Wedding Ring Shopping

Wedding ring shopping is fun but exhausting.  We went to many big jewelry chains in Hong Kong like Chow Tai Fook, Luk Fook, Chow Sang Sang as well independent stores that make custom made jewelry. I had no idea in terms of what I wanted since I don’t really wear rings and don’t know my size so it was nice going into stores and trying out different kinds of rings. Once I found out what kind of style I was looking for, I looked at some online stores like BrilliantEarth.com, BlueNile.com and JamesAllen.com to compare the prices and found that online stores have a lot more options on the different styles of bands and they tend to be a bit cheaper. I found a ring that I loved on James Allen’s site so I wanted to see if they had similar styles in the local stores but they didn’t; many independent stores said that they could make it but it would cost more than what it is on James Allen’s site. Also, many stores didn’t have rose gold since it’s not so popular here. So, it made sense for me to buy it online!

After a lot of research, I’ve found that James Allen was the best option for me. One reason was that their diamonds are conflict-free diamonds. Many of the diamonds in the big chain companies in HK come from De Beers and they are proud because it’s a well-known company. I guess they never heard of the monoploid practices of De Beers and its history of blood diamonds. Another reason why I chose James Allen is that you can really zoom in to see all the inclusions of the diamonds and the diamonds are all GIA certified. After researching the ideal proportions of diamonds as well as the 4 C’s – color, clarity, cut and carat – I was able to use the filter feature and find the perfect diamond. I also found out that since I bought a rose gold band, the color of the band will reflect a bit in the diamond. That means that I was able to save some money by not purchasing a colorless diamond. Other advantages of this site is that they offer free international shipping, have a 30 day refund policy, and have 24-hour online customer service.

So a month after I ordered it, it finally arrived yesterday! I think the ring looks a lot better in person than the picture they have on their website. The website has this 360 view which makes the ring look a bit stretched out. Overall, I had a good experience with James Allen and would recommend it to others! Well, here it is!

Well, here it is!

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It came in this nice box.

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There is a bottom compartment that holds the appraisal, receipt, GIA certificate and a cleaning cloth.

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My ring!

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I guess when I really zoom in, the diamond looks dark but it doesn’t look like that in person!

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I’m very happy with this ring. Thanks Seth!

 

Here are some things that I have learned from ring shopping in Hong Kong:

  • the prices on the rings are not the actual prices (they will give you a “good” price)
  • the salesperson will expect you to buy it if you like it
  • don’t shop in busy tourist areas (aka TST) but instead, go to stores in the New Territories
  • many places do not resize silver rings
  • one place that do resize silver rings is Power Jewellery Company (19A Hankow Road, G/F., Han Yee Mansion, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong) and they did it for a reasonable price

 

 

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Engagement

As most of you all know, Seth proposed in Prague on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2015 on the St. Charles bridge!

Before going on the trip, I had a feeling that he was going to propose since we’ve talked about marriage for a while. When planning our trip to Dubai, Prague, Vienna and Budapest, Seth kept telling me how we need to go on the St. Charles bridge in Prague for some sunrise pictures because it looked amazing. He kept sending me pictures of it and repeating that we had to catch the sunrise or at least sunset there. The day before leaving for our trip, he was debating on whether or not to bring the tripod, which was unlike him (well, he did buy that tripod for our Iceland trip), but he decided not to.

So when we arrived in Prague to check into our hotel, the woman said that we got the best room in the hotel! I haven’t seen the other rooms but ours was really nice. There were basically four rooms – a bedroom, living room, an extra room with a desk, armoire, vanity table, and a bathroom. Inside the bathroom, we had a jacuzzi and two separate sinks. I thought maybe this hotel has something to do with him proposing but he swears that he didn’t pay anything extra for this room; it was just a standard room. That night, we basically just walked around the downtown area for a bit and at a pub. We were exhausted afterwards because we were still not used to the time difference (7 hour difference) so we went to bed early.

Because we were still jet lagged, we woke up around 5am the next day and headed out for the St. Charles bridge to see the sunrise. It was a great time to see the bridge since there were hardly anyone there except photographers. We went the previous night and it was packed with people. We were taking some photos and then Seth asked a stranger to help take a picture of us. That was when he got down on one knee and proposed! The photographer wasn’t expecting it but was a good sport in helping us capture the moment.

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It was a perfect day and he was right, the sunrise on the bridge was beautiful!

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That’s a bit weird to zoom in so much on my finger….but here’s the engagement ring he got me! It’s a traditional Irish ring called Claddagh and it is fitting since he has some Irish background in him. It represents love, loyalty, and friendship. The hands holding the heart represent friendship, the heart represents love and the crown represents loyalty.

