Craving for German food in Hong Kong?

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As mein Mann and I were in Hong Kong, we were constantly walking around and see what TST has to offer for our stomach. There are lots of places to eat around Kowloon, actually. But, after the experience with the local Chinese diner, we vowed to try something more familiar from then on.  There is one German restaurant in particular which we went to almost everyday the entire time we were there.

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I may say we stumbled upon Weinstube German Restaurant and Bar one afternoon while looking for a place to eat doner and kebab. We went astray on the small streets just beside Kowloon Park until we finally get to eat something Mediterranean at Kebab House on Ashley Street.  It actually looked like a dead-end street but there are many bars and small places to eat here. We went on a stroll down Ashley and we saw the place with a European name. It was too early to get some beer and we were too full to eat some more. We decided to just check it out and come back for a beer later in the day.

If you are from Nathan Road, here is how you can find the place.

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Image from Google Earth

From Nathan Road, walk on Haiphong Street (directly beside Kowloon Park) for two blocks. Turn right unto Hankow Street and walk until you reached Ichang Street on your right. Walk another block and turn right again. Weinstube German Restaurant and Bar is close to the corner on your right. Go up the stairs and tadaaaa~!! 

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So we went back to check out the beer after dinner. It happened that we were there on Easter Sunday and the place is almost empty. The area can accommodate about 30 people at once yet we got the place almost to ourselves, so we had the chance to enjoy a long conversation with Lala (we love you, Lala!!), the manager of Weinstube, and we found out that it is a long-established bar and restaurant that serves German beer and traditional German food. 

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It has a nice and quiet atmosphere in the middle of a very busy area of Hong Kong and very much accessible if you stay around Tsim Sha Tsui.

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Of course, the beer is excellent, taking it from mein Mann.

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Ah… thirst quencher! Every German’s favorite. 🙂

 

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We can highly recommend this to our fellow German-Pinay couples who are in Hong Kong for a vacation, or for getting married. This is where we had our lunch after the wedding ceremony and the paperwork at the consulate. (If you want some more information about getting married in Hong Kong, see here). If you are a German/Swiss/Austrian, this is a good place to forget about homesickness. Our food was good and prepared fresh.

 

With the ambience, I believe it can be a great, quiet place for a solo diner as well. The Deco is, of course, distinctively European and the menu reflects the same. It is also a good place to meet Europeans especially on a Friday or Saturday night. We had fun talking to other patrons on our last night in Hong Kong. Weinstube German Restaurant and Bar is a small place, which indeed makes it special. You’ll literally get the feeling that you are eating at a friend’s house. Other than the food and the staff, we love the atmosphere so much. The people just start to have conversations across tables despite being complete strangers. Like, how cool is that?

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You cannot fail to notice that this friendly, cozy place is German/Austrian with the  international hint. It’s all pulled off close to perfection. ❤

 

What is the coolest restaurant you’ve been to? How was it like?

 

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Long Weekend Adventures: Explore Malalison Island, Antique

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This is the second part of the long weekend series, the first one, being in Malumpati Cold Spring in Pandan, Antique.

And so after a cool dip in Malumpati, we traveled back to the heart of Antique. Specifically, in town of Culasi. We had our tricycle drivers picked us up to the main road and took the bus for three hours from Pandan. 

The next stop was Malalison (Mararison) Island in Culasi, Antique. Also nicknamed as the Batanes of the Visayas, it is a good mix of serene seascape on one side and beautiful mountains on the other. If you are a beachbum who also loves hiking, then this place is for you!

We booked two rooms at Anna Sophie Hostel which gives one the magnificent views of Mt. Madia-as, the highest peak in Panay Island. According to myth, this is the home of the Visayan deities. I had read about this story back in college, and not quite surprising, the locals believe the peak is enchanting.  Hiking here is currently restricted due to landslides brought about by the unpredictable weather in this mountainous area. I mean, the queen of the mountains in this island.

We were told that it will take at least 3 days for an expert mountaineer to reached the upper part of Mt. Madia-as, though making it to the summit was made impossible by the crevasses that’s prone to flooding even with very little rain. Friends and I were looking at each other, and it was like saying, “yeah… it will take us a month”.  

