South Shore

I feel so lucky looking back on my time out east, thinking about all the amazing places I got to travel to and see.

On the Sunday of my first weekend, I joined the same friends for a trip to the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Our two locations for that day were Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg.

Peggy’s Cove is something I got to experience last September for the first time, and I have to say that I found it just as breathtaking the second time around. On this particular day, the waves were not breaking far up the rocks as they are known to, so we were able to venture quite far down the rocks. (Something I would NOT recommend doing when the waves are high, for fear of being swept out into the ocean).
There is something so serene about this place. You do have to remember that it is a large tourist attraction, and so that may take away from the beauty when there are hundreds of people around you taking photos. However, if you venture off far enough on the rocks, take a seat and enjoy the views, it is something you will not regret. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a whale like my friends did that day!
It really is one of my favourite places in Nova Scotia.

I also have to mention the lobster shack we stopped at maybe 3 km away from Peggy’s Cove, called the “Fisherman’s Corner”. Here we had fresh lobster rolls brought in by the local fisherman. Definitely treat yourself if you’re there!

As we continued along the coast towards Lunenburg, we got to experience more of the natural beauty of this province, and enjoy the sunny day with the coastal water on our side. If you drive around Nova Scotia, chances are you will see many lobster traps lying around or in the water. This trip had plenty of them, and buoys too!

Once we reached Lunenburg we spent the rest of our time walking around the beautiful town. Lunenburg is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is also the docking ground for the Bluenose II. It is a quaint little town with brightly coloured houses and shops, all facing the water on a slight downward slope. It does not take long to walk around this town, but if you have the chance, take some time to explore the cute little boutiques that line the streets. Unfortunately, that day most of the stores in town were closed due to the impending holiday, but even peeking inside you could see bountiful treasures!

Of course now I will mention food… SCALLOPS! The absolute BEST TASTING SCALLOPS I have ever had, are located in Lunenburg. That night we had dinner at the Grand Banker Bar and Grill, located on the first street by the water. I had pan-seared scallops in butter and am literally salivating at the thought of them right now. Definitely recommend going there for some seafood!

All in all, the first weekend out east was proving to me that I had made the right choice in moving out there.

More adventures to come!

~ Banana

PS. I will add photos soon!

Surfing Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia

Of course, by the time I reached Halifax, once again my plans had changed. I found myself with a travel companion, one I hadn’t been expecting. But just as I’ve said before, you make the best out of the situations in front of you.

A friend ended up visiting Nova Scotia the first weekend I arrived, and so all together we ended up driving along the south shore of Nova Scotia. It felt great to be back in the east coast. Unfortunately for us, the weather was still terribly cold.

2013-05-18 11.43.28

Our first stop was Lawrencetown Beach, an amazing place for surfing in Nova Scotia. I had been there once before, in September, before leaving for Hong Kong. We are all beginners, but that did not stop us from getting out there and working our butts off to catch a wave. I can even say that I successfully popped up for one wave that day! Considering the cold, we were decked out in full winter wet suits, a feat in its own to put on. Looking back on my surfing adventures in Hong Kong, I definitely did not appreciate the warm waters to the extent that I should have! But these conditions were much different than those of Hong Kong. I mean, my first attempt at surfing in the Atlantic Ocean waters of Lawerencetown Beach was during the remnants of a hurricane that made its way up to the Maritimes…

2013-05-18 12.05.38

 

Just strutting my stuff before taking on the Atlantic.

 

2013-05-18 12.44.00

 

Lawrencetown Beach

 

2013-05-18 13.40.45

 

Jonathan catching a wave!

 

2013-05-18 13.57.29

 

3 Amigos

After a few hours of surfing, we headed to Martinique. Since the weather had not gotten any better, we were all wearing our warmest “summer” jackets, and we took a walk along the beach.

