I spy with my little eye... Hong Kong Diaries - Part 3!

Last Hong Kong post! This is the one where we take the ferry and cross the bay to get on to mainland. It seemed like a pretty straightforward deal: get to harbour, get on a boat, get on the other side of the bay. Except that there are 5 or 6 different boat companies, and that nobody seemed willing to answer our questions. It took a solid half an hour and a couple of helpful Americans to finally understand that Star Ferry was the only one going back and forth without going around all islands. That is the one wisdom word I want to pass on: Star Ferry is the way to mainland. 
The view from the other side of the bay is fantastic and the city has a different vibe, I found it much more modern with skyscrapers and big avenues (as opposed to tiny paved and steep streets). 

We walked around Prince Edward station, I wanted to have a look at the markets, starting with the flower market. The colours, the happy people shopping, the kitsch arrangements, I loved everything about it.

Right at the end of the flower market, we found the bird market. I always have mixed feelings about animal markets: I find it sad to see all those birds in cages, at the same time, I have amazing memories of playing with my grandfather's parrots in Nigeria. One day maybe I will make up my mind, but for now, I choose to remain perplexed...

After this long walk, we took the metro under the water to get back to the island and get back to Central Hong Kong, around Hollywood Road. We found ourselves in Upper Lascar Row, surrounded by antics. Some of them real, some of them fake, but all good fun!

Finally we sat down at Fish & Meat for one of the best dinners I had in Hong Kong! The team and caring, the food was tasty and simple (and generous!). This burrata was fantastic and I can't even start with the pavlova! Thank you to the chef for signing our menu and sharing the love!

The lessons of this last day in Hong Kong:
1- I admire Hong Kongers discipline: I had never seen people queue to get into the metro.There are lines on the platform. I'm impressed by the fact that despite the fact that the city is over-crowded, I didn't feel claustrophobic. 
2- Hong Kong island and mainland are very different, it felt like different cities.
3- Don't stop walking. We thought we had seen all of Hollywood road until we let the streets guide us to Upper Lascar Row where we realised we had missed plenty of vintage treasures. 

Thank you Hong Kong for a great time!

I spy with my little eye... Hong Kong Diaries - Part 2.

I will admit that with the jet lag, we didn't manage to wake up before 11am, so we never made it to breakfast. Doesn't mean we didn't enjoy every bit of our hotel: for some reason, I completely fell for their wall paper... 

Eventually we ventured out to go and explore Wanchai. We had lunch at 22 Ships on Ship Street: gastronomical tapas with coffee wasn't the best idea, it was a bit early, but I loved seating and eating on the street!

After lunch we wandered the streets of Wanchai, just to realise that it was clearly a nightlife kind of neighbourhood. There wasn't a lot to see but our walk took us to the financial district where the protests took place. There were only a few umbrellas left, it felt like the only ones left didn't get the memo saying that the meeting point had changed. The roads were empty, it felt like a ghost town. 

The one thing I remember from Wanchai is that it felt less international than Central Hong Kong, I was surprise to see how the balance between oriental and occidental culture varies from one neighbourhood to an other.

With such a packed city, HongKongers have become experts in making the most of every bit of space. Coming from Dubai where space is the one thing we never run out, it is quite impressive.

On our way back to Central, the Gentleman stopped at The Armoury for some bespoke shopping. After turning around the building for a solid 20min, we finally found the entrance and eventually made our way up to the 3rd floor of Pedder Building. Big up for the vintage fabric ties and passionate staff!

Then we headed to Sevva on the rooftop of Prince's building for a cocktail and a fantastic view of Hong Kong. The cocktails were interesting and the sunset, amazing. It is expensive but perfect for a special occasion.

Finally we met K. who moved to Hong Kong a couple of months ago for dinner at Bibo. I would highly recommend it: it is located in an old station, underground, and they managed to gather an amazing amount of art pieces. From Banksy to Kaws, and Tsang Tsoi Choi, there is a strong street art vibe displayed like an accumulation of piece, making the space a visual feast for the eye. What happens in the plate is as explosive as the decor: subtle flavors and lots of colours, I loved it! Oh, and the team is adorable!

