A Plastic Ocean

Get set for an evening with A Plastic Ocean, a documentary that examines the effects of plastic entering the ocean.

Hong Kong-based Australian journalist Craig Leeson grew up on the beaches of Tasmania. As an avid surfer, he spent the last five years travelling around the globe for A Plastic Ocean, a documentary that examines the effects of plastic entering the ocean.

Perhaps this is not our problem if we are not the ones littering but A Plastic Ocean begs to differ.

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It started when researchers found more plastic than plankton in the Pacific Ocean. While many associate “plastic in the ocean” with an image of pieces of disgusting litter we can easily swim away from, the realisation is that by the time trash has been washed out to the sea, they have broken down to small pieces; some even invisible to the human eye. For those of you who are thinking this means plastic have decomposed, think again. The smaller the pieces of plastic are, they closer they get to the beginning of the food chain, and guess where those traces of plastic end up?

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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

Oasis in the City

Hong Kong is notorious for being a high-stress and fast-paced city, and the best shot you have at taking a short break during the day is probably running downstairs for some cheap ice cream followed by walking around the block as you listen to endless honking and people yelling at each other.

To be honest, that can be worse than not taking a break at all.

If you are in the Wan Chai area and desperate for some (relatively) fresh air and peace, take a walk out to the new Wan Chai Ferry Pier. Where the bus terminus used to be is still a big pit of dug up dirt, but don’t let it throw you off. Find your way around the temporary footbridge and boarded-up sidewalk, and you will find your little piece of paradise.

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Weekend Taipei Trip

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Sometimes (all the time) work just gets too crazy and you get really desperate to GTFO. Well I didn’t have the balls to actually walk away from my life so a friend and I went to Taipei for a weekend.

I left work 2 hours early on a Friday (with permission, thanks for checking), and caught an early evening flight to TPE. This is also where I realized I really do love airplanes. I was on an A340, and even though it was one of my least favorite aircrafts on the CX fleet, I had about a good hour of zen, just listening to the hum of the engines and the opening and closing of those aluminium compartments. It was the calmest I had been in ages.

Okay anyway.

I landed in TPE, went and got my sim card like a pro, and hopped on a bus to the city. I suck at the whole bus thing even in Hong Kong, so that was a major win. My friend had already shopped all afternoon and I was quite exhausted from the week so we just went to an all-you-can-eat hot pot place (馬辣 “Ma-La”, it’s a chain, just Google it) around the corner from our ‘hotel’ (more on that later), and drank lots of beer. It was da bomb.

Our hotel. We had good rates, HK$600 for a double bed room for 2 nights I think. It’s a business hotel. It’s in a building with clubs, bars, movie-themed… something, and our somewhat newly renovated business hotel. It’s dark and kind of modern, but really just looks like a karaoke joint; it even sounds like it because that’s what’s right below our floor. NO FRET, RACHEL TRAVELS WITH EAR PLUGS. MAJOR LIFE WIN.

The next day we got up and decided to check out this place called 貓空 “Maokong” (it literally translates into “cat space/empty”. I was so excited. We even had to take a cable car to get the the bloody mountain. Cable cars that had teeny tiny windows and were effectively glass ovens.

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