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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Hong Kong (part 1/3)

Hong Kong is a bit of a blur for me because just as I was learning about the Japanese culture and getting my bearings as to where everything was located, I had to fly over to Hong Kong. I did this because Hong Kong was only a 5-hour flight from Tokyo and I wasn’t sure when I would go to that side of the world again. Hong Kong is quite different from Japan. And no, I don’t have a photographic memory 😉; wish I did! I had to do research to recall some of the places I had visited.
I went there awhile back and was planning to write about it, but never got around to it. So, why now? Well, because China now owns Hong Kong and things are going to be much different. When I was there, people expressed their concerns about how things were going to change for the worse. Today, I don’t think they can discuss things as openly as they did back then. According to the Guardian, NGOs and bookshops are closing, media organizations are leaving and democracy activists are on trial.
Upon my late afternoon arrival, I looked out the window of my hotel room and noticed that all the buildings looked like gigantic long crayons. It was an eerie feeling to see so much forced to fit in a tiny space. I used to want to live there, but after my first day, I changed my mind. I left my hotel that evening, and decided to take a hop on and off tour, except I wasn’t planning to hop off. I just wanted to get the highlights of what I wanted to see. A big mistake!
If you’ve ever been on a hop on and off bus, they usually start at one point, go around a bunch of touristy as well as historical places, and come back to where it started. That was not the case for me. So, at some point the bus stopped, a woman came in and said that I had to change buses. So, I asked her if the other bus would also drop me at the station across from my hotel. She said yes. Well, it didn’t.The driver of the new bus was a mean grumpy guy who did speak English, but didn’t like foreigners. After a while, I realized that I had no idea where I was. So, I told him where I needed to be dropped off. He nodded, and dropped me off alright, but I was nowhere near my hotel as he had indicated. Imagine being in a country where you have zero knowledge of the language, it’s night time, the streets are packed with Hongkongers, Google map is loopy, you have no idea where you are, and no one speaks a word of English. Oh, yeah, don’t believe it for a minute that everyone speaks English in Hong Kong. Anyway, I was finally able to find my way back, but it was not an experience I would like to repeat.
After my first night there, everything went by smoothly and I met a lot of kind people. A few things: their subways are easy to follow and are clean. The buses running on rails look like a scene out of Harry Potter where the bus squeezes through cars.
The traffic can be as horrendous as it is in Los Angles.
The food is amazingly good where ever you go, much better than any Chinese food I’ve ever had. I ordered the two veggie dishes and dumpling at a mall restaurant connected to my hotel. I have no idea what kind of vegetables were the long thingies, but they were yum.
I took the Kowloon food tour through Urban Adventures and TripAdvisor. Danny Fung was my knowledgeable tour guide, and we got along quite well. In fact, I ended up taking not only this food tour, but also two history tours. The carnivore in the picture, well…that’s another story. We did not mesh well. Danny took us through many Michelin star street food. But there was no way we could eat all that food. We ended giving most of it to him to take home.
One common thing they eat in Hong Kong is dessert soup. The above pix is of papaya, mango, and sesame ball soup. The sesame rounds were amazing.
After that, We also passed by some interesting buildings where people hanged their clothes outside their apartment to dry. Then we went to an outdoor market that sold everything from fruits and vegetables to specialty dried foods used as medicine.
The next day, I joined Danny’s tour to go to Pak Tsz Lane Park in central Hong Kong, located behind Hollywood Road. Tse Tsan-tai was an Australian Chinese revolutionary and a writer who wanted to get rid of the Qing dynasty. In the late 1800s, he, Yeung Ku-wan, and others, started the Furen Literary Society in Pak Tsz Lane, with the following principle: Ducit Amor Patriae: Love your country with all your heart. The Park was built to honor the Chinese revolution movements, and the Furen Literary Society.
The sculpture of a western man cutting the hair of a Chinese man is a symbol of freedom from Qing dynasty.
Principles of the Furen Literary Society etched in the pavement.
Site of Yeung Ku-wan’s assassination. He was killed by an agent from the Qing government.
Built in the late 1800s, Man Mo Temple is a landmark in Sheung Wan between central and western district of Hong Kong. It’s located on the Hollywood Road which used to be called Man Mo Temple street. Man and Mo are different deities. Man Cheong is the Taoist god of literature. Mo Tai is the god of war and fighting. This area has a melange of traditional and modern architecture that pulls you in and makes you want to stick around.
There are around 1275 trees like the one in the above pix in Hong Kong. These are cultural and historical Masonry Stone wall trees of Hong Kong that grow vertically on stone walls. They date back to pre-world war II and contribute to the island’s ecology. Most are Chinese Banyan or fig trees that help strengthen the old retaining walls, preventing landslides. However, for the past 17 years, some have been collapsing for various reasons such as vibrations from a close by construction or waste water. Residents are working towards protection and preservation of these trees.
Side Note: Taxis despise crossing the harbor between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. So, don’t even try or you will get a major attitude, plenty of yelling, and medusa stares during the entire ride. This happened to me once, and I learned to never ever ever do this again. If you need to go from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, take the subway or the star ferry. I think the reason is taxis on Hong Kong Island do not know how to get around Kowloon and vice versa. Also, they have to pay the government some extra fees and they would have to come back with an empty taxi, losing a fare because not too many people do this. To calm down my driver, I paid double his fees plus the added toll fee, and apologized. Only then, I could get him to crack a tiny smile.



