“There is nothing better than a friend unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ― Linda Grayson
You know what’s better than a chocolate chip cookie? A chocolatey chocolate chip cookie!!!
I still had leftover chocolate chip morsels that I badly wanted to put to use already. I also had a little bit of dutch-processed cocoa powder left. Initially, wanting to bake brownies, I decided I wanted cookies instead. Searching for recipes that involved the two ingredients led me to the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies by Kathy.
What I loved about her recipe was that it asks for a cup of butter. That being said, I did not have to bother cutting my bar of butter up anymore because I hate having to do that. I also liked the fact that it’s almost like making a brownie cookie.
Anyway, her recipe was very easy to follow. Except for adding another teaspoon of vanilla, I did not do any more tweakings to the recipe. Oops, I did use macadamia nuts instead of walnuts.
Guys, the house smelled of brownie heaven! The smell of chocolate was simply divine! It was a miracle I was able to wait for the first batch to cool before trying one cookie out. And, just as expected, the cookie tasted like a brownie that’s a little fudgy in the middle. It was so delicious and not overly sweet!
People at work loved the cookies too. I brought them to work together with the coconut oatmeal cookies and these brownie-like cookies disappeared faster than I expected.
Please do try her recipe out. To make it more aesthetically pleasing, don’t put all the chocolate chips in the dough. Save some to put on top after scooping them onto the baking sheets. That way, you get these little melted chocolate chips on top after the cookies bake. They firm up again once cooled.
“An earthquake achieves what the law promises but does not in practice maintain,” one of the survivors wrote. “The equality of all men”.” ― Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
Close to seven hours ago, I was minding my business at work when I felt a jolt. I thought I was just dizzy, but some colleagues starting to look at one another. Then there was another jolt. Someone instructed, “duck, cover and hold.” I hid under my desk.
I am no stranger to earthquakes, but that minute or two of shaking was the scariest and closest I’ve been to an actual disaster. The building was swaying, the blinds were repeatedly violently slapping against the windows. I could hear officemates praying out loud for the shaking to stop.
It was the strongest earthquake I’ve felt my entire life and all I could think of for the first few seconds was my Mom. She was a city away and I knew she was feeling it too. I sent her a message telling her to pray for us, just as I was. Then, I texted my sister, who was boarding a flight from Korea to Hong Kong, to pray for us because the earthquake was strong. They were all I could think of at that moment.
After the shaking, we were waiting for the go signal to go down the emergency exits. You see, our company wishes to ensure that before letting us out, where we will pass is safe too. It took a couple of minutes to go down from the 25th floor via stairs. My knees were shaking by the time I reached the ground floor. Then, we headed to the closest open area.
It took a couple more minutes before we heard anything from the news. A magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit a place that was 67kms away from Manila, a city only a few kilometers from us. If that was how strongly the earthquake was felt in Manila, I could not imagine how much worse the experience was for those who lived closer to the epicenter. News reports about shaken buildings, toppled commercial buildings’ water tanks, and ruined airport soon surfaced. What we experienced was milder than most.
I thank God for keeping us safe. I guess it’s really important to be actually present in our lives and not just watch each day go by. We need to tell our loved ones that we treasure them and to let them feel it. We need to be kinder to one another because you never know who will come to your aid at the time of need. We need to take care of ourselves so we can help other people, not only those who are close to us. We also need to learn how to share, whether material stuff or not.
For I am coconut, and the heart of me is sweeter than you know.” — Nikki Grimes
Technically, I baked these cookies weeks ago. I thought all the while that I’ve written about it already. After getting back from Hong Kong though, I have been busy with work that I forgot I only started writing this post.
This is almost an extension too of my Hong Kong adventures post. You see, the inspiration to make coconut cookies were because of the coconut-flavored egg rolls that I got from Kee Wah Bakery at the Hong Kong International Airport. I was only planning to buy penguin cookies, but a lady asked me to try free samples of the egg roll. She did not have to convince me much because I loved it right then and there.
When I got home, I knew I had to have something with a coconut taste. Therefore, I took it upon myself to find a coconut recipe that I can work with. The problem though, was that I only had desiccated coconuts in my pantry and all the recipes I was finding said to use shredded coconuts. To hell with shredded coconuts, I was going to use my desiccated coconut pack instead.
The recipe I decided to follow was from Food Network for coconut oatmeal cookies. It had five stars with 29 reviews and I think all of them only had praises for this recipe.
I did not do much tweaking except for adding 1 tsp of coconut extract and 1/2 tsp of salt. I thought to myself that cookies without salt will not have that added depth in flavor. Salt actually adds a little bit more oomph in baking. So, in salt went into my dough. I also added half a cup more of desiccated coconuts because they are not as bulky as shredded coconuts. I wanted my batch to yield a lot of cookies.
Guys, the whole house smelled so lovely and coconutty! It smelled like a vacation on a tropical beach, with coconut water for refreshment. It was simply amazing!
Here’s the deal. Because I did not use shredded coconut, the cookies were a tad bit drier than I would have liked. Still, they were chewy because of the oatmeal. Boy, they were yummy though. They were so yummy that I was actually debating whether to still bring some to work and share them with my colleagues or to just keep them all to myself. Of course, sharing is caring. So, I brought them to work.
The thing with coconuts is that not everyone is a fan of them. Even I took some time to warm up to this drupe. So, while some loved them, there were some who weren’t as fond of them. Despite that, I was still told that the cookies were good.
Perhaps I will try to find shredded coconut next time. Alternatively, perhaps I can just rehydrate desiccated coconut? I still think shredded coconut is different from grated coconut. Grated coconut is not difficult for me to get, but shredded coconuts? I have a higher chance of finding flaked coconut than finding the shredded version.
That’s it for now, guys! Hope you try the recipe out too.
“Always.” – Severus Snape (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Once a Harry Potter fan, forever a fan. I knew it the moment I opened the first book of the series 18 years ago. The moment I read the first chapter, I knew Harry Potter would be a part of my life forever. While I did not mean that I would have rooms with wallpapers of the brick walls of Diagon Alley or have every Harry Potter merchandise a part of my collection, I knew it was going to have a strong influence on me.
So, when my sister, Kristine, told me last December that there was a Harry Potter shop in Causeway Bay where she would buy herself some merch, I knew I had to make it a part of my March 2019 trip itinerary. There was no way I was missing a Harry Potter experience on a vacation.
