Hong Kong
Commercialisation

After 2 weeks in Hong Kong, I began to see the major similarities between Singapore and here. It’s hard not to compare. It’s busy, commercial, noisy, bustling, slightly chaotic, crowded, etc. All the aspects you associate with a huge city. I noted a few things that someone who has never been to an Asian country before would be freaked out about.
Hong Kong is a rather expensive country to visit, even when comparing to Singapore. When I was there, I was appalled by how expensive drinking and eating were. So naturally I searched for the cheap options and compiled a list for you.

For more detailed information visit LaughTravelEat’s post about Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong
My first time ordering food from a local hawker place. Definitely an experience.

Ordering food

Ordering food in restaurants is daunting to say the least. It’s really scary when you are in a place where the wait staff shouts incoherent noises at you, as they usher you to sit down sharing tables and knocking knees with strangers, looking at a menu full of symbols that makes no sense and pressure to order something builds. All you can do is point at pictures (if there are any) or at what everyone else is eating around you and hope for the best.

They hand you a piece of paper with a couple of numbers on it, but as you take out your wallet to pay, they point to a counter and speak a few more incoherent sentences to you. Confused you sit back down , put your wallet away and observe how things worked around here. By the time you figure it out, your food comes and there are no forks, so it’s time to put on your best chopstick skills so that you don’t embarrass yourself in front of these strangers.

This is the likely story of your first experience in a local eatery or a cooked food place. Fear not, I’m here to help you. From my years of traveling, learning to speak the language is not only easy, but it’s also not enough. Learning to read and recognise some of the most basic of words will help you. The easiest way to go about these is to download Google Translate and use the camera function to decipher the words. However if you want to seem like a pro, here are some of the most common ones that you will need to survive one of these ordeals.

Chicken
Noodles
Pork
Rice
BeefCongee
FishTea
SoupCoffee 咖啡

Cheap transportation

The local light rail tram system is the cheapest transportation anywhere in Hong Kong island, though only serving the north. For 2.20HKD, you can go from the Eastern end to the Western end. Although it’s the slowest transportation option, due to subsceptibility to traffic, it’s one of the prettier ways to travel within the island. So if you have time to spare and not in a hurry, try the tram.
The Bus is the next cheapest option. From 4HKD to 20 HKD, the bus can take you anywhere in Kowloon and the island. The worse part about it is that you pay a one time fee, not according to how far you are traveling. So if you are traveling long distances, it’s a good option. A note of advice, traveling by bus along Nathan Rd in Kowloon is the worse idea ever if it’s during the weekends and peak hours. It’s much faster walking.
The ferry system is also relatively cheap. If you are in Tsim Sha Tsui, the best and prettiest way to get to the island is using the ferry. At 2HKD a person, it’s definitely the cheapest way to go between these two places. From there it’s a 10min walk to Central and 5 min walk to the tram system.

Hong Kong
The ferries are a great way to view both the island and the kowloon at the same time.

Cheap Alcohol/food

Mr Wong’s – This corner shop has become one of the most talked about establishment in all of Hong Kong by the backpackers and expat community. Every night, after 7pm, this restaurant offers a $60HKD all you can eat and drink beer offer. That’s right, all the beer you can drink and so much food you don’t know what to do with for only 60HKD or $7.70USD. The man himself is extremely friendly and accomodating. If he likes your group enough, he will either give you whiskey or give you a birthday present on your day. How you ask he could do this? Firstly, you probably shouldn’t know, but you really wanted to there are rumours that it’s a front for him selling cocaine upstairs. It’s a hearsay thing so don’t quote me, just enjoy it blissfully and ignorantly.

711 – This convenient store by far sells the cheapest alcohol I could find anywhere. For $25HKD you can buy a 4pack of Skol and if you top up any more, Heikenen, Carlsberg, etc. While here, you can top up on your drunchies (and maybe munchies).

Hong Kong
You can buy anything you want for cheap at these shops, if you can find anything.

Local eateries – Many say that Hong Kong is a very expensive place visit. While it’s mostly true, you can still find relatively cheap meals amongst the local places. Places where they probably don’t speak english and nothing on the menu is english. The most you should even pay for a meal is 40HKD. The lowest I’ve paid for is 23HKD. It’s afforable, better than the 200HKD westerns and 150HKD ramen.

Happy Hour – Hong Kong has some of the longest happy hour I’ve ever come across in the world. Most places go from 2pm to 9pm, some even 12pm to 10pm. Regardless, bars are always open to having deals to attract the tourists and after work crowds alike. The best value and variety that I went was Hong Kong Brew House. At 50HKD from 4pm to 9pm, you can choose from 10 different draught beers including La Chouffe Belgian. If not for another 10 to300HKD you can choose from 100s of bottled beers from various countries. Otherwise, 70HKD for a Carlsberg pint is pretty normal.

