Leaving a mark

Originally was going to be called “The one when I write about the train”.

I initially wrote this a few weeks ago. I never published it, but tonight on the tube home I came across it again and thought for a moment how, earlier in this week, people who had previously had no common denominator, other than being in the same place in the same time, just as I’d been on the train with the people below, were thrust into a common sense of being… A mark in their life, and sadly in some cases a mark of their life….

The tube is mundane. Every day for the last 13 months, I’ve chucked myself out of bed at the crack of dawn, thrown myself through the bathroom, wandered (or ran when late) to the bus stop. Shoved myself on the bus before spending best part of an hour crammed into a metal tube train.
There is a very good reason why some lines on the London Underground are described as “tubes”. Small circular tube shaped tunnels with small circular tube shaped trains. You’re often in closer proximity to a stranger than you’re happy being in with your friends, and most of the time during rush hour it’s an unpleasant experience.
Yet this evening, post drinks with an ex-colleague, I found something beautiful in the experience. Thinking a little about it, the enjoyment possibly stems from the hell-like experience before dinner. I took the Jubilee line. Typically British were the queues on the platform, yet unlike Brits, in the least prim and proper way, it was a free-for-all to find a small space to cram yourself into once on the train. A man placed his arm in my face and left it there… There I was, three stops inside a random man’s arm.
Yet tonight, I got on the train somewhere else, somewhere different to my normal commute. I missed the first train. I couldn’t see the screen as to where it was going. As it left, I said to myself, “There’s a reason that happened”
The train arrived and it was fairly empty. Three people in my section, another couple of people further up the carriage. We spread ourselves out (As only the best British, non-communicative commuters could do) and got hard to work ignoring each other.
Whilst doing our best to ignore each other, headphones in, kindle in hand, and nervously playing with a shopping bag, my mind started to wander. Wondering about the lives of these random people sat so close to me. So close, yet so far. I studied for a second the diversity within the carriage. I noticed the lady opposite me was wearing a Muslim headscarf. The lady further up was holding a bag from a supermarket which didn’t have an English name. By now others had got on the train. Some tourists holding a book, a man with ripped jeans and a bright red coat. He had blonde highlights and I noticed the bright contrast of colours.
I started wondering about these people’s lives… Their upbringing, their personal history. A story I’m so close to, yet in a few moments time will be yet again so far away from. Had the Muslim woman always worn a scarf? How would she feel if she knew the music playing in My IPod was a Jewish song? Where did the woman with the supermarket bag come from? What did the man in the ripped jeans do for a job?
As I started writing this, I noticed that almost as I was studying each person for a split second, they got up and left the train. As this percolated in my head, I realised I could have spoken to them, smiled at them… I became so close to making a mark in their current history, their life, their moment, but didn’t. I’d stopped paying attention to the music playing in my iPod and was focused on them for a split second. But they had no clue.
I came to the conclusion that chances are they wouldn’t want me to make a mark in their lives. I’m a randomer on the train. But… It’s made me think deeply about the mark I leave on other peoples lives… My family… My friends… The people I work with.
At the end of the day, we’re all just on a train to our destination… No train service in the world runs perfectly without delay. There’s always the chance to get a red signal. But while the service is good, you have to make the most of your journey and ensure you leave a good mark on those in your carriage. Everyone gets off at a different stop in life.
(Talking of which, it’s time for me to get off this train!)
In memory of the 22 people unjustly murdered earlier this week at the Arianna Grande concert in Manchester.

“We must fight terrorism as if there’s no peace process and work to achieve peace as if there’s no terror.” – Yitzhak Rabin

Day 11 – Shenzhen

So today was, for me a fairly early start. I was out of the residence of Hilzo just after 10am. Gutted that I missed the Escalators going downward I trudged down the stairs to Central MTR station. (To Clarify it’s a LOT of stairs… 20 minutes worth!)

From Central, I jumped on the MTR and three trains later arrived at the Boarder of Hong Kong with Mainland China. (AH!). Having been allowed to leave Hong Kong, I then had to find the visa office to be allowed into China. As I was pre-warned.. It’s not Clear.

I eventually found the escalator, took a number,  filled in the “application card” and waited. Thankfully within 10-15 mins my number popped up on the screen, and I was able to go to the first window. At the first window I handed over my passport, and was stared at before being told… “Processed”. Then I had to sit and wait to be called to the second window, where I paid, before another wait to collect my passport from the third window, now sporting a lovely whole page sticker!

Having been allowed in, my bags went into a metal detector and out of the station I went. I wandered down into the Shenzhen Metro station and tried (and failed a few times) to get a ticket to the Currencies Direct office in Shenzhen. Eventually a plastic coin dropped out the machine… after I’d put in the equivalent of about 40p. It would appear that would be my ticket. I scanned my bags again. (every Subway station in Shenzhen requires a bag x-ray!) Waved my coin onto the barrier and down into the metro I went.

It’s very similar to Hong Kong and mostly in English so was easy to navigate and soon enough I was at the station I needed to get off at. Dropped my coin in the slot and left the station… I found what I thought was the office but due to a slight confusion wasn’t so I jumped into a taxi up the road (a whole £1’s worth of Taxi!) to the right place.

Once inside I met my lovely colleagues out here in Shenzhen and one of them treated me to a pizza. Worryingly while waiting I could smell loads of chemicals… not sure where they were coming from but the pizza tasted fine!

Another selfie, another reason to join the Peace sign club!
CD HK – Another selfie, another reason to join the Peace sign club!

