sojourneys


Enigmatic Hong Kong – Thrills, spills, sights and sounds
November 11, 2008, 11:50 am
Filed under: holiday, photos | Tags: , , ,

I’ll be going to Hong Kong in early December for a business trip, and in anticipation, I’ve dug up some previously unpublished photos from my first trip in December 2007.

Picturesque Victoria Peak

Panoramic Ocean Park

And the crown jewels of Ocean Park (courtesy of the Hong Kong Jockey Club)…

Of skyline…

… and streetscape

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The Langham Place Mongkok Revisited
October 28, 2008, 2:25 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels, photos, reviews | Tags: , , , ,

Nearly nine months after my first stay, I found myself back at the Langham Place Mongkok (check out its blog).  While the rooms typify that of most Hong Kong hotels (read: small), through the expansive use of mirrors, windows (they wrap the entire one wall of your room), and glass (the bathroom and the bedroom are separated by a pane of clear glass), the rooms appear larger-than-life.

Amenities-wise, the rooms are as well-appointed as one might find in a five-star hotel, but the powerhouse of the room is a smart phone featuring an interactive menu which allows guests to do many things.  TV is a remote-controlled LCD.

Other facilities I especially appreciate are the well-equipped fitness center, which gives users added inspiration with its commanding view of the cityspace, and the adjoining Langham Place mall–a gargantuan shrine to capitalism which offers everything from gastronomic delights to fashion-forward streetwear to the latest blockbusters on the silver screen.



Cirque du Soleil’s Zaia – A kaleidoscope of Colors and Dazzelment
October 12, 2008, 3:21 pm
Filed under: holiday, photos, reviews, vacation | Tags: , , , , ,

I was in Hong Kong recently–and what trip to HK would be complete without a sojourn to neon-light city Macau these days–and by pure serendipity caught one of the earliest shows of Cirque du Soleil‘s newest resident production, Zaia.

Staged in a purpose-built, state-of-the-art theater, which according to market materials is “one of the most impressive theater ever created by Cirque du Soleil,” Zaia depicts “the dream of a young girl who journeys into space on a strange, yet familiar voyage of self-discovery.”

This was my first exposure to Cirque du Soleil, although I had previous read rave reviews of its touring shows when they came to Singapore (most recenly Quidam in 2005).  Credited with, among other accolades, reinventing the circus, the Quebec-based company has come a long way since its early days which were fraught with financial difficulties.

Zaia stems from a Greek name denoting life, and indeed the show is as much a magical, reflective, metaphorical perspective on the wonders of life and the beauty of humanity as it is a showcase of the best of human calisthenics, high acrobatics, exploding pyrothenics, and a rich, dazzling tapestry of song and dance.

Zaia is now showing at the equally wondrous The Venetian Macau, Cotai Strip.  This is my first introduction to Cirque du Solei, but it won’t be the last!



The Hong Kong Skyline

Of all the cities I’ve been to, Hong Kong offers one of the most evocative skylines. Towering beams of steel and glass heralding modernity and cosmopolitan buzz juxtapose with graying concrete housing, packed to claustrophobic density that bespeak its colonial days. Hong Kong is a curious mix of the frenetic dynamism of an economic powerhouse infused with a sense of genteel traditionalism.

The Hong Kong skyline by night is equally–if not more–transfixing.



Novotel Nusa Dua Bali, Indonesia
July 14, 2008, 3:15 pm
Filed under: holiday, hotels, photos, reviews, vacation | Tags: , , ,

The Novotel Nusa Dua Bali is a mid-sized hotel sequestered within the idyllic Nusa Dua planned resort community in Bali’s southern peninsular. Bali is blessed with fertile soil, abundant water, and a tropical climate. All these combine to create a lush, verdant environment for flora and fauna to flourish.

The centerpiece attraction is a two-tiered pool, situated amidst the garden courtyard.

Circumscribing the central courtyard are the rooms, which range from deluxe rooms to apartments. They are comfortable, and adequately furnished, although housekeeping could be a little more comprehensive and conscientious.

Other facilities include the spa–de rigueur in any self-respective island resort these days. Co-located within the spa building is the fitness room, which while not outstanding by any means, will suffice for a quick workout to trump the afternoon lethargy.

The Nusa Dua beach, a five-minute ride via complimentary hotel golf cart, boasts fine sand and azure blue sea, although the waves can be formidable. But standing at the union between sea and sand, dwarfed by the roaring waves and enveloped by the indigo sky, one can achieve a sense of perspective, serenity, and equanimity.



Up the Singapore Flyer
May 28, 2008, 1:27 pm
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I attended an appreciation dinner hosted by Singapore’s Civil Service College (I collaborate with them on a new media communications workshop–check out my other blog) recently. The gesture was wonderful, and the evening perfect. I even managed to catch up with fellow kakisWalter, Ivan, etc.

The experience up the Singapore Flyer–touted as the world’s largest observation wheel (I’m sure we’re not allowed to call it a ferris wheel) at 165m from the ground–was a little underwhelming.

Is it because it rotates ever so slowly? Of that Singapore’s nightscape pales in comparison with other metropolis such as Hong Kong? At S$29.50 for a 1/2-hour ride (that’s almost S$1 per min), I know it’s something I would balk at paying, so thank you, CSC, and thanks, Walter and Ivan, for making the event a fun experience.



Streets of Philadelphia

Compared to the numerous large American cities I’ve been to, I’d have to say that Philadelphia (pictures of its City Hall below) appears to be grittier than most.   Opulence is juxtaposed with poverty as the disenfranchised wander the streets a mere block away from Ritz Carlton.  

Still, it is one of the most architecturally fascinating cities, with designs dating back to the colonial times.  A friend reflected that a city’s architecture hints at the era where its money was made.  I think that is an astute observation. 

 

Philadelphia is widely regarded as the birthplace of the American Revolution and American Independence.  Indeed, the Liberty Bell is enshrined in the city, directly across Independence Hall and near the National Constitution Center in the Historic District.