F1 Bake Off 2019 – Round 2 – Bahrain

A super simple and easy recipe to make this week, but boy I’m not a fan of adding rosewater extract.

It’s like munching on flowers, and if I wanted that I’d go and grab me some Crabtree & Evelyn rose handcream.

However, if you like that perfumed taste, or fancy coming up with a better combination I can recommend making them.

Aside from having to leave the batter for half an hour before cooking, the total preparation and cooking time was about 10 minutes.

And, I didn’t mess this recipe up! Just a shame they tasted so revolting!

I got the recipe from the Halal Home Cooking website, and here’s how to make them:

Khanfaroosh (Emirati fried saffron and cardamom cakes)

Ingredients

  • 120 g rice flour
  • 75 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 55 g unrefined ‘golden’ caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp saffron threads
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • sunflower oil, to deep-fry
  • icing sugar / honey / sweetener, to serve

Method

  1. In a medium mixing bowl lightly beat eggs and rose-water together
  2. In another medium mixing bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, sugar and spices
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients
  4. Add the egg mixture
  5. With a fork or whisk mix to form a smooth, thick batter
  6. Cover bowl and set aside for 30 minutes
  7. Heat 5 mm oil in a large, deep-frying pan over medium heat
  8. Working in batches (3-4 per batch), place tablespoonfuls of batter into oil
  9. Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until golden
  10. Drain on paper towel
  11. Serve hot, dusted with icing sugar or drizzled with honey or date syrup

And here’s how I got on:

F1 Bake Off will be back for the Chinese GP.

In the meantime, have a go at making these. Let me know what you think and whether you’re a fan of the rose flavour, or if you found a different flavour combination that works better.

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F1 Book Club – Round 2 – Bahrain

We’re in Bahrain, and for this week a short story set in the sunshine.

Book:    The Pearl Thief

Author: Noor Al Noaimi

ISBN:     9-781-511-812-160

This is a lovely little short story about Hassan. A poor Bahraini islander, who finds himself in desperate circumstances. Driven by the need to take care of his ageing parents, he embarks on the unthinkable; a pearl diving quest when he can’t even swim!

But can Hassan be more than he is? Can he leave his world of poverty and being looked-down upon, to finally be someone in his life and provide for his family? Or will he always be a poor man’s son, destined to a life of destitution and struggle?

 

This really is a lovely little story.

And at only 19/20 pages long, a very quick read.

This is a story all about courage and hope.

Without giving too much away, Hassan found himself in the darkness. But he had hope that life would improve, the courage to do something he didn’t think he could do, and spotted an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.

The story teaches us that life is full of opportunities, we just have to keep our eyes peeled to notice them. And sometimes opportunities can appear in the most unexpected of places.

I firmly believe that in life, if you grab each and every opportunity you are presented with, whether or not it ends up being good or not so good, it’s a chance to learn and grow.

Do you agree with that?

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FE Vegan Bake Off – Round 6 – China

A super simple, quick and easy recipe for the Chinese ePrix in Sanya.

‘Mango Pudding’ is the order of the day.

It is a very light dessert with a smooth and creamy texture and is sweet and refreshing. The use of coconut milk enhances the natural sweetness of the mango.

The recipe I used was from ‘The Spruce Eats‘ website:

Mango Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 medium to large​ ripe mangoes (or a tin, minus the juice)
  • 3tsp vegan gelatine (Agar Agar Flakes)
  • 125ml hot water
  • 75g white sugar
  • 250ml good-quality​ coconut milk

Method

As I don’t have a blender, I didn’t puree the mango first, but added it at a later stage and blitzed everything at the same time.

  1. Pour the water in a saucepan and heat until it boils
  2. Remove from the heat
  3. Stir briskly with a fork or whisk and add 3tsp of vegan gelatine
  4. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved
  5. Add the mango and coconut milk to the saucepan
  6. Using a handheld blender, blitz everything together until combined
  7. Pour into dessert bowls or cups
  8. Pop into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (these can be made 24 in advance if you need them for a special occasion)
  9. Serve cold on its own, or add some fruit or desiccated coconut
  10. Enjoy

NOTES

  • This was very simple to make
  • It didn’t look a bright orange mango colour because I used coconut sugar (which is brown) instead of caster sugar
  • They really are very refreshing

Mango Pudding

And here’s how I made it:

Next up Rome. My favourite city in the world. Going to have to think up something special for that one.

 

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Top 10 Funniest Tweet Awards – Australian Grand Prix 2019

Did you enjoy that?

After 111 days, F1 is back!

Under a sunny, blue Melbourne sky it was quite exciting wasn’t it?

WOW! What a performance by Valtteri Bottas and following his admission that he had porridge for breakfast, expect porridge sales to go through the roof.

And of course, despite the early hour for many of us there was a plethora of funny tweets.

I’ve missed doing these so much, so thank you for all the hilarity you have provided.

As always, it was really difficult to whittle them down to just 10, but I had to do it.

An honorary mention goes to @tooonarmy for finally explaining what Haas stands for:

Haas

10th place goes to @LastLapPodcast and this tweet about the difference at Ferrari from last season to this! Despite a strong performance during winter testing, their pace was definitely off the mark today.

In 9th place is @Jack_Bown with live footage from every single driver in the top 10 during the closing stages of the race. They all want that point for the fastest lap, after all that’s a potential extra 21 points over the course of the season.

8th place goes to @JVRSRN4 and this tweet about the full speed of the new Williams car. Anyone else feel desperately sorry for everyone at Williams? There’s clearly something wrong, and I hope they can resolve it soon.

