Hong Kong

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Aylene Escapades Day 7

 Stanley, a junk and some flashy lights

I wont say much about Stanley, there is after all only so much one can say about it.Today was the first day that I went to Stanley Plaza,we grabbed the usual bus (have a look at Stanley directions) and got off at the plaza stop this time. We walked down some escalators and found ourselves by this lovely ‘love’ wall’! Obviously this meant more photos and then taking a few moments to just enjoy the view. Afterwards we took a mad dash to find something to drink, with caffeine preferably.I headed in to MacD’s (longest queue of my life!!!) and Ay got hot coffee at Starbucks, then we meandered. We saw a girl doing weird and awesome Yoga poses for photo’s and we got to see some wonderful sun.

After our meander through the plaza towards the boat dock we then turned our attention to the market. Ay was thirsty after we saw some people walking around with straws poking out of coconuts, so we went and got one. I decided to try it as well and realised that I definitely do not like coconut juice, definitely! We were on a shopping mission, well to be fair it was more of an intelligence gathering mission. Ay did buy a little something for herself which was really pretty and looked great on, but mostly we just wanted to compare with Ladies market.

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After a few hours of insane heat we decided it was time to head back as we still wanted to get to TST in time for the light show. Ay had discovered this cute restaurant at the Harbour on her exploring day, so she took me there for dinner. it was really cute, but as with many restaurants in Hong Kong there was a lot of poor planning involved. One has to order the food first then only find a table. Often you are left standing holding your food and just hoping someone doesn’t steal a table from you.

We ended up not taking a Junk for the light show, it would have been such a waste! The light show is ok, but to be honest I dont think I would want to waste my money on taking the Aqua lunar junk for it. We watched the show and then had enough of it so we headed down to the dock for the boat we were taking. It was pretty awesome getting on the Junk, spacious comfy seating at the top and one free drink. We spent an hour of comfort chatting away and enjoying the experience. The boat was stunning and it has a comfy feel to it.

When my sister visits I will definitely take her on one, but this time I want to do the island one instead.

We headed home in happy exhaustion, knowing that tomorrow would be our last day to see everything she wanted to see.

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Aylene Escapades Day 5

What a long day! I had to go in to work for the day so left Aylene to her own devices, she started her day late at Starbucks and just explored TST a little. I sat and did all my work, teaching my lessons all the while keeping an eye my phone for panicked messages of “I’m lost!”, but as I had expected Aylene did a great job remembering to keep an eye out for the MTR sign.We organised to meet up at the MTR so that we could go have a look at the Flower market and Goldfish market in upper Mong Kok. Thankfully I was wearing my Tekkies so we could walk around for ages.

We had a lovely time walking up Fa Yuen street, the streets were lined with pet stores and fish stores. There were puppies and kittens in small boxes which was heart breaking, I want to adopt them all! The fish ranged from small to large and were shoved in tiny bags, they had tortoises and even a bird or two. It’s lovely to see all those colourful fish,but I just couldn’t get over the fact they shouldn’t be in baggies and tiny spaces. It is so sad to see them swimming in one spot because they can’t swim around and around in a large ocean.

By the time we got to the flower market it had already started closing down. There were still a few shops open though so we walked around and looked at some of the spectacular flowers, the prices were actually very impressive! It isn’t a very big area that is called Flower Market but they literally have shop after shop, after shop, of flowers right next to each other. Some selling the exact same wares and some with a few differences.  We decided we would return on Monday when it would be open properly.

We walked down from Prince Edward side towards mong kok and made our way back home.By this time I was starving and wanted something nummy and had a look at the street around the corner (ish) from us. We found this amazing dessert house: Joyful Dessert house. The menu was super interesting and the desserts were of the best I have had in Hong Kong. We had Crème Brule and a chocolate volcano dessert that had just the right amounts of sugar and chocolateness. Hmmmmmm usually they don’t put enough sugar so I was pleasantly surprised.

