Hong Kong and going home

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Hong Kong and going home, a set on Flickr.

It was raining first thing this morning when we pulled back the blinds to our harbor view. Once showered we were down stairs to the forth floor and our final buffet breakfast.
We decided to pack our bags, put them in storage and get the Hop On Hop Off bus around this side of the harbor on the blue line for the remaining time that we had left.
We were on the bus by 11am and the sun was trying to come through. From the top viewing deck of the bus it was getting very hot again so we were thankful when the bus was moving to enjoy the cooling breeze. The first stop the bus made was quite a way off and the commentary about the area and the history was again very interesting.
We got off at the stop that gave access to an area known as ‘The Ladies Market’ in Shanghai St in Langham Place. This is in fact one of the busiest streets and most heavily populated areas in the world.
The market was huge and as we wondered along found many more bits to buy.
Time flew along and it was not long before we needed to head back to the bus stop to catch it back to our hotel via the rest of the blue line route. As it was the weekend we noticed locals lining up outside the designer stores of Louis Vuitton and Chanel as only so many are allowed in at a time.(see pics)
Once back at the hotel we collected our bags from the storage and they organized a taxi for us back to the airport.
Once inside the airport we changed our light clothes for the warmer jeans and long sleeve shirts etc we would need when we arrived home.
Hong Kong airport is large and again we found ourselves on the internal train and being wiscked away to our gate area and awaited boarding.


I am writing this last entry on the plane and only 30mins from landing at Auckland. We have been privileged to have enjoyed and amazing holiday that has taken us from one side of the world to the other. We are feeling pretty damed pleased with our organization of everything as there was not one real hick up at all.
The cabin crew are now asking us to put our gear away and prepare for landing so will do that now. We have a few hours wait before the final flight back to Dunedin where Debbie will pick us up and take us to our own home.

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Hong Kong day two

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Hong Kong day two, a set on Flickr.

17/7/2011

Today dawned a bit brighter so after another hearty buffet breakfast at the hotel we headed for the ferry terminal to get the short trip across to Hong Kong Island. The cost for this is just $HKG3 approx NZ50cents each. Once we figured out how to use the vending machine to get the token, we were on the old ferry and quickly arrived on the other side.
Our plan was to get to the viewing area high on the hill known as Tower Peak. To get there we needed to get on bus number 15c and then from the Honk Kong park bus stop and get the tram to the top of the hill. We found the bus stop and got on the bus. Sheree handed the bus driver what she thought was a $HKG 10 note for the fair. The driver just looked at her blankly and making gestures that this was no good. A quick check of the note we realized that she was handing him an English 10 pound note. We then fossiced around for another note and eventually found a $HKG 10. We handed this to the driver at which point he then makes further guestures and explains in pidgeon english that he does not give change. We got off the bus to stares from the now impatient que of people behind us.
We find a Seven Eleven at the pier and purchase a drink and get some change, but by this time the bus has left. It is getting very hot and humid and we frustratingly stand and decide what to do next. A lady selling the Hop On Hop Off bus service approaches us and does a brilliant sales job on us explaining that the ques to the tram are very long and she can get us priority tickets to dodge the ques as well as further ferry tickets for a 48 hr time frame for the 24hour price but the next bus leaves in five minutes. In the next couple of minutes and $HKG 640 (NZ $100) we are on the bus and headed for the tram stop and then on to the viewing area. After this a trip around Hong Kong Island with a commentary via the earphones on the bus for the for the rest of the day. The screen on the bus advises that the temperature is now 37deg it is very humid and even though we are outside on the open top deck we are fanning ourselves and sweating perviously.
We arrive at the tram ride entrance and there is a huge que winding along the road. It is at this point that the thought of standing here in the heat (had we got the original bus) makes our Hop On Hop Off Bus purchase very worth while, when within a short wait in the priority que we are on the tram and heading up the hill. The incline on the way up is equivalent to that of Baldwin St in Dunedin but the loaded tram makes the trip effortlessly. We have to purchase further tickets once at the top to get to the viewing platform outside. This is only $HKG 30 each and the view is incredible looking over Hong Kong harbour and all the skyscrapers (see pics).
Once we have taken in all we can from here we start heading down the escalator which leads to the Hubba Bubba shrimp and prawn themed restaurant (see pics) based on the film Forrest Gump. We decide to have lunch here and get taken to our table that affords us a stunning view over the harbour and we order our food. On the table there are two signs like car number plates that you can flip over. One says ‘Run Forrest Run’ and the other says ‘Stop Forrest Stop’. The idea here being if you want help or want to order more food you just flip it over to the stop sign…brilliant. This is one of the best themed restaurants we have been to and the service was brilliant along with the shrimp and prawn meals we ordered. On the way out we bought Tshirts and hats for ourselves and they gave us a free bag because of our spend amount.
The steep tram ride back down is uneventful and we are soon back on the bus and touring around Hong Kong. It is very interesting and great to hear the stories of the cities history and to discover the names and identities of many of the skyscrapers. The afternoon passes quickly and we are soon back at our original start point at the pier and planing what to do next.
Sheree wants to buy a nice watch so we decide to have a look at some of the shops here. There is a bewildering array and volume of jewelry shops and the choices are just staggering but nothing jumps out at Sheree, so we carry on back to the ferry and then to our hotel.
Still feeling fill from lunch we just eat some of the fruit supplied in our hotel room and watch the light show on the harbor again. We then head back out in search of a watch. After further searching we finally find a very nice, latest style Calvin Klein watch made in Switzerland.
The heat of the evening is wearing on us and after visiting a few more shops we wearily head back to the hotel room for a final look at all the lights over the harbor before pulling the blinds and contemplating our last part day here and the flight home.

