[PLACES I GO] Hash Specialty Coffee

Depending on whether you follow my Instagram (it’s @RachiePn by the way), you may or may not know that I snuck off to one of my favorite places about a month ago to Melbourne, Australia.

It was a very short but fulfilling trip. Even my flight there was amazing: 777-300ER, PEY bulkhead with only one other person on my row, four seats away, thank you very much.

Although my instinct says “meat pies and beers” when I think of Australia, the whole Melbourne brunch craze took too much effort to say no to. Since I dropped in on Melbourne while everyone had work or class (as in lessons, not the classy kind of class, I got some of that too), I managed to spend some good old me time while I was there.

My friends and cousins threw a bunch of names at me like “Hardware Societe”, but basically told me to go down to Hardware Lane and just do whatever the fuck I felt like doing. I checked Hardware Societe but there was a huge line and what’s more awkward than eating alone? Queuing alone to… eat alone.

So I went across the road and checked out White Mojo, but decided to give it a miss since they didn’t have much on their savoury menu that I fancied. Just a door or two down was Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters. Short line, black decor, chorizo & scallops on the menu, it was definitely my scene.

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Apart from having to sit on a tall stool, it was freaking awesome. The very hipster-looking staff actually made me feel comfortable, even after explaining that both still and sparkling water was free and comes from a tap straight into a beaker. I ordered the mentioned chorizo & scallops and a cold brew coffee for myself.

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Old Hong Kong: Tai O Fishing Village

Catch a glimpse of the old fishing village with traditional stilt houses on the Western Side of Lantau Island, Hong Kong.

Before Hong Kong became a global financial hub, Tai O was famous fishing village which was well-loved for culture, seafood snacks and stilt-houses. Separated by a small river, Tai O is a quaint village situated North-Weste of Lantau Island, and reachable by a 50-minute bus ride from Tung Chung MTR.

Tai O is a rustic village is built on stilts over the water, decorated with salty fish and famous for its shrimp paste and all kinds of Chinese seafood products. It has plenty to keep you busy, especially if you love photography. Venture towards the river and you will find the best angle to capture this village from.

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Guide to Albany Road- Hong Kong

If you’re visiting and considering to take a day off from the buzzing districts, stop by The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, better known as Hong Kong Zoo.

In the Central neighbourhood just around the corner from the Visuals Art Centre lies one of the oldest parks in Asia. Hidden in plain sight next to Soho, it’s one of the hidden gems located right in the heart of Hong Kong Island and unknown to many people.

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Built in 1861, it may not boast a menagerie of animals compared to larger zoos, but it’s a refreshing haven in this concrete jungle. Just a 15 minutes walk from the Central MTR station, the zoo is home to a wide variety of primates and birds. Odds are that there will be families and tourists visiting during the weekends, so getting there early is the best advice.

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Nara, Japan

Nara is only about 40 minutes away from Osaka by train, and is definitely worth the trip.

Famous for their free-roaming deers, Nara Park is only about 10 minutes walk from the station. It is a straight shot and you know you’ve made it when you see the stalls selling deer crackers.

Nara Park is a very peaceful spot: grass, open air, and gentle deers; only ruined by annoying tourists just like myself. For some reason the deers bow so that you would give them the crackers, which I found a bit unsettling. While some say they were trained, I prefer to think that they’re just following the crackers in the humans’ hands as they bow. The deers are mostly very gentle, but they can get pretty aggressive, or impatient with people taking so long with the food. Two of them went for the crackers in my hand at the same time, and one even bit Jon’s coat to get him to hurry up.

On a nicer day, it would have been great to stroll through the park and maybe even have a picnic (not sure how doable that is with all the deers around, maybe it’s not even allowed), but with the rain getting heavier, we happily agreed to visit the nearby sake brewery to stay warm.

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Kaiyukan – Osaka Aquarium

Growing up in Hong Kong means that when I travel, aquariums rarely make it onto my to-do list. We have Ocean Park and we take these things for granted.

As a “been there done that” kind of traveler who sees a sight and does not know what to do with it, being in Osaka posed a small problem for us. We just did not quite know what to occupy ourselves with after each meal. We did some shopping, hit the arcades, visited the nearby Kyoto and Nara, and mostly spent our evenings at bars. On the last day of our trip in Osaka, we caved and headed out to Osaka-ko to see us some fishies.

Having spent a few days in the city, it was refreshing to go out there and be in the open space where we were greeted by the first snow… that we’ve seen in years. It was a strange moment of euphoria. I was so cold for so many days that I really felt I should at least see some snow; and snow I saw.

