Slightly off the tourist track

We went to the Yamataka Seafood Market in Wan Chai today. I can’t believe we hadn’t heard of this place until quite recently. Food wise, it’s as close you can get to being in Japan without actually going. They have a supermarket for Japanese groceries, and also a few food outlets. And the Market also has an awesome view, looking out across Victoria Harbour. Service was also really good, for HK standards. It was such a good experience. It also wasn’t very busy, I assume because there’s a lot of construction happening in the area, and it’s not so easy to get to. But we’ll definitely be going back! Totally worth the trek! 😆

The Seafood Market is right above the Wan Chai ferry pier, so we just caught a ferry from there over to Tsim Sha Tsui, on the other side of Victoria Harbour. From there, we caught the train to Sham Shui Po and visited the computer centre there. The computer centre there makes the one in Wan Chai seem really small! And the number of people there is also way more than in Wan Chai. It’s Wan Chai on steroids 😆 So I’d definitely recommend the Sham Shui Po one if anyone needs anything computer related! It’s not quite as tourist friendly (although HK tourism has been advertising Sham Shui Po a bit lately), and a bit farther out from where tourists would normally stay when they’re in HK, but it may be worth a visit even if just to experience the craziness of HK! 😆

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A curveball of a Saturday

I got woken up at around 7:30am this morning, with Kitty doing her usual scratching at whatever door took her fancy. Then she went to the bathroom twice, before throwing up ðŸĪŪ It wasn’t a great start to our day. I then went to clean up her mess, and put the bathmat that she threw up on into the washing machine. I then went to console her, and that’s when I noticed that she was bleeding, after having gone to the bathroom. So for the next hour, she just paced around the house, looking for somewhere to lie down and hide. She was clearly not comfortable 😔

The vet opened at 10am, which felt like an eternity. And then I wasn’t even sure if we could get an appointment, as I know the clinic gets very busy, especially on the weekend. When I rang, the receptionist did say that they were fully booked today, but because Kitty was bleeding, they squeezed her in somewhere, and we managed to see a vet, phewww

The vet suspects that she has cystitis, and has given her a bajillion meds. The poor little one 😔 And us too, as we have to administer some of these meds orally, and Little Miss is grumpy at the best of times. How are we going to get her to cooperate when she’s sick?? 😒 So let’s see how we go…

The aircon guys were also supposed to come this morning, but there was a bit of an issue with their earlier appointment and so the earliest they could come today ended up being 4pm. They asked if that was still ok, or if we’d prefer to reschedule. I chose the latter and rescheduled the quarterly clean for next Saturday instead.

And then my brother rang just before we were about to head out for some dance practice. I was speaking to my nephew as well, who’s almost three years old. He picks up English words really quickly and easily! I need to mimic like he does: just have whatever Chinese show on in the background, and repeat whatever they say, even if what I say is not perfect and I have no idea what they’re saying. The more I do it, the more phrases will come naturally to me, and hopefully over time, they will eventually start actually meaning something and not just be random sounds. You really just have to expect to be starting from scratch when it comes to learning a foreign language! 😆

And dance practice was good, although I couldn’t say the same about the quality of the actual dancing 😂 We had only booked the room for an hour, and when you essentially have eight dances to practice, one hour just ain’t enough. We managed to get through four dances, and even then, only superficially. We need to do these sorts of sessions more often.

On the way home, the streets seemed really quiet tonight, for HK standards, anyway. Normally this city is bustling, with lots of people everywhere. But tonight, where we were, it just seemed quite dead. And for this area to be dead at 9:30pm is highly unusual. I wonder if there was another protest today that everyone had gone to…

So it was quite an unexpected Saturday!

Learning Japanese in a Chinese speaking city

I decided to go to Causeway Bay for brunch today. I wanted to go to this particular cafe as they apparently serve scones, and I like scones 😋 But can you believe it, they open at 12pm! This city is sooo not for morning people 😂 I got there earlier than I expected to, and so I just wandered around the mall that the cafe was in. A few of the stalls in the mall weren’t open either, so I guess most places in this mall don’t open until later in the afternoon. I hung around until 12:30pm before I left, that was the longest time my patience could handle waiting. Such a shame that I didn’t get to try the cafe – and I didn’t get to have scones! Boo 😒

After I found a substitute place for lunch, I decided to head over to Eslite, one of the bookstores here in HK. They have Japanese language textbooks – written for native Chinese speakers. So all the explanations are in Chinese ðŸ˜ē I was sooo tempted to buy one, but looking through the textbooks, they’re actually at quite a basic level, so if anything, I wouldn’t be learning much Japanese, and if anything, more likely to be improving my Chinese, since all the explanations in the books are in Chinese! 😂 But having said that, what I do like about the textbooks though, is that they have no English whatsoever! I will effectively be forced to think in my two target languages, even if the sentences are at quite a basic level. But that’s not a bad thing! I can see how sentences are said in both languages. Hmmm… Maybe buying one of these books may not be a bad idea after all…! 😆

A page in one of the textbooks I was flicking through at the bookstore 😆

So when I got back home, I spent some time going through my actual Japanese textbook – a textbook written for English speakers 😆 None of the grammar is new to me, so I’m really just refreshing my memory of what I had learnt – omg – a quarter of a century ago ðŸĪĢ I still can’t believe how much of it I have actually retained after all these years. Now I’m just going through and trying to internalise the harder and longer sentences, and learning more vocab of course, continuing to refine my Japanese that little bit more.

