再見 Hong Kong – goodbye Hong Kong! 20 April 2013

Hong Kong

I was hoping to wake up fighting fit in the morning and get out to see the markets and beach at Stanley.  All was good until after breakfast when I realised that my stomach upset was still with me (in fact I hadn’t been completely well since the B52 and pig knuckle night…).  I really didn’t dare leave the house and sent hubby to the market with orders to buy anti-diahorrea and anti-nausea medication.

He tells me that the markets were good and he found some cheaper electronic stalls so bought some head phones for our 13 year old who was turning 14 the day that we returned home.  The weather had also improved a bit.

Hong Kong

So he came home with the anti-diahorrea medication (Immodium) but traditional Chinese medicine for the nausea (and everything else)…  He said that was all the pharmacy had. I really didn’t think that a couple of hours before 12 hours of flying home was a good time to try something new but I also really wanted to make sure that the trip would be as comfortable as possible.  I wasn’t feeling really bad but I also wasn’t feeling really good.

I asked a few people about the Chinese medicine and most people said to take it.  I opened the packet and it was actually full of 10 little rectangular boxes, each of which contained a narrow plastic vial full of about 20-30 tiny round pills in an unappetising brown colour.  The devil and the dark blue sea – what to do??  I compromised and took 1 of the vials when 2 were prescribed every two hours.

We taxied to the airport (taxi costs are very reasonable) and the weather was a lot better today so saw a bit more of Hong Kong harbour.  Hong Kong airport was very efficient and we were soon on a Cathay flight to Kuala Lumpur.  A bit of a detour but the only flight that we could get later in the day (at the late date that we booked).

The pills seemed to work! Po Chai Pills if anyone ever needs them.  I took a vial every couple of hours and avoided food.  Avoiding food was not such a good idea as after 3.5 hours we landed in Kuala Lumpur with about 1.5 hours to kill and no Malaysian currency.  We could have changed some money but it didn’t seem worth it.  By the time I got on the Malaysian Airlines flight to Australia, I was really hungry and ready to eat regardless of the consequences.  All was food though and 8 hours later we arrived in Melbourne.

I’m sure that had the weather been better (and possibly had I not had cocktails and pigs knuckle with rich mustard sauce the night before I left for Hong Kong) my experience would have been a lot better in Hong Kong.  Oh well, I’m sure that there will be another opportunity.

 

Day 1 in Hong Kong – markets and humidity! 19 April 2013

Hong Kong The Peak Tram

I’m a bit behind with my posts but here’s what happened anyway.

Felt so much better after a good night’s sleep.  We awoke to not being able to see beyond the huge balcony of our friend’s flat which normally has beautiful views.  In fact we couldn’t see anything beyond the Club and it was drizzling with rain.

Hong Kong Skyscraper Fog

Over breakfast at the Club we discussed what to do on our one whole day in Hong Kong.  I wanted to get a snapshot of the feel of Hong Kong – and I got it!

Despite the weather, we decided to take a taxi to The Peak, take The Peak Tram down, then the Star Ferry to Kowloon where we would browse the markets.

The taxi ride to The Peak was quick as we were already quite a way up the hill at the Club.  We walked through the shopping mall to the viewing platform – but couldn’t see a thing for mist.  No point lingering there so we checked out the picture of the view and then headed for the tram.

Hong Kong The Peak Tram

The tram was a bit of an experience.  We should have had spectacular views of Hong Kong – but there was the mist.  Wikipedia tells me that the gradient is 4-27 degrees but my eyes told me that it was at least 45 degrees and plain scary at times.  I was hoping that the brakes would hold out – which they did of course.

The rain had eased off but the humidity was still probably close to 100% and the heat was rising.

We caught the Star Ferry to Kowloon.  I’m not sure how to describe it.  Antiquated? Rustic? Perhaps just authentic.  The diesel fumes were rather overwhelming.  You probably don’t notice any of this when the weather is better and you can see the harbour.

We then caught the train to Prince Edward station and then walked to find the flower markets. It was debilitatingly humid!  The flower ‘markets’ as such are actually a few blocks of shops.  There were certainly some exotic flowers and plants that I hadn’t seen before but also lots of familiar ones.

Hong Kong Rickshaws

We then found the bird markets which were just sad.

