Hong Kong, in a New Light

Airlines, Asia, Hong Kong

It’s been 20 years since the Hong Kong turn-over and this small but proud nation, has emerged as one of the most stunning and interesting locations in Asia.

One of the most popular destinations in Asia, Hong Kong has been pulling all the stops to mark the historic milestone. Lavish decorations and banners are seen upon arriving at the Hong Kong airport and other entry points to the destination. Giant traditional lanterns are also displayed in Central to promote this vital part of the Chinese heritage. Special workshops for lantern-making are also scheduled until the end of July.

The festivities kicked off with a “super fireworks wall,” a 23-minute pyrotechnic display will be multimedia extravaganza with components like LED screens and beam lights to go with synchronized music. Said to be the city’s most expensive fireworks event since 1997, it measures 1,250 meters long and 300 meters high is set to light up the Hong Kong skyline over the famous Victoria Harbour. Accompanying beam lights were projected from Causeway Bay to adorn the fireworks and give a 3D effect to the whole performance.

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Fun-loving travelers looking to be a part of the merrymaking are in for a treat, as Cebu Pacific will be sending off more of its fleet to Hong Kong starting this month. The airline is flying three times a day, or 21 flights weekly, between Manila and Hong Kong. Travelers coming in can enjoy more spacious seating and modern ambience as the airline trades up its A320 Hong Kong-bound fleet for the Airbus A330s.

“Bigger aircraft means more seats and lower fares for the Manila-Hong Kong route. We look forward to bringing everyJuan on a two-hour plane trip to experience the historic twenty-year milestone in Hong Kong’s history, or revisit the city with fresh eyes,” said Candice Iyog, Cebu Pacific Vice President for Marketing and Distribution.

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Hong Kong holiday
Another guest also reappears to celebrate the 20th Handover Anniversary. Hong Kong’s online sensation, the Rubber Duck, is back after generating waves online. This time, the inflatable installation takes the limelight while in dry land, next to the anniversary’s equally adorable display, the longevity buns.

Around the city, eyes will wander to the open spaces beautified by designers and local artists. Select flights of stairs will be embellished with flower patters from the Hong Kong Museum of Art collection; and museums will carry special exhibits, including the on-going display of the 126 pieces sourced from Louvre, France.

Beyond the cityscape and the urban vibe of Hong Kong, visitors can enjoy attractions in the outlying islands. The remote Po Lin Monastery, hidden away by lush mountains on Lantau Island, is revered for its 111-foot Tian Tan Buddha statue, which faces north towards Mainland China. Hiking trails and outdoor adventures also offer a scenic way to discover Hong Kong’s storied past.

Fly and discover more of Hong Kong today. Aside from Manila, CEB offers direct flights from its Clark hub to the destination and flies 10 times weekly using the 180-seater Airbus A320 aircraft. Iloilo flights to Hong Kong are scheduled three times weekly, while Cebu flights to the destination are scheduled daily.

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Food Heaven at Cafe TOO in Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong

Asia, Food and Dining, Hong Kong

When one travels to Hong Kong, it is literally imperative that he/she partakes in the island’s gastronomic feasts. After all, Hong Kong, and its motherland China, are known the world over, to be havens for good food.

Expectations are even higher with Hong Kong since this small, but very cosmopolitan city, has become a melting pot of various cultures, races, and food specialties.

Café TOO Lobby and Entrance

Café TOO Lobby and Entrance

Nowadays, buffets are all the rage in Hong Kong, as the modern food connoisseurs demand quantity and quality in exchange for their hard-earned though and when it comes to buffets, there is absolutely nothing better than the time-tested leader in serving fancy buffets than Café TOO.

Located at the mezzanine flood of the Island Shangri-La in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong, Café TOO has repeatedly been named as one of the best, if not the best buffet restaurants in all of Hong Kong. Both the Time magazine and the South China Morning Post recommend this place. And for a good reason.

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Long before the residents of Hong Kong clamored for buffets, Café TOO has been serving banquets to the more affluent locals and visitors.

And compared to other buffets, Café TOO is popular not only because of the superb taste of the food, but because of the unique food theatres they pioneered.

Café TOO is known all throughout Hong Kong and beyond. So much so, that for my birthday last July, I especially planned and booked ahead of time to ensure that I get a table.

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I made an online reservation and the restaurant was quite professional in updating the status of my booking. They even notified me about the surge in reservations on the date of my visit and advised me to come in early to avoid the queues and the crowds.

True enough, Café TOO was jampacked when I arrived at 8:30pm. I booked for 7:30pm and because of my late arrival, the seat I was given was located at the bar and they expressed sincere apologies for this. They made it up to me, by giving me a table as soon as one became available.

To be honest, I didn’t mind because it was my fault and the atmosphere that night, was just electric. I was also elated that the crowd that time was made up of high-end, and high-fashion locals and visitors so I felt really special.

The food, like I expected was superb.

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I especially liked the fresh seafood and the sensational dim sum (theirs was so much tastier and meatier than the average HK restaurants) staying true to the Shangri-La standard of goodness.

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The lobster and the oyster were fresh and cold as they should be.

The siu mai and dumplings were served hot off the steamer and the flavor was just too awesome.

Café TOO’s noodle and pasta section also satisfied me. It was my birthday so I didn’t want to eat so much, but I had three helpings of ramen, because it was so, so good.

