Monthiversary

It’s been a month and a day since I came to Hong Kong. Time flies, though on one hand it seems like much more than just a month that I’ve been here. Besides work, lately my life has been filled with the following.

Nice views from the tram
Nice views from the tram

I took my first tram ride as well as the ferry to Kowloon last week!

Notorious sushi buffet (yes that is ice cream, one third of our order) after paying the rent
Notorious sushi buffet (yes that is ice cream, one third of our order)

Gluttony in sushi buffet after paying the rent. You never know if you’ll order will come or not – they might bring 6 oysters even if you didn’t order anything after the 12 ice creams they brought…

Red wine chocolate macaroons and wine in East Island Markets
Divine red wine chocolate macaroons and wine in East Island Markets

I can never get enough of the New York vibe in East Island Markets and it’s small, often local producers.

Michelin-worthy dining
Michelin-worthy dining

Hanging out with friends; we went to a Michelin renowned dumpling place, where we got to sit in the back room next to bags of who-knows-what. Not bad for 2€ meal, but definitely not worth the Michelin.

Canapés at Libertine
Canapés at Libertine

Foodie club’s event as well as a gallery opening for Adidas – more of that lovely New York atmosphere for me!

People who have eaten or have diarrhea should not go swimming
People who have eaten or have diarrhoea should not go swimming

Yeah, I have done other things than just eat! I went to test the swimming hall, and it surely was an experience! if Chinese people are on your way when walking, they tend to have the same chaos in the water, too. And even at 8 am, the pool has more people than a Finnish pool has in a whole day!

And the happiness continues tomorrow, when I get to see my mom for the first time in over half a year! And I get to spend over a week on the other side in Kowloon, in a hotel! And I don’t have to cook! And I get to go to the gym! And I can finally do all the tourist stuff there is! So much exclamation points that I’ll start getting embarrassed!

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Good Life

Once again, long(ish) time, no post – sorry about that. After the Chinese New Year (which kept the banks and such closed up until Valentine’s Day!) I have been as busy as always with work and wandering around. This week I had divine home-made raw chocolate at the office, strong happy hour margaritas in our neighborhood, and Chinese style “laskiaispulla” (shrove bun).

Another day at the office
Valentine’s day (and chocolate week) at the office

I visited Andy Warhol exhibition in the Museum of Art. Ridiculously cheap (less than 2€!), and 2 hour tour. What I learned: Warhol had 25 cats, all of them named Sam. Talk about equality!

When taken out of it's context, anything can be art
When taken out of it’s context, anything can be art

Today I got a flashback of the New York atmosphere I have been missing: East Island Market.

(Pretty much) everything hand-made, organic and more or less fresh!
(Pretty much) everything hand-made, organic and more or less fresh!

Nice, quiet area with live music, young entrepreneurs and happy people, what a better way to spend a Sunday morning.

Something natural in the concrete jungle
Something natural in the concrete jungle

I know what I will do on lazy Sundays after this. The good thing is, that I can walk home via a mountain road. A bit of exercise to balance out the treats!

Made to order, fresh and familiar. No chopsticks needed!
Made to order, fresh and familiar. No chopsticks needed!

I Scream for Ice Cream (and other cold stuff)

Despite the mostly rather chilly or even freezing temperatures in Finland, Finnish people eat 13,7 liters of ice cream a year. In New York, with temperatures rising to 30’s Celcius (100 F), it is not hard to believe that ice cream (and shaved ice, italian ice, gelato and frozen yogurt) is everywhere to be found.

I have not tried all of the following, since I seem to be most fond of the most dangerous places for a person with bottomless cravings and a limited budget: self serve frozen yogurt stores. My favorite place to get my fix in New York was 16 Handles. Perfection depends on the daily flavors and the combination you create with the toppings, though, but the possibilities of combination are endless!

In Merrick I heard a lot of different ice cream truck tunes, so I wanted to see how many different trucks there are. In Finland, we just have one blue truck that plays the same jingle everywhere.

Mr. Softee is probably the biggest ice cream truck chain. Selection includes ices, cones and soft serve ice cream
YoGo is also popular, serving frozen plain or vanilla yogurt with optional toppings
This truck I have only seen once. The price is over half less than in some other places – wonder why?

