Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011


(Typhoon day)
(normal day)

Yesterday afternoon a Typhoon Warning 1 was in place, by the evening, it had shifted to a level 3 warning, and the winds were incredibly strong. This morning it is a level 8 warning: Southeast Gale or Storm Signal is in force!

Tropical Cyclone Nesat has hammered the Philippines and is offshore of Hong Kong at present, meaning that there are strong winds and rain outside. This may result in our spending the day indoors.

Now I'm off to organise some details of our next leg of the journey. Fingers crossed that the typhoon moves away quickly so that we can see some more of this crazy city before we leave tomorrow morning...

Update: We have been outside for a gander and almost all the shops are closed. I understand that when a level 8 warning is in place that it is compulsory for all government places and public transport to close. It is strangely eerie to see the streets bare of almost all cars, except Taxis and a few private cars. The taxis in particular are making the most of the situation by driving at breakneck speeds along the empty roads!

Wednesday in Hong Kong

Our second day in Hong Kong was epic.
Hong Kong operates on a different system to NZ - shops don't really open in the morning, if you're lucky they open around 11am, otherwise they're definately open in the afternoon, and the evenings are when everything comes to life.
Like the foreign tourists we are, we set out around 8.30am to have breakfast and soon discovered that it was awfully difficult to get a non-McDonalds or noodle soup breakfast at that hour of the morning in Hong Kong. After walking for about 20 minutes, we arrived in Tsim Sha Tsui and stumbled upon an "american" coffee shop (Everything Westernised in Hong Kong is actually Hong Kong westernised - i.e. McDonalds has pork burgers, sandwiches might feature processed cheese or prawn, and coffee is made with powdered milk) and after having our "flat white" and croissants, headed for the Hong Kong Museum of History.
It started with some archaeological history of the Island, such as remnants of the life of early peoples who inhabited areas of the outer islands of Hong Kong. It was amazing to see pottery and necklaces from people who lived during the time the old testament was written (I know that's a wide time frame!) and to think that we were actually in the area that the artefacts were collected from - as opposed to just seeing them in an exhibit, far from their home. After that, the museum went through the dynasties (got a bit lost here, as everything jumped around a bit and we felt like it would have been good to have more background information to better understand this section of the museum), war and Japanese occupation, and the creation of Hong Kong as it is now. (Also, there was the Bun Tower. See picture of me in front of it. I can't remember why it is done in HK/China, but it is. Awesome. They had to stop doing it though because one year the tower collapsed as hundreds of people climbed it looking for a free lucky bun... Sad, really.
After around 3 hours in the museum, we got some lunch in the cafe and then headed south to the end of Tsim Sat Tsui, by the ocean. We browsed around a few shops there and then caught the Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Island. Our impressions of the Island were that it was a bit more westernised than Mong Kok, where we were staying, and thus I think the two of us felt a bit more at home here. We walked up to the Tram station and took the tram up to The Peak. We stopped just before the tram station at a beautiful cathedral where we took a pew for a few minutes to catch our breath.
The Peak is 552 m high, and the views were amazing. Hong Kong is a city with huge numbers of high rise buildings and apartments. After poking around up the top of the mountain for a few hours, we took the tram back down the hill and searched for some dinner. Eventually we ended up at a place with burgers made from NZ angus or Aussie chicken. After this, we took the ferry back to Kowloon and made our way home. By the time we got back to our hotel we had been walking in 34 degree heat, 85-90% humidity for nearly 4 hours total, and had been out for about 12 hours... All I can say is we were pretty tired by the time we got to our room...!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ni Hao from Hong Kong

Hong Kong. What a place! We arrived here just as the sun was rising this morning (Tuesday) and it was already 19 degrees outside. After braving the stuffy heat, we spent the morning exploring the Jordan area of the Kowloon Peninsula, immersing ourselves in the full-on experience that is Hong Kong.

Our journey began at 8.20pm last night - no, wait. Our journey began three months ago when we began planning this epic trip, and since then we have left our house of 5 years and packed it into a small corner of the Moffat garage, Adam has resigned from his job of 5.5 years, and we have ticked a multitude of jobs off the 'to do' list that we were still completing at 7pm last night...!!! Nothing like a bit of pressure! Anyway we left Christchurch last evening, after a delicious Last Supper with Lynton and Philippa, and after a two hour wait in Auckland airport, we boarded our 777-200ER surprisingly early. Also nothing like a good jog to the boarding gate!

It is true. Long-haul economy travel sucks. Aeroplane seats are uncomfortable if you're short. Aeroplane seats are uncomfortable if you're tall. Aeroplane seats are uncomfortable if the arm rests don't retract and the person in front of you has their seat fully reclined. Stop-overs are one of man's best inventions - I have no idea how anyone could do the full Christchurch to London in one journey. I was, however, surprised that I did manage to get some sleep, even if it was in little bits here and there, it wasn't quite the hell on earth in stratosphere that I'd pictured.

Also not as scary as I had imagined was Hong Kong customs. "Do you have anything to declare, yes or no? No? Follow the green arrow." Perplexed, we found ourselves in the grand arrivals hall, without having had to speak to a single customs official, fill in any forms, or have our suitcases checked.

Anyway, we made our way to Kowloon and explored the Nathan Road/Jordan Road area of Hong Kong. I was blown away by the geography of Hong Kong, with such beautiful, huge mountains. I only wish for less air pollution so that one could see the beauty of this place more clearly, as the vistas are obscured by a grey haze. Jordan is an amazing experience. There is always a smell in the air - a mix of sewage, diesel, incense, and sea food - and the narrow streets are packed with tall buildings and people. Lots of people!

Our hotel is beautiful - we were lucky to get a good deal on, and have managed to find a 4 star hotel that has a huge amount of room, by Hong Kong standards. We're hoping to head out exploring later in the day when the temperature cools.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu...

.... adieu adieu to you, and you, and you!

So we're off tomorrow!! Strange to think we only have a few more hours left to catch up on last jobs, see a few friends who are scraping in at the last minute (!), and re-pack our suitcases a few more times to see how much we can get packed in...

We'll be at the airport from about 7.30 (pm) onwards if anyone feels the overwhelming need to come and say goodbye.