Founded in 2007, Museum CONTEXT was known for quality retro home decors and gift ideas. From Edinburgh, it was brought to Hong Kong in 2011. By 2018, it opened a store in Causeway Bay, where Kristine went. Museum CONTEXT sells officially licensed Harry Potter merchandise from wands to robes, from quills to notebooks, from time turners to deluminators, and so much more! For more information about Museum CONTEXT, please visit their website.
From Wong Tai Sin to Causeway Bay
After our fortune-telling and temple experience at Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple (read about it here), Jana and I traveled all the way to Causeway Bay to meet up Kristine for her dinner treat. Thankfully, the MTR station at Wong Tai Sin was just beside the temple, so we did not have to walk very far since it started to drizzle after our fortunes were interpreted by a soothsayer.
From Wong Tai Sin MTR, we rode the train back to Mong Kok, where we alighted to transfer to the Tsuen Wan Line. We rode the train heading for Admiralty Station and alighted there to transfer to the Island Line. From Admiralty, Causeway Bay was just two train stops away. We chose to get out via the Hysan Place exit.
At Hysan Place, Jana and I rested first and bought drinks from Pacific Coffee. I was trying to figure out how much time we had left before we had to meet Kristine, trying to see if there was still sufficient time to find where Museum CONTEXT was. According to my sister, it was in one of the inner streets and Google Maps was not helping much with the directions.
I thought of postponing the trip to the store and to just enjoy Hysan Place first. We roamed around the mall and enjoyed the Line Friends displays that they had.
Finding Musem CONTEXT
Kristine sent a message that it might take a couple more minutes for her to arrive at Hysan Place, so I decided to bring Jana to the nearby SaSa store. In the process of doing so, we accidentally discovered where Musem CONTEXT was.
From Hysan Place, go to the ground floor and take the exit closes to Lululemon. Straight ahead (technically a tiny, tiny bit to the left), there was an Innisfree store. A little more forward were SaSa and Watsons. Where those shops were was Yun Ping Road. Just go straight and head towards the corner of Pak Sha Street. Look up and there you have it! Museum CONTEXT!
We took the stairs to the first floor and saw the posters of Harry and Sirius right away. I could only wish they moved just like in the movies.
Leave my Harry alone!
The store attendant came back from the washroom and opened the door to a magical place that gave a Diagon Alley vibe. I wasn’t looking into buying anything in particular, but my eyes feasted on every single merchandise that they had. Check out the slideshow below to see some of them.
I ended up not buying anything. I just practically just window-shopped with Jana here. I guess, it happens when you want everything and cannot decide which one to get first.
Caught By Surprise at the Airport
I was a little bit regretting that I did not get anything from the store. I wanted to have something as a souvenir of some sort. We were already at the airport when all these thoughts were running through my head.
Imagine my surprise when I saw a Museum CONTEXT pop-up store at the Departure Area, close to our check-in counter! I could not believe my eyes and immediately reported it to my sister. Apparently, it was only newly opened that month, explaining why she was not aware of it. She ordered me to get myself and Jana chocolate frogs. I gladly obeyed.
I got a Helga Hufflepuff card! She’s my idol for making magic happen in the kitchen.
“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” ― Mark Twain
Hong Kong can be very expensive. You must save up if you want to enjoy the best accommodation and shopping experience. What is equally undeniable though, is that Hong Kong is also an amazing place to let your tastebuds feast and have fun.
Here are some of the places I enjoyed eating in throughout my travels to Hong Kong since 2016.
Founded in 1989 by Mr. Chan Wing On and Mr. Yuen Chi Ming, Tai Hing has grown to have several branches across Hong Kong. There’s even a Tai Hing at the Arrival Area of Hong Kong International Airport, Terminal 1. It prides itself with its QSC management policy, which I think stands for quality, service, and cleanliness. For more information on Tai Hing and to where their branches are, visit their website here.
This is the restaurant that’s closest to my heart. It was in 2016 when I first tried eating in Tai Hing in its Grand Tower II branch. That was the year my sister was moving to Hong Kong to start her new job as a regional IT auditor. Without a lot of funds at that time, we made sure not to spend too much on eating out. Tai Hing’s food selections are already reasonably priced compared to other restaurants, in my opinion.
What I love best here is that one does not have to wait too long for food to be served. Despite the speed by which you get your meal, the quality is great and the food is awesome! I also love how smart it maximizes its space. They have tables with drawers that contain the utensils and sugar packets! Check out my IG post below and don’t forget to swipe left.
You definitely have to try their roast pork. It has the crispiest skin and the juiciest meat that will make you want for more! The meat was so good that I don’t remember dipping into any condiment to enhance the flavor. Just Google “Tai Hing roast pork” and you will know why this dish is a must-try in Hong Kong.
The veggie was okay. I mean, it’s a straightforward piece of what I assume is a bok choy. The nice thing about it though was that it was not overly cooked. There was still a crunch to it that was nice.
2. Milk Tea
Don’t forget to add sugar if you’re not fond of strong tea taste because their milk tea definitely has tea! It’s so unlike the usual milk tea drinks these days that have more sugar and milk than tea. Tai Hing’s milk tea is the real deal!
I liked it hot, surprisingly, but try to have its chilled version. I heard they dip the glass in a bucket of ice rather than putting ice in the drink. That way, the milk tea does not get diluted by melted ice. I was not able to experience ordering the chilled version, but you may try in order to confirm their manner of serving it.
3. Lemon iced tea
Theirs is not the commercial powdered iced tea that’s flavored with lemon. Their lemon iced tea is so refreshing without being too sweet. It goes really well with their rice pork and rice dishes.
4. Luncheon meat and scrambled eggs instant noodle
It looks like a simple dish. It is! Yet, it tastes highly of home comfort food. The broth was tasty, yet light at the same time. The noodles weren’t mushy and the luncheon meat remained firm.
What I did not like as much:
1. Mandarin orange with honey (drink)
It tasted like paracetamol in syrup form. Think Biogesic or Tempra. It did not live up to my expectation of refreshing orange drink sweetened with honey. I do not know why it was that way or whether it was an isolated case.
