Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Honeymoon Day 24: Hong Kong Nightlife

1/22/2017
Honeymoon Day 24: Hong Kong Nightlife

Our awesome Singapore Airlines flight from Johannesburg arrived in Singapore, and I saw the legendary Marina Bay Sands hotel from the window as we were landing. Super iconic. We were arriving early local time (about 6am) after our 12 hour overnight flight, and had a couple hours in the airport before continuing on our connecting flight to Hong Kong. The Singapore Airport was even more fancy than I remember it from about 7 years earlier. They have a butterfly garden?! Nice. We walked from our arrival gate to the lounge and my fave TWG Tea stand was RIGHT THERE!!! Amazing. Michal as always is insanely epic, and got me the delicious Green-Black Tea Blend called Singapore Breakfast as a gift :) So good.

Arriving in Singapore

TWG Tea stand!!

Sooo tireeed!


Looking at my photos, I must have been so tired I didn't take any photos in the lounge, only this one!!
We had access to the Singapore Airlines lounge due to our ticket, so we headed in there to see what was up. It was cool but mostly dim sum and other stuff that you wouldn't necessarily be up for after a 12 hr flight where you stayed up most of the flight to eat and try everything and watch all the movies. :) There was some special company giving away pressed juice which was good, and we got some fruit too which was a win. We wandered a little more in the airport and then headed to our next plane which was taking us 4 hrs from Singapore to Hong Kong.

Aside: a note about Singapore "Suites" Class, which we didn't fly on, but was actually available on this plane:
This was the huge double-decker A380 plane... and this is the one that has the INSANE Singapore Airlines "Suites Class". I had tried so many sneaky things to try to use airline points to book a combo Johannesburg->Singapore->Hong Kong->San Francisco flight, using points only, and have Business for all the other legs but swap out Business to First (or "Suites" on this specific flight) for only this short portion. I tried for several weeks in advance of our trip cause Suites is INSANE... but sadly there was no way to do it without trying to book First Class for ALL legs of the trip (and JoBurg->Singapore "only" had a Business Class, no First). We also definitely didn't have enough airline points to pull off First the whole way... so after much fiddling, it was not to-be. But...if you ever get the chance, you should definitely blow every single collected air mile you have on Singapore Suites class. It is a special class that is only on certain planes (the A380 Singapore->Hong Kong being one of the routes). It is First Class, but instead of being called First it's called "Suites" because you literally get a little apartment area with walls. It is absolutely insane. You get your own checkin area and your lounge is not in the Business Class Lounge... you continue THROUGH to the first class lounge to a special area called "The Private Room" where they have table cloths, waiter service, it's like a restaurant in the lounge. If you're gonna see Brad Pitt at the airport, you better believe he's gonna be in there! Insane.

The other coolest-damn-thing-ever about Singapore Suites Class is if you book the two middle seats on the A380... they fold down into a FULL DOUBLE BED... in your little APARTMENT THING on the AIRPLANE. SERIOUSLY. That is nuts.
So.......... all of this aside, we did not pull of the necessary finagling to use points to get Suites Class... but it sure looks cool! We walked by the suites entrance and dreamed... and, yes, then walked upstairs to the upper-level of the A380 for our incredible Business Class seats! So... seriously... this is truly epic. (Aside: Since Suites really does look that insane, it's also prob smarter to try to save up Singapore Airlines points and use them to get a "Saver Suites" discounted Suites ticket for a longer-haul flight than just 4 hrs like this one. Eg. LAX->Narita in Tokyo has an option for Suites Class, so it's definitely worth trying to score that if ever on that route).

Anyway. Suites is epic. Enough said. But so is Business... so off we went to go enjoy the heck outta that too (and sleep!) As I mentioned, we went UPSTAIRS (which is so cool!) and the plane was very empty, as expected. Such an early morning flight, and I had almost gotten Suites Saver on it (there are only 8 Suites seats, so it's kinda nuts even 1 was available at the half-price point amount.. just not 2 seats!) The Business Seats on the A380 were totally different than on our previous Singapore Airlines flight. They were HUGE! Super wide seats and straight, not angled. We got settled and were insanely excited despite the lack of sleep.

