Saturday 14th November - EXCITING HONG KONG
Panicked when I woke up to the sound of the other girls in the room chatting while they were packing. Thought it was really late and couldn't find my phone to check time. Found it in my locker and luckily it was only 9ish. Had quick wash and went to wait for Ad in the lounge area. Grabbed myself a cuppa and within 10mins he appeared. Strange, I'd only been one night without him and I really missed him, arhhhh. Rested for a bit before checking out and making our way to the border to cross into HONG KONG - very exciting.
It didn't take long to get to the border by tube, but was so strange crossing over after passing through immigration. You simply cross a river on and indoor bridge, unfortunately you cannot take pictures, but it is strange that you have Shenzen on one side and Hong Kong on the other. Without flying in, it just didn't seem like we were there. Walked straight up to the information desk on the other side and he advised us on the best tube stop to go to and off we went.
From the moment we came out of the tube station onto Nathan Road, it was kaos. People everywhere, traffic galore and the exciting feeling of such a vibrant city overhanging us. Was very surprised to see so many Indians and Africans here, at times I was unsure which country we were actually in. Ad doesn't remember it like this when he visited 10 years ago, but a lot can change in 10 years. We got a lot of hassel and at times it was frustrating especially when we would get leaflets shoved in front of our faces, or be followed, even though we politely said "no thank you", but I guess we need to get used to this before getting into South East Asia, we have heard it happens a lot there.
One nice Indian lad guided us to a guest house and we managed to get a room for £15 between us, which is pretty good for Hong Kong, although it was a box room, with a tiny shower over the toilet, no windows and a dwarf size bed, although we can't be picky, this is one of the most amazing cities to visit. I really can't wait to explore.
Headed in the direction of some Museum type looking buildings that we saw on the way. As we approached what looked like a waterfront, Hong Kong's skyline revealed itself across the other side of the water. Almost a tear to the eye, I was blown away by the sheer size of it. It was stunning. You see it in pictures, but until you are right there looking at it in front of you, it really doesn't bring it to life. Amazing, now I know I'm in Hong Kong.
Some talent contest was going on behind us on a stage, just some young kids, nice to watch a bit before strolling along the embankment to appreciate the skyline even more. Many students were standing proudly in their graduating outfits while getting photos taken with the skyline behind, I guess it's a popular place for these pics to take place. We sat there for some time before our tummy's started to turn and ventured into town for some food. Just went for some simple spring rolls, meat parcels, veggie bites etc, all very yummy and not too expensive. Made sure we were back at the waterfront for the laser show. It's on every night but we wanted to make sure we caught it, not sure what we'll be up to the next few days. It was brilliant, on a large scale, with the lights flying from our side out over to some of the sky scrapers on the skyline, a great experience, managed to film most of it.
After, we took a stroll back along the boardwalk to see the rainbow of colours, glooming over the skyline against the nights sky, truly beautiful. Must of used up all our photo space in a few hours. Walked along the Avenue of the stars and had pics taken next to the hand prints of such stars as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan - gotta be done ay. Music was blaring out from the bars behind, a slight holiday scene going on, but a little on the expensive side, so we did the true travelling style, got a Macky D and some beers and enjoyed the music from the comfort of the boardwalk, while looking out over the water to the skyline, personally, I think we had the best seats around.
Lights went out and we headed back for bed. The room might be tiny, but it certainly is cosy and we had a TV which was comforting. Ad found and England friendly footy game and I fell asleep - a great but long day.
Sunday 15th November - YOU WILL BE MARRIED
A late start due to no sunlight entering our room and we conveniently forgetting to put an alarm on - our bad. Strolled around Nathan Road, in and out of shops and generally having a good look around. Entered Kowloon park to find people still learning Kung Fu, was tempted to join in, looked very therapeutic. Just stood back as bystanders and watched.
We were approached by an Indian lad who told Ad he was a very lucky man, of course I thought "Yes he is, he has me", but that's not what he was talking about, he said generally in life, he could see Ad would succeed in a lot of things. Then he wrote something on a piece of paper and got Ad to old it, whilst he continued to talk to us. He then asked Ad for his favourite number and flower. Bit odd, but Ad answered and then when he opened the paper, the guy had written his exact answers, a real Darren Brown moment, odd but I'm sure we missed something. He then put our hands together and help them, while he said a little prayer, wishing us a future of happiness and said we would be married. Was surprised to see Ad still standing, thought he might faint. Still we gave the man some change for his brilliance and continued to stroll around the park.
