Monday, May 30, 2016

Dragon Boat Races, Mui Wo

Over the weekend, we went to Mui Wo to see the dragon boat races.  Walking from the ferry pier, we could hear the beating drums at 10 am, see all the teams stretching and strategizing, and hear the races being announced over the blaring pa system.

This is the second time that we've been to the Mui Wo dragon boat races…usually, we're in Shatin around this time of the year.

Fun Fact:  The dragon boat races begin around the dragon boat festival (aka the Tueng Ng Festival), which takes place on the 5th month of the 5th day of the Chinese lunar calendar.

This year, the official start of the dragon boat festival is June 9th, but in Mui Wo…it started earlier!

Besides Mui Wo, other places that host dragon boat races:
1.  Sai  Kung
2.  Shatin
3.  Cheung Chau Island
4.  Tai Po
5.  Aberdeen
6. Stanley
7.  Discover Bay and Tai on on Lantau Island
8.  Tuen Mun

It's pretty nice to have so many places where you can view the dragon boat races.  That means that the beaches don't get too crowded…imagine Mui Wo packed with people from inch to inch.  That wouldn't make such an ideal race watching experience.

Takes me back to Cheung Chau during the Bun Festival (too crowded for my liking).

I am not a fan of the sardine living situations!

We only stayed a few hours, but the races were fun to watch.  It was really nice watching the teams stretch and mentally prepare for their races.

Back in Seattle, I have some family who are really into dragon boat racing.  They took it up mainly for exercise…and they would also see the dragon boaters practicing in Lake Union weekly.  They invited my husband and I to do dragon boat racing one weekend, which was one of my favorite memories of the past few years.

That was such a great experience…I'd never really rowed with ten other people, but it really didn't WORK my shoulders as much as I thought it would…probably because we're all working as a team to move the boat forward.  I remember that the mix of the cool Seattle summer and skimming the water on  Lake Union was awesome.

A weekend well spent!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Brotzeit, Yoho Mall

I've not been to a German restaurant since driving out to Leavenworth, WA a decade ago.  And back then, besides checking out the Christmas shop and playing around in the snow, we'd just get the sausage platter and some beers.  So, when my husband and I passed by Brotzeit, we were looking forward to seeing how good the food was…because it had been a looooooong time.

Brotzeit is the German restaurant in Yoho Mall.  It sits along side a really great selection of restaurants (like Iberico & Co.)  It's in the cove of restaurants, as I like to call it…with a Japanese place, Korean place…and more for me to test out some time soon. 

Most of the restaurants at Yoho Mall have an outdoor eating space.  The outdoor deck at Brotzeit is really nice, covered with umbrellas at one end and exposed to the sun on the other.  The deck, which is really nice for the evenings, is a really great way to get away from the crowds, since it is nice and hot outside, most people choose to sit indoors.  …and, in the afternoons, another benefit to sitting outside it is that it is truly a really nice place to soak in the sun and drink a pint of beer.

We were there for the lunch rush, so we ordered off of the lunch set menu, which is actually a really great deal (opposed to ordering a la carte).  The proportions are descent and the price is really great.

My husband got the Pork Cheese Sausage platter.  This was pretty nice.  It was a pretty good sausage with some mustard on the side.  It wasn't anything spectacular, but it was tasty.

He also got the soup of the day, which was tomato.  This was also all right.  And I only know it is all right because I got to taste test his dishes, which is the great thing about being able to have meals with people close to you…you get to sample off of their orders!

…I got the baked camembert starter, which was nice as well…

And, trying to make healthier choices today, I got one of the healthy salads.  This one was zucchinis, olives, mozzarella and greens.  It was a really nice salad mix.  I'd definitely order more salad selections when I visit the next time.

We also added a dessert platter, which was a deal because it was only a fraction of the normal cost when added to the lunch set.

The late lunch was a really great treat.  It was different…to eating at the local canteen and it gave us a chance to sample a new place.  I'd definitely return to Brotzeit..probably in the evening next time.  I've actually only been testing out the Yoho Mall restaurants during lunch time.  I think it's because most of the time we cook dinner…but, it's nice to have lunch there…

Dinner, though, might be a whole 'nother experience...

Monday, May 23, 2016

Nursing Rooms @ Yuen Long Plaza

This is the third installment of my Nursing Rooms around Hong Kong posts.  Today's Nursing Room comes to you from Yuen Long Plaza.  I actually was surprised that there was such a nice nursing room here because the Plaza is so small and not really the sort of place I thought would have this type of amenity.

I mean…the Plaza is definitely upping it's game with the new Fusion supermarket, the always awesome Uniqlo, and a new Starbucks shop…but, who knew that this Nursing Room had been here before all those things came to the Plaza???

I'm glad, none the less, to share what the Nursing Room and Changing Station look like.

The Nursing Room is found on the third floor of the Plaza near the restrooms (behind the Joint Publishing bookstore and Genki Sushi).

