The ultimate magazine for globetrekkers
Travellust Issue No.1 May,2014
Everything you need to know about the most stylish, adventurous and affordable way of travelling the world
In This Issue feature: Couch surfing is all the rage 04
Pay nothing to satisfy your wanderlust
05 CS prevailing in China 05
Dynamic networks to meet people abroad “Couch surfing is a matter of luck”
Destination Guide 11 The grand tour of Switzerland
13 Before we start
“A right couch makes a great travel experience”
16 Transportation Tips
Canlendar 25 Events in Hong Kong – MAY
Review: Beertopia A perfect night out in March Beer and music
09 Grande Luk Chi-ho, 26, spends
19 Friends and fun
10 Safety Tips
only HK$8,000 to 11 European cities in six weeks
Prague: The historical capital of Bohemia
13 Travel notes
07 Angel Chau Sin-man, 21, an
undergraduate is to share her adventurous travel stories as a couch surfer
Find them all in just one party
Q&A with founder
wORD OF mOUTH 26
Where do you want to go for the next vacation?
Editor’s Note M
y thought of writing a travel magazine is out of an overwhelming desire to explore the colours of life. The experiences of developing story ideas, conducting interviews, plus writing and designing the layout composed a beautiful prose for this one-semester long journey. Hopefully, you will find an enjoyable time while reading the articles. Targeting the young budget travellers, this issue consists of a feature package about couch surfing, a trekking style that has long been popular in European and American countries yet has just started to thrill in Asia. With the sharing of couch surfers and the safety tips, you may have some hints on how to plan your own cultural exchange tour. Coming next is a “long hual” destination guide to Switzerland. The suggested itineraries are based on the amount of time that you would spend on the trip. The travel notes recorded my fluky nine-day
voyage in this peaceful country with friends. Then, back to our own city, we have a review of Beertopia, an annual event that attracts thousands of ale lovers from both overseas and home. When planning a day-trip, there certainly are some great activities to join. Finally, the gallery takes you to the glamorous sceneries in Prague, the city of a thousand spires where you find the exotic gateway to Bohemia culture. Wish you figure out your most yearning place for vacation. Until then, happy trails! Enjoy.
katheleen.wong@gmail. com Adviser Mr CK Lau
Editor Katheleen Wong
Couch surfing Is all the rage A profile of couch surfers Couch surfers by ages
Average ages Couch surfers hosting travellers
Couch surfers by gender
Information provided by www.couchsurfing.org
Couch surfers able to meet up with travellers for coffer or activitives
Pay Nothing to satisfy your wanderlust
aving a strong wanderlust but caught short when you are about to start your journey? No wonder this has been a dilemma for most young travellers. Do not worry. Try couch surfing and you will definitely get your way out from some helpful people abroad. The idea of “couch surfing” is simple: travellers from the worldwide build a connection among themselves through the internet so that they are able to meet hosts online and “sleep from couch to couch” in different cities; and, eventually save the accommodation fee. It is always easy to be a member of such online social networks. Sign up for an account on any online travelling network you see fit. Then explore the page of the city you are visiting. Leave a message requesting to stay when you see suitable hosts. After that, all you need to do is to wait patiently for a reply. Normally you will get an offer. With a little luck, your host may even be a city guide showing you around. Indeed, such kind of cultural exchange to bring hosts and
travellers together might begin as early as in the 1940s when peace activist Bob Luitweiler found Servas International. Yet Servas is a closed platform where applicants have to pay a subscription fee, as well as to undergo an interview to be a member. Nancy Mitchell, a Servas committee member from the US said the procedure is to ensure the prospective travellers’ purpose and expectation matches and avoid their community falling into a platform just to provide a cheap place to stay. Not until the first free public website Couchsurfing.org was established in 2004 did the idea of “couch surfing” rock among backpackers. At first, the website only has 6,000-plus members. But the latest statistic in 2012 shows the membership has already grown to over 700 million from 100,000 cities all over the world. This huge community not only provides globe trekkers with free accommodation but all sorts of travelling supports, ranging from
day-trip companions, personal travel route design, to resources exchange. Some volunteers may even create discussion groups, similar to Facebook pages, to organise regular events for tourists to their cities. And, the best thing is, one may sign up as a surfer without an obligation to be a host. No wonder people from the American and European countries has been the diehearted fans for couch surfing. Recently, statistics from some well-liked couch surfing websites such as Couchsurfing.org, Hospitality Club, BeWelcome and Servas International all suggested that the United States, Germany and France are the top-three home countries of their members.
