8 things to keep in mind when planning a trip to Hong Kong

Boasting a pleasant blend of city, mountains, and sea, Hong Kong could be a perfect place to get away

No Visa required

One of the perks of visiting Hong Kong is that when planning your trip, you don't need to add getting a Visa to your list. A passport is required, but Hong Kong will let Americans visit Visa-free, as long as you have money and a place to stay. The Customs officials are also generally pleasant toward American travelers, presenting none of the animosity visitors sometimes experience when heading into Mainland China.

Buckle in for the ride

A trip to Hong Kong will take you from 13 to 16 hours if you're leaving from the US and flying nonstop. Be prepared to finish your favorite book, binge the new season of Orange is the New Black, or catch up on some sleep while you're on the plane.

Such a long flight might mess with your internal clock a bit, but since China is between 12 and 15 hours different in time from the US, your internal clock was going to need a few gears changed no matter what. I recommend checking out what time you'll arrive and try to plan your sleep accordingly. Make yourself stay up the last 8 or so hours of your trip if you're arriving at night so you can hopefully sleep when you get checked into your hotel, or sleep the time away on the plane if you'll be arriving in the daytime so you can get out there and see some sights in the sunshine rather than needing a nap after getting settled in.

The sights can’t be beat

Hong Kong is very proud of its nighttime laser show, as well it should be. The spectacle at Victoria Harbour involves over 40 buildings and is in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the World's Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show. It starts promptly at 8pm, lasts 13 minutes, and is totally free.

As for the daytime, Hong Kong is a city that feels as big and bustling as New York, but unlike the Big Apple, in certain areas you can stand in one place and pivot to see sparkling, modern skyscrapers, lush, green mountains, and the ocean lapping at the shore.

I personally recommend staying off the beaten path a small bit by finding a hotel in Kowloon rather than on Hong Kong Island. You can still be in walking distance of attractions like the Ladies' Market and easily access public transit getting you to the heart of the city, but while the island is modern and flashy, it can also feel cramped, and finding a place to bed down that isn't quite so bustling is often a welcome relief to travelers.

Getting around is pretty easy

Hong Kong, a former British colony, is pretty friendly for English-speaking people. Most people in shops will speak both Cantonese and at least a little English, and signs will also often have English on them. Hong Kong also has a pretty streamlined subway system and the famed double-decker buses we often associate with London roadways. Be warned that while the subways are pretty easy to navigate, including signs and announcements both in English and Cantonese, it's not always clear when it's your turn to get off the bus, so you have to pay close attention (or perhaps find someone to ask).

The food is amazing (and maybe not what you’d expect)

Credit: Kelsey Fox

If you think of Americanized Chinese take-out when you think of Chinese food, you will be in for a pleasant surprise when visiting Hong Kong. Dim sum is my favorite meal of the day (kind of like brunch food), but from breakfast to dinner to late-night snacks, you really can't go wrong with authentic Chinese.

Ok, well, maybe you should avoid street meat. And also don't drink any water that's not boiled. (Including maybe avoiding drinks with ice.) But overall, the food is delectable, and a much higher quality and with more complex flavors than what most of Americans envision when they think of Chinese food. (By the way, most hotels will provide you with a kettle to boil water and complimentary water bottles.)

It's common to order "family style" meals, where you can order several dishes loaded onto a Lazy Susan in the middle of your table for you to share with your friends. This is a great system because it allows you to order a few things and try them all without having to commit to one dish yourself.

Finally, even though you might be inclined to avoid chain restaurants like McDonald's and KFC, it can also be fun to see the differences in cuisine between what you're used to in America and what the Chinese get when they order a #2 combo at your favorite fast food joint. It's a common misconception that rice is automatically served with every meal in China, but at fast food places, you'll get some instead of fries at KFC, for instance. Chicken nuggets at McDonald's in Hong Kong are actually just actual chicken wings, bones and all, and they're delicious.

