Adventures in East Asia

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Chinese New Year Cartoon Lanterns in Hong Kong
As Chinese New Year approaches (February 14th) decorative preparations have already begun anywhere and everywhere public in Hong Kong. At Shatin Central Park, the end next to the bridge over the Shing Mun River is paved over (incorporating water features) and like last year (or perhaps annually), has been populated with large Chinese lantern characters.


I took some photos late afternoon, just after the lanterns switched on and though there are alot of them, the displays still haven't been finished yet.

Hong Kong Shopping Mall Seasonal Displays
In Shatin's New Town Plaza shopping mall, they've just put up yet another massive display in the "main hall" - the largest open area in the complex which happens to be viewable from the entrance to the mall from the Shatin MTR station.


These displays, which must have cost a bomb by Hong Kong standards, appear every time there's a possible reason (seasonal, events, sponsored exhibition etc) and its not just Shatin, but most other large malls it seems. We see what happens in the Shatin New Town Plaza regularly as we go to the Physical gym there.

Eating in Yuen Long
Out in the north western New Territories sits Yuen Long, a New Town that was on our list to visit purely to continue on via bus to Lau Fau Shan, an oyster gathering and fishing village a few kilometres away.


However, we found ourselves there this evening as some of our UK friends visiting Hong Kong were staying there. Since we went on a Saturday evening, the town was pretty busy with people out to eat.

Portable Travel Photography
The weight of my camera had always been a consideration of mine when I first began planning our travels but I took photo-documenting what we see seriously so I never settled for less than a DSLR. I've been lugging a three-year-old Nikon D80 about with an 18-70mm lens.


When Olympus released their E-P1 (disclaimer: affiliate link), a smaller compact camera with interchangeable lens and a DSLR quality photos, I kept my eye on it closely, as the price (over £600) kept me from buying it straight away. I then heard about its slow focusing and then subsequently saw Panasonic release their Lumix GF1 model (disclaimer: affiliate link) which touted much faster focusing.

Impressive Bamboo Scaffolding Tower in Hong Kong
I mentioned my early "appreciation" of Hong Kong's bamboo scaffolders earlier in the year, and so was equally amazed at the scale of the use of this renewable material on a few tower blocks in my local town Tai Po.


Clad around the surface of what looks like a forty-storey tower block must be the mother of all bamboo scaffolding. I know nothing about construction but my guess is the structure facilitates workers to carry out light exterior work to the building.

Perhaps those platform outcrops extending every ten floors or so are there to catch any fallen workers.
Tim Ho Wan - One Michelin Starred Dim Sum in Hong Kong - World’s Cheapest Michelin Star Restaurant
I came across a ripple of blog posts online about a newish dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong (Kowloon) which had recently been awarded a Michelin Star and of course, Linh and I had to go. Called Tim Ho Wan, the place now seems to be the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant.


If you didn't know it, Michelin ratings range from one to three stars and there are only a few hundred awarded in the whole world. Practically all serve expensive meals.

Finding Cheap Branded Beauty Supplies in Hong Kong
Two things I love about Hong Kong's retail industry. Shops move fast with old places closing and new ones opening quickly in the space of a few months, and different areas of Hong Kong can specialise in certain products creating hubs for some types of goods. Both these things seem to create and reflect the competitive nature of one of the Hong Kong people's favourite pastimes (shopping, with another being eating), and clusters like-minded shops together for the convenience of customers.


I came across a post on the blog Hong Kong Hustle about finding cheap beauty supplies, meaning cheaper than other areas in Hong Kong and not just internationally. Of course, this was for Linh and not me.

Spirit Houses in Thailand and Cambodia
Spirit Houses, these miniature constructions placed outside buildings, fascinate me for some reason and we saw plenty of them in Thailand and Cambodia (and they also exist in Laos too apparently).


Spirit Houses are shrines to spirits, intended to provide shelter for them, to keep them appeased and not cause any problems for the people. Offerings are often left at the house for the spirits.

Chiangmai Zoo
Many of Chiangmai's attractions seem to centre around animals, least of all with the elephant as a symbol of Thailand. Or maybe animals were just what we were interested in seeing, which might be obvious from the frequency of posts about tigers, elephants and snakes. It was inevitable that we'd end up at Chiangmai Zoo at some point and so we spent part of our last day there.


Chiangmai Zoo neither outshined or underperformed when compared to any previous zoo we'd visited but did seem very expansive, with perhaps too much woodland or green space to walk through without any exhibits.

The Beautiful Wat Phra That Doi Suthep for Views Over Chiangmai
Doi Suthep is a mountain to the west of town and seemed to be one of the main attractions for tourists as well as locals to visit. A pilgrimage up to the top was recommended by both our hotel and our guide book, as if it wasn't obvious enough by the name plastered on most of Chiangmai's bus taxis, the songthaews.


Up on Doi Suthep, there are views across Chiangmai on one side, but the beautiful Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the main draw for most visitors. It's the north's most holiest shrine.

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