Lots of people strolling around, sitting together and generally relaxing. There was a nice pond area, which many birds fly in and out of freely. We saw flamingos, which was rare to see and many other unique birds which seem to stick around amongst the ducks, fish and greenery of the park. An avery further around held many parrots and other exotic birds, was surprised they offered so much to see free of charge, usually places like this have a fee of some kind. Really nice place to visit. Continued up Nathan Rd to a temple we had read about. Was tiny, but very pretty. Had many spiraled insense burners hanging from the ceiling. Could only take pics from the outside courtyard, which was pretty in itself, with huge trees with overhanging branches that covered most of the courtyard below, very quaint.
Met up with Ad's friend Leslie about 4:30ish. Adam and Leslie went to school together back in England and they haven't seen each other in about 10 years, how mad is that. We'd just been playing in the arcades next door while waiting, I was trying to beat Ad on a racing car game, but I guess I'm only good on the real thing te he.
The guys obviously had a lot of catching up to do, so they chatted and reminisced over the good ole days, while we caught the famous star ferry across to Hong Kong Island. It was a pretty miserable day, but the ride across was really good and to my surprise, we hardly needed to be in the rain as each walkway and building is connected and sheltered, there is no reason to go outside. So many shopping malls, it must be easy to get lost here, it's a good job we have someone with us who knows where he is going. We ended up in a bar called "The Red Bar" and it is situated next to the tallest building in Hong Kong at present, which is the International Commerce Centre (shown in the new batman film, The Dark Knight. This is the closest the public can get to the building and the views were spectacular. Leslie kindly treated us to a drink there, which was really sweet of him and we chatted while admiring the view.
After a quiet drink, we moved onwards through Soho, on the worlds longest escalator. This place never ceases to amaze me, it's just one amazing sighting to another. Many tourists in this area and parts of it really resembled London. Was strange passing those having a candle lit dinner or a quiet drink with friends on a moving escalator though, it was like watching a movie. He showed us the church he goes to with his family and other tourist attractions such as the Bar street (was quiet today), the lobby of the large building which lights move up and down at night, HSBC building (where the local workers sleep in the lobby on their day off, they have nowhere else to go) and the bank of China. All really impressive places.
Caught a tram from there to Causeway Bay, where we had a good look around a couple of department stores, which were busy at this time of the afternoon, seem to always be full of life. The Korean BBQ restaurant he took us to was hidden away in a department store, there is noway we would have found it on our own. What a place, 10 pound each, eat all you can and we made sure we did just that. It had every type of Chinese, Japanese, Korean food you can think of and some western bits to, not to mention the great selection of deserts. I guess you could say I was in a fair bit of pain when we left te he - EYES BIGGER THAN MY BELLY. Tried such foods as Ox tongue, pig hoof and many fish dishes YUM, although not much meat on the hoof.
Went to Time Square on way back and tubbed back from there. We really had a brilliant day/night. Was really grateful to Leslie for taking time out to show us around, he's a really nice guy..
Monday 16th November - BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE AT PEAK VIEW
Up late again, too easy to do here. Found an internet cafe that was reasonable enough and booked a flight to Thailand for Thursday. Air Asia, the best prices around. Was pleased to be able to use facebook again, it's been a while and nice to be able to see pictures of what everyone has been up to.
Back to the arcades again whilst waiting for Ad's other school friend Bradley. This time we played a game called Juke Box, frantic but fun and I almost caught him this time on the racing game, must keep practasing. Bradley was a nice guy also and there was plenty of banter from the good ole days between him and Adam. Our first site to see was an area called Mongkok, which was full of markets through the streets, lots of fakes and the stalls seemed to go on for miles. If I had much money to spend I would have gone mad and bought heaps. As it happened I only stuck to food and we tried some deep fried squid and another snack which was like a custard filling - both delicious. A pet shop street was nearby, so Bradley took us along there also, knowing I was a massive animal lover. Some gorgeous puppies and kittens, I could have stayed for hours.
