ok the last blog was a little brief and didn't give much idea of the goings on, as i'm jetlagged and have been keeping a bit of a diary since i got here i thought i'd type it up for you guys to read - also trying to upload pics after so fingers crossed that'll work, there'll be more pics on reyn's fb too - thy're not all attrative, but we're travellers now haha!
as written on 02-04-09 starting from the beginning on 01-04-09
OK, the trip has not necessarily got off to the best of starts... we go to check in to find out that there may not be enough spaces on our flight to accommodate our poor little selves and were highly unamused. there wasn't much we could do btut to sit and wait the 2 hours as requested.
We waited, chatted, laughed about the start we'd got of to and moned about how airlines get away with overselling their flights. when 1730 came around we weaited for the flight to close only to find out that they couldn't get us on the schedled flight that we'd booked.
initially i was pretty miffed (for the fact there may be young eyes reading this in the family (and also some older ones) i'm going to make a conscious effort to keep the language clean and tidy - unlike the handwritten version - haha!), but when they told us they were giving us 280 GBP (can't be bothered to find the pound symbol - foreign keyboard and all that) to sit around and do nothing for 3 hours the anger soon dissipated and i felt quite sorry for the messenge girl who was getting a real ear baching from the best death starer ever!
after collecting our earnings (btw dad could you call BA for me to confirm the pin if i send you the card number - it was saved on afore mentioned pinched phone) we opted for a drink in the aiport spoons (a spoons in heathrow - i was impressed!) and tried for some unsuccessful pics of planes.
The flight itself was smooth and easy. Blimmin' long but smooth, loads of new films showing on the way over and a few golden oldies for me to fall asleep to. I did start watching slumdog miollionaire but gave up after seeing a kid dive into a pool of poop (in water - like a long drop). didn't really bother me as i fell asleep after eating anyway, think i must have had about 8 hours sleep - not bad for an 11 and half hr flight! and the flight still seemed never ending!
Anyhoo, we worked our way through HK Intl airport, sorted a bus ticket and were pretty chuffed when we realised thebust stop we had to get off on was on the road we were staying on. like giant turtles with our rucksackswewaddled (i know ducks waddle, but so do we) don Nathan Rd, excited about all the brightly lit signs and the act we weren't in the slum we drove through to get here! turns out HK is full of people wanting you to stay in their 'guest house' and buy their fake watches and tailor made clothes (seriously you can tell a mile of we're not travelling light - we're hardly about to add to that!) afterabout 30 seconds of being pestered by every tom dick and harry we soon got the message to just ignore them, not that easy but hey ho - we managed it (quite good at it now!). The last guy to approach us turned out to be from our hostel, he came in search of us (thank god else wed prob never have found it!) he tok us into a shopping centre (the ground floor of where we're staying) and then (after spying te sign for the hostel) showed us to the 13th floor (which btw is a lot of stairs, we took them a few times!) He showed us toa tine room, there was 2 beds - good start, the ensuite bit had been a lie but we pretty much expected that though we were supposed to be on the 16th floor - maybe up there?... can't imagine it though) anyway we really didn't care!
in the room, bags down, try to contact the nearest and dearest to let them know how swimmingly all had gone - phone's been pinched. git. (diary reads more like some rant about a jeffing person born out of wedlock - i was a bit angry). first night, starting oto wonder if all those people who told me i'd not manage it were right, decide no, but as we're so tired we opted to settle a bit, mail home to let them know we're there and ok (and to cancel my contract - that's right, i'm still bitter) and try not to get all upset over it and just be thankful that it was just the phone and not anything more important. 1st lesson of the trip - don't carry anything you're not happy to lose in your pockets - this was a lesson well learned i can tell you!
we went for some munch, authentic chinese, had a nice dish of miced meats and thought we'd try something weird like chicken feet. my advice to you is never to try chicken feet. think of an aortic tube, imagine it cold and covered in sweet chilli sauce, then bite into it - arotic tubing is not nice however it's dressed... HORRIDIOUS! btw - we've so mastered chopsticks - can't use the ones at home coz they're cheap and skanky - the real deal on the other hand - we're the masters! (apart from with rice)
This section ends like this:
Reyn was in the shower when i started writing this, she's since got back and tried to plug in the dryer, turns out the socket is fake. thats right, they put a picture of a socket on our wall... lucky for us the tv in there was a 3 pinner - suited us fine :)
although i don't get the best first impression of HK it's on the up and i'm happy and healthy, we'll see what tomorrow has in store!
