Fantastic Hong Kong Island Views from Mainland and Next to Cheapest Hostel’s

Morton’s The Steakhouse

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but one of the most popular American restaurants, located in Hong Kong, just so happens to be one of the best places that overlook Hong Kong Island. It’s in the Sheraton Hotel at The Elegance at Sheraton, 20 Nathan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Being a restaurant, with such a great location, it’s also important to keep business coming in. Now you can easily spend $100 / person here, but if you come in a little bit early and take a seat at the bar, you can order off the bar menu and grab a drink for less than $20 / person. Be careful, the drinks are your enemy here. So have one, enjoy the view, eat your delicious bar menu special, and check out my “On the Cheap!” to finish up the night. Or if you want to splurge, just go have fun!
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Sky Lounge

Also in the same building is the Sky Lounge. It has much better hours than Morton’s. I would also say has the best view of Hong Kong Island because of all the glass windows and superb seating. But the trade off is the heavy price for drinks. NYC+ style, $15 – $20 for cocktails easily and food is basically the most expensive you will find. Check it out for a drink, take pictures, have the waiter / waitress take a picture of you, and on to the next.

On the Cheap! Avenue of Stars

This is the prime real-estate to see and watch the light shows that Hong Kong Island has. It’s all public and it is very easy to just bring your own food and booz. Drop by 7-11 for a 24oz Tsingtao (Chinese beer). If you want to keep it straight Hong Kong style, grab a Carlsberg or Blue Girl, which aren’t necessarily brewed in Hong Kong, but are owned there. Invite your girl or your friends and just relax, enjoying the view… you will not be the only one.

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Places to Stay

Chungking Mansions!

Okay, this is by far one of the most interesting places I have ever stayed at. It was busy! There are TONS of people. Hong Kong in general have TONS of people. Everyone is soliciting you for some form of anything that they can sell you. You can literally eat any type of food that exists in this world in this single place alone. You can also get lost and turned around in here at the drop of a hat. I also distinctly remember walking down a back stairwell and smashing a spider the size of my hand with my foot. Not for the faint of heart, but you can also get the cheapest rooms (shared of-course) in all of Hong Kong: $6 USD a night is what we paid. Find it very close to the southern tip of Kowloon here: 36-44 Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
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Hotels

Trust me, if you cannot rough it, do not even try the Mansions. Go visit, but then across the street, you can go get yourself a Hotel. Pick one, any one… You can pay anywhere between $70 USD to $350 USD. I found a Very nice one for $110 USD / night at the Kowloon Hotel. Also a nice tidbit, I walked in and they told me $200 USD, then went to Hotel.com and found it for $110, booked it online, and walked in an hour later with my reservation already done.

Enjoy Hong Kong. It’s definitely a busy place, somewhere I’d like to go back to for sure. The Island is very popular and very busy as well, also with a wide variety of low to high priced places to stay. I can write about that experience another time.

Bring Alcohol on Cruise Ships!

cruise ship
Alcohol on Cruise Ships is expensive! Well, it’s not NYC, LA, or Miami bar prices, but it is still the sure way that cruise ships make money. There are a lot of tricks to get around this though.

Idea’s?

Water Bottle Trick – The most common and the most likely to get detected! Why? Because this is everyone’s go to trick. Odds are unlikely. If you do, learn this trick:

cell-phone-flask_1315Body Flasks, Sunscreen Flasks, Tampon Flasks, Other Custom Flasks – My personal opinion is to not keep it on your body and leave these in your luggage / carry on. Spare yourself the embarrassment. These custom methods have a high success rate, but you tend to spend more time in ingenuity. Remember, no metal, keep it plastic. And also don’t invest in something unless you can carry enough of it.

Shampoo/Listerine Bottles – Odds are you are flying to your cruise departure. If so, you now have to get screened twice. Here you are simply playing your odds at having the staff check your bottle’s.

What I recommend:

DSC01887Rum Runner Flasks – For less than $15, you can order these off Amazon. They are barely detectable by X-Ray, except for the plastic lid. If you are flying and only carrying on, you can carry them empty on the plane and have your taxi stop at a store on the way to the cruise. Makes for a fun story filling them up in a back alley. Also, if you run out, at a port city, re-fill them and bring them right back through the scanner.

