Monday, 31 October 2016

FoodPunk Visits Hong Kong

 Welcome to Hong Kong, birthplace to legends Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. If there's one word to describe Hong Kong it would be stunning and Alex and I smashed it in five days which was no easy task, given the amount of activities and places to do and see in and around the area.
In Bangkok and Malaysia we were fortunate to have quality accommodation but Hong Kong is a far more expensive place therefore we did not have the luxury of having a spacious room. To say it was tight is an understatement, our room would not be ideal for the claustrophobic. Even our toilet and shower were combined into one tiny square plot.  But despite all that, it was more than comfortable enough for the time we were staying. Our hostel did have its positives as we were right in the heart of Hong Kong, minutes away from all the shopping malls, pubs, bars, restaurants, parks, the underground station and harbour.
Hong Kong is similar to the likes of New York and London because its a territory which is fast paced, densely populated and filled with skyscrapers and it shows no signs of slowing down, especially during the night, where the City becomes a totally different place. 

On our first night we were taken to a famous restaurant along the harbour where they serve the best Peking Duck that I have ever eaten. You've only got to see the video and pictures below to see why. Mouth watering pancakes at this place makes ours back at home look crap. Not only was the duck bloody delicious, but so too was the thinly sliced pork knuckle served with a simple soy dip and the whole deep fried mandarin fish smothered in a sweet and sour sauce and garnished with a handful of pine nuts. I must admit never in a million years did I think I would encounter sweet and sour sauce during my travels but Hong Kong is very heavily influenced by Western culture.

Having dinner at this fantastic place was a great way to start our time in Hong Kong but what happened in the following few days was epic to say the least. Frodo and Sam having nothing on Alex and I when it comes to adventure.

On the second day we travelled to the Peak, one of Hong Kong's many famous landmarks. Getting there was pretty easy as we took the tram to the top. Unless you like walking up steep hills, this mode of transportation is a God send. Reaching the top takes minutes and the peak allows you to see Hong Kong in all its glory, with incredible views and a breath taking sky line.

Now Alex and I like to wander and so after we took in the views from the top, we decided to take a little walk but what became a little walk turned into a three hour marathon around the peak, trekking along pathways, rivers and bushes and occasionally running into disgusting hench looking spiders. To top it all off, I did not have my inhaler and the pair of us had no water or the correct walking gear. The humidity was unbearable to the point where Alex could wring his shirt and sweat would be leaking, not dripping, literally leaking!. However despite our woes, we came across more spectacular sights of the island.
For those who want to avoid the same mishap as us, don't you worry because there's always Madame Tussauds where you can come face to face with Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee.

The third day was the day where we conquered Hong Kong. Waking up at the crack of dawn, Alex and I were given the grandest tour thanks to a family friend of his. He is a born and bred Hong Kong citizen and he gave us the best experience possible. To do what we did in a day was bloody brilliant and we crammed everything in by taking cars, mini buses, double decker buses, trams, underground, cable cars and even ran. This is what makes travelling worth while.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well in this case what a way to start off by having Dim Sum. Compared to Malaysia this was a different experience as Dim Sum in Hong Kong is like having afternoon tea at the Ritz. Its bonkers in the sense that you have smartly dressed front of house, pushing trolleys around with all different types of plates of cheung fun, siu mai, char siu etc..  It was fantastic stuff and I was told by my family back in Malaysia that Hong Kong delivers the best Dim Sum, but I have to disagree. Don't get me wrong, it was out of this world and the food was phenomenal but to this day I still think Malaysia produces the best.


The Bruce Lee museum is a must for all fans of martial arts and Hong Kong Cinema. To learn how he became this iconic superstar was a real eye opener, from learning the legendary art of Wing Chun from mentor Yip Man, to studying philosophy and psychology at university to then merge all of his ideas, teachings and talents to become this legend we all know and love.
Its not a particularly big museum but it has all of the impressive props, items and clothings, Lee had during his lifetime. It very much felt like it was an intimate experience, reflecting how great and perhaps in a way under rated Lee was. He paved the way for the like of Jackie Chan and countless other to take Hong Kong cinema to the next level.

Miles away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, we were taken to a village called Tai O where mountains and estuaries surround the area. It was a bit of a trek to get to but it was a welcome change from the main hub of the island. A lot of seafood and dried fish delicacies were sold pretty much everywhere we went. The curried fish pops were delicious, so too were the vegetarian Chinese "pizzas", filled with crispy type cracker shavings and spring onions. I also tried this bizarre warm and bland tofu and to even stomach it, I had to douse it with a lot of sweet syrup and sugar.