By Katheleen Wong Edited by Katheleen Wong
Eight Dynamic networks to meet people abroad Couch surfing iS prevailing in China T A
lbeit the coverage of couch surfing in Chinese media is few, the number of couch surfers is increasing recent years. According to Couchsurfing. org, China is the country with the tenth largest number of couch surfing population. In 2012, it has over 30,000 members from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Hong Kong, of which, about 4,600 are Hong Kong citizens. In Hospitality Club, over 6,000 people from China have signed up as members. Seeing online travel community became all the rage, iHaoke based in Taiwan was launched in 2008. Now it is the only couch surfing website that serves merely Chinese people. Although no couch surfing website is based in the Mainland, Chinese couch surfers are now forming their own community via online discussion forum such as Douban.com.
By Katheleen Wong Edited by Katheleen Wong
he sun shines its rays on you and me. And the gentle breeze rolls over the cheeks, like a kiss. All the beautiful imageries are lucrative to a relaxing odyssey. Yet none of these is as exciting as having local companions guiding you to embrace their culture. Envisage how nice it would be when a Greek host invites you for a glass of Assyrtiko wine and chitchat on a white rooftop surrounded by the grand sea view of Santorini. And here are some websites that helps meeting new people abroad:
Being the first free couch surfing website, Couchsurfing.org has become a classic. It provides everything that a traveller needs: a friend to adventure with, the recommendation for great gathering places, as well as the hostsâ€™ information in different cities. Sign up an account and fill in the profile. The more complete your reference is, the higher the change you get to meet new people.
For a one-off payment at US$9.99, users get to contact the potential travel buddies and latest reviews for hotels. You may tailor search to the gender and age of the trip companions.
Servas International This community of over 60year history offer an alternative for backpackers with high security. Members are entitled to an annual subscription fee, with interview required when applying for a membership.
But if you say, “Oh, I have a long holiday and I want something extraordinary.” Here comes a list of useful websites that helps plan a meaningful vacation and lift your life to another level.
The platform grants you an alternative to a green living style. By volunteering in an organic farm for four to six hours per day, you get a full day’s food and free accommodation. The length of stay is negotiable with the hosts, either from two or three days, to as long as six months.
Away from organic farming, Gapyear offers a wider range of volunteering programmes, such as building an orphanage in Cambodia and saving endangered species with Worldwide Experience.
Be Welcome is an open discussion forum connects you with local people. Monitored by a group of volunteers, the website replies you promptly for any home stay and tour guide request.
Hosts in Workaway offer both work exchange and volunteer projects. Search the place and work you are looking for and send the host a request. Here you live a life that you want to lead.
WAYN is more like a platform for traveller blogs where you get to know a little bit of everything about your destinations. Talk to the members and get to know about the detailed maps and tips for routes. Media image from Wwoof
“Couch Surfing is a matter of luck” Angel Chau Sin-man, 21, an undergraduate is to share her adventurous travel stories as a couch surfer
ouch surfing, to me, is a travel style that depends greatly on “luck”. With bless, one may meet life-long friends in the journey; if unfortunate, it can be a nightmare. But whatever we have gone through, it turns out to be a life experience. I have always been a travel fanatic and I used to visit China a lot. For sure, my first try on couch surfing began in the Mainland. But it was off to a bad start. About one and a half year ago, I found myself a host in Xian. Yet when I arrived, she kept away with me by saying her apartment was too messy to stay after party. Not until I went on exchange last semester in Chile did I picked up couch surfing again as it is so popular in America. But this time, all I wanted was just a day-trip companion to show me around town in San Diego, the city which I was to stay for three months. I posted a request online and got instant replies. My first mate with couch surfing was a 19-year-old Chilean girl. We took a night walk around the city centre and visited tourist spots like Baquedano, Bellavista and Plaza de Armas. It was not anything exciting but the pleasant ambience chatting with a new friend tempt me to explore more about couch surfing. And the best time I have had was in Buenos Aires. My host told me that he has been to Hong Kong and immediately we found a lot in common to chat with. It feels great to meet someone
overseas who knows about your city. What most awesome is that he has a flexible working schedule as an architect and he could be my tour guide. Do not look at me in doubt. You really need “luck” to get the hosts to accompany you. Usually people have to work and would only left you their keys. Some of them may even set up strict house rules. Then the best thing you earn is no more than a free place to live in. But this Argentina host is just amazing He took me to numerous well-known galleries and museums, such as the national art museum Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires Malba. He did not just take me there. He introduced me the history and character of each of the art exhibits. It was more than a lecture to me, a student in visual studies. We ended up being good friends. Of course things crab sometime when you meet the wrong people. I still remember the nightmare to Lima, Peru, in November. My original host turned down the offer all in a sudden when I arrived at the city and I had to find a new host. Things went smoothly
Angel Chau Sin-man (left) and her host Gaston Santana (right) we
at first. I got an offer from a highrating host who said he has a spare room for guest. However, the host actually took me to somewhere like a serviced apartment in the countryside and said, “I cannot take you to my house as it is redecorating.” I felt sceptical but decided to stay as it was late in the day so I have no alternative. As he rent a single bedroom, he slept on the bed and I slept on the floor with my
ent party together in Buenos Aires.
own sleeping bag. Everything seems normal on the first day when we walked around town and had drinks. Nonetheless, the incubus came on the second night. After a whole-day trekking, I was drowsy in sleep and suddenly I felt something hairy moving around my boobs. When I opened my eyes, I saw the host holding his hand back with an embarrassed look. I was angry and completely
awake. I stared at him but he pretended sleeping. So I shouted at him and said, “I am going to call the police.” At first, he asked me not to do so but in abrupt he went strict to invite me for sex. I was scared and insistedmy stance. For the next half of the night I could not even sleep. I moved my sleeping bag to the corner of room, sit and waited for the dawn. When the sun rose, I fled before the man woke up. I would not say I have lost confident on couch surfing after that as this travelling community based fundamentally on trust. People occasionally gave awkward offer but sometimes with good reason. When I was in Argentine, a day-trip mate kept asking me home once after we met, without an explanation. I felt weird since I have just known him. But as I did not know how to reject I followed him home eventually. In surprise, I met all his family members and his mother cooked us a delicious Argentina meal. They also introduced me some well-liked local music and the best places to visit in their country. So, who can predict what they will get in the journey before giving it a try? My only tip is that looking up for the hosts’ references may give you a heads-up on who you should stay with. By Katheleen Wong Edited by Katheleen Wong
The red sofa was the couch where Angel Chau Sinman’s sleptt on when she stayed in Buenos Aires.
The hosts of Angel Chau Sin-man in Cordoba, Argentina are two boys and they played console at night.
Angel Chau Sin-man usually cooked for herself while staying at Gaston Santana’s house, especially for dinner.
Photo provided by Angel Chau Sin-man
“a right couch makes a great Travel experience” Grande Luk Chi-ho, 26, spends only HK$8,000 to visit 11 European cities in six weeks
look for hosts in different cities as I believe the local people know the best about where to go and what to play at a reasonable price. But the research needed to ensure a perfect CS experience is way more than I had thought. A year ago I was in Germany for exchange and developed a habit to stay at friends’ home while traveling. My local friends in Leipzig, Offenburg and Strasburg know all the authentic places to dine and visit. The practice to stay at friends’ home once has to cease when I was heading to Paris as my friend was Grande Luk unable to host. But then in Paris. she suggested me to look for hosts online. That was when I really started couch surfing. The homework I have done was far more than I had expected. Whereas some CSers do not host, some could not offer the right time period even if they were willing to let you stay. For my trip to Paris, I sent out over 50 requests and got only two “yes” replies. When I was about to give up, I got a reply from a French Chinese girl who invited me to stay in her apartment. And, she was the first person I met in Europe who could communicate with me in Cantonese and we eventually become friends. The hosts I met later in Prague, Wroclaw and Warsaw were all nice
and I particularly like the couple I stayed with in Wroclaw. They took me to see the famous bridges such as Oławski Bridge, Peace Bridge and told me the history of their country. They also planned the itinerary for me when they were too busy to accompany me. I felt like I was with my flatmates at school dormitory as we would do grocery shopping together. However, the likelihood to get a good host relies on a heavy research beforehand. I often started looking up for host about two weeks Chi-ho travelled alone before my jaunt. I like people who had a lot of hosting experiences and positive comments. I read not only the profiles of the host but also those who left him positive comments. For sure, I tend to look for younger hosts as they usually are more easy-going. If you do not mind people smoking or have a pet, you will find a great range of hosts to choose from. Occasionally, the young hosts bring you surprise. In Prague, I was planning to visit the club where my host worked part-time. When I got there, the queue was just lenthy. But my host came and brought me in right through the entry. I still remember the amazed
look from people waiting in the queue. I felt like a VIP without having to wait and even pay the entrance fee. As a budget traveller, I care more about the experience I gained then the enjoyment in the journey. I tried to keep the transportation fee at minimal by taking bus instead of flight. I usually had bread as meal to save. With couch surfing and friends’ hosting, I could even save all the accommodation expenses. In the end I spent only HK$8,000 for the six-week travel. Now I am planning another journey with couch surfing. And I have recommended some friends to join such cultural exchange. I had a hint for people who are fresh to CS – always grasp the initiative to approach the hosts rather than letting them to invite you. It is particular important for female surfers. For many stories I have heard from my fellow surfers, the guys who provide instant offers to girls are usually pervert. Good luck to all and pick the right couch for a save trip!
Grande Luk Chi-ho’s couch in Paris.
Photo provided by Grande Lu Chi-ho, Written By Katheleen Wong Edited by Katheleen Wong
Safety Tips H
ey boys and girls, raise your safety cautious when travelling solo. Here is a checklist for you, gathered from couch surfing websites and travel bloggers. Read before you pack your luggage!
General Rules Exclusives for Female Travellers Review Profiles carefully
Make sure you spend time reading thoroughly the profile of your host or guest. Not only check out what they say about themselves, but also the experience other members have with them.
Communicate via online platform
Do not leave your personal number or email address before you feel comfortable with the new person. Find out the following before offline interaction: - Hosts or surfers’ real name, clear photos and descriptions of themselves - If applicable, information and photos of the hosts’ couches - The privacy and freedom your hosts allows you, e.g. where you’ll sleep, what the common areas are, house rules - Safety precautions you need to take in the hosts’ neighbourhood - For hosts, you may ask to check your guests’ identification
Trust your intuition
If you feel unsafe with any person or situation, make yourself clear and do not feel rude to point it out.
Understand the culture where you are travelling
Get to know the cultural sensitivities of the place you are travelling, as well as the general safety recommendations there.
Report abuse to the platform you are using
Should you find any unpleasant experience, report to the administrators of your couch surfing website, so that they can help you and alerts others for similar incident at the same time.
1. When you travel alone, consider staying with other women or families. 2. Only share your private contact information with those you have decided to meet. Do not post it on your public profile. 3. Remember there is no obligation to reply all messages. If you suspect a message is a spam, just report or ignore it. 4. Be sure of your boundaries and state them clearly. If you do not feel safe with someone, do not go with him or her: - As a host, do not be afraid to ask people to leave. - As a surfer, leave whenever you find somewhere unsafe and always make back-up plans. 5. Educate yourself about the cultural and religious difference from place-to-place. Be aware of the gender roles across the globe.
are you ready for the adventures? On y va.
Fast Fact Full name: Swiss Confederation Population: 8.04 million [Swissworld.org] Non-Swiss nationals: 23.3 percent of the population [Swissworld.org] Capital: Bern Largest city: Zurich (87.88 km2) Area: 41,284 km2 Major languages: German, French, Italian, Romansch Major religion: Christianity Life expectancy: 85 years (women); 80 years (men) [UN] Monetary unit: 1 Swiss Franc = Around HK$ 8.8 GDP: Fr603.21 billion (2013) [SECO]
When to go
From any city in Switzerland, in any time, you get a fascinating view of this giant mountain range covered with a blanket of snow, lying peacefully on the mirror-like lake. But if you are looking for some exciting outdoor sports, or lively greenish scenery on the foot of the mountain, summer will be the best season. The peak season for tourism comes between June and September,
Destination Guide when the average temperature in daytime is around 18 to 28 °C. The temperature varies with altitude. If you are visiting Jungfraujoch, the temperature can be as low as -1 °C. Even between July and August, the hotel occupancy rate is just around 50 percent. Should you book in advance, you will definitely get a bed. Of course if you travel at the shoulder months of the peak season, you will find better deals for
accommodation, at a lower price and have more rooms to choose from. For those who look for skiing, bear in mind most ski resorts start operating since early December till the end of April. The best month to go would probably be January, the coldest in a year, when the temperature drops to as low as -30 something °C.
A glimpse of Switzerland
witzerland, which boasts of its extraordinary abundance of natural beauty, has long been a fabulous place for vacation. But our impression of it is usually that many rich people own a private bank account there, like Leonardo DiCarprio does in the “Wolf of Wall Street.” The high banking secrecy has much to do with the country’s armed
neutrality since 1815 – it did not involve in any major war in the 20th century: neither the First nor Second World War. The exquisiteness of natural landscape is thus well preserved. Although the country is not a member of the European Union, it does not exclude completely from international affairs. The League of Nations has its headquarters in Geneva between 1929 and 1936 and in 2002 Switzerland became a full member of the United Nations.
Festivals and holidays New Year – January 1
The grand tour ofCostSwitzerland and price
As one of the wealthiest countries on earth, Switzerland is no doubt pricey. According to the Worldbank’s data in 2012, it has the seventh highest GDP per capita at US$53,208.56 (around HK$412,900). So, lay away money even if you are a budget traveller. The reason to make sure your wallet is fat is that even the price of fast food is exorbitant. A set menu of Big Mac in Switzerland costs you 11.7 CHF (around HK$102.3). With
Good Friday* – The Friday before Easter Easter Monday* – The Monday after Easter Ascension Day* – a Thursday in May Swiss National Holiday – August 1 Christmas – December 25, 26 * Date varies each year Note that each city has their own legally recognized holidays.
that price, you can buy almost three same meals in Hong Kong. Crazy? No. I tried to save by having microwaved spaghetti from supermarket, which costs about 6.5 CHF each (around HK$56.8). But I promise. You will not have enough of it, not because of its taste, but the petite size. The 2012 statistics says prices are 62 percent higher in Switzerland than the EU average (100 percent), a benchmark used by the Eurostat.
Before we start... L
et’s take a look at some glamorous itineraries that guide us through an in-depth tour. Each of these routes takes us to appreciate different aspect of the tranquillity of this aloof but romantic country in different aspect.
1. Classic route: Geneva to Zurich The most popular travel route that covers the most cosmopolitan cities
2. Circular road-less route: Chur to Val Plan to stay two weeks or more? This is a relaxing route leading you away from the wilderness of mountain
Travel Notes M
y journey in Switzerland has been a peaceful and memorable one. Surrounded by the crystal-clear sky and water, I felt not a bit of winter blues between the late December and early January. Like many first-time visitors, my friends and I took the traditional route. Considering we just had eight days, we visited only Geneva, Bern, Interlaken, Luzern and Zurich. While the cities are embracing similar scenery of the Alps, each of them carries different attractions.
3. Glaciers Express: Zermatt to St Moritz Should you have inadequate time, you may consider also this raditional rail journey. It lasts around seven hours and gives you a glance of exotic scenery in Switzerland.
Media image from Glacier Express
The gateway to Switzerland took merely one hour flight from Paris. Any tourist could get a free train ticket from the airport to the city centre. The ticket is effective within half an hour. And, that was when we got the first taste of the country’s train facility –quiet and punctual. The real visit began after hostel check in. A relax trekking around the city’s top tourist spots took roughly two hours. Entailed in the hostel-offered transport card is the yellow taxi boat. The short but amusing ride to the old town brought a complete view of the city. From any angle of the Lake Léman, we saw the Jet d’Eau, the landmark of Geneva. Got off the boat, we walked from the Flower Clock, the birthplace of watchmaking, to the fountain which could eject up to 30 metres high. Watch closer, it revealed a rainbow in its falling harp-shape water vapours. Along the lake shore were
On the way to trees with a â€œfunkyâ€? appearance scent of cheese like smelly feet town, we saw the like having plenty meteor hammers filled the whole surroundings. It cloud gliding slowly hanging on took time (for from one side of the the branches, non-cheese mountain to another, which looked fan) to get same as those incongruous familiar with people paragliding. with the stilly it. With only The extreme sports were popular environment. CHF 25 we even in winter. One by one, the But local people got a cheese participants landed slowly on the fondue to said the plane lawn where the sunshine poured trees are most Platanus, also known as plane tress, are commonly found share with. and burned our eyes even we had Served with c o m m o n l y in Switzerland. sunglasses on. it were liberal found in their To look over the whole of the quantities of bread and boiled country; they intentionally pruned city, we went up to the Virtual Tour potatoes to dip. The dish was salty them after their leaves fell in the of Metropole Hotel, the highest but the taste of cheese was not as fall. building in town. There we saw thick as it smells. The last stop we took to in a thin misty fog enfolding the Geneva was the Palace of Nations. Interlaken mountainside of the Though not noted on the official Alps. The sunshine Of the five website, personal experience told penetrated the fog, cities we visited, us that the palace is not for visit overlaying on the Interlaken was between Christmas and the midbrown roof tops of the worth the most to January. napping city. spend time in being Bern Shops in the town the must-pass to sold a diversified array Jungfraujoch, the The visit to Switzerlandâ€™s of souvenirs, from Top of Europe. capital was improvised as we had boutiques to handThe view which an unplanned made gifts like wood a tranquil city afternoon. crafted bears. Hotels surrounded by a With its Old and cafes there offered range of snowy City being light lunch with mountains was the World chocolate fondue and fascinating. Heritage, Bern We stayed in Skiers brought their dog to skiing resort. herbal tea for two to has a mixed Dinner for three: a cheese fondue three people to share. the Youth Hostel of historic plus sausage with