On our way to view the peak, we stopped off to see yet another old school friend of Ad's called Michael. He was busy at work in one of the top banks, but popped out to say hello, I can't believe they have all not seen Ad for 10 years and yet they speak as if they met up yesterday - now that shows true friends ay. Onwards and upwards through the maze of Hong Kong's sky scrapers and we found our way to the peak tram. Just like an old roller coaster, it creaked it's way up the very steep back hill to the peak, passing many luxury appartments as we went. Bradley pointed one out that he had heard went for millions not long ago, it looked like a pent house, with the best view ever, think it was some billionaires daughter. It was bought for her I think.
WHAT A VIEW - very windy up there, but the only thing that blew me away was the stunning sights in front of me. I couldn't stop looking, it's just amazing. Took so many pic's, def the best skyline I've ever seen. Breathtaking. As if that wasn't enough, Bradley spoiled us and treated us to a meal in the restaurant next door, looking out over the view, I couldn't believe it, what a nice thing to do. The meal was gorgeous, a starter of different fish tasters, mouth watering. My main dish was seabass with mash potatoes, I've fancied mash for days now, so thought I'd go ahead and treat myself. Ad went for a curry and Bradley went for fish also. We all walked away completely satisfied and so grateful to Bradley, he really didn't have to do that.
Next onto an area called Wan Chai to a bar hidden in an office block, way up high called Wooloomooloo. There is noway we would have found this by ourselves, it was very hard to find. The only reason Bradley knew about it, is because he works within the entertainment industry, so has an insight on a bunch of amazing places. This was an exception to the rule, it had the best views I've ever seen, felt like a celeb coming here. The views were as amazing as the peak and you could enjoy them on a comfy sofa, having a nice drink, who could ask for more. Albeit, the drinks were not cheap, but when you with great company and have a view like this, who's complaining. Leslie and Michael joined us there and we all chilled back and talked into the night. Was nice to listen to high school banter and Ad seemed quite at home catching up with them. Such a nice bunch of guys I'm glad I got the chance to meet them all.
Popped to an arcade on the way back, raced each other, think I came last out of all of them DOH!!, watched them play a bit of Time Crisis and then back to room to rest up, ready for another jam packed day tomorrow.
Tuesday 17th November - HOW ABOUT A NICE CUPPA OF HONG KONG TEA
Was surprised to know my previous boss was in town, but due to only getting short amount of access on internet and having no phones, we kept missing each other and was unable to meet, shame it's not often people you know are in the same country as you. We did a few catch up bits in the morning, like burning photos to disc's etc, ready to send back and then headed back over to Hong Kong island on the ferry, to the bank of China to visit the observatory view point inside, which is free of charge. Was a nice view actually, glad we fitted it in, not as good as the peak, but you can't knock it for a freebie.
The Botanical gardens were only a short walk away, so we wandered over and had a nice stroll through them, around the fountains and to my surprise another area of exotic birds, monkey's, reptiles etc. Hong Kong really does deliver on the free activities for it's visitors. It begun to get dark, so we made our way to central station, stopping to take pictures of the building next door, which resembled St Paul's in London. Met Bradley there and headed through the night market together. Saw a Gucci bag (fake) that I quite liked and Ad spotted a leather back journel which was nice, but gonna think before we buy, if we still want it in a couple of days, there ours. Stopped in a famous cafe near to a square, where we tried Hong Kong tea, not sure what they do differently, but have to admit, it is one of a kind. Apparently, this particular cafe has been on TV a number of times, a very old and well known place.
We went to a street food area that Bradley loves and tried Pigeon, a veggie dish, oyster omelete and clay pot dish, all local favourites and all extremely scrumy. Pigeon was a lot better than I expected - watch out London te he. YUMMY!! With full bellies we went to a shopping mall, where we met up with Leslie and his girlfriend, who had been on a shopping spree on their day off. She was really nice and very fashionable, I did feel a little dressed down compared to her, but hey ho, that's what travellings all about.
Decided to go to cinema for the night and we watched 2012. Great film, bit OTT in places, but still makes you wander if they are trying to tell us something. Really to the point.
Spent the rest of the night chilling in a bar with Bradley, the others headed home for part of the night and continued the chatter down on the waterfront with more beers. Think we all left a little wobbly at 5am in the morning, but had a great time and much more catch up time for him and Ad.