Free Wifi

There are dozens of places to get free wifi. All McDonald’s and 711 have free wifi. There is a free public wifi at popular places, called freegovwifi and freegovwifi-e. The e requires you to register but comes with a better security and encryption which I prefer using. Everytime you come across it you just have to accept their terms and condition. Easy.

Hong Kong
The insanity of air con units that plague the city. Free water drippings for all.

Other advices

One of the things that annoys me the most when in Hong Kong is the water drippings from the air conditioning units at the side of the buildings. Everywhere you go and i mean everywhere, there will always be water dripping. My advice is to wear a hat to prevent that and since the sun is out, it’s multi purpose. If you think this is silly, wait till you experience it yourself.

One of the hidden expenses when traveling is the purchase of bottled water. In most tourist places, a large bottle of water (because that’s the only kind you should be buying) will set you back anywhere from 11-13 HKD. However, if you wonder into the less known places, the cheapest bottle I’ve ever bought was 5.50HKD, though 8HKD is a little more common.

“Free” Attractions to escape from the city

The Peak – Probably the most popular “outer-city” nature escape. At the view-point, the skyline and cityscape of Hong Kong can be enjoyed. There are many restaurants and tourist shops nearby as well. Though the view is good, especially the night lights, this is my least favourite “escape”.
Sai Kung – The largest national park in Hong Kong. Located in the New Territory, this area takes a while to get to but that also means way less tourists and people in general. There are many activities for people of all ages
Dragon’s back and Shek O Bay – This is a popular hiking trail among locals and tourists alike. Located in the southeastern corner of the island, the trail takes you up a ridge overlooking the bay on one side and the sea on the other. It’s a relatively short hike of an hour and another hour to get to Big Wave Beach where surfers congregate.
Kowloon Park – This little paradise is located smack in the middle of the busy and touristy Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok. Once you pass the entrance, the hustle and bustle gets drowned out and your eyes adjust to the change of scenery. It’s nice to take a breather here in the middle of the day from walking around the city. The Hong Kong Heritage Centre is a nice, free and relaxing educational tour of Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong
Try and catch the local demonstration while there! Be part of the umbrella movement

Do you have anything to add to this Hong Kong guide?

 

For more detailed information visit LaughTravelEat’s post about Hong Kong. 

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Travel Blogging
Let’s get down to business

For the last couple of months I’ve struggled to upkeep my website. Recently, I talked to a WordPress/website marketer and designer about the ins and outs, and found out that I’ve been doing many things wrong. I had to go back through all of my posts and adjust everything. It caused me so much headache which led me to writing this post for all those who are thinking about travel blogging in the future.

It’s been a year and a bit since I took on this huge project of setting up my website/blog and attempt to make it out on this highly saturated blogging world. Saying that I’ve learned a lot is a massive understatement. I didn’t have any prior knowledge of coding or CMS or website building. That meant that this project would require a lot of determination and willpower.
I will only be reflecting on my personal experience through my time blogging, not giving any advices or tutorials. There are many blogs out there that can do a much better job then I do and have a reputation to back it up.

Travel Blogging
Eating amazing food with friends!

Self Learning

I started by signing up on WIx, a website buiding platform that made setting up a breeze. After a few months at it, I realised that Wix didn’t have a lot of features that I wanted and needed. So I decided to switch to WordPress and self-hosting. A major step forward. Not only did I have to learn what those meant but transferring from Wix to WordPress proved to be a major headache.
Furthermore, I signed up for courses such as the Travel Blog Success and WP BFF, and watched countless hours of video tutorials to get everything set up. It took me a few months to completely set up, redesign and re-concept my entire website.

Travel Blogging
Learning the traditional ways!

Difficulties

Many bloggers out there make it look so easy to run a website and very few talk about the difficulties that come with it all. I came across many obstacles, such as plugins issues, unresponsiveness, hosting troubles, etc. I spent many hours consulting forums and troubleshooting, additionally being on the road didn’t help the time needed.
Having the time to write, edit pictures and structure posts is the biggest problems I face while on the road. As I couchsurf and hitch hike, a lot of my time is taken up entertaining and connecting with new friends and random people. When I’m not with them, I’m exploring the city or place. By the end of the day, I am exhausted and just want to rest and switch off. The last thing on my mind is sit down and write. 

Travel Blogging
I got places to go!

Change of Travel and Life Styles

Before traveling for me was mostly a way to escape from the realities of life. Upon considering a life of long-term traveling, I knew that everything was going to change big time. Traveling was going to be more educational and with more purpose than before.
After setting up the website I realised that I was getting more dependent on Internet. I felt like I needed to be online constantly to check social media or post something on Instagram. It not only meant more expenses, but also spending more time on my phone and less on my travels. I loved the times when I was off grid but now I feel a slight anxiety that I’m not posting anything.
In the blogging world, stats is everything. It slowly took over my life. I was obsessed with the number of likes I would get on my instagram posts, how many people liked my facebook page, how many visited my website, etc. I was stressing out and constantly figuring out what I can do instead of enjoying my time traveling.

