Category Archives: Travel

A Little Sightseeing in China

Wednesday, February 27 and Thursday, February 28

Shang Village, Shunde District

Bruce Lee’s Grandparents Hometown

Bruce Lee Paradose

We did a little bit of sightseeing and visited Bruce Lee’s grandparents hometown. The Bruce Lee Paradise park was closed by the time we got there but I got to see the big sculpture of Bruce Lee from the entrance. They even have a website for the park with moving birds: Bruce Lee Paradise in Shunde District

Bruce Lee Paradose Bruce Lee Paradose

We also went to Shang Village to see Bruce Lee’s Ancestor’s House. It was closed too but if you go in, they have some sort of small museum of Bruce Lee. I visited his grave in Seattle, WA, and now I’ve visited his grandparent’s hometown. I should have visited his hometown while in Hong Kong too! LOL

bruce lee ancestor house bruce lee ancestor house

After our little Bruce Lee tour, we stopped by a small restaurant that looked like it was in the middle of a small town with tiny unpaved roads. Surprisingly, this restaurant is very popular and has won many awards. The chef is very popular and even with his fame, he continues to stick to his roots and works for his small restaurant. Food was again, yummy yummy.

Foot Massage Should be Called Something Else

The next day we stopped by a nice hotel to get a “foot” massage. It was a dark room with three big lounge chairs facing a TV in the middle. Each of us was paired up with a girl masseuse. We had a fruit platter with tea brought to us. The massage wasn’t just for the feet, it was pretty much every part of the body for like an hour or more!

Biking Trail in a Tiny Farming Island

biking in dongguan

After the “foot” massage, we headed to a tiny farming island riding a boat towed by a little boat. The boat ride to the island is free but there is a small fee to come back from the island. It’s just a 15 minute slow ride across a huge river. The air was extremely polluted this day. Something I really hated about Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China was the air quality. It’s always hazy and the air is heavy on the lungs. I wore my handy face mask, not like it helped much but I’d like to think it purified something.

biking in dongguan biking in dongguan

You can rent bikes at this little island and they have a very nice and clean paved road that circles around the island. I recall it was only a 45 minute bike ride around the entire island.

biking in dongguan

I love seeing my dad riding the bike. He seems to really enjoy himself.

biking in dongguan

While riding, there were doggies everywhere! With lots of bald spots and I could see them scratching a lot. There were also lots of fish farms and produce gardens. A lot of people come to have fresh seafood in these little boat restaurants located around the island.

biking in dongguan biking in dongguan biking in dongguan biking in dongguan

Back to Eating

When we headed back, we met with my dad’s friends to have hotpot. I miss hotpot… Must do one, one of these days…

hotpot dongguan

Dongguan, Guangdong Province, China

Continuing the last few days of my trip to Taiwan and a couple of stops to Hong Kong and China. We are almost done with the trip to Asia posts…

Monday, February 25 and Tuesday, February 26

Crossing the Border from Hong Kong to China – No Powdered Milk?

So backing up over a month ago, we arrived to Dongguan in Guangdong Province, China. We took a short bus ride from Hong Kong to Shenzen to cross the border. I was nervous to arrive to China because of the perception I had but it’s just like any other border crossing. Funny thing is, the border line is not even definitive. It’s just a guesstimated yellow line.

I found it interesting to see so many children in uniforms crossing back and forth. I was told that many Chinese parents send their kids to private boarding schools in Hong Kong. There were dozens of children in different uniforms huddled in line one after the other when we left back to Hong Kong on Saturday. Another peculiarity I saw was that powdered milk is a big deal in China. There are strict restrictions of how many cans (2) can be brought in to China at the border crossing in Shenzen supposedly due to a shortage of powdered milk for infants in Hong Kong. Sounds like something more to me… But anyway, so Chinese parents prefer other brands of powdered milk for their infants because the milk manufactured in China has a bunch of crap in it that is making infants sick and sometimes even causing death… Scary… Is it all propaganda? Is it more of a political issue of import/export? Who knows…

As soon as we were out of customs, my dad is already freaking out that someone is going to kidnap me. I felt safe at the border crossing and Shenzen seemed like a very developed and clean city with lots of buildings.

