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Summer White

Monday, August 21, 2017



I've always had a love and hate relationship with white clothing. As clean as a white dress look, it may as well be the next victim of a spaghetti meatball sauce. Hopefully, this one pulls through longer than a summer.

SHOP THE DRESS HERE.
   

WEARING
MAKEMECHIC Dress (SHOP HERE)
STEVE MADDEN Heels
DANIEL WELLINGTON Watch (get 15% with "PING15" at check out)

Photos by Dany

Hanbok in Seoul

Sunday, August 6, 2017



It was around mid April, when I knew I only had a few weeks left in Asia. I wanted to do one last trip before going back to Montreal. Like many others, I had a list of places I wanted to go that were left unchecked. Korea was one of them. Just a week before, I met a friend in Bali who had already booked a solo round-trip to Seoul in May. The only downside was that upon looking at the return date, I realized I had a pretty important final exam one day later. After not much thinking, I did what most exchange students on pass fail would've done and just like that, I landed in Korea.

We stayed at a cozy hostel near the cultural district of Seoul, close to both Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung palaces (I can't recall the number of times I have butchered these two names while trying to ask for directions). As we were walking down the streets from our hostel, we saw several people wearing Hanboks, a type of traditional Korean dress. Our hostel offered a Hanbok renting service so we thought, why the hell not. For 15000W (roughly 17$CAD) for three hours, you get to pick a dress and a matching cover-up. Wearing one also grants you access to all the palaces without a fee and it's definitely a different experience. If you have the chance to visit Seoul, I would recommend renting one. They are beautifully made and there are also choices for men! You can easily find many Hanbok renting places pretty much spread out around the palaces and Bukchon Hanok Village. This area was perfect for pictures and filled with cafes, art galleries and shops.

As short and spontaneous as this trip was, it was the perfect last one. Despite having never been to Korea before, the environment felt both familiar and refreshing. Locals were extremely friendly and always willing to help. I would definitely come back one day to stuff myself of kimchi and rice cakes again.

Until next time, Seoul.
---

If you're interested in my hostel, itinerary or places visited in Seoul, shoot me a DM/ email and I'll gladly send it over.


All photo credits to Parklynn (insta)

Dear Hong Kong

Thursday, July 13, 2017


PC: Irwin Chan (Instagram)
The first day of summer finally came exactly three weeks ago. However, it only felt like an extension of what the weather has been like for me since January, minus the occasional unbearable asian humidity (thank god). It's already been more than a month since I came back from Asia and I still find it hard to properly answer when people ask "So how was Hong Kong/ exchange?". This post has been sitting in my drafts for way too long as I brainstormed thoughts and memories.

It was good in so many ways.

The thought of what I left behind only hit me towards the last few days of exchange. That I wasn't only leaving a city I could call a second home away from home but also the people and the experience of falling in love with a lifestyle that would never be the same. Booking last-minute flights for the upcoming weekend, taking bumpy minibus rides to get to the city, eating michelin star dim sum four days in a row, being in a pack of exchange students taking a cab back from LKF at 6 in the morning, late night seafront walk and talks on campus... It was only four months in a life but a completely different life in four months.

Time flew by. Everything seemed to happen on a separate, accelerated time line as we all knew the sands of our exchange semester hourglass would eventually run out. Knowing we all had a deadline to do all the things on our bucket lists and much more, it was the perfect opportunity to get out of your comfort zone. People who met the same week could end up booking flights for the upcoming weekend. You could get closer to people exponentially faster by traveling with them. Traveling can bring out the best but also the worst in you and others. You learn more about not only the kind of people you like to be surrounded by but also a lot more about yourself and how independent you can be while abroad.

Having been to 12 different cities in different countries around Asia for the past few months has been a hell of a ride. I didn't know I enjoyed traveling before I left, mainly because I had never taken a flight alone before. I slowly found a new passion in traveling. The differences in culture, people, lifestyle. It's one thing to talk about it but another to see it in front of your eyes and experience the reality of some people in other parts of the world. As cliche as it sounds, traveling is truly one of the only expenses that makes you richer.

But more valuable than anything are all the great people you meet along the way. Exchange basically felt like getting thrown into a pit with strangers from all different backgrounds and completely different personalities and being told to get along. You meet people that you click with from the start but who are so different from your friends back home. You will find yourself opening up to them at several occasions. I realized that the more you're honest and open, the more you'll attract this type of people too in your life. You definitely can't please everyone and you shouldn't. Even along the way, friendships can and will change for the worse or for the better from one day to another. For reasons that no one knows or no one can even fully understand. Sometimes, life just happens.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” –Miriam Adeney

So dear Hong Kong, thank you for teaching me to always be grateful and to not take any moment for granted. And to each one you reading this, thank you for the life-long memories.

