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Urban Pack Hostel

Monday, January 8, 2018
Urban Pack Hostel in Haiphong Mansion at Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong is an awesome spot to park your tired tracks after a long day of touring around HK. We skipped Chungking Mansion for lesser chaos, and this hostel is perfect in many ways. The location is just across the TST MTR Station, right along the relevant Nathan Road, 15-min walking distance to Kowloon Port (Star Ferry), very near fast food joints (McDonald's, KFC) and 7-11 convenience stores. Lobby was always in order, few to several people at a time. The elevator was never crowded, at least during our stay. 
From the airport, head to the Bus Terminus. Take shuttle bus #A21. Alight at Stop #13 at Cameron Road, Haiphong Mansion - Urban Pack Hostel is just across. Bus fare: HK$33, duration: about 1 hour. No eating nor drinking inside the bus.
There are 2 entrances for the hostel. One along Haiphong Road, the other at Lock Road. The lobby is pretty straightforward. It's just a hallway leading to the elevators. There are CCTV cameras at all corners, and front desk watching security.
Clean, wide corridors on level 14.
The hostel's receiving area is on the 14th floor. There were a lot of people when we arrived. Just wait your turn, the staff were really nice.
14th floor common area.
Urban Pack Hostel House Rules, and price list for other items.
Guests are allowed to use the thermos, cutlery, glasses, plates, etc.
Microwave was functional.
Fridge
We were assigned to the 15th floor, which we loved. It has a small terrace where you can overlook the city below. Haiphong Mansion is next to a Kowloon Park, so it's an incredible view with all the trees, open area, and the rows of buildings at Nathan Road.
Dining area
View from the outdoor terrace.
Dining area during day time.
We got this Private Room for 2 pax: Php2950 per night via Agoda. It's tight, but well designed. It has a double deck bed, narrow cabinet, A/C. Bathroom is shared. 
Beddings and duvet were provided. We rented towels, HK$15 each, I think.
Modern bathroom. 2 showers, 2 toilets.
Shower area. Bit of an issue with their hot water. It wasn't consistent, took too long to heat up, then would escalate to scalding hot.. hehe. Anyway, just try to manage the water temp and it'll work out.
Toilet stalls. There's no bidet so they actually ask guests to throw tissues in the bowl when doing number 2. Otherwise, everything's spot on. Clean, toilet rolls on stand by. Bins were provided.
Thermos, cups, and electric sockets.
These restaurants are at Lock Road, few steps from Haiphong Mansion. They offer breakfast options and open around 7AM.
We got to try Ocean Empire Restaurant. It was lovely, staff were friendly in their own way, and food was good.
Ocean Empire Breakfast Menu
Congee + noodles + milk tea: HK$37
Plate of scrambled egg, bread roll, butter, ham + milk tea: HK$39
This congee saved our asses each time we're hungry. And it was all we could afford too.. hehehe. We had to scout several 7-11 stores to find it and buy in bulk. Food in HK is pricey. Rice is hard to find at affordable eateries or fast food. We only got to eat Yang Chow fried rice (no plain rice) at large Chinese restos in tourist spots. Price was high but serving size could feed a clan.

Remarks:
  • Before you book via agents, try to contact the hostel's FB messenger first. From what I know, they offer discounts for direct booking.
  • According to their site, a key deposit of HK$200 would be asked upon check-in. 
  • We never got to explore other levels of the mansion, but from posters we've seen, there's a massage spa, and some restaurants.
  • Going to the airport, just find the Bus Stop for #A21 along Nathan Road, near Haipong Road. Same fare HK$33
Urban Pack Hostel
14thFloor, 1410 Hai Phong Mansion
53 Hai Phong Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2732 2271
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Festival of Lights at Ayala Triangle Gardens

Thursday, January 4, 2018
Festival of Lights at Ayala Triangle Gardens is an annual event which happens from November to first week of January. Show starts every 6PM, every 30 minutes until 10PM. People come wandering into the park so catch a show, while others enjoy dinner at the rows of restaurants nearby. The park may now be reduced in size, but it still provides a break from the towers and dusty smog of the metro.
Cheerful people enjoying the lights.
The lights were programmed in tune with the Christmas music that's played per show.
Selfies and video recordings abound.
Vibe is light. Everyone's smiling and excited for the holidays!
High moon.
People of all ages were present, and sometimes party among themselves when the lights start.

