Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hong Kong Chinese New Year Weather

If you want to find how the Hong Kong Chinese New Year weather is, you probably want to visit Hong Kong to experience the New Year atmosphere here. If that’s the case, I have something interesting to tell. 

Statistics indicates every three Chinese New Year (CNY), two of them fall on February. In the past ten years (2004-2013), there were 6 CNYs fall on February. 

Going through the internet, it’s easy to find some general information about Hong Kong weather in February, such as cool, dry, sunny, etc., easily accessed information that I don’t want to repeat here. But weather is sometimes predictable while sometimes not. The cool February here did have a record of 28C degrees in 2009. Dry February is also not true all the time.

Chinese has a saying of ‘dry winter wet year’. If this is your first time hearing about this, let me explain a bit. 

December 21 is the Winter Solstice. Chinese tradition weights Winter Solstice heavier than New Year, Hong Kong is no exception. Some companies even arrange for staff to finish work early in order to go home to prepare family dinner. Chinese believe if Winter Solstice has no rain, the upcoming Chinese New Year will rain. No one knows how this relationship is being established. One of the reasons could be due to its recurrence. 

While Winter Solstice is always December 21 (occasionally 22), Chinese New Year may be as early as January 22 (2004) or as late as February 20 (1984), the days between Winter Solstice and CNY ranges between 31 and 61 days. What has caused a relationship between a dry day in December and a wet day in the following year 31 to 61 days apart is something interesting to discuss. 

Let’s first of all define dry and wet. 

Let say dry means rainfall of less than 0.1mm; wet means rainfall of 0.1mm or more. Interestingly, over the past decade (2004-2013) were all "dry winters" in Hong Kong, and seven were sunny. However there were only four years of "wet year" and therefore "the dry winter and wet year" accuracy rate is only 40%; if we count in new year eve and the 2nd and 3rd day of CNY, the accuracy goes up to 60%. 

On climate science, Hong Kong in December by the cold and dry continental air, the higher the chance fine; began in January, warm and humid maritime airstream start to affect the south China coastal areas, the weather became cloudy with occasional fog, falls cold air southward, the two streams meet they form clouds and rain, so the "dry winters" and "wet years" is actually not directly related. 

Even so, ‘dry winter wet year’ did happen 5 years in a row (1992-1996).

Flower Market at Hong Kong Chinese New Year Eve 2010 - February 13

So how is the Hong Kong Chinese New Year weather like?  Apart from cool, dry and sunny, it may rain due to the ‘dry winter wet year’ effect.

2013 winter was dry; 2014 CNY falls on Jan 31, which means Feb 1 is the second day of Chinese New Year.  Considering the 60% accuracy of ‘dry winter wet year’, you’re on the safe side to visit Hong Kong with an umbrella, if you tend to come here to experience the Chinese New Year atmosphere.

Hong Kong Travel Blog - Dry Winter Wet Year

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dog Parking at Stanley

Stanley is a good place for dog lovers to walk their dogs.  On weekends or holidays, you can treat this place as a mini dog show.

Today is the New Year Day of 2014.  To avoid the marching crowd in the city, I come over to Stanley and spend an afternoon here for a leisure walk and take some dog photos.

As there are many dog lovers in this area, there are many related services here - dog hotel, dog grooming, dog doctor, dog training...dog everything, including dog parking.  Dog owners just park their dogs outside the supermarket, and pick them up after shopping.



Dog owners can easily make friends, especially when their dogs start greeting each other.



Dog parking is also available at restaurants.  In fact, dog owners just sit next to their dogs, so they are still paying attention to each other.



Dogs of all sizes and colors can be found.  See, they even have their 'personal' carpet!



A leisure walk at Stanley waterfront would allow viewing two landmarks which were being relocated from Central.  Yes, relocated from Central.  

Murray  House was originally in Central and the whole building was being moved here in 2001.  You can now find all kinds of restaurants here.
So as the Blake Pier which was also situated in Central previously.