7th place goes to @Jontys_Corner and a sense of Groundhog Day at McLaren as Sainz pulls into the pitlane on fire

In 6th place is @RJoseRazoJr with live footage from Gasly’s cockpit as he tries to overtake former Red Bull driver, F1 returner Daniil Kvyat

In 5th place is @KennyGreybeard and his tweet following Max Verstappen’s little off onto the grass

picture of cannibis leaves

Have you caught the new Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive’? Apparently, Haas Teamp Principal, Gunther Steiner has emerged as a bit of a star. In 4th place is @PatrickSikler and his tweet following Grosjean’s retirement after Haas, yet again, bodged the pitstop and didn’t attach a wheel properly.

3rd place goes to @RenaultF1Team and their very kind translation of Mercedes radio transmissions

2nd places goes to @timwagner66 and this tweet following that disastrous Haas pitstop on Grosjean’s car…

And the first winner of this season, in 1st place is @TarasDemerson and this hilarious tweet about new Alfa Romeo driver, Giovanzzi and his ability to keep half the grid behind him as he struggled on old tyres. (It properly made me laugh out loud)

So there you have it.

The Top 10 Funniest Tweets from the Australian Grand Prix 2019.

They will be back in two weeks as we head to Bahrain.

If you want to take part (the points awarded each race add up and an overall champion is crowned at the end of the season) it’s simple:

  1. Follow me on Twitter (@Pitlane_Girl)
  2. During the race (from lights out to the chequered flag) simply tweet something funny
  3. Make sure you tag me
  4. Cross fingers that (a) I see the tweet and (b) you make the top 10 cut

See you in the desert in Bahrain.

What do you think of these 10? Leave your comments below.

 

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F1 Bake Off 2019 – Round 1 – Australia

F1 is back! Yes!

Who’s excited for the new season kicking off on Sunday?

Not only is F1 back, but hopefully you will have seen my new challenge for 2019 – F1 Book Club, and of course F1 Bake Off is making a return. (Not to mention the Funniest Tweet Awards. What would an F1 season be without those?)

This year, I’m not going to be quite so ambitious and stick to fairly simple recipes that can’t possibly go wrong. Cross fingers.

Starting in Australia, I thought I’d have a go at making that good old Australian tea time staple, the ‘Lamington’.

It’s literally just a simple sponge cake, covered in chocolate icing and rolled in desiccated coconut.

That doesn’t sound too hard, does it?

The recipe I used was from the All Recipes website.

LAMINGTONS

Ingredients

Cake

  • 125g (4¼ oz) butter
  • 150g (5oz) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g (9oz) plain flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) milk

Icing

  • 450g (1lb) icing sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 120ml (4 fl oz) milk
  • 2 (200g) packages desiccated coconut

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190C / GAs Mark 5 / 375F /170C Fan
  2. Grease and flour a 20x30cm rectangular baking tin
  3. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside
  4. In a jug measure out the milk and set aside
  5. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition
  7. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and beat well
  8. Pour this mixture into the tin
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
  10. Let stand for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely
  11. Store overnight to give the cake a chance to firm up before icing
  12. The following day, make the icing
  13. In a large bowl, combine icing sugar and cocoa
  14. In a saucepan, heat milk and 1 tablespoon butter until the butter is melted
  15. Add the milk to the sugar mixture and mix well to create a fluid, but not too runny, icing
  16. Cut the cake into 24 squares
  17. Place coconut in a shallow container
  18. Using a fork, dip each square into the icing, then roll it in the coconut
  19. Place onto a cooling rack to dry
  20. Continue for each piece
  21. The icing will drip, so place a sheet of greaseproof paper under the rack to catch the drips

This was super simple to make.

The only change I made was to omit the cocoa powder in the icing. This is purely because I can’t eat chocolate. I know, horrendous, right?

Did anything go wrong?

Nope. Well, not in the cooking or making aspect at least. The bottom of the cake did stick to the bottom of the tin. But it didn’t have a soggy bottom!

The only care I would suggest you take is when you dip the cake into the icing and then go to the coconut. As the cake gets covered in the icing, it gets heavier. Let’s just say a couple of squares of cake did break up. (It didn’t affect the flavour though)

These cakes are really lovely, and I, for one, will definitely be making them again.

Here’s how I did it:

 

Have a go at making Lamingtons yourself and let me know how you did in the comments.

 

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F1 Book Club – Australia

Welcome to a brand new F1 season and a brand new F1 challenge for yours truly.

But don’t panic, if you enjoyed the F1 Bake Off last season it’s back for 2019.

What’s this new challenge though?

Well, aside from motorsport another of my passions is reading.

And if you’ve read the ‘Get To Know Me‘ page, you’ll know I am a veritable bookworm. My book stash would seriously give Waterstones a run for their money.

So, I am attempting to read a book from every country F1 visits.

It’s definitely been interesting research and I have whiled a way a good few hours over the winter break getting a head start and reading quite a few.

Here we are though, first race of the season (gives a little cheer, it’s been a long winter) in Australia and here’s my review of the first book.

CLOUDSTREET by Tim Winton

Book:    Cloudstreet

Author: Tim Winton

ISBN:     978-1-4472-7530-5

Will you look at us by the river! The whole restless mob of us on spread blankets in the dreamy briny sunshine skylarking and chiacking about for one day, one clear, clean, sweet day in a good world in the midst of our living.

No. 1 Cloudstreet: a broken-down house on the wrong side of the tracks. A place teeming with memories, with shudders and shadows and spirits. From separate catastrophes, two families – the Pickles and Lambs – flee to the city and find themselves thrown together, forced to start their lives afresh. As they roister and rankle, the place that began as a roof over their heads becomes a home for their hearts.

