And oh boy, was it a wonderful trip!! Wish we could have stayed longer, but it just gives me more incentive to go back again another time 🙂 Our trip started off with a bit of trepidation as our flight to Hong Kong was delayed by an hour – there was a typhoon hitting Hong Kong, and we weren’t sure whether we would be able to fly or not … but they found the typhoon was moving inland so they made the decision to take off and fly. It did mean we got a bit of stitching done at the airport for that extra hour or so 🙂 I’ll probably set up another blog eventually with extra info and photos of HK in it, rather than really cluttering up this one with “all” the photos, so if anyone wants to see them, you can 🙂 … but I’ll put a few selected ones here too.
Unfortunately on the day we arrived we’d both taken travel sickness tablets due to the impending rough weather, and they knock us both out, so we wasted a large part of the first day by sleeping them off … but we still managed to get moving a little bit at about 2-3pm and hit the streets. We walked to the local tram stop (just a block away) and had our first experience of local public transport – it’s absolutely fantastic!!! (I’ll write up more information on my new ‘holiday blog’ when I get chance.) We then went to the Western Market, which was a major disappointment as it was just two floors in a very small building – I did buy a 1/2 metre of some blue silk, but that’s it – and then we opted to walk up the back streets for a while back to the tram road, where we passed the dried fish shops … what a feast for the eyes!
The hotel we stayed at was ‘out of the way’, and not in a major tourist district – instead, it was in the middle of a traditional residential district (Western District, past Sheung Wan), and very Chinese … and we loved it! We ended up walking all the way back home to our hotel, instead of taking the tram, and soaked up all the sights and sounds on the way. We also managed to buy some fresh fruit from a local fruit vendor – no problems with language difficulties … she showed me the money owed on her calculator, so I could pay easily – we bought some nashi pears (Japanese apple pears I think they’re called in the USA etc), huge cherries, and the best thing of all for me … a bunch of bananas!!! The reason being, I haven’t eaten a banana in a number of months, since the Queensland crops in Aussie were affected by our recent cyclones – the last time I saw bananas for sale here was for about $15/kg (usually approx $2-3/kg) … I started drooling when I saw them so plentiful in HK 😀 That night we ate at a local restaurant in our street, which quickly turned into a favourite – the food was awesome! In fact we were very good while we were away, and didn’t eat Western food at all – for me, that’s all part of the holiday experience, trying everything from another culture … luckily I love Asian food, too, so I was in 7th heaven with everything! 😉
The next 12 hours were ‘interesting’ … when we got home we ate a couple of things we’d bought while out, and Mum pulled out half of her tooth in a macadamia lolly … and ended up with half a jagged tooth for the rest of the trip. Unfortunately that spoilt things a little bit, as she couldn’t eat a lot of what she would have liked – but she’s waited until we’ve got home to get it fixed. Then we had a fire alarm go off at the hotel at 11pm while we were in a majorly deep sleep (first and last time in the whole trip).
The next morning I checked with the front desk if they could recommend an optometrists to buy some glasses … and there was one right next door – woohoo!! So I spent about 1/3 of my total spending money in the first 1/2 hour of leaving the hotel room haha – yes, I am the proud owner of one pair of specs (which were ready for me to pick up close of business the very next day – gotta love HK!!!) … and for me that was my priority for spending while I was away – driving home from the airport last night after 10pm was sheer heaven. I spent less money on the frames, and got the top of the line lenses with all the bells and whistles (anti-glare and toughening etc), and they’re just wonderful (as well as being about 1/3 of the cost the same thing would have cost here!).
After the delirium of buying some specs, we went back to the tram to take us to Sheung Wan train station, where we began a continued love affair with HK public transport – I can’t begin to say how amazing their transport system is … it’s incredibly easy to use – especially thanks to the “Octopus card” system! Next we went to Mongkok Station and wandered to the flower markets and bird markets, which were wonderful to walk through – all the different flowers were amazing, and I especially loved the lotus flowers (even though they’re pink haha).
