Our Hong Kong AirBnB (@AirBnB, #travel, #HK, #Asia)

Our AirBNB was in Sai Yin Pung on Hong Kong Island, on Po Tuck Street near the top of Hill Road. You could follow Hill Road down to the Queen’s Road which runs much of the way around the Kowloon facing districts and makes Central accessible by walk. Our closest metro stop was HKU (Hong Kong University) at the bottom of Hill Road.


This is the entrance door. You saw the building itself in a previous post. The interior hallway and stairway don’t give an air of luxury, the building is likely several decades old and has had several units remodeled with modern styling, appliances and finishes, like ours.


This is a shot looking toward the front door from the closest corner of the kitchen, through the living room. Bathroom is on the right behind the wall. Those are our bath towels drying on a rack below the A/C.


Here is the kitchen essentially turning around in the same spot as the previous picture and looking in. You can see a tiny clothes washer in the corner on the right under the table. No dryer, no dishwasher. The cabinetry is all new, modern and quite nice.


Another angle of the kitchen to show the depth. Bedroom is on the right out of frame.


A wide angle shot of the kitchen counter top. We used the kitchen sink to brush our teeth because the bathroom was so small and there was no place to store a toothbrush that we could see.


This is the bathroom. See the small sink? Full toilet with one flush setting. Large stand up shower with full sliding glass lanes on the left behind the door, including a detachable showerhead. Good water pressure. To get hot water you flip a power switch on the wall outside the door. This seems to be common in both HK and Singapore– turning on a power rocker switch in the wall to use various appliances.


Shower head detail.


Finally, the bedroom. It had its own A/C unit mounted through the window. The bed was a full size Queen. I think it was some kind of tempurpedic or memory foam style. I’d never slept on one before but I really liked it, firm but still soft enough you can fall asleep easily. Like in Taipei and here in Singapore, there were no sheets, just a duvet. I don’t know if this is standard bedding in this part of the world or just easier for the host/cleaning crew to keep clean but I really liked it once again.

Coffee is good in HK (#travel, #HK, #Asia, #food)

There is no real coffee culture here (only seen Starbucks so far) but the latte I just had with breakfast at Open Door cafe was excellent! As was my big English-style breakfast (the Brits know how to do breakfast).


Hipsterism is a global phenomenon and it ensures good eats everywhere you go.

Here is our building in HK:


And here is something curious about the money. The HKD is pegged to the dollar at about 7.75. There is no central bank, only a “currency board”, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. The small notes appear to be issued by the HKMA, but the larger notes are in fact privately issued bank notes. The bank notes are convertible, on demand, into HKD. Why is this even an option?

I assume, like the “convertibility” of Federal Reserve Notes into US dollars, that this is a terminological vestigial organ. But still, it is curious to see privately issued bank notes in this day and age.


Our Taipei AirBnB (#travel, #lodging, @AirBnB, #Taiwan)

This is less a review and more of a “walkthrough” to show you how we were living the last few days. Unfortunately I didn’t get a good shot of the building from the street nor what the lobby looked like (both are understated). Also, I didn’t do a good job of gathering economic data on the property from the owner, but I am pretty sure I can get her to cough that up if I emailed her later which I might do.

We stayed in a district called Da’an. See the link here and look for the park, you can find it quickly (Da’an District https://goo.gl/maps/8VkRbYqL5g62). Specifically we were off the Da’an Park. Da’an means “great peace”. The parks in Taipei were often constructed by the Japanese, it was they who introduced park culture to Taiwan during their occupation, a culture they in turn received from Western nations they were trying to emulate after the “opening” of Japan. The park was formerly a farming community. It is considered an upscale, hip neighborhood and was one of two we were told of by tour guides, the other being XinYi.

It is a very large area. You can walk on foot about twenty minutes in any compass direction from where we stayed and still be in Da’an, with various degrees of fanciness from pretty understated, well to do middle class vibes to pretty glitzy and glamorous. Apparently this neighborhood has had this reputation since the occupation when it was the place many professors and other educated professionals of the Japanese regime chose to reside.

The park is referred to as Taipei’s Central Park, not because it is as big or has that kind of significance to the city, but because it is quite large relative to city blocks, other parks and it is fairly centrally located and historical.


This is the view out our window on the 8th floor (very lucky in Chinese culture!!)  looking westish.


The view of the park, it takes about 15 minutes to walk the length of the park and their is an MRT station at the opposite end from us.


The intersection of HePing and Xinsheng (the “heavens road” because there are worship sites for 7 different religions on this one block beside the park, including Islam and Mormonism). There is a pedestrian overpass but most people wait and cross at the light.


This is the Queen bed beside the window. Not terribly plush but also not uncomfortable, I slept well and found the duvet worked well with the A/C running despite the humid clime.


This area is right to the left of the bed and is separated from it by a small cubbyhole wall. The table has an electric burner pull out. I enjoyed using the reading light as I worked through some of the books I brought.


This A/C unit is right above the window. Remote controlled, worked well enough, we never kept the temperature below 23C which was comfortable.


Looking toward the front door from the bed area. Mini fridge kept our bottled water cold (tap water is safe to brush teeth and shower with but is not potable otherwise). Bathroom sliding door is up on the right where the light is emanating from. Far right of the picture is a series of closets.


Cubby wall, bed area, from beside the bathroom.


Bathroom shot. The look and finish of the place is likely IKEA, which actually felt quite stylish and upscale despite IKEA having a reputation of kind of imitation luxury. Maybe it was not IKEA, but I saw some IKEA products and had that anchored in my mind. The tub is definitely small from a Western size scale, I’d likely have to curl up my legs to sit in the tub. But the showerhead, which is detachable, had a holder high enough up on the wall that I could shower without stopping. Water pressure was VERY strong and basically was hard to calibrate between fire hose and off.


Bathroom water heater, it is one of those instant hot water heaters so you really didn’t have to wait for the water to heat up and it was always capable of being hotter than you ever needed it to be.


Toilet. The flusher is on top. I think the blue button is full flush and wider white button is half flush. At least that’s how I used it. Use your imagination here why you’d do one or the other. And these tissues are ubiquitous. Maybe they use a special type for the toilet but you’re basically wiping with Kleenex, and at restaurants instead of paper towel or napkins you get tissues there too.


Detail of the sink, and medicine cabinet mirror. There was a hair dryer, which I used to style my hair. It worked just as well as one in the US, and Taiwan uses the same adapter as the US so all our chargers worked in the walls.


This is interesting. This is on the wall of the bathroom. You have a circulation fan for when you’re in the can, and I never used breeze but I imagine it’s like a dehumidifier to not suffocate in the shower in the summer? Forgot to test it. Then you have a heat for staying warm and a dry so your towels don’t mildew. You can set the system on a timer so it will dry while you’re away and then turn off without running all day. We used that a lot because things don’t dry on their own otherwise. A really nice feature.

I don’t know how common these amenities are for most Taiwanese but I’d imagine many have the basics but not all of it. The relatives we stayed with when we first arrived did not appear to have A/C nor comfortable restrooms and bedding, but they were also older (although I understood their neighborhood was middle class). However, even assuming that this studio we rented was atypical, I think it demonstrates that a  comfortable, modern lifestyle is indeed possible in Taipei.

Moving to Taipei (#travel, #relo)

I’ve decided to move to Taipei after finding these two spots that combine my various passions into one amazing conglomeration:




Sadly, though, I will not be able to continue my hobby of spying on public women’s restrooms at the local metro station as the staff at the MRT are on top of things: