A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: gaddingabout

Sydney to Canberra - Monday, 15 August 2016

Home again, home again - jiggity jog!

sunny 17 °C

We both had a great sleep last night and didn't wake up during the night so hopefully our body clocks are back to normal.

We had a no rush morning and were on the road for home by 9.30 am and arrived home safely at 12.15 pm. There was quite a bit of traffic on the road, especially lots of big trucks but they didn't really bother us that much. It is quite frightening sometimes though, to watch what silly things they do on the roads, especially when they are driving such huge rigs.

We unpacked and I started on the huge mountain of washing to be done. We took the hire car back to Fyshwick and I popped into Coles just to buy a few basics until I get back into the routine of grocery shopping.

Canberra was minus 3 to 17 today. We are feeling a bit fresh but not cold. Only two weeks until Spring, so psychologically that is good.

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We had a great time in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Ireland and Hong Kong. We met some memorable people, saw many amazing things, ate some great food and drank some interesting concoctions. The weather was extremely hot and dry and lucky for us, Ireland didn't live up to its claim of "always raining". I would definitely recommend travelling to all of these countries. The people were friendly and English speaking locals were plentiful.

Hopefully over the next couple of days, I will be able to publish my remaining six blogs from Spain, after I plough through the mountain of mail waiting for my attention.

Posted by gaddingabout 03:33 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Hong Kong to Sydney - Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Last Leg!

semi-overcast 31 °C

Hotel - Intercontinental Grand Stanford - Room 425 - flying Business Class Cathy Pacific to Sydney

Had a great night's sleep - no coughing. Set the alarm for 5 am but was awake before it went off. Boxed breakfast arrived at 5.30 am and we were in the taxi driving to the airport at 6.30 am and arrived promptly at 7 am. Not much traffic today, being very early Sunday morning.

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Check in was a breeze with a very friendly Chinese girl who was on for a chat.

For the first time in his life, Phil got through security without any bells going off and without his carry on being opened and rifled through. He was so excited that he walked away from the check in point and left his wallet there!!!!! We were only a couple of feet away when the attendant called him back. Phew! We all laughed a lot (hysterically)!

We spent about an hour in the Cathay Pacific lounge then wandered down to the gate to board. Once our boarding pass was checked, we proceeded down the finger, only to be halted by security guys opening everyone's carry on luggage and rifling through it. I'm not sure what they were looking for but we had all been through serious security before this. They opened my carry on, lifted the book off the top and then closed it again. Not a very thorough check, I must say.

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We both have a separate pod window seat behind each other.

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We had a very easy flight. Breakfast served once we boarded, then after reading for a while I went to sleep and woke up at 5 pm, only a couple of hours before landing. We were then served dinner and we landed.

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I had to declare St George to Customs as he is made of wood, but unfortunately he has a few borer holes in him, so they kept him and will fumigate him and then post him to me in about 6 weeks time. $100 later, Phil is moaning, but I don't care because St George is lovely. We are really dopey though because we know to look out for borer holes in wood, but we just didn't even check.

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Went and collected the keys for our hire car, checked into Rydges Airport Hotel, went down to the bar and had a complimentary G&T and now we are settling in for a good night's sleep (hopefully) before driving home to Canberra tomorrow.

Sydney is cool but not freezing. Rydges have given us our favourite room - 828 - which is a corner room overlooking the runway.

Posted by gaddingabout 05:49 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Hong Kong - Saturday, 13 August 2016

Visit to Hong Kong Island and The Peak.

semi-overcast 31 °C

Hotel - Intercontinental Grand Stanford - Room 425

Finished reading "The Sisterhood" yesterday. It was a fictional parallel story about nuns in Spain and South America in the 1500s and 2000. It was very good and I was trying to read it while we were travelling in Spain, but we were just too busy. It was written by Helen Bryan and is a very good read.

I have now started "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes which was a number one best seller and has been made into a movie. So far so good.

