Friday 26 April 2013

Hong Kong - Day 2-4

Still catching up now that I'm back home.  The internet connection in Hong Kong was surprisingly poor so wasn't able to get many of our pictures posted.  Here's a run down of Day 2-4 in Hong Kong

Day 2 - Tour of Hong Kong Island

Today was an organized tour of Hong Kong Island.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't really good although the sun did come out.  Our views across to Kowloon from The Peak were a bit hazy.  The tram that takes you up to the Peak is actually quite amazing considering how steep it is.  It looks just like the trams that I wrote about in my last post, except it isn't a double decker.
View from Wan Chai Convention Centre across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon
View looking up at the Peak
The Tram that is on display
View from The Peak across to Kowloon - can just pick out the tallest building in Hong Kong (in the distance on the Kowloon side) as well as the tallest on Hong Kong Island
 After The Peak it was off to Aberdeen on the other side of the island through what the tour guide kept calling "The Rich People's Area". I understand why after looking at signs in a real estate office - $6 million for a small condo without a view of the water!  It also made sense why so many people from Hong Kong came to Vancouver pre 1997 and bought up the real estate here.
Our trip to Aberdeen included a ride into the harbour on a sampan.
Sampan Ride
The famous Jumbo Seafood Restaurant in Aberdeen Harbour
After Aberdeen, another drive to Stanley, also on the opposite side of the island.  Here is was a visit to the market - mostly clothes and souvenirs.  Just finished when it started to pour with rain.  Perfect timing!
We travelled back to the other side of the island through the Aberdeen tunnel.  This cemetery could be seen just as we came out of the tunnel.
Cemetery in Hong Kong

Day 3 - Birds, Flowers and Goldfish

Today we got up and headed over to Kowloon by Metro (aka subway).  It was early so we headed to the Flower Market and the Bird Market first.  I was definitely fascinated by the birds.  You see lots of men (actually all men) walking along with bird cages covered with cloth.  I wasn't sure if they took their birds for walks or if they were going to sell them or had just bought them.  Anyway, every where you looked, there were birds!
Beautiful orchids for sale
Birds for sale
More birds for sale
 On to the Goldfish Market - well actually a couple of blocks completely filled with pet stores - mostly fish from what I could see although there were 2 lonely kittens in one window.
All sorts of fish for sale - ready to go in plastic bags
More fish - some were quite large Koi
It was still early for the Ladies Market so we attempted to find a coffee - left 3 places after being unsuccessful.  In one place I asked if they had coffee or tea (I was pretty sure they had tea as I could see the pot in front of me), but we were sent across the street.  Still don't know what happened there!  Anyway we finally found a place that would sell us a cup of coffee as long as we had something to eat!  We never did manage to get to the Ladies Market - we were told it opened at 11am, but as we wandered along the street at 12 noon they were still setting up and wouldn't be open any time soon.

Our trip home was on the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour.  It was very hazy on Sunday, so the the view wasn't great.
Convention Centre
Star Ferry
Our reward for this adventure was a beer (isn't it always).  This time it was a Belgium bar close to the ferry.  We enjoyed the beer over mussels and frites.

Day 4 - Lantau Island and the Big Buddha

Off to Lantau Island today by tour.  Lantau is one of the island that make up Hong Kong and is actually bigger than Hong Kong Island itself.  The airport is built on re-claimed land on the edge of Lantau.  Our trip to the Big Buddha was by cable car to the village of Ngong Ping.  It was quite an amazing trip that takes about 25 minutes in the cable car which makes 3 turns on the way up the mountain.  We had a fun group of people from our tour with us from Colombia, Paraguay, Uraguay and Italy.  
First leg across the bay
There were trails all over this island and we actually saw people walking them - it was very steep!
Up and over the 1st mountain peak
Definitely foggy and windy on the way up!
View of the Big Buddha from Ngong Ping Village

View from top of the stairs - it was very windy!
View from bottom of the stairs - we actually got a ride up on a coach since we were on a tour :)
 Lunch was vegetarian at the Buddhist Monastery - it was all really good, but of course there is one every tour who can eat Asian food (can't even stand the smell) - made me wonder why her and her husband decided to tour Asia.

After lunch it was on to Tai O - a small fishing village on the South China Sea.  The market is mostly dried seafood and in particular Fish Maw or dried fish stomach.  Doesn't sound appealing, but apparently adds great flavour to soups.  The price was very expensive.  I included a picture below of some for $120,000 HKD (about $15,000 Cdn) for two pieces.

Fish Maw for sale
Stilted houses - we had a ride on a boat to tour these
Fresh Oysters and scallops for sale $20 for an oyster (about 26 Cents Cdn) - Terry sampled one and a beer all for $3.75Cdn
These are the expensive ones

We had a really good day and I would definitely recommend this tour if you're ever in Hong Kong.  
We left Hong Kong on Tuesday to fly home - it was a day of waiting mostly - arrived early at airport only to find out our flight was delayed.  

