A Travellerspoint blog

April 2018

See ya Hong Kong

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Yesterday I packed up and checked of a hostel for the final time in Hong Kong. This hostel was difficult to leave. It was by far the most comfortable hostel I have stayed in, with large, airy, modern rooms and bathrooms, and giant common areas. One had plenty of chairs and sofas, and had wrap-around windows on the 2nd floor. You could sit there all day. The hostel was more like a business hotel. Plus it was in a different neighborhood than the other hostels, so the temptation was to stay.

In less than 2 weeks in Hong Kong, I (1) Bought a new camera lens (2) got my computer fixed (3) Met a girl and changed my relationship status on Facebook(4) Bought new sandals and (6) Saw the biggest Buddha in the world. (There's more than that).

Hong Kong was quite amazing. It is truly a city of contrasts-There are frenetic Chinese markets, gleaming office towers, beaches, mountains, and plenty of 7-11's.

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Anyway, I had a flight scheduled and a new hostel in Shanghai scheduled as well. Plus, I don't like to get too comfortable anywhere-so It was time to move on.

I made it to the airport on time for the 3 hour flight. I was nervous because the system wouldn't let me log in online, but when I got to the airport-no problem-I was there approximately 2 1/2 hours before the 1:00 pm flight.

The flight was on Spring Airlines-a low cost carrier-the seats didn't recline and the food and drinks all cost $-but it was fine. The crew's English was well-developing. The flight attendant wanted us to "Have a nice fright".

The flight landed at 4:20 pm-but had to deal with

(A) A long ride from the plane to the terminal in a shuttle bus, passed about 30 other planes (it seems), up a hill over a highway, past another 30 planes (it seems) and to the terminal.
(B) Long lines in passport-control, with about 60 people ahead of me (At least-in a snaking-slow moving line)
(C) A 15 minute walk to the Metro downtown
(D) Roughly 2 hour ride on the Metro to the airport. The first train was crowded and went passed 10 stations it seems. with my bags in front of me. I started to daydream, and at the next station it seems, everyone started rushing out and new people started rushing into the train. I was fine because that would mean I was going to get a seat-but no-that train was going back to the airport, and I had to cross the platform and get on another train. Another 15 stations, and I got on off and on another train upstairs, to one station.
(E) I found the hostel-a decent one with a rooftop bar. I arrived a bit after 7:00 pm, almost three hours later.

I had some dinner of some weird noodles and tofu, and than went back to read the Lonely Planet guide on China-it was akin to reading an encyclopedia-just overwhelming. Everything was 12-40 hours from anything else. And btw, no Facebook while I am here-I can't use Facebook in China.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:48 Archived in China Comments (0)

Last Day in Hong Kong-Gettting Married and a Poor Beach Day

Yesterday was my final day in Hong Kong. First thing is I wanted to replace my Lonely Planet guide-(I lost mine in the Visa office, I think). I enjoy them as souvenirs as well. i left the hostel and took the bus 35 minutes to the metro, and then to the bookstore where the first was purchased, and they we're out. I then took the metro to the MTR-Metro to another bookstore across the harbor, and they had it, so I bought it there.

I then walked up to the St John's Cathedral, and I witnessed a wedding, complete with the bride and groom-and their friends cheering them after the promises we're made. I listened to the beautiful liturgical music-the same music played as during Elle Wood's graduation ceremony in Legally Blond.

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My reason for being at the church was much more pedestrian-when I was there on the walking tour the other day-I saw a old Lonely Planet China guide on sale in the adjoining thrift shop for around $3.00. So I celebrated, it was still there, and I purchased it. A Chinese couple celebrated their new union, and I celebrated the purchase of a beat up travel guide.

I then went down and found the bus to Stanley-which is a beach town with a market. My sandals we're beat up, and I wanted another pair-so after another 45 minute bus ride, I found Stanley Market, which had mostly souvenirs but nothing to great. I was very touristy on the beach. While the beach was beautiful, it was a cold overcast day-I did have lunch of some fish and chips and a beer, and walked up to a beautiful Buddhist temple overlooking the beach.

I then got on the bus-and got off a little later, at a place called Repulse Bay-a popular beach community. Repulse wasn't repulsive-it was named that because pirates trying to attack we're repulsed by the shallow waters and their vessels got stuck. Here I walked and found a giant Buddhist playground (it appeared), with horses, and a guy with a beard and tablet who looked like a cartoon version of Moses. Lonely Planet listed this place as sort of kitsch, but people we're praying there, so it was serious.