HUGE seats!!
One of the reasons why I was so excited to try Suites is that they have some upgraded food items on the menu. It's particularly exciting during an evening flight because the Champagne and so on is crazily fancy. But on an 8am flight?? The Suites class has frickin' JAMAICAN BLUE MOUNTAIN coffee on their menu, but it's not on the Business Class menu. I took a hint from one of the many (many!) travel blogs I read, and courteously asked the staff if there was any chance they might be able to get me a cup of the Jamaican Blue Mountain. The stewardess was very polite but unsure and said, "Please let me check for you." She came back a few moments later with a BIG smile on her face and said, "It is no problem, I will bring one for you"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That ROCKED. I think maybe because the plane was so quiet, there was enough to go around (and someone in First/Suites wouldn't have gone without)... so that was incredible. It was so tasty. I was so so soooo psyched. Made my day :)

Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee!! Delicious!!
So jet lagged, but SO happy.
I enjoyed my coffee immensely, and when I was done, the stewardess asked if I would like ANOTHER?!? I thought that was just too crazy and one was so special enough. So I asked instead for one of the items from their menu of Chinese Teas -- I ordered the Tie Guan Yin tea, and she seemed very pleased that I ordered a Chinese Tea rather than a standard British tea. She brought it out in a bowl/Gongfu... on the plane!!! So funny and so fancy.

Tea Time!
Next up was the best question of the trip. "Mr. Jutan -- we've got your Lamb Chops for breakfast?" Hahaha. YEP! Singapore Airlines has this awesome service called "Book the Cook" where you actually pre-order your food in advance of the flight (actually, even some of the Economy levels have a version of this too now). I of course spent hours researching what people had said they liked the most on the different legs of the routes that they fly (since the food is different from every place). Given that this could be the only time we ever fly Singapore Business and was so super special, I wanted to make the absolute most of the experience. I had found that most people said that the Lamb Chops were the tastiest option coming from Singapore to Hong Kong... and so to heck with the fact that it was 8am and I'd been flying all night!!! Lamb Chops for breakfast it is!

Michal got a much more stereotypical breakfast option, the "Warm waffle with strawberry coulis, fresh berries and mascarpone cheese". I was very pleased with my "New Zealand lamb chops with mint jus, mesclun salad, and thyme-flavoured gratin potatoes" and it had a delicious mint sauce that was just perfect. I was worried there was no way I would feel like Lamb at 8am and that I would have felt like I should have just ordered the Waffles too... but I am so glad I stuck with it, even though it was crazy. :)




We turned our seats into beds after "breakfast" and we were both out like a light. I had a GREAT sleep and so did Michal after our super long journey thusfar. Short, but super comfortable and excellent sleep.

We woke up getting close to Hong Kong and the fabulous staff presented us with... guess what? A HONEYMOON CAKE!!!!!!!!!!!! I had wondered since the airlines added my on the reservation for "Honeymoon" to say "Special: Honeymoon Cake" on ALL THREE of the Singapore Airlines legs of the trip. So, on our connecting flight... we got a 2nd honeymoon cake. It was hilarious and crazy and Michal couldn't believe it. It was a totally different cake this time, a Chocolate Mousse, and this time we were allowed to take it with us to enjoy in Hong Kong. Woo!

We arrived in Hong Kong (HKG!) a short while later and again, so pleased with how amazing Singapore Airlines has been.



It was super easy to order an Uber, and it came in at approx $220 HKD (about $28 USD), a little cheaper than ordering a Taxi and also a little more straightforward for payment and so on. This worked out super well as I'd verified we could do this in advance from home, and it worked out a charm. The Uber ride to the hotel was quite long, maybe 45 min or so, and there were so many crazy bridges on the way. Particularly cool was all the shipping containers stacked higher than I'd ever seen. The buildings were huge and the mountains were huge. The initial feeling with coming into the city via a long bridge and seeing so many mountains and high-rises: "This is Vancouver, but multiplied by 100!

A real Vancouver-vibe!

Tons of shipping containers

Cool designs on the money! I thought it was funny to see the money seemed to be branded with different bank logos, but all of them were valid! Funny.

