Day 3 in Hong Kong and finally able to get a feel of the gorgeous hotel room

29 07 2010

Having had two fully packed days of excitement that the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) had planned, the ten bloggers were provided with an opportunity to sleep in on Day 3. We were all grateful for it, having caught very little sleep amidst the excitement the night prior to the trip. And I suppose for the members of the two teams preparing for the much anticipated bath tub race the next day, it was a time to get some needed rest. With my body clock waking me up at a time when I would usually wake putting paid to an hope I had to sleep in, what was left for me to do was to savour the gorgeous room that the HKTB had arranged in one of the 66 “Coolest New Hotels in the World” as the Condé Nast Traveller Hot List for 2010 would have it. Indeed, The Mira does qualify as super cool, a feeling you get just stepping into the lobby. Based on the information kit provided by the hotel, the Mira has a total of 492 guest rooms and 56 suites and specialty suites, the rooms are decorated in one of three vibrant themes: Red, Green and Silver, furnished with handpicked fabrics and materials and feature the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen, a 40-inch LCD TV, 500GB Sony Personal Computer / Entertainment Centre, Bose in-room soundscapes, a “My Mobile” Nokia phone service (which assists guests to connect anywhere, anytime, inside or outside of the hotel) and complimentary high-speed WiFi and wired Internet.

The Mira is a stylish boutique hotel at the corner of Nathan Road and Kimberly Road in Tsim Sha Tsui which opened in 2009.

The Mira is a stylish boutique hotel at the corner of Nathan Road and Kimberly Road in Tsim Sha Tsui which opened in 2009 (all images of the Mira are courtesy of the hotel).

The three coloured themes that the rooms are designed in: Red, Green and Silver.

The three coloured themes that the rooms are designed in: Red, Green and Silver.

Indeed, the room was really cool, and having already used the Bose sound dock the previous two nights, I set out to discover what else was cool about the LCD TV and the Sony Personal Computer. What was a really nice touch was just this, combined with the wireless keyboard, one could do just about anything on the internet from the comfort of the luxurious bed, or from the red Jacobsen Egg Chair in the red themed room that I was in. Super cool!

The PC and Wireless Keyboard.

The PC and Wireless Keyboard.

Room One, a lounge which is seamlessly woven into the hotel's lobby.

Room One, a lounge which is seamlessly woven into the hotel's lobby.

Yamm: an international buffet restaurant.

Yamm: an international buffet restaurant.

The day’s activities started at 11 with brunch, and I guess I was so engrossed with what I had at my disposal in the room, that I had almost forgotten about the time. Brunch was at a café prior to making our way to the promenade where the much anticipated bath tub race was to be held. If there was tension between members of the two rival teams at brunch, it was not really evident. Darren seemed intent on fuelling up with food, while Pete was all cool and smiling. Violet was her usual talkative self and Geck Geck was a picture of cool composure. There was some evidence of paparazzi gathered outside the café, but that did not seem to affect our stars.

Darren was intent on fuelling up before the race.

Darren was intent on fuelling up before the race.

Geck Geck was cool and composed, as was Aussie Pete.

Geck Geck was cool and composed, as was Aussie Pete.

Were these paparazzi gathered outside the cafe?

Were these paparazzi gathered outside the cafe?

Pre-race tension ... Darren giving Pete the cold hard stare!

Pre-race tension ... Darren giving Pete the cold hard stare!

By the time we got down to the promenade, a large crowd had already gathered and although Pete imagined (or hoped) that the screams of excitement were directed at him (see my previous post on the bath tub race), the largely teenage crowd had in fact come to see the stars from the Korean entertainment network KBS. We were to discover that the four had almost missed the boat or rather, bath tub … as we were a little late for registration. Well, register they did, and it was fortunate that they were able to, as we would have certainly missed out on the excitement of Pete’s and Geck Geck’s big splash into the harbour.

Were those Pete's fans?

Were those Pete's fans?

Pete's turn now!

Pete's turn now!

We're gonna win it says Pete!

We're gonna win it says Pete!

Go Singapore!

Go Singapore!

The reporter was on hand to interview Pete for what was to be his famous victory which somehow became a dip in the harbour.

The reporter was on hand to interview Pete for what was to be his famous victory which somehow became a dip in the harbour.