2. Preserved cabbage and shredded pork rice vermicelli (noodle soup)
I could not understand the taste of the preserved cabbage. Best not to order this dish if you do not like preserved cabbages.
I am so glad I was able to bring Jana to the same Grand Tower II branch I’ve been to in 2016. However, their breakfast selections are not too varied and are a little bit pricey in my opinion. I hope to be able to bring her there again when it’s past breakfast time.
Tsui Wah (Hong Kong International Airport)
It started as an Ice cafe in Mong Kok in 1967. It eventually grew to one of the popular chains of restaurants in Hong Kong. It has branches across Hong Kong, a branch in Singapore, and several branches in China. For more information and for the list of their branches, please visit their website.
The first Tsui Wah (and technically the only) branch I have tried was the one in Hong Kong International Airport’s Departure Area. I was trying to prolong my last few moments with my sister at that before going back to Manila. It was my first time at that restaurant as well, and I was not sure what to expect. All I knew was that their place looked fancy and expensive.
It turns out that more or less, their prices are pretty much okay for an airport restaurant. With the rather large servings, I think we got our money’s worth that afternoon.
What I loved:
Their food selection is varied, I must say. While I normally do not order curry dishes out of the fear of their spices being too much, my sister convinced me to try their Malaysian curry dishes. Oh dear, I did not regret it at all! The curry sauce? It was so flavorful and yummy, with the spices just enough to give heat, but not too much that I would feel my mouth burning. I was so full at the end of our meal!
I was excited to let Jana try their food, so we tried to visit their Portland Street branch in Mong Kok. Just like Tai Hing, they served breakfast until 11:00 am. Even then, as I was looking at the menu, there wasn’t anything that reminded me of the menu from their HKIA branch. It was like looking at a totally different restaurant’s menu because there was nothing familiar to me. I didn’t see any Malaysian curry dish too. I guess the food they serve vary among branches.
The Dining Room (Hysan Place)
After, visiting Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, we traveled all the way to Causeway Bay to meet up with my sister, Kristine. She told me she’d treat me and Jana to our first dinner in Hong Kong this year. I was excited to see her as I have not seen her since December.
At the 12th floor of the very beautiful Hysan Place, you can find The Dining Room. This restaurant is a member of the Tansh Global Food Group, along with Shanghai Min and Maison de L’Hui. The Dining Room serves Shanghai-style food and has a strong presence in China. For more details on the Tansh Global Food Group, please click here.
There was not a lot of people when we got there, but I noticed a sign that said customers can only stay 90 minutes max. I guess this place gets packed and they have to impose the time limit so that other people can get in. Smart!
The staff was made up of attentive and courteous people during our visit. See that blue bag on the chair? They placed a cover on top of it to prevent it from being ruined by accidental food and drink spills. They provided the cover without being asked (and frankly, I didn’t know they had such thing).
We were given the menu and a slip of paper where we had to check the items that we were ordering. For the most part, Kristine chose for us since she has eaten here in the past. She was telling us how this restaurant served Shanghai-style dishes, which I am not sure I have tried in the past.
What I loved:
1. Braised pork belly with eggs
Argh! My mouth is already watering at the sight of this dish! This was my favorite out of all that we tried.
The braised pork was so tender and oh so juicy! The pork was coated with this sticky, flavorful sauce that was neither too salty nor too sweet. It was just right. There’s a good amount of fat in these pieces of meat that I loved so much. I don’t eat a lot of pork (especially pork belly), but when I do, I love eating the fatty part, making sure to eat them at the end of the meal. Save the best for last!
The serving size seems small, but it was actually enough for the three of us to have tried it. It paired really well with the rice that I’ll be talking about later.
2. Steamed pork & soup dumplings (xiao long bao)
I have found a rival for Din Tai Fung’s xiao long bao! The buns were neither too thin or too thick. They were sturdy enough to hold the soup inside and not tear easily when you try to lift them with chopsticks. Thankfully, they also did not stick to the paper lining the bamboo steamer basket.
Whatever soup they put inside, I was such a huge fan! If only I could order a bowl of just the soup, I would be very delighted! You see, despite being a clear type of soup, it was not the runny kind that suddenly floods your mouth as soon as you bite into the bun. It flowed gently, coating my tongue and bathing my taste buds with a light, yet flavorful soup. The soup nicely complemented the pork inside, which was cooked just right. The pork was not tough, not mushy, and neither overcooked nor undercooked.
Believe me when I say that one basket with five xiao long bao pieces is not enough for me. I will gladly just eat this dish and be content. That’s how good they were!
3. Fried rice with salted pork and vegetables
Fear not that “salted” part of this dish’s name. The pork was only lightly salted, enough for the rice to make you want to serve yourself some more. The long, thin grains were coated with deliciousness that enhanced the other flavors of the other dishes we tried. That’s because the rice was far from being bland, yet did not compete with the tastes of the other dishes.
That small bowl was enough for the three of us to share. So, if you ordered plenty of meats and dim sum, you do not have to order plenty of rice.
What I loved just a little bit less:
1. The eggs that came with the braised pork belly.
I think they were cooked a little too long. At least that is what I think seeing that gray part between the egg yolk and the egg white. I still liked it, although I wished that the yolks were a little on the softer side. I like my yolks just set and creamy.
2. The spicy beef brisket pot
My sister assured me that it was not as spicy as I was fearing it to be despite its bright red color. I should have known not to trust my sister’s taste buds that have a fondness for spicy foods. Even she admitted later on that the dish was spicier than when she first tried it.
The heat from the spices aside, the beef strips were not too chewy that your jaw will hurt from chewing too much. I truly hate it when the beef is too tough, yet I also do not like beef that’s too rare. I am not sure whether it was due to its being cut into strips, but I liked the texture of the meat.
The noodles were a little tricky though. I was having a hard time getting them with my chopsticks. I think I need a lot more practice with the ones that tend to slip my chopstick’s grip.
By the way, let me just say that I was so fond of those gold teapots. I mean, I wanted one for myself. The last time I saw golden teapots were in TWG and each pot was priced at Php 25,000 at that time.
Texas Burger (Langham Place)
Move over, stairway to heaven! This is an escalator to heaven!
