Sunday, 11 January 2015

Cheung Chau Trip (Part 1)

Cheung Chau Fishing Boats
We went for a 2 days trip at Cheung Chau island during our trip back to Hong Kong last November. Alison and I have been talking about this while and finally made the effort to visit the island. Cheung Chau is one of the more popular outlying islands in Hong Kong and is often the first choice retreat for the Hong Kongers. The island is famous for the Bun Festival which usually occurs on early May and attracts thousands of people to the island during the celebration.

Ferry to Cheung Chau
Pier No. 5

It took us only half an hour by First Ferry from Central Pier (Pier no. 5) at Hong Kong Island to reach Cheung Chau. Before reaching Cheung Chau, we were greeted by many fishermen boats docking near the harbour. It reminded me that Cheung Chua was a fishing village where many locals still relied on the fishing trade for survival.

Signage at Cheung Chau
Street Shot 1
Street Shot 2

I was a bit taken aback when a Macdonald outlet was the first sight I set upon when we landed on the island. Certainly not a good introduction when nostalgic atmosphere was supposed to be the main theme of the place. The narrow main street (Praya) at the waterfront was bustling with activities as tourists patronized the souvenirs stalls and eateries lined along the side of the street.
B & B Hotel
Artfully Decorated House

Alison booked the B & B hotel which was situated near the famous Tuan Wan Bench and many great eateries. During the peak season, you have to book months ahead to ensure to get a room here. After settling down, we set out to explore the old streets of Cheung Chau. Right below our hotel, we could see this beautifully decorated house. The owner must have stretched his/her artistic genes for the decors. I could only imagine how the house looked in the interior.

Old Postboxes
Old Street
Old Building
The walk through the old streets was interesting. Alison identified many things where she had seen in her young days. Old postboxes, coloured marble floor tiles, toys, potteries etc-many already could not be found in the main land. They should have brought her back some fond memories.

Famous Fishball Noodle Shop

After lunch at a popular fishball restaurant (Cheung Kee 張記魚蛋粉麵), we continued our walk at the waterfront. We headed towards Pai Tai Temple where the annual Bun Festival was held. A glance through all the souvenirs shops had one thing in common. The "Ping An" (Safe) Buns were sold in all forms (cushion, magnets, decors etc) in all of the shops.

Buns, Buns and Buns

Cheung Chau was well-known for being "car-free". The main mode of transport in the island was mainly bicycles. There were also these three wheel bicycles (or Rickshaw) for rental. I saw a few "daddies" struggling with the contraptions with their families at the back seat which made me forgot about the idea of carrying mine :-).

Seafood Restaurants
Abundance of Seafood
Before reaching Pai Tai Temple, we walked past one row of seafood restaurants. Already filled with street foods and the earlier noodles, I told Alison and Charlotte that we would come back here for our dinner.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Cheung Chau trip :-)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

2014 Wrap Up (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!)

Family Photo at Cheung Chau, Hong Kong

Time flies. It's December again and Christmas is around the corner. I made a resolution last year for my Travel Bugs blog. I told myself that I must write and post more in Year 2014 than Year 2013. In 2013, I posted 12 blogs. For this year, I have posted 15 blogs (this blog included). I know it works out to be only 1.25 blogs per month but nevertheless, I have achieved what I intended to do. It is never easy to find time to write amid my busy work and family life but this excuse is last on my list for not writing. For those following my posts, I apologize for the frustration of awaiting my posts. Hopefully, I am able to post more of my travel stories for the coming year. This will be one of my resolutions for Year 2015.

During last year wrap up, I penned down on the destinations that I planned to visit. I listed Japan, Indonesia (Yogyakarta) and Hong Kong. Out of the three, I managed to travel to Tokyo, Japan and Hong Kong. For Yogyakarta (I meant to visit it for the famous Borobudur), I missed it due to the eruption of Mount Kelud in February and other reasons. I shall find time to visit it in 2015.

Family Photo at Kamakura,  Japan
Tokyo is always a place where we want to visit again. I had in mind to include Kyoto and Osaka but finally settled on Tokyo only. The reason was simple. We want to experience Tokyo at a relax pace. Taking a side trip to nearby Kamakura was the highlight of the trip. We finally got to visit the famous Daibutsu at the Kotokuin Temple.The deletable foods in Japan have left their marks on our tongues. We hoped to be back very soon.

