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Hong Kong 2012

Last June I went to Hong Kong for a business trip—to attend a Retail Conference that was being held there. I was deathly sick with snot leaking nonstop, heaving with coughs, chilled all over, and limp as a noodle. But that definitely didn’t mean I couldn’t sneak in a few random city shots and some street market shopping.

The conference was held at the Hong Kong Convention Center in Wan Chai. It was an impressive structure, probably five times the size of the SMX Convention Center here in Manila. By the water, construction was still ongoing, and it was fun to take random zoom shots of the site.

The Wan Chai area was a busy, suburban, businessy sort of area. I’d never been to this part of Hong Kong, but it was definitely different from the last time I was here, which was over ten years ago, when we stopped over in Hong Kong for a few nights en route to the US. Back then, we were mostly in the Causeway Bay area, but I vaguely remember stinky fish market smells, dirty streets and rude people. The present day Hong Kong, at least, wasn’t as severe.

We had a hard time trying to get decent translations from the locals, even though they spoke in English. I know a bit of Mandarin, not enough to string proper sentences together, but even so, it’s nothing compared to Cantonese, which sounds totally alien to me. Clearly, the confusion was mutual.

After speaking with some locals, we finally found one street market that was near enough for us to visit. A few MTR stops short, some wrong turns and a Starbucks barista’s hand drawn map later, we finally found “Seppankai”, a street market near Queen Street Central.

It was a short stretch of vertically challenging uphill steps, lined with cheap souvenirs, bead & embroidery stalls, and wig stands. A strange mix, basically. Unimpressed, we decided to visit the H&M we spotted nearby instead.

Rounded out the trip with an obligatory H&M visit at Queen Street Central. The selection was not as varied as that of H&M in Europe, but I got decent sale stuff and a visit is never unfruitful!

Photos: Canon 60D + 18-135mm

Filed under causeway bay china conference convention h&m hk hkcc hm hong kong market mtr queen street central retail seppankai street market travel wan chai asia pacific

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Summer Palace, Beijing, China

The summer palace, contrary to its name, is neither summery nor a palace.

It’s actually a vast multi-acre area that’s made to be a resort getaway of sorts

Of course, it was winter when we went, so the artificial lake was still pretty icy, and the place didn’t look all too summery

Crossing the longest imperial bridge, the bridge of 17 arches

Icy still

Hilarious—earmuffs on a pishu statue.

Photos: Fuji underwater camera

Filed under travel travels asia china beijing summer palace ice winter china 2012

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Tiananmen Square + Forbidden City, Beijing, China

A cold morning trudging across the wide but clinical Tiananmen Square. The architecture of the square is Russian-inspired, but I think it looks more bauhaus/minimalist 1984 ish rather than Russian.

A stereotypically “GI” Chinese family

Entering the forbidden city

This ginormous city housed thousands of the emperor’s concubines

When the city was invaded, pilferers scratched off the gold used to paint these water pots

Cool dragon details in the architecture

A peek inside the emperor’s rest house which serves as a pit stop while traversing across the city

The beautiful imperial stone garden

To circle the entire city would have taken 2 whole days at the least, and since we didn’t exactly have the luxury, we just walked through the main path and were shown some examples of certain types of houses or palaces. My favourite would have to be the rock garden, because the formations were so peculiar and alien looking. Would definitely love to explore the city in depth in the future!

Photos: Fuji underwater camera

Filed under china travel travels asia beijing tiananmen square forbidden city emperor china 2012

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Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China

Another tour we opted to go on was to the Temple of Heaven. It was a shrine of sorts to all the religions of the time, a one-stop-worship-shop if you will.

On the way to the temple square, there is a vast park where senior citizens hang(they get into the park for free), and tons of them just sit around playing card games, knitting or telling stories with steaming thermoses at hand

In the actual square where the temple is, it’s pretty bare, three or four pagodas around a towering multi-tiered temple

I guess what’s interesting about the temple is how much detail there is—see all those colors and ornate designs? Each color represents a different class in society.

Parade of cute kids. See the baby being eaten by clothes!

And the most adorable angry little girl

Photos: Fuji underwater camera

Filed under travel travels china asia beijing temple of heaven temple china 2012

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Snow & Ski, Beijing, China

During one of our free afternoons, we decided to go to a nearby ski resort to try our hand at skiing. Skip to the end: I failed miserably. Hahaha

Okay, so it wasn’t the winter wonderland I’d imagined, nor was it like the alps, and the snow wasn’t the cleanest in the world, but what the heck.

After getting suited up (or I guess just booted up, since we didn’t wear a snowsuit), we slid onto this walkalator type contraption which took us to the top of the beginner slope

I must’ve tried skiing down the slope ten times, never making it all the way down. I kept hitting a little hump in the slope and falling onto my bag and my butt. In the end, my butt was soaked through and frozen over, and my hands were pink and numb from grabbing the icy skiis every time I had to unbuckle my boots (THAT i was a pro at) and carry the skiis back up the slope to try again.

Sadly, before I could make an even bigger skiing fool of myself, we ran out of time and had to leave. Hmm, maybe more luck on a flat surface?

Photos: Fuji underwater camera

Filed under travel china beijing travels skiing ski resort asia snow china 2012

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The Great Wall, Beijing, China

One of the must-sees in China is of course the iconic Great Wall. We only spent a morning here, and were only able to scale up one gigantic set of steps to the first beacon tower thing, before we had to take a breathing break (strenuous activity in below zero conditions does not become me) and rest our shaky knees.

It was a steep, shaky climb, made harder by the fact that our breathing was stifled by the stiff, thin air. It took longer than usual to catch my breath before attempting to not roll down the steps.

The views, of course, were equally breathtaking.

That’s me trying to stick my head into the shot, but the wall was too high haha

Photos: Fuji underwater camera

Filed under travel china travels asia beijing great wall the great wall the great wall of china china 2012

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Jade, Beijing, China

Part of our Beijing tour took us to a jade factory of sorts, where we got to see all sorts of jade transformed into everything from tiny stud earrings to giant boats. I love this one in particular because it was just so fascinating—3 moving jade spheres, one inside the other, all cut from 1 ball of jade. Amazing.

Tour guide showing us the different colors and hardness of jade

Photos: Fuji underwater camera

Filed under travel travels china asia jade beijing china 2012

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Olympic Stadium, Beijing, China

We braved the -5C weather to visit the olympic stadium, which was in the area of our hotel. It was dark and we were frozen stiff, lacking an extra layer or two of thermal clothing, but the lights were beautiful against the dark sky so we wanted to walk around and take photos.

That’s the aquatic stadium, glowing bright blue like a giant tank

Bird’s Nest stadium, aka “niaochao”. It was a hoot trying to tell the cab driver where we wanted to go—I had to play charades acting out some olympic sports before he got it. Definitely an experience.

Photo: Fuji underwater camera

Filed under travel travels china asia beijing olympics niaochao bird's nest stadium olympic china 2012