When I went to Hong Kong last March, it was my first time to step inside Langham Place. It was so beautiful inside, yet also a little confusing. Despite not being a very wide place, I felt like I was still getting lost inside. I guess I should visit more often to memorize where the stairs and ramps (very useful for those with suitcases) and elevators are.
The highlight, though, was the escalators that transport people from the 8th to the 12th floor without stops in between! Yup, you read that right. You skip three floors to get to either the 8th or the 12th floor, depending on your direction.
Very close to the escalator on the 12th floor was Texas Burger. Having had Asian Food for the last couple of days, it was nice to finally have some American food. Besides, don’t you think those seats look nice? Well, we weren’t able to stay in one of those. Bummer.
Forgot to bring your wipes? No problem! Inside their utensils basket, they provide a pack or two of wipes so you can dig in and eat without worrying about the germs from your hands. I think there’s only one piece per pack though. I need to check the one I brought home as a souvenir.
Food is a little on the pricier side here. I guess it can be expected seeing how lush Langham Place is. Rent would surely be expensive and therefore, their prices would have to be enough not to drive them out of business. Still, there were affordable items on the menu like the ones we got.1.
They had a lot of items on their menu, but we weren’t looking to eat so much for dinner after our Ocean Park trip anyway. So, we decided to go for the lighter items on the menu, despite how yummy their burgers looked.
What we got:
1. Pulled Pork Soft Taco
Taco Bell lover Jana did not surprise me when she ordered soft taco for HKD48. She chose the pulled pork variant that had some creamy sauce, tomatoes, and guacamole. Even I, who dislikes guacamole, liked the filling of her soft taco when she placed a teaspoonful on my plate.
Also, look at how cute it looked! I love the wooden taco holder that they used to serve it to the customer. So adorable!
2. Garlic and Parmesan Fries
At HKD 58, I was only expecting fried with garlic and parmesan flavored powder. Boy, I was so wrong. The fries came with real garlic and parmesan cheese!
Although not as photogenic as the soft taco of Jana, I can say that it’s still a good deal. The potatoes weren’t sliced too thinly, yet they did not have a weird texture in the middle. They were cooked perfectly! So, if you love garlic and parmesan together, go for this!
Note: I did not like the dip that came with it though. I would have liked plain ketchup instead.
3. Buffalo Wings Lollipop
Five chicken lollipops for HKD 68? Yes, please!
The outer layer of the chicken was crispy and the meat was juicy! The chicken pieces were well seasoned were not too salty that you’d be reaching out for your drink a lot to cleanse your palate. And how do I know a chicken is good? If I don’t use the dipping to enhance the flavor. These pieces were so good on their own!
We were already full from the tacos and the fries so we had some leftover chicken that we had to take out and bring to the hotel.
Made in HK (Langham Place)
Before leaving for Manila, we had lunch with Kristine at Made in HK in Langham Place. This restaurant opens at exactly 12nn, so do not be too early like we were. Haha.
Made in HK is a brand under the Cafe Deco Group. Its dishes are mainly Western with a touch of Hong Kong’s style. Aside from Langham Place, it has another branch in Millenium City in Kwun Tong.
The restaurant staff was really nice, despite our inability to communicate well with one of them because neither Jana and I knew how to speak Cantonese. I guess, next time, I will rent one of those translator devices at the airport.
What we ordered:
We all ordered from their set lunch menu because it came with the starters (soup or salad), main course, sides (rice, pasta, or fries), drinks (coffee/tea with upgrade options) and desserts already. There’s no option for the dessert because what they serve varies daily.
Jana and I got slow-cooked pork ribs. She got the black pepper sauce while I got the red wine sauce. Kristine got a pork chop dish with black pepper sauce too. For drinks, we ordered iced lemon tea. Our meals were indulgent!
My mushroom soup was on the runny side, unlike the thick and creamy version that I prefer. Seeing how big my meal was though, I was glad we soup was not thick and heavy. I needed all the room for that luscious and sinfully good pork ribs!
The red wine sauce paired really well with the ribs. I was worried it was going to taste weird, but I wanted to be adventurous on my last lunch in Hong Kong that day. Their tastes married well and neither overpowered the other. I also loved that the ribs were not tough to separate from the bones. The slow cooking worked its wonders well because I had juicy meat that I did not have to wrestle with before I could eat.
As for the dessert? Oh, wow! It was a refreshing contrast to the heavy lunch that we had! It was light and creamy, with matcha cutting through and really shining. And when we bit into the blueberry? Woah! There was a burst of tart freshness that I absolutely loved.
From its inception in 1992, Pacific Coffee has been providing great coffee experience to its customers. Forget Starbucks during your stay in Hong Kong and head over to Pacific Coffee to try their Espresso Chillino.
I personally loved their Rocky Road Rumba Chillino while Jana enjoyed her Iced Cafe Mocha. We could really taste the coffee in our drinks, unlike other coffee brands that serve drinks that tasted more of milk and sugar than the coffee.
The company is also trying to be more eco-friendly by not offering plastic straws right away. You have to make a special request to get them. I hope they are also moving towards more eco-friendly cups for their drinks.
Whew! What a long post! I hope you try out the places I have listed for you. Make the best out of your HK experience!
For more posts about my adventures in Hong Kong, please click here.
“The creatures of the sea hold special mystery, and they are among the most exciting, graceful, and beautiful on Earth. Just consider the living riot of a coral reef, the beauty of an albatross, the awesome power of a giant turtle, the grace of a dolphin. Now multiply that by the millions of creatures in the sea. Wow! -Carl Safina”
Still sad from not being able to see the dolphins, Jana and I roamed around to find some stuff to do. We ended up at the area where they had theme park games. Jana went for the one where she just had to topple over cups to get a stuffed toy. I tried one where I had to shoot a ball in a small drum. None of us won.
All the walking has made us hungry, so we looked for a place to eat. The park was full of people and it took a while for us to find seats. I left Jana at the table to buy our lunch from Boardwalk Cafe.
The queue wasn’t that long, but it didn’t move quickly enough. I had to wait for over 15 minutes just to place our order. Jana’s was roasted pork while I forgot what mine was BBQ pork. For HKD 120 each order, our food came with rather tall glasses of soda. I guess that’s a deal already.
The food was delicious! The meats were flavorful, but not overpowering. Jana’s roasted pork came with crunchy pork skin that was simply delectable! The serving of each meal was also big, so I wasn’t able to finish the rice and my soda. I just made sure to eat up all the meat. I was so stuffed and fuelled for our next adventures in the park!