Bottle’s of Wine – Each person can bring in 1 bottle of wine, so you should! Class it up a little bit with some wine at dinner. Don’t go through the nonsense of imitating your wine to be liquor.

All that said, keep it classy. It’s a cruise and there are plenty of people who would really not enjoy the company of belligerence. Worst case scenario if they catch it, they will throw it out. Otherwise, they will hold on to it until your cruise is over. Or, as always, you can always claim it is your Holy Water.

Escaping the Real World @ Perhentian Islands, Malaysia


IMG_4043Travelling to the Perhentian Islands – Tips and Tricks!
If you are looking for a real escape, without the hustle and bustle of busy mainland beaches in Thailand, the Perhentian Islands are ideal for the longest summer’s, great beaches, very remote, and no excuses for relaxing! Bare in mind, Malaysia is very heavily Muslim influenced (limited alcohol), but do not let that sway you from enjoying this Gem. I’ll guide you through the American way to get down.

Getting there may be the toughest part. Malaysia is very poverty stricken and heavily dependent on Western and Asian trade. It is taught that learning English is the way to move up in the world, so many people do speak English.

The recommended end goal is to get to Besut to hop on a Jet boat to the islands. If you are coming from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, or Thailand, you basically have two options. 1) Fly to Kota Bharu or 2) Take a bus. If you are not nearby, find a plane that flies direct to Kota Bharu.

20140909_142940Taking a Plane
Use the Local airlines! Do not use Travelocity, Priceline, Expedia, etc… Unless you are not even close to Malaysia in the first place. Asian Air is like the JetBlue or Spirit of the United States. Except the planes are more comfortable, albeit very old. You can get flights for often times less than $50 USD, and Direct! Otherwise you can easily find Malaysia Airlines as those are the two largest competitors in the space. Also, don’t worry about that missing plane a few years ago. A lot of Malaysia Air is operated by Cathay these days. I highly recommend getting right into Kota Bharu as the easiest first step.

Taking a Bus
Coming from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur? It’s a bit of a ride. The overnight ride sucks. A daytime ride from Kuala Lumpur will take a solid 8 hours. Coming from Kuala Lumpur, take the light rail to Hentian Putra. The locals will not help you. Find a map! At the bus station, you can buy a ticket. Finding tickets can be a pain, but use this website: Malaysia Bus and you should be good to go. That will help with scheduling too. While on the bus, you have an option if you are up for it: Instead of going all the way to Kota Bharu, at the Manchang Malaysia stop (coming from the south), hop off. There will be taxi drivers that will take you the rest of the way to Besut. They will know where you are heading too. This will save you nearly an hour and a half, and 30 Ringgit.

cow-in-roadHeading to Kota Bharu Locally
You can take the local bus in, but it involves waiting, question marks, and in my opinion, a lack of adventure. I suggest just forking the money over for a taxi ride to Besut. It is not expensive, maybe $20 USD (or 70 Ringgit) for an hour taxi ride. By the way, yes… that is a Cow in the middle of the road to the left.

Finally got to Besut!
There is a reason it is hard to get to these islands… you are almost there. Now to find your Jet Boat. The Jet Boat is going to be another $20 USD round-trip (or 70 Ringgit). They depart every couple of hours, so just as long as you show up before 5 PM, you are good to go. If you get there afterwards, there brings up the next question. You can negotiate with the guy up to 6:30 PM, try and get a group together for somewhere between 300 and 400 Ringgit (1 way) to do a private charter over, or you can call it a night and wait for the early morning boat. I say, stay the night. Why? When the rooms book up quickly, being the first ones on the island give you the best shot to get a solid room. Being the last, put you in the place you may not want to be in, whether it be because of cost or terrible conditions.

map-besut
Quick Note in the picture above, #4 is Kota Bharu, #5 is Thailand, and #6 is the Perhentian Islands.