 

This book, first published in 1991, won Australia’s prestigious ‘Miles Franklin Award’ and tells the tale of the Pickles and Lamb families over a twenty year period, from 1943, as they begin their lives afresh under one roof at number 1 Cloudstreet.

I actually really liked this book, once I got into it.

It took a while to get used to how it’s laid out. Sub-sections within chapters and sometimes a section seems like a random string of thoughts with nothing to do with the story.

The other thing I noticed was the lack of speech marks and sometimes this made it difficult to keep up with who was actually speaking, or whether indeed they were actually speaking.

After the first couple of chapters the story batted back and forth between the families lives. As the review from Time Out suggested: “Imagine Neighbours being taken over by the writing team of John Steinbeck and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” And, in a way, I guess that’s right.

Of course, in any good soap opera you have the main characters who seem to get most of the action and the secondary characters who pop-up occasionally, but don’t really get in the way of the action.

And Cloudstreet is no different. Aside from the parents, out of the nine children, only 3 of them are protagonists to the plot of the story, the remaining six, are mentioned, maybe have a little story and then just flit in and out like extras.

I would definitely recommend this book. It spins a good tale and you really do get drawn in and invested in the characters and what happens to them.

However, I just have a few unanswered questions:

  1. Why did Oriel move into the tent?
  2. What was the point of the character Beryl – she moved in and then moved out?
  3. Who was the mysterious ‘native’ man everyone seemed to keep seeing?

And finally, Oriel declares that war is our natural state, explaining: “you can’t steer if you’re not goin faster than the current. If you’re not under your own steam then yer just debris, stuff floating. We’re not frightened animals, Lester, just waitin, with some dumb thoughtless patience for the tide to turn. I’m not spendin my livin breathin life quietly takin the good with the bad. I’m not standin for the bad; bad people, bad luck, bad ways, not even bad breath. We make good Lester. We make war on the bad and don’t surrender.”

That struck a chord with me, is she right in saying that war is our natural state? Constantly fighting, it seems, to try and make our lives better. What do you think?

Here’s my online review:

 

Why not give Cloudstreet a go? Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

 

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Guide to Hong Kong: The world’s 4th most densely populated region

Hong Kong is officially known as the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”, and is located on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With over 7.4 million people of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is the world’s fourth most densely populated region.

Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after Qing China ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War, and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898.

The entire territory was returned to China in 1997. It is now a special administrative region and as such, Hong Kong’s system of government is separate from that of mainland China and its people overwhelmingly identify as Hongkongers rather than Chinese.

10 Cultural ‘things to do’ in Hong Kong

‘Big Buddha’ & Po Lin Monastery

Hong Kong’s singular most recognisable and iconic attraction is the Tian Tan Buddha (more commonly referred to as just the Big Buddha)

It took 12 years to plan and build and sits 34 metres high.

To reach it you have to climb 268 steps so it’s great if you want to get a little exercise.

The Buddha is next to the Po Lin Monastery which is one of the world’s most important Buddhist sanctums, rich with religious iconography and wafts of incense.

Temple Street Night Market


It’s rare to find a night market in Hong Kong, which has given constant fame to Temple Street. When the sun goes down, the traders have already laid out their wares and the opera singers and fortune tellers begin to emerge.

Temple Street is named after a Tin Hau temple located in the centre of its main drag, and is so steeped in local atmosphere that it has also served as the backdrop to many movies.

Whilst the locals come to consult the fortune-tellers, tourists visit Temple Street for their ‘I heart HK’ T-shirts and watches of dubious provenance,

It is an enduring example of the theatre and festivity of a Chinese market. And it’s on show nightly.

Wong Tai Sin Temple

Wong Tai Sin Temple is one of Hong Kong’s biggest and busiest temples and home to three religions: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

The temple boasts gorgeously ornamented buildings to soak in the atmosphere created by the incense and prayers. If you don’t mind crowds, it is also the go-to place for worship for big celebrations such as the Buddha’s birthday.

If you want to see what your future holds, Wong Tai Sin has a ‘supposedly’ accurate fortune-telling system, the ‘aka kau cim’ A bamboo cylinder, containing various fortune sticks, that you shake until one falls out.

A night at the Yau Ma Tei Theatre

Built in 1930, the Yau Ma Tei Theatre is the only surviving pre-war cinema building in the urban area of Hong Kong and is the go-to spot to experience the traditional form of Chinese entertainment

Although the theatre closed down in 1998, it re-opened in 2012, and the revamped space reprised its role as a place of entertainment, dedicated to Cantonese opera.

Cantonese opera is easily recognisable thanks to its ornate costumes, dazzling theatricals, over-the-top headdresses, signature red, white and black face paint it is definitely something to be experienced. The Yau Ma Tei is favoured by younger up-and-coming performers, and some shows have English sub-titles.

Golden Bauhinia Square

The Golden Bauhinia Square is an open area in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, and is located outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the ceremonies for the handover of Hong Kong and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region were held in July 1997.

The Forever Blooming Bauhinia Sculpture that gives the square its name was a gift from the Central Chinese Government to mark the 1997 Handover. The bauhinia is the emblem of Hong Kong and the sculpture, deemed an important symbol for the Hong Kong people after the handover, is six metres high with the major part composed of a bauhinia on a base of red granite pillar on a pyramid.

The square is a popular tourist attraction and a flag-raising ceremony is held every day at 8:00 am. On the second day of Chinese New Year and National Day of the People’s Republic of China, the square is lighted up by a firework show.

The locals have nicknamed The Golden Bauhinia as the “Golden Pak Choi”!

The Wan Chai Heritage Trail

Wan Chai is one of the earliest settlements in Hong Kong and the Wan Chai Heritage Trail is a two-hour walking trail around the district.

