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The eight places to visit in Hong Kong

There’s a lot that’s been said and written about Hong Kong, but it remains undeniably one of the favorite destinations on this side of the world. Sure the staples include Disneyland and Ocean Park, but a recent trip found the Zee Lifestyle editors exploring what’s in the city itself. Here are some stops we feel are worth the visit.

Three on Canton at the Gateway Hotel

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The first question we had for Three on Canton was whether they had Marco Polo Plaza’s famed malicious cookies. The answer was an unfortunate no, although this outlet also has their own signature dessert—a light and fluffy chocolate cake that oozes melted chocolate when you slice it in half. It’s best paired with a scoop of Mövenpick ice cream, and it’s quite the dining experience, overlooking Hong Kong’s bustling Canton Road. Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

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Gough Street

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Located off the Soho area of Central, Gough Street used to be home to many of the city’s printing presses. Now it is home to a diverse offering of establishments—fashionable furniture and lifestyle stores Homeless and mr Blacksmith are found along the stretch, as is an outlet of popular French dessert chain Agnès b., and bag boutique Timothy Oulton. Representing Hong Kong’s juxtaposition of the new and international with the low-key and traditional, Gough Street is also home to the Kau Kee noodle house, which has been on the location for 90 years and is one of the best places to get beef brisket noodles in clear soup in the city. Central, Hong Kong Island

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Man Mo Temple

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Tucked between the towering buildings of the nearby financial district, the Man Mo Temple’s unassuming façade on Hollywood Road leads into a small but beautiful shrine in shades of gold and red. The temple is a tribute to Man, the god of literature, and the god of war Mo—both gods were patrons of students who were studying for the civil examinations of Imperial China, the results of which found the administrative officials for the state. The temple is part of a complex that includes the Lit Shing Kung, where you could worship all the heavenly gods, and the Kung Sor, an assembly hall for community discussions. 124-126 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island

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Kowloon Park

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Stretched across 13.3 hectares, the Kowloon Park is the largest in Tsim Sha Tsui and is a stretch of greenery flanked on its side with Hong Kong’s towering modern skyscrapers. The park offers a number of different areas to while away the hours of the day—the Bird Lake and Aviary feature an impressive avian collection, the Chinese Garden is a peaceful setting, its water features teeming with turtles, and the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre and Health Education Exhibition and Resource Centre is in the park’s premises. A favorite is the Maze Garden—the short shrubs may not get you lost, but it sure makes for pretty photos. 22 Austin Road, Jordan

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Hong Kong Science Museum

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Granted, it’s an institution dedicated mostly for kids—but the interactive displays are equally enjoyable for the young at heart. The exhibits explain many scientific processes in the simplest of terms and have activities that allow visitors to physically experience said processes themselves. The World of Mirrors is incredibly enjoyable for its optical illusions, while the Telecommunications Gallery allows you to connect calls using a telephone switchboard. It’s easy to lose hours in here, especially once you sit down and try to tackle the challenges in the Mathematics Gallery. 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon

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Victoria Peak

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It may be quite the tourist trap, but Victoria Peak is definitely one of the must-visit destinations when in Hong Kong. The splendid panoramic views of the city’s iconic skyline never gets old no matter how many times you go there, and the experience of riding the Peak Tram is always a thrill. While the Sky Terrace 428 is being advertised as having the best and unhindered views, it comes with an extra fee. We were thrilled when we discovered the Green Terrace, an observation deck on the top floor of The Peak Galleria, which allowed us to marvel at the sights at no cost at all. 118 Peak Road, Central, Hong Kong Island

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Ebeneezer’s Kebabs & Pizzeria

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Sure, you’re going to stuff yourself silly with all the crazy delicious Hong Kong fare, but if you’re staying there for more than a few days, you’re bound to want a break from it all. Ebeneezer’s Kebabs & Pizzeria proved to be quite the discovery while we were looking for somewhere to drink in the bustling Lan Kwai Fong district. The restaurant claims to be the best place to have a kebab in Hong Kong, and we can see why! The Donar bursts with the flavors of roasted lamb and the spicy dressing of our choice, and it’s perfect with an ice-cold bottle of beer. 5 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong Island

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Nan Lian Gardens

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Take a break from the dizzying buildings in Hong Kong, and enjoy some lush greens at the Nan Lian Gardens. Okay, so maybe not quite a break as you can still see buildings in the background, but a 30-minute sojourn while being surrounded by the Buddhist Pines in this Chinese classical garden is quite a refreshing escape. The garden is said to follow the rules of Chinese traditional landscaping techniques, interspersed by old-fashioned buildings that provide a stark contrast to the city. In short, everything here is picture-perfect. 60 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, Kowloon

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by Shari Quimbo and Patty Taboada
Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, April 2016. For back issues, subscribe via Magzter.