There’s a lot to do outside of the city too

If you're in Hong Kong, it's just a quick ferry ride to the former Portuguese territory, Macau. This city is rich with history and hosts an amazing array of beautiful churches and old buildings, as well as an interesting amalgamation of Chinese and Portuguese food and culture. Not to mention it's home to somewhat of a mini-Vegas, complete with lavish casinos and a happening nightlife.

Even though Macau has its own currency, the casinos exclusively deal in Hong Kong Dollars, and most businesses in the area do too. This is convenient if you're only there on a day trip as you do not have to spend any time exchanging your currency (or lose anything to the exchange rate). Oh, and you won't need a Visa to visit here either.

There's also Hong Kong Disney Land, with its own dedicated train line replete with Mickey Mouse-shaped windows in its air-conditioned cars. This Disney Park is pretty much like any other Disney Land Park, but if you've never been able to afford such an extravagance before, going while in Hong Kong will help you save a lot of money with the exchange rate considered.

It's also easy to access the Tian Tan Buddha from Hong Kong. This statue/building is so large you can see it from the plane as you fly in. You can get to the area by a bus that climbs windy, mountain roads, or you can treat yourself to a cable car ride over the mountains. Be aware that if you'd like to actually go inside the Buddha, it is a long and arduous upstairs climb, there is a small fee, and no pictures are allowed inside.

Things to watch out for

If you're not Chinese, cabbies in both cities might try to take advantage of you. A common rule is to usually just let them. The fares they'll charge you end up being a few bucks max, maybe with half a dollar's worth of extra fees sneakily tacked on. The extra 50 cents is usually not worth stopping your whole day and trying to explain to a police officer that doesn't speak English what the problem is.

If you decide to go to the mainland after arriving in Hong Kong, you will have to go through Customs or Border Patrol just like you are entering a different country. You will need a Visa, and you will need to exchange your money from HKD to RMB. If you're driving, don't forget that while people drive on the left side of the road in Hong Kong, you'll have to switch to the right when entering mainland China.

You should haggle with shopkeepers. Outside of chain stores, prices are not locked down, and when they see you are not Chinese, the first price offered will always be much more than what the shopkeeper is willing to take. They're just feeling you (and your naivete) out.

Finally, Chinese toilets are not like American toilets. Without getting into the nitty-gritty, it's best to be prepared to … squat. Your hotel will likely have Western toilets (what we're used to) as will many restaurants and attractions. However, other than your hotel, do not expect any establishment to provide toilet paper or soap. Most people carry travel tissue packs and hand sanitizer with them for this reason.

The takeaway

A visit to Hong Kong is an unforgettable one. Though the flight is long and can be expensive, the money you spend at your destination is pretty minuscule compared to some other places, so the cost evens out. The culture and the cuisine is amazing, and you can easily come home with tons of souvenirs for your friends and family without breaking the bank. In the end, Hong Kong is an ideal destination for the traveler looking to step out of their comfort zone, but looking for a little familiarity (and English) along the way.

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How Prima Helped Me Improve My Daily Routine

Primas hemp products helped my create new habits

The last few months of working from home and barely leaving my apartment have been tough. Everyone seems to be improving themselves during quarantine but I was just trying to adjust to the new isolated way of living.

Now that the hardest part is hopefully behind us, I'm ready for some self-improvement. After months of WFH followed by binge-watching Netflix and binge-eating junk till 2 am, I've got to make a few changes. I took some advice from my sister who told me to pick three areas I'd like to makeover and then form new habits to help me achieve my goals.

She also suggested that I try hemp. She's been in love with all of Primas products for the last month and claims they've made a huge difference in how balanced she feels throughout the day. She said that Prima's hemp stands out from other brands because it's the highest quality hemp and rigorously tested to ensure potency and purity. But I was all about the new habits, so I ignored that advice.

Here are the three new habits I've added to my daily routine:

  1. Make time for me!

This one may seem silly after nearly three months stuck in the house alone, but what I mean is quality time for me. I needed to integrate activities that are mentally and physically constructive. I heard yoga was great for your mind and body and with so many tutorials on youtube, I added 20 minutes of yoga before breakfast to my morning routine.