It is divided into two parts, architectural and cultural and has a total of 15 stops.

The architectural trail includes Blue House, Wan Chai Market and Nam Koo Terrace, whilst the cultural trail includes The Pak Tai Temple, Old Wan Chai Post Office and the Hung Shing Temple.

This is an easy and free way to experience the city’s culture, and appreciate both its colonial and modern architecture.

Stanley

Stanley, or Chek Chue, is a coastal town and tourist attraction, located on a peninsula on Hong Kong Island.

In 1842, after the annexation of Hong Kong, the British made Stanley the temporary administrative centre.

Stanley Fort, the former British Army barracks, was where British and Canadian troops mounted a last stand during the Battle of Hong Kong. The survivors surrendering to Japanese forces in December 1941. Today it is occupied by the People’s Liberation Army following the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997

Stanley is a favourite with foodies and shoppers. The latter come for the popular Stanley Market the latter for the great choice of local and international food.

Lei Cheung UK Han Tomb

Model of the Lei Cheng Han Uk Tomb in Hong KongIn 1955, when levelling a slope for the construction of resettlement villages in Lei Cheng Uk, a government work team stumbled upon a mysterious four-chamber tomb.

In 1957, following excavation, the tomb and an exhibition hall opened to the public. The exhibition hall contains all the pottery and bronze wares that were excavated from the tomb, while texts, graphics, photos, maps and video models are used to explain the historical significance of the site and the historical period from which the tomb dates.

According to the structure, calligraphy and content of the inscriptions on tomb bricks and to the tomb finds, the tomb is commonly believed to have been built during the Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25 – 220) and probably built for a Chinese officer attached to the local garrison.

The tomb is constructed of bricks and consists of four chambers set in the form of a cross. It is believed that the rear chamber is the coffin chamber, that side chambers were used for storage, while ritual ceremonies were performed in the front chamber under the domed roof. The tomb’s cross-shaped structure and the burial objects found inside show great similarities as compared to other Han tombs found in South China, which prove that early Chinese civilisation had spread to Hong Kong 2,000 years ago.

Cheung Po Tsai Cave

This is a natural cave where, according to legend, the famous Guangdong pirate Cheung Po Tsai (1786–1822), kept his treasures. Although often portrayed as a latter-day Robin Hood in many stories and movies, Cheung Po Tsai was a notorious pirate in the South China Seas, apparently commanding a fleet of 600 ships and 50,000 men. He surrendered to the Qing Government in 1810 and was given an officer position in the Chinese Navy!

The Cheung Po Tsai Cave on the island of Cheung Chau was one of Cheung’s stash houses and his most famous. It is located on the outlying islands of Hong Kong and although nowadays there’s nothing to see, exploring the winding passages and letting your imagination run riot with pirate stories, it is a fun way to kill time.

If you decide to visit, take a torch. Cutlass and parrot are entirely optional!

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is patterned after the traditional si he yuan: a compound of a harmonious mix of houses built around a central courtyard.

As well as the architecture, the museum is divided into 12 exhibition galleries, each holding a treasure trove of relics that express the culture and arts of Hong Kong and the nearby South China region, including a collection of beautiful Chinese paintings by Chao Shao-an (an acclaimed master of the Lingnan School), an exhibition tracing the development of Cantonese opera and the first exhibition gallery in Hong Kong based on the works of renowned writer Dr Louis Cha (pen name Jin Yong) including early editions of Jin Yong’s novels, invaluable manuscripts, documents and photos.

For martial arts fans, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, in collaboration with the Bruce Lee Foundation, has organised an exhibition that looks at Bruce Lee not only as a film star and martial artist, but also as a cultural phenomenon. The exhibition opened in 2013 and will close in July 2020.

Following renovation work, Bruce Lee’s statue can be found back on the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong.

10 Cool ‘things to do’ in Hong Kong

Star Ferry

The Star Ferry is the historic (and cheap) passenger ferry service carrying passengers across Victoria Harbour, between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The service is operated by the Star Ferry Company, founded in 1888 as the Kowloon Ferry Company, and adopted its present name in 1898.

It is the fastest and cheapest way to travel between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central or Wan Chai, taking less than five minutes to cross between the two shores. The sea breeze and relaxing pace of the journey are recommendations enough but the short trip also offers one of the best views of the iconic Hong Kong skyline, providing front row seats to the sights of Victoria Harbour.

Top tip would be to sit on the upper deck to get the best views.

Ride the ‘ding-dings’

Hong Kong’s trams are a city icon and affectionately known as the ding-ding, because rather than having a car horn they have bells that ring.

Trams are a super affordable way to tour Hong Kong Island, and the ‘ding-dings’ retains an old-school feel – where you get on at the back and pay by the driver as you exit at the front.

Ride the Central to Mid-Level Escalator

How often can you say you’ve travelled on the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system? Opening in 1993, the system covers over 800 metres (2,600 ft) in distance and traverses an elevation of over 135 metres (443 ft) from bottom to top.

It is the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system providing an improved link between the Central and Mid-Levels districts on Hong Kong Island

It’s the easiest way to get to the area’s many great bars and restaurants, and if you’re a fan of Wong Kar-wei’s movies, recreate the scenes from Chungking Express.

You can hop off the escalator at any point to explore.

Ladder Steps

If you’re feeling energetic, want to get your daily steps in and want an alternative to the Central to Mid-Levels escalator, why not check out some of the ladder streets.

These cobbled streets were built between 1841 and 1850 as a way to connect the Central and Mid-Levels areas and are full of historic places and interesting little shops.

