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Tap Mun, HK (aka Grass Island)

Monday, October 26, 2015
Last Sunday, Hong Kong was blessed with beeeeautiful weather. And of course I took advantage of it by going on an island adventure with my boyfriend and Bailey! Both of them loved this day out, except for the part where my bf got a bit impatient when we had to wait for the ferry for an hour cos' we got there too early.

Yayy, Captain Tsoi Ying (that's the name of the ferry) is here! Off we gooooo!

Tap Mun (塔門) is located in the Northeast part of New Territories, and you can either get there via Wong Shek Pier or Ma Liu Shui Pier. We took a ferry from Ma Liu Shui  pier (to get to this pier, go to University MTR station, then take a taxi). It was a very full ferry, some people and dogs had to stand, but since we got there early, we had a seat and got to enjoy the nice sea breeze and view. The ferry stops at six islands (the third being Tap Mun) in one journey, so make sure you get off the right island! 

The ferry ride took a bit longer than one hour, and when we arrived, the pier was already very crowded and brimming with the salty smell of sea produce sold by the locals. The bottom part of this island is quite similar to Peng Chau, with the fishing village, narrow streets, and more tourists than locals.

We took the route up to the Balanced Rock, because that's where the famous Grasslands of Tap Mun is. The hike up was very easy because the entire path has been paved and is surprisingly clean except for the cow poop (the other thing that Tap Mun is famous for) which was scattered literally everywhere. But I like cows, so that's ok. :)

Look how happy Bailey is :)

The hike took around 20 minutes and we were welcomed by this:

Kites, friendly cows (except when they steal your food), grass, camping tents, picnics, more cow poop, blue sky, green sea. What's there not to love?

I think Bailey tried to smile here.

Doing the Simba.

There was this group of people doing Taichi at the peak, very cool.

We walked the entire path which goes around the island once, which took less than an hour. We then spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the grass, eating chips and chasing grasshoppers (Bailey did, not me).

This cow saved my life, long story...let me know by commenting below if you're interested ;)

And we left this island with this gorgeous sunset ending our day. Would I visit Tap Mun again? Of course! But next time I'll bring more food, a picnic mat and a few more friends. :)


Being Independent

Thursday, October 22, 2015

There's a lot of things that I'm not good at, walking without tripping over, not wearing white because fear of food stains, I can write this list endlessly so I won't dither on it now. However, the thing that I'm great at is independence. I never really thought of myself as an independent individual till recently. I guess moving to the other side of the world and not having much of a social life at the beginning can do that to a girl.

Looking back at it now, I was quite independent whilst growing up too, I enjoyed being by myself and using any spare time with my own company. I recall once, I wanted to go into town for a spot of shopping and my flat mate asked me if I needed her to go with me, I replied quickly with a no and I think for a second she was taken aback. Who goes shopping alone? Lemme tell you- this girl does. Actually, I love shopping alone, you can take your time, fret about the purchase for an hour, go into shops that you have selected and not have to waste anyone's time but your own. 

Of course there are perks to being independent, sometimes my opinion is extremely strong about this. I'm quite a proud person and also I like to feel needed/ helpful. I'll usually be the first to ask if someone needs help or jump to carry something. Usually I get told off to not carry the heavy things, but c'mon if I don't do it who will? I think that's the biggest problem I face, I'm always hesitant that no one else will pick up the slack so I go with the definitive solution for myself which is- well I'll do it all by myself! This mindset is good, but it's also harmful. As a human, you can't do literally everything by yourself, it's okay to ask for help sometimes (this is currently a thing that I'm trying to do).

I guess people might pity those who look like they are doing things by themselves, but I'll tell you a secret- I love it, I love my own company, if I'm not happy firstly with being by myself, how can I be happy being with other people? Also, 'me time' is the perfect opportunity to recharge and gather your thoughts. It's okay to be independent and want to do things by yourself, at that moment I'm alone but I'm certainly not lonely. I've come to realise two things- being independent is great, but it's also necessary to be dependent. It is also endearing to have people and family around.

However, if you are someone who hates the idea of being alone, just think about it for a minute. You will have no one bothering you for a little time being. If you can, just take some time away to be by yourself, it can be from a few minutes to hours or a whole day, then you will get a feel for it and start to crave it. Try doing a small food shop or clothes shop by yourself, then you can move into the 'bigger things' such as ordering food by yourself, maybe go for a run or bike ride alone to clear your thoughts. Me time is a much needed thing, plus you need to be happy with your own company.