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Aylene Escapades Day 4 Disney 2016

Disney, I feel like an old hat running around there. This was only my second visit but Hong Kong Disney isn’t that big and its lay out is pretty is to remember.                                                                  I made sure to move us from one side of the Park, starting with Tomorrowland, to the other of the park  (The Lion King) and I got to do some of my favourite rides.                                                  Well I got to do 2 of the 3 at any rate as Mystic Manor was closed, sob sob sob.Last time I went to Disney I wrote a lot on it so this time I shall not write so much.

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Aylene and I got to Disney as it was opening and luckily they still had the special on which saved about $50 on the one ticket. Being a HK ID holder gives me many perks including at places like Disney where I can get the cheaper price. We had a blast and ate some yummy food.I think we also may have spent a mini fortune as we both did a little bit of present shopping. Let’s be completely honest, this trip has been all about the shopping hehe, so maybe a little more than a little shopping.

The rides were as fun as I remembered, they may not be the largest rides but they are still fun! 😀 My geeky side got a massive jolt of joy when we saw they had  Storm Troupers walking around 😀 😀 and they let me play with one of the toy lightsabers. We killed some Aliens on the Buzz Lightyear ride, I still suck *headinhands* but I had just as much fun so that’s all that matters.We explored the enchanted garden and had some fun taking pictures plus looking at the Disney stories and tried to pull Excalibur out. Nope, sadly I did not become the Queen of anything, except sore feet later.

I do love Disney but we were eventually so tired that we just wanted it to end! We watched both parades and the Paint the Night Parade is still my ultimate, after that it was just a short wait until the fireworks. We sat enjoying the images they projected onto the castle and enjoyed the spectacular fireworks.We ended the day in happy exhaustion.

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Aylene Escapades Day 3

Day 3, Shoo this was a busy day!

We managed to leave the house a little earlier today so that we could trek out to the Big Buddha. We took the MTR and switched lines to Tung Chung, where we happily found a Starbucks waiting for us. The train felt like it took forever today, we had seats at least which was fun and relaxing.

We waited in a super long line to buy some tickets and decided on the crystal cabin up but the normal one down. For future reference I don’t think I want to wait in the line to leave Big Buddha. Ngong Ping 360 has several ticket choices and for more info have a look here: Ngong Ping 360 or if you feel like bargain hunting Klook normally has specials of $15 or more off.

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The gloomy day…exiting the MTR

The Crystal Cabin: It is awesome to see through the floor and watch yourself go up but it is really not that amazing. It has a large price extra on it and while its cool for a one way trip I wouldn’t waste my ‘holiday’ money on a trip down as well. The really snazzy benefit of it is that the line is usually much much much shorter so sometimes it may actually be worth it.

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Ngong Ping Village: My idea of a village goes to a the idea of an Ovambo or even Zulu village. Ngong Ping is less like that and not really a village at all. No one lives there but there are food places and shops. The prices here are a little crazy for souvenirs, so don’t rush into buying, you can find a lot of the things from up there in Stanley and Ladies Market. They have a yummy Subway at the top and a tea house that has demonstrations for the flowering tea, there is also a 7-eleven and for some reason a stand that sells Nutcrakers.

We didnt spend too much time in the village as we were eager to see the Buddha! the walk to the Buddha was very interesting, there are dogs roaming around and cows as well. Walking towards Buddha and the Monastery you can walk on the path with the warriors lining the path.

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Statues by Buddha

 

The walk up the stairs is tiring but don’t be lazy, walk up the stairs and just enjoy the view. The amount of tourists can be tiring, I suppose we are tourists as well

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Hello Buddha

but we take pics and go, the tourists here take a pic and stay to take 500 more in the exact same pose. We stayed up there a while for the peace and the view but then the hunger got the better of us so we headed  down towards the Monastery and the food there.

 

 

Vegetarian food is usually ok, I’m a carnivore at heart but I have enjoyed vegetarian food.The food that I had there was not the greatest, it didn’t help that my food choices are so limited in general to avoid all the spicy and pepper foods. We tried the food and left it to the side, it was not good.

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Vegetarian gourmet

We eventually left The Buddha and Ngong Ping because it had started to get chilly and grey. We ended up waiting in the line for the cable car, waiting and waiting and waiting. Did I mention the waiting, it was painful and tiring and we couldn’t wait to get back to the MTR!

