Category Archives: Hong Kong

I Regret Nothing

I moved back from Hong Kong in 2012. I loved my life there and  have regretted very little, though I have slightly chastised myself the past 4.5 years for not being more adventurous with food. Specifically, I wish I had gone to more Hong Kong style local cafes and tried the cuisine for which they’re famous. Sure I ate Chinese food, including yum cha (dim sum), but I rarely went and definitely never went alone. So this time when I visited HK, I made it my mission to try just 2 things I always wanted to have but never did: milk tea and egg waffles. I’m not sure if I didn’t have these when I lived here because I was scared, but this time I was going to conquer whatever it was that held me back and I was going to do it alone, by golly!

So, on my last day in Hong Kong, I yelped the best place for milk tea near me and an indoor market right down the street from my old house popped up. It was a place I’d walked by hundreds of times and never stopped in. I walked in, was the only white person, sat down at a communal table and ordered myself a cold milk tea. I took in my surroundings and sipped away.

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Travel Tips to Hong Kong

While living in Hong Kong from 2010-2012, I wrote a lot about my experiences in my then-blog, Ashley’s HK Experience. As a new travel piece to this blog, New Girl in the City, I am re-posting travel pieces. I wrote this one before my bestie, Kira, came to visit me in December 2010. 

Traveler’s Tips for Hong Kong

  1. Rubbish bins are optional.  Those of us not used to this would prefer you use them though.
  2. Be careful what you wear! You don’t have to match here, but you should steer clear of mini-skirts and high heels…if not, you may look like you belong in Wan Chai (see #3).
  3. Speaking of Wan Chai, unless you want to be the only white girl and the only non-prostitute in a bar, don’t go. Unless, you want good Mexican food, then bring a friend or two.
  4. You don’t need to know Cantonese to survive here. There’s enough English around to help you. You might even learn a thing or two about how to speak like other expats i.e. arvo, wonky, rubbish bin, far out, and mate. Can you guess which countries my friends were from?
  5. Smog is the silent cough-inducer. It’s a little hard to see around the tall buildings, but the second you step out of the city proper of Hong Kong, you’ll notice a big difference. Maybe you should bring a surgical mask…you’d fit in and no one would think you were weird.
  6. You will walk EVERYWHERE! Start your exercise early and often before arriving. Stairs will actually become your friend just so that you don’t have to walk up the steep inclines in your heels.
  7. Unless you’re siestaing on someone’s couch, be ready to pay a ton of money for a closet, I mean a bedroom. It’s quite possible that your bathroom will double as your shower and that your closet will be your bed. Find a friend instead!!
  8. Happy hours are the best mid-week de-stresser. Lucky you if you are stressed after coughing up a lung because of the smog and all the walking because happy hours exist at almost every bar and restaurant in town. Walk along the escalator (the one time you don’t have to walk uphill) from 3-8 and you’ll find awesome deals galore. Take advantage of this because as soon as 8 o’clock hits, you’ll pay a fortune!!
  9. Old Asian people love to exercise, do tai chi, walk to a clapping beat (believe me I know and curse them every Saturday and Sunday at 7 am), slap themselves all over their body, and stretch in the most random places. Don’t fret! They don’t belong in an institution; rather they’re doing it on purpose…and actually believe that it all works and keeps them keen and skinny.
  10. You’ll probably get stared at…a lot. But, trust me, you either get used to it or walk around with a silly grin on your face all day just to appease them. Don’t, I repeat, don’t get mad about it!  You’re a different and lovely addition to their day of everyone looking like them.

Continue reading Travel Tips to Hong Kong

Hong Kong: Sights to See

From 2010-2012, I lived in Hong Kong working as an elementary school teacher. Anytime someone I know travels there, I always forward them the same copy-and-paste email, but haven’t – until now – put into words why I love all of these great places in Hong Kong.

If you’ve done your Hong Kong research, you’ll know that Hong Kong is made up of many islands, the largest being Hong Kong Island, and an area called Kowloon which is attached to mainland China. I’ve separated the best attractions in HK by area.

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  • Ten Thousand Buddhas is my #1 choice for sightseeing in HK! It is a hike up the mountain, but along the way there are these amazing statues in all sorts of positions and facial expressions. If you go to Hong Kong and you don’t go here, you’re missing out. Check it out for FREE!

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Hong Kong: Food and Drink

From 2010-2012, I lived in Hong Kong working as an elementary school teacher. Anytime someone I know travels there, I always forward them the same copy-and-paste email, but haven’t – until now – put into words why I love all of these great places in Hong Kong.

Background: Hong Kong used to be owned by the United Kingdom until 1997, so many people here know English (it’s one of the official languages!) and it’s home to a very diverse set of expats. Because of this multiculturalism, there’s a unique blend of Western life and Asian life. Most importantly, that means there’s a ton of awesome food and places to drink!

Here is a very small sampling of my fave restaurants in Hong Kong: Continue reading Hong Kong: Food and Drink

Here I Come (Again), Asia!

In exactly two months from today, I will be hopping on a plane to Asia!! First stop: Hong Kong! For the past three years, I have been dreaming of the day I get to return to my favorite city in the world. The layover will be less than 24 hours, but I’m planning on packing in as much as possible: cupcakes at Sift, xiao long bao at Crystal Jade, a peek at my old apartment, a jaunt through Hong Kong Park, and hopefully a ride up to the Peak. I am beyond excited about the entire trip, but these mere 40 hours (20 on the way there, 20 on the way back) are what I’m the most geeked about. Hopefully, I’ll even get to catch up with friends (if that’s YOU and you’re reading this in Hong Kong, save Dec. 10 and 29 on your calendar!).

I’ll be traveling with my friend Lindsay from Chicago for 10 of the 21 days I’ll be gone. Our flights were awesomely cheap. Get this – to fly direct to Hong Kong is $1,040; to fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia through Hong Kong is $840. It’s $200 cheaper to take two additional flights. I don’t get the logic, but I love it!

Continue reading Here I Come (Again), Asia!

The Best Friends A Girl Could Ask For

There are many things I miss about Hong Kong, but most often I miss my gorgeous group of girlfriends. They were my family and the people I could count on the most. Whether it was someone to gab over drinks with at 4:00 on a Tuesday, gals to go out with for free vodka on a Saturday night, or friends to hike up a mountain with on Sunday morning, my friends were always there for me.

I desperately miss these friends on my weekends in Chicago when I struggle with what to do with two free nights. I knew in Hong Kong that every Saturday night was ladies’ night. I didn’t have to think about what to do or worry that I’d be all alone; I always had them.

Of course I’ve made friends in Chicago, but there’s something about the lovely group of friends I made in Hong Kong that’s unbeatable. Most of us lived thousands of miles from our families and trekked to Asia only to have each other. If one of us was busy, we had the rest to rely on. When we made plans, it was in a group chat so everyone could join in and know the plan.

So as Thanksgiving nears, I want to give a shout-out to the loveliest friends a girl could ask for. Thanks for making my life in Hong Kong sweeter, more enjoyable, and something I miss each and every day. And thank you for still being wonderful even though it’s been two years and we’re thousands of miles apart xoxo

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