Blake Pier and Murray House


Friday, December 13, 2013

Star Ferry on Sunday

Star Ferry is not only a ferry!
When you are told of Star Ferry, you may think of a ferry ride from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and vise versa.  Of course this is true, but if you come on Sunday, Star Ferry has a lot more to offer.

Last Sunday a friend of mine was invited to do a show there.  So I went there to support her and took a video around what's happening at the Star Ferry at Central.  Click on the video below, and I'll tell you more.

 

When I got off the tram in Central at Worldwide House, I walked over the footbridge to Star Ferry.  On the footbridge level there was weekly organic vegetable market which were held every Sunday where local organic produce are sold.  This level is where you actually take the ferry, visit the visitor's centre, take a break at the Subway coffee shop or fine dining at the WaterMark.  There are spacious observation decks around.  You can relax and admire the beautiful Victoria Harbour.

On the ground level, my friend and her team were invited to do some cultural performances.  The video above captured some Cantonese music, while my friend was invited to sing.  Some dragon dances and other local cultural shows were held.  There were also many other mini stores where you can learn to fold a grasshopper, do some mini handicraft, or learn some organic cooking.

On the ground level is also the terminus of the Big Bus.  You can start a hop-on hop-off bus tour around Hong Kong.  I have copied the video from the Big Bus website to give you an idea of what a Big Bus Tour has to offer.

  

Right next to the Big Bus terminus is the Hong Kong Maritime Museum.  Hong Kong is a harbour.  Hong Kong people's lives are closely related to the sea.  You'll find interesting facts and history here together with a very nice souvenior shop.


Come share the fun at Star Ferry!

Daily 06:30 - 23:30
Upper Deck adult - HK$2.5 on weekday and HK$3.4 on weekends

On the footbridge it is connected to the IFC Shopping Mall.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cantonese Operat Day 2013 - Hong Kong

The annual Cantonese Opera Day in Hong Kong was held yesterday - the last Sunday of every November.  I used to be a volunteer worker for the event.  But as an opera lover, I decided to switch my role to be an audience since last year.  That way I had more time to enjoy the event.

At the Cultural Centre along Tsimshatsui waterfront, there were various events and performance to promote Cantonese Opera.  This year there is a slogan of 'The Young and The Vigorous'The performers were very young and even with school boys and girls.  They all do very well.

Here is a snapshot of The Legend of the White Snake.  And the flag show below resembled water flooding when the White and Green Snake trying to rescue the husband of the White Snake.  It was really wonderful and gained plenty of applauses from the audiences.


Well, apart from free shows, I'm glad to see that many young people love and participate in the traditional Canontese opera art and performance. With the beautiful world famous Victoria Harbour as the backdrop, it was a very enjoyable Sunday.

Hong Kong Travel Blog

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shanghainese Mooncake and Dinner

Today is Mid Autumn Festival - September 19, 2013 (August 15 - Chinese Calendar)

Time for a family gathering.  But Hong Kong is a Cantonese society, all Cantonese restaurants are full.  To enjoy a festival dinner, I had two options - go western or something non Cantonese.  So we managed to make a booking at the New Shanghai Restaurant at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.  Although a little bit pricy, but good food, good service and good place, what else can we expect?

Here are some of our favourite Shanghainese dishes.

Drunk Chicken HK$98 (US$12.6) 醉鷄
Very frangrant Huadiao wine and almost boneless.  Yummy and well worth the price.
 
Deep Fried Mini Yellow Fish HK$98 (US$12.6) 香煎小黃魚
This is the signature dish and also best of the best.  I would like to recommend this to anyone visiting this restaurant.  I can't tell how delicious it is.  You need to taste it yourself.
 
Sliced Tofu with Vegetable and Salty Pork HK$78 (US$10) 咸肉百頁小棠菜
As a matter of balance of diet, I really like this dish.  Declicious and not oily and with some soup base.  Very well done.
 