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Hong Kong day one

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Hong Kong day one, a set on Flickr.

 

16/7/2011

The day has dawned cloudy and rainy and we had a very broken sleep due to the jet lag and difference in time frames.
Breakfast was a full buffet style in the hotel as part of the room rate and there was plenty of it. After this we found that our new room with the full harbor view was available so we quickly changed rooms. The view was great and the room was identical to the previous one other than that.
Because of the weather we were restricted to what we could do. The concierge advised us that there was heavy rain in the areas that many of the sight seeing tours went and the high viewing points would have very restricted visibility. There was a space museum across the road in the Cultural Centre so we went there for a look. Once inside it did not look that great so we did not pay to look any further. There was however a great shop attached that sold may 3 and 4D human anatomy models. Sheree found a great example of a molar (tooth) so got one of these for work.
Now at a bit of a lose end as to what to do next, we wandered along the harbor front and came across a large Chinese Junk that was just about to leave for an afternoon trip to an outlying area near Chung Hom Wan. There was also an authentic market known as the Stanley Market. We took up the offer of the round trip and within minutes we were aboard, being offered drinks and a very comfortable lounger seat (see movie and pics). It was a bit windy and the sea was rough so this made for an exciting trip that took about and hour and a half. The views along the way reinforced just how many skyscrapers there are here in Hong Kong.  From the water they look like soldiers standing to attention all along the islands edges.
Disembarking was a real treat as it was so rough we had to stand at the side of the boat and at the right moment that the swell leveled the boat with the jetty and with the crews help, you took a leap of faith off (see movie). This was really exciting but when you think about it, also quite dangerous.
We had just over an hour and a half to explore the Stanley Market before the return trip so started the five minute walk to the stalls. Along the way we saw a reasonably new boat submerged (see pic) and unfortunately quite a bit of pollution in the water. There was a lot to see here and many stalls with bargains to be had and we bargained for several items.
With our hands and packs full of goodies we returned to the waiting boat at the jetty and repeated the same precarious exercise back on board. Once under way the drinks came out for the trip home. Along the way you get a better view of a fun park known as Ocean Park (see pics) that has hair raising rides on roller coasters etc high in the hills with a large cable car winding it’s way around the mountain side.
It was just after 5pm by the time we returned and we took a stroll along the Avenue of Stars on the water front that has all the Chinese movie stars. The only one we really recognized was Bruce Lee (see pics).
After a coffee at Starbucks (see movie) we went back to the Hotel to off load our purchases. Once back we went for a swim at the very nice hotel pools. Back at our room we took the time to again view the harbor light show that we could now cleary see from our fantastic vantage point in our new room.
We had heard of a night market called Temple Market which is about a half hour walk up Nathan Road. This road is one of Hong Kongs renowned shopping places with all the top brands and is inundated with hawkers trying to sell imitation watches, handbags and tailored suits. This place comes alive at this time of night and there is so much to see and take in so it took longer to finally arrive at the Temple Market. Again we indulged and filled our bags with many nick naks and before we knew it the time was midnight and we still had not had tea. By this time we were past wanting much so settled for Macdonalds before the wonder back down a now very different Nathan Road with all the shops closed.