We took the orange line all the way to the HK MTR station and walked out to the Big Observatory Wheel. It looked like an awesome idea so we decided to go on it.

The Observatory Wheel: What a lovely view! its was about $100 for a 15 minute ride and the view was spectacular. They play soft music and it’s all blue and very stable! We switched sides for different views and it hardly rocked at all, maybe a light shake but its to be expected as we were rather high up at the time.

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We then decided to go to dinner at this amazing Greek place near the top of Mid-Levels escalators and grabbed a taxi. The problem came in when we wanted to go to the races and thought that a bus would be a good idea. It would have been, if we could have found the annoying bus stop! We walked around for ages, it seems to be a theme on this trip.

We ran into two German guys who were being hilarious and had to get rid of them so we could grab a taxi. I’m so glad that we decided on the taxi, SO SO SO glad! We got free entrance at Happy Valley and went for the wine and beer. We watched two races and then decided enough was enough. Instead of taking a taxi back we went on a tram and I made Aylene  navigate us home, with a little nudge or two from me.20160224_214444

We made it back to Admiralty and found ourselves having another build your own burger..,.To be fair it was the easiest and yummiest burger for Aylene to eat as she could have it without the bun. But yes we had far too much Mac D’s.

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Aylene Escapades Day 2

The day started bright and…….early. No who am I kidding it started Grey, misty and semi-late. We decided to go to The Peak today, bad choice due to the weather, but as the day looked like it was clearing up we decided it was a brilliant plan.

Off we walked to the MTR only to be stopped by the idea of Starbucks. Yummy! We spent far too much time there! To get to the Peak you can take many different routes. I decided we would go straight to Central and then it would be closer, I was right but I hadn’t figured on trying to find the exact location of the bus.This led us to ask the very helpful bus people, their English wasn’t great but they were super helpful which was nice.

For future reference this is the easiest way from central:To the Peak

We got to the Peak and decided to take the Tram both up and down. While this was beautiful I wouldn’t recommend it for the shear number of people and the LONG wait in the lines. I have been up both times, neither one a weekend or public holiday, and it was a nightmare wait.

DSCN1646After arriving at the top we walked up, and up and up, taking escalators to the top and only stopping to take some pics. As it was still Chinese New year month they had this stunning Cherry Blossom Tree on one level, with the zodiac, a wishing well and a drum.

 

We had some fun there, Stella had told me I must walk around a Cherry Blossom tree if I find one so that I can have luck in love. Yeah I don’t think that worked hehehe. We hit the drum to send luck and love to our loved ones and then kept going up. As we stood at the Sky Terrace we saw the clouds rolling in and the visibility got worse, in the end we took some photos, wrote a message of love for everyone and just left.

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Trickeye

While at the Peak we decided to grab a meal and go visit the Trickeye Museum. This is awesomely fun! It isn’t worth it if you are by yourself but if you have a friend or a group of friends this is so much fun! You stand and take photos in certain angles and have a lot of giggles.

When we left the peak we waited for about 30mins to an hour in line for the Tram. Painful. Then we decided to walk down to the MTR instead as it was really lovely out, we walked to Admiralty which was great, they have an awesome MacD’s there.

We spent many an hour on the Island (again) and then after a No Bun burger at Langham we dragged our weary selves home for a good nights sleep.

 

 

Escapades with Aylene Day 1

 

  Mid-level and shopping extravaganza 22 Feb

In February I had a friend visit for a few days. She had just had her 18th birthday and was celebrating in style with a trip to Hong Kong.

After getting up super early to take the bus to the airport (Bus A21)and fetch my dearest Aylene I found her easily enough. Thank goodness she is a smart cookie and put her phone on to get the airport WiFi! Unfortunately she has a Gluten intolerance so we had to try find places that she could eat at and that wouldn’t make her sick. In HK that seems to be a bit of a tricky one.

Our first port of call was to get home and find a place to go for breakfast. I found this really interesting looking restaurant, called the Green Waffle, online and so we grabbed our stuff and headed to Central. We trekked up a long hill, then stairs and I’m sure there was another hill, to eventually find it hidden away. It was closed. I cannot express the hunger we were feeling at this stage.

