Cheap Eats in Hong Kong

Hong Kong can be crazy expensive and drain a person's bank account pretty quickly if they aren't careful. That being said, in certain regards prices are still stuck in the past. Taxis around the city are suspiciously cheap, as is any labor, like going to a tailor or hiring a handyman.

When it comes to food, there's a simple rule for eating cheap: eat local. Don't let the Chinese menus written on the walls intimidate you; there is always someone around who speaks English to pipe in and assist, or you can just point at a photo on the wall or someone else's plate to show what you want. These types of meals can run you 30-50 HKD, as opposed to the 100-250 HKD minimum you'll drop at the trendy international restaurants of the city.

A row of local restaurants in Tai Koo all look like this
In local restaurants, ambience is totally irrelevant and the food speaks for itself. The more plastic stools and fluorescent lights, the better. You will probably be shoved into a ta…

Art District of Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a sprawling southern Chinese city of 12 million people. At first glance, it may seem like a grey expanse, but once you start exploring, you will find there is much more happening at street level. In fact, Shenzhen was named an official 'Creative City' by UNESCO, with good reason.

One needs only spend a day in the OCT Loft to understand how Shenzhen got the label of 'Creative City.' OCT Loft is an old industrial neighborhood turned art district, and it serves as Shenzhen's creative cultural center. Getting there is super easy: take the dark green subway line to Qiaocheng East, and go out Exit A. Walk straight out of the exit for a few minutes until you reach Enping Street, where you will turn right and walk another 5 minutes. You can't miss the place, as the whole district is oozing hipsters wearing baggy overalls and platform sneakers.

Near the entrance of the district
Cute little florist shop
One thing I noticed right away is that there is public art…

Weekend Getaways to China

Twice recently I've left Hong Kong for a weekend getaway to China. Americans automatically get a ten year visa now, and I am trying to make the most of mine while I am over here.

1. First up was Shanghai! Whooooaaaa what an amazing city. This trip was for work as I was chaperoning a group of students attending a Model United Nations conference, but the students and us supervisors had a lot of time for exploring during our long weekend there.

With my amazing students at the end of the conference
What a view of the Shanghai skyline from The Bund
2. More recently I went to Shenzhen to see my friends in The Red Stripes play a gig and made a weekend out of it. Shenzhen is across the border from Hong Kong, and you can take the subway to the border crossing, go through immigration on foot, and then hop back on the subway on the other side- super easy! I'll write more about the trip later; for now, here are some photos.
I went full baller for the weekend
No trip to China is complete with gr…

Hong Kong is Wonderful, But...

It's been almost four years since I first touched down in Hong Kong. It was my first time in Asia and I didn't know a single person in the whole city. My time here has been wonderful, but I will be moving on in June.

Hong Kong has been an almost perfect city to live in as an expat. It is safe, exciting, and beautiful. And everything works! Seriously, it's the most efficient and highly functional city I have ever visited. There is a healthy balance between city and nature. The food scene is like no other, and there are so many fun events and happenings to choose from any day of the week.

Four years ago- first time in my new classroom
All of this being said, there has been one thing that was a bit of a tension point for me these last few years. I have never been to a more materialistic place in all of my travels. Hong Kong has been eaten alive by consumerism. Whole neighborhoods are dedicated only to shopping. Malls take up city blocks and weekends are quickly eaten up by sho…

WTF Wednesday

I used to do WTF Wednesday posts regularly when I lived in Ecuador, but didn't always find the inspiration living in Hong Kong. However, I've recently come across some questionable scenes in my city that I wanted to point out.

Every piece of produce is individually wrappedin plastic in Hong Kong grocery stores
Historic building in my neighborhood taken over by a salon,immediately painted Pepto Bismol pink
Old ladies bundled up when it was 63 degrees out-I repeat: 63 degrees.
Old ladies who curse your 'villains' for a small fee
Old lady pushing her dog in a stroller
Apparently the majority of these 'wtf' moments involve old ladies. Is it because the old ladies in Hong Kong have so much time on their hands? They basically live forever, so maybe the age of retirement should be bumped up a bit? My old lady relatives in Florida just sit in their rocking chairs watching their 'programs', so I guess it's good at least that the old ladies of Hong Kong are gettin…

Day Trips in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is the perfect city for exploring on the weekends. Yes, sometimes I want to sink into my couch to mentally recover from a hectic work week, but most of the time, I want to get out and poke around a new area. Hong Kong has it all for the intrepid urbanite: dizzying heights, remote islands, run down warehouses, and lush green trails.

Easy and scenic walk from Ocean Park to Stanley
Recently, I've gone on two fun day trips that I wish I would have done sooner. First up was a leisurely stroll with friends from the Hong Kong Country Club down to Stanley, passing through both Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay. It starts off on the Mills & Chung Path, which is a lovely waterfront promenade, and ends with a trail through the woods that drops you in Stanley for some afternoon drinks and snacks.

On the stretch from Ocean Park to Deep Water Bay
The view from the path
We stopped a couple times along the way on this trip and really took our time, but it could be done in about an hour an…

Chinese New Year

Lunar New Year is always a fun holiday in Hong Kong. Last year I went away to the Philippines for the break, but this year I decided to stay and take advantage of the festivities happening on my doorstep. The Year of the Rooster is in full swing here in Hong Kong, and they certainly rang in the new year with quite a party.

People decorate the doors to their flats for the occasion
The temple near my house is packed during CNY holiday
A group of my students also asked me to lunch over the Chinese New Year holiday, which I thought was super sweet. They took me a Chinese yum cha place, and one of them was genuinely surprised that I knew how to use chopsticks. Ha!

With my students during CNY
Living in a city I don't feel the need to escape from is such a big change from Quito. It was a rare long weekend when I chose to stay in Quito- most of the time I hopped on a bus to the cloud forest or Andes instead. But I love Hong Kong so much, and we have such a variety of options for exploring wi…