2013-05-18 17.14.24

2013-05-18 16.26.01

2013-05-18 16.33.23

Finally, we ended the day with a well deserved Fish and Chips dinner. Located in Musquodoboit, this quaint little place has yet to fail me. I can honestly say that Harbour Fish n’ Fries is the best fish and chip place I have ever eaten at… however I have to admit that both times I was famished from surfing haha. In all seriousness, the batter that they use is delicious. A definite recommendation if you are in the Martinique area.

2013-05-18 18.17.27

 

Day one of the weekend was a great start to my life out on the East Coast.

 

In leaving for Nova Scotia, I aimed to become a better individual, to learn to live on my own and not have my happiness depend on others. A task certainly easier said than done. Yet, I do think it takes time, and that I could not expect immediate change. My travels ensure that I continue to grow and learn each day. Here’s to many more adventures!

~ Banana

Moving Forward; Halifax Summer 2013

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past few months, it’s that even with the best laid plans, your future may not turn out how you’d hoped. Right after that, I learned that life goes on. So, here I am in Halifax, Nova Scotia, living with 3 strangers (who I hope become friends) and looking for a fresh start. 

Prior to the winter semester of university, I was doing my exchange abroad at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and while having been exposed to some crazy new experiences, I found myself getting extremely home sick. This is the strangest feeling of all for a girl who thrives on traveling the world. Then, upon coming home, I was thrust into the hardest school semester of my university experience. Needless to say, I am SO happy this year is over. 

I decided that despite the disappointments and stress I had felt over the past while, I needed to go through with the trips I had in mind for the summer, even if it wasn’t exactly how I planned them, and well, I could do it alone!

But heck, at least I may get some good stories out of it. Here’s to a fun loving summer, for a single gal ready to take on the world :)

Surfing Hong Kong

Today I got an awesome chance to catch some waves at Sai Wan beach in Hong Kong. This beach is located in the New Territories, and is in a pretty secluded area. It made for some beautiful scenery, all captured on camera of course!

We went surfing with Surf Hong Kong, which is run by some very chill guys and girls. Our 2 hour board rental and lesson was 300 HKD, and it was well worth it. If you’re interested in just renting a board, it is something like 120 HKD for 6 hours. Check out their website if you’re interested in trying it out and want some more info — I would highly recommend it. http://surfhongkong.com/

After surfing for 2 hours we headed to further from the beach to an inland waterfall/cliffs where people can jump off. I am terrified of heights and didn’t dare do the jump, but it is a very deep fresh water pool at the bottom, and it is apparently a thrill. The people at the surf shop will gladly direct you there, as it is a bit confusing to explain in writing.

Directions:

In order to get there, we took the MTR from Central to Hang Hau. In order to do this, we needed to take the Island Line (blue line) to North Point (although Quarry Bay works also) and from there changed to the Tseung Kwan O line (purple line) until we reached Hang Hau. That part of the journey takes approximately 30 minutes. Once we got to Hang Hau, we needed to take a bus to reach another transfer point at Sai Kung – this bus was the 101M and took another 15-20 minutes. From there, it is possible to get another bus that will take you to the peak above the Sai Wan beach, however if you are with a group of people it is easier to just take a taxi from there. The cab ride was another 15-20 minutes, and cost us 85 HKD (split 3 ways, as we had 6 people and unfortunately had to take two cabs). Once you reach the top of the peak, you will see a small round about, where you can get off and taxis head back down. However, in order to get down to the beach, you must take a bit of a hike. Once again, well worth doing as the views are incredible.

On the way back, it is much easier to get a boat ride that takes you straight to Sai Kung for the price of 120 HKD per person. It is quite a bit more expensive, however it is worth it, as you avoid hiking back up the hill to the peak, as well as waiting for a taxi (which I have heard can take hours). The boat ride is about 20 minutes.

~ Banana

Repulse Bay Beach Party – Project X part 2 (almost)

Last night we went to Repulse Bay for a beach party. The event was created by this guy last week, for about 40 of his friends, and by yesterday over 1300 people had RSVP’d as attending. In the end I am not sure that so many people actually came, but there was definitely 500+ if not more. The one downfall was that since it was such a last minute plan, there was no coordinated effort to bring music. It ended up being a fun night all in all – just a few beers on the beach with my closest 1000 friends!

