03 June, 2013

Planes, Ferries, Trams, Buses and Trains

Whew!  A whirlwind trip to Hong Kong.  What an amazing place!  I've arrived back home feeling that Singapore is actually quiet and peaceful and positively provincial.
Looking across to Hong Kong Island (with the Peak) on the right and Kowloon (with the 4th tallest building in the world) on the left
 We stayed with an old friend of Matt's (he's Canadian and his wife is Mongolian and one of our biggest regrets is that we couldn't afford to go to their wedding in Ulan Bator when we first moved back to Sydney.  They very graciously put us up even though they were in the midsts of renovations with 2 small boys and she was 8 months pregnant.  But we got to see a very exclusive neighbourhood of Hong Kong; Discovery Bay on Lantau Island.
 It's amazing "gated" community cut off by a tunnel and the water.  Only buses and specially authorized taxi vans are allowed (and deliveries), but no cars.  So people drive around in golf carts if they can afford them.  There are even people living in house boats at the marina as it's cheaper than the Hong Kong real estate.
 A better shot in the afternoon with a clear sky and the sun reflecting on the buildings.  This was the view from the room where we stayed. "DB, as it's known, has beaches and a "plaza" with many restaurants and shops and a supermarket...almost everything you need actually.  Matt and I had a lot of fun comparing prices to Singapore (while the real estate's high, the daily cost of things is much lower...and so much more choice!)

We wandered around on Friday morning,  had a huge feast of dim sum and a nap (it was a 4:30 am start for us).  Hong Kong was HOT. Hotter even than Singapore.  The sun was brutally bright, and we spent the whole trip bathed in sweat.  So naps and showers were required daily.  (we decided not to do the big buddha as the line was very long as we drove past and did I mention it was hot?)

In the evening we headed out into the city for dinner with our friends.  I love the ferry over to HK island.  It's a bit like living in Manly in Sydney and using the ferry for transport.  It takes a little over 30 minutes and the ferries are really regular.
 We went to this apparently famous restaurant which was a favourite of our hosts (the red pepper restaurant) and had yet another Chinese feast.

This was what was left by the end of the meal!
 There was a bit of excitement in the restaurant as the referee for the rugby match, Steve Walsh, came in with a table of presumably other referees/rugby people.  As he was leaving Matt had to get a photo with him.

Outside the restaurant where James and Matt show off the fact that we had 6 out of the 8 specialties.

 After the meal we jumped on a double decker tram.  Not sure I'd want to get on one of these during the day as they are unairconditioned and don't go that fast, but sitting up by the window in the evening was quite pleasant...as long as I didn't put my arm out too far to take photos as those tram tracks are close together.
 The next morning Matt and I headed out to the city with only a very vague idea of what we were going to do for the day.  Another stunningly gorgeous day.  I was loving all the water.  In Singapore I rarely see the ocean, and it rarely looks like this if you do!
I think this is the world's longest suspension bridge, or something like that.  What ever it is, it's  pretty amazing!
The big rubber ducky Kowloon side.  
Coming into the docks at Central.

Once we got in, we decided to go on one of these open hop on and off bus tours.  Now Matt and I tend to avoid really touristy stuff, but we had to be back in DB by about 4 so we had limited time...and it was hot.  And I have to say that we absolutely loved it.  A great way to see the city and the commentary was excellent.  Would definitely recommend it.

 We actually ended up getting off at the first stop which was the old tram up to the peak.  Fortunately we were fairly early so the line wasn't horrendous.
 The tram goes up the side of the mountain.  We were standing and at one point I had to put my foot against the half wall to brace myself as it was so steep.  That's the angle of the door windows against the buildings below
 But it's pretty amazing up there.
 We paid a bit extra and went up to the viewing platform right at the top.
Looking down into the city and across to Kowloon and the New Territories

a silly photo of me, but the only one of the whole trip.
 We were quite surprised to discover a whole shopping mall at the top of the peak.
 Complete with a Madam Tussauds.  Matt got a real cheer from the crowd when he did this.
 Conscious of time, we hopped back on the bus (after standing and watching the chaos of buses and taxis turning around while waiting for our bus) and from then on I was literally just sticking my hand in the air and taking random snaps.  It was way too sunny and bright to see the screen of the little digital camera, so it was point and shoot...
 I love how the roads just wind in and out through the buildings in HK...it's sometimes a few stories of roads high.

 Earlier in the day Matt and I had seen an old fashioned poster for "the riviera of the east", and on our bus trip we totally saw what they meant.  The south side of the island is just stunning.

In this photo, you can just see all the roller coast rides on the small hill which make up part of the aquarium.  There's a gondoler that goes all the way across the big mountain from one part of the park to the other.  Views from up there as you are whizzing around must be amazing.

 Eventually we stopped at Stanley and had some lunch down on the pier before a very short browse of the market and back on the bus.
 I can't get over how much more I felt like I was on a tropical island there....and yet we live on an actual tropical island.
 Anyway, Saturday evening was spent at the rugby (gorgeous setting for a stadium). We travelled there by MTR (not MRT like it is here), so that rounded out our transport experience.  It was a terrible match...really boring (and that's not just coming from me).  It was really hot and a lot of people in the stands were stripped down to their speedos.  We were in the south stand...the rowdy end of the ground, so at least there was some crowd watching to be done.  We didn't stay out too late, but we had special access to the "lions den" because of our cricket club membership, and down there after the game we met some really sweet Welsh boys who for some reason loved Matt and I.
 And that's the end of the photos.  Sunday morning we packed up and went and had brunch with an old friend of ours from NYC who Matt worked with for a bit in London (more dim sum). And then we had the easiest check in ( we did it downstairs in the same shopping mall where we had lunch), jumped on a train and went back to the airport.  I have to say that traveling between HK and SG is probably the easiest airport experience you are going to get anywhere in the world!  We landed just after 6:30 pm and were home by 7.

So there you have it.  My first time to Hong Kong.  Loved it.  Can't wait to go back.  Lots more to see and do, and I'd love to take Kit and Ella some time too.
Today I was back into a full day of art show preparation and I'll take some photos of that to share in a few days.  I really need to start packing and getting organized for the summer trip.


  1. I hope you bought a Bruce Lee t shirt at the Peak, .that's where mine came from... and even back then could not understand why there was such a big shopping centre there. But is the bloke (or his son, grandson) still making a selling grasshoppers out of leaves down where you catch the ferry.HK side.
    So next trip, Shanghai? Saigon? Hanoi?
    Matt...remember open fingers is a no no

  2. Wow I feel like I've been there too, after all those photos. The water looks really fresh and lovely. mum xx

  3. Wow I feel like I've been there too, after all those photos. The water looks really fresh and lovely. mum xx

  4. Wow I feel like I've been there too, after all those photos. The water looks really fresh and lovely. mum xx

  5. fantastic. Im so excited to go there. One of besties lives there now!


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