It all started here...

It all started here...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

CX 564 Hong Kong to Taipei

Lounge Breakfast, Airport Express, and CX Flight to Taipei
August 21, 2016 (Sunday)

Our last morning before heading over to Taiwan. I woke up a little early and was able to wait for the sun rise out from our hotel window. Still a cloudy day but the sun tried to break through anyway.

Sun breaking out through the clouds.

Sunrise from the Lei Yue Mun side of the harbor.

Breakfast at the Club Lounge, Hyatt Regency
Being in a club room with lounge access, we went for the complimentary breakfast served in the lounge. It was early and not that many people were there yet. Food looked good with various western and Chinese offerings. They also came by to take our orders if we wanted breakfast sets on top of the buffet selections.

Normally I would not have breakfast like this at home. Congee, fried noodles, sautee green beans and 'pineapple' bun.

Selections on cereal and yogurt 


Baked goods, all very fresh.

Breakfast set that can be ordered

My poached eggs set

Cappuccino from the coffee machine

Airport Express Kowloon Station and HKIA
We checked out of the hotel at around 8:45am and went down to the basement (B3) where there is a free shuttle pick-up for the Airport Express Kowloon Station. B3 is the parking level of the hotel and Hyatt had a staff member working right by the door to assist their guests arriving or departing. We waited for less than 10 minutes and an empty shuttle bus came. We were the first on this shuttle run. Then it went to several other hotels in the Tsim Sha Tsui East area and picked up more passengers. By the time we left the last hotel, the shuttle was full, with passengers and luggage.

It was a short ride to the Kowloon Station and we were dropped off right at the curb near the entrance. After purchasing our train tickets we went to check our luggage in for our flight out at the Cathay counter. Everything just worked like a clock. Now we have our boarding passes in hand, and we won't see our luggage until we reach Taipei.

Airport Express Kowloon Station

Entrance to the platform

Airport Express to Check Lap Kok. Such an efficient and comfortable way of traveling!

Passed through a 'river'?

Once we got off the train we headed right to the security/immigration area to air side. It took me just a couple of minutes to get through using my Hong Kong ID. So glad that I got that ID replacement after so many years without it. Our boarding gate was not assigned yet, so we just found a quiet area and waited for the gate number. It was fun taking time to walk around the airport also.

Cute sign

CX 564 Hong Kong to Taipei in Economy
They finally posted our gate number and we had to move a little further up to gate 27. There was no plane in sight when we reached the gate so we figured that our flight would be delayed. Sure enough, we had a delay of 1 1/2 hour including the wait after pushing back from the gate for take off. Having even the 'green' Marco Polo status really helped when boarding. Instead of staying in the long economy line, we were able to go to the short line with Premium Economy. Way to go!

Got on the still-empty plane.

Route shown on the screen

Pushing back.

Lunch was served on this short flight.

This was it!

A hot-pocket type of sandwich, a drink, and a cookie all packed inside a cute little paper bag.

ChC really enjoyed this, but not I...

Arriving at Taoyuan, Taiwan.

MOR's best friend, Lin, met us right at the arrival hall and he took us to Taipei in his car. It was very nice of him to sacrifice his day off on a Sunday to pick us up. It was like an hour in heavy traffic from Taoyuan to Taipei which is not a fun thing to do. He also helped us book our hotel room which we received a good discount.

Hotel Flora (Formerly Hotel Flowers)
This is our fourth time staying at this hotel in Taipei. This is not your Hyatt, Hilton, or Holiday Inn. It's just a very basic but clean 2 to 3-star hotel that is near the Taipei station. I understand that it is now acquired by a Japanese company and there were quite a few Japanese travelers staying at this hotel. We like it here because of the location being so close to the train and subway stations. There are all kind of restaurants and stores nearby which makes this a convenient place to be for a few days. Once again, we requested for our favorite room on the 8th floor, 881, a very spacious room that came with a huge balcony. We would be staying here for the next six nights while in Taipei.