preserved lettuce. The cruise to Thun sailed right next to the rail station. and modern twice a day. One departed at 11.40 Staff members there were always architectures. am whereas another proceeded at willing to suggest the itinerary The nightlife is far more flourished 2.10 pm. Each tour lasted for about for the guests based on their time than the other cities too, with shops two hours and the fee was already allowed. and bars operating for a longer entailed in the Swiss pass. A typical day in Interlaken is time. The trip contained six stops simple: ramble to the city centre But our try of the traditional and each took the travellers to from Interlaken West; take a cheese fondue was not as satisfying a picturesque fishing village cruise trip to Thun; then, return as imagined. Once entered the or a historic castle. As a photo in bus or rail. restaurant La Mazot, the strong
enthusiast, the amazing journey just killed my camera battery. We spared another full day to Jungfrau and it was simply enough to visit the Ice Museum. Anyone who planned to ski definitely needed one more day. One could buy the Jungfrau tickets online or via a hostel. With a Swiss pass, we got 50 percent off for the rail from Interlaken to the transfer to Wengernalp Railway and a 25 percent off for the final train to the European top. The rail to Grindelwald was all too packed with skiers. Some even brought their dogs to the resort. The final train to Jungfraujoch involved two stops. At each stop it halted five minutes for the passengers to gradually get use to the thinner air with higher altitudes. Once arrived, travellers would pass through the mountain restaurant. The sets were large enough for one’s appetite while the taste might not be satisfying for his buds. Bringing a sandwich as lunch might be a better choice. A n d , at the 3,500 metre high mountain, we saw a romantic scene which The couple were reading their wedding vow at Jungfraujoch, the a couple got Top of Europe. married at the Top of Europe, signifying their love was as consolidate as the Alps. The experience to the Jungfrau then turned from a bare accomplishment to a sweet memory. As unforgettable as such were the lively scriptures in the Ice Museum, where we saw polar bears and penguins at the same time. At the exit of the museum, the copper scriptures thoroughly recorded how this Karst Cave was dug in the old days.
renowned tourism city in northcentral Switzerland. By chance we went there at the New Year time when most of the shops and restaurants were closed. But as the most populous city in central Switzerland, the ambience was lively with plenty people strolling alongside the Luzern Lake. Across the Reuss River were some famous ancient bridges for sightseeing, such as the Chapel Bridge and the Spreuer Bridge. Rendering around the city, the most unforgettable piece of art we saw was the Lion Monument. It situated in the park besides the Glacier Museum. The lion was carved out of a giant size of natural rock in the memory of the deaths of Swiss mercenaries at the Tuilleries in 1792. It was just moving with the painful expression of the lion clearly shown and a drop of blood stain was fall
Zurich The largest city of Switzerland was our last stop in this country and we had only half a day here. The Zurich West district was more commercialized with plenty modern buildings. Far from the rail station we could already see the Prime Tower, the highest building in the city. The afternoon stroll began with a window shopping in the Zurich centre. The main street was hustle and bustle and lots of people gathered in the chocolate shops where they delivered free try of their new flavours. Another nice “little village” to visit was the Old Town district of the Niderdorf. This is surely the place for antiquarian book lovers and craft fanatics. And, the top views sweeping across the rooftops of churches, Old Town, from Lindenhof was gorgeous. On the tree-shaded square above the River Limmat, we also found some huge chess board and chesses on the ground for visitors to play with. A group of elder people then kicked off a “chess battle” here.
Endnotes for the journey The intriguing side for Switzerland takes time to delve into. While the activities for budget travellers might be fewer, it is still good to reserve five to six days for a taste of every of these exquisite cities.
The Lion Monument under the warmth of sunlight.
Luzern The visit to Luzern lied on a hope to the cosmopolitan life of the By Katheleen Wong Edited by Katheleen Wong
tRANSPORTATION tIPS M
ost budget travellers are frustrated with the expensive transportation fee in Switzerland. Usually people buy a rail pass that covers unlimited travel via rail, bus and boat to save. But even the pass itself is not cheap. A second-class four-day pass for youth under 26 costs 204 CHF (roughly HK$1,807). Check the price list below: 1st class
Age under 26
Here comes the dilemma: when you plan to stay six days, an eight-day pass is not worthwhile. Were you to buy a four-day pass, you inevitably had to pay the heavy transportation fees for two days and lost the free entrance to museum. No worries. Several cities in Switzerland offer free local transportation. Plan the itinerary carefully, you will certainly figure out the cheapest route.
All overnight guests will receive an Arosa All-inclusive Card. With this, you get free ride on cable cars, buses and boat, plus free entrance to attractions like ice sports hall and Rope Park. Day-trip trekkers may buy the card at 18 CHF.
