Hong Kong - December 2017


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December 19th 2017
Published: December 19th 2017
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Tuesday 19 December 2017 - Brisbane

One week to go !! Looking forward to getting on that QANTAS flight - albeit an early start with a 9:40am departure from Brisbane

Tuesday - 26 December 2017 - Hong Kong

The day has finally arrived ! Up at 4am and out to the airport by 7am for our 9.40 flight. Car booked into Andrews Airport parking for 8 days - $103.

Departed a bit late from the gate at 10am and off the ground by 10.20am. but that did not seem to affect our flight time as we arrived on time at 4.35pm in Hong Kong. Good flight, good service, reasonable food offerings.

Through Customs and Immigration in good time and found a maxi taxi that delivered us straight to the front door of the hotel in about 40 minutes - HKD$350. Staying at the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui in Hanoi Road. good service from all front desk staff and the room is a Deluxe King - we are both on the 11th floor - Rooms 1110 and 1112. Good view to Victoria Harbour (with some buildings in between).

In time for Happy Hour drinks in the Chinn Chinn Bar in the hotel and a small bite to eat - too much food on the plane. Visit to the supermarket for some room supplies and then a wander into the surrounding streets to change some money.

In bed by 11pm - 1am Brisbane time - all very tired after a long day.

Wednesday 27 December 2017 - Shenzhen

Up at 7am and to breakfast. The Hyatt really does the best breakfast we have had in HK over all of the visits and all of the years. A somewhat restless night in a new bed but we both got about 7 hours of sleep. Have had to change one of the pillows though.

Out on the streets at 10am to Tai Kwong Optical for me to get a new prescription filled for my computer spectacles and Roz to see Shirley at Rio Pearls to have a ring adjusted. Meanwhile, Paul got spotted by an Indian tailor who gave him a good price on some trousers. Unfortunately, Roz also found something she wanted made up too !

Time for a coffee before getting a cab to Hung Hom Station for the run up to Shenzhen. Kenny the Cab Driver made an offer to drive us up there for HKD$260 (Train fare for 4 of us would have been in the order of HKD$160 - so we accepted his offer and took a ride through the countryside up through the New Territories. Unfortunately, Kenny knew best (he thought) and dropped us at Lok Ma Chau crossing point instead of Lo Wu where I had said we wanted to go.

We are sure he is still sitting at home laughing about how he stitched up the mug Aussies by dropping them at the wrong crossing point - where there was no facility to get a Chinese visa for the day. With some great help from immigration and police staff, we were on our way to Lo Wu by train, finally arriving there about 1pm. The entertainment had not stopped though - the visa office was obviously in some disarray today and it took almost an hour to get our visas to get over the border. Much laughter and joking among the Aussies in the office about the efficiency of the Chinese visa staff - comparing them to Centrelink and the CFMEU with a unionised workforce, working to rule.

Anyway, eventually into Shenzhen at about 2.30pm and headed straight for the clean bathrooms at the Shangri La Hotel and a light late lunch - the squat loos in the crossing point were not an option for Peta and Roz !!

A jolly after noon of touring the Lo Wu Shopping Complex and a few items purchased at the end of the day. Some really pesky touts needed to be put in the portrait about their invasive behaviour but the people we dealt with in the shops we visited were very good and came up with some good prices. Jobs done by 6pm and we headed to one of the large Chinese restaurants inside the shopping centre. We had a good experience at one of them that we visited last time we were here with Peta and Paul and we did well again. A few main courses and some vegetable dishes in the middle and dinner was had. Again, minimal English spoken by restaurant staff but we managed to get our choices over to them an had quite a good meal. Wine is very expensive but we had a South Australian Chardonnay of questionable quality after our first choice of an Italian Pinot Grigio was found to be out of stock.

Dinner completed by 7.30pm and on the next train back to Hung Hom for where we walked back the hotel, arriving there by about 9pm.