We were near the Mid-levels escalators and since I hadn’t actually made the trek myself yet we decided to head that way and find a restaurant. We found several, can I just say that I officially love Mid-Levels for the amazing amount of interesting restaurants we found! Eventually our hunger got the better of us so after buying a China Mobile Sim and having it activated we opted for an Italian restaurant around the corner from the 7-eleven,on the second last level (at the top), and we were treated to a very yummy pizza, one with a gluten free base.

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Italians now best

We walked up and down and all around mid-levels, finding some very strange and also some very wonderful little shops. One of which was a Vera Wang store, I finally see the appeal and wish I could have had my sister Missa with so she could try on a few dresses!

The Wang store

We then headed down again and shopped and shopped and shopped a little more. I’d like to say only Aylene shopped but I have to admit I did have one or two buys of my own that day. Central is definitely a hive of shopping troves and Aylene found an awesome coat, it was still super cold and wet here.

Most of the day was then spent looking at present options and finding a place for dinner.

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Fireworks – CNY 2016

Who doesn’t love fireworks? I always feel guilty when I enjoy them, I remember all to well how my animals reacted to the noises, but I just can’t help watching them. There’s something about the lights, the colours, the sounds and even (if you are close enough) the smell. It seems to fill everyone who watches them with joy and wonder, no matter how many times we may have seen them.

Now CNY fireworks are definitely something to behold, I mean Disney is the only rival I have seen to the magnificent display that the HK cultural board put on this year. People could hear the bangs kilometres away and it lasted a good 20-30 minutes. Unfortunately, as we all now know S and I have terrible luck, we did not manage to see a large portion of the fireworks. You will see what I mean in the photo’s we took.

S had a friend visiting and we had to rush her to change and get out of the house to make it to TST in time. They closed off Nathan road, for those of you who don’t know, it is pretty much the main road that goes from the bottom of TST all the way though to at least Prince Edward. They only blocked off a few blocks but still it was very impressive.We got there and pretty much all you had to do was follow the immense crowds who were strolling

You doubted me - Photo by Simone VanHorick

You doubted me – Photo by Simone VanHorick

towards the waterfront , but when you got to the crossover we couldn’t get through to the

actual harbour :(. Now while the Flower Market had huge amounts of people, they were all in movement, here they were not. We were pushed, trodden on and leered at; ok that was just me and it was by a creepy guy who kept moving closer and closer…shudder!

 

 

IMG-20160210-WA0026I’m sure if we had just been a few feet to the left or at the harbour we would have enjoyed it a  lot more than what we did. My advice to anyone who is considering being here for 2017, make sure you get a harbour view be it TST or Central! What I could see of the fireworks was spectacular, the length of time that the display took was very very impressive! The experience in itself was great, other than creepy dude! The aaaaahs of admiration and energy coming from the crowd was very invigorating!

After the fireworks we walked to the harbour to have a look at the Monkey Lantern display next to the Cultural center and took some lovely photo’s of the harbour lights. Of course this time we were the fish swimming up the stream instead of down *facepalm*. We ended that part of the night by going all the way to Ozone bar, when I say all the way what I mean is that we took the long MTR way around. The view was spectacular the drinks prices even more so and the cover charge had us wanting to cry, but we got some nice pictures I guess and for S’s friend it was especially nice.

Our final end to the New year celebrations on the official New Years was to take S’s friend to LKF and let her enjoy the novelty of drinking on the street. We attempted to go dancing but Solas had closed and everyone was in Bungalow, there was no standing room and it was like we were being crushed by a bunch of really rude people! eish! Never again!