Here’s that magnificent beauty as I saw from the hostel’s window. Ladies and gents…. Mt. Madia-as.

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After the mandatory rest period… and the rain… we went out. Across the street, about two blocks away, we excitedly snapped photos of destination number 2: Malalison Island (translated as prodigal). 

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What a great beauty she is! 

We took a night’s stroll in downtown Culasi and was excited for the island trip the next morning. We were scheduled to leave the hotel at 6AM. (The boats were also arranged by them, you just have to find a guide to tour the island which is not very difficult, but  comes with a fee, of course). 

It would take 15 minutes to reach the beautiful Malalison Island. The small boat we took can carry 4 passengers and the water was so clear you can see the corals as you cross. Malalison Island is a marine sanctuary, and it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. 

The island is even more beautiful up close. It was still early when we arrived.

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But here’s what she looks in midday! There must be a reason this is mein Mann’s favorite island getaway, right?

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When we arrived, we were surprised by the number or campers and tents that greeted us by the shoreline. Upon arrival, you will also have to pay an environmental fee of 10 pesos. The locals are very friendly and obviously used to seeing visitors.

Some sights by the shoreline…

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The clouds can get too close here, too..

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And of course..who wouldn’t enjoy the serene sea…

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As previously mentioned, Malalison Island is not just for beach lovers but for hikers as well. 

Of course, to take advantage of what it can offer, you can either swim first and hike later, or the other way around.

Situated in the middle of the Visayan sea, majority of the areas here have no shade, except for the small trees planted by the community on their backyards and by the shore. Be sure to have your sunblock handy.  

Along the way, you’ll get to see some things like this: 

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or maybe this..

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of course, this…

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As a reward for catching your breath along the trails, expect to see the following:

And yes, you’ll be walking by the cliff in Malalison… it may be like this..

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or this...

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The port of Malalison as seen from above…

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The town of Culasi as seen from the top of Malalison…

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It would take about 2 hours to finish the trek, but we decided to take it slow and kept snapping photos of the very beautiful view around.  

 

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Trekking in Malalison Island was great. The sad thing was, irresponsible tourists who come and think they can help the locals by just giving them livelihood throw trash at the peak, or along the way, perhaps thinking the locals can pick after them at all times. 

Where is your favorite long weekend escape?

Long Weekend Adventures: Explore Malumpati Cold Spring, Antique

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Antique is one of the provinces in Panay Island which seemed to be underrated but is now picking up on tourism really well. It used to be frequented by locals from the neighboring provinces or islands but has now slowly earning a reputation among other local and foreign tourists.

If you live nearby and wish to take advantage of the long weekends,  packed your bags to Antique, home of the highest peak in the island. 

Located in the western side of the island, it borders all the three other provinces and Sulu Sea on the West. It’s where the picturesque mountains meet the crystal clear sea, literally. It is a great place to take refuge from the summer heat in the city.  

There are a variety of place to visit but since I am not a fan of motorcycle rides, I would go for the two: Malumpati Cold Spring in Pandan, and Malalison Island in Culasi (that’s for another post).

Here’s where you will head, at least to give you a mental picture:

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The lines in red was the route for the first destination, and blue for the second. As you can see, it would require travelling the whole stretch of the province, giving you a good view of the sea to your left and the mountains to your right. The view is magnificent, but the bus ride will heat up your butt to a discomfort. And yep, bring your meds if you are prone to motion sickness. 

GETTING THERE

Starting point: Iloilo City 

You can take the bus or van to Antique from San Pedro Bus Terminal in Molo. Personally, I prefer the Ceres bus as it is comfortable, safer, leaves on time, and has limited stops. We started out from Molo terminal at around 8:00 AM.

After an hour of travel, you will be in San Joaquin, the last town in the province bordering Antique. The San Joaquin- Hamtic road will make you dizzy though as it is zigzagging along the mountains and their cliffs. It would take around an hour of circling and moving from left to right so if you are prone to motion sickness, be prepared. And oh, be sure you give the handrails a tight grip; you’ll surely find yourself losing balance along the way.

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You’ll spend about 80 pesos for Molo-San Jose fare. 