Despite the toings and froings during the day, it was a good day out and we all enjoyed the interactions (except with Kenny in retrospect), the food and the experience. It was nowhere near as cold as we thought it was going to be and we got away with shortsleeves and singlets today although it did get a bit cool on the walk home tonight. Temperature range was about 12-20 degrees and relatively clear skies all day.

The thought is to do the Stanley run tomorrow morning and then we are heading to dinner at Wan Chai at a restaurant called Pawn tomorrow night. Will see how the weather pans out.

Bed at 10pm.

Thursday 28 December 2017 - Stanley Market

A bit of cloud and 16-20 degrees forecast. Slept very well. Big fingers got in the way and I managed to lock myself out of the room safe necessitating the duty manager to come and save us (me).

On the road by 10am and headed for Canton Road to catch the 973 bus to Stanley Market. Proved to be a bit of a hair raising adventure with Fangio at the wheel of the double decker. The man drove with purpose and speed but managed to miss everything coming his way and got us to the destination without incident. HKD$13.70 per person - best AUD$2 spent for a tour bus ride !!

As usual, we noticed a lot of construction underway throughout the journey - with new buildings, roads and fly overs being built. Stanley Market also appears to be undergoing refurbishment. Not much change to the shops inside the market though. A few minor purchases made and we caught the 6X express bus back to Central (HKD$8.40 off peak) to be back at Central by 1.30pm. A small sandwich and salad lunch at one of our favourites at the IFC - Pret A Manger - before taking the Star Ferry back to Tsim Sha Tsui (HKD$2.70). Peta and Roz went make-up looking in Harbour City while Paul and I wandered aimlessly (how unusual) taking in the sights. tTe make up journey was a wash out due to the number of young locals literally flocking to the make up counters and forming queues.

On to the optometrist for me to pick up new specs and to the tailor for Paul and Roz to pick up clothing that had been ordered. Roz also had a ring resized, so back to Rio Pearls to see our friend Shirley and pick up the ring.

Back to the hotel for a shower and to get ready to head out for dinner, which we did at 5.15pm. Went to Johnstone Road in Wan Chai to the Pawn Restaurant which Peta and Paul had chosen. Good solid fare with a couple of enjoyable wines. Dinner over by 8:30pm and took the MTR back to Tsim Sha Tsui and back to the hotel.

Another good day out !!

Over 16,000 steps counted for the day (over 15,000 yesterday) - so we are getting our exercise !!

Booked to take the cable car at the Big Buddha over on Lantau Island tomorrow.

Friday 29 December 2017 - The Big Buddha

A very good night's sleep - almost 8 unheard of hours for me ! Must have been tired out by yesterday's activities and walking.

The day has broken with clear skies and forecast high of 23 +degrees. In fact, it hit 25 degrees and was warm all day - even tending to hot. could not be better weather for us considering we were expecting freezing cold winds.

Breakfast done and dusted by 9.30am and on the track by 10am to the Star Ferry to cross the harbour to Pier 6 at Central to take the ferry to Mui Wo on Lantau Island. A 30 minute crossing on smooth seas to Mui Wo and then caught the No2 bus to Ngong Ping and the Big Buddha (HKD$17.20). We like this route because it is scenic and gives us a look at the local villages along the way. The bus a rattler but it is air conditioned and has (worn) leather seats. Again, 30 minutes later we had arrived at Ngong Ping on one of the peaks on Lantau Island - home of of the Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha.

Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue, completed in 1993. The statue is sited near the Po Lin Monastery and symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith.

There are 268 steep steps to the top but the view is worth it. Jelly legs for the rest of the day though !

Entry to the Buddha is free but HKD$45 buys a coffee, small dim sum and noodle vegetarian meal at the Monastery - good value. Or you can pay HKD$110 and get a full vegetarian meal in a dining hall.

