Day Off

What does one do when they get a day (or two) off in the middle of the week when everyone else is working (thanks, hospitality job). In melbourne there is always something going on: a proof of this is that I stumbled onto a free lunch time meditation in Fed Square on my walk.

Day off, sleep-in. To me this means waking up at 9 the latest. Since I had the time and the weather was gorgeous +26 degrees (hello, Autumn!) yesterday, I decided to walk to the city along Yarra River. I was listening to an audio book for the first time in a while, which was relaxing.

Leaves getting brown before falling off.
Leaves getting brown before falling off.

Sidenote: Even though Australia is considered as somewhat efficient country, their services such as teleoperators and bank services have not been that great in my experience. I could easily add to this list ticket services, because of a hassle I went through to get certain tickets refunded. Note to customer services in no matter what field: if you refund a customer, please let them know so they won’t have the hassle of going to your office to make sure you have done your job. Cheers.

I had read earlier about an exhibition by CJ Hendry presented by The Cool Hunter. Luckily enough, as I was walking around in Fitzroy I randomly found the exhibition. CJ Hendry’s 50 Foods in 50 Days consists of, yeah you guessed it, 50 dishes, meticulously hand-drawn on French designer plates in 50 days. The dream meals of death-row inmates include whole squid, fries, m&m’s and cocaine. All of the ‘photo realism’ pieces were sold even before opening the exhibition, which is easy to believe having seen them live. If it were for me, I’d probably take the one with macarones on it, or the giant snow crab.

Last temptation: a lollypop.
Last temptation: a lollypop.
mmmmmmmm.
mmmmmmmm beans.

It’s been a (way long) while since I’ve been to any gallery or exhibition, and I definitely should go more. This particular one was interesting not only because of the art pieces, but the pieces of great product design that were sold in the venue. From luxury single origin chocolate (hello, mast Brothers) to caramel butter popcorn to art books and Greek honey, all the products screamed premium branding.

Yes this is coffee.
Yes this is coffee.

From Fitzroy I ventured to Abbotsford Convent, popular especially amongst poor travelers and hippies because of their nice grass lawn and pay what you want vegetarian restaurant Lentils As Anything. I’ve been to lentils once before, but that time it was a la carte instead of their normal buffet-style dining. I highly appreciate the idea of paying what you can for your meal, and having the place run by volunteers, but unfortunately some people take advantage of the freedom of not paying for their food. The meal was actually a bit disappointing, to be honest, since two of the dishes were mainly potatoes. In addition there was rice, tossed salad with dressing, and some soupy thing with a few beans and oil. Suggested donation for food: 12 dollars. We didn’t get to dessert because we didn’t realize to get that on the first round, and the queue to the restaurant was probably at least few hundred meters. Popular as anything! Good thing about exploring with time is you never know what you might find; a cute coffee shop, 2 dollar sushi rolls, an interesting exhibition or just cool looking random buildings.

This is a bottle shop (and who knows what else). And there's a skeleton climbing in or out of the window.
This is a bottle shop (and who knows what else). And there’s a skeleton climbing in or out of the window.
Advertisements

Week END?

Constantly building something, view of Admiralty
Constantly building something, view of Admiralty

My last weekend in Hong Kong couldn’t have been better, even if it had been sunny instead of raining! On Friday we had a delicious, (almost vegan) dinner in one of the best Thai restaurants in Hong Kong (Cafe Siam).
The following day, I ventured to more art and explored an area I hadn’t been before; the industrial, artsy Chai Wan hosted Chai Wan Mei, a satellite event to the megalomane Art Basel.

Master chef at home
Master chef at home

Part of Chai Wan Mei included Bread Elements, a new – you guessed it – bakery. This company’s bread is not the pillows and other “breads” you find in the supermarkets; it is real, rustic artisan bread, hand-made from premium ingredients. I was lucky to visit the open days of the old factory premises, and talk to the master chef and cookbook authorGregoire Michaud, who previously worked for for example The Four Seasons hotel for several years!

Gluten-free raisin loaf, made with rice -, and tapioca flour
Gluten-free raisin loaf, made with rice -, and tapioca flour

It was truly inspiring to exchange ideas and opinions about the essence and quality, or the lack of quality bread, and the methods of making bread. We discussed the current gluten free trend and the reasons for the increase of gluten sensitivities (low quality, processed wheat was the chef’s suggestion). What comes to bread – it’s my Achilles heel. I think that bread should always be highest-possible quality, made without any additives or enhancers. At Bread Elements, I got to see the Mother of the breads, the sourdough starter, which makes yeast unnecessary. And I got to say, that oh man these French know how to bake a baguette!

Now Bread Elements only supplies to high end hotel chains and restaurants, but maybe soon Hong Kongers get to enjoy real bread from normal stores, too! Oh, yeah, there was other stuff than food in Chai Wan, too. Like 3,000 red-covered diaries from the Revolution era.

The Governor?
The Almighty Governor?

Saturday was topped off with some more art, wine, tapas, cocktails and dancing the night away in some of the fanciest clubs in the city with some rather interesting new friends.

