Saturday, November 26, 2016

Our Hong Kong Apartment + A Workout

I'm getting used to living in Hong Kong day by day.

We are settling into our nice, little Seaview apartment and the cleaning, decorating, endless grasping to get things just right is winding down, finally. I'm pretty sure that I spent the first two weeks walking around with my hands full of things that needed a home and mumbling, this place is so small! 

The apartment was originally unfurnished (more common in HK than Shenzhen), but the owner agreed to furnish it for us. Little by little we have blended our few belongings with her choices and then picked out other items to complement and help us get organized.

The main living space is my favorite because it's filled with all my favorite comfort colors (love my blue pillows). It may be small, but the amazing view of Discovery Bay makes it feel much bigger.

It's been challenging at times to figure out how to make small spaces work for us, but it makes me happy to see that we can. I just have to teach mrC to watch where he walks so he doesn't break any toes! This is by far my favorite duvet cover.

We have an awesome window BED in the second bedroom which saves the floor space to be used as the office. It'll be fun when our first guest arrives and sees the sleeping arrangement with a view from the 20th floor.

The kitchen is actually pretty spacious. We even have a dishwasher! There's tons of storage, just not a lot of counter space. It's been interesting when mrC and I try cooking together.

It's still a work in progress, but I'm happy with how it looks.

Today's workout:

I think I was the third person to arrive at the fitness center after it opened this morning. I went early because it looked like it was going to be a rainy day and I wanted to walk there and back without getting rained on. Success!

Sprints: 15 sets, 20 seconds work, 20 seconds recover
Planks: 2 sets, 30 seconds each forearm and both sides.
Bridges: 2 sets singles leg lifts both sides

Three things that made this workout better:

1) This interval app. I love the versatility that it offers. I created an interval program for my sprints and another for my plank workout. All I have to do is push start and then the app talks me through the workout.

2) These wireless earbuds. They are so easy to link to my phone and then I can hear my music and the interval app commands to work or rest and I'm not bothering anyone else in the gym.

3) This view. Seriously, that is the view from the elliptical when I look to the right (the new ellipticals have a TV attached). I'll show you the view to the left another day ;)

Have you ever rented a furnished apartment/house?
Would you sleep on a window bed?
What's your workout today?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Newness and Hiking: Tai O to Tung Chung

It's been a week filled with a lot of new. New people, new places, new haircut. mrC is away on his first big trip with his new company, so I filled up my calendar in an attempt to stay busy and make new friends in Hong Kong.

The first thing I did was join the American Women's Association (AWA) of Hong Kong. It's similar to SWIC that I joined in Shenzhen. The group brings international women together to work to support Hong Kong and offer activities that encourage the members to connect with one another and the community.

Monday - I met up with some of the AWA hiking group to hike Dragon's Back to Big Wave Bay. I first did this hike with the SWIC hiking group and it was just as fun the second time around. I even met a lady who lives in Discovery Bay.

Tuesday - a friend from Shenzhen came over to Hong Kong and we met up in Central for some shopping and some lunch. She took me on the Mid-levels Escalators* for my first time and showed me where the A&M US grocery store is located. For lunch we popped into a little Mexican joint right off the escalators for some yummy quesadillas.

*The Central – Mid-Levels Escalator system, is the world's longest outdoor covered escalator system, stretching for over 800-metres (half a mile) and connecting Central district with the Mid-levels districts like SOHO. Intended to help commuters navigate the steep sloping roads, it has become a tourist attraction because the moving walkway system gives easy access to hundreds of shops, bars, and restaurants.

Wednesday - It was rainy, rainy here and a perfect day for a new hair cut.

Thursday - I met my new DB friend and we went to Central for the AWA weekly CHAT coffee at Café 8 located on the rooftop of Pier 8. Since it was Thanksgiving, it was a small group but I met some really nice ladies.

Friday - one of my SWIC hiking friends put me in contact with a member of the Discovery Bay hiking group. I couldn't join them for their regular hike on Tuesday, but she offered to hike with me today.

Tai O to Tung Chung - this hike was long (8.5 miles), but mostly easy. We started by taking the DB bus to Tung Chung which is over by the airport. Then we took a ferry to the village of Tai O. Tai O is a small fishing village known mostly for its fish market and stilt houses. We strolled though the village before heading to the trail head.

The Tung O Ancient Trail is a coastal trail that was once an important passage for villagers commuting back and forth. Along the trail we passed Yeung Hau Temple, mangrove forests, smaller villages such as San Shek Wan, and the airport.

Our hike brought us back to Tung Chung where we caught a bus back to DB. Lucky for me, that bus stops right outside our apartment building because my legs and feet were tired. So tired that I spent the rest of the afternoon in my compression socks.

How do you pamper your tired legs?
Did you workout or shop or both today?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

SurfSet Fitness Hong Kong: Balance

If you have read this blog before or know me IRL, then you probably know that one of my favorite fitness activities is SurfSet. I've been going to classes off and on for over three years. I say off and on because I used to go every Saturday before we moved to China and now I haven't been since last fall.

That all changed when I found SurfSet Fitness Hong Kong while scrolling through my Groupon app (they have a great deal if anyone in Hong Kong is reading this). Today I'm super excited to talk about my first class at SurfSet Fitness Hong Kong!

In case you haven't heard of it, SurfSet is a 45 minute workout based on the movements of surfing. The comprehensive routine centered around the RSX board is designed to build core strength, burn fat, and create lean muscles. Other gear such as jump ropes and kettle bells can be incorporated into the routine as well. What you don't need are shoes. This workout is done completely barefoot.