During my Company department outing in October , I got to visit Kukup at Malaysia. It reminded me of Tai O, the Fishing Village in Hong Kong. My colleagues and I had a great time at the resort and the sunset on that day was very captivating.

Sunset at Kukup, Malaysia

Finally at end November, we took our (countless) trip back to Hong Kong to visit my In-laws. The "Occupy Central" movement did not deter our plan. My wife planned a 2 day trip to one of it's island-Cheung Chau. It was an enjoyable stay with the good foods, beaches and most importantly, laid back life style. As usual, I would take a "one day break" and go for a "Photography Day". This was the day I would take my time and capture the photos that I want without the complaints from my wife and daughter ;-) I hope to share those photos in the coming blogs.

I do not have any concrete travel plans for 2015. But in the back of my mind, I hope to travel to somewhere further. Europe (and Italy) is in our thoughts but we have not firm up anything yet. I hope to visit Thailand again. My wife suggested Chiang Mai for it's cooler weather. Of course, I will also target Borobudur as mentioned earlier.

Last but not least, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May all your travel wishes come true in Year 2015!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Day Trip at Kamakura (Part 4)-The Inamuragasaki Beach

The Inamuragasaki Beach
I put Inamuragasaki Beach in my Kamakura trip for one main reason. It was to capture the beautiful view of Mount Fuji from the Inamuragasaki Park. The day was cloudy when we visited Kamakura and I felt that the chance of seeing the elusive sacred mountain of Japan was pretty low. Nevertheless, we decided to continue with our plan since we have already came so far.

We walked back to the Hase station from the Kotokuin temple and took the Enoden to the Inamuragasaki station which was only two stops away. Not many people alighted at the station when we arrived. In fact, Inamuragasaki gave me a feeling that it was a very slow paced town. Perhaps we did not come at the peak season.

Street Photo by the beach

We heard and followed the sound of the wave which indicated we were not very far from the sea. True enough, after navigating a few streets, the sea was right before us. The first thing that I looked was for the sight of Mount Fuji. It was supposed to situate between Enoshima and the main land. The sight was supposedly breathtaking during a clear day with blue sky and during sunset. But it was not to be. Mount Fuji was nowhere in sight. Though already setting the expectation of not being able to see the Unesco Heritage Sight for this visit, I still could not hide my disappointment.

Black Kite

With the "since we are already here" mentality, we walked towards Inamuragasaki Park- a place where many would gather on a good day to enjoy the beautiful sight of the sacred mountain. Along the way, we could see many Black Kites flying around. I spotted their presence at the Hase-dera temple too. From the internet, I was warned not to eat anything under their razor sharp eyes and claws or risked injuries when they swooped down to rob the food. 

Tsunami Evacuation Route

I would say that the beach was not very impressive. Perhaps I have higher expectation of beaches in Japan than those in Singapore :-P. The signage for the warning of Tsunami have me worried a bit. They noted down the procedure of spotting and evacuating from a Tsunami.I wondered how would I react when there was a Tsunami attack. It was very difficult to imagine what was the mindset of the people residing near the sea here with the genuine potential Tsunami threat everyday.

View from Inamuragasaki Park

The Inamuragasaki Park was a place to admire and capture beautiful photographs of Mount Fuji. It was hidden from sight but we still chose to rest on the many benches around to enjoy the sea breeze. I could only use my imagination how the scene would look like on a good day. I looked into the distance, hoping for the faintest of hope that the sky would suddenly clear up a bit for me to catch a glimpse of the sacred mountain.

Self Photo at Inamuragasaki Park
Plaque indicating Mount Fuji Scenic View Spot

Though not able to accomplish the objective of coming here, I was still glad I have made it to this place. Mount Fuji is well-known for it's shyness. It always take a a mix of luck and timing to witness it's glamor. Perhaps I will have better fortune next time :-) This would be our last stop at Kamakura. My family and I have enjoyed every bit of our time here. Thank you, Kamakura! Good bye, Kamakura!

Mount Fuji missing between Enoshima and Main Land