Cows are found wandering freely in the grounds and they appear to be well fed and certainly domesticated. The usual tourist traps of souvenir shops surround the area but there is no touting to get you into the shops.

We had prepaid to take a cable car ride from the top of the mountain down to Tung Chung where the MTR runs back into Hong Kong (about HKD$180 each). We had selected the glass bottomed Crystal Cable Car ride and it was worth the money to be passing over deep ravines and waterfalls and being able to see what was below us. As is usual in HK, the smog was with us but we still got a great view of the mountain top, Hong Kong International airport and the approach to the Tung Chung township as we passed over the mountain.

A cup of coffee at the Citygate shopping complex and then took the MTR back into town to Mong Kok where we stopped off to see the Ladies Market. Crowded as usual in this area and mountains of second grade goods for sale spread out over about 9 blocks of streets. Cannot believe the amount of stock just sitting there !! Rule of thumb - offer half of the first price the vendors ask and walk away if they do not come down to that. Most times they will cave and meet your price.

Footsore and weary at 5.30pm, we took the MTR back to Tsim Sha Tsui and headed for Lulu's bar opposite our hotel in Hanoi Road where Happy Hour drinks were on offer (HKD$58 a glass of very passable Chilean Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc) and a Lulu Burger was consumed as we were all starving.

Final task for the night was to go and get ferry tickets for a trip to Macau tomorrow - 10.30am departure from Hong Kong and 4.30pm departure from Macau. the weather forecast is again fine with a top of 24 degrees.

The ladies managed to find make-up shops and clothing outlets on the way home but finally back to the ranch at 8.30pm and very ready for a well earned shower and bed.

16,500 steps achieved today !! We dun good !

Saturday 30 December 2017 - Macau

Another bright and sunny start to the day with a forecast top of 23 degrees - which in fact was reached. The only downer about the weather today was that the smog has closed in and visibility has been considerably reduced. A warning is out about the level of smog at Causeway Bay indicating it could be injurious to health if precautions are not taken. We will try and avoid.

Early start for breakfast at 8am so that we can be at the Ferry terminal to catch our ride to Macau today. A brisk walk to the China Ferry Terminal near the Gateway Hotel and onto the Turbojet boat at 10.30am. Very comfortable aircraft style seating in economy for the 1 hour and 10 minute crossing to the Maritime Terminal in Macau. Seas were slight and no significant bumps on the way across. Full of passengers out for the day.

Pounced on at arrival by a tour driver who wanted to show us the world in the 4-5 hours we had available. We declined but in retrospect, it may have been more time efficient to have taken up the offer and modified his plans as we found we were very time strapped with what we did. We had booked a return crossing for 4.35pm departure and probably dudded ourselves by 1-2 hours for the day.

On arrival, we made for the Venetian Casino free buses to take us to that place as Peta and Paul had not seen it before. It is a faithful replication of the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas, complete with Venetian water canals, gondolas and singing gondoliers, a St Mark's Square and of course, a vast casino. It being a Saturday, we have never seen so many people in the Casino. On previous visits, we could have put a shotgun blast down any corridor and only hit the stray dog. Today, the place was packed with Chinese - very few Europeans to be seen.

Our biggest frustration was trying to find a coffee shop - and those that we did find were packed out - and we were in need of caffeinated comfort !! Eventually found a cafe that also served food so that visit turned into lunch. Could not believe the number of high end retail shops - often more than one outlet in the centre. In some places, it was shoulder to shoulder with the masses - the place must have been making a fortune.

Having sampled the feeling at the Venetian, we decided to go straight back into Macau to visit Senado Square or Senate Square, which is a paved town square and part of the UNESCO Historic Centre of Macau World Heritage Site. The square was named after the Leal Senado, a meeting place for the Chinese and Portuguese in the 16th to 18th centuries.