The lessons of this 2nd day in Hong Kong:
1- don't believe everything the media say: the Umbrella revolution was nothing threatening from what I experienced. We arrived in Hong Kong at the end of the movement but there was absolutely no reason to feel unsafe, people were peacefully (and passionately) demonstrating. They were eager and happy to share but there was no violence whatsoever. And to be honest, my french revolution history background felt a lot of empathy.
2- you've got to admire Hong Kongers sense of design. The city is a mess but they find ways to make it evolve.
3- Hong Kongers have their own style. You don't see it everywhere but some of them of very edgy, in a very London way: street-style, sharp shapes and fluo colours. My favourite thing to do while seating with a drink watching people pass by was to chase the big eye contact lenses. They love it and it gives the ladies a kawai vibe that I love.

... to be continued...

I spy with my little eye... Hong Kong Diaries - Part 1!

The Gentleman and I decided to visit Hong Kong on Eid break: a revolution based on umbrellas? I had to check it out! So it started at the airport, Terminal 1, trying to board despite the endless queues and insane traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road.

We had picked a hotel with a very central location: the Pottinger. A boutique hotel in a teeny tiny street. That's one of the first things we noticed: the city is a big mismatch of everything. You will find a fancy shop next to a butcher, next to a bar, next to a furniture store. Dubai is sometimes a bit too tidy, you can't get surprised: if you're in the fashion alley at Dubai Mall, then you know it's all going to be clothes, if you are at Pier 7 in the Marina, then you know it's all going to be restaurants. In Hong Kong, you get surprised at every corner of a street, and that's very refreshing!

A tired yet happy face after a night flight.

And so off we went to explore! Coming from a city where you can't really walk, we were determined to use as little public transport as possible, so we didn't go very far, but we wandered around the neighbourhoods of Central, Wanchai and took the ferry to have a look at Hong Kong Island from the mainland. 
On our first day, we focused on Central, Hollywood Street and ended up by chance at PMQ, the new hub for creative addresses on Aberdeen Street. It was fun to wander the floors of this center once we understood how to pass from one side to an other (two brains, one building, we can do this!).

I expected to find lots of girlie shops in Hong Kong until I remembered that Kawai was a Japanese concept, not Chinese... So Bread'n Butter was pretty much an exception, a very pretty pastel chamallowlike exception though!

Don't get me wrong, we still managed to buy gifts out of a mushroom, so if you really want your daily dose of Kawai, Eat & Play is the place for you!

Soho Fama, a restaurant located in PMQ too is more representative of the Hong Kong we discovered: quirky and arty! 

Even in an arty shopping mall, we stumbled on a wedding photoshoot. And in case you were wondering: it wasn't a fashion shoot, they were whispering sweet words to each other when I stole that picture. 

Which leads us to an other favourite: The Refinery. Literally fell for these bunny caps! "A little bit difficult to wear with a straight face" as the Gentleman put it but so cute!

After (a sleepless night and) a long walk, we sat down at Libertine, a little restaurant located right in front of PMQ on Aberdeen Street, for a quick coffee before heading back to our hotel.

The lessons of this first day in Hong Kong: 
1- this city is STEEP! Now I understand why Hong Kong ladies don't wear heels: it's the best way to kill yourself.
2- if you live in Hong Kong you don't need to go to the gym: my bum and legs were hurting at specific places after walking for 2 hours up and down the city.
3- shopping is tricky: since the city is packed, lots of shops are located in the higher floors of the buildings. Which means that while you are looking down on your feet to keep your balance, you should (in theory) also look up. Being a neophyte at that looking-up-and-down thing, I chose to focus on my life rather than shopping...

... to be continued...

I spy with my little eye... Qbara the opulent.

Everybody had been talking about Qbara for the past months so one calm week-end (before everybody came back from their 3 months holiday), the gentleman and I decided to go check it out. Booking was surprisingly easy and smooth so we wondered how packed the restaurant would be on a Friday night.

