MY VERY FIRST TRAVEL DESTINATION – GUILIN, CHINA

My love for travel did not develop as an adult. For as long as I can remember, going to a foreign country has always been a norm. It’s part of my childhood. It’s part of ME!  I just didn’t know life another way. This is why I started my project to retrace my travel memories. Some of them happened when I was so young that I don’t remember the details. I just knew that it started when I was 1 year old.

Or so I thought….

Isn't this the cutest picture ever?!

Isn’t this the cutest picture ever?! You see that camel in the back!? 

Today I was going through some old pictures for my post about my horrific cruise down the Yangtze River and saw a picture that blew my mind!

It was a picture of my parents and I standing on the beach in front of Elephant Trunk Hill in Guilin, China! I was about 8-10 months old.

Date of Stamp/Travel: Beginning of 1985
Destination: Guilin, China
Trip Purpose: My first family trip ever

Guilin has always been on my bucket list! One of the main reasons is because I WANT TO SEE ELEPHANT TRUNK HILL!

I remember seeing a picture of it in my Geography book in primary school and instantly felt my heart skip a beat. It was gorgeous! Even after 20+ years, I still remember that grainy photo in my textbook.

Guilin is a city in Southern China that’s notorious for its heavenly scenery. People in China say “Guilin is where the mountains and water, the heaven and earth connect”. The stillness of the water creates a perfect reflection of the mountain and sky. Guilin is like a dramatically beautiful painting of nature that punches you right in the face. And Elephant Trunk Hill is its most powerful fighter.

SO I’VE BEEN THERE ALREADY? WHAT?!?!?!

I feel both accomplished and defeated at the same time! So I’ve BEEN to the place I’ve always wanted to visit, but I have no recollection of it.

Alright, I’m rambling on because I’m obviously still in shock. But I’m so grateful for retracing this travel memory of mine. I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to go back and experience the beauty of Elephant Trunk Hill all over again. When that happens, I’ll make sure I soak it all in so I won’t ever forget again.


Have you ever been somewhere but have no recollection of it? Have you taken a trip back? Did it look familiar? Where is this place? Share it with me!!

NOT-SO-COMMON MUST-EATS IN HONG KONG

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Since I grew up in Hong Kong, I often receive requests for a list of must-eats in Hong Kong. I hate it. Well…hate is a strong word, but compiling this list stresses me out.

FP-Not So Common Must Eats in Hong Kong

Do I give you a list of common dishes Hong Kong is famous for?
Do I direct you to places that are trendy right now?
Or do I have you go to all the places that I like to eat at?

I always end up putting together a list with items that make my friends go… UGH…SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?!

Yes! SERIOUSLY.

Here are some not-so-common suggested places that I think you MUST eat at when you visit Hong Kong.

KFC-HK

3 different flavors of Chicken Wings!

KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN

Oh yes. I never go to KFC when I’m in the U.S., but I always make sure I go when I’m in Hong Kong. The chicken is WAYYYYY juicier. There are all different types of flavors. And the sides! OH THE SIDES… Cream of Mushroom over RICE and Portuguese Egg Tarts?! YES PLEASE!

Curry Fishballs + Shiumai + Snacks

Curry Fishballs + Shiumai + Snacks

7-ELEVEN

Mm Hm…When I first moved to the U.S. and saw what 7-Elevens have to offer here… my heart broke. What happened to the SUPER delicious soy sauce peppered chicken wings? Where’s all the dim sum? You’re telling me that you don’t have noodles and soups?! The 7-Elevens in Hong Kong will BLOW YOUR MIND. Go to the food area, pick something up, put it in the microwave…then ENJOY.

Seared Salmon Belly, Scallop, and Wagyu Beef Nigiris

Seared Salmon Belly, Scallop, and Wagyu Beef Nigiris

Shrimp Sashimi

Shrimp Sashimi

Fried Salmon Skin

Fried Salmon Skin

Foie Gras Nigiri !!!!!!!!

Foie Gras Nigiri !!!!!!!!

Mini Scallop + Tobiko and Fried Shrimp Roll

Mini Scallop + Tobiko and Fried Shrimp Roll

GENKI SUSHI

So this is a chain sushi restaurant from Japan. It’s your usual sushi boat like restaurant that’s everywhere in Hong Kong. My friends in Hong Kong often make this judging face when I say I want to go there because it’s not “top notch”. Well, the quality of sushi at Genki is 10x better than your usual sushi joint in the U.S. and the price is less than what you pay for tip! I go at least twice every time I go home and I always eat like I”m a millionaire. Who cares about how much eat plate costs because the total never exceeds $25 USD per person! Buffet pants are strongly recommended.

Mango Crunch Cake

Mango Crunch Cake

BIRTHDAY CAKES AT MAXIM’S

My birthdays will never be the same without a cake from Maxim’s. For some reason, those Hong Kong pastry shops really got it down. The fruits are fresh, the cake is spongy, and the cream… oh the cream. It might not be your birthday, but just order one. My favorite is the mango cakes or the chestnut cakes. DO IT!