Chilling at the gym
Chilling at the gym. Notice the mosquito-eaten legs!

Sunday dawned too cloudy to go to a beach, so I opted for a gym and rooftop pool instead. The sun even peaked out to say hello!

I could do this more than once!
I could do this more than once!

Summa summarum: the weekend definitely left a positive feeling and good memories about Hong Kong. Who knows, maybe this won’t be the end for me.

All About Art

Contemporary art at its' best
Contemporary art at its’ best

It seems like art events, such as gallery openings, exhibitions etc. come in groups of several concurrent happenings, at least here in Hong Kong. This week there is for example the first-ever Art Basel, among other bigger events. On Thursday I visited the luxurious J.W Marriott, which is hosting the Asia Contemporary Art Show. It was quite interesting to wander around 4 floors of a top class hotel, go to all the different rooms and see paintings in the toilets.

Creativity in the bathroom
Creativity in the bathroom

I may not be an expert, but to me this contemporary art exhibition was innovative and filled with inspiring pieces of art. The exhibition consists of over 2000 artworks from 300 artists around the world. It was great to be able to speak to a few of them! The exhibition runs for 4 days, and with my ticket I can still go back to wander – or just go sit in the lounge of the 30th floor and watch outside to the bustling city.

Art with a view
Art with a view

Like I mentioned, there’s always more than one thing happening. Besides the Contemporary Art, this Tuesday I ventured 3 different gallery openings, one of which was completely by an accident. Quite many people seem to enjoy watching paintings and sculptures while sipping on free wine; wonder why…

Taking pictures of artsy Ronald McDonald
Taking pictures of Ronald McDonalds

Since we are in Asia, everyone is usually snapping photos like it’s the end of the world. What comes to the wine, I am not sure if that’s the main attraction for the expats to show up. Besides the actual art, I always enjoy watching what kind of crowd the different openings attract.

Potraits of Chinese children in different colors
Potraits of Chinese children in different colors

IMG_8434

This will not be all of the art for me this week; on Saturday there is Chai Wan Mei, art and design open studios in Chai Wan area. Culture-overdose in sight!

What the duck?

I am not sure how big news this is abroad, but here it has been all over the (few) magazines and newspapers (I read).

Apparently God lost his bath toy, and it floated all the way to Hong Kong.

Just chillin' like it's no one's business
Just chillin’ like it’s no one’s business

The duck has been ashore in Victoria Harbor in TST for a while now, but until today I have only seen the tip of it’s bald head from my yoga studio in Causeway Bay. That tells something about the awesome views I have in the studio – no wonder the balance postures can sometimes be a bit shaky!

Where there's one...there's more
Where there’s one…there’s more

I was not the only one to see the duck (and I most definitely did not go to the other side just for this), which is somewhat a celebrity and an icon now. Someone’s making money!

Sometimes the duck in the tub just isn't enough - specially when most of the Hong Kong houses don't even have bathtubs
Sometimes the duck in the tub just isn’t enough – specially when most of the Hong Kong houses don’t even have bathtubs

Oh someone else has noticed it, too! Here’s what CNN has to say about it. Lucky me, it’ll be here as long as I will!

Hipsterin’

In a strange culture, sometimes you just want to escape all the exotic, weird stuff and need the comfort of familiarity. And when rye bread is not an option and Ikea isn’t enough to satisfy the cravings for something other than China life, what to do? In Hong Kong, there’s Sheung Wan (and some random streets in different neighborhoods) to the rescue.

Kapok in Sun Street
Kapok in Sun Street

Luckily there are few nifty places to go in Wan Chai (mainly the small strip of Sun Street and the surroundings), but most of the cool stuff I have found is elsewhere.
 

Creative street art/promotion for Secret Ingredient
Creative street art/promotion for SecretIngredient.com

 

Sheung Wan, west from Central, is a neighborhood filled with art galleries, pop-up stores and cool cafes, where hipsters flock for brunch on the weekends. Ice drip coffee is not unheard of, and most of the coffee places also sell some small designer stuff. All the international restaurants are nearby in Soho, Sheung Wan is more concentrated on some quality cafes/restaurants with quirky interior and fancy menus.

Common Ground, the place to be
Common Ground is the place to be, even for hipster babies

 

What I like about Sheung Wan the most is the cool decors, overall vibe and appreciation for uniqueness. And apparently there’s some kind of launch party/gallery opening/random happening every week – you just have to know where to go when!

Inviting entrance
Inviting entrance

 

The areas near Sheung Wan MTR (subway) station are dedicated to dried seafood, bird’s nests, and other Traditional Chinese medicine shops: my rough and random estimation is, that there’s easily over 100 different shops selling smelly, odd stuff.

This is just a few blocks from the hipster-haven of Hong Kong
This is just a few blocks from the hipster-haven of Hong Kong

 
So, when one wishes to explore the area where one can order made-to order aeropress coffee rather than shark’s fin soup, there are some steps to be climbed. Perhaps the altitude change and stairs are the reason why upper part of Sheung Wan is occupied by young people!

Sweet wheels
Sweet wheels