 

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Flower Market – Chinese New Year 2016

Wow, it has been a while since I have written anything. So much has happened and now I need to write about it. I believe my family and friends think I was abducted by aliens I have been so quiet! 🙂

Welcoming in the Year of the Monkey……

Buildings are swept and apparently smoked out as our smoke infested flat indicated, everything is cleaned and then decorated. Sweeping out the old to usher in the new. It is actually a lovely celebration with many

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Red packet from Nespresso…..

different facets. You will see tress with Red packets and often family members will get red packets or even teachers, we do enjoy those. My dearest Stella was a fount of knowledge as usual and was so sweet she even gave us a red packet! So the red packets are normally given from an older person to a younger person and can have anything in them, well money is the more common filling but not necessarily the only one. You can put messages and poems in them as well and then give them in these packets wishing you happiness and wealth for the coming year.

Courtesy of Jayden

Courtesy of Jayden

From my cute Jayden

From my cute Jayden

Mandarin Oranges,Plum Blossom branches/trees and orchids are big symbols of the CNY celebrations and have some auspicious meanings to the Chinese..When you see the photos of this time of the year you will see these a lot and they are not just for aesthetics.

In Chinese the word Tangerine has a similar sound to LUCK while orange is similar to WEALTH, along with the sounds the colours of the fruit can be seen to symbolise the colour of gold. Giving an orange or tangerine like wishing a  profusion of happiness and prosperity on the person or to usher in prosperity and luck.Potted plants, especially Mandarin trees are often found in the Lobby or doorways of many shopping centers and most buildings. We had a few in our center as well as a few in our apartment complex.

You will also see huge Peach/Plum Blossom trees in many shopping centers and banks, HSBC had a lovely tree up with red packets all over it (empty of course, I saw that excited gleam hehe).I can’t tell the difference between the trees but then up until writing this I thought they were Cherry blossoms. I should really learn more about the stunning trees here.If you are really interested in more detail have a look here CNY Flowers.

So anyone who has lived in Asia, well in and Hong Kong in particular, will know that Chinese New Year (CNY) is a big deal here. In China they seem to get almost a month off at the schools while in HK it depends on the school. It was a very empty month at my center with kids not turning up for lessons and chat rooms or classes down to one or two students. I cannot tell you how tiring that is!

We had a very busy 3 days off, yes you read that right 3 days only as opposed to our counterparts in some other language schools and normal schools. To be exact I had 2 days off as the one day fell on my usual monday off, the frustrations!  There was a ton to do, but we only did some of it due to the days the rest of it fell on. I went to the Flower Market at Victoria Park with S and L who recently moved to HK, we also watched the fireworks and saw the set up for the parade.

The Flower Market was insanity, thinking back to it my mind is still blown. I have never in my life seen so many Orchids in one place and the people, a never-ending stream. The MTR was running to all hours during February for all the markets  as they were open to all hours as well. I swear we must have spent a good 3 hours just walking up and then down 2 of the 4 corridors. I remember being overwhelmed and feeling slightly claustrophobic by the sheer number of human bodies that surrounded us.  I am glad that we got to go though as we walked off with 3 Orchids, a Plum Blossom branch, 2 tulips (S is Dutch so she had to) and then tiny cacti and on minuscule terrarium.It was an experience, I think next time if I am here I will try one of the other markets as well.

Try to imagine rows upon rows of orchids, different sizes and colours in one stall, then you leave that stall and you see more and more and more. then there were the rows and rows of Mandarin trees; in stall, after stall, after stall. Then long rows to walk up and down, with people who don’t follow very clear instructions and must force their way down the wrong way and a chill in the air as winter was still upon us. Walking for hours, struggling around people who stop in the way suddenly, shove you and elbow you out-of-the-way. All those people and that energy, it was incredible and insane.

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And rows and rows of Bamboo

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Simone VanHorick

People By Simone VHorick

Simone VanHorick

People By Simone VHorick

 

 

Intermediate Phonics :D

 

Joseph and Bruce

I have a new Intermediate Phonics class! I am a little worried about them though. Bruce is a very strong student, he can mostly spell and is able to do all the work with only a little guidance, but he cannot say or recognise his A’s correctly. He was taught to say them with the U sound, so now I have to try to re-train him and teach him A for Apple not Upple.

