Malmo, Sweden by Jessica Lee

Malmo, Sweden, is not where my trip to Europe began, but it is pretty close.

After a brief two days in Copenhagen, Denmark, I went to stay with my friend Myra in Lund.

I remember having trouble adjusting to the new timezones in Europe. I would sleep until noon, not make it out of the house until 1 pm, then find that the sun set in Sweden at around 3 pm. I never really got to see Sweden in the daylight as much as I would have liked to.

Then one day, we took a day trip to Malmo, to see one of her friends for dinner.

A train ride from Lund to Malmo is around 12 minutes. It was amazing to see another fully formed city with a square and established businesses within such a short distance.

In other big cities such as Berlin, it takes much longer to get to another suburb by train. Why are some cities bigger geographically? I am not an expert in urban sprawl, but I liked seeing the differences myself firsthand.

Anyway, here is what Malmo looks like:

One thing that stuck out to me the most was the design and the architecture.

We went into this furniture store which was full of fresh and inspiring ideas.

Usually, travellers don't like "consumerism" because buying more things means more things to carry around with them. Most hardcore travellers I know/ read about don't usually hang around the urban shopping centres, but I find this tragic because when a store is artfully done, it's like going to a design museum- for free!

This Swedish store we were in even offered free tea and coffee.

While we were in Malmo, they also had some sort of festival. Candles were being lit in the streets.

And there was a market of vintage/ handmade things in the square.

We settled down for a coffee break, went grocery shopping and then night set in.

Here is a photo of our dinner: salad, lasagna, ginger cookies and Swedish tea.

West Edmonton Mall through photos by Jessica Lee

After work on Friday, Josh and I headed to the West Edmonton Mall, a monstrosity of fun and contagious consumerism.

I'd been previously when I was young and remembered it as exhaustingly huge. It took forever to just to walk to everywhere I wanted to go.

This time though, we only did a cursory walk through the mall because we had an agenda. We planned to go to the water park. (Yes, there is a water park in the mall.)

First though, a stop at the skating rink:

I've seen skating rinks in malls throughout Asia, so this is nothing new. It's still nice to have though.

What makes West Edmonton Mall stand out is that it used to be the largest mall in the world up until 2004. It's still the largest mall in North America and here is what it has going for it:

Here's a snapshot of what a section of the mall looks like:

The above photo looks pretty normal until you factor in that there is a grocery store in the background (T&T). Still lots of malls have grocery stores attached to it.

But they probably don't have ropes courses:

Or a giant water park with a wave pool.

This was some sea world-esque amusement in the middle of the mall.

Here is a penguin show being put on.

Here is a seal. By the way, I really liked the environmentally-friendly natural lighting. Great touch by the architects.

And here is the rest of the marine park.

Next, we headed to Galaxy Land just to browse.

There was a kids section and one with bigger roller coasters. It was pretty impressive to see massive roller coasters just run around the space. It kind of reminded me of a smaller-scale version of Las Vegas, where you have roller coasters spiralling around hotels.

This is the biggest roller coaster in the joint. We watched people get on and get off the roller coaster. It sounds terrible, but their facial expressions were our entertainment.

We finally made it to the water park, which is definitely the best way to spend a Friday evening unwinding.

Here is the wave pool:

And the water slides. If you can see, there is a purple water slide which does a loop. I'd never seen anything like it before and was keen to try it.

That is, until I saw how steep the initial drop was.

Basically, they put you into this upright chamber, the door locks and the attendant presses a button which causes the floor to disappear, allowing gravity to help you gain speed. If you watch a clip of it on Youtube, the whole thing is over in a matter of 10 seconds, but I just wasn't feeling very adventurous that day I suppose. There's always next time.

Here's another photo of all the water slides. We did go on most of them.

Also really cool was the zip line that went over the water park.

And a final photo of the park.

We finished the day with a selection of the mall's finest restaurants. There was Hooters, a dueling piano bar (was really tempted to go), the Old Spaghetti Factory and your typical chain pubs. We went with Hudson's Steakhouse because they don't have that in Toronto yet.