The crowd excitedly rose to catch a glimpse of Pete's famous dip.

The crowd excitedly rose to catch a glimpse of Pete's famous dip.

Darren and Violet came in second.

Darren and Violet came in second.

We had to leave behind the excitement and electric atmosphere of the Dragon Boat races that were going on, but not before catching a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team receiving an award, and the presentation ceremony for the Pink Spartans a team of breast cancer survivors and supporters from Singapore who won the Pink Dragon Boat Racing Breast Cancer Survivor Invitation Race.

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The crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team which included members of U-KISS.

The crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of the KBS Dream Team which included members of U-KISS.

The Pink Spartans.

The Pink Spartans.

Saying goodbye to the races.

Saying goodbye to the races.

It was time for some rest and relaxation at the hotel, and then for me, a walk around town. I somehow found myself taking the Star Ferry to Central and back just for the fun of it, I guess something I would devote another post to. I made it just in time to catch a quick shower and dress up for dinner, which was at the Hong Kong Old Restaurant on the fourth level of the Miramar Shopping Centre, just across Kimberly Road from the hotel. The popular restaurant which serves Shanghainese cuisine and also features dishes from Yang Zhou and Szechuan we were told was named in a way to discretely draw reference to the “old money” in Hong Kong, a reference to the wealthy Shanghainese that had settled in the territory.

The Hong Kong Old Restaurant in the Miramar Shopping Centre.

The Hong Kong Old Restaurant in the Miramar Shopping Centre.

Entering the restaurant.

Entering the restaurant.

The menu.

The menu.

Dinner was an interesting affair, perhaps with the mood lightened by a loosening of tongues brought about by the familiarity of having been together for three days, some Tsingtao and perhaps due to the face that it was our last evening as a group, most choosing to return as scheduled the following day. The food wasn’t quite the usual Shanghainese fare that I had previously been used to, with a variety of very interesting concoctions which included pig trotters that had been soaked in vinegar prior to cooking, in typical Shanghainese fashion we were told. The highlight I guess most would say was dessert, ice cream that had been fried – simply delicious! After dinner, there was still time to walk through the emptying streets, which some of us did, ending up around the Granville Road area – which I would again attempt to cover in another post. After that, it was our last night to savour the interestingly cool hotel room, before we say goodbye to what had up to that point been an exhilarating three days in the Fragrant Harbour.

The Tsingtao may have helped with the loosening of tongues ...

The Tsingtao may have helped with the loosening of tongues ...

Umm ... a few of us couldn't resist more of the beer ...

Umm ... a few of us couldn't resist more of the beer ...

The excellent food was the highlight.

The excellent food was the highlight.

An egg dish...

An egg dish...

I even tried the pigs trotters ... something which I usually wouldn't even look at.

I even tried the pigs trotters ... something which I usually wouldn't even look at.

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Point, point, shoot, shoot ...

Point, point, shoot, shoot ...

mmm!

mmm!

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More point, point, shoot, shoot

More point, point, shoot, shoot

Fish!

Fish!

Objects of desire!

Objects of desire!

Someone had seconds ...

Someone had seconds ...

The super model had fun as well!

The super model had fun as well!


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy My Hong Kong Travel Blog site. Please visit the My Hong Kong Travel Blog where you can vote for you favourite blogger and stand a chance to win a trip to Hong Kong. Details would be provided at the voting page.





It’s hard to remain dry with a model in the tub!

27 07 2010

I guess that was what Pete found out, much to the dismay of his cheering fans ashore in Sunday’s Media Bath Tub Race that was held at Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong, part of the weekend’s highlight, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival. The exciting race, which saw the team from the Philippines winning, also featured two teams representing omy.sg, one with Pete and model Ang Geck Geck, and the other with Darren and Violet, who eventually came in a close second to the team from the Philippines.

Screaming girls cheering for Aussie Pete?

Not cheering for Pete as Pete might have imagined. A face amongst the thousands of fans who had gathered to scream at the sight of the KBS dream team.

There were literally thousands of screaming fans gathered for the race, and as Pete would have it, they would have been rooting for him in the race. Having made all the necessary preparations in the run up to the race, the two teams from omy.sg were expected to do fairly well, and based on the strategies that were discussed by the repective teams, it seemed like the teams had everything worked out.