 

Out on the Town

Another thing that everyone should definitely experience is going to Lan Kwai Fong. This is a street where lots of bars are located, and the night life is great. On Thursday nights, otherwise known as Ladies Night, it is particularly crowded – many bars on this night give free cover and drinks to all women. Most drinks are basic vodka/tequila/rum mixers, but some bars have free drinks such as Cosmopolitans. I’ve added a drink menu, just do you get an idea of prices – remember, it’s in HKD! Not CAD!
It was great seeing friends, meeting people and just dancing the night away. I also found the Canadian bar – unfortunately for me, it was empty. But it was definitely well represented, what with the hockey jerseys as decoration and all!

It was also Vivian’s 22nd birthday and so we decided to go out for dinner – ended up at an Italian pizza place (and I cannot even begin to express how much I miss Italian food – not the prices though!!) The place is called Paisano’s Pizzeria and it’s located on Hollywood Rd. in SoHo. The slices were about 30-40 HKD, but it was definitely filling and quite tasty. Afterwards we went for a walk through the rest of SoHo, and on this street known as Windham St. This street is very close to Lan Kwai Fong, and also has many eateries and bars to check out.

Mid-Autumn Festival

I forgot to mention that 2 weeks ago was Mid-Autumn festival, so Viv and I went to a Lantern Carnival. Mid-Autumn festival is also known as the Moon Festival, and it is a popular lunar harvest celebration celebrated by the Chinese people. Because it is a public holiday, I basically had an extra week off class – let me tell you, it was great at the time, but it made this week seem 10 times longer.

Here are a few photos of us at the Lantern Carnival:

 

 

We had a great night, just goofing off and seeing all the pretty lights.

Unfortunately, that weekend Hong Kong experienced a tragedy, as two boats collided, killing 37 people. As Mid-Autumn is a festival that is celebrated with family, it really was a sad conclusion to the weekend. My thoughts are with the families.

 

Ups and Downs

Already October!! How?!

All my homesickness is gone (but the countdown is still there: 81 days), and I have settled in quite nicely in Hong Kong. Roommate and I are getting along well, so the room situation is good.

School is well underway! I am taking a full course load – 3 politics courses, 1 journalism and 1 poverty development. The last one is definitely shaping up to be my favourite, just because it has this amazing service project as the only course assignment. Tons of opportunities with it, and I think I am leaning towards planning and creating my own NGO. Lots of work ahead of me…

I’m also busy working on QICSIM details. I know that time will fly and suddenly March will be around the corner and the conference underway, so there is TONS to do.

Lastly, I have joined the HKU rugby team, which is so fun! Already have my first black eye to prove it!

The team!

So how is Hong Kong?

Amazing! I have slowly been branching out and figuring out more of the Central area. I found this store called Cotton On, which I believe is a chain store from Australia, and I found several nice pieces of clothing. Quite inexpensive as well.

Another place I went shopping is in ‘Mong Kok’, where we found this shopping center (Mong Kok Zhong Sum). A genuine Chinese shopping mall where I sharpened by bargaining skills. I ended up buying 6 articles of clothing (shirts and sweaters) for a total of under $400 HKD. This equals about $51 CAD. Not bad, right?  Afterwards, the girls and I went to this mango jelly place, and ate a bunch of different desserts. Jelly seems to be a big thing in Hong Kong, not sure I find it as appealing as most.

Stanley Beach 

One weekend a few friends and I adventured to the southeastern part of Hong Kong Island, to a little place known as Stanley. Spent the day just relaxing on the beach and enjoying the sun. It was quite simple to get to from where we live, just a direct bus, so as long as the weather holds out, I may have to go again!

Hot Pot Dinner

Another traditional meal here is known as Hot Pot. Basically, a boiling pot of water  is placed in front of you with a flavoured broth, and then fresh meats, noodles and dumplings are placed in front of you to cook. It is absolutely delicious! My two friends and I arrived late after getting lost on the way, so we only got to try the beef balls and spinach dumplings, but it is seriously worth going again. Approximate price for the table was $100-150 HKD and everyone sampled each others dishes. I can’t wait to do this again, properly!