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Hong Kong arrival

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Hong Kong Harbour light show

Hong Kong arrival, a set on Flickr.

We arrived into Hong Kong about an hour earlier than scheduled at 3:30pm.
Once off the plane it was a longish walk to an Internal train that scuttled you off to the customs and baggage claim area. We joined the long que at customs and once cleared we got our luggage and were ready to hit the streets of a city that has twice as many skyscrapers as New York.
Once you exit the airport the very humid 30deg temp hits you like some one has just opened a very large oven door in front of you.
We had decided to take a taxi for the half hour ride to our Hotel as it was only marginally more expensive than the shuttle bus at $HK246 (around $NZ40). the old guy at the wheel wisked us off once someone else translated for him where we wanted to go. Along the way he started slumping more and more over the wheel and when he veered over to the other lane so much that they tooted him loudly, it was evident that he was most probably falling asleep, not a great feeling as you are zooming along at 130kmh. Thankfully we arrived safely at the Salisbury YMCA Hotel that is surprisingly very nice and upmarket. We got our room that is to have a partial harbor view and once the porters arrived with our luggage at our nice room we quickly un packed and decided what to do with the rest of the evening.
After a quick look around the Hotel and the swimming pool area we asked the concierge where a good local place to eat close by might be and headed out. Sheree had also heard about a harbor light show that started at 8pm and went for 13mins so we decided to see that first and eat later. We had a look around some of the shops and I found a camera shop and started discussing lenses with the sales man. It was not long before I was negotiating the price of trading in my current lens for the newer and improved model but could not agree on price and in the end he got angry with me so we left empty handed. What he had offered was a very good deal but I was just being stubborn.
We found our way down to the wharf area and managed to catch the last half of the light show which was amazing to see all the Skyscrapers come alive with lights and laser beams across the water.
I decided to return to the camera shop and accept his offer for the trade in and new lens. When we got there he admitted to being angry with me but was still happy to do the deal.
We found the restaurant the concierge had suggested and had a great meal for approx $NZ50 including drinks. We wondered back to the hotel on this still hot evening and realized that our room actually had no harbor view at all. I went down to the reception explained the problem and they offered to upgrade us to a full harbor view for the rest of our stay as from tomorrow.

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Hong Kong

Sitting in transfer lounge at Hong Kong airport waiting for flight to board in about 10 mins. Had a very nice flight so far. Sitting next to a kiwi guy Graig Travis (he works at foodstuffs in CHCH and knows Phil Olsen). He is going to the uk to get married and he is really excited.
This leg of the journey is a bit longer at around 13 hrs so hope it does not drag on.
Felling pretty good so far and no jet lag thanks to homeopathic pills.

Location:S Runway Rd,,Hong Kong

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