After we settled and cleaned up a little, we were taken to dinner by Lin. They had made reservations at this fancy restaurant for dinner with his family. He had taken us to the same restaurant in Shenzhen, China a few years back and that was quite a memory experience. This restaurant is called Wangsteak, for a detailed introduction you may go to their website here: One thing to remember, if you are ordering the Wangsteak, you do not get to choose how you cook it like any other normal restaurants. They only come in one way, cooked for 1 1/2 hour. The menu was quite interesting though, with enough items to choose from. The wait staff was very polite, but they all spoke in a fast pace mono-tone like which I couldn't understand half of what was said. Robotic was the word that came to mind.

The bilingual menu

My choice of salad--Romaine Lettuce and Salmon with Beef Gratin. But...that's not romaine lettuce!
Nice presentation though.

I think this is MOR's choice--Sauteed Scallop and King Oyster Mushroom.

MOR's Truffle Mushroom Bisque

My Shrimp Bisque.

Wang steak and Prawn

Wang Steak
The steak was delicious and surprisingly tender.

I think that was the plum syrup drink that came with the meal.

garlic and dipping sauce for the steak

Dessert--Creme Brulee and Apple Rose Tart
That's half of a fresh passion fruit in the foreground.

The set meal that came with everything including a glass of champagne and drinks was NTD $1,350.00 per set.
Definitely, an amazing dinner to start our stay in Taipei. I guess I was so busy eating that I did not have any pictures of our host family.
After dinner, we took a little walk in the neighborhood and then headed back to the hotel for the night.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hong Kong Central and Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui

Central and Hyatt Regency TST
August 20, 2016

Our last full day in Hong Kong before moving on to Taiwan and we still have to change hotels for this one night. We have been using our free nights for Grand Hyatt and Intercontinental in the last few days. Hyatt Regency TST won't take three in a room for the free nights, so I have booked us a Club room using points, which was OK and of good value. 

To start the morning right, we made yet another trip to Jordan for more congee at Wo Mei (just found out that it's called Delicious on Tripadvisor). As much as we enjoy the congee here, I must say that it is an acquired taste probably not to everyone's taste, especially westerners. We grew up eating good congee both at home and at restaurants but it might totally not your cup of--rice soup. It was very busy this morning at Wo Mei with a large group of tourists from China. After waiting a little, we were seated as they tried to clear off the tables. Sometimes it's fun just watching what all is going on around us. BTW, after we came home, we read on the newspaper that one of the ladies who worked there was taken into police custody for embezzlement of $500. Wow!  

Delicious Congee

Menu on the wall

I remembered that mom and dad used to own an apartment on Wo Sung Street, which they rented out for extra income fifty some years ago. I believe it was one of the unit in that corner building. A photo just for memory sake.

Double-skin steamed milk pudding at Yee Shun.

We were actually quite full, but since this is our last day in Hong Kong, we must stop by Yee Shun Milk Company across the other side of Jordan Road (63 Pilkem Street, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong)  which is famous for their steamed milk pudding. My suggestion is just order what they are famous for, like the double-skin steamed milk pudding, the milk pudding with lotus seeds, and the ginger steamed milk pudding, and forget about the rest. Service is none, and they could be pretty rude at times so just eat and leave. As for their steamed milk? You probably won't find better ones anywhere else.
As we were leaving the area, I took a look at the Australia Dairy on the next street and it had a long, long line out the door. Maybe one of these days I will try that for a change if the line is not that long.

Central Hong Kong
The last time we were in Hong Kong, we did not take the Star Ferry, so I wanted to make sure that we will do it at least once on this trip. We took the MTR to Central, the main financial district, which was very quiet on this Saturday morning. We walked around a little before heading over to the IFC building. Then we took the Star Ferry back to Kowloon which is a cheap and short ride away. 

The iconic buildings in Hong Kong are clustered in the Central District area. Here from the left of the photo is Bank of China, HSBC, and Chartered Bank.

Former Legislative Council Building

next to Statue Square.

I believe this is Chater Road.

IFC building

Inside IFC (International Finance Center) Mall.
IFC is a huge mall with all kinds of shops and eateries. It's not as crowded as some other malls in Hong Kong. We had nothing in mind that we needed to shop for, it was fun just walking around and stay away from the heat. The Apple store here is huge, with an excellent view of the harbor. We also checked out the City' Super, which is a supermarket stocked with many interesting grocery items from around the world.

Back out in the heat, taking the short walk to the Star Ferry.

Pier 7

The Hong Kong Observation Wheel with the Convention Center in the background.