It was interesting to learn that where the office is located, is the “New CBD” opposed to where my hotel is located which is now the “old CBD”. All the Finance Institutions are now a bit further out in bigger buildings with more space!

From the office, I splashed out in another taxi (I think it was £3.50) to check in to the hotel.  Again, 5* … this time a little less luxuary than the Galaxy but perfectly adequate. (A bit aged, but I paid £73 for a 5* room, what can I really want?!!)

The Hotel opposite decorated for CNY
The Hotel opposite decorated for CNY

From the Hotel it was a quick 5 minute walk up to the metro station and a 10p journey to the Stop where I was going to find the Electronics Market…

The electronics market was frankly nothing like I could have imagined. There was just so much. In fact, there was much too much.  To start with I was overly excited, but an hour or so in, and I was fed up, lost and confused! I’d managed to accidentally make it over to the Phone accessories market and was sick to the back teeth of phone covers!

I eventually fell out of the building onto the street about 400m up the road from where I’d started. I took a wonder back down and started in the electronics again being very careful! ( I did manage to buy some items in the phone market though!)

Back in the Electronics market, I was again, excited but soon bored once I realised I was on floor 3 of 10… I was really hoping to see something innovative that I’d never seen before which I could buy and bring back. Sadly I saw nothing like that. I did however see ever component under the sun, every cable, every connector, every of everything.

10 Stories of rediculousness
10 Stories of rediculousness

I was also overcome with the strange regulations with regard to smoking. Despite lots of components, including gels etc, and the numerous signs saying “No smoking” there were still large numbers of stall holders puffing away, or groups of people playing cards between stalls puffing on fags! Weird to see nowadays post “Smoking ban” in the UK!

Just going to shut up shop of my electrical goods by wrapping a blanket over them!
Just going to shut up shop of my electrical goods by wrapping a blanket over them!

I decided that had I have had an explicit shopping list I probably could have done well, but just to browse, I got bored. I decided I’d head back towards the boarder (but not over!) to the Louhu Commercial City.

CRAZY Shopping street by the electrical market!
CRAZY Shopping street by the electrical market!

What a bloody experience. 5 floors of Real, fake, real genuine fake, goods. Mental. Every store tries to entice you in with their chat. In poor English including their catchphrase “Just looking”. (Hilzo’s brother reckons someone once said “Just looking” and it’s caught on… I’d agree)

Another 5 stories of Craziness - most stores don't have the stock in them, but in a stock room somewhere... they will bring it to you on your request!
Another 5 stories of Craziness – most stores don’t have the stock in them, but in a stock room somewhere… they will bring it to you on your request!

At the recommendation of a friend, I paid one of the sellers a visit and ended up staying about 3 hours. But we got what we wanted in the end so all was good!

I also managed to add some T-Shirts to my collection… let’s hope I can get all of this back in my case!  Overall a successful day.

I headed back to the hotel, Tried to go to the revolving restaurant  on the 50th floor but it was sadly closed up already, so headed down the road to the Golden Arches.

Not sure why "Warm tips" amused me! Helped by some guy just laughing away next to the sign!
Not sure why “Warm tips” amused me! Helped by some guy just laughing away next to the sign!

It had started raining and I was genuinely a little worried about the acid that might be falling from the sky! I did notice today that there was a haze for most of the day and I’ve had a headache, and my eyes have been a bit weird feeling all day.. I can only attribute all this to pollution. FUN!

Also interesting is how much of the internet is restricted in Mainland China. If you’re reading this from facebook, best you don’t ask how I posted it on there… strangely messenger seems to work (the facebook messaging app)… weird!

Anyway, I best get to sleep before my last day and flight home tomorrow! 🙁 Night all!

Day 9 & 10 – Macau

So I decided to do Macau in one post instead of two posts of two half days…

Yesterday I went to Kowloon for the fitting of my suits (Looking GOOOOD!) before getting the Star Ferry back to HK Island to find the Cotai Water Jet Pier. I bought my tickets, was let out of Hong Kong Boarders and was soon on the way to Macau.

The boat was a little bumpy, standard catamaran nothing awful, and soon I was in Macau looking for a hotel shuttle bus! Bus acquired, I was soon whisked round to the Diamond Lobby of the Galaxy Hotel Macau.

I hasten to add. I did not pay full price for the hotel.  I managed to book a room for the night in the Galaxy, a ridiculous 5+ star hotel, for £108! BUT to do this, I used www.hotwire.com – On there, you know the location, the star rating and the price, but you don’t know the hotel until after you’ve paid! (I like a risk!) I’ve done the same regime for Shenzhen tomorrow!

Ridiculously Large hotel-age
Ridiculously Large hotel-age

Anywho, the hotel was RIDICULOUS. There was a “Long Queue” (2 people) so I was whisked away to the premier guest check-in, and looked after by a “Welcome ambassador” (I JUST WANTED TO PUT MY BAG DOWN!)  Eventually I was shown towards my room (on the 23rd floor) and was able to settle in.

I thought I’d go for a “quick wonder” to see what the hotel was like… an hour later I made it back to the room!

River Rapids on the "Promenade deck". Sadly shut or I'd have had a bob!
River Rapids on the “Promenade deck”. Sadly shut or I’d have had a bob!

The hotel was simply colossal – It actually contained 3 or 4 hotels all attached, surrounding a shopping center easily the size of Westfield White City.

From my hotel, I jumped on a (free of course) shuttle bus the the Venetian and had a gawp at the ridiculousness of having a canal with gondolas indoors in China. From the Venetian, I walked though to the Parisian and looked at all the poorly “French themed” items and decor.

