she knew why the caged birds sing

20140530 - maya angelou
african queen / youth / my favorite portrait / with barack obama/

with maya angelou’s passing away on may twenty-eighth, I have been revisiting my favorites of her enormous scope of work. it happens quite often with me that I only become interested in an artist’s work after they’ve passed away. this happened with michael jackson, nelson mandela, chinua achebe, seamus heaney, david frost; just to name a few that are I personally relevant to me.

and now with maya’s death, again, I find myself researching, reading and regretting that I had not paid more attention while she was still alive. I am familiar with many of her poems, but I have not read any of her autobiographies, which is naturally the first thing I will attempt to do in the coming months. embarrassingly enough, some of my favorites quotes over the years, I had never realized they were hers until now.

I will improve and continue to learn. she has been an influence, an inspiration and she will continue to be one until the end of my days. if my life could be half as accomplished as hers, I would be proud of myself.

rest in peace, maya angelou. thank you for your words.

hong kong hoods: tsim sha tsui

I spend a lot of time in tsim sha tsui. a lot. and you, whether it’s your first or umpteenth time in hong kong, you will most likely spend some time in tsim sha tsui, too. it is the center of hong kong. there’s no way around it. tsim sha tsui, also known as TST, has a little bit of everything. a little bit of the sea, the amazing view of victoria harbour, there are parks, huge main roads that are constantly crowded, and small alleys with local bars and pubs. there are luxury stores and second-hand shops, expensive and cheap, the world’s best and the average and everything in between. amazingly any cuisine of the world can be found between austin, peking, kimberley and nathan road. it just depends on you what you like.

with so many things on offer, it is difficult to separate what you must-see and what you must-skip. what you mostly need to keep in mind is that nothing remains the same for too long in hong kong. restaurants do not stay too long. in the last eight years that I have been living in this unique city, tsim sha tsui has experienced the changes like no other district in the city. two years from now, it will be entirely different reviews under the same addresses. and the only reason for that is the ever-rising rent. but that’s an article on its own.

TST-Map

red-dotted line. the borders of tsim sha tsui.
interactive map for detailed suggestions.

to begin your tour around tsim sha tsui, you should start in kowloon park. it’s a relatively spacious park, that will give you the local hong kong feel. it’s a rather passers-by park, but I would recommend grabbing an ice cream from a nearby stand and chilling on a bench. it’s a great people-watching spot. exit the park through its southern gate, entering haiphong road.

there are four huge shopping malls located within a 500 meter radius (four! 500 meters!). and then a whole bunch of smaller ones. you will find mainstream stores, chains as well as local, independently owned shops and stores. if shopping is the reason you woke up this morning, hit the streets between hankow, canton (hello, luis vuitton and prada!), granville and kimberley road. huge shopping malls, small clothing boutiques, larger companies such as GAP, Esprit or H&M, antique stores, second-hand shops, luxurious watches and haute couture, cosmetics and gift shops; you will find it all. there are no markets in tsim sha tsui sadly. for those, you should venture out in the direction of mong kok and prince edward. shops you must visit: muji store, chocoolate and b + ab.

shopping is quite exhausting, especially in hong kong with all the people and traffic constantly interrupting you on your way. a cup of coffee and a quick snack might be a good idea. initial cafe has been a favorite for many years and surprisingly is still there at the same location. the british bricklane is popular with the expats, both on kowloon side and hong kong island. I like the one in TST the most, as it is perfectly tucked away in a small alley. there is an amazing small coffee shop on the corner with mody road and blenheim avenue, if you can find it, their coffee will be your reward.

201405 - TST01

eating in tsim sha tsui is both difficult and easy. there are usually a couple of obstacles; not feeling inspired and not knowing where to go. without particular cravings, it is difficult to pick a place. once you do pick a place, it is quite possible you will not able to get a seat without reservation, especially during lunch time and dinner time. simple rule? don’t eat lunch at lunch time. however, you will find immediately that hong kong is religious about lunch time. the best streets to go for some food; knutsford terrace, mody lane and prat + hart avenue.

in hong kong, there are always too many choices of everything. ashley road is a sensible compromise if you’re not sure what you’re hungry for. you will find an italian restaurant, a fast food pizza joint, a japanese sushi place, a korean barbecue, vietnamese pho restaurant, local seafood spot and countless others. walk along these streets, and you will be sure to find a spot that tickles your fancy. check out the map for detailed suggestions.

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shopping and eating in tsim sha tsui are not the most interesting or the best things to do in this colorful and bustling neighborhood. what you absolutely cannot miss out on are two things: symphony of lights and star ferry. after your coffee or meal, head in the direction of shangri-la hotel and from there cross the road to the promenade by the sea’s edge. (pro tip: have a drink or two at beer’n’deck before continuing). the lights show begins at 8 o’clock in the evening, every night, if the weather permits it. if nothing else, it will give you a sense of hong kong’s richness and showcase the most prominent buildings for a better orientation.

and star ferry? star ferry is beautiful. it’s traditional and modern, poetic and practical. it’s cheap and convenient. it’s everything a public transport should be. hop on a ferry once you’re done with tsim sha tsui and head to hong kong island for further exploring.

life, lately

20140523 - life lately

the view from my parents’ living room / in mong kok / in the morning, on the way to work / rain from the office’s window