Juicy Bun HK$58 (US$7.4) 小籠包
Has to take extra care, it's really very juicy.  With a bit of vinegar, it's also one of the best of the best at this restaurant.
 
Shanghainese Pancake HK$78 (US$10) 棗泥窩餅
As a festival dinner, we'd like to have something sweet to wrap up.  This is very cruncy with red bean paste stuffing.  But we don't understand how it is completely non greasy.  We dip our fingers through the dish and didn't pick up any oil.  Again, very well done.
 
The good thing about this restaurant is every thing comes very timely, hot, delicious and well presented.  But the most important thing I like is the environment.  There are sufficient space in between tables so that everyone have a reasonably comfortable (although not private) dining area.  For me, a peaceful eating envrionment is very important.  Only for this, I would like to recommend this restaurant to anyone.
 
Shanghainese Mooncake Bonus 上海素月餅
After dinner, I was thinking if the restaurant will offer us mooncake as a free dessert.  Beyond my expectation, we were given a pack of 6 Shanghainese mooncakes free of charge.  When we looked at the menu, the cost of the mooncakes valued almost half of our bill.  Excellent rebate!
 
Vegetarian Shanghainese Mooncake 上海玖瑰細沙月
There were 6 vegetarian mooncakes - 4 of penta-nuts and 2 of rosy red bean.  I'm Cantonese and it's my first time eating Shanghainese mooncake.  It's good and it's free.
 
Mid Autumn Moon
8.13pm - September 19, 2013
On our way back, many people crowded around on a foot bridge to admire the moon.  Here's the bright big moon at Mid Autumn in Hong Kong.  We used to have today as a public holiday.  But at some stage, the former British government changed the holiday to the following day.  Well, it made sense, as people admire the moon at night and sleep late, having a holiday the next day is not a bad idea.
 
New Shanghai Restaurant 新滬坊
L1 Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2582 7332
 
Hong Kong Food Blog - Shanghinese Mooncake and Dinner
 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hong Kong Museum Tour 2013 Summer

Hong Kong Museum Tour - August 28, 2013

Today I have a day off.  In fact I pick Wednesday because all Hong Kong museums are free, except special exhibitions.  I walk through three museums in Tsimshatsui.  Here's a summary of my tours.

Hong Kong Science Museum
There are big crowds of people, as students are still on summer holiday.  And we are like-minded people - go to musuems on Wednesday for free.  In fact at this museum, I walk through one show only and it really make my day.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this exhibition - WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR.  It is a special exhibition, but I don't know why they let me in FOC.  It is rare chance that we can see so many valuable and beautiful wildlife photos.  It really worth your time.

In fact I also watched a movie about cutlefishes, as I arrive just at the right time.  It's free but it's really valuable.  You'll appreciate the wonderful content and the underwater filming.  How they film the cutlefishes hunting, mating and their life span.  Howevere watching movies (free or not free) in Hong Kong, you would have to put up with a few things:  crying and talking kids, people talking on mobile phone, people turning on their ipad and other lightening devices, eating and drinking.  Athough all these were said to be forbidden, well, it's Hong Kong! 
 
Hong Kong Museum of History
Just opposite to the Science Museum.  There is another special exhibition which is FOC - The Hong Kong Observatory.  I arrived at a good time, no queueing, so I had a chance to take this scientific photo with Typhoon Vicente which visited us in July 2012.

 
As a Hong Konger, this show recap a lot of the miserable memories about the natural disasters. 
The three most distructive typhoons after war:  Wanda (1962), Rose (1971) and Ellen (1983).  Although I was very young in the 60s and 70s, Ellen hit me with unforgettable memories.  I was stucked in Macau, away from home and had to struggle with typhoon alone.  Drought in 1963, although I was a little girl, I still had clear memory how we survive through 4 hours of water supply every four days. Heavy rain in 1966 and 1972, costing enormous human life and disasters...
 