You COULD Be in Venice... but you very much are not.
You COULD Be in Venice… but you very much are not.

As I stepped outside the Parisian, one of the doormen said to me proudly “Bonjour Sir” in an awful accent. I replied enthusiastically in as French an accent I could muster “Bonjour”, before realising it was actually 7pm and Bonsoir was probably the correct greeting!

From the Parisian, It was a short walk down the Cotai strip to the City of Dreams, Where I was off to see a show… (More on that in a minute!)… As I walked down the strip I came to the conclusion that I really didn’t like the fakery that was  all these hotels. I feel personally that there is something a bit… almost sinister about it all… I can’t describe, but it’s just all so fake!

It’s funny to think that 10 or so years ago, none of the Cotai Strip was there… Actually when you’re there however it’s not hard to believe at all. This is because next to every “overbuilt” hotel, seems to be an empty plot of land, either being built or just laying barren!

The House of Dancing Water

When I was talking about booking this trip, Hilzo said to me that if I was out here for this long, I should go to Macau and if I go to Macau I HAVE to go to see the House of Dancing Water. She also told me if I was booking, that I was not allowed to watch any Youtube videos or do any research about it. Blindly I booked and next thing you know was in my seat, in the Water Theater at the City of Dreams.

I’m actually still processing the show. Often I have said that a piece of Theater has been so good that it’s left me speechless… This was SO good that it left me with a dry mouth from sitting Gawping at the spectacle.

I actually still don’t know what more I can write about it. It was a spectacle like no other. I didn’t know where to look. I could barely focus on one place without noticing something going on somewhere else.

Often when you see reviews, you read ridiculous statements like “Best show ever” or “Astounding audiences every night”… I truly believe every one of those sweeping statements could be applied to this.  Nearly 24 hours later it has just dawned on me that there was probably only 3 spoken words in the whole performance!!

From Water, to bikes, to ballet to diving… you just can’t imagine what’s going to come next. If you are ever remotely near Macau, I STRONGLY suggest you go and watch the show! (It’s an hour on a ferry from Hong Kong… the ferries run over night… do it!)

If enough people want to know, then maybe I’ll write some more… but I really don’t want to spill any more…

What I will spill, is that before the “curtain came up” I was actually in tears. I was crying with laughter, due to a small language barrier issue suffered by the Ladies selling Ice Cream:

Whilst wandering up and down announcing the fact they were selling “Ice Cream”, one of the ladies had a particularly strong Chinese Accent, which ended up with it sounding like she’d said “Arse Cream”. To add insult to injury the Brand was “Haagen Daz”. When you combine the two, the lady shouted what sounded like “Hardened Arse Cream”….  This went on for about 20 minutes…. Once you’ve got the giggles it’s very hard to stop, especially when they keep offering their wares!!

After the show, I met Hayley (shoutout to Hayley) who is working on the show. She started last week… all very coincidental that I’d already bought tickets etc. and I am actually a little jealous that she’s involved with such an amazing thing!

We left the City of Dreams and walked over to the Wynn Palace that has fountains just like the Bellagio in Las Vegas… Where it’s different to LV is that it also has a cable car up, over and along the fountains and into the hotel. We took the cable car into the hotel (Redic!) before swiftly looking to try and find the exit (They are like mazes!).

We headed back to the Galaxy and had a wander round. I showed Hayley the ridiculous fountain in the Diamond Foyer that does a Show ever half an hour, revealing a Giant Disco Ball Diamond… We Got some food and even went into the Casino where Hayley won 50p, and I went down £2.50… High Finance!

The Size, Tech and Games in the casino were like another world!
The Size, Tech and Games in the casino were like another world!

It was soo lovely to catch up – and we did joke that it’s taken us to be 14 or so hours from home to be able to catch up when we used to live only 4 or so hours away!

I slept like a log. Well more like a sprouting tree with my limbs spread out across the Huge superking. I woke up in the middle of the night and actually panicked ‘cos I couldn’t find the edge of the bed!

This morning I had what I am happy to say is hands down the best hotel shower I have ever had in my entire life. Never has a hotel had pressure like it!!

I checked out, and headed to Studio City as my ticket to The House of Dancing Water gave me a free ride on the Studio City Figure of 8 Ferris wheel, plastered halfway up the building.

Figure of 8 Ferris Wheel from beneath! (beneath being the 23rd floor!)
Figure of 8 Ferris Wheel from beneath! (beneath being the 23rd floor!)

Frankly if you don’t have a freebie, don’t bother. You are perpendicular to the strip and can’t really see anything. (The concept was good, the execution a bit too showy and the views sub-par!).

The "View"... come back in a few years!
The “View”… come back in a few years!

Studio City is another huuuuge hotel themed on America/New York. Having been to New York this time last year I can confirm it was a very poor attempt!

From Studio City, I jumped on another free bus to the Macau Peninsular to explore the old city. There were LOADS of people everywhere. Macau used to be under Portuguese rule (Like Hong Kong was under GB Rule), so a lot of the streets look a little Portuguese-y, and Portuguese is still used heavily in Macau so the roadsigns etc are in Chinese and Portuguese!

SO MANY PEOPLE!
SO MANY PEOPLE!
Very Portuguese-y!
Very Portuguese-y!

I wandered through the streets, through a little market to the ruins of St Pauls Cathedral. Not quite St Pauls in London… but nice to look at.