It was actually busy but in a nice buzzing way. Qbara is the kind of place that will never be empty but where you can always get a table, which is perfect. The space huge but doesn't feel empty, you colour scheme is middle eastern with rich gold and purple shades but without feeling crowded (which is a miracle).

I appreciated the effort on the wine list: they definitively kept it Mediterranean with wines from Lebanon, Syria, and even Greece. I was very happy to discover something new, never had had Greek wine before!
Foodwise, the concept is to give middle eastern cuisine a gastronomical twist. It's actually surprising that no one thought about it before. I appreciated the wide menu, and the effort to make simple family dishes something more elaborate, it was tasty and surprising, even if I didn't understand everything: why in the world would you put lobster in a fried kebbe? Lobster is way too subtle a taste in my opinion to be paired with fried food, in other words: I couldn't taste anything. 

As much as I enjoyed the dinner, the deserts were the highlight of the evening with a mix of textures and spices. I knew the Middle East loved it's pastries but that confirmed it all. It was probably the first time I managed to finish deserts after a mezze!
All in all, I'm very happy I finally made it to the "best restaurant in Dubai at the moment" since I had been hearing this all summer long. I love the effort to put forward local cuisine, and I love the fact that they can do better: means plenty of surprises to come!

For more info about Qbara, visit their website: www.qbara.ae

I spy with my little eye... cha cha cha Chantelle.

When it comes to lingerie, I am very picky. So picky I actually can't remember buying a single piece of lace in Dubai in 3 years. The only underwear I can handle in the UAE is the everyday Marks and Spencer bras, I realise how sad that sounds coming from a Parisian, but this is the blunt truth. I refuse to wear cheap lace and I have declared war to ugly big flowers, therefore I am still on the hunt for high waisted panties and art deco lace, but I haven't given up yet. Hence my surprise when Chantelle sent me their new catalogue: there is some good stuff in here!

So let me show you my favourite piece!

Starting with Mouvance. Love the Art Deco vibe with the suggested shells, and the subtle grey.

In the same vibe, I liked the Vendome ensemble which made me think of burlesque 1920's performers with these big stars and golden touch. I paired it with the book I'm currently reading, and my beloved Kate Spade lipstick!

In a less retro theme and more of an everyday baroque style, this Palazzo burgundy ensemble caught my eye. For some reason I like triangle shapes, and small patterns, this model manages to be both simple and a sultry at the same time.

Finally, our cheetah Lino had a crush on the Graphic bra, looks like he has simple taste when it comes to lingerie!

I spy with my little eye... Good Magazine's blogger of the month!

Guess who's Good Magazine's blogger of the month?

I spy with my little eye... Roland Mouret for Banana Republic.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to be part of a bloggers photoshoot for the Roland Mouret for Banana Republic collection. We're talking of a French designer, and a fun afternoon with my lovely fellow Dubai bloggers, of course I said Oui!

So on a Saturday afternoon, we met at Chinawhite for some shooting and laughing. I absolutely love these projects since you get to see how each blogger adapts the same collection to her own style. Dubai does not have a distinctive identity yet, it is still (and I hope it will stay) a Babel Tower of trends, cultures and languages, resulting in a wide range of styles, and I like the idea of a fashion safari!

So let me introduce my partners in crime, from left to right:
Dee from streetstylesavvy.com
Tina from tinayums.com
Stephanie from mademoiselleadubai.com
and Natasha from redlipsandlace.wordpress.com

I will admit I felt a bit shy when I discovered the collection. My outfits are usually pretty flimsy, the only feature highlighted being the waist, so I am definitively not used to bodycon dresses which is what Roland Mouret went for. It took me a while not to feel naked in this navy blue dress, despite the fact that it was very covering and classic, it was simply out of my comfort zone. So to balance that, I paired the dress with my favourite vintage accessories: a vintage hat, doctor's bag, red Louboutins and my red lipstick!

I hope you like what we did with this collection? Oh and there is a video (yes, you are used to reading us, but we do talk too)!
Hint of Beautiful. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.