Chasing Spring

Tuesday, May 9, 2017



As spring in Hong Kong is slowly coming to an end, so is this semester. With temperatures and humidity rising to new peaks and my bank balance descending to new lows, I can say I am both sad and excited to go back to Montreal. As much as I love Hong Kong, I still miss the changing seasons back home and moderate temperatures. Having entirely skipped most part of winter in Montreal, I almost even miss the snow... One thing for sure, I will definitely be leaving with a bittersweet feeling.

SHOP THE TOP HERE.



WEARING
MAKEMECHIC Open Back Top (SHOP HERE)
UNIQLO Camel Coat 
UNIQLO Grey Trousers
ST&SAT Heels
DANIEL WELLINGTON Watch (get 15% with "PING15" at check out)

Photos by Irwin


#HKCAFECRAWL: 5 cafés/ brunch spots to try in Hong Kong

Sunday, April 23, 2017



Coming from Montreal where the brunch and cafe scene is pretty prominent, I wasn't expecting much from a far more hectic city like Hong Kong where you'd think most people would only have time to pass by the closest Pacific Coffee or Starbucks to grab a quick bite or their espresso. In a city so densely populated where free space downtown is a luxury and every square foot costs an arm, how could local independently owned businesses survive? Hong Kong is indeed known for having ridiculously high rent prices (especially retail space where it can go up to $2,630/ square foot for areas like Causeway Bay) which is even higher than Manhattan. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there still exists a good number of local cafes/brunch spots spread around the city. Most cafes also offer actual meals throughout the day (many many all-day brunch places) since they would probably be unable to sustain financially on purely offering coffee and other beverages. The prices are fairly reasonable and comparable to what I would pay back home (brunch $CAD 15-20, lattes $5-10). Although I'm actually not a big fan of the taste of coffee itself, coffee shops will always be something I enjoy. Beyond the matcha lattes and egg bennies, there is something special about how much attention and effort each owners have put in offering the best experience in terms of decor or ambiance that starts way before the first sip and ends way after the last bite. That's undoubtedly how most have been able to survive amongst all the larger chain coffee shops. Anyhow, let's get right into some of the ones I have had the chance to try out and that I'd definitely recommend (they're not in any particular order of preference).

1. ETHOS



This was the first cafe in Hong Kong that was introduced to me by a friend (thanks Irwin! ) and the first time I really wished I went to HKU. It is practically across the street from the HKU campus and MTR station where many other popular local spots are close to (Brew Bros, Deadend, Cupping Room etc). If I remember correctly, I went slightly before lunch time to avoid the influx of hungry students. The place is fairly small and could fill up pretty quickly so I'd recommend avoiding peak hours. The minimal interior has a very simple design and bright (needless to mention that it's popular amongst instagrammers like most of the other places on this list). Now onto the best part... the food. If I had to convince someone to try this place in 3 words, I'd probably go with: MASSIVE LUSTROUS BACON. Seriously though, can we please take a moment to scroll up and look at that GLAZE. I took the All-Day Breakfast (138HKD) and no exaggeration, it's probably one of the best bacons I've ever had in my life (and I've been craving it ever since). The rest of the plate was also pretty good. There are plenty of other less popular options on the menu such as pasta but trust me, it is worth tunnel-visioning on the bacon alone. This is probably one of the best, if not the best brunch I've had in Hong Kong so far.

ADDRESS: 99 Hill Rd, Kennedy Town  




2. HOW

Outdoor patio view

This place is the actual definition of lowkey. Located on the third floor of a factory building with no outside signs whatsoever, getting to the place was probably the sketchiest getting-to-a-cafe experience of my life. Basically, if you follow Google maps, you will find yourself standing in front of an alleyway that seems to lead to nowhere. However, if you walk through it, you'll eventually find one of those elevators that open by hand. Once you're on it, you're not sure if it will just drop at any moment or if you'll actually make it to third floor. But once you step out, you'll feel like you're in a completely different building from what you saw from the outside. The interior is fairly dim with only a few windows on one side. The concept of HOW is that it is a single warehouse room that was transformed into both a restaurant and a store that sells various things from clothes to furniture. Despite the place being fairly packed (to my surprise! How do locals even find these places...), the space is wide enough to not be disturbed by surrounding chatter. They also have a nice outside patio that was open the second time I went if the weather's on your side. As for the food, they have a really decently priced combo (about $20 CAD) that comes with a small appetizer (salad or soup), a main meal and practically any drink (sparkling juice, lattes, coffee etc). I got the Linguine with Prawn and Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato with an iced matcha latte (108 HKD) the first time, and I can't remember what exactly it said on the menu the second time but I was surprised it turned out to be a burger lol. The Linguine and shrimps portion was pretty good but the surprise burger was incredibly dry and definitely a miss. However, the overall the atmosphere is what draws me to go back. It's a great place to just chill with friends or maybe even bring a date (if you don't mind the not-so-charming way there).