The regular show Hong Kong Story is always free.  Very resourceful, telling the history of Hong Kong from prehistoric to 1997 when China regain the power in Hong Kong.  Short movies are available.  At the old Hong Kong street, I took a few photos.
 
Typewritter
Gen Y may not have a chance to see how a typewritter look like. 
 
 
Telephone
There are several of them, but these two looks good.  I seem to have seen them when I was a little girl.
 
Fan
A typical air conditioning equipment for the general public in the 60s.
 
Radio
Yes, it's a radio, though at the size of a microwave.  During the 60s it was quite a luxury at home.  So people usually decorate/protect it with kind of beautiful curtain.
 
The Art Museum
After the two museums, I took bus to the nearby Art Museum.  But I shouldn't come, because I forgot I came here two months ago.  Didn't find anything new, just walked briefly through some of the galleries.
 
Breakfast At Island Shangri-La
Before my museum tour, I started my day with a 5-star breakfast.  Unfortunately it's 5-star in terms of money, 2-star in terms of food.  I couldn't even find someone to fry eggs.  Fortunately after a thorough search, I found someone who can cook an omelette for me.  There were very little food choices along with many empty trays.
 
 
There were actually nothing worth taking a photo.  However these two were ok.  As they were cooked to order, they were very hot.  But look, at the congee counter, I couldn't even find green onions.  Everyone in Hong Kong eat congee with green onion, I'm not sure whether it was used up without refill or there were actually none.  I ended up add some dry garlic which is never a congee mate.
 
 
The bill is really big - HK$308+10% service fee, total HK$338.8
 
I must say if it is part of your room package, go for it.  If you need to pay HK$338.8 for such a below par buffet, forget it.  With such money, you can eat a high quality fresh seafood dinner in Hong Kong.
 
 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ocean Park 2013

Ocean Park Birthday Tour 2013

Yesterday was my birthday, I've taken the advantage of going to Ocean Park for free.  In fact, I did the same last year.  There were something quite different for this year.

Giant Panda - there are two pairs of giant pandas in the Park.  I remember I made this comment last year - giant pandas are always sleeping and red pandas are active.  But this year is exactly in reverse.
I had never imagined to see a a panda in motion, and especially eating bamboo leaves.  Wonderful!  Everyone were so excited.  On the other side, the red pandas were sleeping.  Oh well, I learn a lession from pandas - the world is forever changing!


The Penguin Encounter is new.  Last year it was not open yet.  Be prepared, as it is only 8-10 degrees inside.  There are many species of penguins here.  The large ones are 2-3 feet tall while the small ones are just about a foot. 
I would say I saw more penguins here than in Philip Island Australia.  I like seeing them swimming, diving or jumping up to the shore.  Lovely creatures.

 
Grand Acuqarium
 
Sea Jelly Spectacular
 
At the Main Entrance
As the Ocean Park is one of the world most popular theme parks, there are lots of tourists, both from local and around the world.  The Park is full of people everyday.  But on my birthday, I had a little privilege.  I didn't have to queue to buy a ticket, there is a special counter for birthday guests and it is free.  Although the Park is always full of people, you can still take a good photo if you have patience.  See my photo at the main entrance.

Couple of Things To Note
  1. No personal food is allowed.  You have to buy from the expensive F&B outlets inside the Park.
  2. Every point of interest has photo service.  They are expensive, minimum charge HK$288, inclusive photo, frame and key chain. You are free to take the photos, but you don't have to buy if you don't like the photo.
Transportation
  1. From Wanchai - take bus 90 or 97 (east bound), get off immediately after the tunnel.  HK$4.7.  A few minutes walk to the Park.
  2. From Admiralty - take bus 629 to the main entrance.  HK$10.9
  3. From elsewhere - take MTR to Admiralty and change to bus 629
Standard Admission Fee

Adult - HK$280
Children (3-11) - HK$140

Hong Kong Travel Blog - Ocean Park