What an awesome day!! It's been a long one. After breakfast we took the star ferry over to HK Island and walked over to the pier to get a ferry to Discovery Bay. This is a nice part of HK, it's where the wealthy live and you can tell that instantly! From Db we got the bus to Tung Chung and then opted to tae a cable cart to Po Lin. That was fun! Looking out I could not believe how many mountains there were, and how green they were! It took about 15 mins for us to get to Po Lin, and having already spotted the giant Buddha started to take our way over to him. Given he's 250 tonnes of iron and sat on top of a big hill it really wasn't a long search!
When we reached it we realized he was at the top of a lot of stairs, but you know, we're hardcore so up we went. It was worth every step! It's such an amazing sight! We took the opportunity to take a million pics of anything remotely Chinese and loved every second!
After making our way back down the afore mentioned many stairs we trotted off to the Po Lin monastery to see what the monks' surroundings were like. There were giant incense pots everywhere and we saw a woman burning papers - we didn't know what this meant at the time but found out it's what they do when there's a funeral.
We saw a mini temple of Buddhas with gorgeous embroidery hanging down the walls, bright pink and gold and the ceiling was all decorated too (in the pics). We saw lots of other buildings too, all equally lovely, including where the monks do their processions.
Next we took a walk down the Wisdom path, it was a nice walk but I don't feel any wiser for it. (Aunty Lorraine would have loved it, lots and lots and lots of walking!) Afterwards we went back on the cable cart and made our way back to HL Island on the ferry as we wanted to be sure we made it to peak tower in time for the symphony of lights. We ended up taxi-ing I up there just to be sure we were in plenty of time, but when we got there it was far too foggy for us to see anything, we hoped to see it the next day in Tsim Tsa Tsui where we were staying.
We had a wander around the peak (like a shopping centre) and got the tram back towards the pier. This was interesting, clearly health and safety has not made its way to HK yet - not that I'm complaining! The only person to fall over was a local! Haha!
We got an open top bus from the pier and managed to get on top deck, seeing HK Island all lit up was fab - just like you see on TV! It still hadn't sunk in at this point that we were away from home! When we got to the pier we were able o enjoy some nice bagpipe music played by one of the locals - it was random.
N the ferry back to Tsim Tsa Tsui we got chatting to a local girl who recommended a few things for us to do, so when we alighted we went off in search of the avenue of (Chinese) stars. As you can imagine we didn't know many of them, in fact we only knew of one, Jackie Chan, that was worth it though. After that we just carried on down the promenade trying to take everything in and relaxing after the long day. By the way, I'd like to say now some of the pics are awful coz I was testing the settings, some because I'm rubbish and some things aren't in there - like the symphony of lights as my batteries ran out and we didn't have a socket - but reyn's got all that).
As written on 04-04-09
Today was the day of aching feet. And shins. And knees. After yesterday's excursions and the fact it was a bit of a shock t our systems we were a bit sore, but we've traveled this far to see what we can see so we weren't about to let that bother us. On went the walking boots and off we went in search of the temple of 10,000 Buddhas. According to the book it's a bit of a walk (they recommend the 30 min train journey) but we were up for the challenge and wanted to see what was beyond the tourist road, it was very basic and pretty grubby. We stopped in a little café for breakfast and I'm sure they can't get many westerners in there, the lady absolutely loved us! She merrily brought over some water for us as they tend to there, and gave us lots of smiles and talk in Chinese, we gave lots of smiles and 'yeahs' back… my word for such a nation of little people they eat massive amounts, we were done in before finishing it all, no mean feat! (There'll be before and after pics between the two of us).