The Ruins of St Paul's from "inside" the ruins
The Ruins of St Paul’s from “inside” the ruins

I headed back towards the bus stops, and found a huge department store. I found the cafe – Angela’s Cafe! Couldn’t see Angela but they made me a HUGE sandwich.

Satiated, I headed to a coach back to the Wynn Hotel (With the cable car) before swapping for a coach to the Ferry Terminal. At the ferry Terminal I managed to get on the boat “two before” my ticketed sailing.

It was choppy. I don’t really get seasick but I had to stop writing this blog because I simply couldn’t concentrate! They weren’t allowed to serve soft drinks and you were pretty much forced into your seats. (Sick bags ahoy!)

I chilled out at Lady Hilzo’s Palace for a bit before meeting her for dinner… We went to Happy Veggies which is the most amazing social enterprise… All the Waitstaff and Chefs were deaf. The whole restaurant is a social enterprise and the food was AMAZING too.

We’re now back at Hilly’s Palace (Not quite Caesar’s palace) chilling out before I head up to Mainland China for some “Shenzhen Shopping Action” tomorrow!

Motion in the Ocean (Park) – Day 8!

I think I’ve kept this going longer now that my American attempt!

Anyway – Greetings readers new and old and welcome to day 8 of Hong Kong. The last in the chain which I’m spending in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), as tomorrow I’m off to Macau… More on that tomorrow.

Anywhos, on my last day “in Hong Kong”, I spent the day in Ocean Park. (woo). Having done a quick google search for some other reasons, I managed to find out that Ocean Park is actually the largest theme park in Asia… Not hard to believe because it’s MAHOOOSIVE!

We went to Ocean Park on the New “South Island Line” of the MTR ( The “Hong Kong Tube”) which only opened at the end of last year – it as pretty cool and had cartoon animals all over the inside of the carriages!

Ocean Park is a mix of Theme park and Zoo, with a heavy emphasis (they didn’t stop) on Conservation and breeding. Neither myself or Hilzo are sure on how we feel about this. (Not about the rides, about the animals!). For anyone who might be wondering – Ocean Park is a lot like Busch Gardens which I visited last year…

I think I have decided today that I don’t mind animals that can’t live in the wild anymore being bread in captivity (i.e. pandas, who are supposedly nearly extinct)….

Just munching on some Bamboo, you?
Just munching on some Bamboo, you?
Leave me alone, I'm eating my dinner
Leave me alone, I’m eating my dinner!

But, I was not a fan of the Penguin Enclosure –  one particular section was very very small and made me a little uneasy.
We did visit the “Marine Breeding and Conservation Centre” and I am still unsure if what they are doing is the right thing – There seemed to be a lot of human interaction and training… I’m just not sure it’s natural. We did see that there was a dolphin show today, but did not attend as I felt a bit uncomfortable by it all and didn’t want to support it!

As today was the last day of the “bank holiday” weekend following the Chinese New year week, there were still lots of tourists from mainland China. Surprisingly the queues weren’t too big, but it was like some of the tourists had never seen animals before!

Anyway enough of the tourists and the animals – the park itself was INCREDIBLE. We started our day by riding the cable car from the entrance of the park to the top of the mountain which was on the edge of the sea:

The view was incredible - Like something out of Roller Coaster Tycoon!
The view was incredible – Like something out of Roller Coaster Tycoon!
Me, Happy as Larry on the Cable car!
Me, Happy as Larry on the Cable car!

Frankly going on the Cable Car, made our visit to Ocean Park worth while! To be fair – The views of Hong Kong from the whole of Ocean park were pretty amazing  – I’ve got a really cool Photosphere to upload to Facebook!

View of Hong Kong from the Cable Car
View of Hong Kong from the Cable Car

The rides at Ocean park were actually really great. We didn’t queue for more than 10 minutes for anything and they were all perched on top of the edge of the cliff adding to the excitement!

The Mine Train was our favorite - Not to Raucous but adrenaline-y enough!
The Mine Train was our favorite – Not to Raucous but adrenaline-y enough!
The Views were amazing from the rides!
The Views were amazing from the rides!

We covered most of the upper part of the park helped be Hong Kong’s second largest escalator network – Yup,  Escalators in the park. But to be fair it’s bloody hilly – The actual individual escalators were longer than those in Tube stations – Craziness… Hong Kongers love Escalators!

We also became minor celebrities on the swinging ship (Sorry, Gallion) after mocking one of the mainlanders Dabbing. I then continually dabbed and they were besotted with us. (#RandomWesterner)

From the top, we took the funicular train back down to the lower part of the park. (DON’T DO IT – TAKE THE CABLE CAR!) Literally our worst choice of the day. At the bottom of the park we saw the pandas pictured above, and we went to the Aquarium which was large and quite impressive..

I've never seen a sea fdragon before!
I’ve never seen a sea dragon before!

We also had our picture taken with the Ocean Park Red Panda Mascot!

Adopting the fashionable pose! :)
Adopting the fashionable pose! 🙂

We were done with Ocean Park so decided to head back and keeping with the watery theme, decided to go swimming in the apartment block I was staying in. Sadly their pool was shut for maintenance so we had to go next door….

We really had to suffer! :P
We really had to suffer! 😛

Having swam out some calories – we headed straight for the Synagogue / Jewish Community Centre’s All you can Eat BBQ. It’s needless to say I’ve eaten more food (Especially lamb and beef tonight) than in the rest of 2017 (and probably 2016) Combined.