Overnight guests in Basel will receive a Mobility Ticket, which offers free transport between the city centre and Zones 10, 11, 13, 15, as well as the EuroAirport.
CHF 476.0 CHF 552.0
Age under 26
CHF 238.0 CHF 276.0
10% discount for 2 persons or more (does not apply for Youth or Children passes)*
In the capital, you need to pay 12 CHF for a day travel card at the moment. Here comes the good news: start from this summer, every guest automatically receives a “Bern Ticket” if he stays overnight. Cycling fans may rent bicycle for free at any “Bern Rollt”. Just provide a valid ID and 20 CHF deposit, you will get two-hour of ride.
Same in Davos, you get a Davos Klosters Card without a penny if you book a hostel. Apart from free local transports, you get discounts for all range of activities, from paragliding to museum visiting with the card. In summer and winter, you obtain exclusive discounts for different activities.
If you stay in a hotel, hostel or a campsite, you will receive a Geneva Transport Card for free. With this card, you may also
cross the Lake Léman via the yellow taxi boat at no cost.
You get a free transport card upon check-in to hotel, which covers the second-class public transportation system in zones 11, 12, 15, 16, 18 and 19 for each traveller.
Travellers can get a Luzern card for free transport but only if you book the hotel or hostel through the official page or email of Luzern Tourism. However, regardless of where you book the accommodation, you may get a Lake Luzern Region Visitors Card upon check-in. This card grants you discount for all range of activities.
But In return to the resort tax, travellers in the Interlaken Holiday Region can get a Guest Card. It offers a range of discounts in the Jungfrau Region and grants you free public transport. By Katheleen Wong Edited by Katheleen Wong
A perfect night out in March Beer and music Friends and fun Find them all in just one party
ey! It’s party time. Grab your drinks and meet people. If you get bored with bigbrand beers in the bars, join me to the Beertopia. The first and only craft beer festival in Hong Kong offers over four hundred alternatives from the worldwide. First began in 2012, Beertopia presents partiers not only with drinks but also life band performances and beer games at the West Kowloon Waterfront. Even if you are not a party fanatic, the festival just won’t let you down. Once entered the venue, participants got a brochure and a plastic little wine glass. Inside the brochure are a lucky draw ticket and some tokens for food and drinks. With the wine glass, you could taste a bit of all kinds of ale. I was dizzy when exposes to such a wide range of beer choices. But the brewers were always ready to introduce their products when they see someone stood in front of their stall with a confusing face. And, this is one of the reasons why I love this party: you learn how beers are brewed from different origins while drinking. After picking yourself some decent drinks and food, you might
sit in front of the life-band stage, where tables and benches are all ready for people to chitchat. Embracing the gentle sea breeze, the place has a perfect ambience – not as crowd as Knutsford Terrace; nor as noisy as Lan Kwai Fong. The festival’s founder Jonathan So said as the venue is larger this year, his team built another DJ stage at the inner tip of the walking path so that people
could walk from stage to stage for the music they like. Under the fancy blue tent with softer music, partiers stood close to each other around the table and shared their joy. Some more passionate participants even sat on the grass and started some flirty chat. I admire Mr So’s philosophy that meeting people is the key of partying. But I do find trying out delicious food after having some aromatic beer more rewarding. And, here in the festival, the brewers do offer specialties. One desert I like most is the icecream in different beer flavours: The sorbet in apple cider flavour has a fruity sour taste and melt gently in the mouth; the ice-cream in caramel beer flavour has a rich layer which you feel the sweetness first at the tip of the tongue, then the fragrant and bitterness of beer at the throat. The brewing company said the ice-cream was specially made for Beertopia and is not to be sold elsewhere. No wonder so many girls lined up at this stall to check the “limited edition” out. The three-day event ended on March 15 but will definitely be back next year. If you are travelling to Hong Kong, why not consider a night out partying next to the awesome harbour view? Have fun! By Katheleen Wong Edited by Katheleen Wong
Q&A with beertopiaâ€™s founder J ust before the festival, I chatted with the man behind the event, Jonathan So, and pick the thought on how he organised Beertopia.