The Star Ferry ride is a cheap and fun way to cross Victoria Harbor. The best view one can have of both Hong Kong island and Kowloon peninsula. I got lazy this time and did not get up to take photos of our ride. I noticed there were quite a few Japanese families around us who were enjoying their holidays in Hong Kong. The kids seemed excited about the ferry ride which caught my attention for those few minutes before reaching Tsim Sha Tsui.

Cafe de Coral
After getting off the ferry, we walked towards Ocean Terminal which is right next to the pier on the left as we exit. As always, this area was very crowded. We wanted to get to the Cafe de Coral which is at the far end of the Harbour City Mall connected to Ocean Terminal. Cafe de Coral is a popular fast food chain restaurant in Hong Kong serving reasonably priced local meals. Their menu changes from time to time offering seasonal items. When we were here November 2014, they had individual hot pots on their menu which was of good value. We were wondering what they would be serving on this hot summer day. 

They have a huge menu posted right outside the restaurant where everyone could see and make choices. Then we ordered our food at the entrance and got our tickets which we turned in at the counter and picked up our food. It was right before noon and the place was packed. Fortunately, we were able to find a table before picking up our orders. It was a quick lunch because we didn't want to occupy the table too long as more and more people came in looking for empty tables.

My plate of roasted duck, soy chicken with rice and a glass of mango pamelo drink. 

MOR's roasted duck rice with soup.

ChC's baked pork chop rice, a huge portion.

Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
After lunch, we walked back to the Intercontinental and rest a little. As platinum members, we were able to ask for a late check-out at 2pm. Checking out was done smoothly with the courteous staff. Then we just walked over to the Hyatt Regency where we would spend our last night in Hong Kong. The email we received from the hotel told us to check-in on the Club Floor, which is on the 23rd floor of the hotel. But we still had to make our appearance at the main lobby on the 3rd floor with a staff member taking us up on the elevator. Our Club Room was not ready and we were asked to wait at the club lounge. The view from the club lounge was just spectacular! 

Three hotels that we stayed at on this trip all lined up in a row. The Grand Hyatt behind the convention center on the other side of the harbor, the Intercontinental right by the waterfront, and the Hyatt Regency where this photo was taken. Oh yeah, that was the corner room on the top floor where we stayed in the last two nights.

Not a good picture of my favorite Cream Soda. 

Finally, our room was ready and it was located on the 22nd floor, one of the club floors. Our room did not have the main harbor view but a view to the east of the island. We had traded our points in for this club room and it was not a bad value after all. 

The room was a little tight...

especially with an added roll-away.

A view of Lei Yu Mun entrance of the harbor.

Good size bathroom

I think across the harbor is North Point.

Buildings nearby

That's the Tsim Sha Tsui East area in the foreground.

It's "Handy" the courtesy cell phone again!

Nespresso machine and fresh fruits

It felt good resting in the comfort of a nice cool room. We just relaxed and enjoyed the view a bit that afternoon as we decide what to do for the rest of the day. At around 6:30, we decided to check out the lounge and see what they were serving.

View from the lounge again.

The building with the swimming pool at the top is the Holiday Inn Golden Mile.

We enjoyed some delicious food at the lounge and it was plenty enough that we were able to skip dinner that night. They also had the mango, pamelo drink.

Our plan was to walk around the area in the evening but it turned out not to be a good idea. It was a Saturday night, and the whole area was jammed with people who were having a good time either shopping, dining, or clubbing. We are just not into crowds so after walking around a couple of blocks we figured that our room was a better place to be. But before we head back, I have read about this restaurant (char chan teng) called Ngan Long (Silver Dragon) which is just across the street from the K11 building. Supposedly they serve some good pork chop buns, thick toasts and milk tea. I thought it would be a good idea just to try some as snacks. This place is quite spacious comparing to other restaurants and the wait staff was mostly courteous, which is quite unusual in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, we were told that they were sold out on all their bread stuff, so no pork chop bun for us. Actually we were not hungry, so we just ordered some Hong Kong style French toast, an order of thick toast, and some milk tea to share.
They were all very good and inexpensive.

French toast

Silver Dragon down at the basement.
Back to the hotel room for the night. Tomorrow we would head over to the airport for our flights to Taiwan.