Seth has a great memory on how I talked about how I think it’s crazy that some people spend so much money on a ring and aren’t 100% sure that their partner is going to like it so he got me the Claddagh ring as a temporary ring. It was very thoughtful of him as we were able to choose wedding rings together!

How to Apply for a China visa in Hong Kong

I hope that this post will help you to obtain your China visa in Hong Kong fast and without any problems.

For US citizens, we can apply for a 10-year China visa in Hong Kong. This is for citizens who previously had applied for a China visa in the past but for my boyfriend who have never been to China, he was still granted the 10-year visa. I’m not sure for non-US citizens, but I assume the process will be pretty similar.

The lines are long so make sure you have the following things before you head to the China Resource Building in Wanchai:

  • A filled out application form (Visa Application Form of the People’s Republic of China Form V. 2013). On page 2, 2.2 Intended number of entries, check Other (Please specify) and write 10 years (US citizens only)
  • One copy of a visa photo (same as a passport photo)
  • A copy of your passport and your Hong Kong visa (either travel visa or work visa)
  •  If you have a Hong Kong ID, make a copy of that too
  • Supporting documents of why you are going to China (ex: For a tourist visa, you need either a hotel confirmation with your name on it or a copy of flight tickets) (If you are applying for your whole family, make sure that the hotel confirmation has every guest name, especially the ones who are applying for the China visa. You need a copy of the hotel confirmation for each person applying for the visa.)
  • Your passport and Hong Kong ID (if you have one)

*If you have previously gotten a China visa, you need a copy of that old China visa* So if it’s in an old passport that expired, you can either bring that old passport or make a copy of it.

Right when you go to the 3rd floor of the China Resource Building, get in line to grab a ticket that tells you your place number. In order to get this number, you MUST have your application form all filled out.

Address: 3rd Floor, China Resource Building, No. 26 Harbor Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong.
Wanchai subway station, exit A1.
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Hours: Monday- Friday (except public holidays) 9am-12 pm and 2-5pm

* I’d avoid going in Monday morning since it is one of the busiest days. Also, you should arrive at least a half an hour before it opens to avoid waiting for hours (get there by 8:30am).

*Notice that there is a 2 hour lunch break so if you leave the building during the break time, you won’t be able to enter the building until 2pm (there will be a line again).

Inquiry Hotline: +852-3413-2300/+852-3413-2424 (There is a 24-hour automated recording. If you want to talk to a staff member, call between 10-11am or 3-4pm)

Notes:

  • You are not allowed to bring any food or drinks in the building (that includes water bottles). If you bring it, then they will ask you to leave it outside the building.
  • If you need a visa photo, you can get it done in the China Resource Building. They have a photo booth on the 3rd floor on the right hand side where there is someone there to assist you. It costs $50 HKD and they give you 6 copies.
  • If you don’t have access to a copy machine, you can make copies there and it costs $1 HKD per page. Make sure to bring $1 coins since the machine does not give change or accept any other type of coins. Some people exchanged $1 coins at the photo booth.
  • When you turn in your application and documents, they will keep your passport; they need to keep your passport so that they can place your China visa in there.
  • The normal waiting time for the passport is 4 business days. You can pay more to have if completed earlier (2 or 3 business days).
  • For the normal processing time, it costs $1,100. Make sure to bring exact change. You pay when you pick up your China visa.

Good luck and remember to get there early with all your documents! When I went, I had to wait 4 hours until I was called whereas my boyfriend only had to wait about 15 minutes because he had all his documents in order before getting there.

It’s been a while!

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I’ve written a post. I guess I’ve been exhausted after work nowadays. So my hours change all the time depending on if I have to teach a later after school class. Sometimes I go in from 8-4 and other times from 9-5. I take a bus to work and it usually takes around 30 minutes to get there but I leave an hour later since the bus schedule may be off a bit. During the first few weeks at school, my schedule was pretty light because they were still making up my teaching schedule. During that time, I had a few classes to teach and some projects to work on like creating audio files and videos in dictations and phonics so that students can practice at home. We also we on a field trip to Inspiration Lake which is right outside of Disneyland (but owned by Disney). It was a lot of fun and our job was to talk to the students in English and video tape them using English for a school video that I edited and put together. The students should be able to see the video soon!

These past weeks I’ve been worrying that my bus will no longer take me near my school because they had these flyers everywhere that talked about route changes. However, I found out that it will take me even closer to my school so I’m really excited!