Travelling the whole stretch of Antique takes about 7 hours.  Malumpati Cold Spring is located in Pandan, the last town on the northernmost part the province, even closer to Aklan and Kalibo than to its capital, San Jose de Buenavista. Yes, you are right, this is also your gateway to Boracay. There are occasional stops by the bus terminals to cater to personal needs.  You know, you can’t just spill it on the bus. 😀 

Here’s what you can see from the bus:

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It may be wise to stop by San Jose de Buenavista for brunch and food shopping at the local market. I believe they have the cleanest, well-organized wet market I’ve ever been to, so far. You can headed back to the terminal to catch another bus going to Pandan. 

It will take another 3 hours before you reach the area. But, it is not the end as you have to ride a tricycle that goes to the cold spring. One tricycle can carry the maximum of 4 people as the route going up the base of the magnificent Mt. Madia-as is challenging.  Drivers charge around 300 pesos for the 20-minute ride along the dusty and rough terrain. 

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And finally….. after 7 hours… you will be in Malumpati Cold Spring!!! 

Expect a lot of people at daytime, especially during the sunny days.

They charge minimal fee for the entrance and open cottages. If you are staying overnight, there are cottages available. For example, the concrete house of the Capillos with 3 rooms, a veranda, and a living room can be rented for about 2500 pesos for 24 hours. (Check latest rates personally)

If you wish to have more peaceful swim time, wait until most guests have left. This starts around 4PM. You can take a dip till dusk and do it all over again early the next morning. The water is so refreshing, and that’s a great cure for the day-long travel. So, you can swim for hours.

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There are very few people who stay there overnight, so it is a good place to find some peace. The area by the spring also remains mainly unlit. 

Here’s what you can see there: 

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If you are on for a cool dip, head to Malumpati Cold Spring. 🙂

 

What is your favorite place to cool the summer heat? 

 

 

 

5 Things I Like About Commuting in Hong Kong

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The first thing I can say about public transport in Hong Kong is that it’s excellent! There are, of course, many different modes to choose from. And yep, each is clean, efficient, fast, and most importantly, on time. This efficiency is noticeable the moment someone land in Hong Kong International Airport. Right there and then, access to the Airport Express, bus terminus and taxis are admirably organized.

For someone traveling alone and for the first time in Hong Kong, this is organization is a relief. It is also worth to mention that the entire place is generous with the road signages, so basically, you won’t get lost as long as you read directions. And yeah, it pays to know your routes and where exactly you are going! 😀

So with that in mind, here are the 5 things I believe are the best qualities of public transportation in Hong Kong that makes it worth commuting:

1. The public transport is efficient

The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) is certainly one of the most efficient ways to get around, and has a certain number of trips everyday that follows a pre-determined schedule.  It should also be noted that it is made up three different train systems: the underground (subway), overground and light rail. MTR includes the Airport Express.

Buses are also easy to find with the terminus having sufficient signs on where to find the ones going to your destination. There are different buses that caters to passengers to and from the airport during the day (A) or night (N).

Taxis and minibuses are also easy to find.

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2. There is no need to prepare exact change every time

Get acquainted with the Octopus Card. This is a rechargeable smart card that can be used on the MTR and most other public transport. It also allows you to make purchases in various shops, such as supermarkets in the city. It costs HKD150 and can be returned for a HKD37 refund at the airport. And oh, you can have this reloaded at any 7-11 shops around Hong Kong. When getting into the bus or through MTR counters, all you need to do is swipe. There is really no need to keep counting pennies when you commute.

If you prefer to pay with cash, make sure you have exact change as most types of transportation in here don’t hand you the change for fares.

3. It is remarkably convenient

You go out of your hotel, and you can easily find a taxi or wait at the bus stop. The buses and trains also come on time and with a short interval between them. 18818325_10208957529521583_93447055_o

When you live near the MTR stations, going to and fro is easy, and even if you are quite on a distance from these points, the underground pedestrians going to the trains offer shelter from the rain and the sun in the humid Hong Kong weather.

In most cases, despite the crowded trains, you can get a seat. I think it’s not worth the stress to try to fight for a seat since the travel time is swift and commuters get off quite quickly than you expect. Most likely, you only need a short walk when you transfer or get off,  and this is actually the only moment you have to pay attention to where you’re going.