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I was feeling sort of ill-perhaps from the weather change or the fish and chips-so I took the bus another 35 minutes to the hostel and took a nap. it was now after dark-so after an hours sleep, I took another bus to the metro (another 45 minutes)-to the market area on Kowloon island, and bought some sandals for around $8.00. Along the way, I found another cheap sushi place so had dinner. Then I took another bus back to the hostel.
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Posted by DavidPearlman 16:45 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Macao in the VIP room

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Yesterday, I took the ferry to Macao. First of all, I got on the bus, which after a 35 minute ride, took me to the Macao ferry terminal. There I got on the ferry, after buying a ticket and waiting about 40 minutes.

The ride on the ferry was nice-the seas we're smooth and the skys we're sunny. After arriving, i went through Macao customs (Macao is a special administrative area of China-which is separate from Hong Kong, so I went out in Hong Kong).

I found a bus that goes to a historical center of Macao. Macao was the last European colony in the orient, until 1999 it was a Portuguese colony, (Starting from the 1500's)-so much of the architecture actually looked like Portugal.

i walked around, and saw the different sites. I saw an old Catholic church, and I saw the main square which appeared to be right from Lisbon. While I was walking, the weather changed: It was warm and humid-suddenly it became cold and windy. And today I dressed in my shorts and Hawaiian shirt, so I was freezing. I continued to walk up the hill to the old fortress and the Macao Museum. The museum was interesting, it talked about the dual advancements of Eastern and Western civilization. I walked down the hill and saw the "Eiffel tower" of Macao-St. Paul's Ruins-A Catholic church built in the 1600's-which was destroyed by fire in 1835. The facade was recovered and is stunning. IMG_2069.jpg

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After a quick lunch of curry fish (I walked a few blocks from the main tourist area, and found a cheap place)-I took the bus back, with the plan of checking out the casinos. MaCao is the Las Vegas of China (I first saw it in the movie Now You See Me two)-so I wanted to see this opulence. I first walked into a casino called the Grand Lisboa-and saw a giant casino with people moving back and forth gambling. You can tell this isn't the type of gambling done in Vegas. These folks are working-people don't drink while gambling-it appears they are doing a job.

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Then I found the Wynn casino across the street. Here I accidentally walked into the VIP lobby, where just three ladies we're working, and continued on walking to the VIP room-I walked and looked in-well dressed older Chinese men we're playing in near silence. Two woman who worked there laughed at me I think. I could tell I didn't belong there-and they thought is was funny that a white dork in a Hawaiian shirt was in a Macao casino VIP room (the casino revenue in Macao supposedly makes Vegas look like a one-horse town). They ladies laughed and said "bye bye" to me.

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I escaped and walked around the mall, which had shops like Rolex, Cartier, and other names I have no association with. I did check out the MGM casino next door-and hung out in their lobby, which was life-size giraffes that looked like they we're made with grass, a gigantic cylinder-like aquarium, Glass Chihuly-like palm trees, and comfee places to sit which looked like they we're made of grass as well). I feel asleep in one, until a lady who worked there woke me up.
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At 7:15 pm, I caught the ferry back to Hong Kong. During the one hour ride, we we're instructed to put on our seat belts. The seas we're so rough the waves we're splashing the windows. After the ride-once again I had to wait in line to go through Hong Kong customs. i was still freezing in my shorts and Hawaiian shirt.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:33 Archived in Macau Comments (0)

Spoiled by Filipinos in Hong Kong

Yesterday was the Chin Ming festival in China, which means many natives take a day off to look after the grave sites of their deceased relatives. it means most people are off, and that includes the folks who work in peoples houses, like Raki, my new Filipino friend, and other friends.

Raki, invited me to Mui Wo, on Lantau Island for a picnic, as a friend of hers is living there. So I met Raki and her friends at the ferry to the island about 10:30 am, and we took the ferry over. After the 45 minute ride, we reached the island, with a lot of shops at the harbor (I actually visited the island a few days prior). I helped Raki carry over the supplies that had, which included food and bbq grill. We waited to meet their friend, and I bought some coffee for everyone from MCD's.