Travel

This is How the M.I.C.E. Alliance Initiative will Lift Boracay to New Heights

Leveling up Boracay in more ways than one

by Ryan Daniel R. Dablo

Saying the name “Boracay” instantly casts a spell, taking the listener to a daydream of immaculate, pale beaches, swaying palm trees, the music of breaking waves, and the vacation of a lifetime. The tropical island Eden is storied and renowned – a difficult enchantment to lift from any wayward tourist’s mind. But what if we were to tell you that Boracay is so much more? Can you build upon perfection? Yes, and this, ladies and gentlemen, is how. 

One is never too far away from the beach! BNCC is only a stone’s throw away from the Boracay Newcoast Beach front.

Boracay Newcoast Convention Center (BNCC), located at the heart of Boracay Newcoast will soon host the biggest conventions, exhibitions and other large-scale events in the island starting second quarter of 2022.

After the difficulties of the past few years, the stage is finally set for a massive Boracay reboot. The creative gears turn once more, and this time they will catapult our favorite beach capital to new heights. The cornerstone of this renaissance is the M.I.C.E. Alliance initiative, short for meetings, incentives, conferences and conventions, and events and exhibitions. The establishment of the Boracay M.I.C.E. Alliance will allow focused efforts in creating sustainable and eco-sensitive tourism development projects while synergizing with stakeholders to create long-term solutions and opportunities for all partners. The alliance is set to drive awareness, readiness, and expansion of product offerings that will be crucial in making the island competitive with other M.I.C.E. destinations. Working closely with the Department of Tourism Region VI and the Tourism Promotions Board, the alliance is primed to provide support to the areas that are involved in this major undertaking.

Cleofe Albiso, Boracay M.I.C.E Alliance Chairperson

BNCC enjoys state-of-the-art facilities and can accommodate about a thousand guests depending on set-up and conduct multiple events at a time.

No one is more emphatic than M.I.C.E. Alliance chairperson Cleofe Albiso in describing how the different sectors of Boracay are pivoting from tourism to tourism plus. In brief, Boracay is challenging its own boundaries to become not just the pre-eminent tourist destination but also a corporate and business mecca. Turns out, if a venue is grand enough to host a wedding, wouldn’t it be just as grand to host a white-collar conference? Sky’s the limit for possibilities like this. At this moment, the island is abuzz with networking and making connections, training and empowering the hospitality services, polishing the infrastructure, revving up the transportation facilities, and all-around gearing up to go toe-to-toe with other M.I.C.E. hubs and be worthy of the tagline, “the best place for M.I.C.E. in a tropical paradise.” All hands are on deck and – after the extended global hiatus thanks to the pandemic – everyone is ready, nay, eager to meet and greet the guests. And, of course, we would be remiss not to point out that Boracay is more than halfway through completing such a tall order. The island is as well-oiled a machine as it could be, boasting 294 DOT-accredited hotels and resort, a staggering 4,500 seating capacity for meetings and conventions, and 12,400 room keys available in the island. Talk about volume! Plus, Boracay is already postcard-perfect, the very stuff that vacation dreams are made of. Why not turn the dial up to eleven and let it become a compass point for more than a summer getaway? This is the logical next step in realizing its vision of being not just a place to be, but the place to be.

Savoy Hotel Boracay like Belmont Hotel, and the soon to open Chancellor Hotel is also walking distance away from BNCC making it an ideal spot for both business and leisure trips.

So, yes, by all means think of the idyllic strolls on the beach, the luxurious caress of the ocean as you free-dive, the sheer delight of sand and surf while island-hopping, the adrenaline rush of aquasports, parasailing, cycling, or driving an ATV up Boracay’s foothills, the psychedelic glow of fire-dancing and party lights at night, the breathtaking sunsets, the larger-than-life adventures, or the hundred other ways it can lavish or reinvigorate your soul. Think of all of that, and then some. Because Boracay has its eyes on something greater: it is poised to become the premier starting point and last stop for tourism, entertainment, corporate gatherings, exhibits, and any other event the imagination can dream of. 

Paradise Garden’s Mabuhay Convention Center can fit 850 guests at a time.

For corporate set-ups, a 60 person function room is also available at the Isla Function Room of Paradise Garden.

Think of your company meeting. Now, think of your company meeting and the fun that’ll ensue right after. Picture that in the most scenic of vacation spots. Tempted already? Who wouldn’t be? You’re already in paradise. With business here and leisure literally just a stone’s throw away – heaven on earth, wouldn’t you say? 