We welcomed three Chinese people (I think they’re family) to sit with us because there wasn’t anywhere else to stay. One of them tried to talk to us, but we couldn’t understand Chinese. I would have liked talking to them if only I knew how to speak their language. It would have been fun to make friends during travels.
After lunch, we headed to the Ocean Theater to watch the dolphins and sea lions. We arrived pretty early, but we got to see the animals practice before the actual show. I was excited because it was my first time to see dolphins and sea lions in real life. I don’t know if Jana has seen dolphins in the past, but I hope she was as excited as I was at that moment.
The theater was packed with visitors a few minutes before the show. Behind us was a cute little boy who was getting bored. We got so many kicks on our backs because the kid was getting impatient. Thankfully, the sea lions arrived before the kid threw a tantrum.
Soon after, they bade goodbye to the audience. I could tell that the smaller sea lion was very attached to the man in the purple suit. I guess they have formed a strong bond over the years that they have performed together. In a way, it gives me comfort that these animals are cared for well even if they are not in their natural habitat.
Soon, the dolphins arrived while there was a story being narrated. Early on in the show, they were already giving their best on their tricks. The jumped, they flipped, they somersaulted, and were so coordinated and synchronized! These guys really are smart!
I really hope more efforts go into protecting these animals so that they can live freely and not have to be protected in facilities. I’d hate for places like Ocean Park to be a safer home for them than their natural habitat just because humans stopped caring and giving a damn.
A very long walk away from the Ocean Theater was Shark Mystique. I have to admit that I got tired from all the slopes we had to climb up just to reach our destination. In my head, I was thinking that the sharks better be worth all the calories I was burning at that time. Plus, they better not make a snack out of me.
I am not sure if people were scared of sharks or they just had more exciting activities to participate in. Maybe we were just blessed that day because the queue was not long at all. We’ve been lucky with queues since Disneyland!
Anyway, after going inside, I noticed that the place smelled highly of the ocean. The smell was stronger compared to Aqua City’s huge aquariums. Shark Mystique truly smelled like the ocean, but not too strongly you wouldn’t want to go inside anymore. The place was also much darker, probably to mimic how dark it is deep, deep down in the ocean where sharks normally stay. It was fine because I do not want to get into any angry shark-related accidents.
We did not see sharks right away. In fact, I saw a lot of smaller fishes upon entry. They were colorful and delightful in their own way, which made me worry if they get served to the sharks to eat.
Eventually, we got to the sharks. For so many years, I only ever knew one type of shark; the ones you normally see in shark-related horror and thriller movies. I was already an adult when I tried to know more about sharks. Turns out, there are other different kinds!
It’s astounding how fishes swim with the sharks like those sharks are their friends. I mean, the sharks have to eat. Are they not worried they will be eaten? You see, I didn’t see the fishes swimming away from these bigger fishes that, most of the time, just pop out of nowhere.
I thought I saw enough of rays earlier at Aqua City, but there were a lot of them at Shark Mystique too! I eventually learned that rays (batoids) are close relatives of sharks. What?! I cannot see how that can be, but I’ll leave that to the experts.
Amidst all the oohs and the aahs in Shark Mystique, a kid suddenly started singing the Baby Shark song. Haha! I knew it was bound to happen. Damn, that song is still a hit with kids like my nephew. He recently learned how to speak clearly enough to shout, “Alexa, play Baby Shark.”
We had another long walk to get to the Ocean Express (train) to go back to The Waterfront section of Ocean Park. After having experienced the cable car, we decided to experience riding the train going back. I loved how the train looked like a submarine.
We tried to see An An again before going home, but he wanted to stay in his room more than he wanted to be seen by visitors. Animals are entitled to their privacy and me-time too, so we just decided to shop before going home.
I ended up not buying anything though. Still, I was able to buy panda and penguin cookies from the airport before going home. Kee Wah sells them at the same price so you do not have to buy from Ocean Express right away if you’re worried about making sure you had funds for the rest of your trip.
I immensely enjoyed our trip to Ocean Park. My only regret was that we weren’t able to plan it as well as we should have to be able to visit more attractions and see more animals. I cannot wait to visit again to see the koala, the red pandas, and the birds. Hopefully, next time, I will also get to see the two younger pandas that this place takes care of.
I hope you also enjoyed Ocean Park through my stories, pictures, and videos. I wish for you to be able to visit this place or a similar park that’s closer to you. May we all learn to love and protect for the animals that God placed in our care.
To read about my other adventures in Hong Kong, please click here.
“Anything is possible when you have inner peace.”-Master Shifu, Kung Fu Panda
After all the blue we’ve seen from the giant aquariums, the closest attraction was the Amazing Asia Animals section where the Giant Panda Adventure was. The panda was our topmost priority to see when we planned the trip, so we decided to visit early while we could not see a long queue yet.
Before we were let inside, we were strictly told not to be noisy and to make sure to turn off the flash function of our cameras. However, even before we got in, I could already hear the other attendant inside, shushing the visitors who were still there.
When we went in, that was the same time the panda came out to be seen by the visitors. The other tourists forgot to keep quiet and the attendants had to shush every few seconds. Thankfully, the panda was not irritated yet.
The panda looked so cute and so cuddly! Still, I noticed that it didn’t look too happy. Perhaps because the people were noisy? Perhaps An An (this male panda), was missing his partner, Jia Jia, whose health deteriorated so much that the doctors felt it was better to euthanize her. I guess it was better than seeing her suffer every day.
Turns out, this panda is already of old age. Having born in 1986, An An is now 33 years old and is the oldest male giant panda under human care. That’s probably why he needs more rest and quiet. He did not stay outside for too long and preferred to stay in the back room. He looked like he was sulking just like a kid who did not get what he wanted. It must have been the noise from the other tourists or the constant tapping on the glass to get his attention. That must have been stressful for this fella.
Two viewing areas away from An An were two Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkeys, Le Le and Qi Qi. For some reason, they either looked like they were bored or were pissed off. All I know was that they looked so displeased that day. Maybe that’s really how they look, earning them the snub-nosed monkey name. It fitted them quite well, to be honest.