After about 1/2 an hour-we met her friend, who told us it was about a 10 minute walk to the apartment she was staying in there (she was watching her bosses 2 dogs-who we're cute but not real friendly, and staying at the apartment owned by her boss)-it took more like 20 minutes-20 half an hour-up dirt roads, up a trail, and finally we reached the apartment, which was the smallest one bedroom apartment I have ever seen. it had a tiny kitchen with a mini-refrigerator, and the "living room" had a place for a futon, and that was about it. We sat at a table outside-Raki's friend had a good boss, who let us visit and use the apartment)
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Anyway, Raki and her friends prepared the food they had brought. They prepared salads, oranges, mangos, fish, chicken, noodle salad, and all sorts of foods. Plates and plates of food. They ladies we're cooking all day. They mixed the foods inside the kitchen and cooked the fish and chicken on the bbq outside. I asked if I could help out. They stubbornly told me to sit and relax. Then we all ate. The food kept coming all day. So did the beer and wine. i felt bad-the only chipping in I did was for the 5 coffees from MCD's by the pier that morning.
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We left at 7:30 that evening, after I was full of enough food for a week and plenty of beer and wine. We stumbled to the pier, and missed the 8:40 ferry simply because we we're outside and not paying attention. (we thought we could see it from the side of the terminal we we're sitting on-but it left from the other side). We caught the later ferry at 9:20.
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Unfortunately for me-I still had to leave my current hostel and move to another one (my third in Hong Kong). In all of my worries about the Chinese Visa-I forgot to extend my stay at the hostel-and by the time I checked into it the day before (two days ago), it was sold out (there is a giant rugby tournament in Hong Kong this weekend)-so i had to move-so this entailed:

After saying goodbye to Raki at the Central ferry terminal, I took another ferry to the other side of the river, found my way through the streets to the old hostel, grabbed my suitcase, went downstairs to the metro, and took the train to the other side of the river, where I got a taxi to the new hostel. I didn't feel like any of that-but I did it. The new hostel, the only place I could find at a reasonable rate-isn't along the metro line-but is sleek, airy and modern-which is different from the other two.

Posted by DavidPearlman 15:32 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Hong Kong if it Rains We'll Get Wet

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I got up early for a new walking tour. it looks like it was going to rain-I remember the immortal line "If it rains-we'll get wet". I got the line from the night before, after Ross and Emily we're about to get married in London in an old house that was demolished (where Rachel decides to fly to London to tell Ross she loves him)-that's right-Friends is always on and is inside my head. After being in Hong Kong for over a week, one might ask what type of walking tour one would like.

This one talked about the history of Hong Kong.

(A) The tour guide's father swam from China to Hong Kong back in the 1970's. His family was composed of artists and creative people, which the communist government tried to stamp out-and didn't give food rations cards. They we're starving and swam across the channel to Hong Kong. The father's cousin was eaten by a shark on the journey.
(B) The Chinese government has been slowly causing democracy to disappear since the handover in 1997. While there was an election for the leader of Hong Kong in 2014, only 1200 folks we're allowed to vote. This resulted in huge protests in the street which took place over 2 months.
(C) Feng Shui results in a lot of big decisions in Hong Kong. In the financial crises on 2007-2009, HSBC hired a Feng Shui expert to redesign every floor of it's headquarters, after it's stock price declined.
(D) In Chinese weddings-an invitation card is presented, along with a requirement that the invitee has to give the wedding couple something like $300 Hong Kong dollars, since living expenses are so high, so people tried to decline invitations.

It was a most interesting tour. it ended close to 1:00. The big deal of the day was to go back to the Chinese Visa office and see if my Visa application was approved. I wasn't feeling too hopeful. I didn't have a flight scheduled when i applied. My application was messy and a phone number was wrong. I had to go back at 4:00. If I didn't get the Visa, and still wanted to go to China, I would have to reapply and not find out until Monday. To pass the time, i rode the Metro about 45 minutes-to a light rail line. This was sort of an ugly part of Hong Kong-old industrial style housing. i rode the light rail about 20 minutes and took the train back to the metro. Before getting on t he light rail-I found a branch of that cheap sushi place, and had some sushi.

That passed the time-I took the metro back downtown to the Chinese Visa place. The lady asked if I was there to pick up my visa-I said yes. She went in the back and checked and said the passport was still at the Chinese embassy. I later found out that there was an issue with all of the American passports. I waited and waited. I just knew mine would get denied, which meant staying in Hong Kong for a longer time then I would have liked.

At close to 6:00, the passports finally arrived. It turns out that the three Americans we're all approved. Rather then a standard 10 year Visa we all received a single entry 30-day visa-which we we're fine with.

i went back to the hostel relieved, and found out that there was a dim sum dinner arranged by the hostel. I went out with about 9 others and ate dim sum, and then to a bar for a beer. We had two additional beers from 7-11 afterwards. I and another fellow went back to the hostel after that. I haven't drank more then a beer or two at once since travelling, and that wasn't a good idea.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:48 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

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