We didn't check out the golf course or the skatepark, the bowling alley, shooting range, the cinemas or either of the hotels attached to the mall, but of course there just wasn't enough time. When doing anything, you have to set priorities.

Ann Arbor love by Jessica Lee

I took a bus out of Detroit and now I'm in Ann Arbor. You have no idea how in love I am with this town! It is the perfect size of "not too big", "not too small". It's a university town but the restaurant scene is lovely and the boutique stores are full of cute knick knacks. Everyone is young but they don't stumble around drunk like in some other university towns.

I walked from the bus station to the main street and everyone was eating dinner on restaurant patios, waiters were smiling at me, and street performers were singing Swing. Women were wearing summer dresses and holding the hands of their lovers. I passed by several coffee shops I wanted to stay in and everyone in this town was in a good mood. It felt like the perfect start to summer. (Above photo was taken the day after, when it started to rain)

Ann Arbor is such a contrast to Detroit. There is no baggy clothing, nothing is in ruins and I feel like I can be more open. People in this town have money so I don't feel like I have to protect my valuables as much.

Locals tend to be pretty friendly too. I was walking around with my backpack and these two older gentlemen asked if I had eaten dinner yet, as if they were going to take me to dinner or point me in the direction of good eating places.

I started Sunday morning off at the Artisan Market in Kerrytown.

There was nothing really special EXCEPT THAT I MET A WAR VETERAN!

He was selling these homemade candles. He didn't want to talk about the war (for obvious reasons). He had been drafted in Vietnam, and now had retired to making candles and selling them - the simple life.

I told him that he was amazing, we chatted about Ann Arbor (he loves the place), and then I went to explore the rest of Kerrytown.

Kerrytown is fabulous. It's touristy in that all the shops are boutique, selling things that are less mass-produced and more unique - sort of like the Distillery District in Toronto.

Here is Hollanders, a paper shop I really enjoyed.

They had a whole bookbinding section, which was pretty cool as I hadn't really come across book binding back home.

I mean, I've bound a single book in elementary school because someone's mother (a hobbyist) came in and taught the class about book-binding; but if you were to walk about Toronto's art shops, book binding is not as prominent compared to painting or sketching or graffiti.

Fustini's was also really really cool.

Basically it's a store that only sells balsamic vinegar.

But they have ions of flavours. I tried the peach-infused balsamic vinegar, the coconut-infused one...

It was all really good and I know my mom would've loved it if I brought a bottle back, but I'm still in the beginning of my trip so buying heavy things to carry throughout my trip would just be silly. And stressful. The farmer's market in Detroit also had some amazing homemade nut butter, which would have made for an awesome gift as well, but it's generally unwise to buy heavy things to lug around on a backpacking trip.

Another store I really loved was Found, which sells random kitschy things handmade by artists in the area. The business concept was great because it sold small things which were pretty and could be easily taken home by tourists.

These notebooks are made of recycled old book covers!

And here are necklaces made from recycled typewriter keys.

After exploring the rest of Kerrytown, I walked back down to the main street area and headed to the Michigan Theatre.

It's pretty grand for a small town.

It reminded me of the Bloor Cinema back in Toronto (one of my favourite theatres)- which reminds me, I will have to go back to visit the place as I haven't been there since 2010.

Since it was a rainy day and not very suitable for walking, I headed to Lab, a coffee shop/yogurt place on Liberty Street. It had a very neat design.

This is the honey cinnamon latte I had, which by the way is a delightful combination of tastes.

I wasn't expecting to like Ann Arbor so much. The reason I wanted to drop by instead of going straight from Detroit to Chicago was because I had seen the name "Ann Arbor" somewhere on someone's t-shirt. I enjoy exploring new towns. And for another reason I'll reveal in the next post...

Bali: a spendaholic's paradise by Jessica Lee

Bali is a dangerous place for a shopaholic/spendaholic like me.

There are stands and stands of clothing and souvenirs- and when you're tired of that, there is a nice mall.

Then there are miles of restaurants and places to get drinks. Everything is cheap $3-5 meals, but it adds up. Pretty soon, you thought you had a couple hundred of dollars, but that was merely some vague assumption.