All in all a great trip to Hong Kong.

I'm now home after an amazing experience in Singapore and Hong Kong.  Have a bunch more trips planned over the next while, but none quite so exciting as the last couple of months.  I will continue to post as I find new adventures.  I hope you'll stay tuned!  


Tuesday 23 April 2013

Hong Kong - Day 5 - and already on our way home!

Here it is, our last day in Hong Kong and we're at the airport waiting for our flight.

Terry and I met up on Thursday night - thankfully our plans for a meeting place worked out!  We've been out and about exploring on our own and on a tour.  The weather hasn't been great, but has been warm enough so that we haven't had to wear jackets.

Day 1 - Touring by Tram (aka Ding Dings)

Our first day was spent getting our bearings.  We're staying on Hong Kong Island in a hotel in the Fortress Hills area which is quite a ways away from the Central Station in Hong Kong.  The ride on the tram costs $2.30 HKD which is about 15 cents Cdn!

On our way back to the hotel, we got off in an area where we noticed some interesting (crowded) side streets.  Some how we got completely turned around and went the wrong direction.  It as a scene from Harry Potter where something appeared to the muggles and then was gone! Eventually we found a place to have lunch and get our bearings and found the streets.  Local markets with food, veg, clothes, souvenirs and flowers for sale.

Live fish!
What ever kind of seafood you want to buy!
Pork hooves anyone?
Friday was a very hot and humid day in Hong Kong, although we didn't see the sun much at all.  I thought I had left this humidity behind in Singapore.

The scaffolding on buildings under construction is bamboo here - goes up 50 stories or more!  Fascinating - I know it's very strong, but when you look closely, the bamboo looks like it is held together with twist ties.
Bamboo scaffolding
Note the twist ties!
Back to the hotel and to sleep for Terry (and also for me - I think the long days of work in the last few weeks have caught up with me).  Tomorrow we've booked a tour of Hong Kong Island.  I'll post more pictures over the next few days!

Sunday 14 April 2013

Last weekend in Singapore

Well my last weekend in Singapore has come and gone - it's now 5pm on Sunday night as I write this and I've spent the whole weekend in the apartment working.  Well, to be honest I did a little bit of relaxing, but didn't get out to do any of the last things on my list.  It's hard to believe that 8 weeks is just about up.  Singapore has been great - I'd like to say I'm used to the heat, but I'm not, although I can appreciate a cool breeze and a couple of degrees drop in temperature.  I'm even enjoying a bit of spice in my food - not as hot as they like it here, but a little bit.

On Friday night a colleague and I went to Newton Circus for dinner.  It's a Hawker Centre like I've talked about before, but this one seems to be a little more upscale with primarily seafood and of course a little more expensive.  Alan and I enjoyed crispy squid, butter prawns, vegetables and rice and of course, a Tiger.  Apologies for the pictures - I took the with my new Samsung Galaxy Note II and I'm still getting used to the camera.

It's Friday night - so a Tiger was in order!
The menu - it makes it easy to order by the picture.  You just have to remember to ask how spicy it is and hope that you'll be able to eat it!
Crispy Squid
Butter Prawns
I took this picture for Arthur - Chicken Wings Singapore Style!
Chicken Wings
Newton Circus
Newton Circus
3 more days of work and then I fly to Hong Kong to meet Terry on Thursday. 

Sunday 7 April 2013

So spoiled! A night at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel

I feel so spoiled as  I got to experience a night at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel including a couple of swims in the infinity pool on the 57th floor.  I know I've posted multiple pictures of this hotel in previous posts, but it is just such an amazing building on the Singapore skyline.  I'd love the meet the architect who designed this building - spectacular inside and out.

From the outside
The view from the infinity pool is pretty amazing - looks a little scary from a distance - like the pool drops off the edge of the building.  In fact it's not quite as scary when you actually get over to the edge, but makes for a great picture.
I dare you to stand over by the edge!
The pool stretches about 1/2 the length of the "boat" structure on top.
Our room faced towards the water rather than the city sky line, so we could see the boats and freighters as well as Garden by the Bay.
Garden by the Bay
View of the harbour and all of the freighters
At night Garden by the Bay is all lit up using the energy capture in solar panels through the day.
Garden by the Bay at night
At 8pm, there is a laser light show from the top of the hotel.  We went back to the pool to experience the view of the city at night.

The city view from the pool
This is Marina Bay with the skyline as a back drop
More of the skyline
The laser show from the top
One more weekend to go in Singapore - it's going to be hard to top this one!