Friday, July 31, 2015

Hong Kong July 2015: Hipster Spots & Mastering Causeway Bay

A few weeks back, my parents and I went on a spontaneous trip to Hong Kong and I was honestly so ecstatic especially after my trip to Taiwan got cancelled at the very last minute. I took this chance to do every single thing I had planned for my friends and I in Taiwan and poured it all in these brief three days: food, shopping, and art! Read on to see all the new discoveries! :)

We arrived at about 8 in the evening and the first thing I noticed was that they had this new campaign to improve tourism within the country. The Summer Fun VIP has all these cool deals for tourists and surprisingly lots of free stuff and coupons. Just to name a few perks, you got 50HKD off a ferry ride to Macau, 15% discount at Ocean Park, and more importantly, free Wi-Fi in all CSL hotspots scattered around the country. Also, the Summer Fun VIP is actually your very own raffle stub which you drop into the box on the day of your departure and it gives you the chance to win 1,000,000 HKD. Crazy, right?

The next morning was spent waiting for my dad to finish his personal stuff which was alright since most stores opened 11AM or later anyway so before we knew it, it was already lunchtime and I was so excited to get my easy fix at a Wellcome Supermarket which was literally steps away from the Causeway Bay apartment we stayed in. Believe me when I say that supermarket sushi in Hong Kong is magnificently fresh and I feel like I could have it almost everyday. (Can't imagine how amazing it would be in Japan!) The price is just right at about 65HKD because the sushi pieces are large and they offer a lot in a single box. So. Good.

After swooning over the sushi, we made our way to Mong Kok - art supplies being the top priority instead of shopping for clothes. Sidebar: I honestly need someone to teach me where the independent clothing store brands are here because I've never understood shopping in Mong Kok other than visiting Langham Place. LOL

Achievement unlocked: navigated to Art Supplies Professional using nothing but a Google Maps screenshot on my phone. Haha! I previously prepared a ton of art stores to visit just in case but I had to choose just one and Art Supplies Professional, located exactly at the corner of Bute Street and Sai Yee Street, was the one most constantly mentioned. If you plan on going here as well, just refer to Google Maps and you should be able to get here without a problem. There's also a Hot Star Large Fried Chicken store a few steps away! Because of the giant overpass leading to a mall, if you're coming from Mong Kok station, it's going to be completely hidden so don't lose hope! It's just behind it! :D

Nothing could've possibly prepared me for what was inside because I was in here for more than an hour and I didn't even notice. So. Much. Stuff. I loved the atmosphere and the coziness of the place. The staff will try to help you out as much as they can and are so polite throughout the process! This is particularly special to me since most stores near my college have infamously rude staff. *Sigh*

My main focus was to get myself some Copic Sketch markers and they definitely had tons of it. Almost complete, in fact! The photo on the left is *just* Copic markers! Ended up getting 20+ pieces because I was in a state of euphoria. Only regrettable thing is that I later on realized that Copic markers in HK are almost just as expensive as the ones being sold here in Manila. Sort of a #fail but no regrets because I'm going to use the hell out of these babies. Also, don't buy the sets! It's ironically more expensive than if you just hand-pick the ones you want.

Moving on, the drawing pen selection in this place is nothing short of fantastic. I'm not entirely sure if the pricing is fair but they aren't really expensive to begin with so you can have at it in this section. I got myself Copic Multiliners but I totally regret not getting Neopiko Deleters. (Review of the Multiliners coming soon!) Right off the bat, I was amazed at how these performed just as well as professional grade technical pens, except you didn't have to revive the pens before using them. #ArtStudentProblems

Also, another thing to note is that you can find Staedtler Marsgraphic 3000 Duo here in singles and in sets! So cool! If I didn't discover the wonder of Copic markers, I would've probably bought a buttload of these.

Lastly, modern calligraphy supplies here are very limited. You can immediately tell that the store specializes in supplies for Manga and classical art. They've got tons of painting supplies, too!

Moving on, we went up the overpass just outside the art store and checked out the mall called MOKO. It's a mix of middle range to high-end brands so there was nothing I wanted other than Nike and New Balance sneakers which are so surprisingly cheap in Hong Kong. Didn't get them though because I'd done enough damage with my Copic markers already.

My dad did insist on trying the Urban Cafe Commune which he has read so much about. It's this beautifully modern cafe at the 2nd floor by the grand atrium. They're specialties are the croissants which you've got to try. I know it seems so orthodox but the Molten Egg croissant is something I haven't tasted before! It was sooo good. We also had the Brulee and Chocolate croissant which were also great but not as awesome as the Molten Egg one.

I also had an Earl Grey Tea Latte which tasted nauseatingly sweet at first but became *outrageously* good after mixing in the whipped cream on top. I'm not joking, it magically turned into this whole other drink after blending in the cream. Probably because the cream helped balance out the sugar? Trust me, you've GOT to try this one.

Something to note when travelling to Hong Kong in the summer: brace yourself for temperature changes. It will be quite warm outside, and then immensely cold inside malls. My mom actually got ill a few times but who can blame her?

Also, took this snap of the counter in Art Supplies Professional before I left. Definitely words to live by.

