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!

img_20170131_063750

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! 🙂

Day 2 – Parks, Markets and Light Shows!

What a day.

It’s day’s like today I’m thankful that I like to keep a blog as I go along to remind me of where I’ve been. Frankly I’m sat here, writing, not sure where to start because this morning seems like such a long time ago!

We started with breakfast next door to where I am staying, before heading off to Hong Kong Park. Hong Kong Park was full of views – the parky green nestled within the tall skyscrapers!

Panoramic View of the Park inc. LHJD
Panoramic View of the Park inc. LHJD

As well as Parky Green was a number of water features and water falls… Many of you may know that I LOVE Water features so was delightfully amused.

One of the many water features of the day...
One of the many water features of the day…

Also within HK Park was an Aviary – we went for a wander through and saw lots of different birds from all different places… they looked like they were having a great time (The Aviary was HUGE!)

"Lovely orange"
“Lovely orange”

 

Om nom nom nom
Om nom nom nom

From the HK Garden  we walked up the the Hong Kong Botanical Gardens (Different place!) The Hong Kong Botanical Gardens contained a whole host of trees, plants and flowers, (Labeled in Cantonese, English and latin) as well as animals and of course more water features! We saw Monkeys, Orangutangs and a sleeping meerkat. (No car insurance for me!)

Fountain 3 of many!
Fountain 3 of many!

From the HK Botanical gardens we walked to the MTR for my first experience of the “Hong Kong Underground”… Everything is HUGE! The trains are loooong… The stations although underground are bright an airy… and there’s often LOADS of shops past the ticket line… its mental!

Between the Gardens and the MTR we stopped at a Starbucks “Done up” like and Old Fashioned HK Cafe. Interesting!

On the MTR, we ended up at the Nan Lian Garden / Chi Lin Nunnery & Temple Complex… Which was another incredible garden (Including water ofc!) The gardens were beautiful and had wonderful views.  There was also loads of different buildings in traditional architecture as well as exhibitions on the architecture, and a rockery!

It rained...
It rained…
It stopped Raining for a minute!
It stopped Raining for a minute!

We wandered round the Temple, taking in the sights and Leonie and I managed to have my photo taken with some random strangers from Mainland China!

We possibly made their holiday!
We possibly made their holiday!

We entered the inner temple where photos were strictly not allowed (although it seemed many people couldn’t read the signs!) and looked at a number of Gods which were placed round the outside, while traditional Buddist chanting could be heard.

We walked up to the largest Buddah in the complex, and joined the queue to go and pray to him (because we’d noticed a nun giving out freebies!) While we passed, we span a wheel for knowledge (Maybe I’ll become enlightened) before taking the small red envelope from the nun… The “Freebie” that we’d seen being given out.

Leonie and I each took the red envelope and (disgusting) sweet, whilst Hilz not only refused, but then managed to rub the nun up the wrong way by asking her where she lived… i.e. on site or elsewhere. The nun barked “not for you to know” and Hilz tried again, receiving the same treatment. Buddah is not looking kindly on Hilz now! 🙂 🙂

Buddah is however looking somewhat kindly on me… While Leonie’s envelope contained nothing, mine contained a 20 cent piece. Thanks for the 2p Buddah, I won’t spend it all at once!

From the Gardens/Temple we wanted round the very posh “Holywood Plaza” shopping mall, deciding where to eat, before settling for take out sushi. (YUM!)

We then got on the train and headed to look at some of the markets.. We wandered through the flower market which was pretty but mainly rather standard western flowers.. perhaps rarer out here than at home.

We found the Bird market, which was odd. I know it’s common to keep birds as pets here, but they did look a little unhappy in such small cages. I did manage to find a lady “Trying on a Parrot” which subsequently ate her hair!

From the Bird market, we found ourselves lost in another very large, very nice shopping center called MOKO looking for somewhere to get some form of tea or coffee…. We went on a wild goose chase trying to find the “Food Opera” which we still aren’t sure what exactly “Food Opera” means because we never found it and ended up in Pacific Coffee in stead.

From MOKO we headed back to the apartment for a VERY brief power nap before heading out for some dinner at the Tea House in the Hong Kong Garden. We each had to chose some tea (which was lovely… I had a red tea) and then ordered Dim Sum including Purple Sweet potato cakes and some Sweetcorn cakes.

Dim Sum Dinner...
Dim Sum Dinner…

From the Tea House we rushed to the MTR and across town to the Light show, where we watched the Guinness world record holding permanent light show (or some crap fact like that!). Loads of the buildings on the other side of the bank all work together to make a light show to some bloody catchy music. All the different buildings light up differently and it was quite good to watch.

Hilz and I on the waterfront
Hilz and I on the waterfront

From there we went back on the MTR to the Ladies Market. Before we got to the ladies market we got caught in this crazy street market with in-street karaoke and all sorts. We wandered through the very quiet ladies market, and ended up back at the Crazy Street market where Hilly decided it would be a good idea to go and dance with the crazy dancing Chinese people.