Travel Blogging
Making new friends around the world!

The Dream Life

Many bloggers out there put up pictures of them “working” by the beach or at a resort living a dream life. However, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine and rarely see many bloggers talking about it. After a year or so at it and not gaining much traction, I’m feeling unmotivated, undriven and undetermined. I had an intention of monetizing this blog when i started but that seems to get slimmer each passing day.
If I knew what I was getting myself into in the beginning, I would change many things. On top of it all, I would focus on writing what I started the blog on instead of worrying about journaling my travels or social media. However, with all that being said, I do not regret taking on this huge project. I learned a lot and gave me a purpose to my travels. But maybe, just maybe, travel blogging isn’t for me.

If you ever think about challenging yourself, I would recommend trying this out. Who knows, you might be the next big blogger earning big bucks for traveling.

 

What has been your experience with Travel Blogging?

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Shepherd
On the way to the French Alps!

The Unexpected Surprise

The last 3 weeks here in Nimes has been magical, rejuvenating and very eventful. My good friend has gone above and beyond to make sure I had a good time and have the best experience he can give me. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than what he has already shown me, he pulled something even wilder out. My plan was to head to Switzerland from Nimes and he wanted to visit his shepherd friend in the French Alps. Since it was “on the way”, he really wanted me to meet him and check out what he was doing.

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avignon
The River Rhone

A Delightful Treat in Avignon

After a long and arduous day, I’ve finally arrived in Avignon, one of the smaller cities in South of France. Here in Provence there are hundreds of very old Roman ruins and preserved sites, along with one of the most significant in European history. However, before anything, the first thing I did was to go to a Boulangerie. Since it was my first time in France, I had to get myself a pastry, specifically the croissant. I’ve had many croissants in my life, but never the true French ones. I stopped at a chain store and bought a fresh baked Croissant and a Pain de Chocolate. As soon as I took my first bite, I stopped in my tracks and sat down at the nearest bench. I couldn’t believe what I was eating. The perfectly crispy golden brown outer shell combined with the butter soft gluten that just melts in your mouth, all at a cost of 0.90euros. To. Die. For. I love you already France. I’ve eaten one every morning since then.

Palais des Papes

Palais des Papes, the Place of the Popes, historically for Papacy and the Catholic Church is one of the most important site. During the 13th century, a point in time before the Vatican city, this was the home for the Papacy. For a 100 years, 6 popes took residence here and built this magnificent building. Here was where the largest papal library existed and together with it, the organisation and structure of the church itself. Eventually in the 15th century, the church returned to Rome and the rest was history.

This site is extravagant at its best. In a couple of self-walking guides in this museum, are many exhibitions explaining and laying out the time line and significance of each Pope that took residence in this place. It’s amazing how much work was done to this site over a short period. It makes you think where all these money came from.

The Bridge of Avignon

There is also another important site, the Pont d’Avignon or Pont Saint-Bénézet. Spanning 900m with 22 arches spanning across the huge river Rhone, it connected the banks connecting Avignon to the rest of the empire. It proved too costly to maintain as it would collapse when the river flooded. Since then, the only remains are 4 arches and a famous french song, merely a symbol of history. Still thousands of tourists flock to see both the bridge and the Palace.

Day
The Half way bridge of Avignon

Festival d’Avignon

I coincidentally came at a very opportune time. Avignon is about to have one of the largest and more famous festivals in all of France, Festival d’Avignon. It was also known as the theatre festival as the entire festival was about on performance arts, such as theatre, music performances, comedy, cabaret and many many more. I arrived 2 days before the festival started, so the streets and walls were clean. The very day, there were hundreds of people putting up signs and posters featuring their theatre company.

The streets filled with many people and the vibe and atmosphere of the entire city became very lively and exciting. Every night there were many people at the bars having a jolly time drinking and in the day everyone was enjoying the sights and shows around town. I was with my hosts, who showed me around the city and hung out with all their friends. Avignon should be on your list of places to visit in France.

avignon
The Vibe is fantastic around here!

 

Have you been to Avignon or Provence?

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Belgium
Favourite Beers in the world

After spending 3 months out of continental Europe to wait out my time for the Schengen visa, it’s time finally time to go back. I absolutely loved my time in Scotland, Ireland and North of England, definitely seen some of the nicest big cities and most beautiful nature you can find in the world. The one downside (probably only) is the lack of fresh produce, which is a treat I’m waiting to receive.

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