We really like the area that we live in. There are a lot of restaurants to try and the prices are good. According to my cousin’s mom, Tsuen Wan’s wet market is one of the cheapest places to buy produce! I love that we can get basically anything that we need and the prices aren’t too bad (however, I still haven’t found hot Cheetos). There are international stores like 360 and 759 (I guess HK loves stores with numbers in it) as well as big supermarkets like International and City Super.

Last week, I was able to meet up with my aunt and uncle twice for dinner! Below is a picture of them eating tofu dessert after dinner in Tsuen Wan. They are here for vacation and they went to mainland China before they came to HK and then their off to Taiwan tomorrow! They have a pretty tight schedule so I’m glad we were able to meet. Plus, they brought my tennis rackets so Seth and I will be able to play soon!

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Some highlights from this month:

  • watching Interstellar and Mockingjay Part I
  • Thanksgiving dinner at Seth’s university
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  • Friday night game nights through Meetup
  • Good days with my students. Here is a picture of my P2 (2nd graders) with the alligators that we made in class.
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  • Hiking only a little bit of the Yuen Tsuen Ancient Trail which is right by us
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  • Meeting some really cute dogs at the dog park

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  • Swimming in November. We went to Hap Moon Bay which is on an island that is near Sai Kung. It was really beautiful and the weather was perfect.
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  • I taught Zoe how to shake! They say that you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, but Zoe is pretty smart!
  • And last but not least, I got paid! I finally have money in my bank account.

Next month, my family is coming to visit us! We will also go on some small trips within the time that they are here. We are going to Chiang Mai, Thailand and Taipei, Taiwan! Airplane tickets are all booked =) We found a border for Zoe right near our apartment so we are very happy! It’s quite expensive though but we know that she will be in a good place. They have a large 5,000 sq ft rooftop for dogs to walk around and they will give Zoe some space since we really doesn’t do so well with other dogs.

Well, maybe I’ll write again next month! We still haven’t taken pictures of our furnished place yet but we will soon…or you can come visit and see it for yourself!

Yat Lok Restaurant (一樂食館)

The same day that I visited Tim Ho Wan for dim sum, we also went to Yat Lok Restaurant for dinner. They are apparently famous for their roast goose and was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, however, it was at a different location (Tai Po location rather than the Central location that we went to). We ordered roast goose, roast pork, bbq pork, noodles, and rice.

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Enjoying dinner with Andrew and Lisa

The roast goose was amazing. It was so tender and juicy from the fat…haha. Everything else, I wouldn’t recommend. The roast pork was way too salty and the bbq pork really didn’t have enough flavor to it although the meat was really tender. The dry egg noodle was a bit bitter and nothing really special with the wonton noodles and choi sum. I felt that the place was overpriced. I don’t remember exactly how much it was but I think it was around $420 HKD or $54 USD for 3 people (we also ordered 2 drinks). I guess that doesn’t seem like a lot of money if you compare it to the U.S. but compared to other local places in HK, it is a bit more. I would only recommend coming here for the roast goose.

Yat Lok Restaurant (一樂食館) G/F, 28 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong (map)
Phone #: 2524 3882

Original location: G/F, Block A, Po Wah Building, 5 Tai Ming Lane, Tai Po (map)
Phone #: 2656 4732

Tim Ho Wan (添好運) – cheapest Michelin starred restaurant in HK!

Last Thursday, some friends were in town so we met up for Michelin starred restaurants in Hong Kong. The first one we went to was Tim Ho Wan in Shum Shui Po which is the cheapest Michelin starred dim sum place in Hong Kong. While waiting for my friends to arrive, I was sitting outside the restaurant talking to an old man next to me. Since it was a Thursday morning, there weren’t a line outside as there usually is on the weekends. The man was waiting for some carry-out and he seemed pretty lonely. He said that he called his friends to ask them to come out for dim sum but they were all busy playing mahjong. He told me that he lived near here and comes to this restaurant all the time. He told me to give him a call next time I’m here and he’d treat me to dim sum. He proceeded to give me his phone number but I didn’t copy it down. I was trying to ignore him since I really didn’t want to talk to him but he just keep on talking while I was on my cell phone. Anyways, my friends arrived so we went in and the man said “call me!”

Anyways, onto to the food reviews. In Tim Ho Wan, you have to mark what you want to order instead of carts coming around. I was a bit disappointed in that since ordering from carts is a part of the whole dim sum experience. The selection was quite limited but they had most of the basics on the menu. The price wasn’t too bad. We ordered 12 dishes and it ended up being around $240 HKD ($31 USD) for 3 people. The quality was good but I wouldn’t wait if there was a long line.