VID_20170130_133515~2

From the crazy market, we headed up to another tiny street market before deciding it was time to head back home (Via the Star ferry).

This involved getting a bus (Which was much nicer than London!) and then getting the star ferry. We splashed out on the Upper Deck, spending 34p as opposed to the lower deck at 25p. BIG SPENDERS.

Boaty Mc Boat back of face
Boaty Mc Boat back of face

From the Star Ferry terminal we headed back to where we are staying Via Mc D’s for a cheesecake and a cup of tea, cos I was hungry! (CHEESECAKE. Mc Donald’s is always much better abroad!)

Now is time for bed. I’m knackered, but surprisingly not very jet lagged!

Tomorrow is a BIG day. (that’s a clue!)

[Note at time of publishing:  Lady Hizzle of Arkley  did not mean to cause offence to the nun, simply wished to inquire out of pure curiosity as to the living arrangements for Nuns working in the Temple. We are pleased to note that no charges were pressed]

I don’t actually know what day it is! (Day 1)

I seem to have lost a day.

Careless,, I know but it turns out its because I pretty much did kinda lose a day…. 11h 45 min flight + 8 Hour difference… that’s the best part of a day!

Thankfully the powers the control the magic behind how many people are on a flight were kind. Very kind in fact… and with only 108 passengers on a dreamliner, I was able to stretch out across three seats and get some decent sleep hours in. Which meant at 5pm local time, I hit the ground running in Hong Kong. (Said sleep also included finally watching Finding Dory!!)

From Hong Kong Airport I got the super swift and quiet Hong Kong Airport express train, and ended up in the centre of Hong Kong where I found Hilz and Leonie.

We managed (not without fuss) to make the shuttle bus back to where we were staying. Language barrier adding a slight element of confusion, but we managed it. I dropped my stuff, had a quick shower and we headed out to a viewpoint to watch the Chinese New Year Fireworks.

Unfortunately, there was really low fog/haze so the fireworks ended up looking like this….

img_20170129_120934

Beautiful as that is… I think the fireworks would probably have been prettier!

From the Fireworks, again not without a Kerfuffle (Not much time, very steep hills and then a taxi) we made it to the restaurant. For those who know me even a little bit or have ever eaten out with me, will know I am very very fussy. Thankfully the restaurant was vegetarian, meaning I could eat everything… and I did! 😀

Gunky Green vegetable things, spring rolls, rice, noodles and dumplings… I tried everything that was put on the table and am very proud of myself…. Here’s hoping I can keep this up!

A Dumpling of (dim) Some Sort. (pun)
A Dumpling of (dim) Some Sort. (pun)

From there we popped back to get Hilz’s brother’s stuff before dropping him off at the airport express…  (It’s strictly one in, one out here 😛 Joking) From the Airport Express station, we went to Maccie D’s for a cup of tea….. and to sample some of the McCafe delights – Tonight was a Mango Macaroon and some Brown Sugar bread with Grape Jam. (Concord grape, just like Kiddish wine!). Ever so delightful!

From there I walked with Hizzle to the Mid-Levels escalators… and rode all the way up to where she is staying. IT’S MENTAL! But I’m sure I’m going to post a whole load of other details about this, so I am going to keep tonight’s mention short and post this photo:

Escalators down as far as the eye can see!
Escalators down as far as the eye can see!

I’m now in bed ready for some good sleep, in preparation for a busy day tomorrow. Here’s hoping the weather clears up a bit! It’s humid, warm and cloudy Weird, weird weather!

It’s 1am here so Night all! ( Good evening back home!)

HONG KONG!

Good evening Old fans, New fans, and those who can’t sleep so are reading this….

So it feels a little surreal, but very nearly a year after my last adventure, I find myself back at Heathrow (The Airport for adventure don’t you know!), Checked in to a flight, off on my next adventure.

As I said in my last post, things have very much changed since last year’s adventure, so I won’t go boring you about that!

This year’s place for writing is a bit different. There’s no pub with a great view. There’s no toast, and no funky world map. I’m in Terminal Three.

The departures lounge is very interior… I can’t see a window. But that’s no issue, I’ve had some sushi and a coffee (Decaf to try and let me sleep), and I’ll soon be round to my gate.

This year I’m a little more nervous than last year – It’s a long way further… Nearly double! I’ve got long legs… It’s gonna hurt! (As far as I know… there is a chance I’ve got 3 seats to myself.. Fingers crossed please!)

The Culture is also VERY Different – at least with the states, they all speak English….

Deep down I think I’m equally nervous and excited… but right now, It feels very surreal to think that in an hour’s time, I will be on my way to pretty much the other side of the world!

Hopefully I’ll be writing as I go along like in the states (Hello fans!). But it all depends if I have the time… (I hope so, because it was a great record of my trip!)

That’s all for me now – The gate is being displayed so I best hot foot it to Gate 21!

See ya laters UK! 🙂