I was asleep by 10.30 pm last night, trying to get some normality into my sleep pattern, but woke again at 3am and didn't go back to sleep until after 5!!! It is so annoying, especially for a good sleeper like me.

I have woken up this morning feeling worse than ever with this cold. It will just NOT go away. I had a coughing fit in a restaurant the other night. It was so embarrassing. You know what Chinese think about germs and I have strained a muscle in my chest from all the coughing as it now hurts with just the smallest cough.

We lazed around our room after breakfast, watching the activity on the harbour and decided we would take ourselves over to Hong Kong Island and The Peak. We were asking the conceirge the best way to tackle this - taxi, tram, bus, ferry - when he rushed us outside the hotel to hop on the hotel's shuttle bus that took us to the Star Ferry Terminal. It is hot and humid and there are people EVERYWHERE.

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First we had to purchase a token as our fare for the ferry. Most people have Octopus Cards, which are the equivalent of the UK Oyster Card, but "one timers" have to purchase a token. We found the machine only to discover that our 500 HKD note was too big. We remembered that there was a money changing booth at the front of the ferry terminal, so we walked back up to there. The woman in the booth was quite officious and said she couldn't change Hong Kong dollars for Hong Kong dollars. No wonder she had no customers because everyone in cooee was Asian - we were the only foreigners trying to get some smaller notes. So, we tried to buy two bottles of water but that lady didn't have enough change for 500 HKD! We headed back out to the street and found a supermarket that did have change for 500 HKD.

Right - back to the vending machine to buy our token for the Star Ferry. After all that, we decided that we weren't "adults" and that we were "concession" people and paid considerably less - a bit less than $2. The categories were "adults", "concession" (aged 4 to 65) and "students". As we are both over 65, we were not sure which category we fitted into and maybe if we could have found someone who spoke English, we may have got our token for free.

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We lined up for the ferry and after a very short time we boarded and took the short trip across the harbour to the island. Our conceirge mentioned something about a bus that would take us to the tram that goes to the top of the Peak, but we didn't write down the number. We should have gone straight out onto the street once we got off the ferry and caught Bus 15C which would have taken us to the Peak Tram Station, but we walked a long way along an overpass thing and ended up at the bus depot. A very helpful driver showed us where to catch the bus to the Peak, number 15. We then realised that we didn't want to catch the bus to the top, but rather take the tram, so we hopped into a taxi, who drove us to the Peak Tram Station.

It is hot and humid. We asked one of the officials about buying a ticket and catching the tram to the top and he pointed to the longest queue I have ever seen (all standing in the blazing sun) and told us that it would be an hour and a half in the queue before we could get on the tram. No thanks so we hopped in a taxi and drove to the top. Much cooler and quicker!

(At this point I was thinking that if we had been on a Scenic Tour, we would have been fast tracked to the head of the queue, and up the top of the peak before we knew it!)

We wandered around the top for a while and took some great photos of high rise Hong Kong

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and then purchased two tickets on the tram to take us back to the bottom. We only had to wait a few minutes for the next tram. When we arrived at the bottom of the hill, we walked out of the station and lined up at the bus stop for bus 15C that took us back to the wharf, where we bought another token for the Star Ferry and we returned to Kowloon.

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These are just some of the people waiting for the tram to the peak.

We decided to walk back to our hotel - I am a bit dubious about Phil's ability to find his way but he assures me that it's okay, that he knows where he is going. Oh yes, I said, that's what you said last night! Anyway, we found our favourite French bread shop "Passion" and bought some baguettes for lunch and had them in our room with a beer. It is really hot and humid. It is nice to be in our cool room, relaxing and taking in the fabulous view of Hong Kong harbour.

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The weather here has been 30 degrees with very high humidity and it is very hot walking around the streets, but the shops and hotels have their air conditioning so high, it is freezing. Some restaurants we have entered, we have walked straight back out because it is just so cold.