And the adventure didn't stop there because we then travelled to see the most iconic landmark in Hong Kong, the Big Buddha. Getting the cable car back down was one of the best experiences  and if you're afraid of heights, just go for it and conquer your fears because it is totally worth it.. Take a look below at the videos and photos.

At night, Hong Kong transforms itself into a spectacle. The sky scrapers turn into big, bright, multi-coloured landmarks and the central part of town just goes into overdrive. Towards the end of our journey, we went to a cracking food court above a market where the beer flowed all night and the food just kept on coming with deep fried pork knuckle, prawns and crispy duck being just some of the dishes we devoured.

We capped off the day by taking the tram to the harbour and getting the ferry across to the other side, where we slowly made our way back to the hostel.

I think I speak for myself and Alex when I say I don't think we'll ever experience a fourteen hour day like that again. To do what we did in that time was incredible and memories that will stay with me for a very long time. We came, we saw, we conquered. Until next time Hong Kong.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

FoodPunk Visits Penang, Malaysia


Well what can I say about Penang? The last time I visited my family was way back in 2005 and before that in 97 and 98, so to finally see and spend some time with them was not only exciting but emotional at the same time.
Penang has gone through a massive change over the years especially around where my family are based in George Town. When I travelled to Penang for the first time, I vaguely remember the area being slightly run down and even though the place didn't have a lot of money, there was a tight, positive community spirit.
Fast forward nearly twenty years, George Town has not only gone through a radical change but there's a lot more money within the area. This is  because the government has given the area a massive makeover renovating most of the houses and turning it into boutique hotels, coffee shops and bars. It was great to see George Town thrive due to tourism but it's somewhat lost that community feel. Unfortunately the families that lived in the area for generations are no longer around but luckily for my family, they were able to buy back the house where my Dad and the rest of his siblings grew up, keeping the Teng foundations firmly in place.
Penang itself is a tiny island but there is so much to do, places to visit and a vast number of areas to eat. I was very lucky to have my family take time out for the six day that I was there and even more so for Alex as it was his first time visiting the island.
I could go on for days about the food. Locals live and breathe food all day long. Its an exciting part of the day because family and friends all get together, eat a extortionate amount of food and talk about their day and reflect on things. Everyone is so close and seeing my family all get together made me realise how lucky I am to have one. I feel that back here in the U.K. we take our families for granted. We don't seem to get together as often as we should. I know we all have different lifestyles and the culture is totally different here but it's a shame that back in the U.K when we do get together it's for big occasions only.
But anyways back to the food and what a place it is for it too. With so much choice, I was eating non stop until the day I departed. If I wasn't drinking, I was eating and even when I didn't have an appetite I was still eating all of the dishes I remembered when I was younger. From eating curries for breakfast, to eating the best chicken rice, Dim Sum and freshly caught grilled fish in town, I ate my body weight in food. Penang has a ridiculous amount of  hawker stalls with every street corner filled with them, cooking up different styles of dishes. Not only do the Teng's like to eat out on a regular basis but they're great at cooking too with my aunties cooking up a storm at home and my uncle serving up amazing lobster at the luxury hotel he works at.
FoodPunkers, below are the videos and pictures of the food that I ate during my time in Penang.




As I mentioned earlier Penang has changed dramatically over the years. A number of shopping complex's dominate certain areas, there are new houses being built on a regular basis especially as you head out further from the town and  along the coast and beaches, the views are nothing short of spectacular.

The people of Penang, including my family are very proud of their cultures, traditions and religions. I didn't see one bit of animosity between the Malays and the Chinese. During my time, I went to visit many temples learning about Buddhism from my families side and  I even saw a popular lion dance competition that my younger cousin organised. The competition was based around a simple format but to execute it was extremely difficult. Forget Strictly Come Dancing, the teamwork and trust within the respective teams was unreal. Teenagers dedicating themselves to the art of lion dancing was impressive and I totally respect the effort and the skill that went into it.

My time in  Penang was obviously an unforgettable one. To spend time with them after many years apart meant a lot for me and being a lot older now made me realise how lucky I am to have a family that treated me with so much love, care and hospitality. I am so impressed how far Penang has come and there is no way it will take me eleven years again to come back again. I will definitely be back in 2017.