The KBS dream team included members of boyband U-KISS with the very popular Alexander.

The race started with the blast of a horn, and from the vantage point of the media cordon amongst the very large numbers that had turned out, as it turned out, to greet the Korean Dream team from the KBS network which included U-KISS with the popular Alexander, who were taking part in an international media networks race (and not disappointingly for Pete, Pete and Geck Geck – although I must say that both have got star qualities). As the race progressed, the clumsily fashioned “bathtubs” laboured their way forward to the almighty efforts of the teams of two that seemed to want to have their bathtubs capsize with every stroke of the paddle, and midway through the race, spectators got more than what they had bargained for as with a big stroke of the paddle, Pete had put his weight to the starboard side and while not as graceful as the dolphins in Ocean Park, the sight of Pete and Geck Geck falling into the depths of the Fragrant Harbour appeared to be graceful and choreographed (hmm, maybe it was staged). The incident was greeted not in stunned silence, but with a big roar from the crowd … and any fears for the safety of the two was quickly proved to be unfounded by the quick appearance of the rescue parties (maybe it was the pretty damsel in distress that they were all concerned with).

The moment it happened, it did appear to have been a carefully choreographed move.

Into the depths of the Fragrant Harbour went Pete and the model.

Hey, wait a minute ... they seem to be having fun!

Rescuers were quickly on the scene ... perhaps more concerned with the pretty model.

The rescue.

I guess it was certainly a blast for the participants in the race, as it was for the fans who caught a glimpse of their KBS heroes, and for us bloggers to have had a chance to soak in the atmosphere of a dragon boating event in the very home of Dragon Boat racing as we know it today. The race also featured teams made up of breast cancer survivors and their supporters in which a team from Singapore, the Pink Spartans won.

Darren and Violet paddled their way to second place.

The soaking wet pair after being rescued from their bathtub adventures.

Even the buoys seemed to give Pete and Geck Geck a perfect 10!


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy My Hong Kong Travel Blog site. Please visit the My Hong Kong Travel Blog where you can vote for you favourite blogger and stand a chance to win a trip to Hong Kong. Details would be provided at the voting page.





Day 2: Hong Kong, the city of contrasts

25 07 2010

The second day in Hong Kong began with the promise of a beautiful day that greeted me through the window of the hotel room and after breakfast, on the advice of the very informative Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB)’s PR escort, I decided to have a look at the wet market near Langham Square. So, armed with a map and my camera bag, I hopped on the very efficient MTR system at nearby Tsim Sha Tsui station and in a breeze, found myself at my destination for 5 Hong Kong dollars, three stops up the Central Line to Mongkok Station.

The modern and efficient MTR - a wonderful way to get around.

The modern and efficient MTR - a wonderful way to get around.

In contrast, the old tramways can be hot and uncomfortable - but they do provide an interesting way of getting around northern Hong Kong island.

In contrast, the old tramways can be hot and uncomfortable - but they do provide an interesting way of getting around northern Hong Kong island.

Mong Kok MTR station - the gateway to some of the street markets of Kowloon.

Mong Kok MTR station - the gateway to some of the street markets of Kowloon.

Stepping out of the station and up through a modern shopping mall – the very interesting wet street market on Nelson Street, set amidst ageing and tired looking residential cum commercial buildings, sat right next to ultra modern shopping malls and a very posh looking hotel, my very first impression of the area was that it was one of contrasts. I suppose that this isn’t remarkable and very typical of much of Asia, but why it caught my attention was that it probably typified what Hong Kong as a whole has been and still is very much so today.

The contrast seen from the glass windows of a modern shopping mall towards a traditional street market.

The contrast seen from the glass windows of a modern shopping mall towards a traditional street market.

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The second part of the day started with a coach ride under the Victoria Harbour through the Cross Harbour Tunnel, which our HKTB Media Fam Facilatator told us interestingly was also referred to as the “No-excuse tunnel” as when it was opened, it took away the excuse of wealthy men who lived and worked on opposite sides of the harbour for staying overnight on the side of the harbour on which they had their offices to be with their mistresses whom thay had kept on that same side (the ferry operated until 11 pm). Lunch was at the popular French Italian restaurant Gingko House (another contrast!) on Gough Street in Central. What is remarkable about the restaurant was not just the ambience in which you could be transported by the strains of La Vie en Rose playing in the background to the streets of Paris, but also the fact that the restaurant was started by social workers providing employment to the elderly as well as channelling its proceeds towards charitable causes.