If we thought the Casino was well attended, Senado Square was a double up on that. Just a mass of people out and about on a Saturday, making movement very slow and difficult. We did manage to make our way through the throng eventually arriving at the ruins of St Paul, the ruins of a 17th-century complex. It includes what was originally St Paul's College and the Church of St. Paul, a 17th-century Portuguese church dedicated to Saint Paul the Apostle. Today, the ruins are one of Macau's best known landmarks.

The ruins were thoughtfully decorated with modern day Santa figures which really (not) added to the atmosphere.

Onwards and upwards, we made our way to the top of the hill to visit the remains of a fort complete with cannon. Had we turned to the left, the journey upwards would have been via a series of well placed escalators, minimizing the heat and energy expended. Of course, we made the healthy decision and turned right (unknowingly) and laboured up a series of steep stone stairways until we reached the top, huffing and puffing. A young American lady on her way down the hill on our side helpfully advised us of the escalators on the other side - we were gracious in our reply.

A pause and taking of a freshly squeezed apple juice restored our strength and we made our way down the hill from the fort into the city where Roz spotted the Hotel Royal where we had stayed some 15 years previously - a good location to get a taxi back to the Maritime Terminal for our departure.

The ferry left on time but took a little longer to do the crossing - more like an hour and a half. A few more bumps and lumps in the water made the ride a little less comfortable but nothing that worried us.

In retrospect, we probably should have left earlier and come back later to give ourselves more time for the visit to Macau and had we come on a weekday, the crowds would probably have been less. Despite that, the visit and weather were good and the bits we did see gave Peta and Paul and overview of Macau.

The return to Hong Kong gave evidence of the increased smog level and buildings in the distance that we had been able to see had disappeared into the gloom. We wait with interest the views we will get tomorrow morning.

A visit to a Bavarian bar for happy hour and a snack followed by a light dinner at a nearby restaurant saw the end of our touring day and a new record of 17,300 steps achieved !

A good day out and feeling a little less tired, despite the number of steps taken for the day.

Sunday 31 December 2017 - Hong Kong

Last day of 2017 broke clear and with less smog than we have seen for a while. 16-23 degrees are forecast.

We have all decided to start slow, go slow and finish slow today to catch up a bit on energy and our feet. Late breakfast after 9am and then over to Harbour City to check out the price on a buffet lunch we had here on a previous occasion. It being New Years Eve, the price was more than we were prepared to pay - HKD$488 - over AU$80 - too much ! So we will have to rework our ideas about dinner for tonight. There are a couple of cafes, bars and restaurants in the back streets near us that look OK.

Took the Star Ferry across to HK Island and visited the IFC centre for a general look around and coffee. Again, the public holiday and a Sunday have taken their toll on the number of people out and about and it was difficult to get around without being jostled and overrun. Ferry back to Tsim Sha Tsui, through Harbour City and on to I Square for a light lunch.

Back to the hotel about 3pm for some quiet time, reading books, catching up on news and a rest.

On the road again at 5.30pm to our nearby Bavarian bar for Happy Hour. Most bars have a happy hour with drinks priced around the AUD$10 per glass. Otherwise drinks, and food, is expensive in HK these days.

A search after the drink for a place to eat. Not having been here at Xmas / New Year, the size of the crowds has caught us out and it was hard to find a reasonable place to eat at short notice. We managed to do so in one of the back streets and had quite a nice meal in the end.

The police have blocked off most of the roads in lower Tsim Sha Tsui to accommodate the gathering crowds to watch the fireworks and we were able to do the unusual thing of walking down the middle of Nathan Road !!

The numbers are growing rapidly (9.30pm) and by midnight, we can only imagine the crush down by the Promenade on the waterfront. We have decided to take advantage of the higher elevation in our hotel room and watch the fireworks from the comfort of our rooms at midnight.

Happy New Year !! - set the alarm for 11:55pm and managed to see and hear the crowd roar, the fireworks start and the windows rattle !! It was only about 15 minutes of it but what we did see was spectacular and even up here in the closed room, we could hear the crowd counting down and their applause and shouts during the show. they have to find their way home out of the hundreds of thousands - we are about to turn out the light and go back to sleep ! Another day - another year !

