Published: December 30th 2008December 30th 2008
Another flight, another early departure from Incheon airport, Seoul. I think every single flight that I have taken out of there (and I have taken enough!!) has meant getting up at the butt crack of dawn!! Stef and I met for our cheep shuttle ride to the airport, 9000 Won (about £4:20 for a 50 minute journey) and away we went .... but .... without Luke, our co worker that was supposed to be joining us. It wasn't until we got to the check in zone that we found out that Luke would not be joining us due to illness.
The flight with Cathay Pacific was once again very good. By 10:30am I had been fed 3 times - this set a trend for the next 5 days .... to see how much it was humanly possible for Darbs to eat. I am happy to say, I have not weighed myself in months .... and I think the result would be ghastly after the 5 days spent in HK!
The journey in to Kowloon was very simple, just one HK$33 bus ride to Nathan Street where we were staying. Nathan Street had so many shops on it. It was
a very busy and built up area with an array of buildings, be it shops or accommodation. Then we get to stop 13 and time to check in at the Mirador Mansion. Stef and I had booked a twin room at the Kowloon New Hostel. The picture on hostelworld.com made it out to look very nice. WRONG. From the minute we entered the building we knew it was poxy. We found the lift and needed to get the 16th floor. If only it was so simple. The lifts only service certain floors. We was in line for a different lift. Yes, in LINE. You had to queue for a lift surrounded by the dregs of society. Huddled in to the lift, we made it to the 16th floor to then be told we had to go to the 13th. Great, find a lift that'd take us there, queue again or take the stairs for 3 floors with our back packs. So we opted for the stairs. OH MY GOD ...... This was the pitts!!! The stair well kind of looked like something from a horror movie. Blood, wee and God only knows what else dripping off the stained walls. I
cannot remember a stench too well, but the visuals were over baring. It had the cheek to say "NO DUMPING" on the walls ..... which Stef and I actually came to believe was painted there to stops the down and outs pooing in the stairwell. This stair well later came to be known as "The Stair well of Doom" by the pair of us.
So : on to floor 13. We ask to see the room. Was lead back down the stairs to floor 11. Enter through 2 doors and then we get to see our room, the place we would wake up in on Christmas morning. The lady was still cleaning it. This looked to be a good sign .... but that was probably the only good sign. We paid up for the 4 nights and then settled in. It was only once settling in that we really took on board how utterly dia the room was. The wall paper rivaled that of anything you would see in the Duckworths in Corrie, the bathroom mirror had a thick layer of mold around it, there was no window, at one end of Stef's bed, where the head board should've
been, there was a tick layer or crust and some unidentified matter, and a strange smell. However, we'd paid for our 4 nights, and we were staying. Stef and I usually like to zone out in our room for a bit when we travel. We had only had about 4 hours sleep the night before, but no sooner had we dropped our back packs off, we was outta there!!!
Night one consisted of walking round the streets of Kowloon. Getting caught up in a Hare Krishna parade and eating dim sum in a food court in one of the many malls of HK.
Day 2 : Christmas Day.
Christmas Day I was woken at 5:50am with what I thought was a murder coming from the room next door. I have seen "The Beach" - I had images of me peering in to the room next door to see a body laying there drenched in blood ... possibly leaving me a map to pastures new. But, No, No map - No murder. Instead, this was the cries of a child screaming and waking Stef and I up. The cheek of it. We managed to put this behind us
White girl in Asia.
Spot the clown .... well, Santa!
and pretend that this had not actually happened. We would start Christmas morning again at 10am. Oh and what a morning. Steffy played Christmas hits off her travel speakers and we exchanged gifts (Thank you for my monkey hat and T shirt Steffy!!!). Christmas morning was made even better when I had a .... wait for it .... a HOT SHOWER, something that I lack in Korea. It gets better tho - it had .... WATER PRESSURE too!!! So the tiny cabin bathroom, equip with mold and drips from the a/c unit did me proud.
Christmas breakfast was a trip to the local Irish pub. $HK88 for a big plate of full English (or Irish ...).
We then took the subway to LanTau island. The subway was so so clean. You will be fined for eating or drinking on it. Little did we know ... and both ate and drunk on it .... how could I resist tho .... I had a bottle of RIBENA on me after all ..... I hadn't had that for 10mths!!!