ADDRESS: 3/f, How Ming Factory Building, 99 How Ming Street Kwun Tong, Hong Kong



3. THE COFFEE ACADEMICS

 
This place would've never made it to this list if the Elephant Grounds in Wanchai wasn't completely packed with people in suits on their lunch break from all the surrounding offices on the day I tried to go. Looking for a cafe to study, I came across Coffee Academics a few steps away. It's apparently well known for its coffee and has several locations around Hong Kong. The interior has a woody and cozy decor. As soon as I sat down, a menu was given to me and overall, the service was on point. The Classic Eggs Benedict (78HKD) and the Latte (45HKD) were decent and tasted similar to what I've had in Montreal. I would mainly recommend this place to grab a bite while studying as there are several power plugs on the walls and a light background music/ chatter. It's great for people who like to study with a bit of noise in the back. Also, the best place to sit especially to study would probably be the seats along the window counter since the place is fairly dark. It's also great for people watching while sipping on a latte at the heart of one of the most hectic areas of Hong Kong during weekdays.  

ADDRESS: 35-45 Johnston Road, Wan Chai




4. ARTISAN GARDEN CAFE



This hidden gem in Sai Wan has one of the nicest interiors I've seen so far. The amount of details and effort put into the decoration of this place is amazing. It is so incredibly packed of various objects ranging from decorative cups to stacks of old books, yet it still maintains a certain order. I got the All Day Waffle Breakfast (108HKD) that came with scrambled eggs, sausages, mushrooms and obviously waffles. I also took a Hazelzut Latte (45HKD) that was REAL good and A+ for the latte art. It's also really close to Ethos, so if you're on a all day brunch spree, you got your spots.

ADDRESS: 23 Po Tuck St, Sai Wan




5. TEAWOOD



Teawood is a taiwanese style cafe and quite different from the others on this list. It also has several locations around Hong Kong (which we only realized after traveling 1h30 to Tsim Sha Tsui when there is actually one closer to HKUST near Hang Hau...). For those from Montreal, the menu and food is really similar to Nos Thés. The main difference and probably the highlight of this place are the desserts. I will get to that, but first I had the Noodles with Fried Chicken Fillet (67HKD) and my friend had the Teawood Noodles with Stewed Beef (73HKD). The portions are pretty filling for the price tag. We also couldn't pass on the large selection of drinks that they had ranging from bubble tea to various smoothies. I went with the Purple Taro Shaved Ice (36HKD) while she went with the Mint, Cocoa and Oreo Shaved Ice (36HKD) which were both really good. And finally, the dessert... I'm not even exaggerating it was way bigger than both our faces. We shared the Rocky Road Chocolate Honey Toast (74HKD) which is basically a mountain of hard toasts topped with ice cream and dripping cream. Unsurprisingly, we did not finish and I would 110% not recommend you order one for yourself. The first few bites tasted amazing but we were both so full at that point that we couldn't really enjoy it. It would probably be best shared by 3-4 people but it's a must try just for how monstrous it looks when the waiter puts it on the table.

ADDRESS: 2/F, Carnarvon Plaza, 20 Carnarvon Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui



SPECIAL MENTION: ELEPHANT GROUNDS



This place deserves a special mention as the menu is fairly plain and there is nothing really extraordinary about this cafe but the food was actually pretty good. When we got there around 2-3pm, we had to wait an hour to get seated and half their menu was already gone, including the bennies :(. My friend got the Avocado Toast (95HKD) and a Matcha Latte (55HKD) and I got the Buttermilk Pancakes (95HKD) and a Latte (40HKD). The portions are a bit small in my opinion, but the pancakes were delicious and hella fluffy. This place is perfect if you're just looking for a very easy and simple brunch!

ADDRESS: Shop C, G/F, 42-28 Fashion Walk, Paterson St, Causeway Bay



Happy brunching/ cafe hopping!

Main photo by Irwin Chan. All other photos taken by iPhone 6 and edited with Lightroom (please forgive the quality lol)
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