We are on C blends at the moment. So CA,CO and CU, which is a little different to BA,BE,BI,BO and BU. Joseph is definitely struggling here, he cannot spell at all, he cannot recognise vowels very easily nor his letters. Apparently he was pushed through to Intermediate Phonics, which could be the problem. The boys are very sweet, a little too clingy for me though. They love holding onto my hands or onto my arms while I am sitting next to them, so cute but also not so much.

We laugh a lot in the class up unto the spelling tests, then it’s more of a “Joseph he look at my book,” or ‘Bruce he look at me.” So I end up putting my big folder in between them, Bruce invariable doesn’t need a lot of help so I have to really focus on Joseph here. I’m hoping as we get further on he will start getting it.

I have decided to do the same thing with my boys as I am doing with the beginner classes. They just have to spell out two letter to the sound not one and they have to read over the pages twice for the moment. They love reading, which is great for me as I love it too.

Bruce always wants his picture to be Green Number 1 Super fast lightning McQueen and then Joseph wants to be Green Number one car/plane/helicopter. As long as there is a green number one and I give them lots of stars my two boys are happy 🙂

 

 

Halloween in Hong Kong

I LOVE Halloween! It’s been my favourite ‘holiday’ since I was a child. We don’t really celebrate All Hallows Eve back home, but every other year someone would have a dress up party.

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Growing up I had a best friend Marieke, she re-immigrated to Namibia at the wee little age of 8. Thankfully she brought the air of Halloween with her and organised a few parties over the years. Her parents were pretty awesome about having a group of random kiddies spooking up their house and yard.

So of course growing I always loved the spooky and the supernatural. After moving to South Africa I was super excited to get to do more for Halloween, unfortunately this did not actually happen. Some clubs have parties for, but in general it is just an excuse for some girls to dress skankier than usual and everyone thinks an alice-band of bunny ears makes a costume. 

You can imagine that the idea of moving to HK and hopefully having somewhere that enjoys Halloween even a little more than Africa does, was extremely exciting. I was both disappointed and not disappointed. 

Hong Kong definitely enjoys dressing up and all the fun decorations for Halloween. But its not always very easy to find parties. We had20151012_151828 decided that what ever we did it would entail getting all
dressed up.We saw the shops start putting up deco and then start selling deco. It was really fun to watch the stores slowly get ready for the final week of hectic shopping before Halloween. I found two small shops selling lots of awesome stuff, my sister Lu would have loved the stores! Every time I was shopping all I thought of was buying the stuff for her but then practicality set in 20151012_152347and I remembered how difficult it is to get stuff home. Thankfully!

A few malls also had some Halloween fun, we tried to go to a ‘Horror Tunnel’ and stood in line for about 2 hours but then decided it was too long.

Also it had large play spiders which were like creatures from my worst nightmares, so I must admit to being glad that we didnt have to walk through and under them.

IMG-20151021-WA0002 S and I went shopping and found this cool shop near us th20151019_214252at sold ton20151019_214300s and tons of costumes.  I really do mean tons. They also sold fake blood,teeth, masks, capes,wings etc. Basically anything you could want for a great costume. We may have spent more money there than what we had intended, oooops!

 

All Hallows Eve:

I had to work today, which really sucked but I must say seeing the kids get dressed up for the past few days was pretty fun. I got home around half six and decided to chill, then chill some more and oops a little more, hehe…. We helped A with her outfit and then I finally decided what was going to wear.

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MT IMG-20151101-WA0010had a party at Red bar, well I say party loosely. We pretty much had to supply our own booze and food and well everything. S and I decided to go because Emma had asked me to so I wanted to see her in her
costume and we wanted to support our new roomie A. So off we went through Mong kok, apparently causing quite a stir as very few people had dressed up on our side. by the time we hit the MTR and got to about TST there were a few other costumed people about. Finding Red Bar was a mission! We then only stayed for like 20 minutes before boredom took hold. We walked really fast for the MTR because we wanted to make to Wan Chai before the trains stopped.
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Wan Chai was great! Unfortunately the guys got drunk and gross and so we didn’t stay too late. We ended up leaving at about 3am where we found our roomie needing to get home. Luckily for her friends we were headed home so we found a green bus that went to Mong Kok and S was on stop duty while I was on waking A duty.

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