Sorry for the wait peeps! These have literally been just over a year in the making, but now make one nicely completely set. :) I thought I'd better get my butt in gear before I start planning & training for the next adventure. I wrote most of these whilst I was away, but have only just now got round to proofing them and finally uploading them. Can you believe my travel book cost is coming in at £164!!! If that doesn't teach me not to babble as much I don't know what will.
Hong Kong 14th - 18th December 2010
I arrived in Hong Kong feeling frazzled and in real need of seeing a friendly & familiar face, so I was very excited to be seeing Linda again and finally seeing her humble abode.
The view as you fly into Hong Kong airport is meant to be amazing, but unfortunately the city was covered in fog so other than the lovely cloud I was in I didn't get to see much. I'm currently sat in the airport killing time, drinking a coffee and reading some bits from the tourist info desk as Linda will be at work for the next few hours. That is one thing I love about this Blog - it's always handy to kill a few hours of sitting around in Airports, bus terminals, or wherever else I may be, but one thing is for certain I'm certainly not going to miss writing this when I'm back! Anyhow, it's really starting to feel like Christmas now and I'm actually feeling really home sick. There's a group of guys & gals in Christmas outfits handing out pressies in the terminal, and as it's so cold outside, and even just sat here in the airport everything looks so English! It was a British Colony until a few years ago, so that's probably just adding to the Xmas feeling. I've got less than 2 weeks left of my round the world tour, I still have so much stuff to look forward to and to squeeze in, but I'm actually really ready to go home now.
So, after that I grabbed an airport express train and then jumped in a taxi. The taxi driver however, got completely lost and I was somehow giving him directions - hilarious, as I don't speak a word of Chinese (Mandarin yes, Chinese no), and he didn't speak a word of English. In the end I got him to call Linda to which I found out he said "I have a tourist in my car, where do I take her?!" - just as well he dialled the right blimin number! lol) When I finally reached my destination I couldn't figure out if this place was a 5 star hotel or a boutique shopping centre, but it certainly didn't feel like an apartment block. I was suddenly surrounded by extremely high ceilings, huge beautifully dressed Christmas windows, stunning portraits hanging from the walls, golden elevators, door porters, marble floors, chandeliers, and me, sitting there in my flee ridden back packer clothes with my filthy backpack. Outta place ... of course not! It felt a bit like Pretty Woman, well without the Richard Gear or the prostitution part, but you know what I mean. ;)
Linda soon arrived and we made our way in the golden elevator to the top of the main hotel building. Once we came out of the main building there was a large concourse where the huge swimming pool, gym, and library was (seriously this thing looked like it was straight out of Pride & Prejudice). This area was surrounded by 4 towers and so we walked over to the 'London Block', and made our way up to the 29th floor. Wow - the view from her apartment was stunning! It was looking down onto the concourse and the swimming pool, and the block we were in was part of one of the sides of a giant rectangle around it. You could see thousands of apartments, some dark and some with lights on, and a lot of them with Christmas trees up so it was really colourful. Her apartment was however missing something very important - a Christmas tree!
We spent that night delivering Xmas pressies, grabbed some dinner in no other than Pizza hut - omg I was desperate for some western food, she thought I was mental when I could get it at home. I was like 'yeah, but that's the point, I've not been at home in 8 months!' So after we stuffed our faces with Pizza, and after enough nagging we finally went shopping for a tree and some Xmas decorations - seriously, she knows better than to think she's not celebrating Xmas with me around! :) hehehe
The next day Linda went to work and as the temperature had plummeted and was pouring with rain I decided to have a day in, transforming the flat into a winter wonderland whilst listening to my Christmas music. :) I had a really good day, and also brought all the ingredients required for a Christmas dinner. I even managed to find 2 slices of turkey for our Christmas dinner - not an easy task in Hong Kong! :) I even managed to cook it all in the tiny portable over - seriously I know everything and everyone here is small, but a portable oven that's half the size of a microwave is taking the mick!
She was absolutely gobsmacked when she got home, and as tradition would have it swiftly fell asleep after eating Christmas dinner. A successful practice run if you ask me - after all it's only a week and a half away - and I'll be home.
The next day proved to be very difficult and was not a good day by any count. I was now freezing my ass off, as the temperature had plummeted even further and with my next destination of Beijing being even colder I needed to get my butt in gear and find some winter clothes. However, the incy, wincy, teeny, weeny, hobit sized inhabitants of Hong Kong don't sell 'big' clothes. By 'big' we're talking about a 5 foot 9 frame, size 10-12 clothing and size 7 shoes. I tell you, I felt like an obese giant! The largest shoes they go up to is a size 5, and clothes are still only available in a 6 or 8. After 5 hours of searching high and low, I walked back to Linda's apartment completely defeated, freezing, and only having managed to purchase a scarf. A really nice scarf mind you, but still, only a scarf.