Friday, April 19, 2024

White Harte Pub and Planta Cocina

Ellie had been complaining for months about her MCAT exam. Between her long work hours, her boyfriend, and studying, things were starting to get to her. And it was understandable. The MCAT is an eight hours long exam with only a 30 minute lunch break. So, her brain was fried. Her stress even wore down her boyfriend, and when she was done, he was exhausted as well. After it was over, she and her guy went out, and got blitzed.

The next day, she wanted to celebrate with me. So, we went to her favorite pub, White Harte Pub in the valley, and had drinks.

The second celebration will be tomorrow. I’m taking my friend out to dinner to Planta Cocina in Marina Del Rey to celebrate her birthday.

I’ve already been here before. Their vegan sushi is yum. I have had vegan sushi in the past, but so far, this place tops them all. Here are some photos from the last time I was there. It’s a fun place to just kick it for a few hours, and perhaps even go for a long stroll before or after dinner. If you decide to go, you may want to skip their unmemorable drinks, and opt for wine or beer.

Dragon roll
Crispy rice – a popular dish.
Drinks – can’t even remember what we had, but it basically had no flavor, no alcohol, and tasted like water mixed with sugar.
Croquetas – so so. I didn’t care for the texture
1,000 Layer Crispy Potatoes
Truffle Kamameshi – yum. 

Maitake mushrooms (excellent)

Unagi Eggplant Nigri (excellent)
And let’s not forget views, views, and views…


Monday, April 15, 2024



A lot of people have no imagination and just copy what someone else does. It takes thinking and creativity to be original. I’d rather be an original than a fake. Even if this means that I may fail a lot before I succeed.

I have noticed lately that some people look at the photos on my blog, and then go and post similar photos. My posts are all original. I don’t go around looking to see what others do and then copy them. And if I do this, I make it a point to be obvious about it and say I got this idea from someone on the internet, twitter, Facebook or something to that effect.

Even my books are original. And I know that gets me into trouble oftentimes because reviewers don’t know where to place me. When I enter contests, there is often no specific category where my book could be placed. Even my first book is not just a “romance book.” But I don’t care. I don’t want to fit in. Fitting in is boring. As Gloria Gaynor says: "I am what I am, I am my own special creation." And I like to keep it that way. How sad it is for those who just copy.

I mean, it’s okay to research and see what others are doing to get ideas and to make your creativity flow, but to copy exactly what someone does is not cool. Anyway, that’s my rant for today. I’m just tired and am going to reduce my activity on social media and focus on my book.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Oh, the Places You'll Go! and Raw-Vitalize

I bought two books last week. I finished one: Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss which I found out about by eavesdropping on someone’s video conversation 😉 Many of you have probably read the book. I read a lot when I was little, but I had never read anything by Dr. Seuss.

One of the reasons I got this book is my brother and I may be collaborating to write a children’s book, and I wanted to get an idea of how to write one. My brother made up this story which he used to tell his kids at bedtime. One day we were sitting in the kitchen of his house, and he told me about his made-up tale. I loved it. And the plan was to do a book together, but we never got around to it.
Even as an adult, I enjoyed reading Dr. Seuss’ book. There are some life lessons in there, and you can find a YouTube video on it, but I opted for the book because I love reading.
I received my second book yesterday: Raw-Vitalize by Mimi Kirk & Mia Kirk White. I got this because I have an auto immune disorder which makes life difficult, if not impossible, for me. It started in my twenties, but I was able to manage it. Unfortunately, it got much worse after my mom passed away, and I have been struggling with it since. Doctors tell me that there’s no cure, and my only choice is to take medications which may or may not work for the rest of my life. The medication causes cancer and other health issue. So, thanks, but no thanks.
There are a ton of people who talk about the raw diet, but I chose Mimi Kirk for two reasons. She too has an autoimmune disorder, but no symptoms. She says that it is because her raw diet helps her control it. Also, she is a good cook. I can cook, but I don’t’ know how to put raw things together unless it’s a salad, or a simple veggie dish. I’m looking forward to reading her book and trying out some of the recipes. This is going to be a process as I learn different tricks.
When the weather is cold, I prefer cooked food. But with summer around the corner, I think now is the best time to get started and get used to eating this way. I learned a lot when I took my mom to the Gerson Institute such as nothing is the same as eating live food. I learned that when I cooked food at a high temperature, I killed a lot of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. I also learned that a plant based diet is much easier on the digestion.

My snacks. I’m going to start juicing again, and to work towards balancing my days by having 80% raw, and some cooked food because I like herbal teas, and I enjoy socializing with friends and family.

I just want to feel better, and live life to the fullest. I believe that there are many components that contribute to good health such as taking care of our mental health by staying active, working, socializing, eating healthy, meditating, and letting go of negativity. Life is a journey, and we are always learning about ourselves, and the people, and the world around us.