I spent the last day with only $15 in my pocket. And about $4 of that went into a taxi.

Being a tourist here is like playing a game. The locals will try to squeeze every last dollar out of you, and you fight to hold on to your cash. It is not like the pickpocketing I experienced near Solo.

Here for instance if I am trying to buy a sarong, I will ask the price of it, which they will name as $12. Then I will bargain and they will bargain. Eventually we will settle for something like $4. It's easy to be taken for a fool if you don't shop around. The locals are very aggressive but I've learned to drive a hard bargain as well. I've come a far way from paying $30 taxis to and from airports. Or $25 for 42 km.

They don't teach practical things like how to negotiate or how to be street smart in school. I learn something new every day.

This is why I travel.

Day 5: A solo walk through Melbourne by Jessica Lee

I never really feel I've travelled to a city unless I navigate through it by myself on foot.

It was great having Tom, Lachlan and Scott showing me around the city and relying on them find places throughout this week but it was just too easy.

I needed to get lost and to panic and to find my own way through the transit system.

Today was the day.

Tom and Lachlan had gone back to their hometown and Scott just never came home one night- leaving me to explore the city on my own.

I had the idea that I wanted to go out for a nice fancy breakfast so I headed to Hardware Lane in the CBD, which is a cute little street with patio seating.

I never found the place I set out for (I wasn't really trying anyway), but I found out that Hardware Lane is one of my favourite places to shop.

It had a lot of camping/outdoor equipment shops. Lately, I've been into the whole camping/outdoor rock climbing adventure thing so naturally, shopping for camping gear excites me.

I just bought yet another backpack for hiking last week so I didn't really need anything (not urgently at least), but I really do like to look at things.

For example, I know in the near future that I am in the market to buy a warm sleeping bag (not the summer ones) and possibly a tent. I'm probably going to buy both these things back in Canada at Mountain Equipment Co-op just because it's cheaper there, but I like to be an informed shopper and to look around. I'm also in the market to get a bunch of climbing gear (carabiners, bolts, etc). It's nice to check out what colours everything comes in, how much it costs, if it's cheaper to buy in a bundle, etc. and take note.

I also found out they sell funky rock-climbing jewelry. (tiny carabiners or quick draw earrings!)

For everyone else not into camping gear, there's also a lovely selection of cute little stores scattered around the area.

Lately I have been interested in shopping for mugs and teacups and dinnerware so I only took photos of the aforementioned, however, in these stores, there was also stationary, clothing, bags, accessories, etc.

So far, I think I prefer Melbourne more than Sydney if we were to compare shopping.

I enjoy mall shopping, which Sydney represents well with Westfield, but I like shopping at quirky little independent shops like these in Melbourne much more.

More cute little stores:

(This was in Fitzroy)

I didn't want to be the weird girl taking photos of every store, so the photos I've shown you are only a small selection of the shopping here in Melbourne. Trust me, there's lots more.

After a while of shopping, I just gave up on breakfast and settled for lunch (it was 2 pm at the time).

I had Japanese Udon noodles with beef. I ate this on their patio while reading Kerouac's On the Road. It was perfect.

For those of you who don't know, On the Road is a classic travel novel written in the Beat generation. A must read for anyone backpacking. It really gets you into the mood of winging it when you're reading about the main character Sal, who hitchhikes his way across America with only $5 in his pocket. 

After that, I was ready for something sweet so I scouted out a coffee shop Scott was telling me about the other day, Manchester Press.

As far as indie coffee shops go, this coffee shop was pretty hidden and underground. The entrance for this coffee shop was in an alleyway and wasn't advertised from the street. You had to have heard about it from someone or read about it online.

Still, there was a good crowd going.

I ordered a mocha (I love chocolate too much) and was quite satisfied.

After that, I was on the road again.

It was 3 pm and I had a mission. I wanted to get to the Melbourne Museum before they closed at 5 pm.

This is one of the cool buildings I walked past on the way there.

The architecture in Melbourne is just lovely.