Booz and Important Items in Besut
Now on to Besut. Be sure to have Cash, most places on the island only accept Cash. #2 on the map is a 24 hour bank, which is right next to the Police Station. Note, that most places with Bar’s will accept Credit, if you spend a certain amount, somewhere around 80 to 100 Ringgit #3 on the map is where the docks are to the Jet Boats. And #1 on the map is an all-important location of Booz! Besut is for the most place DRY. No restaurants sell or most even do not allow booz to be drank. This shop is a place that I found, noticing a local buying a bottle of Jack Daniels. So I asked, Do you have Tiger? “Tiger Beer” – Sure enough, they came out of the back room with 4 Tiger Beer’s, one for each of us sitting across the street. You can try and grab a bottle of liquor too, it’s all very hush hush. Here’s a Google Streets Pic of the place. You can probably ask for “Tiger” at other shops too, this was just the one I scored at.
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Try not to stay out after dark. The locals love to chat you up, almost annoyingly to border-line “are you going to rob me?” style.

Taking the Jet Boat to the Islands!
IMG_3991Enjoy the 30 minute jet boat ride to the islands. They will ask you whether you want to go to the Big (Besar) or Small (Kecil) island. If you are reading this post, you want to go to the small island Kecil. Trust me. Either way, it doesn’t matter once you get there. You can water taxi all over the place, or even walk from one side to the other of the islands. You will also have to specify which beach you want to go to. My personal suggestion is Coral Bay. It’s calm, very wooded with palm tree’s, nice sized beach, easy access to Long Beach, and has nice places to stay.

Difference between the islands
Here’s my quick take on the difference between the islands.
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So, here you are… Enjoy the islands. Go explore, enjoy the water, the water activities and at night, venture out to Coral Bay for the BBQ’s. There will be liquor and beer coolers on the beach. After dinner, head to Long Beach for the fire show and late night music. If you feel like having a lighter night, head to Ombak and watch a movie on a projection screen with a limited to full bar. This was by far my favorite go-to place. Enjoy the Islands!
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Time for Sake in Shinjuku: Tokyo, Japan @ MARUKO株式会社西池袋店


268139_167069750025171_7711393_nSometimes it’s those places that you just randomly pop into, after a wretched 14 hour plane flight, 1 hour train ride, while carrying your backpack, just desperate for a place to sit down and drink a beer. Well, here we were, first night in Japan, not even checked into our room yet, and we were all of the above: tired, hungry, lost, etc… The bright lights in Shinjuku with the homey atmosphere and cool night life made this a fantastic stop. So fantastic, we had to find it again on our last night in Japan.

The place is called Maruko, you can look it up using this address: 新宿 丸港水産 新宿本店
map
– or just click the link.

Why so amazing? 2 reasons:
10670030_10152712899451063_4366046473834625302_nThe extremely wide variety of seafood, cooked right at your table in front of you. You walk in and it smells salty. This is a truly authentic Japanese restaurant with a rustic feel, tiny stools to sit on around a table, baskets to put your shopping items in, and it is busy! But do not worry, they have an entire second floor of seating for overflow. We ordered a variety of seafood, from Crayfish to Scallops to Shrimp, to Tuna. Anything you can imagine, and it will come out fresh to you, likely with bone or in it’s respective shell. And you know that it is fresh because you are more than likely sitting right next to the seafood tanks. The food is cooked on a mix between propane or butane grills that definitely got their use out of them right next to you. You snack on free snails or eel, depending on the night. It is surely exciting.

10477012_10152712899506063_4816039540600977672_nThe Sake! There are about 10 to 15 choices of Sake. While it may not sound like a huge selection, ask yourself how much Sake you think you can really drink. And then look at the way they are served. While pouring the Sake into the shot glasses, we thought the waitress was over pouring because the the boxes the shot glasses were in were also filled up all the way. But, that is the tradition. My favorite was the Spicy Sake. Of-course there is a full selection of Japanese, Chinese, and other South East Asian beers. And it is quite youthful inside, 20′s and 30′s. Being American, we regularly got the hidden phone pics and all that…

If you are ever in Shinjuku, or anywhere in Tokyo for that matter, give this one a visit. It’s very close to the Shinjuku train station and Metro.