Something real, make it timeless

Monday, October 19, 2015
These pictures were taken at beautiful CUHK (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and it's been the third time that I've been here but I adore strolling through the grounds and pretending to be a student again (long gone are those days!)

Hong Kong is strange really, in such a city-scape, you get scenic places like this that you can spend three/ four years of your education here. A lot of people get their wedding pictures taken here too, which goes to show how popular of a location this place is!

My outfit is a tad University esque, going for the casual jeans and t-shirt look. The jeans are my first high waisted skinny ripped from H&M, and they are a perfect fit. I'm still debating whether to cut off the ends or just to keep them folded up- indecisions! The top is from Pull & Bear, and is a casual faint striped tee, also the sleeves are the perfect length too. I know there's only one 'outfit post' picture but I wanted this post to focus more on the University. I've made a goal to myself for next year too so maybe this University will feature more in this blog ;)

- Sophia x

Paper Towns - Thoughts

Sunday, October 18, 2015
Paper Towns, a novel by John Green, seems like the coming of age, typical young unrequited teenage love kind of book, but in fact it's so much more than that. It centres around the main character- Q (Quentin) and his last high school days. He has been in love with the adventurous girl next door- Margo Roth Spiegelman- all his life and they spend one amazing night together pulling pranks and getting up to mischief. The next day, she leaves town and Q makes it his mission to find her again.

How did you feel after reading the book? 
I felt a sense of attachment to the characters, I could relate to both Q and Margo. As I've read this book a few times now, the first time was a few years ago and my opinion on the book has differed each time. This time as I'm at a different stage of my life, I agreed with Q- the sense of routine, going about things one day at a time and building for my future. However, as I'm quite a flighty person now, I really understood the feelings that Margo had, 'It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.' Everytime I think of going to another place, this is what I feel like, moving from the UK to Hong Kong seemed difficult, but when it happened it felt like a piece of cake.

Another theme of the book was that people are complex, which really was something for me to accept. People are just as complex as I am, and the people that we adore the most are just people too, they are the same as you and me. If you idolise them, you're disappointed if they let you down or don't give you the response that you hoped they would do. 'What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.' There are some people that I might imagine how I think they are, but I'm surprised when they reveal what they are like. At the end of the day, they are them and they are not some figment of your imagination.

Margo also emphasised another important point to me and that was we are slaves to routine and planning for the future. 'And now life has become the future. Every moment of your life is lived for the future' I'm a slave to this too, constantly thinking about the future, what can make us happy for it? We should really live in the moment, in case the future never arrives.


Paper Towns is a mix of romance, comedy and mystery.

What I liked about this book is that it's not your typical chick-flick romance, but rather it's a realistic reflection of what relationships are like in the most beautiful way and painful way. Beautiful because your world can be lit up by this one person, but painful because by mis-imagining them, this could all go away.

Paper Towns made me think about identity and how much we really know a person. Heck, maybe the question should be how much do we even know ourselves? How much of us are just paper-moulded - a creation of the expectations of the people and the society around us - much like a Paper Town on a map, and how much is what we really want.

Margo's character is quirky and daring, to the extent that she becomes the highlight in many people's eyes for living what seems like the perfect life. But I believe what her friends and readers find so magnetic about Margo was not her looks/popularity, but her authencity and how much she loved life. I think she loved life because she never stopped to try to find the meaning of hers.

One of my favourite quote in Paper Towns is "It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and constantly mis-imagined." To me it means that more than one individual you  meet in your life can be fascinating, if you'd open your eyes and heart.


Throwback Thursday: The Music Edition

Thursday, October 15, 2015
I was having one of those flashback days to my 14/15 year old self, lemme tell you something- I may look like a type of girl that would obsess over boy bands, the new hip hop artists (basically me now) but back then, I was nothing like I am now. I adored classic rock, punk and indie music. YES, remember the category 'indie' which was basically the 2000s callback to 'hipster', can you imagine? (I know, I'm old)

Here are a few of my favourites, they take me back to days sitting on school benches with my best friends, sharing earphones, and slowly skipping songs on our Sony mp3 players- mine was a Sony Walkman, purple edition. I didn't want an i-pod because it was far too commercialised for me, yes I was one of those kids (also because my parents are Chinese so they were always too stingy to buy/ let me buy one).

Greenday- American Idiot. This song is a TUNE, I would later on go to buy a guitar themed tie to put around my neck on top of my t-shirts.

Taking back Sunday- Make Damn Sure, I still adore this song and love love love 'Divine Intervention' - best lyrics ever.