I got to the museum at 4 pm.

Here is a photo of the inside:

The outside of the museum is nicely designed as well but I couldn't get a decent photo since the building is so big. I couldn't fit everything into the frame. You will just have to take my word for it that the outside of the museum is nice as well.

Here is a photo of the exhibition building beside the museum. They were having a quilt exhibition. Needless to say I did not check it out.

 The insides of the Melbourne Museum were quite impressive. I really liked its minimalistic design.

It reminds me of the Ontario Science Centre we have back home.

Except this museum has a more modern design.

If I spent the whole day here, it would have been fun to bring a sketch book. But sadly, I do this thing called "waking up at 10 am and finally leaving the house at noon" and it really limited my day.

I really enjoyed the rock exhibit. It brought back memories of our "Rocks and Minerals" studies from grade 4. If I didn't like arts and culture and literature so much, I quite possibly would have become a geologist.

There is a great 10 minute 3D film in the rock exhibit. It's free to watch.

 I should also mention that if you have a student concession card, entrance to the museum is free!

I think this is great because it gives students an incentive to visit and see cool things, possibly learn a thing or two.

Look at this architecture:

I thought this room was the most impressive. I think these are all stuffed animals because they looked quite real from close up.

There was a psychology section in the museum and I flipped out! Loved it. I really wish I went there earlier before they shut at 5 pm.

There were also many other exhibits like the human body exhibit and a dinosaur bone exhibit. It would have been nice to visit with a science major and to feel their enthusiasm.

Look how freakin' artistic this museum is!

And here's a last photo I took while leaving.

This is Southern Cross station where I left from to go visit a friend in her hometown. I love the wavy detailing of the roof.

Melbourne, I am not done with you yet!

I am coming back sometime and going to:

1. Eat a really nice meal out for dinner or "tea" as Aussies call it
2. Go to the Australian Museum for Contemporary Art
3. Finish walking through Melbourne Museum
4. Go rock climbing at the gym below
5. Eat at Hardware Cafe
6. Rock climb at the Grampians

The Queen Victoria Building! by Jessica Lee

It was bound to happen.

I discovered the grandaddy of shopping centres!

All it took was a bus ride to Circular Quay and some persistent looking out of the window.

This here is the Queen Victoria Building:


It is HUGE.

Here is their classy entrance:

The insides:

Most of the shops were designer labels BUT I did discover some nice knick knack/stationary stores!

This is the outside:

They were playing my favourite Beatles song so I had to wander over and have a look.

And back inside again:

This was taken from the top floor.

I really wish I had time to visit every single shop because they all had lots of goodies I was interested in. Unfortunately time was running out (things in Australia close around 6-7 pm!), and it's not like I had a lot of money to throw around.

The cool thing about the QVB is that right beside it is Westfield Shopping Centre!

So you end up having a never-ending shopping adventure.

If given the funds and time, I could easily spend two full days exploring this place!

So I heard some really lovely music as I was shopping and realized it was coming from outside.

This guy was simply phenomenal. Not only was his playing quite skilled and technical, he played his own original compositions with lots of emotion.

A small crowd had gathered.

I watched as within 10 minutes, he made $40 from people buying CDs!

He is pretty much doing what I'd like to do one day- escaping office life, setting his own hours, making beautiful sounds...

I thought his guitar was really cool so I went to chat with him during his break.

I asked if the holes in his guitar were there on purpose (looked like he made them purposely to make the sound better).

It turns out that HE designed the guitar and his father made it!

The strings are set wider near the base so he can finger pick since he said he had big hands. I later compared his hands with mine and yes his hands are pretty big. I don't think I'd be able to play his guitar.

He also told me he's never had any other job than play the guitar, which I found extremely cool.

After that, I went around taking more photos.

This is Dymocks, which is like Chapters Indigo back home.

It's my favourite store so far in Sydney.

This is me not kidding about the crazy prices of nail polish here:

Revlon nail polish is like $8 at Shoppers Drug Mart back home! Here, it's $13.95.

And a final photo of Westfield courtyard.

One day, I am going to come back and shop 'til I drop.