We arrived at our hotel for the next 3 nights, The Langham, in Tsim Sha Tsui. A beautiful rose smell hit you as you walked into the lobby... and then you saw a massive bouquet which was just glorious!!! What a nice welcome. The staff were dressed in Pink to match all the roses. Super nice spot. We got into our room and put our special Honeymoon Cake #2 into the fridge, washed our faces, and immediately took a nap for a couple of hours on the large and comfortable bed.

Entrance to The Langham
Awesome bouquet
Feeling much more awake after a nap and a shower!
After a great and very necessary power-nap, we got up and showered and felt much more ready to enjoy the late afternoon and evening. Jet Lag... psshhh. On we go! I went to the concierge and asked where to buy an "Oyster Card" (fail!) and he said... "Oh.. you mean the Octopus Card!" (Oyster Card is from London!) Amazingly, they had them at the hotel, so that was super straightforward. We got our cards and headed off through a clear walkway from our hotel to the Tsim Sha Tsui subway station. The Octopus Card was super easy to use and worked out perfectly. We got out a bit more cash and it was again so funny to see the HSBC logo on it!

We headed on the Subway to Causeway Bay to meet Nathan & Kerri Ann, one of Michal's old friends and colleagues for some drinks. The initial feeling being out in the evening in Hong Kong was less of Vancouver and more of Japan-- with the bright lights, the huge advertisements on the shops and buildings, the great subways, and the busy pace but not "frantic", it felt so much like Shibuya or Osaka. Hong Kong is so great, and was a really epic vibe right off the bat. I loved it and we'd hardly even been there a few hours! We got to the mall where we were meeting there for a bar, and walked by a super weird and awesome spot, a crazy B. Duck store?! What?! They had epic hoodies and crossovers with Mentos and Mario Bros. and so on.... seemed right up my alley... but time to meet Michal's friends so we'd check it out afterwards.









We headed up to the top floor and met our friends at the "Hooray Bar". Nathan had undersold it by saying it was "just a little patio to meet for drinks"... it had an epic skyline view of Hong Kong... and right at sunset?!?!?!?! What a score!!




The awesome wide skyline view was pretty incredible. After the sun went down... brr! It started to get a little chilly! We had a nice chat with Michal's friends (who were living there) about Hong Kong and the vibe of the place. It was not a super clear sky that night, so I asked "Is the smog bad?" Nathan said, "It's on the medium-to-bad range". It definitely felt quite a bit clearer than Shanghai was when we were there. A great chat about Hong Kong and they gave us lots of great advice and suggested we skip Macau as we only had 3 days to explore.

On the way back down the mall to the street-level, we went into the B. Duck store! I'm not sure what the deal is, but I instantly loved it. It was expensive, so I got a crazy 70% off B.Duck x The Simpsons crossover tank-top style shirt. It was insane. But I had to get it. Is is so bright and crazy... like if the show "Yo! MTV Raps" was a t-shirt and was still in the '90's where it belongs. Amazing. The girl at the cash register seemed to have some trepidation in recommending it to me (I think cause it's an insane shirt) and she made sure to warn me that I should "Check size, as final sale." haha. I bought the crap outta that shirt.

We wandered, and found some awesome phone covers for Michal. We should have bought them then and there, I figured we'd find lots more later so what was the rush?! Silly. We did however make a good decision to check out a Gap store we came across. Michal found me an amazing Year of the Rooster Gap shirt!!!! So cool!! And super special as it just so happened to be right around Chinese New Year and so this is the only time they'd have a shirt like that. Sooooo cool! Michal also found me an awesome hoodie (which was good, as it was starting to get kinda chilly outside!) It was $450 HKD -> $169 -> 30% + 10% off?! In the end it was like $8 USD!!! Awesome. I am always the shopper, it seems...
Insane B.Duck Mentos hoodie

A plush Mjölnir
Hong Kong Apple Store!

Nike Lab
Another fancy Abercrombie & Fitch!
Wiiicked Year of the Rooster shirts!
Sweeeeeeeet
Haha, a hilarious "Nap" sleepwear shirt
We continued on to the SoHo area of town to head out for dinner at one of the many spots I'd researched and received as recommendations from friends. We first headed to the Mid-Level Escalators, super cool and funny outside escalators. We could really use these in San Francisco!