We dropped our mom off at the apartment to rest and went to get some dinner. My dad and I ate at this small place called the Fu Kee Restaurant which has obviously been in that same spot - probably for decades now. It's the sort of joint that immediately feels like home when you're there because the server, who I presume is the owner, makes you feel *so* welcome. Also learned that my Mandarin is impossibly rusty now because I could barely read the all-Mandarin menu. *Sad face*

The next day was all about shopping in Causeway Bay. We made our way to Ippudo because I don't think we could ever try it in Manila with all the crazy lines at Megamall. It's on the 2nd floor of a building across Times Square.

Not to my surprise, there was also a line outside, but at least we were only 3rd in line as opposed to the insane queues here in Manila. Once we were seated, I ordered the Classic Akamaru Shinaji with medium noodles. (You can have your noodles hard, medium, or soft.) It came after what felt like 5 minutes because the service was so fast. I looked around the cool interior and later discovered that the plastic soup spoons on the walls actually spell out IPPUDO but there was just no way to take a photo because there were a lot of people and the place wasn't exactly big enough to get a clear shot.

On to the food, the ramen was great but I feel like it didn't differ much from ramen I've tasted before in Hokkaido Ramen Santouka and Kitchitora of Tokyo here in Manila. However, my mom, who has always felt that ramen was way too fatty and rich, actually really liked Ippudo's ramen and wanted to come back here the next time we were in Hong Kong. :D

The afternoon was then spent shopping around. Gorged ourselves in Innisfree skincare supplies, but other than that, didn't really see anything we particularly liked even in the huge Forever 21.

We decided to try Laduree in Times Square because I've been curious about it since forever. The very original macarons all the way from Paris was so expensive at about 120PHP a piece. It was the size of an Oreo which was standard Macaron size, but it was more than twice the price of a TWG Macaron which is one of my favorite things on the face of this earth.

We tried Rose and Red Fruits. Apparently, the reason they were so expensive was because they were flown in from Europe everyday. My dad joked around about how we were paying for their plane fare. It's actually true. Anyway, I was so ready for this supposedly incredible experience but ended up being disappointed. Laduree Macarons are delicious, no doubt about it, but the flavors were surprisingly so straightforward that it tasted... boring? The Red Fruits flavor didn't even have any tartness to it which was expected from a mixed berry flavor. I did enjoy the Rose flavor but they didn't hold a candle to their TWG counterparts at all. :(

Our last day was spent shopping in Wellcome for food to bring home. We also had some Congee in Ocean Empire Food Place before leaving for the airport. This place also has a lot of my love. The congee is pretty great and the staff are understandably nice even though it isn't evident because they appear to be in constant stress.

Can't wait to go back here, or maybe actually go to Taiwan next time! One can only hope. Haha!


  1. having that VIP things was really a good idea to boost the tourism influx and makes the stay of the tourist exciting and worthy. I hope that can also be applied here in the Philippines.

  2. Aww, you seemed like you had a blast. And, I'm sure you were in heaven when you were at Art Supplies Professional. I should plan a trip to HK soon - it's been ages since I was last there.

  3. Wow, everything you did looks so much fun. Seeing those sushi on your first photo collage immediately made me interested on your post. haha Hope I get to visit Hongkong soon :)

  4. My family and I were just in Hong Kong in mid July and we stayed in the hearts of Mong Kok!! Alas, we were on a kid-friendly agenda so I skipped the arty stuff. So did you get your free WiFi router, Jason?

  5. It's been some time since I last visit Hong Kong. Not that it will be a place I want to visit again, the people were pretty tensed up and unfriendly, but maybe this time it will be a bit different. It's been 3 years afterall~

  6. I have a friend who'll definitely ooh and aah at this one. :)

  7. The art store! Sigh! Do they have watercolor stuff? Laduree will open in Manila. I guess I have to try TWG and Laduree and compare or should I skip Laduree to save time and pesos?

  8. omg this makes me miss hong kong. but not missing the extra hot weather there though

  9. What a very detailed report of your HK trip. That was a great deal with that Summer Fun card. I did not note that when we went to HK in December. Do you think they also a Winter Fun card?

  10. You have very well captured the details about HK and it is quite useful to people who have not yet travelled to this place. I might miss few things with kids from the stated above but surely a fun.

  11. Got curious with your Earl Grey Tea Latte. I guess that's one thing I'd like to try when in HK. And good luck for the 1,000,000 HK$ - KarenT

  12. I admire your focus on your craft - to track down the Art supplies shop first and foremost! :) And I hope you and dad bonded over the trip :) sweet of him to go shopping with you and you to drink that milk tea with him :)

  13. Good you have that VIP thing. It comes in very handy. Hong Kong, I'll think about it. Pangit daw sayeth my wife.

  14. I like causeway bay it has many local cafe and noodle shops. Apart from that you find many shopping malls in Hong Kong.

  15. You definitely did so many things in your 3 day stay. I've always been curious about the Laduree macarons. No wonder they are too expensive.

  16. The summer fun VIP has a lot of perks. I'll check this out as I'm planning to go to HK this month.