So, about today. Getting to the class is no easy task. For me, coming from Discovery Bay, I have to take the 25 minute ferry to Central and then walk about 20 minutes to the metro for a 20-ish minute ride. A final 5 minute walk and I'm there. Phew! Clearly I REALLY wanted to go to this class. (and a BIG thank you to mrC for tagging along and helping me find my way!)

SurfSet Fitness Hong Kong offers all four signature programs.

Because you have to reserve a board in advance to join a class, I was closed out of my first choice (Blend) and instead took the Balance class.

Balance is yoga inspired and reminded me a lot of pilates. Pilates made a lot harder by the instability of the board. We started with a quick muscle warm-up on the board followed by some stretches. Next our instructor guided us through a few core exercises. What I loved is that we worked the abs and the glutes which are so often forgotten. We ended with yoga hold poses that made my muscles feel like they were screaming.

Even though I was looking for a fast-paced cardio workout, this low impact class was surprisingly challenging. Besides the core exercises, the movements from high to low and trying to hold a pose on the board called on every single stabilizer muscle that you don't think twice about on an average day. I got sweaty and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be sore.

I still miss the fast-paced, gasping-for-air feeling that you get from a Burn or Blend class, so I will definitely be trying to get into one of those classes soon.

Have you tried SurfSet? Which class is your favorite?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hiking Discovery Bay: Lookout Point

One thing we've heard about Discovery Bay is that there are a lot of hiking trails. They even publish free guides.

Since we enjoyed our hikes up Nanshan Mountain in Shenzhen so much, we were anxious to find a comparable hiking trail here. Using the information in the guides and our keen observation skills, we easily scoped out a trail entrance off Discovery Bay Road which is the main road in town (it helped that there was a big green sign). The trailhead is across the street from the playground on the corner of Seabee Lane.

I have to admit that we were a little spoiled in Shenzhen with paved steps leading to the top of Nanshan. The trail to Lookout Point is a steep climb over various types of terrain. 700 meters (roughly 4/10 of a mile) going up, up, up feels a lot farther than on flat land.

The views along the top are amazing though. You can see all of Discovery Bay, HK Disneyland, Peng Chau Island, and even all the way to Central on a clear day. And just like all the other hard things we've done (run a half marathon under-trained and injured, climb a volcano in the dark), the reward makes it all worth it and you forget the struggle.

The top (the very top) is a great place to take a little water break and even rest your legs on a nicely placed granite bench while enjoying the view of Discovery Bay and beyond.

From the (very) top, we hiked down a little ways to Lookout Point where we found a roomy pavilion and viewing compass.

The hike back down is mostly stairs that lead right into Parkvale Village. Then you just have to follow the road or take the pedestrian stairs the rest of the way down to Discovery Bay Road. There is also the option to hop on a bus if you time it right.

This hike is short and sweet. It's challenging going up, but relatively easy coming down and takes just over an hour to complete.

Since we were so close to the plaza, we grabbed a coffee before heading home for some breakfast.

Other hiking posts I've written:

Exploring Chiwan, Shenzhen

Shenzhen International Garden & Flower Expo Park

Dragon's Back and Big Wave Bay

Thursday, November 17, 2016

We Moved to Hong Kong (and I squeezed in some fitness too)!!

After a blissful extended stay in the US while mrC transitioned to a new job and a new airplane, we hit the ground running upon our return to China and we haven't really stopped! With the clock ticking on our Chinese resident visas, we had to find a new place to live in Hong Kong and MOVE!

We spent our final days in Shenzhen squeezing in as much time as we could with our favorite people and places.

I met up with the SWIC hiking group for one more Monday hike up Nanshan. This is probably the thing that I will miss the most. Every week, no matter how I was feeling, I could count on hanging out with this group and having a blast. The last time was no exception!

Then mrC and I climbed the mountain one last time together. Even though he never shied away from joining the SWIC ladies, we always enjoyed doing the climb on our own too. Moving is never easy, and exercise is a great way to let go of frustrations.

It took us just one day to find a new apartment in the Discovery Bay neighborhood of Hong Kong (we visited here back in June). The apartment that we chose was being renovated on the inside and the whole building had just undergone a makeover on the outside. It was unfurnished, but the owner offered to buy furniture if we paid a little more rent. This will make things a lot easier when it's time for us to return to the US.

We had to hire a company to help us move our belongings across the border and through customs.

We have spent the last two weeks moving in and getting settled in Hong Kong. There has been a lot of waiting for furniture deliveries (IKEA is the #1 place to shop here), workman arriving to put together furniture, and shopping for odds and ends --> we were thrilled to find out that there was a market at the plaza featuring locally made items.

We've also spent A LOT of time in Central setting up bank account, getting a new China tourist visa, seeing our new chiropractor, and becoming official Hong Kong residents.

We have also made time to walk around and get to know our new neighborhood which is located on the east side of Lantau Island. Discovery Bay stretches about 1.5ish miles from the DB North Plaza to D'Deck Plaza and is only accessible via a tunnel on the north end coming from Tung Chung/airport or a ferry from Central. There are about 14 developments (called villages) housing 10,000+ residents. We live in Parkridge Village almost dead center between the two plazas (marked in red below).

Some views from our walks around town:

Siena Park (aka Central Park)

D'Deck view of Tai Pak Beach

Super Moon gazing from Tai Pak Beach

Friendly off duty carriage ride horses

There's too much to share in one post, but I will share a preview of what I hope to talk about next time!

What's new and exciting in your world?
Ever been to Hong Kong?