Smooth and strong Latte at Caffe Habitu

Smooth and strong Latte at Caffe Habitu

COFFEE SHOPS

There are soooo many cafes in Hong Kong. And the quality of that cup of latte is top notch. Hong Kong is a service oriented city and they trained their baristas well. Each cafe usually has its own quirk so just find one. Causeway Bay, Tin Hau, or the SOHO districts are good starting points. When you’re tired from sightseeing or shopping, find a cafe and enjoy.


Are there any not-so-common places you like in Hong Kong or your own hometown? Share it with me!

A MINI GUIDE : MACAU

FP - A Mini Guide- Macau

Macau will forever own a special place in my heart. It is where my father was born and raised. It was one of the first places I’ve ever been at tourist at. And it is home to many of my favorite dishes.

Once a Portuguese colony and now one of the most visited cities in the world, Macau has managed to achieve the perfect balance of old and new. You can stay at a brand new luxurious 5 star hotel upon arrival and then take a short cab ride to enjoy a classic Macanese meal in a century old restaurant.

MACAU BIBLIOTHEQUE

Coloane Library, Rua 5 de Outubro, Coloane, Macau

Macau is divided into 4 main parts (from North to South): Macau Peninsula, Taipa, Cotai, and Coloane. Each with its own special characteristics and must-sees.

The currency used in Macau is Macanese Pataca. However, the most commonly used currency is the Hong Kong Dollar due to the large amount of Hong Kong tourists. If you’re flying into Macau directly, it is recommended that you take out some cash at the airport as most places are cash only.

Cantonese and Portuguese are the main language spoken by locals. But it is not difficult to find locals who speak English and Mandarin.

Inside MGM Grand Macau

MGM MACAU, Avenida Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Nape, Macau

WHERE TO STAY

There is an endless supply of luxury hotels in Macau. And these hotels will ruin you as they did me. Macau hotels are at the highest of quality offered at the most affordable rate. So if you have a little extra budget, stay at one of the 5 star hotels! It will blow your mind.

This also means that the quality of their 3 star hotels are also quite high. So for me, the main factor in choosing where to stay is location.

I highly recommend staying in the southern part of the Macau Peninsula. You will be conveniently in the middle of everything. With a nice view by the water, you can relax in nice hotel when you’re not exploring. And the area has a fun night scene as well.

Red Market, Ave do Alm, Lacerda, Macau

Red Market, Ave do Alm, Lacerda, Macau

HOW TO GET AROUND

TAXI and WALKING is my favorite combination. Macau is so small that you can walk everywhere. Once you get tired,l grab a cab to your next destination. PERFECT!

The bus is actually very affordable and convenient as well. And it is a fun adventure! I took a bus from Senado Square to Black Sand Beach and it was one of my most unforgettable moments for sure!

The Venetian Macao, Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca, Taipa, Macau

The Venetian Macao, Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca, Taipa, Macau

WHAT TO DO

GAMBLE
You must not go to Macau and not gamble. If you don’t like gambling, at least visit a casino. Macau is where it is at now because of its casinos. If you grew up in Asia, you will know this about Macau. Since the beginning of time, everyone went there for the casinos. Go to Hotel Lisboa and people watch. I like standing their watching these older Chinese men screaming and shouting by the tables. This is how it’s been for decades! And of course, if you’re lucky, you might make some extra cash for your trip.

Hotel Lisboa, 2-4, Avenida De Lisboa, Macau

Hotel Lisboa, 2-4, Avenida De Lisboa, Macau

GET LOST + EXPLORE
Roaming the streets of Macau oddly can give you a similar feeling to roaming the streets of Europe. There are so many little cobble stoned roads that lead you through different neighborhoods. And Macau adds an extra element of surprise – are you heading into Portugal, or China? I love the blend of culture in Macau! One second you’re passing by a gorgeous cathedral and within 20 more steps, the smell of incense from the nearby temple starts filling the air around you. You never know what this one road will lead you to.

TRY MACANESE CUISINE
There’s nothing like it. A food baby of the Portuguese and Cantonese culture. Trust me, you’ll fall in love.

st francis xavier church

St. Francis Xavier Church, Rua Do Caetano, Coloane Village, Macau

VISIT THE OLD MACAU
The 5 star hotels, Michelin restaurants, brand new shops and casinos and all its glamor may be attractive, but promise me, take a look at the “Old” Macau. Visit the places that MADE Macau so desirable to these investors and developers in the first place. Try to spend 70% of your time outside of the newly developed zones, you won’t regret it.

Some of my favorites are:

RUINS OF ST. PAULS
HISTORIC CENTRE OF MACAU
SENADO SQUARE
HOTEL LISBOA
RUA DO CUNHA
THE STREETS OF COLOANE
ST. FRANCIS XAVIER CHURCH
BLACK SAND BEACH + FERNANDO’S
MA KOK MIU (A-MA TEMPLE)
RED MARKET

Portuguese Egg Tart at Lord Stow's Garden Cafe, Rua da Cordoaria, Macau

Portuguese Egg Tart at Lord Stow’s Garden Cafe, Rua da Cordoaria, Macau

WHAT TO EAT
I recently posted about the Must Eats places of Macau. If you have the time and tummy space, definitely follow that list! If not, at least find a place nearby to try these out:

MACANESE FOOD
PORTUGUESE EGG TART
PORK CHOP BUN
CRAB CONGEE
BEEF OR PORK JERKY
ICE CREAM at LAI KEI’S

However many days you decide to stay in Macau, you’re going to have a blast. I have so much love for this city, I can’t wait for you to see it!