Watch the ‘Symphony of Lights’ from a traditional junk

There are few skylines in the world that rival Hong Kong’s. Hong Kong’s Symphony of Lights is a free light and sound show that takes place every night at 8:00 pm and lasts about 10 minutes. The stage is the entire city, which is what makes it so unique.

For the best views of the imposing towers book a harbor tour on a traditional junk boat.

Alex Croft x GOD graffiti wall

This is a hugely popular street art mural depicting old Hong Kong townhouses located on Hollywood Road.

It is the most recognisable and photographed example of street art in Hong Kong, snap a shot of yourself walking past the mural and the slope for a memorable photograph, not to mention popping it onto Instagram.

Hike the ‘Dragon’s Back’

This is an easily accessible, popular and gentle hike with incredibly rewarding panoramic views of Tai Tam, Shek O and Big Wave Bay as you walk along the mountain ridge.

Besides its attractive name, Dragon’s Back has a sightseeing platform near the peak that provides truly spectacular views of southern Hong Kong Island and its shoreline. Right at the trail’s end is Big Wave Bay where you can take a dip or surf the waves.

Cycle Lamma Island

20 minutes aways from the hustle and bustle of the city lies Lamma Island. This is Hong Kong’s third largest island and is one of the very few places in Hong Kong that still hangs on to its old fishery ancestry customs and traditions. It is a great option for an escape from the tumult of the city.

There are no vehicles or public transport here, except for service vehicles. It’s either walking or bikes… a nice change of pace!

The waterfront restaurants at Lamma Island offers some of the freshest seafood in Hong Kong and affordable to boot.

Early morning Tai Chi class in Kowloon

Tai Chi is suitable for most levels of fitness, has been traditionally practiced for years and is still part of Hong Kong culture and life.

If you’re an early bird why not check out the early morning Tai Chi sessions in many of Hong Kong’s parks. You can watch and in some cases join in.

Petty Person Beating

This has got to be my favourite ‘cool thing to do’ in Hong Kong.

In Causeway Bay, the flyover known as Ngo Keng Kiu passes over a three-way junction, making it the ideal feng shui spot for dispelling evil.

Here is where Hong Kong’s ‘professional beaters’ gather, but these beaters are no muscle-laden heavies, they come in the form of old ladies.

So, if you’ve got a demanding boss, troublesome neighbour or annoying customer, you can give that petty person a good pasting without fear.

The process is easy, just tell one of the professional beaters who the person holding you back is and she’ll light some incense, make cut-outs of a paper tiger and beat the ‘petty person’ out of your life with her shoe.

5 places to eat

Australian Dairy Company

The Australian Dairy Company is regarded as one of the best cha chaang tengs (greasy spoons) in Hong Kong.

You can find all manner of delicious local delights from fried instant noodles to a fluffy egg sandwich.

The best item on the menu is the breakfast set, which is satisfying portion of fluffy and moist scrambled eggs served with rich buttery thick toast, together with a plate of macaroni along with char siu in chicken broth, the staple breakfast for many Hongkongers.

Their ‘yuen yeung’, a mix of milky tea and milky coffee is a hugely popular local beverage.

Tim Ho Wan (Sham Shui Po)

Tim Ho Wan is considered one of the best dim sums spots in Hong Kong and the Sham Shui Po branch is your chance to dine at one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world.

Their most famous dish is the barbecue pork baked bun, char siu bao. Although there’s not a huge selection available on the menu, you’re there for dim sum and it does not disappoint.

Cocktails at the Ozone

Ozone Bar at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong is world famously touted as the ‘highest bar in the world’.

It’s located on the 118th floor of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, the ICC Tower in Kowloon, From the bar you can see all of the city spread out like a map below you.

Ozone specialises in creating innovative and unusual cocktail mixes, but be warned: cocktails this good and this high up come at a price.

Jumbo Kingdom

Jumbo Kingdom is an iconic Hong Kong landmark, a floating restaurant at the Aberdeen Promenade that looks like an ancient Chinese palace.

It took over four years and millions of dollars to build and has featured in several movies, including the James Bond film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’.

On the menu is a variety of quality seafood dishes, dim sum and splendid Cantonese cuisine.

Stinky Tofu at Cheung Cheong Foods

Cheung Cheong Foods is a humble street stall selling various traditional street food, but is best known for its stinky tofu!

Despite the pungent smell of stinky tofu, it’s a well-loved local delicacy, thanks to its mix of tofu and fermented milk, meat and fish that’s deep fried.

Apparently, it tastes better than it smells but , a bit like Marmite, you either love-it-or-hate-it!. Locals pair the stinky tofu with some sweet sauce and chilli sauce.

5 Top Tips to help you get by

  1. Carry an umbrella at all times – the weather in Hong Kong is unpredictable. Hong Kong gets an average of 101 rainy days a year! But if you do forget, there will most likely be one for sale nearby
  2. Taxis are cheap, but take the MTR if you can – Taxis are cheap, but don’t get a taxi to or from the airport, across the bridge to the other side (tolls add up), during rush hour, or to places that can be easily reached by the MTR. Uber is in Hong Kong, but is generally twice as expensive
  3. Get an Octopus card – this is basically like a prepaid debit card but it works all over Hong Kong. You can use an Octopus card at all MTR stations, the Star Ferry, the Peak Tram, 7-Elevens and McDonald’s. It certainly saves time fumbling around for coins, especially on the MTR. Octopus cards can be purchased at all MTR stations, but it’s best to buy one at the Airport Express station at the Hong Kong airport before you even get to the city
  4. Tipping is not expected – and is not a big deal in Hong Kong. Restaurants generally add a 10 percent service charge but this will be made clear on the menu. If the service was particularly good, you can add a little more but this is not expected. Taxi drivers don’t expect tips but if the fare comes out to an awkward number and you round-up to the nearest dollar and they won’t complain!
  5. Museums are free on Wednesdays – many of the best museums offer free entry including: the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Racing Museum, Hong Kong Space Museum and the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum.

