Eating, shopping, and walking around Hong Kong

I always enjoy shopping in Hong Kong. Somehow, I always end up in Mong Kok. Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok is blocked off during shopping hours (after 4 PM on weekdays and the entire day on weekends), and the street was full of shoppers.

I have been going to Hong Kong pretty regularly since I started working, and I have noticed a steady increase in Mainland tourists. There is more Mandarin Chinese (the standard language of the Mainland) than Cantonese (the standard language of Hong Kong) spoken, and now most of the sales people will speak Mandarin first.

One of my favorite things to do is to eat street food from one of the many street food vendors in Mong Kok. Find one that is busy, and they are all pretty yummy.

Shao Mai, one of the most common street foods available.

I also went to the Mid Levels Escalator for the first time. This is a group of escalators that connect Central (a shopping/business area, and also connection to the MTR) and the Mid Levels (a residential area, especially for expats). It was quite interesting to see the different restaurants and apartments as the escalator went up to the Mid Levels.

Hope you enjoyed my trip to Hong Kong!

xoxo, K

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Welcome to Hong Kong – during the Christmas season

On a recent business trip, I spent a few days in Hong Kong. I’ve been in Hong Kong several times before, but this was my first time being there during the Christmas season. The decorations were quite beautiful!

The scenery was beautiful, but there were A TON of tourists from Mainland China. Many people are into DSLRs on the mainland, so it was REALLY REALLY difficult to find a spot to take pictures.

The night view of Hong Kong island, from Kowloon
Hong Kong airport was also decorated for the holidays. I thought they were quite tasteful, with a simple color scheme.
1881 Heritage (the Former Marine Police Headquarters) had this HUGE teddy bear.
1881 Heritage
in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
 
There was also this beautiful Christmas tree.
Times Square had a ton of Lego decorations
They were INCREDIBLY popular, and the store was packed with people taking pictures with the displays.
 
Times Square
in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island
Personally, I thought this decoration, hung from the ceiling, was the cutest

The decorations were quite beautiful! It’s always interesting to be in a warm place during the holiday season – there are lots of people who have never seen snow before!

xoxo, K

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Eating in Hakata, Fukuoka

Along with the shrines and temples, Hakata is also famous for its food stalls. These outside restaurants have become pretty rare in other parts of Japan, but thanks to strict food safety laws, they are still thriving in Hakata.

There are 3 major zones of food stalls in Hakata – near Nakasu (the red light district of Hakata), near Tenjin, and near Nagahama. I went to the ones near Tenjin.

If you do decide to go to the food stalls, find one that’s fairly busy. Find one that is clearly following the laws: (1) the menu should be clearly visible, and (2) no raw food is allowed to be served as a main dish (so no salads, sashimi, etc).  Even if the menu is in Japanese, as long as you find a good stall you should be OK – the locals will be more than happy to help you chose what looks good.

These food stalls in Tenjin are very easy to find, since they are in front of major department stores.  I ended up going to the same stall for two straight nights since the regulars were really kind and the food was fantastic.

Naka-chan, in front of Hakata Takashimaya
The stall is surrounded on three sides with benches, so while making room for other customers, I ended up being surrounded by the locals.  They gave me a lot of advice, such as that Naka-chan has large portions (so always ask for a half serving) and which dishes are yummy.  And yes, I had my fill of shochu!
Mentaiko and egg
Oden
Fishballs and other surimi products are originally from Kyushu.  The locals especially urged me to try “Gyoza-maki” (yep, a gyoza wrapped in surimi)
Being seated near locals meant that they shared their dishes with me.  Yum yum!
 Horumon Yaki (stir fried pork intestines)
Yamaimo Teppan yaki
Ground Yamaimo grilled like a pancake, similar but fluffier than an okonomiyaki
A view inside Naka-chan’s counter
I thought it hilarious to see a huge neon sign for “Ukon no Chikara” (“the power of cumin”). This drink is said to relieve hangovers – how fitting to put a neon sign right near the bars!
All of the major areas of Hakata are quite close to each other – I could walk from my hotel to Tenjin, passing through Nakasu. Here is a view of the Nakasu food stalls.

Hakata is also famous for pork bone soup ramen. It surprises me that most Westerners now consider pork bone soup to be the only soup for ramen – it was not that popular in Japan until a few years ago. Ippudo, which also has stores in the US, started in Hakata.

And yes, I went to Ramen Stadium in Canal City (a shopping center) to eat my ramen.

The ramen was yummy, but honestly, I can get good pork bone soup ramen in Kobe now. On the other hand, I had a blast at the food stalls!!
I’m finally done with my trip to Hakata. Hope you enjoyed my trip as much as I did!
xoxo, K
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Welcome to Dazaifu Tenmangu, where students go to pray

On my way back from Nagasaki, I went to Dazaifu.

One of the major attractions of Dazaifu is Dazaifu Tenmangu, a shrine built over the grave of Sugawara no Michizane.  It is considered the most major shrine in Japan dedicated to schoolwork and better grades.

January, February and March are the major seasons for entrance exams in Japan, so there were a lot of students coming to pray.

There was a HUGE space to buy lucky charms – a sign that this place becomes PACKED.
I was in city during the annual Sumo games in Fukuoka. The Fukuoka games are known for being very supportive of locally born professional sumo wrestlers. These flags with local sumo wrestler’s names on them were prominently displayed in Dazaifu.

My last post about my trip to Kyushu is coming up – the food post!

xoxo, K

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Welcome to Hakata, Fukuoka – Sumiyoshi Shrine and Ohori Park

Continuing my trip in Hakata, I next went to Sumiyoshi Shrine. Along with Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka and Sumiyoshi Shrine in Shimonoseki city, this shrine is considered one of the 3 major Sumiyoshi shrines in Japan.

Because I went during Shichi-Go-San, there were lots of families having their children blessed. Shichi-Go-San is a festival for children to celebrate their growth.

I next went to Ohori Park. This park was once the outer moat for Fukuoka Castle (which no longer exists), and is basically a huge lake with some small islands in the middle.

It was just amazing to see this huge body of water in the middle of a major city!

This bridge takes you to 2 small islands in the middle of the lake.

There were many people running along the outer edge of the lake, including students in sports teams. The track was probably around 3 km.  I would run every day along that track if I could!

Next up – my trip to Nagasaki!

xoxo, K

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