From the JCC we caught up with the Aussies again (Shoutouts to Dan and Hadassah if you’re still reading – I’m counting on your views!) for a drinkie in a pretty cool place… where Hilzo and I learnt a bit more about the Jewish Communities in Aus! (oh and Happy non-Birthday Hadassah!)

There you have it – another ridiculously busy day. Off to sleep now but super excited for Macau tomorrow! Night all!

Day 8 – Motion in the Ocean

I think I’ve kept this going longer now that my American attempt!

Anyway – Greetings readers new and old and welcome to day 8 of Hong Kong. The last in the chain which I’m spending in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), as tomorrow I’m off to Macau… More on that tomorrow.

Anywhos, on my last day “in Hong Kong”, I spent the day in Ocean Park. (woo). Having done a quick google search for some other reasons, I managed to find out that Ocean Park is actually the largest theme park in Asia… Not hard to believe because it’s MAHOOOSIVE!

We went to Ocean Park on the New “South Island Line” of the MTR ( The “Hong Kong Tube”) which only opened at the end of last year – it as pretty cool and had cartoon animals all over the inside of the carriages!

Ocean Park is a mix of Theme park and Zoo, with a heavy emphasis (they didn’t stop) on Conservation and breeding. Neither myself or Hilzo are sure on how we feel about this. (Not about the rides, about the animals!). For anyone who might be wondering – Ocean Park is a lot like Busch Gardens which I visited last year…

I think I have decided today that I don’t mind animals that can’t live in the wild anymore being bread in captivity (i.e. pandas, who are supposedly nearly extinct)….

Just munching on some Bamboo, you?
Just munching on some Bamboo, you?
Leave me alone, I'm eating my dinner
Leave me alone, I’m eating my dinner!

But, I was not a fan of the Penguin Enclosure –  one particular section was very very small and made me a little uneasy.
We did visit the “Marine Breeding and Conservation Centre” and I am still unsure if what they are doing is the right thing – There seemed to be a lot of human interaction and training… I’m just not sure it’s natural. We did see that there was a dolphin show today, but did not attend as I felt a bit uncomfortable by it all and didn’t want to support it!

As today was the last day of the “bank holiday” weekend following the Chinese New year week, there were still lots of tourists from mainland China. Surprisingly the queues weren’t too big, but it was like some of the tourists had never seen animals before!

Anyway enough of the tourists and the animals – the park itself was INCREDIBLE. We started our day by riding the cable car from the entrance of the park to the top of the mountain which was on the edge of the sea:

The view was incredible - Like something out of Roller Coaster Tycoon!
The view was incredible – Like something out of Roller Coaster Tycoon!
Me, Happy as Larry on the Cable car!
Me, Happy as Larry on the Cable car!

Frankly going on the Cable Car, made our visit to Ocean Park worth while! To be fair – The views of Hong Kong from the whole of Ocean park were pretty amazing  – I’ve got a really cool Photosphere to upload to Facebook!

View of Hong Kong from the Cable Car
View of Hong Kong from the Cable Car

The rides at Ocean park were actually really great. We didn’t queue for more than 10 minutes for anything and they were all perched on top of the edge of the cliff adding to the excitement!

The Mine Train was our favorite - Not to Raucous but adrenaline-y enough!
The Mine Train was our favorite – Not to Raucous but adrenaline-y enough!
The Views were amazing from the rides!
The Views were amazing from the rides!

We covered most of the upper part of the park helped be Hong Kong’s second largest escalator network – Yup,  Escalators in the park. But to be fair it’s bloody hilly – The actual individual escalators were longer than those in Tube stations – Craziness… Hong Kongers love Escalators!

We also became minor celebrities on the swinging ship (Sorry, Gallion) after mocking one of the mainlanders Dabbing. I then continually dabbed and they were besotted with us. (#RandomWesterner)

From the top, we took the funicular train back down to the lower part of the park. (DON’T DO IT – TAKE THE CABLE CAR!) Literally our worst choice of the day. At the bottom of the park we saw the pandas pictured above, and we went to the Aquarium which was large and quite impressive..

I've never seen a sea fdragon before!
I’ve never seen a sea dragon before!

We also had our picture taken with the Ocean Park Red Panda Mascot!

Adopting the fashionable pose! :)
Adopting the fashionable pose! 🙂

We were done with Ocean Park so decided to head back and keeping with the watery theme, decided to go swimming in the apartment block I was staying in. Sadly their pool was shut for maintenance so we had to go next door….

We really had to suffer! :P
We really had to suffer! 😛

Having swam out some calories – we headed straight for the Synagogue / Jewish Community Centre’s All you can Eat BBQ. It’s needless to say I’ve eaten more food (Especially lamb and beef tonight) than in the rest of 2017 (and probably 2016) Combined.

From the JCC we caught up with the Aussies again (Shoutouts to Dan and Hadassah if you’re still reading – I’m counting on your views!) for a drinkie in a pretty cool place… where Hilzo and I learnt a bit more about the Jewish Communities in Aus! (oh and Happy non-Birthday Hadassah!)

There you have it – another ridiculously busy day. Off to sleep now but super excited for Macau tomorrow! Night all!

Day 7 – and on the 7th day he rested

He might have… but I did not!

This morning started with us going to the beautiful synagogue for Shabbat /Shabbat Lunch. Not only was the shul beautiful but the lunch was delicious… win win!

From shul, we went back to hilzo’s for a short while, before heading off to Sha Tin to visit the 10,000 Buddah’s monastery

A Lorra Lorra Buddhas.
A Lorra Lorra Buddhas.