Plum Brandy – Palinca, Slivovitz, Rakia

20130531_172331The wonders of Eastern Europe! The food is cheap, clothes expensive, women are beautiful, and liquor is distilled in everyone’s backyard. One of my favorite liquors around the world include one from Eastern Europe, influenced by my very German mothers side, and further grown through a Romanian relationship. Plum Brandy has got to be one of the tastiest liquors out there. And it is much more popular than one would think, just not in the United States.

20130602_180700There are many variants. Basically the majority of families living in Eastern Europe grow their own food, raise their own live-stock, and distill their own liquor. And what better ingredient to use than the plum, apple, and pear trees which may have spoiled or looks to get close.

Here are a list of common names and where you will find them:

Palinca: Hungary, Romania, and Austria
Slivovitz: Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria
Rakia: Albania, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia

tuica-in-bottlesThe funny thing, everybody stores them in random unused bottles. When individuals travel through the airport, if questioned, they claim it is holy water for their mother. And another juicy nugget, if you ask for Tuica (sri-ca), which simply means fruit mashed liquor / wine, at any bar, even an established chain, you will likely get to sample all the bar tenders home distilled fruit brandy, along with going a very far way to get to know the locals. Try it!

Common Ingredients: plums, apricots, apples, pears, cherries, any fruit that is lying around really. You cannot go wrong.

20130528_145355You can take it a step further and really impress the locals by ordering Ciorba de Burta (Romanian), which is cow stomach stewed in oil, butter, and garlic. I still haven’t mastered that one. Remember to keep the Palinca close by.

Side Notes:

  • Traffic in the city is crazy!
  • Do not drive at night time due to Pot Holes and Night Thieves
  • Don’t be too friendly to stray dogs, it’s a common problem
  • Enjoy! It’s Amazing

Augustiner Braustueberl, Salzburg Austria – Beer Hall Glory!

Lindhofstrasse 7Salzburg A-5020Austria

It was more than ten years since I have been to this Bavarian Beer Hall. And my story just continues to morph as I continue to tell it. Maybe this post will straighten things out a bit.

We were basically kids at the time, exploring Europe on a backpacking trip, when we ran into an English Teacher in our Hostel (best way to find new things). He invited us out and took us to the Augustiner Braustueberl Beer Hall, a local pub.

Augustiner_Braustueberl_entranceWe must have entered in the back because I remember seeing large arched doorways in all wood. I did find a picture of the front. They have tons of Bicycle racks.

After getting in, it was time to select what size mug you want, obviously we all chose the large compared to the small. The mugs were regularly being cleaned out and re-stacked like clock-work.Augustiner_Braustueberl_mugs

Augustiner_Braustueberl_mug_cleanIt was a good idea to make sure you also did a follow up rinse. Not to worry, the alcohol content in the beer will take care of any germs. I remember telling the story as the rinsing station was really a fountain of beer. I guess after a couple my story got a bit convoluted. The real beer was out of wooden casks that stayed in cool temperatures naturally cooling the booz.

Augustiner_Braustueberl_crowdOnce you grab your food and drink, you can either sit outside or inside. We visited in the Winter time so naturally the inside hall was packed. What happened next, is something that I had never really seen before. It must of been a special event or this happens every day. Everyone was dressed in a very dutch style, lederhosen and all. Before we knew it, the locals were putting their arms around us, inviting us to dance, be merry, and joyful. It was quite an experience. Very highly recommended. So much so that I had to post about my adventure 10 years ago.

To date, Salzburg Austria remains to be one of my favorites in the world. The tiny city that sits in between a river and cliff ledge being the Alp Mountains. We went skiing shortly after and extended our original 2 day trip to 5 days, because we enjoyed ourselves, the view, the locals, and the food / drinks so much!

Welcome to Booz Trip

I love to travel, go out, have a good time, backpack on the super cheap, go high class and stay in nice places. I also like to experience culture and live as the people in the places I travel live.

The problem is that every time I go to TripAdvisor.com or LonelyPlanet.com, the advice often gets buried with the masses. My multiple styles of traveling are unique and intended to be relaxing and extremely adventurous.

This will be a fun blog highlighting my own personal experiences in food, drinks, adventure, and more. I will invite guest bloggers to write their own experiences. We will track unique and obscure travel tips to help enhance your next voyage!