Festival of Lights 
Ayala Triangle Gardens
November 9, 2017 - January 7, 2018
Every 30-minutes, 6-10PM
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FOO'D by Davide Oldani

Monday, January 1, 2018
FOO'D by Davide Oldani at the Shangri-La Hotel BGC could be the answer to your fine dining needs. One of the most affordable 3-course Tasting Menus ever, at only Php800; and Php1200 for a 4-course meal. They require reservation but depending on your luck, you could probably do a walk-in, especially when they're not full. They also offer a 5-course Tasting Menu at Php2200, and a 5-course Signature Tasting Menu at Php2700. We opted to try the 3 and 4-courses. But if you're not a big eater, the 3-course Menu is certainly sufficient. The Appetizers, and Mains are adequately sized.
FOO'D faces the park outside Shangri-La. You have to exit the hotel if you parked in. Or just cross the road from BHSCentral and walk straight until you see the rows of restaurants.
Classic noir
Lovely colour choices of gold, black, and neutrals.
The interior wasn't too big, but enough tables could accommodate several groups, or couples.
Personalised mats
Bread sticks
Complimentary amuse-bouche
Antipasto (Appetizer)
*3-course Menu, the Cipolla Caramellata: caramelised onions, 24months aged grana padano gelato, grana padano hot cream.
*4-course Menu, a surplus of Php120 for the Polpo Al Vapore: octopus, octo mayo, dehydrated capers, lime.
Primo (First Course)
*4-course Menu, Truffle Cacio E Pepe: spaghetti, lemon, pecorino romano, black pepper, truffle oil
Secondo (Second Course)
*3-course Menu, Chicken and Prawn: free range spring chicken, veal jus, spicy raisins, scent of thyme
*4-course Menu, Iberico Pork Ribs: compressed pork rib, porcini sauce, liquorice
Dolce (Dessert)
*3-course Menu, White Tiramisu: coffee mousse, mascarpone sphere, dehydrated meringue
*4-course Menu, Lemon Curd: dehydrated meringue, cacao crumble, curry almonds, lettuce gelato
FYI, Shari-la Hotel BGC parking rates. Anyway, a lot of establishments are implementing this system. You have to pay your fee before leaving the premises. There are no parking or toll attendants at the parking exit. It's self-service and automatic.
They give 30-minute grace period from the time you pay 'til you exit.

Remarks:
  • The dishes were explained upon arrival, including what they're made of, and the best way to eat them. 
  • Courses I liked: the amuse-bouche, of course, because they're usually very savory. And FOO'D's was perfect. Both antipasto were great, but leaning more on the Caramelised Onions. Those were so good, especially with the creamy cheesy undertones. 
  • The Primo from the 4-course Menu was simply a Truffle Pasta. This was the dish we didn't finish. It was enjoyable, but nothing exciting. 
  • Both Secondo dishes were great, highly ideal for a multi-course meal because nothing was too savoury nor overpowering. I'd say really clever calculations of flavours.
  • Although I'm not a sweet tooth, I enjoyed the Lemon Curd's lettuce gelato and cacao crumble. The lemon was too sour for me, and the meringue drops were hard as rocks.
  • Still, it was a delightful experience. FOO'D is extremely generous with their price rates. Definitely worth a visit, and revisit.
FOO'D Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shari-la at the Fort, 30th corner 5th Avenue, BGC
Tel: 0917-711-4469
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Hong Kong Day Tour

Friday, December 29, 2017
Hong Kong is a multi-faceted city packed with endless activities and sights to explore. With limited days, we had to keep track of destination and make sure each hour counts. Mind the rush hour concerns- MTR is possibly overflowing with people during these times, usually around 6-8AM, and 5-7PM. Taxis will probably be hard to catch as most of them head home to switch with another driver. We decided to take the ferry both times, and took the Big Bus Tour package. The tour allows for travellers to hop-on and hop-off directly, or across tourist spots, even the ones without nearby MTR stations. It's more practical. Like if you're going to Aberdeen from Central, it would take about 20-minutes by Big Bus. Via public bus, it would take 1 to 1.5hr, because of the 40-50 stops.
HK has developed so much. I've only been here 3x and while so many things remain the same, the overall vibe of this new HK is impressively cultural yet curious. The Brit influence is still evident, but adopted cleverly into Chinese flair.
Don't miss the Nan Lian Gardens, next to the Chi Lin Nunnery. Entries are free for both, opens at 7AM. Via MTR, alight at Diamond Hill Station, Exit C2.
Cross the Victoria Harbour to catch the Symphony of Lights. It plays every night 8PM. But don't make it your priority.
The Ngong Ping 360 Tour would need about half a day to accomplish. If you're staying at Kowloon or Central, travel time to Tung Chung via MTR is about an hour. Plus queueing at the cable cars may also take time.
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