We walked a little further and found Chôm Chôm (or ChomChom), a Vietnamese Fusion restaurant that came super highly recommended and was a favourite of visitors on Yelp. We were hungry, and it was awesome and so delicious. I started with a crazy Vietnamese Passionfruit Beer!! We started with the Beef Roll which was very tasty and not chewy (though it looked like it might be). We scarfed that down pretty quickly as we were pretty hungry. Next up, the chicken wings were excellent and just like an old favourite spot in San Francisco. Mmm... they were hot, but also crispy and sweet. A perfect balance. Delicious! Also very tasty was the corn with crackers, which was VERY spicy and also had a smoked flavour to them! That was even better with the lime wedge squeezed onto it.


Chôm Chôm

Pho Roll: Beef, Baby Garlic, Fresh Rice Noodle, Pickled Carrot, Thai Basil
Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings, Garlic, Coriander, Chillies
Roasted smoked corn
Ginger Chicken: Marinated Chicken Thighs, Caramel Fish Sauce, Jasmine Rice
Our main course was Ginger Chicken with rice and vermicelli noodles. This main dish was also great and a multitude of flavours, but was quite hefty -- we ordered just the right amount. Michal ordered a Ginger Ale... which they brought with a huge cup of ice. Michal pulled out the ice cubes and we folded the (many!) ice cubes into a pile of napkins :) We were being a little paranoid about food poisoning at certain times in this trip (eg. Seychelles actually rated as one of the worst places on our trip where you could get sick from tap water)... but Hong Kong was somewhat up there too, and it was a little silly but we wanted to go full-tilt for 3 days and end the trip on a high note, so being extra cautious about tap water/ice cubes was a wise choice. Anyhoo... what a tasty first meal in Hong Kong!! It is a pretty big "foodie" city here, and we were psyched. We had great recommendations from everyone and this place was a slam-dunk right off-the-bat. We walked happy and full back to the subway station.

On the way back, we saw our first Hong Kong McDonalds!! I love walking in to see what localization they have in different countries and Hong Kong did not disappoint! They had Red Bean Pie, "Prosperity Chicken" for the Chinese New Year, and Crayfish soup (cray!) That was awesome.

Hong Kong McD's!
(Aside: as I'm writing this blog, I'm tired just thinking about how we possibly still had energy to explore at this point... a new city brings such an influx of energy, and Hong Kong truly is electric... that must have been it!)

Time to go back to the hotel and sleep? Not yet! To the Temple St. Night Market we go! We headed to see what the market was all about and what kind of stuff they had there. We saw lots of luggage tags, lots of backpacks... a restaurant on the side of the road next to the market in an alleyway selling Indian Food?! Looked dodgy. Noooope! It was a cool and crazy market. I tried to buy a cool Totoro "beckoning cat"-style nodding trinket -- I underbid the seller and he did the "dance" where he scoffed at my offer and I walked away... but I guess I offered too low as he didn't come chasing after me (as "the dance" is supposed to go!) D'oh.


Temple St. Market

Lots of electronics and phone accessories
Weird signs
This can't be properly licensed... "Star Plan", "Star Wnrs" and "Space Wars"?!
Karaoke Mics with built-in speaker and effects!
Dodgy Avengers-y restaurant
No successful purchases, but we enjoyed wandering around and decided to walk back to the hotel via Nathan Rd. We found a 7-11 near the hotel and got a couple fun things to try. I got a Pocari Sweat, one of my favourite weird drinks from Japan (it is like a Gatorade). Michal didn't feel up for trying something weird at this time of night and got an "Apple Juice"... which turned out to be chunky for some reason and was... despite all efforts... super weird!!!



Red Envelopes for people to give money for good luck for the new year
Ooooh, 7D!
Weird Pringle flavours, Honey Butter and some sort of Prawn Cocktail
Our hotel
My awesome Gap shirt and B.Duck tank top!!!
What a hugely successful first day in Hong Kong! We did lots of good walking too, especially after 16 hours on airplanes over the last day. We watched some silly late night local TV and then headed to bed. HK is awesome. :) We are really livin' it up!!! We celebrated an awesome first day in HK with some of our Singapore Airlines cake, and some tea. :)