Dongguang

After crossing the border, my dad’s friend’s brother-in-law picked us up and we drove for a couple hours to Dongguang. China is so huge. I mean you knew that, but China is so HUGE. We stayed in this little dusty town at a very nice hotel that had karaoke every single night. I could hear it until 2 am. People like to party and karaoke. Or maybe is a bunch of men looking for hostess’ company? The hotel we stayed at was very beautifully decorated (on the inside). It was very classic, reminded of a 1980’s hotel. As if I was globe-trotting at the age 0-5? Right? But you know what I mean… It was just very 80’s. I should have taken pictures… Sadly, I don’t remember the name…

The small town in Dongguang is the hometown of my dad’s compadre. It’s a dusty little town next to tons of factories. Apparently everyone knows each other there. Lots of money-making factories, few people reaping the benefits, lots of hard working people getting paid a tiny fraction of the profits these factories are making. At first I thought, how unfair! But sounds like any other place in the world (replacing factories with corporations), if I put it into perspective.

Karaoke in Dongguang

dongguang karaoke

The next day we had amazing, delicious authentic Chinese food. Food in China is something else… It is so good!!! Especially the goose… It’s like duck but more tasty because of more fat. And the veggies tasted so fresh. And the seafood is to die for.

At night we headed over to the karaoke adjacent to the hotel which is also part of the hotel (3rd floor). There is also a spa and massage place. Hmmh… What a combo, you got the fancy hotel, karaoke with hostesses, and spa/massage with more hostesses… I smell something more than just innocent singing and massages. This article in wired.com describes the karaoke scene nicely and it’s pretty much accurately described: The Hot Zone.

Just like the article describes, I saw beautiful women with their hair up in high heels and short skirts. We were in a group of wives and husbands, and dad and me, so we just had one attentive hostess. I would imagine that typically it would be one hostess per man. Our young hostess was pretty and very flirtatious. I felt terrible that she had to stand around serving everyone in these high heels and short skirt that kept on moving up. She looked exhausted by the end of the night.

dongguang karaoke dongguang karaoke dongguang karaoke dongguang karaoke dongguang karaoke

Besides feeling sympathy for our hardworking hostess, I had a great time with my dad and his friends. And it was fun watching dad relax and have fun. I asked him to sing a song with me but I realized at the end it was a stupid song to sing there hahahah Hotel California. His voice is way too deep for this song so it was just me singing and him waiting to see if there was a low note coming up.

On top of that, I’m a very shy singer… So I was sitting down the whole time. YAWN. Sorry dad’s friends, no fun to watch and hear me sing : P

Highest Viewing Platform in Hong Kong

Sunday, February 24, 2013 – Day 26

victoria peak hong kong

360 degree view of Hong Kong from The Sky Terrace.

Continuing on our quest to be the best tourists we can be, we couldn’t miss a spot flooded with other tourists. My dad’s friend took us to the scenic and popular, Victoria Peak. The only way to get to The Peak is by taking the historic Peak Tram.

peak tram hong kong

On our way up, passing Macdonnell Road.

peak tram hong kong

Snapped a quick shot of the historic tram. Like the Photoshop effect? :P

The Peak Tram has been in operation since 1888 and it was the first funicular railway in Asia.  The tram ride to The Peak is only five minutes long and 1.4 kilometers, or less than one mile. At Victoria Peak, there is the Sky Terrace which provides beautiful 360 degree panoramic view. The Sky Terrace is the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong sitting 552 meters, or 1,811 feet, above sea level. You do have to pay about $5 to get access to The Sky Terrace.

You can find out all about the popular peak at The Peak.

victoria peak hong kong victoria peak hong kong victoria peak hong kongvictoria peak hong kong

victoria peak hong kong

Hello, Hong Kong!

Saturday, February 23, 2013 – Day 25

hong kong sunset

Sunset in Hong Kong from a taxi cab.

Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities I’ve visited. Everything is so clean and orderly. Public transportation is very accessible. Everything is close by and there are a lot of nice restaurants to eat at. People are quiet and respectful and there is a lot of cultural diversity. But a huge con of Hong Kong is there is no space, everything is so tight. And because there is no space, everything seems to be more expensive!

A tiny apartment costs over $500,000! Imagine a 500 square feet three bedroom apartment with two full bathrooms and a balcony. Everything is perfect, except it’s shrunken into a space that would fit two 10-year old sized adults. You can only stand in the balcony, no chairs or coffee fit there. My dad and I stayed in a guestroom that accommodates three people – one bunk bed and one bed by the window that looks like a perfect spot for a cat who is sunbathing. Not sure where clothing and accessories would go if three people were living in this room though. The kitchen fits two people at one time and there is almost no counter space.

Besides the small size of the apartment, I would say it’s a nice place. The building complex has one security guard at the lobby 24/7. The entrance to the lobby is opened by a security code or the guard. There is a huge pool with other amenities. The apartment is next to all sorts of public transportation (bus, metro, and taxi), a beautiful big park, and a shopping center. So it has a perfect location. But I can’t imagine raising a family in 500 square feet with having a dog… I feel almost guilty not using my space efficiently back home. It shows how wasteful we are with space in Los Angeles compared with places where space is rare to come. Even though, by American standards, Los Angeles is crammed.