In the 10,000 buddha Monastery, it turns out there are actually way more than 10,000 Buddhas. In one room alone there are 12,800…

I’ll be contacting religious trading standards!

12,800 in one room. The name lies.
12,800 in one room. The name lies.

If it wasn’t for the fact the views were pretty good, then I think I’d have been very angry at the naming issue…

Pretty Pagoda!
Pretty Pagoda!
img_20170204_084407
Pretty views of Sha Tin town!

From the Monastery, we popped over to the shopping centre (Via a long and windy back road path which resulted in me trying local honey!). Once inside the shopping centre, we went for snacks like only I know best – Ikea restaurant.

From there, we arranged to meet Hilary’s Friend Jazzyp and her friend Lauren who are here on medical elective. We arranged to meet them in an adjacent shopping center and while waiting found Snoopy Land!

Hilary and I queued up for the childs ride. It was very very much for young children, but a gondala is a gondala!

img_20170204_101831
Who knew kiddie rides were such fun!

While in the queue we found Jazzy and Lauren and took a Selfie McSelf face!

 

Snoopy world selfie - Reunited with Jazzy and Lauren
Snoopy world selfie – Reunited with Jazzy and Lauren

From Snoopy land, we went to get some dinner and ended up in “Din Tai Fung” a Michelin starred dim sum restaurant. The food was great and we had a great time (Photo tagged on fbook)

After dinner we went back to Central to meet Hilary’s friend Dan and his friend from back home in ‘Stralia, Hadassah.

We had drinks at a bar with an AMAZING view.

Incredible views for a drink!
Incredible views for a drink!

Some of us headed out for a boogey and some back to bed !

Talking of bed… It’s waaay past sleep time… Night!!

Day 6 – “Taking it easy”

I was going to say I took it easy today…. But as I’ve sat here thinking about what I was going to write I realised that “Took it easy” is probably a lie.

I started the day with a walking tour from Admiralty Station – I was a bit lost and flustered in finding the start point, before accidentally stumbling out of the right exit!

The tour was really great and I learnt lots about the places I’d been walking past for days! I took loads of photos on my camera so will have to upload them when I’m home!

On the tour I managed to find two people from Israel who know people who live just up the road from us in London – It’s a small world, but it’s even smaller when you’re Jewish! (shoutout to Barry and Zippi if you’re reading!)

On the tour we stopped at the HSBC Building – We heard a lot about the Feng Shui of the buildings and I had my photo taken with Stephen the Feng Shui Lion!

Stephen Meets Steven - There are still bullet holes on him (the lion) from when the Japanese invaded and used him as target practice!
Stephen Meets Steven – There are still bullet holes on him (the lion) from when the Japanese invaded and used him as target practice!

After the tour we grabbed a “Middle Eastern” lunch at a veggie place – Falafel wrap of course, before jumping on the star ferry to go to Kowloon.

I took a rather long walk ( I got a little lost) trying to find the ICC as I wanted to pay Ozone a Visit  – the bar on the 118th floor. Unfortunately, the bar didn’t open until 5, but that nice man on the reception of the Ritz Carlton suggested I go and have a look at the lounge on the 102nd floor… So I did…

As was suggested by Hilzo, and by the tour guide – the view wasn’t that great. I couldn’t get close enough to a window to get a good pic, but when I did go to the toilet on the 103rd floor… I got this:

I've wee'd in worse!
I’ve wee’d in worse!

From there I headed back to Central to take a look inside the atrium of the HSBC building –  There wasn’t enough time on the tour to do this… but I’m really glad I went back to have a look!

It has been described as a cathedral of banking and I can see why!
It has been described as a cathedral of banking and I can see why!

From there I went to take some video footage I am going to cut down and pop online when I’m back – had a bit of a geeky moment! Then I popped in to some shops for a browse before heading back to get ready for dinner.

For dinner we went to someone’s house for FND and I think a good time was had by all! On the way there I saw this and had to take a picture…

HK you so pretty!
HK you so pretty!

Off to sleep now – Another busy day beckons – Religions x2 tomorrow!

Day 5: Sleep, France, Queues, Horses and Sweden

Today I slept in .

No really, I slept. At dinner last night, Hilz’s friend when she heard where I’d been so far said “Well you’ve basically done it all in the last 4 days”…. I am beginning to believe she might be right. (Obviously there is always more to see, but she means the big ones).

The first four days tired me out that much that when Hils left for work this morning, I was going to get up… at 11.30 I decided I really should actually get up!

Having gotten dressed, I met Hilzo for lunch – a slight navigational error or my behalf left us with a Street-Walkway-chase but we eventually found one another.

For lunch today, trying all the available cuisines on offer, we visited “Delifrance”. I have been to France a few times. Clearly the people behind “Delifrance” have NOT. We sampled such delights as a Tuna Jacket Potato, and a smoked salmon Baguette. Despite playing like she had understood “No Dressing, No Bacon, No Tomato and No Cucumber”, Alice (the lady of Delifrance) clearly had not clue and delivered us Salad with Dressing and Bacon bits, and there was Tomato and Cucumber in my Smoked Salmon Baguette. Your card is marked Alice the Gendarmerie will be after you! (Alice, Who the… oh never mind!)

From my fleeting if not brief trip to France, I returned to Hong Kong and joined the queue, along with now 2 thirds of Mainland China, for the Peak Tram.