Monday 1 January 2018 - Hong Kong - New Years Day !!

Incredibly smoggy morning outside at daybreak. According to the indices, the smog level is three times what it was yesterday and you can almost taste the pollution in the air.

16 -19 degrees forecast for today so it is going to be considerably cooler than any other day we have been here - and so it proved to be. Jackets at last !!

For our last full day in Hong Kong, we decided to head to Lamma Island for lunch and took the ferry from No. 4 Pier at Central to Sok Kwu Wan where there are a number of seafood restaurants (HKD$31pp). The journey took about 25 minutes.

There are about 10 in a row at Sok Kwu Wan - all of which would no doubt provide a great meal. It just comes down to the perceived level of cleanliness and presentation as to which one is chosen. As it turned out, the feature that sold the ladies was the private toilet for Rainbow Restaurant patrons as against having to use the somewhat less well appointed communal loos !

Fortunately, the food quantity and presentation matched the quality of the loos and we enjoyed a very nice meal. It had turned considerably cooler and Paul had not brought a jacket. First option was to buy a T shirt or an extra shirt - no real contenders there. Second option was to accept a tablecoth from the Rainbow and be warm - winner !! Our waiter was a bit of a card and as he placed the material on Paul's shoulder, he said he was glad that Paul was so "big and strong" !!

For those interested, the loos lived up to expectation - both male and female - proving to be clean and functional !

The Rainbow Restaurant does so well with the business that it puts on its own boat to transport patrons free of charge from Lamma back to Central or Tsim Sha Tsui. We did take advantage of that service and marvelled at the seamanship demonstrated by the Captain as he criss crossed the wakes of larger and faster vessels to keep his passengers more comfortable.

The Flower Market at Mong Kok had not been visited so a short visit to that venue via MRT stopping at Prince Edward Station was undertaken. The colour and variety of what is on display is amazing as is the quantity. Two full blocks are the main display areas and a garden enthusiast could spend all day there. In particular, the orchids are incredible. The Bird Market is also collocated with the Flower Market.

On arrival back at the hotel, we headed for the our last happy hour session in the Chinn Chinn Bar and then walked up to Knutsford Terrace where we knew there were a selection of bars and grills for dinner. "Port" was selected as it had a steak offering - something we have not had since we have been here. The meals were adequate but a vegetarian option for Peta turned out to be very chili hot !

A slow walk home and back to the hotel by about 8pm.

The day was certainly cooler than we have preciously experienced here on this visit and the air was more dense but there was no humidity again and it was quite comfortable.

Packing to be done and have obtained a late check out for 2pm - about an hour short of our preferred departure time for the airport.

Early to bed tonight to compensate for the shorter sleep we got due to New Year Celebrations last night.

Tuesday 2 January 2018 / Wednesday 3 January 2018 - Tsim Sha Tsui / Flying Home

Last day in Dodge City has begun with a thick smog hanging over the city. A slow start to breakfast as we are in no rush to do anything but packing and final bits and pieces.

With that in mind, we went our separate ways to finalise purchases and visits. Roz and I visited Shirley Wong at Rio Pearls and took her a couple of bottles of Australian wine - we have been visiting her for the last 15 years and she has always provided good service.

Of course, on our last day in town, we have found a great European style deli right across the road from Rio Pearls in Mody Road - Passion. A good range of quality food and coffee that would have been perfect for lunches and in fact also provided a happy hour at the end of the day . Oh well, maybe next time................

Checked out at 2pm after a late checkout had been arranged and had coffee at Agnes b in the K11 centre where we were staying.

We had booked a van style taxi for 3pm and the driver had us to Terminal 1 at the International Airport by 4pm (HKD$400 incl $80 booking fee). A long line of people travelling to Australia on three QANTAS flights - Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne - and all departing about the same time.