2. Exercise

I don't like gyms and that's never going to change. So I needed to refresh my exercise options. I love being outdoors so I added an evening walk weeknights and long hikes on the weekends. The fresh air clears my head after a long day and I can start hitting those 10K steps we're meant to do every day!

3. Less Screentime

This isn't just for kids! I realized I was on my work laptop all day, and when I wasn't looking at that screen I was watching TV on my phone. My eyes were never getting a break and neither was my head. I had to limit the crazy amount of time I was spending on my phone. I got a free app that alerts me when I'm on it too long, like an alarm that kicks me off. Then I ordered some novels to read instead of scrolling through Instagram and Twitter in bed. Now I read a few chapters and nod off.

My new habits took a while to get used to, but after two weeks of constantly reminding myself, they're part of my routine that I'm just loving. I'm definitely sleeping better and feel more motivated in the morning. However, I still felt like there was something missing. And my aching neck started to get worse. I thought the yoga would help but once the afternoon hit, my namaste had completely vanish-tayed and my neck was in bits by bedtime! I even sorted out my home office with a new chair and keyboards so I wouldn't be bending it so much all day but I think the damage was done.

That's when my sister jumped in and reminded me that I should try Prima's hemp products. For my neck? I still doubted that was the solution. But when she promised me Primas R+R recovery cream would help my neck, with her husband also vouching for it I gave it a go.

Once it arrived at my door I tried it every night a week for bed. The first night I felt a little difference but I just put that down to the cooling effect of the menthol. I was surprised hemp was just one ingredient among so many really amazing ones such as menthol, eucalyptus, and marula oil. Along with the botanicals tea tree, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint which are great to encourage total relaxation. While on their site, I couldn't believe the variety of hemp products they have.

By the end of the week, I really felt the magic of Primas R+R cream and it has become the most important part of my nighttime routine. I forget what it was like to have neck discomfort thanks to Prima.

I loved it so much that I couldn't help treating myself to their award-winning Night Magic Serum. I can't wait for my glowy skin!!

I never imagined I'd become a hemp fan, but Prima is the perfect piece to complete my revamped wellness routine that makes me more mindful and balanced. I'm so glad my sister introduced me to Prima, it's my new favorite habit that I will be keeping!

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What's Up with All These Fireworks?

New Yorkers have been hearing constant explosions throughout the night. Is it a conspiracy?

If you live in a large metropolitan area like New York City, Black Lives Matter protests likely aren't the only things you hear making noise in the streets.

In the past couple of weeks, as Black Lives Matter supporters march in memory of George Floyd and countless other Black people killed by police, the sounds of fireworks can be heard virtually every weekend. More than just your average Fourth of July shindig, these explosions often trail into the wee hours of the morning.

According to Gothamist, there were 6,385 total "311" complaints about fireworks in New York City from June 1 to June 19—up from 27 during the same time period last year. "This is not the simple firecrackers and little small toy-type rockets, but it was very elaborate," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told Gothamist. "That in itself is raising a high level of concern with me... When you see the large displays along Brooklyn and in Manhattan, Upper Manhattan, you're seeing extremely sophisticated type fireworks displays that can be extremely dangerous in the hands of the wrong people."

Anything more powerful than a sparkler is illegal in New York, but that hasn't stopped regular folks from buying the type of fireworks you'd see in a professional display. But who is buying these fireworks, and what are they trying to accomplish? There are some wild theories.

NYPD, FDNY appear to let illegal fireworks show play out, video shows

NYPD, FDNY appear to let illegal fireworks show play out, video shows nypost.com

As author Robert Jones, Jr. pointed out in a lengthy Twitter thread, antics by "bored Black and brown kids" tends to be the general assumption made by most mainstream media. "My neighbors and I believe that this is part of a coordinated attack on Black and Brown communities by government forces; an attack meant to disorient and destabilize the #BlackLivesMatter movement," Jones wrote.