In other news:

I have officially gotten tickets for my break, and I am going to AUSTRALIA! (Thank you mom and dad!) I will be going to Melbourne and Sydney, and hopefully travelling around those areas while I am there. Cannot wait to see family and friends.

Last thing, while writing this post I was eating peanut butter and raspberry jam. Just swirled together. With chopsticks. I am getting good at this!!  haha

Lots of love, missing everyone back home.

~ Banana

Exploring

Saturday I spent exploring a bit of Hong Kong. I took the MTR Tsuen Wan Line from the Central Station to Tsim Sha Tsui, an area I was told is very catered to foreigners. I wandered for a bit with my roommate, and attempted to do some shopping, but found nothing that we liked (within our price range!) We stopped for lunch in a mall, and I ate some very delicious dim sum for lunch. The one on the left doesn’t look very appetizing, but I actually prefered it of the two! Also, I have no idea what was in them, I just kind of pointed (I think I’d rather not know at this point haha)

Afterwards I found a super nice bakery, where I bought some nice bread. Tasted amazing! I definitely plan on going back there. On the way back home, my roommate and I stumbled upon Abercrombie and Fitch (or was it Hollister???) and I absolutely died when I walked in. Here’s why:

His abs must be exhausted!

hahaha Check out that line up!

For my groceries, I found this supermarket called International, where you can find many imported goods. I was able to buy things such as Teddy Grahams and Quaker Chewy bars, as well as Campbell soup and pasta sauces that I ate in Rome. Needless to say I was a VERY happy camper afterwards.

I have to admit though, the grocery shopping experience made me homesick for the first time since being here. I found myself getting frustrated for not being able to find what I need, and when I did find something (the pasta sauce for example), I was on the verge of tears because I was so happy because it was familiar to me. I am hoping that when school starts tomorrow I will start to feel less homesick. Perhaps a distraction is all I need!

Some tips I picked up so far:

–          When traveling by public transportation, it is VERY convenient to get an Octopus card. There is no hassle to ensure you have correct change for the bus, and it also ensures you do not have to pay for a ticket every time you want to get on the metro.

–          Windham street is considered the SOHO of Hong Kong – many bars and restaurants; the nightlife.

–          Lankwai Fong street is also recommended for the nightlife scene

–          Nomads (located on Kimberley Road) is apparently an amazing Mongolian grill – I will have to try it to let you know!

–          Arirang, a Korean BBQ, is also highly recommended – but again, I’ll try it first!

Wish me luck at school!

~Banana

“All you have is your credibility.” – Michael Hammer

I think I have beat jetlag. 9pm bed time and 6 am ain’t so bad for a 12 hour time change, right? Today I even made it to 9:30 (so far)!

Spent today going through exchange student orientation and getting a grasp of campus. Finished a lot of paperwork, and sorted out my Visa issues. Then I chose to hike for 30 minutes to get back to rez. The view paid off though!

 

Oh. And I got to attend this amazing guest lecture with Michael Hammer (Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs). It was a pretty informal lecture, actually more of a conversation.  Aspiring journalists from HKU’s JMSC program got the opportunity to ask questions about the impacts of social media and Mr. Hammer did his best to answer. One of the best things I took from this event was how Mr. Hammer responded to the question of how social media should be dealt with – the reactions, the replies.

Especially in light of the events in Benghazi this week, I believe Mr. Hammer’s response was extremely appropriate: people have the right to denounce and condemn posts that are incorrect; a way to correct the record. They have every right to express themselves to ensure proper information finds its way to those who read/view such posts. However, this reaction should never be violent.

It was amazing to see such a diplomatic response. I feel as though this event reinforced my drive to one day pursue such a career. I suppose only time will tell!

Of course, I approached Mr. Hammer after the session and introduced myself, and even invited him to the Queen’s Interactive Crisis Simulation. Perhaps we meet again in the future!

 

~Banana