A last happy hour with chips at Cafe Deco at the airport and then to the gate lounge where we departed pretty much on time at 7:05pm.

A relatively smooth flight home and a good landing in Brisbane 10 minutes early at 5:45am.

One thing has to be said though and that is about the quality (not) of the food served up for the evening meal and breakfast by QANTAS on this flight - both were atrocious. The offerings and the containers were worthy only of a third world camel train operator. The evening meal had two poultry options and one vegetarian pasta (linguine that tasted like cardboard) and for breakfast, another cardboard quiche item was served up in a cardboard box. Totally inadequate and not in keeping with previous offerings and certainly on Australia's premier international airline. Service from QANTAS Staff on the other hand was excellent.

Mr Quarantine made everyone happy and kept us all waiting 20 minutes seated at the gate before disembarking doing whatever they do. thankfully, it did not include the Mortein spray through the aircraft as in years past.

Quickly through Immigration and Customs - the E-Gates are great - and picked up quickly by Andrews Airport Parking. Home by 7am and three loads of washing done by lunch time !!

Summary

We had a great holiday with our friends Peta and Paul, thoroughly enjoying their company and sharing more than a a few meals, experiences and glasses of wine. Happy hours were a focal point at the end of the day in various locations (average cost by the glass was about HKD$58) and that evolution soothed sore feet and weary limbs. The Bavarian Bar across the road provided the most generous servings while the Chinn Chinn Bar in the hotel provided the atmosphere, the peanuts and the crisps.

Hong Kong is getting more expensive each visit - the price of food and clothing in particular seem to be soaring and that makes the destination less attractive.

The weather was perfect for us - we expected it to be cold and requiring jackets but we got comfortably cool weather throughout with temperatures in the 17-23 degree range, and no rain. The forecast for the weekend after we left was for rain and temperatures of 11-14 degrees.

The main places we visited in the 7 days included Shenzhen, Stanley Market, Macau, Lamma Island, The Big Buddha on Lantau Island, and the Flower and Ladies Markets. Of course, in between, there were many backstreets, laneways and shops ! We managed in the order of 15,000 - 17,000 steps each day as a group.

Roz and I have never seen HK so crowded. The combination of the weekend, a public holiday and a Sunday was the perfect storm for New Years Eve and the crowded spaces were literally shoulder to shoulder. That was also uncomfortable - but we chose the time of the year to go , so no complaints - just an observation for any future visit.

End of the Hong Kong sojourn - next adventure is to the Mediterranean for a cruise and to the USA to see Adrian, Vanessa, Sophie and Isaac in May / June 2018.


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20th December 2017

hi
hope this one gets to you
20th December 2017

Thanks - looks like its working OK. Will do another test later in the week.
29th December 2017

All good
Have all days. Enjoy Macau
30th December 2017

Macau
Will read with interest your thoughts on Macau, keen to have a look but my holiday is still wait and see. I would be grateful if you could bring me back a tourist map of HK and Kowloon. Day in Shenzhen was interesting!! Blog sometimes drops out when sending comments. Cheers keep enjoying. Val
30th December 2017

Macau
Yes we are all footsore from the walking and it is much warmer than we thought it would be. Having a quieter day tomorrow. Will get some of the latest maps for you. Regards Jim
31st December 2017

Macau - Happy New Year
Day was really interesting and lots to do.Have a really great night for NewYears Eve. Sunday paper today said HK is a great hot spot to bring in the NewYear. Enjoy. Cheers Val
31st December 2017

Aberdeen Floating Village
I have been looking at the Aberdeen Floating Markets and Floating Restaurant. Apparently largest Floating restaurant in the world. Please don’t reply Jim I’ll see you when you come home. Just wondering if this is a place you have visited. Suppose to be interesting with all the junks etc Floating in the Bay.

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