We have been down to reception and settled our account as we are leaving at 6.30 am tomorrow as our flight to Sydney leaves at 9 am. I can't believe our lovely holiday is almost over. It has been great. So many fabulous places and things to see and so many nice people to meet and so many different tastes to experience and let's not forget the Sangria and the Guinness!! And I was very brave and hopped on the scales in our room - the verdict - I only put on 2 kgs, which is okay by me.

Final packing and early to bed as we have an early rise in the morning. I have to supervise Phil's packing because he always forgets to put some bigger things in his check in luggage and the guys at security always take them off him. He has lost Vegemite before and on his last flight, they took his brand new tube of toothpaste.

Posted by gaddingabout 06:16 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Hong Kong - Friday, 12 August 2016

Day of frustration!

overcast 28 °C

Hotel - Intercontinental Grand Sanford - Room 845

We are almost back in our normal time zone - Canberra is two hours ahead of Hong Kong. I went to bed about midnight and woke up at about 4ish and had trouble getting back to sleep.

We had a very lazy morning and went down for breakfast at 9. It was nice to spend time eating breakfast and not having to worry about getting on the bus. The breakfast, as in most Asian hotels, covered every country in the world. A great selection.

The harbour looks different in the daylight.

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We've had a bit of a wasted day, however we aren't here to do the tourist thing - just to relax before our next flight.

Phil's u-beaut camera has a crack in its LED screen, but worst of all the on/off switch is broken, so he hasn't been able to use his camera since our ferry ride across the Shannon River, a few days ago. We thought Hong Kong would be the best place for repairs. WRONG!

We asked Reception to phone the Panasonic/Lumix camera service centre and explain what was wrong and ask if it could be fixed. The answer was "yes" to the LED screen, and "no" to the on/off switch. Phil never gives up and won't take "no" for an answer, so we caught a taxi to the Service Centre to see what could be done. It took about 20 minutes to get there and we waited for about an hour while they changed the LED screen and tried to fix the on/off button, but to no avail. They didn't have the parts and couldn't improvise because it was bought in Bangkok, not Hong Kong. I find this incredible. Panasonic is an international company. Surely it shouldn't matter where you buy it, servicing should be the same anywhere. (But it was the same when his Samsung tablet froze. Because we bought it in Singapore, no one else in the world could fix it, so in the end, we sent it to Singapore and they couldn't fix it either!) Methinks we are living in a throw away society but when you pay $700 for a camera, you expect it to be able to be fixed!

We caught a taxi back to the area of our hotel and went looking for an electronics shop to buy a new cable for my tablet. Mission successful! But it just happened to be a camera shop and Phil started looking and ended up buying a new camera. Same model as his old one but hundreds of dollars cheaper because it is now a superceded model. He's happy and that's all that counts, but I would have bought the latest model, which is much smaller and does heaps more things, but he likes to have something to hang on to.

Going to have a little read and an afternoon nap. Phil had a massage.

There is a walkway in front of our hotel that goes for a long way right along the harbour so we decided to take a stroll this afternoon.

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At the end of the walkway we headed "inland" and looked for a restaurant to have dinner. It is quite difficult to choose as they have a lot of weird things on the menu. However, we found a place that had yum cha as well so we went in and ordered spring rolls, steamed pork dumplings and a noodle soup with pork balls. It was all very nice and just enough for us to eat, plus a beer and green tea. I had a go at reading my own tea leaves - they looked like one big blob, with one tea leaf separate from the group and two tea leaves heading in the other direction. My interpretation - the big blob is our Scenic Tours group; the one tea leaf separate is Tom Doyle, the leader; and the two tea leaves heading in the other direction are Phil and I leaving the group! Not bad for an amateur.

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When we left the restaurant, there was quite a long queue out the front waiting to enter, so that must mean that it is a good restaurant and it was half the price of last night's meal.

One thing I am noticing is that there aren't many tourists around and there are a lot of young people in the streets.