4. The public transport is surprisingly comfortable

When you take the train during the peak hours, expect that it will be crowded to airtight.  Since most people prefer to take the public transportation to go places (work, school, etc) anticipate the flood of people who will compete for space. During this period, most likely, you will stand along with many other commuters that didn’t seem to mind the limited breathing space.  If you happen to take the train when everyone else is still at the office, then it is likely that you will have it for yourself, really. Empty trains can be usual here too.

The leg room and seats for both the taxis and the buses are what I like the most. Nothing beats the happiness of a commuter than being able to stretch his/her legs and lean on the comfortable seat while in transit, right? Buses going to and from the airport also have their own luggage storage by the entrance, so when you decide to take a good look of the city on the upper deck of the bus, you need not carry the heavy bags with you. And yeah, don’t worry, there is a monitor upstairs that lets you see if your bag is still in place 😉

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5. Trains and buses are generally on time

It can really be easy to complain about trains that are late by five minutes, but the Hong Kong trains are worth calling the marvels in motion. So basically, you can calculate how much time you exactly need to reach your destination. The public address system in the MTR stations also enables the commuters to adjust their pace going to the train doors. I mean, yeah, they literally run from their drop-off point to the pick up area when they have to change trains.

Buses don’t get to halt at every bus stop unless you press the “STOP” button to signal the driver you are to get off at the next point. So, basically, there is less waste of time.

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Every tourist’s commutes in Hong Kong vary. Some are shorter and easier, but quite challenging for others. In my case, for example, I love the almost “umbrella-free” (though I always carry my umbrella) commutes made possible by the covered walkways into and out of the MTR stations and offices. For others, having to take the crowded lines and change trains to get to there destination can be something they have to deal with the entire time. Of course, no two commutes are the same. 😉

What do you like about the public transportation in Hong Kong?

What do you like less?

Places to Go in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

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While in Hong Kong, we loved the idea to walk around a bit  in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, which is where our hotel is located. Since we stayed just in front of Kowloon Park, it has been our favorite place to stroll, if we were not exploring the lengths of Nathan Road or of the Temple Street Night Market and the nearby blocks.

Most things we’ve done in Hong Kong are free yet very enjoyable nonetheless. Rather than going to the malls or hanging out in expensive places, we wanted to go local.

Kowloon Park

Kowloon Park is just across our hotel;  it’s close enough, we can see it from our window. Situated near the harbour of Tsim Sha Tsui, remains of British presence, like some old cannons, are still in the park. But, this pagoda reminds me that I am in Hong Kong.

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Several museums, including Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre can be found there too. It was closed when we tried to check it out, though.

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Several ponds can also be found throughout the park, and the one that is particularly nice one is where the flamingos, ducks and pigeons thrive.

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How can I forget to mention about the flowers? I particularly love this one, though I don’t know the name. 

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The park looks quite old, but it’s still a good place to hangout. It also offers a view that contrasts nature with modernity.

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Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

This, perhaps, is the best spot to get an unobstructed view of the Central skyline.

By day…

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By night…

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Unfortunately, the Avenue of the Stars was closed for renovation. And it seems like many other spots are under construction, too! 

Hong Kong Space Museum

The exhibits in this predominantly interactive museum, enable the visitors to learn through the entertaining and educational experiences available like the moon walk, glider flying, and rocket launching. Part of it is also under renovation when we were in Hong Kong.

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Clock Tower

A remnant of the site of the former Kowloon Station on the Kowloon-Canton Railway, it is made of red bricks and granite, 44 metres high, with a 7-metre lightning rod on top.

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Star Ferry Pier

Located adjacent to the Clock Tower, Star Ferry Pier is full of vintage white-and-green boats known as Star Ferries. A sense of Hong Kong’s history and the influence of the British can be seen on the decks of these boats which also happens to offer low fares to and from the Hong Kong Island.

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Nathan Road:

The most important road of Kowloon and known as the Golden Mile, it is lined with shops and restaurants and throngs of tourists.

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You will be stopped by many Indians here who will try to sell you the fake watches and suit, especially if you are white (imagine how annoyed my husband was!) 

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Nathan Road is also famous for its neon glowing signboards of countless brands, especially jewellery shops.

How about you? Which areas in Tsim Sha Tsui do you like to see?

Have you been to Hong Kong? What are you favorite places?