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The curry and pork dishes were also good. The foie gras is popular so there was a long queue and I wasn’t able to get and taste it.

Because I was in Hong Kong, I had to try some roast duck and golden chicken and I was pleasantly satisfied with their servings. The suckling pig was also good.

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You can enjoy some wine to go with the buffet dinner but I passed so I would stay sober and enjoy the buffet to the full extent.

After going through 6-7 plates of good food, I tried their dessert section and this, I found out later, was really the star in Café TOO’s menu. The cakes were awesome, especially the strawberry cheesecake. I had to give in and fill my tummy with several slices.

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All throughout the buffet dinner, you will get a good view of the Hong Kong park located just a few steps away from the Shangri-La. In fact, my date and I had to walk around the park later in the night to burn some of the excess calories.

Prices at Café TOO are steep, I must tell you. My date and I had to pay more than 1,600 HKD for a Friday dinner buffet inclusive of the service charge. And in Hong Kong rates, it was quite a lot. I think it’s really worth it though.

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I looked around the entire restaurant and I noticed that Hong Kong residents are especially lean and slim. After several visits to Café TOO, I don’t think they would stay the same. I am positive that they would gain some pounds thanks to the undeniable goodness of the food served at Café TOO. It was a birthday dinner, I will surely remember for a long time.

Note: Featured Image is courtesy of Island Shangri-La   http://www.shangri-la.com/hongkong/islandshangrila/dining/restaurants/cafe-too/

The Hong Kong I Remember

Asia, Hong Kong

A little over 10 years ago, I arrived in Hong Kong as a fresh-faced 20-something adventurer, out to discover the world.

It was a very exciting time in my life, when I could see the world and all its possibilities. I was slightly naive but very optimistic.

Hong Kong was the very first foreign country or territory I have ever visited, and the city’s bright lights and busy streets totally captivated me. The explosion of sight, sound and flavor was just too much for the travel neophyte and the city completely had me in its palms during my very first hour of exploration.

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I remembered, I would walk along the Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui in broad daylight, bright eyed, jaw dropping ever slowly, at the skyscrapers that dominate Hong Kong’s skyline.Neon lights along the were reflected on my eyes as I roam around the city from dusk till dawn, going to bed only when my body could no longer handle the physical toll of non-stop walking.

The first time I saw Hongkong harbour, I bravely described it as the most magical thing I have ever seen. My 20-something self, just couldn’t help but hide my admiration and love for this city. I must have spent hours staring at the harbour during that first trip.

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Fast forward to 2015, and I have become a somewhat accomplished traveled, a man of the world if you may.

By now, I have traveled thousands of miles across four continents and 30-plus countries, and I have climbed very tall mountains, marveled at ancient cities, and saw the world’s beauty in all its seasons. I have also experienced heartaches, sadness, loss and I have realized that not everything is not all black and white. Behind beauty lies poverty and sometimes, cunning.

But it is quite comforting to know that the Hong Kong of my childhood, remains the same magical place I fell in love with.

For sure, some things have changed: the buildings were older, the shopping malls are more modern, and the people more fashionable, and almost everyone is armed with the latest gadgetry but Hong Kong has maintained its essence and spirit.

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The towering skyscrapers remain and the view of the city from Victoria Peak continues to tale my breath away.

Shoppers continue to come in droves, taking advantage of the tax-free privileges accorded to buyers. Mongkok and Central Hong Kong continues to be a shopper’s paradise.

The famous Lan Kwai Fong continues to be the epicenter of gastronomic and partying exploits for many. Some of the restaurants and the clubs have changed, but the atmosphere is still electric, with festivities reaching a dizzying frenzy at 3am.

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Wan Chai continues to be the pleasure district, while Sheung Wan still exudes that old charm with its rows and rows of antique shops and small, hole in the wall, restaurants.

At every turn in Admiralty and Causeway Bay, you will discover amazing bargain stalls and restaurants ranging from authentic Chinese cuisine to Japanese to Western.

The glittering lights along the Hong Kong harbour remain as awesome as before, with the nightly “Symphony of Lights” dazzling new generations of tourists and travelers.

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I returned to Hongkong to renew my spirit and fuel my ever growing desire and passion to explore and marvel. And I think I have accomplished just that. It remains a great, vibrant city that caters to visitors of all ages, and fancy.

It reminded me why I fell in love with the world, and why I was hooked on wandering in the first place.

I spent four days in Hong Kong very recently and while they were not enough to explore Hong Kong it in its entirety, those days were enough for me to go back in time and remember a part of my younger days that I cherish very much.

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VIDEO: The Hong Kong Symphony of Lights

Asia, Hong Kong, Video

The bright lights of Hong Kong piqued my curiosity when I was much, much younger.

The dancing neon lights were so pretty, that I just sat in front of my TV set and /or PC, wondering how cool it must be to see them up close.

It must have been fate at work that brought me to the shores of Hong Kong for my very first international destination. I fell in love with its busy streets, not too mention the sights and sounds of its amusement parks, and other landmarks.

Over the past decade, I have been to Hong Kong for about six times already but there is always something new to see, and it continues to amaze.

This year, it was also my first time seeing the famed Symphony of Lights at the Hong Kong harbour. It was so cool that I just had to capture the moment, never mind the fact that I had to push and shove others just to do it.

Enjoy.

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