Some odd items I bought in Hong Kong by Jessica Lee

I've been feeling overwhelmed by everything there is to take in in Hong Kong so I haven't been feeling up to writing. But here is a short post of novelty items I bought in Hong Kong.

Maltesers comes in boxes here apparently. And they come in a dark edition. Can't wait to try them!

I saw these at the check out line at Watson's, which is like a Shoppers Drug Mart in Hong Kong. They are black cotton buds. Apparently when you take off nail polish using these, the colours of the nail polish are more easily see-able. They were $11 HK, which comes around to $1.42 CAD, so I thought "why not".

This is the outside.

I'm also trying to buy a travel hair dryer so I can use it in Sydney. The problem is all the really cute dryers in Hong Kong aren't the same wattage as in Canada. Sydney wattage is 240, which is the same as Hong Kong. Canada's wattage is 110. So basically if I wanted to buy a cute hair dryer I could use in Sydney, I wouldn't be able to use it in Canada.

Or I could just buy an ugly one that converts from 110 to 240.

Decisions, decisions...

Shopping demons and things that make my heart flutter by Jessica Lee

You know it's time to go home from the mall when you feel guilty after making a purchase.

The day started innocently enough. I woke up around 8 am and went for breakfast at TOASTBOX, a cha chaan teng at Olympian City.

I ordered instant noodles with spicy pork and an egg, a cold Horlick drink, which tastes sort of like malt and milk for those of you who haven't had it before, and a Pandan cake- which as I'm learning now from Wikipedia, has Malaysian origins and is made with Pandanus amarylifolius (a tropical plant) leaves. It is a green cake which gets its colour from the chlorophyll in the leaf juice. The cake was okay- tasted just like regular sponge cake.

After breakfast, I headed over to the International Finance Centre, which thankfully is more interesting than the name suggests. The IFC is a HUGE mall with brand names like Burberry, Coach and the like. It also has non-designer brands like Club Monaco and Zara.

I didn't really shop much, instead, I went around and explored. The architecture of the building is incredible. Here are some photos taken by yours truly that showcase its spectacular structure:

Here is the entrance
This here is one of the shopping levels


More levels

This is the roof top. It is so pretty! The business people eat their lunches here. I hope they know how lucky they are. I would LOVE to have lunch here every day. It would make me feel like a million bucks. It's such a nice environment. There are free-for-all tables (they are nice tables) where you can bring your own food or buy something like McDonalds and just eat and have a good time with your co-workers.

And last but not least, fancy restaurant on the roof top!

I also found a really nice grocery store in this mall and almost bought a $3 CAD Kit Kat Cookies and Cream chocolate bar. It was my first time seeing such a bar and I was fascinated. Except $3 is a bit steep for a Kit Kat, which is why I didn't get it.

I also went to a bookstore in the mall and found a paperback copy of Timothy Ferriss' 4-Hour Work Week! I almost bought this too, except I did calculations and the paperback copy is almost as expensive as the hard cover copy. It's weird how in HK, you can find paperback releases of books that they are still selling hardcovers in North America. I had been waiting for a paperback version of Timothy Ferriss' books back in Toronto. (For anyone who doesn't know, Tim Ferriss is a genius, and you should read his books!)

For the Hunger Games fans, I also found paperback versions of all three books here. In Toronto, only the first book is in paperback right now!

I'm sure there's some method to this madness. I think publishers keep popular books in hardcover because then they can charge more to readers who can't wait until the softcover version comes out. But if this is the case, why does HK get a break? If anyone can explain this to me, please let me know!

After the mall, I went exploring in the Central region and I got hungry so I walked into Cafe de Coral, which is a fast food place that serves cha chaan teng dishes.

I had a mashed potato and chicken wing combo. It cost $3 CAD, and was delicious-though a bit cold when I got the food, and it didn't fill me up.

So I pulled out my handy dandy guide book and it led me to Lan Fong Yuen, which is a cha chaan teng that claims they invented the first milk tea! This is probably as authentic as it gets. It is a hole in the wall where the locals eat and share tables together.