It'll be easy to spot because of the cutesy baby imagery that lead to the room.

When I first looked inside, I was quite surprised at how colorful and well kept the place was.  It looks semi new too.

The actual nursing room is to the right of the changing room. Besides the lock door, there is a changing station, a sink, soap, and paper napkins to wash your hands…as well as a diaper bin next to it…

There is also one pretty comfortable chair that gives pretty good arm support.

The only downside to having this wonderfully private nursing room is…that there is only one!  I am not too sure how busy this place gets, but, this morning, there weren't any babies or families at all in the changing room.  It was pretty nice to have the entire changing room to myself!

But, when it does get busy…I think that having one nursing room is not enough!  I mean, Yuen Long is a place where there are a lot of young families.  Everywhere I go I see babies…so, definitely, places around the city should think about having more nursing rooms to accommodate.

Seriously, who wants to wait half an hour to nurse their crying-of-hunger baby?

If the actual Nursing Room is busy, there are benches outside where you can nurse (if you like).

The outside changing room is public (open to fathers and mothers and anyone really…)

There are three changing tables with three diaper bins beneath.  Their quite cute…though close together.  But, they definitely can only hold one person at each station and their baby!  So, if you and your partner want to change the baby together…it is a tight squeeze!  But, tight squeezes are common in Hong Kong.

I've just started noticing this, but most nursing/changing rooms also have air purifiers…that's a neat thing to include!

It's always good to know that the malls are now installing changing stations/ nursing rooms.  It makes me think that they really are catering to a large target consumer!

Good job Yuen Long Plaza!

Friday, May 20, 2016


Today's blog is probably a really significant one for those who are not familiar with Hong Kong and the train transport around the city.  It's something I get lots of questions about when my family and friends come to visit.  They are always wanting to know about Octopus Cards, riding the trains, and how to get around via riding the trains.

Firstly, the MTR (train) is my preferred way to travel because it's quick and convenient.  It's also nice and air conditioned in the summer months.  Whenever looking for an MTR station, you can usually follow the red signs (seen below--> the blue sign with a white arrow a red circle with a white MTR logo on it and the walking man next to it), which point to you towards the nearest stations.

The nearest MTR to the center of Yuen Long town is Long Ping MTR Station.

This is a smaller MTR Station, but, mainly, they look like this on the inside.  There are exits pointed out so you know which direction to take to your destination.

Every station is also equipped with a street map so you can figure out where things are.  There are also fare charts and maps of the actual station.

Every MTR Station has a ticket vending machine for those who do not want to purchase an Octopus Card (which I will talk about later).  You just input your destination and can purchase a one way ticket to that place.

The map of the entire MTR network is present on the touch screen, so it is easy to find which line you want to ride and also the place you want to go.

There are also Add Value machines for those who carry Octopus Cards and want to add more money to their accounts.  Increments are usually by 50 HKD, 100 HKD, and (in some places) 500 HKD.

Mostly, if you commute a lot 500 HKD is good for the week.

To actually enter to train platforms, you have to pass through the turnstiles.  You either insert your paper ticket or "doot" your Octopus Card on the turnstile and it will let you pass.

Again, at every MTR Station, there are signs that point you to major buildings/landmarks.  They also point you to taxi stands and transportation hubs.

There are also ads found everywhere in every Hong Kong MTR station, which are always fun to check out.  They are frequently switched out and advertise a bunch of things (shows, products, etc).

Some MTR Stations (this is the West Rail line, by the way) have Free Wi Fi Spots.  The connection isn't too bad too!

There are also public toilets available along some lines (like the West Rail line and the Tung Chung line).

***A view from the Long Ping MTR Station***

Every MTR Station also has a customer service kiosk, where you can purchase Octopus Cards.  The Octopus Card is a debit card that can be used for riding most public transportation.  You can use the Octopus Card on:

1.  MTR trains
2.  Ferries
3.  Double decker buses
4.  The Airport Express
5.  Mini Buses

***NOT TAXIs***

What else can you do at the customer service kiosk:

1.  Add value to your Octopus Card
2.  Buy monthly passes
3.  Ask for directions
4…that's all I know...

To exit the train platform, you have to also insert the temporary paper ticket (which will not be returned to you) or "doot" your Octopus Card.

The MTR Stations are pretty convenient places to find ATM machines (HSBC, Hang Seng, Bank of China, etc) and also convenience stores (like Circle K or 7-Eleven).

Hopefully, this was a helpful blog post!  I'll probably refer people here when they ask me next time!

ALSO, the MTR station is a great place to rest during the summer or winter months.  THOUGH THERE ARE SIGNS that say you cannot sit on the window sills, loads of people just sit there to rest, wait for people, or enjoy the air conditioning/heating.

The MTR stations map

Long Ping MTR Station Train Platform

Long Ping MTR Station Platform