Outside the viewing area for the panda and the monkeys was another shop filled with souvenir items and stuffed toys. You can bring home as much panda-inspired stuff as your wallet can handle.
At this point, realizing how big Ocean Park was, Jana and I decided to see the other animals we went for first. This was to ensure we saw the animals we came for before spending time looking at the rest. For that reason, we decided to visit Polar Adventure for the penguins.
Before getting to the penguins, we had to walk around and find where we could ride the cable cars. At first, I was kind of disappointed at the cable cars, thinking that they were hanging very low. You see, I was comparing it to my experience before in Ngong Ping. For that reason, I thought the cable cars here were child’s play and would not elicit a sense of thrill at all.
We had to pass by Old Hong Kong, where we should have gotten some food as part of the Klook package we got. Unfortunately, I totally forgot about that premium. Argh!
Boy, was I wrong about the cable cars…
Initially, we were pretty okay. Everything was chill and relaxed. A few meters away, my golly! We were being lifted so steeply! I swallowed my criticisms of these cable cars. They actually hanged pretty high up in the air! Ngong Ping cable cars weren’t as nerve-racking as these! All I could think of was how much longer we had to go and why we didn’t just take the trains. I did not want to ride back anymore because every time we passed by those tall supporting towers, it would feel very bumpy and unstable inside. Plus, there was some sound that was made that did not do anything good for my nerves.
I have never been afraid of heights, but I have always been afraid of falling. It’s why I am such a paranoid flyer. Oh well, I guess I need more practice to get over that fear. Thankfully, we survived the cable cars without anyone passing out from fear. Although, I think Jana’s tougher than she looks like and I am the one who’ll pass out first if ever that will happen.
After a few minutes of walking, we finally got to North Pole Encounter to see the seals and walruses. I’ve never been fond of them, but I have to admit that they have a certain trait that makes them adorable. Perhaps, that’s why Jana could not resist having a picture taken with the mascot.
I was worried that it was going to be so cold where these animals stayed, but it wasn’t that bad. We weren’t freezing at all despite the temperature being a little on the colder side. I could say they tried to mimic the natural habitat of these animals to a certain degree, but there was not much ice around, whether natural or artificial. Perhaps, they were okay with the temperature not being too cold for human comfort.
Anyway, the first one I saw was a small seal. It was not that tiny, but compared to the walruses in that place, it looked like a sweet little baby. It was happily swimming and floating around without a care for the visitors who were its pictures. Ah, to have that carefree life.
In another section were the walruses. Initially, I thought there were only two. Watching the videos I have taken, however, I noticed that there were actually three of them. The largest one was the most camera-comfy of them all since the two others remained strictly under water.
I was so amazed at how well they swam without much flapping around needed. How could they float so well considering how heavy they looked?!
As we went further down, we heard a very loud thump that sounded as if someone tried to bang heavily on the glass panels that kept the animals and the water in. Jana theorized that it must have been a walrus that hit the glass. When we got to another spot that had a better view of the three walruses I took a video of earlier, I guess she might be right. I thought they were huge earlier. They looked even more huge closer!
I am so awestruck by how well the viewing areas were designed. You see, you get to have different vantage points of these magnificent creatures. It really was well-thought-of and masterfully designed! I cannot even draw a decent 2D picture of a house!
I truly enjoyed seeing the seals and walruses. I am not sure though if there was a manatee or a sea lion there as well. I would probably look out for those when I visit Ocean Park again in the future. I still have plenty of animals to see when I return.
After seeing the seals and walruses, we got to see arctic foxes. Gosh! They look so regal and majestic even though they were sleeping peacefully.
There were three of them and all of them looked like babies. I wondered where their parents were. They must be somewhere else or resting at a more secluded area.
Now, this is the part where my heart got broken. The South Pole Encounter section was closed. That meant we could not see the penguins. Therefore, I had to content myself with the penguin statues outside.
I had no idea that the section was closed for renovation until the end of June. I was tremendously disappointed because I wanted to see penguins for the first time in real life! I felt like a kid whose toy was taken from her. Oh well, at least I saw a panda. That’s also black and white.
That’s it for now. Please stay tuned for my final post on our Ocean Park trip. In the meantime, please click here to read more about my trips to Hong Kong.
“I am the shore and the ocean, awaiting myself on both sides.” ― Dejan Stojanovic, The Shape
I am not much of an adventurer, but I do love the ocean and the sea. I guess my posts on my experiences about Apo Island and Surigao will let you know how I learned about my love for large bodies of water. I love the mystery and the feeling of freedom that being in the middle of the sea gives one. It’s euphoric and enthralling when you’re away from the land and you’re blanketed by the refreshing sensation of the water.
Despite that love for the sea, I have to admit to not putting Ocean Park on our itinerary right away. In fact, we only decided to go to Ocean Park because Ngong Ping 360 cable cars were undergoing maintenance checks during our stay in Hong Kong. We thought of experiencing cable car ride in Ocean Park instead.
It was only when I found out that there are panda and penguins in Hong Kong’s Ocean Park that I got very excited about the trip. Just like our Disneyland trip, we booked our tickets via Klook, booking it the day after our Disneyland trip. According to my sister, Ocean Park is a lot wider than Disneyland and would, therefore, require more walking. We would be too tired for Disneyland if we went to Ocean Park first.
Mong Kok to Ocean Park
We rode the MTR once again from Mong Kok Station to Admiralty, where we alighted to transfer to the South Island Line. We rode another train and got off at Ocean Park.
We did not encounter any difficulty getting inside Ocean Park. Bottled water is allowed inside too. I conveniently placed mine in one of the rather large pockets of the jacket my sister gave me.
The first place we entered was the first shop that we saw. The penguin stuffed toys called to me. Hahaha.
I wanted to buy at least one of each design, but I would be buried in debt if I did. Who would not want to have at least one of these cuddly toys?! No one!
Anyway, we went back out to try and figure out how to navigate the place. Unlike in Disneyland, I have not been to this place before, so I could not guide Jana in exploring Ocean Park. For that reason, she immediately looked for the place where they put maps for visitors to use. Thankfully, Ocean Park’s map was in English. With a map in hand, we went to the right of this Chill Out stand.