I ordered the french toast (which translates loosely in English to "western toast") and a lai cha (milk tea). I don't usually drink milk tea, but I figured I might as well have it if I was at the place that invented it. It was good, but it hasn't converted me into someone who has to have one every time at a cha chaan teng. The french toast was amazing though.

I then wandered to Tai Cheong Bakery for egg tarts.

I am in love with egg tarts. When I bought my egg tarts, they were still hot from the oven. In Toronto, whenever I'm near Chinatown, I make it a point to go buy egg tarts. Usually, they are sold out unless you go really early (before noon).

I then made a trip to Causeway Bay and shopped at SOGO, which is a huge department store (think Sears, but with 16 floors). I went up to the 11th floor and then I couldn't go further because the 12th floor is wedding dresses and it felt awkward going to that floor since I'm not getting married anytime soon- at least not that I'm aware of. The floors after that were cooking classes and a spa and some other things that had no relevance to my life, so there weren't any excuses for me to go poking around up there.

However, I am pleased to report that I bought a hair straightener!

I wasn't actively looking for one, but it caught my eye and now we are happily together. It's one of those fancy little Asian technology jobs and it cost only $20 CAD. The only issue with it is that the plug is Asian and I have to find a travel adapter for it to use it in Canada. Oh yeah, and it's pink!

This is how small it is. I put a camera lens lid in the picture for comparison purposes. Asian technology is crazy! I've never seen such a small straightener before. I plan to use it on my (relatively) new bangs.

And then I wandered around and saw MUJI!!!

I nearly had an orgasm.

This store is pretty much my favourite store in any Asian country (and the sad part is they only exist in Asian countries as far as I know).

Here is a little context for those of you who don't know: Muji is a Japanese lifestyle store. They sell clothing, shoes, food, stationary, beauty products, bath products, beds, luggage, storage items, and other random things you didn't think you needed but realized you desperately did after seeing how cool they are.

Their "brand" is minimalist design.

About two years ago when I was visiting Taiwan, I bought flats at Muji for about $56 CAD and they have lasted me up until now. And this is with regular wearing!

I also buy a lot of notebooks and pens whenever I'm at Muji. Their stuff is simple and the paper is good quality.

Here is a picture of inside the store so you can see the wide range of its products: (see the stationary on the left, the scarves in the middle, the storage section in the back...)

Today I bought lounge pants (because it's much colder in HK than it appears to be- they are lying when they say 20 degrees, it feels more like 15), a cute backpack (not that I needed any more, but I really do have an obsession with buying backpacks and I think this is an okay obsession to have because it's not like I have an obsession with buying $60,000 designer purses- that would be bad for my financial health- and backpacks usually don't go over $100 so it's fine to indulge once in a while), some notebooks and a bag of chocolate cream-filled strawberry marshmallows.

I was happy with these purchases. Everything was sunshine and rainbows. Everything was lovely.

And then this is the part where it gets murky.

I went to Times Square (because the guidebook told me to, since it was in the area anyway). And I happened to walk INTO the Times Square mall. Curiosity always kills the cat.

And then I saw this store I absolutely adore. And it was downhill from there.

I won't reveal anymore, except that I look hot in this hoodie, it's keeping me warm and that I needed it anyway since I am running out of fresh laundry. So pretty much it's a matter of life or death. I would clearly freeze to death if I weren't wearing this hoodie right now. And who cares if they are now selling it for almost half the price at The Bay this week since I won't be back in Canada for the next six months?

If anything, this guilty feeling is coming from the fact that I charged my credit card (because I didn't have enough cash at that point in the day), which means that the purchase will have conversion rates added on to the already high price. Also, I just read from the receipt that they don't do refunds. Bummer.

Oh well. I am reading The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma and he says "there are no mistakes in life, only lessons". So this must be my lesson: always bring more cash. And no more impulse purchases! Except when the deal is too good to pass up.

Tomorrow, I am staying away from the shopping malls. It's museum day for me. Until then, readers!

Shopping in HK part 1 by Jessica Lee

A snack stand on a busy street corner in HK

Hello lovely readers!