Basic Cantonese phrases to help you get by

  • Hello: Nei-hou
  • How are you: Lay hoe ma
  • Good morning: Jow sun
  • Goodbye: Joy geen
  • Excuse me or thank you: M goy
  • My name is: Ngor guw
  • I don’t understand: N gorm ming bat
  • Thank you – when accepting a gift from some one: doh-je
  • You are welcome – reply to a thank you: ng-sai-hak-hei
  • How much is it: Ching mun, gay daw cheen
  • Check please: M goy, mai dan
  • Too expensive: Tai gwei le
  • Where is the restroom: Chee saw hai been doe ah
  • Do you have any: Lay yow mo
  • Do you serve beer: Leedo yow mo bair tsow yum ah
  • Yes, we do: Yow ah
  • No, we don’t: Mo ah

 

Hong Kong is officially known as the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”, and is located on the eastern side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With over 7.4 million people of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is the world’s fourth most densely populated region.

Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after Qing China ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War, and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898.

The entire territory was returned to China in 1997. It is now a special administrative region and as such, Hong Kong’s system of government is separate from that of mainland China and its people overwhelmingly identify as Hongkongers rather than Chinese.

10 Cultural ‘things to do’ in Hong Kong

‘Big Buddha’ & Po Lin Monastery

Hong Kong’s singular most recognisable and iconic attraction is the Tian Tan Buddha (more commonly referred to as just the Big Buddha)

It took 12 years to plan and build and sits 34 metres high.

To reach it you have to climb 268 steps so it’s great if you want to get a little exercise.

The Buddha is next to the Po Lin Monastery which is one of the world’s most important Buddhist sanctums, rich with religious iconography and wafts of incense.

Temple Street Night Market


It’s rare to find a night market in Hong Kong, which has given constant fame to Temple Street. When the sun goes down, the traders have already laid out their wares and the opera singers and fortune tellers begin to emerge.

Temple Street is named after a Tin Hau temple located in the centre of its main drag, and is so steeped in local atmosphere that it has also served as the backdrop to many movies.

Whilst the locals come to consult the fortune-tellers, tourists visit Temple Street for their ‘I heart HK’ T-shirts and watches of dubious provenance,

It is an enduring example of the theatre and festivity of a Chinese market. And it’s on show nightly.

Wong Tai Sin Temple

Wong Tai Sin Temple is one of Hong Kong’s biggest and busiest temples and home to three religions: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

The temple boasts gorgeously ornamented buildings to soak in the atmosphere created by the incense and prayers. If you don’t mind crowds, it is also the go-to place for worship for big celebrations such as the Buddha’s birthday.

If you want to see what your future holds, Wong Tai Sin has a ‘supposedly’ accurate fortune-telling system, the ‘aka kau cim’ A bamboo cylinder, containing various fortune sticks, that you shake until one falls out.

A night at the Yau Ma Tei Theatre

Built in 1930, the Yau Ma Tei Theatre is the only surviving pre-war cinema building in the urban area of Hong Kong and is the go-to spot to experience the traditional form of Chinese entertainment

Although the theatre closed down in 1998, it re-opened in 2012, and the revamped space reprised its role as a place of entertainment, dedicated to Cantonese opera.

Cantonese opera is easily recognisable thanks to its ornate costumes, dazzling theatricals, over-the-top headdresses, signature red, white and black face paint it is definitely something to be experienced. The Yau Ma Tei is favoured by younger up-and-coming performers, and some shows have English sub-titles.

Golden Bauhinia Square

The Golden Bauhinia Square is an open area in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, and is located outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the ceremonies for the handover of Hong Kong and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region were held in July 1997.

The Forever Blooming Bauhinia Sculpture that gives the square its name was a gift from the Central Chinese Government to mark the 1997 Handover. The bauhinia is the emblem of Hong Kong and the sculpture, deemed an important symbol for the Hong Kong people after the handover, is six metres high with the major part composed of a bauhinia on a base of red granite pillar on a pyramid.

The square is a popular tourist attraction and a flag-raising ceremony is held every day at 8:00 am. On the second day of Chinese New Year and National Day of the People’s Republic of China, the square is lighted up by a firework show.

The locals have nicknamed The Golden Bauhinia as the “Golden Pak Choi”!

The Wan Chai Heritage Trail

Wan Chai is one of the earliest settlements in Hong Kong and the Wan Chai Heritage Trail is a two-hour walking trail around the district.

It is divided into two parts, architectural and cultural and has a total of 15 stops.

The architectural trail includes Blue House, Wan Chai Market and Nam Koo Terrace, whilst the cultural trail includes The Pak Tai Temple, Old Wan Chai Post Office and the Hung Shing Temple.

This is an easy and free way to experience the city’s culture, and appreciate both its colonial and modern architecture.

Stanley

Stanley, or Chek Chue, is a coastal town and tourist attraction, located on a peninsula on Hong Kong Island.

In 1842, after the annexation of Hong Kong, the British made Stanley the temporary administrative centre.

Stanley Fort, the former British Army barracks, was where British and Canadian troops mounted a last stand during the Battle of Hong Kong. The survivors surrendering to Japanese forces in December 1941. Today it is occupied by the People’s Liberation Army following the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China in 1997

Stanley is a favourite with foodies and shoppers. The latter come for the popular Stanley Market the latter for the great choice of local and international food.

Lei Cheung UK Han Tomb

Model of the Lei Cheng Han Uk Tomb in Hong KongIn 1955, when levelling a slope for the construction of resettlement villages in Lei Cheng Uk, a government work team stumbled upon a mysterious four-chamber tomb.