And then I just spent the rest of the evening continuing to watch Masterchef Australia. I’m up to the top ten! So I’ve caught up on a ton of episodes! 😆 Once I’ve caught up, my tv habits can go back to normal and I can resume watching my Asian dramas 😂 But for now, it’s all about binge watching Masterchef ðŸ˜ģ

This city is foodie heaven

If you’ve been reading my blog the past few days, you’ll know that I’ve been watching Masterchef Australia like a madman ðŸĪŠ OK maybe not that crazy, but I have been watching quite a lot of it. So I’ve been tempted to eat a variety of cuisines, and so I’ve been trying a few different restaurants the past few days 😊

Someone cooked a spaghetti alle vongole and so I wanted to go for Italian. So I went searching for an Italian restaurant in the two districts that I tend to go to for food: Central and Causeway Bay. These are the results that I got:

How insane is that?!? How can there be that many Italian restaurants in just these two districts?? And in Asia! And if you don’t know HK, just to give you an idea of the distances we’re talking about here, these are the distances between the circled places on each of the above pics:

Sheung Wan to Central Station in the first pic is 850m. Less than 1km!

Causeway Bay to Cookies Quartet in the second pic is less than 500m ðŸ˜ē

So hopefully that gives you an idea of how dense this city is – and just how many restaurants there are here! It is insane! It still makes me wonder how all these places stay in business when there are so many other competing restaurants. And these are just the Italian ones. Can you imagine just how many Chinese restaurants would come up?!? ðŸ˜ą Actually, let’s do that, just for fun 😊

It turns out that “Chinese” is too broad a category! There must be so many that they had to split them up into various categories. You actually have to specify what type of Chinese food you want – eg: Sichuan; dim sum (ie yum cha); Shanghai; HK-style; Guangdong; hot pot etc etc ðŸ˜ē This city is sooo gooood for foodies, especially those who like their Chinese food!

A park-y weekend

I had nothing in particular that I wanted to do today, and so while I tried to make up my mind as to what to do, I binge watched a few episodes of Masterchef Australia 😆

So it was close to 4pm before I figured out what I wanted to do: check out the Kwun Tong Promenade. It’s a park that runs along the waterfront in Kwun Tong, with a 1km boardwalk of sorts that runs along the water. It’s quite a nice, peaceful area, and definitely somewhere I’d go if I lived in the area. It’s quite a nice public space. But it’s quite far out for us, and not somewhere that I can easily get to without spending about an hour each way just to get there. But I’m glad I went today, it’s always nice to explore our new city 😊 And the weather behaved itself again, total amazeballs. It’s as if it knows to only bring out the rain during the week, and leave the sunshine for the weekend.

Kwun Tong Promenade – from day…

… to night

I might check out Kowloon Park tomorrow, that’s a bit closer to the main action 😆 And then afterwards, I can go grab brunch somewhere. I wonder if I can get out there relatively early to avoid the crowds, what are the chances 😉 Let’s see…

The language journey continues…

I went to my first language exchange meetup in HK today, and it wasn’t too bad at all. I didn’t speak that much Mandarin, but when I did, people understood me, so that was promising. I felt a bit better with my language progress knowing that people can understand me 😊 But my listening is still sooo far off. And I still speak way too slowly. A lot of the people at the Meetup are Hong Kongers, so they can already speak Cantonese. And I still think that if you can already speak one Chinese dialect (and at native speaker level, at that), then adding another one to your repertoire is way simpler than for someone who is going directly from English. So even though a lot of them claim that their Mandarin isn’t very good and they want to improve it, they can at least still follow a conversation relatively easily and contribute to it without slowing down the pace. I am still trying to work my way to being able to do that 😔

Nonetheless, everyone was really nice, and luckily I was sitting next to people who could speak Mandarin well enough to follow, but also spoke fantastic English to be able to translate for me whenever I was floundering (which was pretty damn often!). But as usual, because English is such a universal language, people eventually revert to it, and so for perhaps the last hour or so of the Meetup, we were all just chatting in English. So it was great to have met all these people, but my Mandarin probably didn’t improve all that much tonight 😔

So maybe I’m wondering if I should just take some private lessons to improve my listening and speaking, so I can at least get it up to a level where I can converse a little better than where I am at the moment, and so I can actually contribute to these sorts of Meetups a bit more than what I am currently able to – ie not have to drastically slow down the pace of the conversation whenever it’s my turn to talk! Or perhaps do both. I’ll do a bit of research on private teachers and see if there’s anything I’d like to try. Online is definitely one option, I’ll definitely look into this.

And so the language journey continues…

Food and geography

One of the contestants on Masterchef Australia cooked an Indonesian fish curry in one of the episodes that I watched last night. And being so easily influenced when it comes to food, I went searching for an Indonesian restaurant in HK 😂 I found one, and went there for lunch! I might write up a post on that in My Non Foodie Life (which I haven’t touched in months, unfortunately… 😔) so I’ll leave the review of the restaurant for that post. Maybe I need to watch more food shows to get me exploring different restaurants in this city 😊

Another episode had the contestants cook fried chicken, and one of them cooked Korean fried chicken 🍗 I still haven’t satisfied that craving, so I’ll have to do a search for that soon. And with Korea being so close to HK, surely I’ll find a place or two to go for that too?! I don’t think I’ve ever had Korean fried chicken, so that will definitely be a first for me, regardless of where I go! 😆 So I’m happy to hear of any recommendations 😊

N flew to Japan today, to Okinawa specifically. I discovered two things on the map as a result of his flight today:

  1. Okinawa is wayyyy down south and is quite far from what I consider to be “Japan”. In fact, it is closer to Taipei than it is to Tokyo!
  2. Hanoi is wayyyy higher than I thought it was, and is pretty much in line with HK! So perhaps a short trip is in order… 😉

My geography is clearly stuffed! There you go, you learn something every day. I just happened to get a geography lesson today ðŸĪ“