I just came back from a day of "shopping". Actually I kept it pretty low-key. Those of you that know me know that when I go shopping, I mean business. Shopping with me is not for the weak. Once, an ex got mad at me while we were shopping because we had been shopping for a couple of hours and he said he needed a break or something.

Anyway... I'm going to share with you some deals I got today. :)

I spent most of my time at Olympian City, which is described in Wikipedia as "one of the main shopping areas in West Kowloon". If I were to compare it to the Eaton Centre, which is one of Toronto's biggest shopping areas, I would say that Olympian City is double the size of the Eaton Centre. It might even be bigger... I'm not sure because I haven't explored the whole mall yet.

One of my favourite deals of the day was at the grocery store. I got 5 bananas for $4.75 HK money, which is 61 cents in CAD dollars. Outrageous!

At the Pearson Airport before my flight, I bought a single banana at one of the food places for $1.20 + taxes!

Of course, airport food is ridiculously expensive, so I'm not sure if the comparison is fair. But still, 61 cents for 5 bananas is spectacular! If I were extremely poor, I'd just live off of bananas here.

At the grocery store, I also found a North American food staple: cheese strings! They were kind of expensive though. In fact, out of everything I bought, they were the most expensive item. A single stick of cheese cost $9.30 HK money, which is $1.20 in CAD dollars- which isn't that bad, but at a grocery store in Canada, you could probably get a pack of 16 cheese strings for $7? I bought two. They were mostly a sentimental purchase, as I do miss home a little.

For a snack, I also had curry fish balls on a stick and coconut milk sago, which is coconut milk with little tapioca balls in them. I can already tell these are the little things I am going to miss about Hong Kong when I leave. In Toronto, street food consists of hot dogs and maybe if you're on Queen and Bay street, a poutine truck. I think I am going to eat curry fish balls every day I am here just because I can.

I didn't buy many things today. Partly because I literally have no luggage space (there's a hole in one of my newly bought knapsacks because I stuffed lots of books in there and a corner of a book made a small hole)- and partly because I am trying to buy only what I need.

I bought five different varieties of lip balm because choices in Canada are so limited and I love trying out different brands. Also, some hand lotion from EOS (Evolution of Smooth). Finding EOS products here was a pleasant surprise. They are hard to find in Toronto and even when you find them, the flavours that you find them in are limited. Here, they had tangerine, strawberry sorbet and also lemon drop, which are flavours I have never seen before. Obviously I bought them.

I also bought a notebook and a felt pen. Stationary here beats any stationary I've seen in Toronto. In Toronto, the best stationary store I've seen so far is probably the paper shop on 885 Queen Street West. Runner up would be Indigo Books. In Hong Kong, there are LOTS of nice stationary stores. This is probably why when my cousin from Hong Kong came to visit us in Toronto, she said everything was crappy and expensive. There really is no comparison.

Below is a picture of just one section of a stationary store.

Leave me a comment! If you've been here before, what are some things I should check out in Hong Kong? If you haven't, what surprises you about Hong Kong?

Pilot Episode by Jessica Lee

It's much colder here than I thought it would be.

And this is coming from a Canadian who has lived in cold weather her whole life.

Currently, I'm in Hong Kong visiting my relatives. In about two weeks, I'll be in Sydney, Australia, settling down before starting a semester there to complete some of my university degree in Psychology.

I haven't done much in Hong Kong yet because I pretty much just got off the plane last night, but here are a few things I've noticed so far:

1. Both the water and the milk here in Hong Kong taste different. The water has a bit more of a chlorinated taste and the milk is richer, much creamier- but not like table cream back home. I don't know how else to describe it.

2. I encountered my vice as soon I stepped off the plane: shopping. Oh my. I've been to Hong Kong a few times in my life and I only remember this place as a shopping heaven. There are just shops and shops and department stores and from my apartment, I already can spot a store that I loved the last time I was here.

This time though, I've bought a guidebook here with me and I'm determined to explore- and not just the shopping malls.

I plan to take photos, eat my heart out, and blog about it.

I hope you'll stick around and read!