In 1957, following excavation, the tomb and an exhibition hall opened to the public. The exhibition hall contains all the pottery and bronze wares that were excavated from the tomb, while texts, graphics, photos, maps and video models are used to explain the historical significance of the site and the historical period from which the tomb dates.

According to the structure, calligraphy and content of the inscriptions on tomb bricks and to the tomb finds, the tomb is commonly believed to have been built during the Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25 – 220) and probably built for a Chinese officer attached to the local garrison.

The tomb is constructed of bricks and consists of four chambers set in the form of a cross. It is believed that the rear chamber is the coffin chamber, that side chambers were used for storage, while ritual ceremonies were performed in the front chamber under the domed roof. The tomb’s cross-shaped structure and the burial objects found inside show great similarities as compared to other Han tombs found in South China, which prove that early Chinese civilisation had spread to Hong Kong 2,000 years ago.

Cheung Po Tsai Cave

This is a natural cave where, according to legend, the famous Guangdong pirate Cheung Po Tsai (1786–1822), kept his treasures. Although often portrayed as a latter-day Robin Hood in many stories and movies, Cheung Po Tsai was a notorious pirate in the South China Seas, apparently commanding a fleet of 600 ships and 50,000 men. He surrendered to the Qing Government in 1810 and was given an officer position in the Chinese Navy!

The Cheung Po Tsai Cave on the island of Cheung Chau was one of Cheung’s stash houses and his most famous. It is located on the outlying islands of Hong Kong and although nowadays there’s nothing to see, exploring the winding passages and letting your imagination run riot with pirate stories, it is a fun way to kill time.

If you decide to visit, take a torch. Cutlass and parrot are entirely optional!

Hong Kong Heritage Museum

The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is patterned after the traditional si he yuan: a compound of a harmonious mix of houses built around a central courtyard.

As well as the architecture, the museum is divided into 12 exhibition galleries, each holding a treasure trove of relics that express the culture and arts of Hong Kong and the nearby South China region, including a collection of beautiful Chinese paintings by Chao Shao-an (an acclaimed master of the Lingnan School), an exhibition tracing the development of Cantonese opera and the first exhibition gallery in Hong Kong based on the works of renowned writer Dr Louis Cha (pen name Jin Yong) including early editions of Jin Yong’s novels, invaluable manuscripts, documents and photos.

For martial arts fans, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, in collaboration with the Bruce Lee Foundation, has organised an exhibition that looks at Bruce Lee not only as a film star and martial artist, but also as a cultural phenomenon. The exhibition opened in 2013 and will close in July 2020.

Following renovation work, Bruce Lee’s statue can be found back on the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong.

10 Cool ‘things to do’ in Hong Kong

Star Ferry

The Star Ferry is the historic (and cheap) passenger ferry service carrying passengers across Victoria Harbour, between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The service is operated by the Star Ferry Company, founded in 1888 as the Kowloon Ferry Company, and adopted its present name in 1898.

It is the fastest and cheapest way to travel between Tsim Sha Tsui and Central or Wan Chai, taking less than five minutes to cross between the two shores. The sea breeze and relaxing pace of the journey are recommendations enough but the short trip also offers one of the best views of the iconic Hong Kong skyline, providing front row seats to the sights of Victoria Harbour.

Top tip would be to sit on the upper deck to get the best views.

Ride the ‘ding-dings’

Hong Kong’s trams are a city icon and affectionately known as the ding-ding, because rather than having a car horn they have bells that ring.

Trams are a super affordable way to tour Hong Kong Island, and the ‘ding-dings’ retains an old-school feel – where you get on at the back and pay by the driver as you exit at the front.

Ride the Central to Mid-Level Escalator

How often can you say you’ve travelled on the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system? Opening in 1993, the system covers over 800 metres (2,600 ft) in distance and traverses an elevation of over 135 metres (443 ft) from bottom to top.

It is the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system providing an improved link between the Central and Mid-Levels districts on Hong Kong Island

It’s the easiest way to get to the area’s many great bars and restaurants, and if you’re a fan of Wong Kar-wei’s movies, recreate the scenes from Chungking Express.

You can hop off the escalator at any point to explore.

Ladder Steps

If you’re feeling energetic, want to get your daily steps in and want an alternative to the Central to Mid-Levels escalator, why not check out some of the ladder streets.

These cobbled streets were built between 1841 and 1850 as a way to connect the Central and Mid-Levels areas and are full of historic places and interesting little shops.

Watch the ‘Symphony of Lights’ from a traditional junk

There are few skylines in the world that rival Hong Kong’s. Hong Kong’s Symphony of Lights is a free light and sound show that takes place every night at 8:00 pm and lasts about 10 minutes. The stage is the entire city, which is what makes it so unique.

For the best views of the imposing towers book a harbor tour on a traditional junk boat.

Alex Croft x GOD graffiti wall

This is a hugely popular street art mural depicting old Hong Kong townhouses located on Hollywood Road.

It is the most recognisable and photographed example of street art in Hong Kong, snap a shot of yourself walking past the mural and the slope for a memorable photograph, not to mention popping it onto Instagram.

Hike the ‘Dragon’s Back’

This is an easily accessible, popular and gentle hike with incredibly rewarding panoramic views of Tai Tam, Shek O and Big Wave Bay as you walk along the mountain ridge.

Besides its attractive name, Dragon’s Back has a sightseeing platform near the peak that provides truly spectacular views of southern Hong Kong Island and its shoreline. Right at the trail’s end is Big Wave Bay where you can take a dip or surf the waves.