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Travel

For Our Next Travel Destination, We Dream About Koh Samui in Thailand

Impressive views of the Gulf of Thailand welcome you at the Arrival Sala

Silent Sanctuaries

Mayenne Carmona discovers the Four Seasons Resort in Koh Samui is a quiet oasis to recharge and rejuvenate…

What does one expect from a Four Seasons Resort? Everything! Firstly, it will definitely be ranked no less than a five-star hotel or resort. Most importantly, it would not fall short of all your expectations: excellent cuisine, topnotch comfort at your fingertips in a well-appointed villa, courteous staff who offer impeccable service, and every other detail you could possibly need—down to the last cotton bud. After all, a Four Seasons Resort is always designed by a top-rated architectural team and interior designers.

The moment I stepped into the Four Seasons Resort at Koh Samui, I felt all my cares washed away by the soft waves of the bluest sea. The fresh air cleared my sinuses in no time, and the gentle breeze was a much needed caress to a tired mind and body. It was truly paradise regained for me and my friends. We were a motley group of career-oriented people who needed a much-awaited break from work, and this was the perfect choice for us.

Each Villa has a butler to cater to the guests’ every whim. The afternoon we arrived, we requested a sunset dinner by the beach, and much like a genie, our butler whipped up a romantically set candlelit dinner for six. A five-course delicious Thai dinner was prepared by their well-trained chef.

Our days were spent languishing by the beach, having daily massages, attending yoga classes, doing water sports and enjoying every bite of Thai cuisine. Golf carts transported us wherever we wanted to go within the resort. This vacation brought all my senses to another realm, and restored a weary soul to perfection. 

Four Seasons Koh Samui, I look forward to seeing you again!

Koh Samui is the third largest island of Thailand in the scenic Gulf of Siam. It is a 45 minute flight from Bangkok. Sandy beaches, coral reefs, coconut trees and abundant tourist resources make it a popular holiday destination.

For more information on Four Seasons Resort, visit their website at https://www.fourseasons.com/kohsamui/

(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s March 2016 Travel Issue, “Silent Sanctuaries” written by our columnist Mayenne Carmona for La Vie En Rose on pages 32-33.)

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Travel

Get Lost in this Not-so-distant Island Safari Paradise

LOST IN PARADISE

Tao Philippines Crusoe-style deserted island camp paradise is perfect for those who understand the luxury of simplicity and disconnection.

by Melo E. Esguerra photography by Scott Sporleder

Just when you think Palawan is fast becoming a second Boracay, where congestion of concrete buildings and human bodies have begun to define the island experience more than the pristine beaches of white powdery sand, the Lostboys of Tao Philippines came up with a new island project that guarantees an escape to paradise. They call the island Camp Ngey Ngey.

The Lostboys have taken over the abandoned resort of Manguengey in Busuanga, a remote island in Palawan. They have kept the ruins from the typhoon and built their signature bamboo Tuka huts around the main beach of the island, which serves as the camp area. Just a short walk away you’ll find jungle trails that lead to three other wild beaches, preserved reefs and windswept cliffs encompassed by crystal blue waters. And on certain days, when the winds are strong, one side of the island becomes a good site for surfing.

 


Eddie Brock, one of the founders of Tao Philippines, explains how this concept of an island safari came about. “When we took over Manguengey Resort, we were stuck with the idea of how to run it. We do not know how to cater to resort guests, the individual choices and needs, and menus,” he admits. “Tao’s expertise is to show travelers something new, something more raw and adventurous. We decided that we will not worry about things we don’t understand, and stick to what we do best. One of the best aspects of a Tao trip is creating an atmosphere of connecting with other travelers, disconnected from digital clot—without the worry of planning, wallets and keeping a status. Five days out in the remoteness with the islanders in control leads to a positive attitude: guards down, inhibition is off and open to meet new friends.”

The camp is accessible through the three day/two night boat safari from Coron, with beach and reef stops en route the camp and back. Guests will be joining other travelers, staying in individual Tuka huts dotted along the beach. There are lounges, a dining and kitchen area, and open hang-out places. Currently, the big mansion from the old resort is being restored into a villa that can accommodate a family or group of friends.

The island can be reserved for big events like weddings, parties and other meaningful gatherings.

In the island, there is no room service, no menus, no WiFi. You will arrive as strangers, you will eat together, swim together, laugh together, drink together, and get to know each other offline. Become part of the magic of Tao, and see what happens!

For more information on how the trip to Camp Ngey Ngey works, log on to www.taophilippines.com

 

(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s June 2017 Men’s Issue, “Lost in Paradise” on pages 110-113.)

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