We moved onto the ‘ladies market’ but by then I had had it with the humidity and crowded streets and was starting to need to a toilet.  We whizzed through the markets which mainly sell every day Asian fashion – not to my taste.

The bamboo scaffolding looked rather precarious!

Hong Kong Bamboo Scaffolding

We were very hot and bothered by this stage and found ourselves in a large shopping mall with various exits to train stations.  We wanted to get back to Tsim Sha Sui station where we had got off the Star Ferry – our friend had been to a nice restaurant for lunch there.  ‘Nice restaurant’ meant ‘nice toilets’ in my mind and given that the toilet situation didn’t look too promising around the markets, I was willing to go the distance.  However, we were so tired that we elected to go out the closest exit to a train station that was not on the red line that we wanted.  I think that we ended up going around in a square with about 3 changes to get the line that we wanted.  The trains were very crowded and it was quite overwhelming on top of being hungry, jet lagged and needing a toilet.

Luckily the end destination of Hullett House was worth the trek and we spent a couple of hours having lunch and drinks on the balcony.  The weather had cleared quite a bit by this point and we were lulled into a false sense of security while sitting under the verandah.

We then crossed the road to Star House where there were many electronic shops.  The prices were fairly expenses though so we didn’t buy anything.

After that we headed back to the Club for a well earned rest.  By this point a stomach upset had set in for me and my focus was on toilets.  I ended up staying in that night as I wasn’t feeling too good and was well aware that we had big flights the next day.  However, hubby and friends headed to a Peruvian restaurant in Soho (the nicer area that I had deferred seeing and now wouldn’t see) and partied away until 2am!  I was happy to be on the lounge.

Probably about a 10km day.

你好香港 – hello Hong Kong! 18 April 2013

Hong Kong Fog

We are staying with friends at a sports club that they manage in Hong Kong and being very spoiled. A driver was waiting to collect us at the airport. Our exit through Immigration was the quickest that we had experienced and Customs was a walk through. Surreal after the queues that we had experienced elsewhere (Narita comes to mind…).

The luxury of a driver was fantastic and the direct opposite of our train and Chatelet Les Halles experience in Paris…

I had no idea where the Hong Kong airport was in relation to the club which I knew was on Hong Kong island. I now know that it is located on the largely reclaimed island of Chek Lap Kok. The drive seemed long through towering hills, concrete retaining walls, sky scrapers and glimpses of harbours. Hard to tell though as I was in micro nap mode (ie only knowing that I had fallen asleep when I woke up again and again and again) after a total of about 1 hours sleep on the plane and only a few hours the night before that. Therefore my entry into Hong Kong looked like 20 second exposures in between naps… One long mass of bridges, skyscrapers and concrete.

Hong Kong Fog

So, the driver was great until he dropped us off at the wrong sports club. He parked around the corner, unloaded our luggage and told us that the main entry was around the corner. We trundled around with our luggage and asked for our friend by name at the security gate. Took a while for them to surmise that we were at the wrong club and ours was 20 minutes drive away… We needed to get a taxi but had no Hong Kong dollars yet. So we needed to find a bank but had a lot of luggage to lug around. Or we needed to phone our friend but still had the unusable French SIM cards in our phone…

Back to the nice security guard to see if he had a pin or paperclip to help us get the French SIM card out. His English was running thin by then and he said that he didn’t have any. I was getting desperate and pointed to his badge asking if that had a pin on the back of it and trying to show him what I wanted to do on the iPhone. Ah, he understood and produced a paperclip. We changed over the SIM card to the Australian one. We then phoned our friend who didn’t answer the phone. We then tried to email them but that didn’t work. Thankfully they answered the second time we phoned and told us to hop in a taxi and they would pay at the other end.

Now to get a taxi. Lots going past but either full or they wouldn’t stop. Hubby decided to walk down the road to find a rank. He disappeared for what felt like a very long time, leaving me with a pile of luggage and no way to contact him as he didn’t have his Aussie SIM in his phone. Success at last though. He eventually came back with a taxi and we were on our way to the correct club. It was quite a long way and up steep hills. I had thought about trying to walk at one point…

Eventually we caught up with our friends and it was great to see them. They live in an apartment at the top of the club and have a full suite of sporting facilities and three restaurants on site.