LanTau island is the island where the airport is. We had planned to take a cable car up to see the
Big Buddha, but with a 2hr wait ahead of us, we decided to wait for the local bus to take us there instead (and waited for about 3 minutes!!). Strangely, you have to have the correct fare for the buses in HK. None of them carry change - so if you decide to go : buy an Octopus card .... Like an Oyster / T Money card, but for HK. We didn't bother and always had to make sure we had $20 odd dollars left on us.
The Buddha is the largest sitting out door Buddha in the world. Big problems for Stef and I tho when it came to photography, the sun was spoiling every shot as it was behind the dear old Buddha ... so big Buddha is in fact, big silhouette for us. I think I looked like more of an attraction tho as I had on my Santa beard and hat. It was Christmas day after all!!
We then took another bus to Tin O. An old fishing village on LanTau. This village was such a comparison to the rest of HK. People lived in corrugated iron houses built on stilts above the water.
The place had dried fish bits everywhere. Makes you wonder how people actually make a living selling dried pieces of fish? We got chatting to an old local man. He had the most interesting teeth which we couldn't help but stare at. Such a mix of yellow colours. Shapes that'd make a mathematician puzzled. He was quite mad, but knew a lot about local papers .... in the UK? He started taking to me about Manc Met uni??? So away from Toothy and on we went, for another bus journey.
We went to visit the large Christmas tree outside of the station on Hong Kong Island. Here we made wishes and placed them on surrounding trees. Then I got interviewed by the tourism board! Hong Kong island was very built up. Huge stunning sky scrapers, just like the ones in the States. Hunger was setting in at this point. No turkey for us tho. We opted for Malay food.
Day 3 : Macao. I will write seperatley about this later.
Day 4 : We headed back to Hong Kong Island, but this time on one of the Star Ferries. I never thought that I would get excited
Our hostel building.
The worst hostel to date ...
to see H&M - but I was .... and went in for a nose. Bought nothing tho .... as it seemed ..... DEAR!! I have been spoilt for cheep shopping since living in Korea!
For lunch, we stumbled across a back street dumpling restaurant. AMAZING!!!!!!! This lunch was so so good. Fried Won Ton, dumplings, dumplings in soup : soooooo good!!!
After the cheep and successful lunch, we took a walk around the city. We headed up a small market like street. Then I go "Stef Stef Rat Rat". A rat had climbed up on to a vegetable traders cart, stuck its nashers in to a potato and run off with it. Made me feel sick seeing the people work with the rat just hanging out with them. Nasty.
After taking the ferry back to Kowloon, we get off the boat and some dude comes over to me and says "Rolex, hand bag ....... hashish", bloody cheek.
On our last night we finally see Hong Kong's famous 13 minute light show from the buildings over on HK Island. This was nice, but I did kind of expect more. We spent most of the 13 minutes trying
Front entrance of the hostel building.
Having to pass through a metal gate / and then through security.
to catch photos of it .... I think we did ok (Stef had a tripod, something which we had great fun with during the trip).
We then went back to HK Island by ferry after the show. Came across and AMAZING Cantonese restaurant. Ate more pork dumplings, sweet and sour, more dumplings and hot and spicy soup. All very very yum yum!! I love eating with Stef, I let her choose and she always chooses well!! I / we were very happy.
A perfect dinner to a end a wonderful trip.
Unfortunately, this'll be my last trip with Stef now. We have 8 weeks left in Korea and no more mini breaks abroad. Thanks for all the fun times Stef .... "Hasish??"
Upon returning to the "Mansion" we had to pass through a metal fence and go through security, showing our ID. Oh, this place was the pitts. So many down and outs lingering by the 711 outside. Returning to Korea, I later found out that the Chungking Mansions next door is famous for drug dealings, prostitues, and ...... a murder! Nice. What makes it worse, is there was a Holiday Inn next door to the
Old fishing village built on stilts above the water.
Mansions which we could've easily afforded!
Thanks to John and Claire for the big emails on HK - we used it as our Lonely Planet for the trip .... if only I had read the print out prior to booking the accom, we would've noted that you both said steer clear of the mansions!!!
Happy New Year 2009 everyone. I hope you had a pleasant Christmas.
There are more photos below