As Hong Kong is never this cold (surprise, surprise it's the coldest on record), none of the apartments have any heating. Now I know you're all probably bored of me moaning about how cold everything is, but seriously it's just ridiculous. Everyone said that last week it was hot and sunny, and this week there was talk of Hong Kong receiving it's first ever frost. Now I know a frost is nothing on the scale of weather in England, but bare in mind that I'm walking around in flip flops, without a coat or hat (have just brought my scarf :)) & have sores under my arms because I'm wearing so many layers of clothing they all rubbing - soooo attractive! ;) All of the apartments are designed to make them as cool as possible so have no heating, only have tiled floors, no curtains or soft furnishings etc, so it basically means it makes them even colder than normal! So anyway, once I'd warmed up in Linda's apartment, by locking myself in the cupboard sized kitchen and putting on the gas burners - hey desperate times, desperate measures! I called Linda and asked her where on earth I could possibly go and buy some giant clothes. She suggested a different part of town and so I begrudgingly went out yet again, on the hunt for something warm. It took an hour to get there, and I'd now spent 6 whole hours just today (although I'm now at a total of 6 weeks searching for any warm clothing in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand & now HK). I got off the subway and seriously thought I was in the back of beyond. I was surrounded by more hobbit sized inhabitants, and was walking around market style streets, although they were shops it still had that dirty market feel and all the shops wares flowed out onto the street, leaving just enough space for the small transits to get through. There was street after street like this again all grouped together into the relevant disciplines selling everything from fruit & veg, to kitchen refurbs. After about half hour of walking around these streets and day dreaming whether I thought screaming 'I'm a celebrity get me outta here' or clicking my heels 3 times saying 'I wish was home' would work the quickest, I suddenly laid eyes on an Espirit store!!! Holy Moly, Beam me up Scotty or wrap me up tight in a little white coat - I think I've started hallucinating! As I walked closer, I forgot about my frozen toes in my thread bare flip flops and I realised that finally, after 6 weeks of searching, there was a slight possibility that there might be some normal sized clothes in the building in front of me. The anticipation I felt walking into that store was enough to make me think I was about to be sick. And then I saw it - a wall full of 'big' coats, long sleeved tops and jeans. OMG I have literally died and gone to heaven!
So on my shopping trip I managed to find a coat and a pair of shoes! The shoes were so vile, but I didn't care. They were black velvet with a disgusting flower made out of different coloured velvet on the toes - they're definitely going on the bonfire when I have my burning of the clothes ceremony, but right then I didn't care. They were warm and I loved them!! :)
In order to celebrate my gigantic win of finding giant sized clothing, Linda & I went out to a Michelin star restaurant renowned for it's Dim Sum. A Michelin star restaurant! I never thought I'd visit one of those, let alone whilst back packing.
Once we were seated, I noticed an instruction card on the table (yes I was one of the only people in there that needed to reference it, much to Linda's amusement!) I had a bowl of ginger which you have to pour vinegar and soy sauce in to, and then the dim sum dumplings are made up of vegetables and meat, which are wrapped in a soft translucent pastry.
As they're served dry & not on a plate (I'm seriously going to have to introduce these people to a stew with dumplings!) you have to pick them up very gently with the chopsticks (Linda would have killed me there and then if I'd asked for a fork!), you have to not puncture them, dip them in the ginger vinegar thing, then put them back on your soup spoon, pierce it, and nosily and sloppily suck it all up. I take it no one's ever heard of table manners here! We also ordered a load of other very nice food, but the thing it lacked was that in Asia they don't create a meal. They create individual dishes. So we had a lot of very strong tasting separate dishes, that didn't particularly go very well together but still it was pleasant enough.
After dinner we went then went for a walk along Hong Kong infamous waterfront. It was absolutely beautiful, and was really starting to make me realise it was Christmas. I had brought Linda's Eskimo North Face jacket down there with me, and she was walking around in it keep saying she couldn't believe she was wearing North Face in Hong Kong - Global Warming / freezing ahoy!! Anyhow, everywhere was covered in Christmas lights, and everywhere was full of thousands of Chinese people with at least 3 cameras each, all taking pictures and holding smiles for a lifetime whilst the pics were taken with all the cameras. Not stereotypical at all! lol. I was pissing myself laughing the whole way round.
On my final day I finally made it to the top of The Peak, which offers stunning views over the whole city. It's one of the best city landscapes I've ever seen. It was such a clear day that I could see for miles, and they even had a Bubba Gump shrimp at the top too.
There were also some other highly amusing events that occurred in Hong Kong, including trying to get my waxing done, attempting
That night we headed out to Linda's combined work & friends Christmas Party. She had organised the night with her friends, and when she told her work that she couldn't go, they decided to book a room out at the same venue so she could attend both! I was mainly chatting to two of her Chinese friends and two of her friends from the UK who had moved over there, one was teaching English and the other worked with Linda. We ate and drank the night away, thankfully not too late tho as I had an early flight to catch, and we all know the trouble I can have catching an early morning flight! The next day I said goodbye to Linda and headed off for my final destination (or so I thought!) - Beijing.