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!

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Satur-trail and Dragon Boats

I am definitely not an athlete, nor a trail runner, but I do prefer to spend my weekends with some activities rather than lying half dead in a dark room, cursing the world and trying to remember what happened the previous night. Having the chance to take a nice hike and then trying out dragon boat racing, of course I said yes. Well, I have to admit that half way through the 10km hike, and halfway up the over 1000 stair, I definitely questioned myself.

Up and down these mountains, no biggie
Up and down these mountains, no biggie

Our trail started from Wan Chai gap, sweet and easy 1km uphill, followed by a nice 4km run to the end of the first leg. That’s when the fun part started – first  up was the Violet Hill mountain, followed by the “Twins”, pictured. The mountain part of the hike included some stunning views of Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay (with some clear blue water), but I was mostly concentrating on putting my feet in front of another and not to trip.

Hong Kong nature, Wong Nai Chung reservoir
Hong Kong nature, Wong Nai Chung reservoir

It made a big difference to be on the trail with a couple of hard core athletes, one of which just did a sweet 86km run in mt. Fuji last week. By myself, I would have had much harder time to keep on going and not stop in the steps – although when you start going, there is no escape.

 

Warm up before the Dragon Boat
Dragon Boaters warming up

After the trail, we made it to Stanley just in time for some coconut water and Dragon Boat training! Some balance for the leg workout, this 2 hr session was great exercise for the arms and upper body (though the legs weren’t lazy, either). The boats fit 20 paddlers (our team had only 10; more work for each person!), plus one person who is steering, and another that pounds a drum to give tact. Key words in this sport are “rotate”, meaning you have to twist your upper body when thrusting the paddle to the water, and “reach”, meaning that you mush reach the paddle far in front of you. I bet I’ll be hearing the coach screaming these two words when I go to sleep.

Ready to roll
Ready to roll

 

On June 12th there is a big Dragon Boat race, where different companies, societies etc. that have formed teams race against each other and have a huge party afterwards. Too bad I’m not going to be able to attend, although maybe this kind of adventuring on a weekly basis would be a bit too much for me. I really liked being in the water, I can’t remember when is the last time I’ve had salt water on my lips and skin! Unfortunately there was no sun anywhere to be seen the whole day (except in the far distance in the mountain), but somehow I still managed to burn my cheeks.

Happy and not knowing what lies ahead
Happy and not knowing what lies ahead

 

These little Saturday morning and afternoon activities made me appreciate the trail/ultra runners even more; the more athletes I meet, the better I understand them and their motives. However, I still prefer intervals to 50km, and pilates to running. To balance out the “hard work” of the day, I rewarded myself with yoga and sauna.

If you are interested in hiking/trekking in Hong Kong, hkwalkers.net is the go-to source. It still amazes me, how much nature and outdoor sports possibilities this place has to offer!

Weekly activities

I definitely prefer action-filled weeks to those when I have nothing to do but to look at the falling rain (after a month, the rain gets rather boring) – and if it isn’t raining, I definitely want to be on the go. Luckily, last week was full of reasons for me to defy the weather and leave my bed (and by bed I mean my room, which is pretty much the same thing).

MONDAY
Indian “private restaurant” dinner – or how would you call a windowless room where you are the only people dining? Followed by pudding dessert (like being a kid again with the chocolate pudding!) close-by.

Spot the restaurant. Hint: it's not the one with the "cafe"
Spot the restaurant. Hint: it’s not the allay cafe

 

TUESDAY
Vintage furniture store opening, and organic cocktails (4 different kinds, tried them all and then some) and “fancy” canapés in Pure Bar&Restaurant.

Mojito, strawberry orange vodka, cucumber martini, grapefruit gin - mojito and martini were the stars
Mojito, strawberry orange vodka, cucumber martini, grapefruit gin – mojito and martini were the stars

 

WEDNESDAY
Zumba and yoga in my safe haven in Causeway Bay, mYoga.

 

THURSDAY
Karen Millen cocktail event in Central with a “healthy” theme (funny that they hire male candy to serve stuff which they have no clue -nor intrest on- what it is)

Cleanse shots - served as "spinach" or "celery" or "cinnamon". Yum!
Cleanse shots – served as “spinach” or “celery” or “cinnamon”. Yum!

 

FRIDAY
French Look My Baboush shoe launch in Common Ground, followed by dessert in Tin Hau (had 3 different kinds, I’m eating my way through China!)

Kinda like Tom's but "completely different!"
Kinda like Tom’s but “completely different!”
Shoe customization by le French "la mangue"
Shoe customization by le French “la mangue”

 

SATURDAY
Met my lovely friend Nick, who came to visit from Tokyo. We had a fantastic day in Lamma island, and it was raining only for about 15 minutes!

Without the junk boats Nick would'v gone skinny dipping
Without the junk boats Nick would’v gone skinny dipping

 

SUNDAY
Quick visit to the Hong Kong Cheese Festival (small, smelly and, well, cheesy – all in all a bit of a disappointment), followed by East Island Market and a stroll trough different neighborhoods with Nick.

First bite of street food (better response than with durian ice cream)!
First bite of street food (better response than with durian ice cream)!

Nick went back to Japan, and I started to prepare myself for yet another week of rain…maybe the junk boat summer sunny season will start soon and hopefully the rest of my weeks here would be at least almost as active as this one”

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

Visa Run

In order to get a much needed stamp to my passport, our FSF Hong Kong team went for a lovely day trip to Macau. I did not quite know what to expect from the biggest casino destination of the world (33 casinos, more revenues than in Las Vegas, and 50% of the economy comes from gambling!).

Welcome to China!
Welcome to China!

We were supposed to go to Macau already a week ago but because it was Easter, we had to postpone. In the morning in HK it was darker than at 7 pm, and when we were leaving it started to pour once again, like almost every day for the past few weeks now. In Macau, the weather was 24C with 96% humidity. Phew. In the casinos, the climate was more pleasant, though unpleasantly smokey. Each casino had their unique scent, mixed with the gamers’ cigarrettes.

Filming for trainee video
Filming for trainee video

The highlight of our voyage was the Macau tower lunch buffet, which had been the daydream since day 1. I was actually considering doing the world’s highest bungee jump from Macau tower, but after that lunch I could barely walk, let alone look down the elevator from the 230m high restaurant. It was pretty cool setting, though I missed most of the scenery since I was concentrating on the food.

Where the money's at
Where the money’s at

After the gluttony we went to have dessert to The Venetian, which is the 6th largest building in the world, and besides the casino and a hotel it also has for example a shopping center and a canal inside it. It was my first time to be in a casino (and I went to at least 5 different ones!), and it was not quite like I’ve seen in dozens of Hollywood films and tv shows. No cocktails, no lucky dice blowing or cheering – just a bunch of Chinese people, most of them smoking. The lights, the sounds, the amount of money – I can’t even imagine it all.

The Venetian
The Venetian

Macau seemed to be a playground for the filthy rich. Everything was shiny and clean, loads of ATM’s everywhere, always signs for the next hotel and casino. Free shuttle buses from casino to another. Free water bottles (yay!) It was definitely worth a visit, and what a visit it was – when the boys left back to Hong Kong, we stayed and wondered around, until we found a very decent wine tasting in Four Seasons hotel. On the ferry back home we got to a big thunderstorm, and it was raining like hell in Hong Kong.

Eat, play and sleep - no need to leave the hotel
Eat, play and sleep – no need to leave the hotel

Oh, I would have tried some game in the casino, but they didn’t accept coins!