After that we walked to the goldfish markets, where we didn’t stay too long, and finished off with a walk through Ladies Market stalls (we didn’t realise until much later that all the side streets were part of it) – we got pretty fed up with being hassled by stallkeepers there calling out “hey, Missy” and grabbing you by the arm, trying to flog off cheap Gucci copies etc (especially as it’s not really what I’d buy) … I know most people love haggling etc, but I can’t stand it – that spoilt it for us, and we left at the end of running the gauntlet through four blocks of that, and didn’t look any further … then we went and had yum cha at a local restaurant for lunch, and caught the train to Tsim Sha Tsui, and the harbour – took in the sights of Avenue of the Stars, the Star Ferry terminal, and Harbour City shopping mall … by the time we left it was getting late, so we decided to stay by the waterfront to watch the Light Show – I’m so glad we did, as it was wonderful to watch! Then it was back home again on the train/tram, and dinner, before heading off to bed.
The next day we took a 5 hour ‘introductory tour’ of HK Island – we were taken to Aberdeen, where the infamous Jumbo floating restaurant is, and we took a sampan ride round the harbour, then off to a jewellery manufacturer for shopping (people were much richer than us … we bought a keyring and eyeglass case haha) – unfortunately we were held up by a group of women buying jewellery, and we were late heading to Stanley Market, and that was our favourite spot – we really enjoyed it there, and bought a couple of gifts for people, as well as a lovely turquoise pashmina for me (only HK$30 … AU$6 woohoo). I was also surprised to find a shop selling wider fitting leather sandals, and bought 3 pairs … I was amazed at this, as I hate shoe shopping due to my fat, broad, ugly feet – 7th heaven again! 😉
Our final port of call was driving up Victoria Peak for the view over HK harbour/skyline … unfortunately we had bad weather the whole time, and it was very overcast and rainy that day, so the photos are relatively poor – we came back down to street level by tram, then headed off home again … except we opted to find our own way from our drop-off point (we’d had to get there originally by taxi), had a late lunch at a Malaysian restaurant in Causeway Bay, followed by the infamous custard egg tarts from a street vendor that were totally to die for … it’s a good job I don’t live in HK or I’d be living on those every day!! LOL. We then found our way back home for a rest and a bit of stitching, before dinner.
On our 4th and final day we started off with a train trip to Wong Tai Sin station and visited the Sik Sik Yuen Temple – this turned out to be a highlight of our entire stay, and we ended up spending 2 hours there … even though the heavens opened up with a downpour, it didn’t manage to dampen our spirits at all – it was exceptional to walk through (we could tell it was a highlight for the number of photos we took).
After that we had lunch at a nearby shopping mall, before heading back to Ladies Market to look in the back streets … we ended up changing our original opinion of this market, as we managed to pick up some bargains on cheap shoes for us both, and ended up going home laden with shopping bags. I was originally going to price up an iPod there, but it’s no cheaper than buying at home with a full Aussie warranty, so didn’t see the point, and ended up getting better value with other items I bought with both gifts for myself and gifts for others 🙂 I’ve ended up coming home with no less than 7 pairs of shoes (4 sandals, 2 work shoes, and 1 sports) … crikey!! We returned to our hotel grinning but exhausted!
We flew home yesterday, and we managed to shop right up until the last minute … by buying a Chinese tea set at the airport using up both mine and Mum’s last bit of HK money … literally!! No worries about currency exchange rates when we got home last night – we had nothing left to change over teehee 😀
So, all-in-all a wonderful experience with a new country and culture explored – and it was a great way to thank Mum for everything she’s done for me over the years (her airline ticket was my 70th birthday present to her).
In stitching news I did manage to get one small piece finished (a Christmas ornie), but I’ll post about it tomorrow, as it’s still packed away in the boot (trunk) of the car … we were too exhausted to make more than one trip up the apartment stairs last night …
As for Hong Kong … I will definitely be back, as there’s so much more I want to explore – such as trips further abroad to Lantau Island, Macau and Shengzhen etc … one day … 😀