One goal Jones proposed was that white people were the ones setting off the constant fireworks in an attempt to "stoke tensions between Black and Brown peoples." Many have voiced their frustrations online about the sheer volume of the fireworks they hear, and a shared annoyance is growing.

Another motive Jones proposed was that the fireworks are being used as a desensitization method to acclimate citizens to the sounds of the blasts—which often sound like gunshots. "When they start using their real artillery on us we won't know the difference," Jones wrote. "It's meant to sound like a war zone because a war zone is what it's about to become."

Police don't seem too concerned. The New York Post shared a video this week of fireworks being set off behind an NYPD precinct in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. No officers appear to deter them. A similar video in Harlem, Manhattan also shows a flock of police cars—none of which seem to mind the explosions.

Another video shows what appears to be Brooklyn firefighters setting off fireworks:

Video shows FDNY firefighters light off illegal fireworks in Brooklyn

Video shows FDNY firefighters light off illegal fireworks in Brooklyn nypost.com

Today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he was forming a task force to combat the illegal fireworks. "Illegal fireworks are both dangerous and a public nuisance," he said. "We're cracking down on this activity at the source to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and the ability of our neighbors to get some sleep."

But if over 6,000 complaints have been made about fireworks to seemingly no avail, it seems a task force won't merit much of an improvement.

Many seem to agree with the theory that inconspicuous government officials have been offering fireworks to Black children, newly on summer vacation and hungry for ways to ease their quarantine boredom. As with many issues going on in America, these constant fireworks will probably be just another way for the government to further discriminate against marginalized groups.

At least we can always rely on memes to spread the good word.

I don't know about you guys, but working from home has taken a serious toll on me. It started off really well. I was sticking to my usual routine as much as possible, but I've been slowly becoming less and less productive.

I noticed my sleep schedule had completely changed. I was rolling out of bed a few minutes before I was due to start work, and sometimes even working from my bed. I ate lunch at the desk and worked straight through my scheduled breaks. I was sleepier throughout the day, unable to focus as much, and just feeling less motivated overall.

So I looked into what I could do that would help me out of my slump. I tried a few things. Some were so simple I never thought they'd make much of a difference, and some I wouldn't have thought of at all, but now I'm back feeling more productive than ever.

Here are my three tips for working from home:

1. Get up early

Yes, it seems so simple. But it's super important to stick to a normal routine if you can. Not only do I get up early, but I shower every morning and cook myself a nutritious breakfast before I start work. This definitely helped me feel more energized and motivated throughout the day.

2. Have a designated workspace

This is important because it separates your work from your home. Our homes are associated with relaxing, so designating a space that will be used only for work will help you concentrate on work while you're in that space. I also found that doing this helped me actually take appropriate breaks. When I left the space I was in relax mode, and once I came back, I was ready to work again.

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3. CBD supplements

When looking into ways to improve my focus and sleeping patterns, I came across an article about CBD supplements, specifically a brand called Prima. I'd never bought into the whole CBD craze, but when I read that you can try Prima's Rest Easy, Go-To, and Brain Fuel elixirs by purchasing their Trifecta for just $26 with shipping, I thought why not?

The elixirs are powders that you can mix into any beverage. The Prima Trifecta has a few samples of all three. The Brain Fuel elixir is to be taken in the morning, so I mixed it into my coffee, and I was awake and alert and able to throw myself into my working day.

Their Go-To elixir should be taken around noon. My daily midday productivity crash had gotten so much worse while working at home, but taking this elixir helped keep me sharp through the remainder of my work day.

The Rest Easy elixir is taken at night to help you get a good sleep. Since I started taking this my sleep schedule has greatly improved. It was so much easier to get up early again. It left me feeling well rested and ready to start my day.

I never realized how much simple things, like setting out a specific workspace, and getting up early would help me escape my unproductive rut. I wasn't expecting Prima's CBD supplements to help as much as they did, but they definitely had the biggest impact for me.

After trying the Prima Trifecta, I ended up buying the full size of all three elixirs. If you're having problems with sleep, focus, and productivity like I was, I'd recommend ordering the Prima Trifecta.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.