After breakfast we walked for about an hour and a half to the general vicinity according to our map, when we were nearer we asked for directions and was told that we were on the wrong side of town and needed to o to Sha Tin (which we find funny every time we give it an English accent - it's more like Sar (as in sardine) tin. We opted to take the metro at this point due to the fact I was getting sunburn and we were both a bit tired and thought it'd be funny. The metro… Dumb (Nadine) and dumber (reyn) bought our tickets to take us to Sha Tin and went in search of our line. Ignoring all the pics and signs we walked straight ahead, put our ticket in the barrier but it didn't come back out… we walked through the barrier and realized it was the exit. Yes, that's right, we bought our ticket then went straight through the exit, we really are that smart. The 2nd attempt was far more successful and we managed to make our way around on the underground for the rest of the day pretty easily.
When we got to Sha tin we spent about another 2-3 hrs trying to find the temple, it turns out we were on the wrong side of the district, but nobody really knew where it was. A girl on a newspaper stand said over there (points vaguely) and up the stairs. As soon as we saw stairs we took them, the best decision we'd made in 3 hours!! After about 15 mins more of walking about we saw some police who told us we were pretty close. When we finally reached the temple we made our way up the 431 steps (as counted by the AA not us) with buddhas surround is. It looks fantastic! The buddhas are all made of fibre glass and painted gold with bright red lips. There are approx 13000 buddhas in and around the temple, some big statues and some walls lined with plaques, all very impressive. We also saw what is set to be an awesome one, but is currently a work in progress.
The main temple was stunning, big big statues and bright colours everywhere, loads of red and gold, all very regal and all very Chinese.
After seeing the entire thing we hopped back onto the MTR and went back to the hostel to rest, that was a good idea! About an hour later we set off to see the symphony of lights which we missed yesterday. This time just from a viewing point on the promenade. It was a much clearer night and the show was well worth 2 attempts (anybody else spotting a theme of the day?). The video and pics should be on now - I'll make them available on my fb til I get home and can sort it properly.
After the symphony we went to Mongkok to see the man who feeds crickets to the birds with chopsticks, only he'd left at 6pm and it was now about 9 so instead we cut our losses and had a wander before going back to the hostel, we were a little bi pooped and we needed to pack and start planning Vietnam (the next day…)
It's now the 7th (2am) and the symphony of lights already seems an age ago. After flying to Vietnam yester and getting to our hotel - which turned out to be a hotel rather than a hostel and really quite nice :D we just went round the local area o a cyclo (where the men pedal the bike from the back and you're in a little seat) and came back cleaned up and chilled out, by this point everything was closing up anyway and we needed to catch up on sleep. Today we were up at the crack of dawn to get ready to go to Ha Long bay, a 3.5hr bus journey (the buses are not made for anyone over 5ft!) from Ha Noi (where we're staying) but the journey was well worth it. Ha Lon means where the dragon descended and they take you on the lake in a boat where they serve lunch and you get more of a chance to talk to the people you're out there with (we were chatting to a nice Oz couple who explained the currency for us as we were still a little uncertain - 1GBP is the same as 25,000 VND the notes are a little confusing to start with and we were initially converting to USD (17,500 VND) because that's the other currency they take) and they were telling us all about their travels - seems they've been around a bit). After the journey over the lake we went to the cave where 'the dragon descended' and the guy was explaining why the rocks were all in the shapes that they are, creative stories, but stories just the same!! After seeing the cave we took a somewhat quicker boat ride back to the harbour where our bus was waiting to bring us back to Ha Noi, since being back we went to a local restaurant for some food and have been trying to research how on earth we're going to organize our time in Laos, think we're there now! Reyn's gone to bed and I'm just typing this up whilst waiting for my pics to upload - it is taking an age - and half of them are duplicates as we're still coming to terms with the camera and occasionally it goes into multi shot - but it normally has 1 good pic out of 4 as opposed to me just getting 1 rubbish 1 haha! Anyway it's about 2.10 am now and I think I'm going to sign off here and let the pics finish up then get some sleep.
I hope you're all well and if you've made it this far I hope I've not bored you, I'll write again when I can J xxx