We had Peking Duck for dinner – first duck for me in a very long time as I’m not keen on it. The whole ceremony of cutting it was great though and I did have a couple of pancakes which were quite nice. The restaurant was very nice.

Hong Kong Peking Duck

We headed to one of the bars afterwards but after waking up twice when I didn’t even know that I had fallen asleep, I decided to call it quits for the night and we were in bed at 8.30.

Hong Kong plans! Pedometer runs amok!

Skyped with our Hong Kong based friends during the week and we are all very excited about the visit.  I haven’t been to Hong Kong before and really don’t know much about it.  I had to bring up the Google Map while I spoke with my friend and she talked me through some of the places that she has been.  I think that we will definitely do a junk cruise.  Generally I just want to look around and absorb.  Maybe we will have a look at Hollywood Road in SoHo, Hong Kong.  I’ve been to SoHo, London and SoHo, New York so hopefully this one will live up to its name.

As for the pedometer, with the weather ever so slightly cooler, I wore a jacket when walking for the first time this week  That made it a bit harder to check the pedometer as I was walking.  So I had the bright idea that I could try it on my jacket pocket near my hip.  I tested it by counting steps a few times and all seemed OK.  However, I seemed to have to work very hard in the last couple of days to get to my target of 10 000 steps.  I was literally step watching some nights, willing it to accumulate faster.  Then yesterday I was on my regular Saturday morning walk (which used to be a 10km run but that’s another story) and tracked it on my app on my iPhone.  At the end, my iPhone said that I should have done 5 500 steps and the pedometer showed only 2 700!  Given that I had persisted through to 10 000 steps each day, goodness knows how many I really did.  I think that I can say that I have jumped the gun and am already doing the 12 000 steps per day that I had planned to do this week.  Pedometer now firmly clipped back onto my waistband and staying there no matter how hard it is to view!

The Plan

My husband and I are lucky enough to be heading from Canberra, Australia to Europe for a holiday to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  We haven’t been to Europe since 1994 (which is when I took the photos at the top of this blog).  Back then we toured for 4 fantastic months and my weight sky rocketed as I ate and drank my way through France, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Belgium, Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Singapore.  Since then I have always associated travel with weight gain and doing penance on my return.

In November 2011 we headed to the US where we spent a couple of very memorable weeks in Santa Monica, Chicago and New York.  Californian food was fantastically healthy and abundant. Chicago food not so healthy but still good and even more abundant (an enormous Mexican banquet comes to mind).  New York was indescribably good.  I can’t say that I held back on the eating anywhere.  However, we walked and walked and walked and then walked some more. Unfortunately I didn’t track how many kilometres we walked each day.  I’ve always been curious to know as when I returned I found that my clothes were actually looser, not tighter!  I can only put it down to the amount of walking that we did.  I don’t usually step on scales, so I could only go by the fit of my clothes which is all that really matters to me anyway.

Ever since then I have wanted to track my weight, measurements and walking distance to see if I can repeat the experience.  I can’t guarantee if I can but if I can’t then I’ll have had a damned good time finding out.

So the plan is to head off on 4 April:

  • to Paris where we will stay in a gorgeous apartment for 6 nights,
  • trek Paris covering some sight seeing, lots of cafes and markets,
  • do some day trips to some of our favourite medieval towns from our first trip (eg Troyes),
  • train to Brussels where we will stay with friends for a week,
  • do some more day trips to towns we have been to before (eg Brugge),
  • maybe pop up to Amsterdam for a day (we had one of those moments on the last trip where Amsterdam just looked too far to drive to in the time we had, so we went to Brussels instead…)
  • fly to Hong Kong where we will spend 2 nights with friends who recently located there and have great plans for our visit also.

Did I mention that all of this is child free??  Our 9YO went to bed ranting when he found out that we were going and he wasn’t and woke up ranting.  I said that his turn will come.  My lovely father-in-law is visiting from Hobart to look after the boys, followed up by my lovely father who will help out when we return to work with still a week of school holidays to cover.

Excitement doesn’t begin to cover the way we feel but I’m sure you will get the gist once I start posting from Paris!

Less than 3 weeks to go!!  One pedometer to buy!