Oh, and sorry for the old photos… the beauty of this project is that it allows me to retrace all the steps I’ve taken over the years. And looking at all these photos make me want to use them even though they seem quite outdated.


What do you like to do when you’re in Macau? 

MUST EAT PLACES IN MACAU

Many of you have asked me for a list of must eat places in Macau. So when I found out that my friend, Tevis, will be visiting soon as part of his journey around Asia, I decided that this was the perfect time to post this.

Must Eat Places in Macau

In recent years, Macau has definitely made its mark in the culinary world. As home to 16 Michelin starred restaurants, this eclectic city will definitely put you into a satisfying food coma throughout your trip and beyond.

So how can you decide which restaurants to try? Well… I’m about to complicate your decision making process. (Sorry..not sorry. Haha) My top picks are not Michelin awarded restaurants. They are well-known eateries adored by locals for decades! My father, who grew up in Macau, attempts to hit all of them every time he goes back for a visit.

These are the best places to eat because not only will you be served some of the most delicious dishes, you will also be taken on a journey to experience Macau’s culture and history.

Lai Kei Sorvetes

BEST PLACE IN MACAU – EAT HERE OR BE JUDGED

Lai Kei Sorvetes

Location: 12 Av. do Conselheiro Ferreira de Almeida, Macau
My Favorite: Taro Ice Cream Sandwich and pretty much everything else

Ok, I might be extremely biased on this one. But this place is truly a gem. There’s a reason why it’s been one of the most popular eateries in Macau for so many decades!

Fried Bacalhau Fish Balls at Fat Siu Lau

Fried Bacalhau Fish Balls at Fat Siu Lau

THE 2 EATERIES THAT PUT THE HAPPIEST GRIN ON MY FATHER’S FACE

One of my most vivid memories of Macau is when I saw the look at my father’s face when he’s eating at this childhood favs. And then I have to spend the whole time listening to the same stories over and over again.

Sam Yuen Congee Shop (三元粥品專家)

Location: 44 R. da Caldeira, Macau (Across from Ole Tai Sam Un Hotel)
My Favorite: Pork Meatball Congee and Fried Donut

Fat Siu Lau Restaurante

Location: 64 Rua da Felicidade, Macau
My Favorites: Fried Bacalhau Fish Balls (My Absolute Favorite Dish), Baked Pork Chop Over Rice, African Chicken

Infamous Portuguese Egg Tart at Lord Stow's Bakery

Infamous Portuguese Egg Tart at Lord Stow’s Bakery

THE 2 EATERIES YOU SHOULD NEVER LEAVE WITHOUT TRYING

Lord Stow Bakery (Original Location)

Location: 1 Rua da Tassara, Coloane
My Favorite: Portuguese Egg Tart
Tip: Order at least 2 per person because it will not be enough. You’ll want more. Also, there’s a Lord Stow’s Garden Cafe across the street if you prefer sitting down.

Restaurante Fernando

Location: 9 Praia de Hac Sa, Macau
My Favorite: Roasted Suckling Pig

Crab Congee at Seng Cheong Restaurant

Crab Congee at Seng Cheong Restaurant

OTHER TOP PICKS THAT YOU SHOULD TRY

Seng Cheong Restaurant

Location: 30 Rua do Cunha, Macau
My Favorite: Crab Congee

Koi Kei Bakery

Location: 13 Rua do Cunha, Macau
My Favorite: Pork Jerky (Any type!)

Koi Kei Bakery

Koi Kei Bakery

Gelatina Mok Yi Kei

Location: 9 Rua do Cunha, Macau
My Favorite: Durian Ice Cream (JUST TRY IT! Get pass the smell and you’ll be in heaven!)

Tai Lei Loi Kei

Location: 18 Largo Governador Tamagnini Barbosa, Macau
My Favorite: Pork Chop Bun
Tip: Go early. There’s usually a line and once the buns are sold out, they’re done.

Hang Guan Restaurant

Location: 310 Rua do Campo, Macau
My Favorite: Shrimp Roe Wonton Noodles

Yee Shun Dairy Company

Location: GF, 381 Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau, China
My Favorite: Ginger Milk Curd (Hot or Cold)

Shrimp Roe Wonton Noodles at Hang Guan Restaurant

Shrimp Roe Wonton Noodles at Hang Guan Restaurant

There you go. This is must eat list for Macau. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to Michelin starred restaurants. But there’s something about these eateries that warms my heart at every bite. I hope it will have the same effect on you. ENJOY!


 

Did I miss any of your must eat places in Macau? If so, please leave me a comment because I WILL want to try it next time I’m there. 🙂