

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Qantas Business Lounge designed by Marc Newson

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Bar Area

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Bar Area

I had my usual¬†fruit muesli and yoghurt for breakfast from the self-service buffet. ¬†As for reading materials, there’s nothing of interest for me. ¬†I managed to find 2 copies of¬†Australian Bazaar and Australian Vogue – both in Chinese language, mind you. ¬†Intriguing since this is my first time coming across Chinese-Australian fashion magazines. ¬†I guess the world is awash¬†with Renminbi¬†$$$ with the¬†Mainlanders as¬†consummate consumers.

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Muesli and Chinese editions of Australian Bazaar and Vogue

Once on board the QF127, I was offered beverages – juice, water or champers.

Food on-board is designed by Neil Perry of Rockpool fame… and the wine list comprised of Australian wine hall of fame, enticing enough for me to switch to Qantas from now on!

For my aperitif, I chose 2012 Philip Shaw The Architect Chardonnay from Orange, NSW. ¬†Apparently Philip Shaw is the architect of some of Australia’s greatest chardonnays. ¬†I find it tight but with a good acidity.

I also got a Kate Spade amenities bag!  I find it more useful (larger) than the Agnes B that Cathay Pacific disperses.

Lunch service started with a choice of sourdough or rye bread and green salad.

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Salad of Garden Leaves with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Sour Dough

I switched to Gewurtztraminer for lunch.  At the back of mind, I  remembered traminers as uncousously sweet wines, but surprisingly Cargo Road was rather dry with with a good line of acidity with notes of lychee permeating through both the nose and palate!

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Tasting notes for the Gerwurztraminer

SMALL PLATES

Mild, not sweet which I liked. Beef is a bit like beef jerky – well seasoned but not too dry. Bits of red chilli pepper flakes to lift the notes to the otherwise bland/ tasteless vermicelli . Some shredded carrots and cucumbers for crunch and juice -and of course herbs because it’s Vietnamese! ¬†I like! ūüĎć

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Vietnamese Style Salad of Beef Brisket, Fresh Herbs and Nuoc Cham Dressing

With Qantas, the wine pours are very generous with lots of wine top-ups, unlike some¬†Asians airlines‚Ķalso the wine glasses for lunch is larger than the aperitifs!¬†ūüėĄ

MAIN PLATES

I chose the Big Bowl of Soup because I like root vegetables. ¬†It’s a light but filling course with rich beefy (vegemitey?) savoury broth with sweet aniseedy/ herbaceous notes. ¬†Risoni, kale, chestnuts and parsnips went well with Getwurztraminer!

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Big Bowl of Braised Lamb, RoastChestnuts, Parsnips and Orzo Soup

DESSERT

To finish – Lemon Curd Tart or CheeseÔľüI chose the Cheese selection of goat’s cheese and cheddar, with accompaniments of candied pear and fig. ¬†I was also given a Varholna dark chocolate baton¬†to go with my Long Black.

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Selection of Cheese, Valrhona Chocolate Baton and Long Black

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Selection of Cheese, Dried Fruits and Crackers

After lunch service, we were offered T2 Apple Tea, but no thanks Рtoo full !

PRE-LANDING MEAL

I opted for the Shanghai noodles with¬†stir-fried mushrooms and snow peas with lots of puffed tofu. ¬†This¬†came in a Chinese take-away paper container. ¬†It was very salty‚ĶI finished since I’m not going to eat dinner when I get home tonight!ūüėú

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Shanghai Noodles Stir-fried Mushrooms and Snow Peas

So here I am, back in Hongkers!