Partying with MLC. You can't quite see the Zig-Zags, or the rest of the Queue on the other side of the road.
Partying with MLC. You can’t quite see the Zig-Zags, or the rest of the Queue on the other side of the road.
From halfway down the Zig-zag *yawn*
From halfway down the Zig-zag *yawn*

The Peak Tram was the “Original way” of getting up the peak… they’ve modernised it a bit (a lot) but it’s still as steep and precarious as ever. I really love old transport links… Especially trams so enjoyed riding #GeekMoment. I was sad that the queue to get it back down was so huuuge as I can imagine it was cool to watch the skyline shrink down out of sight as you trammed down!

Seeeriously Steep!
Seeeriously Steep!

The view from the top of the Peak was just as spectacular during the day as it was at night – even if it was a little cloudy/Foggy/Smoggy!

Preeety!
Preeety!

Whilst up the Peak, I managed to video call home,  and talk to dad before his Op… Impressive stuff really! After the video chats home, I was peckish, so strayed into McDonalds to find a whole range of “Sweet Potato and Oreo” items. Naturally I went for Sweet Potato Ice Cream in an Oreo Cone.

What on earth!
What on earth!

Whilst not completely obnoxious… I won’t be asking for them to start this at home… an interesting experience. (The Oreo was nice).

From the Peak, I got a cab down the hill to meet Hilz. Having arrived a bit early I decided I was best to go back to her flat and grab some more cash for the evening. Huge shout out to the Tall, Blonde western gym going girl, who provided a great shield battering people onto the right hand side while we navigated a 2/3rds of the mental Escalators together. (more on the escalators to follow!)

We jumped on the Star Ferry, for a goosey round TST (I’m not spelling it… Kowloon!) We hit a dead end with a purchase that Hil wanted to make and then we stumbled into the SelfieCafe. I was going to get a selfie printed coffee but the wait was too long. We noticed this Interesting Certificate of Kosher status…

It appears dates work differently in HK!
It appears dates work differently in HK!

From there we visited Happy Valley Races. While neither of us agree with horse racing, its a “Very Hong Kong” thing to do. We stayed for one race, I put a bed on two horses, One came last and the other came 4th – I’d put the bets on each way so missed winning by one place. (Bloody cheek  – I wore my new “red for prosperity” jacket specially!)

We did get to experience the New Year Celebration show which was pretty cool if you like dancing dragons…

Crazy New year show business at the Horses
Crazy New year show business at the Horses

As we were on our way around, this man caught our eye… so we had to get a selfie.. people here are actually sometimes a bit amazingly crazy. ( I  love it!)

Man with a Rooster on his head... AS YOU DO! Me Donning the seemingly traditional Chinese pose.
Man with a Rooster on his head… AS YOU DO! Me Donning the seemingly traditional Chinese pose.

From the Races, we went to Genki – amazing sushi and had a good fill of food, before leaving some space for dessert as we had other plans. Opposite Genki, was my place of solace. My Temple…. IKEA.

The Swedish Mothership hath landed!
The Swedish Mothership hath landed!

Nestled underground, with very limited selection in the way of flatpack furniture.. I still managed to spend money…. not just on the Daim Cake.

The longer I am here for, the more I think I’m falling in Love with Hong Kong. Not sure I could quite up sticks and move out here… but I would certainly come back. It’s very safe, and quiet (apart from all of China atm!) and has the best of the West with a lot of the East!

Anyway, must get to bed – another busy day tomorrow!

Day 4: Trams… Trains.. and Southend on Speed

Today we woke up early and headed for the “In town Check in” for Leonie . Why is this amazing idea not more worldwide?! From the town check in, we headed for a cafe for some breakfast before hitting the trams!

The trams in Hong Kong are great fun – Also called the Ding-ding from the noise made when they try to stop people crossing in front of them!

Sadly all photos of said tram were taken on the camera, which is still embroiled in #SDCardGate
Sadly all photos of said tram were taken on the camera, which is still embroiled in #SDCardGate

The tram ride itself is quite an experience – rattling through the twisty busy streets of Hong Kong, while cars and buses breeze past you!

We had a quick wonder round Kennedy town, looking at the local food and goods market. (there were some weird sights there!) We then jumped back on the tram down to causeway bay where we wandered round the shops and Victoria Park. (Nothing to write home about!)

Soon it was lunch time, and I managed to meet Hilz for lunch. She suggested that we go to the cafe we went to for breakfast on the first morning for their salad selection. What a great suggestion, the Salads were amazing! I ate mine over three sittings all throughout the afternoon!

Following lunch, I went to Kowloon to meet “Hong Kong Harry” the tailor who has measured me up for two tailor made suits – am  I going to look swish for work!!

Getting to Kowloon, I took the Star Ferry, this time opting for the cheaper 25p version (Please see correction of the typo in the previous post!) There was much of a muchness!

Following my measuring up, I jumped on the train and then a bus down to Stanley. Stanley is a seaside town which in many ways reminded me of Southend. Those avid fans of Southend should not fret, as I can confirm there was no Peter Pan’s and the “World’s longest pleasure pier” was not under record threat!

Really pretty, regardless of it's pierly shortcomings!
Really pretty, regardless of it’s pierly shortcomings!

What there was, however at Stanley was a rather lovely garden / Walk including a small temple. (Photos of which are on the camera!)

It went all along the cliff side and contained a number of viewing points, bird lookouts and fun facts.

It also contained a single wild pig and wild snake.
It also contained a single wild pig and wild snake.
I thought I saw the aforementioned snake!
I thought I saw the aforementioned snake!

Just below the temple were a number of rocks, and I risked life and limb climbing out on the rocks to sit and take in the view.