What inspired you to start up Beertopia in Hong Kong? In the United States, there are lots of beer festivals and a wide range of ales to choose from. Unlike in Hong Kong, what you get in 7-Eleven and the bars are nothing but the dominant brands. It will be good to introduce new things to the city. What are the preparation works for such a huge event? We mainly work on the logistic stuff. As we have a small team, everything is started from
the ground-up, particular when our venue is at the West Kowloon Waterfront. It is basically a blank campus so even the mobile toilets are built by us. What are the differences for Beertopia this year, compared to the last? In the past, Beertopia only last for one day. But this year, we extend it to three days. On the first day, we have a trading section which serves only professionals in the beer industry and is closed to the public. As we have a larger venue this year, we built two stages: one is rock-band and another is DJ stage, so that people can choose the music they like. And I am very happy to say we
have vendors representing Hong Kong finally. We invited four local brewers this time. What kind of beer will suggest to the participants? Everyone has different preference. Personally I like IPA (India pale ale, a hoppy beer style) beer for its bitter taste. For people who like the aromatic flavour of wheat, I recommend dark beer. I like it a lot. How is the ticket sale? We are selling pretty well. In the last two years, we have over 6,000 candidates. Having extended the length of the festival, we hope there will be 12,000 people joining us this year. Interviewed by Katheleen Wong
The historical capital of Bohemia
ituated in the northwest of Vltava River, Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Its native name Praha is derived from a modern Czech word “práh (threshold)”, a legendary etymology connects with princess Libuše, the wife of the mythical founder of Premyslid dynasty. Now the city is home to around 1.3 million people. Main attractions include Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square. Yet to the local people, the most beautiful part of the city is no doubt Ceský Krumlov, a small town entails 3 hours of travel from the centre. There, you immerse in the peacefulness brought by the tranquillity of the dreamy little town.
Gallery By Katheleen Wong Edited by Katheleen Wong
ridge Band, composes the most elegant music that accompanies every visitor for a romantic stroll on the Charles Bridge. In another end of the city, Ceský Krumlov dozes under the lullaby of sunshine. City Centre Ceský Krumlov
Date: May 2 to June 28 Venue: Various venues Website: www.frenchmay.com
The music of Zhao Jiping
Events in Hong kong – MAY
The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra is bringing you the music to the ears – the renowned pieces of Zhao Jiping, the master of contemporary Chinese music.
Date: May 10 Venue: Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Admission: HK$100, 150, 250, 300 Website: www.hkco.org
2014 Mega Ice Hockey 5’s
eep your stick on the ice, man, and your eyes on the calendar. Don’t you seasoned fans want to miss the city’s premier ice hockey tournament!
Seeking a whole new world for modern arts? This art-show platform gathering the works of half the galleries from all over AsiaPacific is striking. Date: May 15 to May 18 Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Admission: Various prices Website: www.artbasel.com
Date: April 28 to May 10 Venue: Mega Ice, L10-1 MegaBox, 38 Wang Chiu Road, Kowloon Bay Admission: Free Website: www.megaice.com.hk
Charlie Chaplin – City Lights Thinking of a humorous cultural tour? The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra is presenting you Charlie Chapin’s masterpieces, “City Lights” and “Kid Auto Races”. Date: May 2 to May 3 Venue: Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Admission: HK$120, 160, 200, 280 Website: www.hkphil.org
Le French May
The world largest French arts festival in Asia brings you the richest cornucopia of cool cultural stuff: music, movies, dance and fashion.
Having starred in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the perfect 80-minute show combine the strength and power of workmen with tap dancing.
Date: May 20 to May 25 Venue: Lyric Theatre, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts Admission: Various prices Website: www.tapdogs.com/theshow
WORD OF MOUTH•24
Word of mouth Vox Populi
here do you want to go for the next vacation? Let’s take to people from different ages and find out!
Leung Kam-yuet, 22, a sales officer, “I always think that France is a romantic country. I hope to travel there with my boyfriend.”
Leo Wong Lap-fung, 19, a student at Hong Kong Baptist University, “ I want to go to Akihabara and buy comic books.”
Violet Yung Kit-king, 21, a student at Hong Kong University, “ I ‘d love to check the pretty temples and nice tourist service in Japan.”
Dennis Hung, 28, a human resource specialist, “I’d love to visit Paris for its art culture and attractive history.”
Winnie Ling Wai-lin, 24, an event organiser at Hong Kong Baptist University, “France has a strong atmosphere of art and slow pace of life.”
Wyrane Wong Wai-on, 21, a student at University of Science and Technology,” I’d like to know how serious global warming has been. And, I want to challenge myself.”
Vicky Lau Wing-ki, 23, office assistant, “Iceland is a beautiful country which I’d always love to visit since I was three.”
Jacky Wong Wai-ching, 22, a student at Hong Kong Baptist University,”my favourite musian is from Germany so I want to visit there so much.”
Rainbow Lee Yi-hung, 22, freelance translator, “The ancient Rome architecture in Italy are magnificent.”
Katheleen Wong (Student No. 11014717), Hong Kong Baptist University, 2013-2014, Honour Project