If you were ever into punk, then you have to know one of the greatest bands ever- The Ramones (I still have the band t-shirt)

Another punk rock band fave, is The Clash, I mean- I can't even, just please listen

I know I said I adored rock etc but I have to give a little shoutout to Miss Gwen Stefani, because she still looks and sounds amazing. Also this song, just gives me flashbacks of thinking I was cool. I wish I could be that sassy

There was that awkward period of time, let's keep it to us, that I was *kinda* obsessed with Pete Doherty, to the point where I even bought his auto-biography/ biography. How could you not though, especially with this song?

Last but by far not least, the Sex Pistols, because what other band would dare to go against old Queenie?

Yeah, not the kind of music taste you would expect from a self confessed Taylor Swift fan girl, am I right? Enjoy! Let me know if you used to listen to any of these songs too!

- Sophia x

The Lost Boys

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

During my trip in the Philippines there was one moment of awe, when we were waiting for the boat to depart from the docks. We saw a gaggle of boys aged from 7- 10 sailing in their little boats, paddling like there was no tomorrow, headed towards us. It was apparent that they made their boats from their bare hands too. At the time, they looked excited to see fresh faces.

They climbed onto our boat, as the sides had wooden stabilisers, and started to beg for change, my friend told me that this was a regular thing that they do, and some people would throw the money into the water so they would fish it out from the sea. From the sidelines, you could view them with pitying eyes, but to me, they also looked fearless. They climbed and walked around the boat with ease, as if they were going to be recruited as pirates. Yelling and edging each other on, even though they were doing this because of their circumstances, I could feel the aura of enjoyment from them too. Someone mentioned to me that when you grow up, you never will feel that same exhilaration that you get given a certain amount of money, so much that you think how do I even spend it.

Which is true, think about it now. Money nowadays feels like it's never enough, right? You always feel like it isn't enough, you want more and aren't quite happy with what you have.

I would never wish that lifestyle of those lost boys on anyone, I wanted to pick them up and hug them. But life isn't like that, it takes moments like these to make you think things through again, to understand the values of what you have and to realise that it may not be enough to you (so you think) it could be a ever lasting fortune for someone else. Be grateful for what you have, and try and remember what it was like to have that moment as a child.

A Foreigner's Guide To Hong Kong's Dim Sum

Friday, October 9, 2015
Welcome to Hong Kong, the homeland of DIM SIM, as all traditional dim sum restaurant menus are sadly in Cantonese (even Sophia can't read most of it) we thought that making a quick and easy guide to some popular choices would make life easier for you the next time you make an order!

To begin, Dim Sum (點心) is a mixture of steamed dishes cooked in bamboo crates. Bite sized pieces are made so you get to try a mixture of things, best enjoyed with some Chinese tea too. Chinese teas can range from Pu Erh Tea (普洱 pou nei), Jasmine Tea (香片 heong pin), to Oolong Tea (烏龍 wu long). 

Here are the top hits and our personal favourites:

Congee- aka 粥 (pronounced- juk) is made from rice, and the equivalent of porridge. It has many different flavours too, the most popular and one of my favourites is century old egg with pork. Aside from this, you can also have it with fish, shredded chicken and or even plain! 

Steamed rice rolls aka  腸粉 (pronounced- cheung fun) are rice steamed rolls that are a classic in Hong Kong, you can get them on the side stalls too. But personally for me, they taste the silkiest at restaurants. With Cheung Fun you can choose fillings from plain all the way to king prawn. They taste best dipped with soya sauce, seafood sauce or peanut sauce.

Steamed Prawn dumping aka 蝦餃 (pronounced- ha gao) these prawns are smooth and wrapped in a translucent parcel, filled with prawns. It tastes fresh and crunchy, and to know that you have a well made ha gao is when you should be able to pick it up with your chopsticks, and they shouldn't fall apart. I always order a portion of these whenever I have dim sum. If you like a bit of spice, they taste great with some chilli sauce. 

Pork dumpling aka 燒賣 (pronounced- siu mai) filled with ground pork and mushrooms, they are held together with a yellow wonton pastry skin. These are so popular that street vendors will sell these as snacks. You will even see them in the snacks sections of cinemas! Perfect with soya sauce and some chilli sauce too.

Steamed pork bun aka 叉燒包 (pronounced- cha siew bao) this is sweet roasted shredded pork, wrapped inside the steamed bun. The bun tastes like the traditional mantou too, soft and creamy when added with the pork. You can just eat these on their own, but don't have too many as they can fill you up.