The first attraction we saw was Aqua City. We decided that the panda and the penguins could wait and that we should already see what was in this place. There wasn’t a very long queue, but we had to wait for a couple of minutes to get in. I think they’re trying to ensure that the people inside do not become too plenty because that would make for an uncomfortable visit. While waiting, we were trying (at least Jana was) to figure the map out and plan the sequence of the attractions we were going to visit.
The first thing we saw was this aquarium of jellyfishes. Don’t you think they were so comely under the blue light? I cannot imagine how creatures as cute as these can cause injury to humans. How powerful!
Sometimes, part of me wishes that I knew more about animals. This jellyfish, for example, makes me so curious where its brain and internal organs are. How does it eat? Does it poop? How does it sleep and breath? Then again, I can always research online about these sort of things.
There were a lot of kids in Aqua City and it’s understandable because Ocean Park is a great place to have field trips if you want your child to know more about animals.
The last time I saw something this beautiful was during my trip to Apo Island. There’s a beauty under the sea that the wonders on land just cannot replace.
Aqua City is filled with large aquariums that I cannot imagine how they filled. Did they fill them with sea water or did they make artificial sea water? How do they make the aquariums liveable for the animals?
Further on, we came across the section for king crabs. OMG, so scary! I love crabs and I love eating them, but after seeing the king crab, I do not think I’ll be eating any crab any time soon. They look like spiders under the sea!
I finally got to see a seahorse for the first time in my life! I was kind of hoping to chance upon a female seahorse depositing eggs to a male’s pouch because, you know, parenting is a shared responsibility. You gotta be proud of these daddies! Unfortunately, I was not able to witness such an event.
Much to my surprise, I learned that seahorses are used as “medicine” by some people. I was shocked. First of all, how do they even manage to capture these tiny creatures?
My only regret during my whole Ocean Park trip was that I did not pay much attention to the labels and animal information posted. I got so caught up with the beauty of the animals and wanted to take photos and videos of them. For that reason, I do not know if a certain ray fish is a manta ray or a sting ray. Or another type of ray? Nevertheless, I loved the rays so much because they remind me of an encounter with one in Surigao.
The funny thing about rays is that their underside looks like a smiley face. Look at this kid below. Doesn’t it seem like the ray was smiling at him?
Seeing them with the other fishes was astonishing! Just look at the video below.
“It’s not enough to be against something. You have to be for something better.” – Tony Stark
It was a long walk from Mystic Point to Tomorrowland, but nothing was going to stop us from meeting Iron Man! The moment we saw the queue was short, we went for it and waited for our turn at the Iron Man Tech Showcase. From the waiting area, we could see lights from a room where people were made to enter, making the wait more exciting.
I was imagining that there will be some holographic whatnots to see when you reach your turn. To my disappointment, it was basically just a “scanning.” It’s like you’re being scanned for deadly weapons and illicit object in your pockets with bright lights flashing and some techie sounds for added effect. Bummer. At least we got Iron Man stickers.
After being “scanned,” we were made to go inside the tech showcase room where a lady (I assume to be playing the role of Piper) was explaining (in Chinese) something about the suit. At least I think it was about Iron Man’s suit. No English translations. Another bummer. Thankfully, the lady was cut short when suddenly, behind the closed sliding doors, Iron Man made a surprise appearance.
Whoever is underneath that costume, he captured Tony Stark’s confidence (and arrogant mannerisms too, I think) so well! Great job!
Iron Man started talking to “Pepper” for a few seconds. The lady still spoke in Chinese while he spoke in English. Pffft… I badly need to take Cantonese lessons soon.
Anyway, they started allowing us to take pictures by groups. I don’t know why they appeared in a hurry. After the three older ladies had a group’s and their individual photos taken, they were rushing even more. Jana and I were not able to ask for individual photos anymore, but at least the person who was handling Jana’s phone to take pictures took more that one shot.
My failure to understand Chinese aside, I was so happy I got to meet Iron Man, even if he wasn’t Robert Downey, Jr. underneath that suit. You see, apart from Wolverine, Iron Man/Tony Stark is my favorite because of his wit, sense of humor and bad boy vibe. Superheroes can’t be too nice all the time, I believe.
I cannot count the number of times I told Jana I wanted to ride teacups. To be exact, I wanted to ride teacups that moved like bump cars. I could just imagine bumping into another teacup and we’d lose a chunk of our teacup’s body in the process. Crazy thoughts I had.
Anyway, when I saw the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups ride, I insisted we hopped on it. Thankfully, the queue was not very long so it didn’t take a lot of time before we were at the front of the line waiting for the next round.
These were not bump teacup cars like I wanted. These were spinning teacups which were very much aligned to the Alice in Wonderland theme.
There’s a sort of steering wheel in the middle of those teacups that you have to spin in order for your teacup to spin faster. The whole ride lasted shorter than we wanted, but I think that’s okay because any longer and we might have been dizzy already. We wanted a second turn, but the queue was already longer than when we first decided to go for this ride. We just decided to look for somewhere else to go.
We went to this castle that had an Alice in Wonderland vibe that we saw while we were waiting to ride the teacups. There was something so whimsical about it that it looked like it came straight from a pop-up book. Of course, we had to take pictures with that castle as our background!
We also had a great time laughing at how differently we take each other’s photos. Just look at our attempts below.
Anyway, we saw people coming out of the castle. We decided to figure out what was inside it. A few steps away from where we were taking photos, we saw a sign for It’s a Small World boat ride. Boat ride?! Count us in! We went inside the castle and found our way to the “river” leading to everything adorable in this world.
The queue was manageable, so we did not wait long to ride the boat. My golly! There were so many adorable displays along the way! It’s a Small World After All was also playing in the background. I wanted to take everything I saw and bring them home with me! I just saw my dream doll collection come to life at that time!
The point of the dolls/displays was to show the uniqueness of different places in the world. The song It’s a Small World After All would play in the language of the country you’re currently passing by. To be honest, I only noticed that the language was changing when I suddenly heard it in Filipino. Pilipinas, represent!!!
We took a little break to rest our legs and to eat caramel popcorn. It was getting dark already and we wanted to prepare for the night parade. During this rest, we were approached by a couple who asked if they could swap tickets with us. I think they were collecting different colors of Disneyland stubs. We gladly exchanged with them.