Cycle Lamma Island

20 minutes aways from the hustle and bustle of the city lies Lamma Island. This is Hong Kong’s third largest island and is one of the very few places in Hong Kong that still hangs on to its old fishery ancestry customs and traditions. It is a great option for an escape from the tumult of the city.

There are no vehicles or public transport here, except for service vehicles. It’s either walking or bikes… a nice change of pace!

The waterfront restaurants at Lamma Island offers some of the freshest seafood in Hong Kong and affordable to boot.

Early morning Tai Chi class in Kowloon

Tai Chi is suitable for most levels of fitness, has been traditionally practiced for years and is still part of Hong Kong culture and life.

If you’re an early bird why not check out the early morning Tai Chi sessions in many of Hong Kong’s parks. You can watch and in some cases join in.

Petty Person Beating

This has got to be my favourite ‘cool thing to do’ in Hong Kong.

In Causeway Bay, the flyover known as Ngo Keng Kiu passes over a three-way junction, making it the ideal feng shui spot for dispelling evil.

Here is where Hong Kong’s ‘professional beaters’ gather, but these beaters are no muscle-laden heavies, they come in the form of old ladies.

So, if you’ve got a demanding boss, troublesome neighbour or annoying customer, you can give that petty person a good pasting without fear.

The process is easy, just tell one of the professional beaters who the person holding you back is and she’ll light some incense, make cut-outs of a paper tiger and beat the ‘petty person’ out of your life with her shoe.

5 places to eat

Australian Dairy Company

The Australian Dairy Company is regarded as one of the best cha chaang tengs (greasy spoons) in Hong Kong.

You can find all manner of delicious local delights from fried instant noodles to a fluffy egg sandwich.

The best item on the menu is the breakfast set, which is satisfying portion of fluffy and moist scrambled eggs served with rich buttery thick toast, together with a plate of macaroni along with char siu in chicken broth, the staple breakfast for many Hongkongers.

Their ‘yuen yeung’, a mix of milky tea and milky coffee is a hugely popular local beverage.

Tim Ho Wan (Sham Shui Po)

Tim Ho Wan is considered one of the best dim sums spots in Hong Kong and the Sham Shui Po branch is your chance to dine at one of the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world.

Their most famous dish is the barbecue pork baked bun, char siu bao. Although there’s not a huge selection available on the menu, you’re there for dim sum and it does not disappoint.

Cocktails at the Ozone

Ozone Bar at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong is world famously touted as the ‘highest bar in the world’.

It’s located on the 118th floor of Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper, the ICC Tower in Kowloon, From the bar you can see all of the city spread out like a map below you.

Ozone specialises in creating innovative and unusual cocktail mixes, but be warned: cocktails this good and this high up come at a price.

Jumbo Kingdom

Jumbo Kingdom is an iconic Hong Kong landmark, a floating restaurant at the Aberdeen Promenade that looks like an ancient Chinese palace.

It took over four years and millions of dollars to build and has featured in several movies, including the James Bond film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’.

On the menu is a variety of quality seafood dishes, dim sum and splendid Cantonese cuisine.

Stinky Tofu at Cheung Cheong Foods

Cheung Cheong Foods is a humble street stall selling various traditional street food, but is best known for its stinky tofu!

Despite the pungent smell of stinky tofu, it’s a well-loved local delicacy, thanks to its mix of tofu and fermented milk, meat and fish that’s deep fried.

Apparently, it tastes better than it smells but , a bit like Marmite, you either love-it-or-hate-it!. Locals pair the stinky tofu with some sweet sauce and chilli sauce.

5 Top Tips to help you get by

  1. Carry an umbrella at all times – the weather in Hong Kong is unpredictable. Hong Kong gets an average of 101 rainy days a year! But if you do forget, there will most likely be one for sale nearby
  2. Taxis are cheap, but take the MTR if you can – Taxis are cheap, but don’t get a taxi to or from the airport, across the bridge to the other side (tolls add up), during rush hour, or to places that can be easily reached by the MTR. Uber is in Hong Kong, but is generally twice as expensive
  3. Get an Octopus card – this is basically like a prepaid debit card but it works all over Hong Kong. You can use an Octopus card at all MTR stations, the Star Ferry, the Peak Tram, 7-Elevens and McDonald’s. It certainly saves time fumbling around for coins, especially on the MTR. Octopus cards can be purchased at all MTR stations, but it’s best to buy one at the Airport Express station at the Hong Kong airport before you even get to the city
  4. Tipping is not expected – and is not a big deal in Hong Kong. Restaurants generally add a 10 percent service charge but this will be made clear on the menu. If the service was particularly good, you can add a little more but this is not expected. Taxi drivers don’t expect tips but if the fare comes out to an awkward number and you round-up to the nearest dollar and they won’t complain!
  5. Museums are free on Wednesdays – many of the best museums offer free entry including: the Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Racing Museum, Hong Kong Space Museum and the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum.

Basic Cantonese phrases to help you get by

  • Hello: Nei-hou
  • How are you: Lay hoe ma
  • Good morning: Jow sun
  • Goodbye: Joy geen
  • Excuse me or thank you: M goy
  • My name is: Ngor guw
  • I don’t understand: N gorm ming bat
  • Thank you – when accepting a gift from some one: doh-je
  • You are welcome – reply to a thank you: ng-sai-hak-hei
  • How much is it: Ching mun, gay daw cheen
  • Check please: M goy, mai dan
  • Too expensive: Tai gwei le
  • Where is the restroom: Chee saw hai been doe ah
  • Do you have any: Lay yow mo
  • Do you serve beer: Leedo yow mo bair tsow yum ah
  • Yes, we do: Yow ah
  • No, we don’t: Mo ah

 

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