Spring rolls aka 春卷 (pronounced- chun guen) usually filled with shredded meats, carrots, beansprouts and wrapped in a delicate pastry that is lightly deep fried. Nothing beats these as they are crispy and leaves you wanting more. They are served with a vinegar dipping sauce. 

Cantonese steamed sponge cake aka 馬來糕 (pronounced- ma lai go) a fluffy steamed cake with brown colouring that tastes light and gently of caramel. Best eaten hot and slowly rip into it so you can feel how bouncy it is!

Glutinous steamed chicken rice aka 糯米雞 (pronounced- lor mai gai) is a savoury item of rice, chicken, mushrooms and chinese sausages, wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed. This is so filling and perfect for the colder weather when you want something hot. 

Chicken feet in black bean sauce aka 豉汁蒸鳯爪 (pronounced- si jup jing fung jao, or just 'fung jao') - this is not for everyone, so we talk about the famous but scary 'chicken feet' it is flavoured with a delicious black bean sauce and steamed to perfection. The meat should fall apart on the bones and even though it looks strange, you should try one piece. 

Flowing custard buns aka 流沙包 (pronounced- lao sha bao) these are a different take on the original custard buns, now in Hong Kong these are the popular ones that people order instead. Filled with a custard filling, it is flowing compared to the previous firm filling. The custard is usually very sweet and creamy as some of it is made with coconut and evaporated milk. A sweeter choice to balance out the other savory dishes. 

Beef balls with vegetables aka 時菜牛肉球 (pronounced- si choi ngao yuk kao) these are ground beef steamed with vegetables, taste very fresh especially if you like eating beef! Great dipped with some soya sauce too. 

Pork ribs in black bean sauce aka. 豉汁蒸排骨 (pronounced- si jup jing pai guat) these are steamed pork ribs with a black bean sauce, paired with rice it's a great mixture. This dish is full of flavour as the steaming makes the meat very appetizing.

Steamed beef tripe aka 薑蒽牛栢葉 (pronounced- giong chong ngao pak yip) another food item that might not be for everyone, tenderised beef tripe in oyster sauce. This dish has been described as a dim sum favourite in Hong Kong restaurants, with it's unique texture and taste. If you can stomach it, give it a try!

Turnip cake aka 蘿蔔糕 (pronounced- lo baak go) is made with shredded radish and dried shrimps. As it is lightly fried, the outside is crispy then the middle is fluffy. As there are different variations of this, I personally prefer to the spicy version. 

Steamed fish balls with vegetables aka 時菜鯪魚球 (pronounced- si choi ling yu kao)
these is made with a special type of fish- as it has no bones in it, dipped with soya sauce too. It is delicious to eat as it is with some steamed vegetables.

Chiu Chow steamed dumplings aka 潮州蒸粉果 (pronounced- chiu jao jing fun guo) these are filled with vegetables and pork meat in a translucent pastry, the fresh vegetables and meat are the perfect combination.

Some of our favourite Dim Sum restaurants that you should visit as per our recommendations are:

1. Tim Ho Wan

Known as the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant chain in the world, this is a must-try for locals and tourists alike.
G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing St., Sham Shui Po, 2788-1226.

2. Lung King Heen

The first Chinese restaurant in the world to be awarded 3 Michelin stars. Pricier and posher than the humble Tim Ho Wan. If you're looking for a more comfortable and grand dim sum experience, then this is a better choice.
Lung King Heen, Level 4, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3196 8880

3. One Dim Sum

The no-reservations no-frills all-day dim sum restaurant. A great overall dimsum experience, especially if you're on a budget.
Address: One Dim Sum, Shop 1 & 2, G/F, Kenwood Mansion, 15 Playing Field Road, Prince Edward, Hong Kong, +852 2789 2280

There are some other items that we might have missed off, so what might be some of your favourites? I hope this guide gives you some idea of what to order when you're next at a Dim Sum restaurant.

A Little Touch of Home

Sunday, October 4, 2015
The cozy corner, the only place I really want to be after a long day and also early morning. Fairy lights are from IKEA & the bedding is from Asda. 

 Photos are my favourite things to have in my room, they always remind me of good memories. Polaroids are the best.

 Cushions ramp up the comfort levels for sofas, it also helps that these are pretty cute too. The patterned cushion is from IKEA, the grey quote one is a Franc Franc special, then the obvious camera one is from HKID Gallery.

 Purple Quartz crystal to bring calmness into the home, and isn't it just the cutest little decoration?

People have inspirational boards, mine? It's a fridge instead! A mix n match of my favourite things, including souvenirs from places that people have gifted to me.