Whilst on the rock, a random Chinese man asked me if I could take a photo of him and his wife on the rocks. In return he took the photo below… Turns out he was a professional photographer on his day off!

Atop the Rock. Such a great view!
Atop the Rock. Such a great view!

Whilst in Stanley, I popped by the market at closing time and managed to bag an absolute steal of a jacket – £6.90 and it’s waterproof! (It’s been raining here so now I have a hood “for Justin”) The lady promised me that the Red colour is very good at this time of year – Red is associated with the Chinese new year and with prosperity and good! Apparently I should wear it all the time!

Times appear to be hard for Spice Girl Mel C as she's taken up market trading!
Times appear to be hard for Spice Girl Mel C as she’s taken up market trading!

From Stanley I caught the bus back to Central Hong Kong where I met Hilzo again and her friend Jessica. We went for dinner in the Kosher Restaurant in the shul… Slight entry balagan but we got there in the end!

I’m now rather content having had some “real food” and shall be going to bed very happy! Not sure what I’m going to get up to tomorrow, but have a feeling it’s going to be the Peak Tram!

Night / Afternoon all!

Day 3 – Buses… Other bleedin’ buses… and Buddah

Today, following the SD card revelation yesterday, I’ve tried to be a bit more portable with my photos (aka taken some on my phone)… so here’s hoping they came out.

We started the day with some coffee and a cake from a well known Tax avoiding coffee shop whom happen to have a branch in the shopping centre just down stairs. Strangely though, as no one pays tax in Hong Kong, they are perfectly legit here. We then made our way to the station to get the train to Tung Chung.

The train journey was rather uneventful and we arrived with ease. We were warned that the cable car was sadly closed for cable replacement so we’d have to get the bus to the Lin Po Monastery. When we got out of Tung Chung station, we found what we thought was the rather quiet bus station. This however was not the bus station we needed… so we followed the signs around the corner….

Upon turning said corner, we found that half of Mainland China and their dog’s had turned up on bank holiday (Today still!) to go and visit the Giant Buddha at Lin Po.

Not even half the queue!
Not even half the queue!

Undettered by the crowds we joined the queue and were eventually thrust on a bus up and over the mountains to Ngong Ping village. Ngong ping village is a fake village created in “Traditional style” but clearly is just fake fake fake. It feels a bit like Shrek 2. Having had a wander though we decided it was time to go and visit the Tian Tan Buddha.

We followed the general direction of the people, but still couldn’t see the Buddha. I thought it was HUGE so couldn’t work out why we couldn’t see it. We did however come across some rather free range cows.

Cows Love selfies!
Cows Love selfies!

Eventually we found the foot of the steps to the Buddha, bought a ticket for lunch in the monastery, and started to ascend the steps to the Buddha which was shrouded in cloud / Fog. As we climbed the 268 steps to reach the Big Buddha, he slowly became clearer!

Cheeky beggar was copying me!
Cheeky beggar was copying me!

When we reached the top, the fog was still quite thick, so we used our dinner voucher to visit the exhibition inside his plinth. (Free with your dinner voucher), and we explored a number of Buddhist artifacts including one the very few relics supposed to contain some of Buddha himself’s ashes!

Once we were done exploring in there, we realised the fog had lifted a little so managed to get some better photos, before descending the steps to the monastery.

Less foggy Buddha!
Less foggy Buddha!

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Back down at ground level, we walked into the monastery where we found lots of people lighting GIANT incense and praying to Buddha. It was very interesting to watch the rituals and rules involved in these prayers.

Incense and prayers...
Incense and prayers…

Having walked round and looked at the Monastery, we decided it was time for lunch. Every vegetarian place we’ve eaten in so far has seemed to have a loving for this mysterious gloop. The monastery was no different…. Lunch was not great… in fact, I’m still not sure what it was! (But the plain rice was nice!)

The very ornate Monestary
The very ornate Monestary

From the Monastery, we got the bus to the tiny fishing village of Tao O. This was supposed to be the “Venice of Hong Kong”. I wouldn’t go that far… I mean, I’ve never been to Venice but this was not like the photos.

This was enlightening as it was a real glimpse into the lives of some real Hong Kongers, but it was also every sceneted nightmare you could ever have. I can’t even describe the smell of some of the things you could buy on the main street.

At Tao O, we queued again to return with half of mainland China on a direct bus back to Tsung Tung. WHAT A JOURNEY. Somehow I managed to get some sleep, but this as more a thrill ride than a bus ride! The driver saw no danger, even at one point slamming the brakes on last minute to avoid a HUGE cow!

We made it back to the apartment for a quick rest before heading out, meeting Hilz and Jonathan and heading up Victoria Peak for dinner. The views were amazing and you could see them from the Restaurant window.

The amazing View!
The amazing View!
Us obscuring said view!
Us obscuring said view!

Getting home was fun – More huge bus station queues. In a toss up between a taxi queue and a Small bus queue it was about equally pegging so we jumped on the small bus. (Think Turkish dolomus).

This driver made the earlier one look like a granny had been driving. He tailgated a mini all the way down the hill, tackling hairpin bends at 30KMPH as if we were filming an episode of Top Gear!

Added to this, there are no stops, per say – you ask to be dropped off…Hilo had a slight moment of confusion with the driver involving much angry shouting in Cantonese and then Hilz agreeing before leaping off the bus!

I’m absolutely shattered again so am heading to bed before another big day tomorrow – Trams in the morning an then I’m taking things on, on my own in the afternoon! AAAH! Night/Afternoon y’all! 🙂