We started to walk back to our hotel - I have absolutely no sense of direction and Phil does - well, we walked and walked and walked and walked some more. It is dark, nothing is looking familiar, it is hot and humid and there is absolutely no breeze. Several times I asked if we were going the right way. "Yes", he says. I'm not sure if he was trying to convince himself or me! He said the hotel is just around this corner and when it wasn't, I refused to go any further, so we hailed a taxi and off he went. He didn't speak any English and took us to the Intercontinental Hotel instead of the Intercontinental Grand Stanford which just about doubled the fare, but I didn't care because it was cool in the taxi. AND, we were miles off course. We never would have found it!

So glad to be home - going to have a long, relaxing bubble bath and go to bed!

Posted by gaddingabout 06:23 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Hong Kong - Thursday, 11 August 2016

Some well deserved R&R

semi-overcast 30 °C

Hotel - Intercontinental Grand Stanford, Hong Kong - Room 845

We flew through the night for eleven and a half hours and finally arrived in Hong Kong at 5.15 pm Hong Kong time. Our systems are now totally out of whack as a couple of hours before we landed, they served us breakfast. We were both really good on this flight and opted for a light snack last night when we took off (instead of a huge dinner) and then this morning we only had a continental breakfast.

The flight was long but good. Being in Business Class certainly helps because if you can have a good sleep, it is half the battle. My cold just won't go away and Phil is coughing and spluttering all over the place. The other passengers must just love us! By the time of landing, I have no makeup on, I have bed hair and I have mucus coming from my eyes, nose and mouth (sorry about that). What a sight! How so much mucus can come from one body is a mystery to me. Needless to say, I am heading for the shower as soon as we check in.

On arrival in Hong Kong airport, we walked past a "temperature station", where there are people with surgical masks on checking the passengers for high temperatures. The equipment must be very sophisticated as they can detect a temperature from quite a distance. Just as well I wasn't here a couple of days ago, as I had a bit of temperature then with my cold.

We had a bit of a discussion about how would be the best way to get to our hotel and Phil was considering the train, but I pushed for a taxi and that's what we got. It's a long way in from the airport to Kowloon but the thought of trying to drag bags onto a train certainly did not appeal to me. It only cost 282 HKD, which is about 50 something Aussie dollars for the taxi - door to door.

Hong Kong is huge and there are high rises everywhere. Phil was here in the early 70s on his way to Ankara, Turkey and I was here in the early 80s with my Mum, but nothing looks even slightly familiar.

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Our hotel is in a great position, right on the harbour and our room is gorgeous.

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When Phil booked he requested a room with a view of the harbour, a king sized bed, and a bath. Well he got all that and more. We have six rooms if you count the entry foyer and the dressing room. We have two toilets, a huge lounge room with a TV, a huge bed room with a TV and a very large bathroom - all this with absolutely sweeping views of Hong Kong harbour. It is gorgeous. I just can't stop looking out the window. Can hardly wait for the day time view.

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We showered and dressed and went out to find somewhere for a little snack before bed and we'll get back into the eating routine tomorrow. It is quite warm and humid.

We ended up in Shanghai Min 1987 which we now think is a very upmarket restaurant serving authentic Shanghaiese cuisine. On glancing through the menu, there was a huge amount of weird seafood dishes and we weren't sure if we would be able to find something to order. However, we did and then got a bit carried away and couldn't eat all that we had ordered. It was very delicious. A good sign too that we were the only Europeans in the restaurant. We had spring rolls; shredded duck in a crispy coating that we then had to wrap in a pancake (a bit like Peking Duck); yummy pork balls and a minced pork thing that we had to spoon into a hollow pastry shell. It was all very different and nice. Not at all like our local Chinese Cafe. With a couple of beers and a pot of green tea, the bill came to 525 HKD, divide by 5 to get Aussie dollars - it was a bit expensive, but our first meal together in Hong Kong was very memorable.

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Going to have a relaxing bubble bath now and a sleep in and have a late morning tomorrow. Got to try to get rid of this cold. I had a coughing fit in the restaurant and felt SO embarrassed.

Posted by gaddingabout 07:57 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

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