While we spent the next couple of days in Hong Kong, our means of transportation were buses, taxis, and metro. Even though it’s more time-consuming that driving your own car, I love the essence of public transportation. Everyone is like a little ant, we have a destination to go to, follow common courtesy standards, pay our fees, sit quietly and avert direct eye contact, and somehow everyone knows how public transportation works. I enjoy watching how everyone has a different destination but use the same means to get where we want to go.

I also love the super courteous culture of Taiwan and Hong Kong. Everyone, without question, gives up their seat for parents with small children, elderly, disabled, pregnant women, or people that are carrying a lot of load. Nobody eats or even drinks water while using the metro and everyone pays their fees without any problem. Also, almost everyone carries on conversations quietly without disturbing others, and mostly everyone keeps to themselves. Most young people are on their gadgets anyway lol It’s absurd how we are all immersed in our electronic gadgets, 90% of teens and young adults were on their cell!

The day after we arrived to Hong Kong, my dad’s friend took us to Sai Kung Promenade and Harbour City.

 

Sai Kung Promenade for the Freshest Seafood

Sai Kung Promenade

Sai Kung Pier with fishing boats lined up selling fresh catches.

El Salvador has a similar pier in La Libertad, where you can buy fresh seafood off boats. But Hong Kong’s Sai Kung Pier took freshness to a whole ‘nother level. There was a row of boats nicely displaying the freshest catch of the day (or maybe the week?). The selection of seafood was amazing; there was so much variety of exotic sea life. They looked like the sea life you would want in a salt water aquarium. I still can’t believe that anybody can just buy these beautiful fishes, crabs, squids, octopuses, etc…, and we just eat them right then and there.

Sai Kung Promenade

Take your pick of these exotic sea creatures and get them ready to be cooked.

Sai Kung Promenade

Interesting crab flipped upside sound. Made me sad…

My dad’s friend’s wife selected a variety of super duper fresh seafood off a few boats docked at the pier. Then, we walked around to choose a restaurant to cook our fresh catch while providing an ambience. It was one of the most delicious seafood meals I’ve had in my life. We had a feast of different types of seafood – which reminds me, I wish I had taken photos of each feast we had while in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China, but I didn’t, sorry.

Anyway, part of me felt so bad enjoying the crabs, shrimps, fish, snails, clams, and whatever else we had… It felt like I was so inhumane but I kept thinking that it’s no different from buying packaged meats at the grocery store and cooking it at home. Just because I don’t see a cow getting slaughtered for a piece of New York steak on my plate doesn’t make it any less inhumane to eating this fresh seafood. I was having inner conflict – should I feel bad or should I enjoy this buttery piece of fish in my mouth? I felt bad and enjoyed it at the same time.

This trip made me consider giving up eating animal products. But… I can’t. Not yet at least.

Here are some pictures while we strolled around the promenade:

Harbour City

Sedov, Where Did You Come From?

sedov sailing ship

Sedov docked at Victoria Harbour.

After the Sai Kung Promenade, we headed to Harbour City. A big surprise was docked at one of the Victoria Harbour piers! The world’s largest and oldest sailing ship, Sedov, made a stop to Hong Kong! What a lucky day! I’ve never seen a sailing ship anywhere besides Disneyland. This ship is so intricate. It’s amazing people know how to navigate this ginormous thing full of ropes.

sedov sailing ship

What an intricate and sleek sailing ship.

Sedov is a 92 year-old Russian windjammer and was originally owned by Germany but surrendered to Russia in 1945. This ship is 117.5 meters, or 385.5 feet, long. Back in World War II, Sedov was used as an auxiliary fleet supply ship by Germany. Then after surrender, it was sporadically used as a training and research ship by Russia. Sedov is in the middle of a 13-month first voyage around the world as a training ship and in commemoration of the 1,150th anniversary of Russia’s statehood. On another note, the captain married a couple who is part of this world voyage on Valentine’s Day. They got engaged on the ship AND got married on the ship by the captain. How romantic is that?

A Symphony of Lights

Hong Kong skyline

View of Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Harbour.

After marveling at Sedov, we headed to a building structure where there is a huge open balcony and my dad sat somewhere with his friend while I went off on my own. It was so crowded! I had no idea what I was supposed to be waiting for. I was just following the hordes of people. A lesson I learned while learning how to use the metro in Taiwan – just follow the people.

Hong Kong skyline

Hong Kong skyline from Victoria Harbour.