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Hong Kong Secrets: Insta Crepes

In a matter of the past few years, there is no doubt Hong Kong has become a food heaven. However, it does get tiring keeping up with all the new hip places popping up over town. Let’s face it; most are over-priced and pretentious. After all, Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities to live in.

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So meet Insta Crepes, a petite eatery sitting on the corner of Elgin Street and Caine Road, perched on a quieter side of SoHo. It is a refreshing spot in SoHo without the fear of overspending. Everything on the menu is under HK$100, and they offer a great lunch deal. The restaurant seats no more than 15 people, so here’s a friendly reminder; show up before peak hours to avoid queues since they are also busy with deliveries.

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The menu boasts an impressive selection, from sweet crêpes, to savoury galettes, to pasta and soups. A great option is to grab dinner in SoHo, stop by Insta Crepes for dessert and spend more time chatting with friends before heading off to the noisier bars for drinks. Mind you, the cosy environment and happy stomach may send you into a deep set food coma.

Details

Address: 63 Elgin Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2810 9600
www.instacrepes.com

– This post first appeared on HiveLife.com

MahaNaga / Gypsy Spell Bar – Bangkok

It has been a while since I last travelled for work, and it definitely reminded me of the good old crew life.

In Bangkok I stayed in Sukhumvit, a very international part of the city. So international in fact, that I actually struggled to find Thai food. Everything in the area seemed to be Japanese. I was told later that there are a lot of Japanese expats in Bangkok, and my office was also in the Japanese Village.

On my first night in Bangkok, I had to walk around a little and brave my way down the streets leading off the main road to find some Thai food (as my husband Jon text to assure me I’ll be able to find something while in Thailand). When I saw a small stand on the street corner saying “Modern Thai Cuisine”, I went for it. It didn’t really matter whether it was modern or traditional, as long as it wasn’t Japanese.

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The Streets of Sheung Wan

Take a stroll by foot through the neighbourhood of Sheung Wan, which displays both the new and old, Chinese and Western sides of this city.

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After your next weekend brunch in Soho, grab your camera and to explore a part of Hong Kong that maintains a vibrant environment of the past. Take a walk down Hollywood Road to be awed by the graffiti on the alley walls and check out the oldest temple on Hong Kong Island, Man Mo Temple.

Be sure to turn into Square Street and then Tai Ping Shan Street to visit all the little boutique shops that feature a wide array of items ranging from leather goods to home & lifestyle accessories, stationery, fashion items, and even a florist tucked away on the corner of Old Kat Cheong Street.

Connecting Tai Ping Shan Street and Hollywood Road are restaurants such as Oldish, Petite Oyster, and Crafty Cow. Get your notepad out because you also want to make a list of restaurants to visit during the week. If you are feeling extra adventurous and energetic, keep walking until you hit Sai Ying Pun, where it gets a little more busy with weekenders sitting outside pubs, like a mini version of Soho.

On your way back, take Upper Lascar Row instead of Hollywood Road, where shops and stalls boast their collection of antique items. The route itself is not long but involves some walking so make sure you have comfortable shoes on, as well as an empty memory card in your camera.

– This post first appeared on HiveLife.com

Happy Hour in NOM

From rooftop bars to the trendiest spots in Soho, we’ve reviewed our favourite happy hour spot in town for some post-work libation.

It only takes a stroll through SoHo for one to tell the F&B business is struggling in Hong Kong. Restaurants and bars have disappeared as quickly as they have popped up, becoming a literal hole in the wall overnight. The good news is that those who remain are getting creative with offering the best Happy Hour deals in the area.

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Bun Cha Vietnamese

Everyone loves a good bowl of pho, and every pho lover loves to compare who does it best. Up on Aberdeen Street, just above PMQ is a small Vietnamese restaurant that serves fresh pho, spring rolls, banh mi and other tasty Vietnamese dishes. There’s no guarantee whether Bun Cha Vietnamese will win the battle to become your favorite pho joint, but it is definitely worth a try. Their pho comes with your choice of beef or chicken, thin rice noodles, and of course a hot flavorful bowl of broth. Make sure you add in the basil, chilli, and lime to take it to the next level. You have been warned, this will become a constant craving.

Other must-haves on their menu include their banh mi, fresh spring rolls, and iced coffee. Many go to try the different dishes Bun Cha Vietnamese offers, but end up having pho again as it is simply too good to pass up. Perhaps it would be wise to bring a few friends so that you can order some dishes to share. Try to arrive before 12:30pm for lunch to avoid lines.

Where?

Shop 1, G/F, King Ho Building,, Aberdeen St, Sheung Wan

– This post first appeared on HiveLife.com