The Cross Harbour Tunnel is also referred to as the "No excuse tunnel".

The Cross Harbour Tunnel is also referred to as the "No excuse tunnel".

Gingko House, a popular restaurant on Gough Street run for charitable causes.

Gingko House, a popular restaurant on Gough Street run for charitable causes.

The setting and music transports one to the streets of Paris.

The setting and music transports one to the streets of Paris.

Gough Street itself is a contrast of old trades and bohemian shops and cafes.

Gough Street itself is a contrast of old trades and bohemian shops and cafes.

A popular tradition on Gough Street - a queue for the very popular noodle stall.

A popular tradition on Gough Street - a queue for the very popular noodle stall.

Another very bohemian shop near Gough Street.

Another very bohemian shop near Gough Street.

Ending up in Causeway Bay after lunch where the ladies were having a makeover session with a famous Hong Kong stylist Celia Wong, I somehow ended up wandering through the sea of people that seemed to fill every inch of the lively streets of shops, shopping malls and restaurants and cafes. Amidst all this, was another startling contrast – stumbling into some of the quiet and run down side lanes and back alleys, was like stepping into another world that existed behind the façades of the buildings and the busy streets that they faced where another dimension existed. What was interesting this time around was stepping into a store named GOD, due not in any way to devine influence (except for the devine objects of desire that the store sold – GOD being an acronym for “Goods of Desire”). Again, the store was all about contrasts, with modern objects sold bearing features that were reminders of yesteryear.

It is always nice to know that GOD can be found in Causeway Bay.

It is always nice to know that GOD can be found in Causeway Bay.

Causeway Bay is also a contrast of old businesses and ...

Causeway Bay is also a contrast of old businesses and ...

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and the modern ... a modern art work seen in the atrium of Times Square.

and the modern ... a modern art work seen in the atrium of Times Square.

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The sea of people in contrast with the ....

The sea of people in contrast with the ....

the relative peace found in the sidewalks and back alleys ...

the relative peace found in the sidewalks and back alleys ...

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I guess the highlight of the afternoon was the tram ride which allowed Aussie Pete and myself to get to the Central Piers where we were to board the Bounty, a replica tall ship of the infamous HMS Bounty (for which I would devote another post to) for a dinner cruise around Victoria Harbour. The charming double decker electric trams which started service in 1912 are run by Hong Kong Tramways and offer routes along the northern coast of Hong Kong island, providing the visitor with a very interesting alternative to the MTR and the taxis to get around the Central and Causway Bay areas.

The trams are good fun for two Hong Kong Dollars a trip.

The trams are good fun for two Hong Kong Dollars a trip.

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Getting off the stop near the Central MTR station, the walk to the Central Piers took us pass the beautiful neo-classical former Supreme Court Building, which is now houses the Legislative Council (Legco), the General Post Office which has an interesting collection of coin boxes which are small scale replicas of post boxes used in Hong Kong throughout the years, and the International Finance Centre (IFC) Building which was Hong Kong’s tallest building until this year when the International Commerce Centre (ICC) Building was completed. Finally able to rest out feet after the earlier excursion around Causeway Bay at a cafe on the pier, we could now look forward to the mutiny that was to come on the Bounty.

The former Supreme Court Building, now the Legco.

The former Supreme Court Building, now the Legco, stands in contrast to the skyscrapers (the tallest of which is the IFC) it sits in the shadow of.

The Central Piers where the ferries to Kowloon (Star Ferry) and outlying islands can be taken from.

The Central Piers where the ferries to Kowloon (Star Ferry) and outlying islands can be taken from.

The Star Ferry.

The Star Ferry.

A replica Chinese junk coming in to Pier 9.

A replica Chinese junk coming in to Pier 9.


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy My Hong Kong Travel Blog site. Please visit the My Hong Kong Travel Blog where you can vote for you favourite blogger and stand a chance to win a trip to Hong Kong. Details would be provided at the voting page.