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Vermicelli roll with bbq pork. I usually don’t like this dish that much but it was really good here! The vermicelli roll had a good texture to it – not too thick.

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Pan fried turnip cake

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Starting from far left and going clockwise: steamed dumplings (I don’t remember what was in it), egg cake, tofu, shrimp dumplings

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The famous BBQ pork buns. This was delicious but I felt that it had a bit too much sauce inside.

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Spare ribs

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Pumpkin sago dessert! This was really good with a hint of ginger taste.

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Bird nest soup with egg whites. This was really good as well! It took about 20 minutes to prepare but it was worth it.

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Osmanthus flower jelly – this was also really good

Tim Ho Wan 9 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong         Phone number: 2788 1226

We Found an Apartment!

After searching around and seeing many apartments, we finally found one and moved in last week. We are now living in Tsuen Tak Gardens in Tsuen Wan. It was pretty crazy how fast things went. Since I had free time (still waiting for my work visa to come in), I had appointments to see different apartments.

That day, I was looking at apartments in Tsuen Tak Gardens. We originally saw two apartments in this apartment complex and wasn’t too crazy because of the location; it’s in the industrial area there are are a lot of big buildings and trucks. Also, it takes about 15 minutes to walk to the subway station. However, what we did like was that the rent was cheaper and it was close to the harbor where dogs are allowed. Once I noticed that there was a direct bus that went to my school, I was all for it! If I didn’t take the bus, I would have to take the subway and then switch to the light rail to go to my school.

So I was looking at some apartments with this one realtor who only took 1/4 of the monthly rent as commission (normally, they take 1/2 of the monthly rent for commission). There was a two bedroom apartment that I liked because it had newly painted walls, some new furniture, and it had a little shared common area right outside of the kitchen where some neighbors wash their clothes and hang it up (kinda like a shared balcony). The handyman was still working on setting up the cabinets and furniture so it wasn’t available immediately. It would be available for us to move in when we wanted to but he may have to come in to finish a few things. The realtor showed me a few more places but I wasn’t too interested in them.

Afterwards, I met up with another realtor whom we have already met before, to see another apartment in the same apartment complex. This apartment was completely renovated with new tiled floor, kitchen, bathroom, and newly painted walls. I instantly loved it and what was even better was that it was a one bedroom apartment. Originally, it was like all the other ones where it came with two small bedrooms but instead of the second bedroom, the living room gets extended. There was really no use for us to have two bedrooms anyways. (All the previous realtors were pushing us to look at two bedroom apartments because they were slightly bigger and about the same price. But what’s the point of a second bedroom when you have no use for it?) So I took some pictures so that I could send to Seth and let the realtor know that I really liked it. I was the second person to see this apartment after it was completely renovated and this realtor’s company was the only company that the owner was working with. I knew that we had to act fast if we really wanted this place because places get rented out so quickly in Hong Kong.

So I sent the pictures to Seth to look at and I was going to walk around the area to get a better feel for around the area. Meanwhile, I get a call from the realtor asking if I was still around the area and whether I could meet with him back in the office. So I went back to this office and the owner of the apartment happened to be there. The owner took the day off of work because he wanted to see the final results of the renovation and get the keys back from the construction worker. I was pressured into deciding that day if we would like to rent the apartment. That was an awkward moment because I haven’t even talked to Seth about the apartment yet. So I was sitting at the table with the realtor and owner, and I was talking to Seth on the phone to see what he thought of the place. We talked for what seemed like a long time on the phone and decided that we were going to rent the place. Seth met up with us after work to sign all the paperwork and brought the money (2 months of deposit + 1/2 month’s rent for the realtor). Seth was having second doubts on the apartment since the walk to the apartment took so long and the area doesn’t have the prettiest views….but, we can now say that we like it.

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Seth bought a bike to ride to the station so now it takes him about 35 minutes to get to work. I’m not exactly sure how long it will take me to go to work but I assume that it would be about the same time. We have found some grassy areas that we can take Zoe to, unlike the other apartment complexes that we were interested in. There is a supermarket (Wellcome) and a Japan Home Center less than a 10 minute walk so that’s great. There are also busses that you can take to go to the subway stations.

So these days, we have been busy buying furniture and getting settled in our new apartment. We have bought a lot of second-hand furniture and my cousin’s friends has and will give us a few furniture items. Some useful sites are 28hse.com, GeoExpat, and AsiaXpat for those of you who are interested. There is an awesome app where you can hire a moving van called GoGo Van. It’s kinda like Uber but for vans. It’s super easy to use and you can almost instantly find someone last minute. It’s also quite cheap.

Well, we’ll update you with more pictures and a video once we have everything!