Some interesting non-trucks:

Old fashioned ice creams and popsicles for refreshment in Central Park
Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches are upper scale offspring of two traditional treat combinations
People’s pop’s shaved ice with syrup
Big Gay Ice Cream shop had a line of few dozen people, when I visited

In Finland the ice cream market is dominated by two big companies, Valio and Arla Ingman, both offering mainly the basic cream based ice cream in ridiculously high prices. There are some smaller companies, like the ice cream factories of Tampere and Helsinki, but the prices are even higher. If you can buy 4 liters of ice cream from the shop for the price of one scoop, what’s the point? Helsinki is lucky to have I guess 2 frozen yogurt places, but they are the only places in this country, and I haven’t visited either of them. Soft serve ice cream, with three optional flavors (vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, who would have guessed), is available all over.

Couldn’t be happier, even though the homeless guy next to us claimed that we were on his turf

Wonder what kind of delicacies Japan will offer – in New York, Japadog offered ice cream inside hot dog buns and called that Japanese. I know there is green tea ice cream, and I hope froyo is also available!

New York, New York

I am home, again. By home, I mean Finland. It feels weird, and I think my dog has either forgotten me or then she’s hurt that I left her for so long.

New York will be hard to forget. And by forget, I mean get used to the fact that you have to come up with activities all by yourself, since there is not much to choose from. And now I will have to make my own food – I haven’t even touched a pan in 2 months. Soon it will be sushi time, but before that there are still many New York stories I haven’t told, and roughly about 957 pictures that I could show.

THE GREATNESS OF THE BIG APPLE.

The love for New York can be expressed in many ways

Possibilities to do whatever you want, at any time.

Eating pancakes at 12 am, no big deal. And you can order another side of butter, even though there is butter in the table already

You never know what’s around the corner.

Art takes new forms

Multiculturalism.

When in Rome…blend cultures!

Shopping.

Something for every style

Rooftops.

If there’s a garden, even better. Or a club.

Landscapes.

It is not hard to find beautiful buildings or other sights for the sore eye

Museums.

Graphic design museum in Governor’s Island, 5 min. ferry ride away from the city. Highly recommended!

Food.

Crispy rice roll at Momoya Sushi. Yum.

Open mind.

So gay so what?

All of the above and above all, I will miss the people I met in the Big Apple.

Totoronto

Since I had a week without work before going back to Finland, I decided to leave the Webster and Manhattan, and go explore some new places. I have never been to Canada, so I figured Tronto would be a good destination. So, here I am hanging out in my friend’s pool, 20 mins. train ride away from downtown Toronto. This is definitely the best opportunity for me to relax and wind down from all the hassle and stressed atmosphere that devours you in Manhattan.

For several reasons, I decided to come to Canada by bus. First of all, it was 200$ cheaper than flying. The Megabus stop was 2 blocks from where I lived, and the bus on Sunday will take me back to 7th and 28th, which will be 2 blocks from the bus to the airport – yes, I will first sit 11 hours in a bus to New York, then 2 hours in a bus to the airport, followed with God knows how many hours in two planes and another bus to Tampere from Helsinki. So, even though this bus ride is approximately 11 hrs, the convenience of the locations was important.

I wonder how many Megabus trips are actually 1$, mine was 59$ each way

The bus ride here was not as painful as one would expect. I had printed out sudokus and ripped crosswords from AM and Metro newspapers, I stole a ziplock bag of cereal from the Webster, had more than enough other snacks to keep my cravings satisfied, and even though the promised wifi did not work, I occupied myself by watching How I Met Your Mother on my laptop. The bus left at noon (15min late, though), and was upposed to arrive in Toronto at 10 pm. Too bad my friend had to wait for an hour, since the bus was late (as it apparently always is). At the border we had to empty the bus, go trough customs inspections and load everything back in. I wonder how long that will take on the way back to the land of the suspicious…

Canada, thank you for giving me the first stamp on my new passport!

I came to Canada with no local money, and no telephone. Or, technically, I have a telephone, it just does not work. So I’d better not get lost or make vague plans. Needless to say, Google maps doesn’t work, either.

Yesterday I went to wander around downtown Toronto, which seemed rather small after Manhattan (not in a bad way, though). In the evening I got to experience a Canadian pub (tv screens showed ice hockey). Here they put vinegar in french fries! I was surprised, since I had no idea anyone anywhere would do that. Today, I went to Costco! Tomorrow, it’s time for CNE. I’ll tell you later. Canada, not bad. Lot’s of squirrels, and a whole lot of variety in restaurants.

By the way: a month from now, It’s Beppu time!