Wednesday 18th November - THEME PARK, THE RACES, SEAFOOD & DRINKING - A RAM PACKED DAY
Funnily enough we didn't get up til lunch time, that'll teach us for staying out all night.Just popped downstairs to a curry stand that we've walked passed a number of times, always smells good.Went for a nan and two curry sauces of our choice, not really the ideal brunch but tasted good all the same.Decided to spend the afternoon/evening with Bradley at Ocean Park, a theme park that they went to last time Ad was here 10 years ago.Bradley hadn't been in ages either, so thought it would be a great day out.
Got the brightly coloured bus from main bus station and took about 45 mins to get there.Nice comfortable seats, which actually made us feel tired whoops.Bradley had discount tickets, but it still cost about £20 each a ticket, a tad high, we thought.We thought the park was open til 10pm, so arriving at 4pm wouldn't be a problem, unfortunately that wasn't the case.The park shut at 6pm, so we only had 2 hours, but still went for it, considering we are leaving tomorrow.Quickly made our way to where the best rides are.Went on one that was ok and had some brilliant views out over the sea.Was surprised my tummy turned before going on this one because it didn't seem that scary really.The biggest, most exciting looking roller coaster was shut annoyingly, but we didn't let it defeat us.
The lads went on the drop stomach looking one and came off looking very happy, my belly really wasn't up for that today.Went and watched the Dolphin and Seal shows which were really good, just don't know whether it's a good thing or not, the animals seemed happy enough, but it's never good for them to be in captivity, is it?Further around we went through a reef section and marveled at the underwater world, up close and personal, it was beautiful.Lots of colourful fish, some we had seen in the Maldives before, turtles and sting rays, the complete wow factor, really enjoyed it.Wizzed to the cable car to take us to the other side of the park and my oh my it was high and scary in places, felt a wee bit nervous.
Such a shame we didn't come earlier cos this side had a whole zoo section with panda's included, but all was closed now.Still for what we have seen it was well worth it, we'd had good fun.Cracked up when Ad and Bradley put on the children's animal hats, they kinda suited them te he.
Bussed back to town and Bradley took us to the race course right in the centre of Hong Kong island.We saw it the other day from the roof top bar we were in, did not expect to be visiting.Felt quite bad cos I opened my big mouth and said "if I were to put a bet on the next race, I'd put it on number 7", Bradley said "really cos that's who I would have chosen and went and put a bet on",unfortunately it did not come in DOH!That's why I very rarely bet.I had made another guess a few races on that came first place, but that was after a few wrong guesses, so wasn't betting any money.Can't afford to lose.
Only stayed for a few races then made our way to a seafood restaurant, which is on top of a seafood market.It's huge and very basic seating areas, but one of the most popular places I've seen yet and very popular with Bradley and friends.Leslie was already there with his girlfriend Curtis and Michael came to join us later.We had a range of dishes from Mussels, clams and prawns to fish soup and added dishes of veggies, pork and chicken.Some fried, some cooked in sauces, all very tasty indeed, I can see why the place is so popular.We were all stuffed afterwards.
It was getting late by time we'd finished but Bradley had another place he wanted to take us.A bar called OZO, very plush, similar to a London looking bar.It used to be a well known pawn shop.A couple of tia maria's later and I was already starting to get tipsy - such a light weight, the guys were on the beers and quite happy.A couple of Bradley's friends joined us and we all had a good natter, more drinks on and Leslie came back with another friend.Boy! the drinks were flowing well now.Poor Bradley seemed really tired by this point, it was about 3am after all.We thanked him heaps for everything, he'd been fab and we really appreciated all he'd done, plus I know Ad was really pleased to have had the chance to catch up again after so long.
For us, there was no point going to bed really, as we had a pretty early flight tomorrow to Thailand, so we decided to go to a hotel bar with Leslie and his friend.Her uni mates were hanging out there, playing cards, darts and generally chilling out.A really nice bunch.We joined in with cards and they taught us how to play Chinese dice, really skillful, in return we taught them black magic, which at first they really couldn't work out how we were doing it.Would have been nasty to have left them wondering.By 5am we were more than ready to go back.Leslie dropped us back in cab, we said our goodbye's, thanked him heaps also and headed back to the room to pack and squeeze in 1 hours worth of sleep.