After what felt like an eternity of waiting because I had no idea what I was waiting for, the music started. These lights coming from skyscrapers from across the Victoria Harbour started synchronizing. Now I know that this huge light show is called “A Symphony of Lights” and is displayed every night for over 10 minutes starting at 8 pm.

It was difficult to take a photo of the lights so I took a short clip instead:

Hong Kong Lighshow – A Symphony of Lights

The panorama of the buildings lit up at night is already a beautiful view. The LED lights show was just a bonus to the view. It is a great reminder of how a metropolis looks like. It’s a double-edged sword, on one hand technology is crazy advanced but at the cost of the environment and nature. So while buildings and concrete structures appear, nature disappears. Where do we set the boundary of technology advancement versus environmental degradation? Enjoy the convenience of everyday living at the cost of our health?

Which reminds me, a DIY I’ve been keeping on my to-do list is a recycling section at home. That will ease my guilty conscience a little bit of the harm I contribute to the environment : )

 

Good Night~

After the “A Symphony of Lights” show, we headed back to the fancy shopping center at Harbour City and had yummy sushi. Now you can put a face to my dad’s friend, his wife, and super hyperactive three year-old boy. I had to whip out my cell phone at each meal so he would sit still. My unprofessional diagnosis is that he has ADD. Or maybe all toddlers have the attention span of a pigeon? Never met an extremely hyperactive boy who loves puzzles, numbers, and singing so much.

Hong Kong skyline

Having sushi right by Victoria Harbour with a view of the skyline.

howard playing

Meet Howard! Smart little cookie – really good with patterns and numbers.

dad

Daddy and me having sushi.

Fo Guang Shan Monastery Videos

Friday, February 22, 2013 – Day 24

I got the days mixed up… Yesterday, we spent the day just hanging out at home. Doing laundry and preparing for our 10 day trip to Hong Kong and China. We didn’t arrive to Hong Kong until today actually.

Anyway, as promised here are the videos I wanted to share of Fo Guang Shan Monastery from my prior post at Finding Fo Guang Shan Monastery.

Sadly, I don’t know what the ritual means. To me it would sound like first they chant/sing/pray before starting the festival. Then, we head toward the big Buddha statue in unison, celebrating and welcoming the new year. Then, another prayer until the big fireworks display. It was an interesting and fun experience even though I don’t know what it all means.

Hope you enjoy the videos : )

 

5 Videos of Lantern Festival at the Monastery

First Prayer Before the Parade

This is a 3-minute video of the first prayer/chanting before the parade. People lined up in rows in front the main temple while monks were on a stage.

Fo Guang Shan Monastery – Lantern Festival (PART 1 of 5)

 

Ringing the Gong!

Then, the big-guns come out. This is a 30 second video of the ringing of the gong. Monks dressed in bright red and orange clothing chanted then rang the gong. This was the sign that we may proceed following behind them as they lead us into the Buddha Memorial Center.

Fo Guang Shan Monastery – Lantern Festival (PART 2 of 5)

 

Parade Through the New Boulevard

This is short clip 1 minute clip, which gives a view from the top of the new boulevard at Fo Guang Shan. There were a lot of different groups of people parading. There were these teenagers that were dancing to some LMFAO ahahahaha with glow sticks and some little gimmicks. It felt out of place, just a little bit. They were dancing to this loud boombox playing Party Rock Anthem.

To give you an idea, here is the song – LMFAO – Party Rock Anthem

Fo Guang Shan Monastery – Lantern Festival (PART 3 of 5)

 

Last Prayer Before the Fireworks!

Then, another 1 minute clip back at the Buddha Memorial Center. There was another set of chanting/prayers by the higher up monks. Everyone was very quiet and still. We all lined around so that we were out of the way and view from each other. It was a very enjoyable event because everyone was so respectful. I loved it.

Fo Guang Shan Monastery – Lantern Festival (PART 4 of 5)

 

Can You Believe They Do This Every Night?

This is a longer video clip 4 minutes long of the fireworks! It was so beautiful… Finally get to share the fireworks that I’ve been blabbing about. My little video clip is not the greatest :/ I’m glad I have a video of it though, even though there are tons of videos on the Internet, it’s nice to have something that is more personal. My cousin said that they do the fireworks at Fo Guang Shan Monastery every night during the first couple of weeks of the Chinese New Year. That’s expensive, where does the money pour in from? Apparently, this particular monastery is one of the “wealthy” ones.

Fo Guang Shan Monastery – Lantern Festival (PART 5 of 5)

 

So, I’m pretty much caught up with the videos I wanted to share. YAY! Now I’m slowly catching up with the remaining days of my trip with dad to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. I still have 12 more days to share. And then, back to the DIY projects.