After a few minutes, we went to the main street to get ready for the Paint the Night Parade. Damn, there were lots of people sitting on the sidewalk already, reserving a sure spot for the best view of the parade. We stood for almost an hour, waiting for the spectacular display of lights to start. I went on IG live so my sister could watch at home because she was not able to go with us as originally planned. Unfortunately for me, I was not able to save the live video.
Thankfully, I found a clear video from YouTube. I can now reminisce about that magical and magnificent production.
After the parade, Jana and I shared a Mickey waffle before heading home. By this time, we have also already shopped for treats to bring home to colleagues and friends.
I enjoyed Disneyland a whole lot! I feel that I should be back every year so that I can ride almost every ride they have and watch every production they perform. I want to visit Tarzan’s Tree House and hopefully, see Sleeping Beauty’s Castle after the renovation is complete. I want to watch the fireworks at night and take a better video of that night parade.
I want Jana to come along again and hopefully, we’ll be joined by our other friends like Joan, Mark, and Dan. I bet it will be so much fun to be back with the whole gang.
Until next time, bye Disneyland!
Please read Parts 1 and 2 of my Hong Kong Disneyland trip with my friend, Jana.
You may also want to read more about my previous Hong Kong experiences. Just click here.
“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, dreams are forever.” -Walt Disney
Flights of Fantasy Parade
I was still feeling giddy about the Festival of the Lion King (read about it here) that I almost forgot about the 2:45PM parade that day. Jana approached a kind personnel to ask where the parade was going to be held. Having been directed to the main street, we tried to squeeze ourselves in the packed crowd that has formed.
We waited for a few minutes for the parade to begin. By that time, it was a little warmer already, perhaps due to the number of people waiting to see the parade as well. Eventually, we saw that it has started and we saw this float of Dumbo leading the parade of beloved Disney characters.
Sooo cute! I cannot recall knowing much about Dumbo’s story, but I know I found him cute and adorable when I was a kid. I cannot wait to watch the new Dumbo film this year. From the trailer alone, I feel like I’ll be crying buckets of tears.
Soon after, the floats of the Disney Princesses and Tinkerbell arrived. I made it a point to capture photos of Tinkerbell to show to our good friend Joan. Tinkerbell is her favorite apart from Ariel and we knew she would like to see this cute fairy in action.
How are these ladies so flawless?! I wonder what a Disney Princess has for a makeup and skincare routine. Hmmm…
I don’t think I saw Ariel in this parade. Maybe she was on the other side of the float? Also, I did not see Rapunzel, Merrida, and Jasmine. I wonder where those four went.
More and more adorable characters were out on their floats. The one I recognized even from afar was Winnie the Pooh. One simply cannot miss that golden tummy showing from a cropped top! He’s so cute and looks so cuddly, just like the plush toy my sister bought for me last year.
I do not care if I am nearing my 30’s already. At that moment, I felt like a kid seeing all her favorite things in life! It felt so great to be carefree and happy like a child.
Tahitian Terrace Restaurant
The parade lasted about 30 to 40 minutes. By the end of the show, I felt hungry already, so I invited Jana to have lunch. We went to look for a place to eat back in Adventureland. We went to the first restaurant we could find because we did not want to roam around so much anymore. We ended up at Tahitian Terrace for lunch.
There were available seats! Hooray! You see, the last time I was in Disneyland we had difficulty looking for seats when we wanted to have lunch at a different restaurant. That is why I was so glad we did not have trouble looking for a table for Jana and me.
I found it a little ironic that the restaurant’s name contains Tahitian, but when I went inside, the menu had Southeast Asian specialties.
According to the Hong Kong Disneyland’s website, this restaurant serves meat dishes “certified by The Incorporated Trustees of The Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong” as halal. For those who eat halal certified foods, this is awesome!
My sister, Kristine, gave me money the day before and strictly instructed me to make sure Jana and I eat well in Disneyland. She said food in Disneyland can be pricey and she did not want us to miss enjoying the food there because of trying to spend less. I am so blessed I have a generous sister!
I asked Jana to stay at our table and decided to be the one to order our food. For her, I got the Roasted Chicken Breast, Honey Mushroom Sauce with Rice. Apparently, it was a kid’s meal as it came with cookies and an apple. I got her an additional orange juice bottle. Her meal totaled HKD 109.
Because I could only manage one tray at a time, I went back a second time to order my meal. On the way to the counter, I saw a lady with a Mickey Mouse looking cup with a straw. I said to myself, I want that too! So, when I ordered my Lemongrass Chicken Steak Combo for HKD 135, I added HKD 35 more to have this special Disney drink in their adorable sip cup.
I could not place what that drink was. It tasted like Sprite with lychee with jelly-like sinkers. Uh-oh. Lychee. I am allergic to that stuff, but at least I did not get any terrible reaction from the drink. Must have been artificial flavoring only.
Guess how the sinkers in the drink looked like…
Our meals were so delicious! The rice was especially yummy, probably because of the coconut flavor infused in it. The chicken dishes were juicy, tender and so flavorful! The cookies were crispy, light and buttery. Tahitian Terrace, you’re now one of my favorite Hong Kong restaurants!
Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point
After our filling lunch, we walked around trying to find the Runaway Mine Cars. Jana is quite a skilled driver and any mention of cars excites her. To our surprise, the Runaway Mine Cars was actually a steel roller coaster ride. Having only eaten, we decided to just watch the people already on it. Maybe next time.
We decided to keep walking around and we reached Toy Story Land. The rides in Toy Story Land looked like they were so much fun! Perhaps because of that, the queues to the different rides were soooooooo long.
We also saw Toy Story characters, but we were not able to fall in line early so that we could have our pictures taken with the characters. Sad…
Mystic Point was, well, mystical. The atmosphere in that section felt so different from the energy at Toy Story Land. Mystic Manor alone would let you know it.
The garden of wonders kind of gave me the creeps. For one, it looked so simple. However, it kind of gave me the feeling like there’s something there that I ought to have seen and that something will appear out of nowhere anytime.
Around this time, my sister told me to go and meet Iron Man at Tomorrowland. Hence, we traveled to the other side of the theme park.
Stay tuned to read about our experience meeting Iron Man and our adventures at Fantasyland! To read Part 1 of our Disneyland experience, please click here.
You may also want to read more about my previous Hong Kong experiences. Just click here.