A Travellerspoint blog

Day Two - Hong Kong

View 2018-04 Golden on greynomadm's travel map.

Bit of a rough night last night, the body clock hasn't caught up yet. Hot and humid again today and after breakfast we looked for something to do that wasn't strenuous. Jenny suggested a Harbour Cruise and we checked out the options with the front desk. First cruise is at 11:55 so there's plenty of time. At his suggestion we changed some notes to coins and set off.

Following directions we found the appropriate bus stop and waited for a No2 or No6 bus. There are dozens of bus stops within a short block and each serves many route numbers. Buses came, stopped and went. After about 10 minutes we stepped aboard and tried to figure out the fare, HK$5.1 each, that's about 75 cents Aust !!

We were heading down Nathan Rd for the Star Ferry terminal and were surprised at the trees and other plantings in the median strip. It didn't take long and although traffic was heavy it moved freely. Very impressed by how the driver piloted his double decked heavy bus in and out of the traffic flow. Arrived at the terminal with almost an hour to spare, bought our tickets and found a seat in the waiting lounge. A one hour tour of Victoria Harbour cost just HK$95 each, sounds more than it is when it is only AU$12 and includes a beverage and snack.

The trip around the harbour provided a different view of Hong Kong. The lounge on the vessel was fully enclosed and air-conditioned, great for comfort but difficult for any photography. Managed to catch one or two shots from the small open deck. It was difficult to pick up significant landmarks and after a while one place looked much like another - wall to wall high-rise apartments.

Back at the terminal wandered around a little and tackled the task of finding the bus back. Found the right bus and a helpful dispatcher looked at our map and said something to the driver. We managed to keep track of our trip on the map and pretty well knew where we were. It was reassuring though to have the driver look back at where were seated and indicate that we should get off.

A quick stop at the 7/11 for an icecream and holed up in our lovely cool room. Spent some time trying to select some seats on our flight to Sydney but had no luck at all. Looks like we will just have to take pot luck.

Spent some time clearing some of the backlog of emails and then there was tonight's dinner to be considered. There are so many choices with six food outlets in the hotel's lower ground floor. Then there is the more formal place where we have breakfast. Just across the minor street along with the 7/11 there are four or five other restaurants. One of them had no indication that it would have a menu in English.

We took the easy option and found one of the in-house outlets that had a reasonable illustrated menu and while the ambiance was rudimentary the food was adequate and tasty. Another icecream from the 7/11 and back to the room to catch up on some news.

It may appear that we haven't done much with our time in Hong Kong but the weather was against any extensive exploration. There's also that overwhelming attraction of a bed after all that time sitting up in the aircraft. An additional factor is our advancing years :-)

Check-out tomorrow and a long day ahead waiting at the airport and the flight to Sydney.
Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 21:34 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Day One - Hong Kong

Monday, 21 May 2018

View 2018-04 Golden on greynomadm's travel map.

Breakfast in the hotel's buffet was not included in the room rate but we decided to eat there anyway. The range of food was extensive and I think we ate our money's worth.

Temperature and humidity is off the scale and we're reluctant to leave the hotel but we're still looking for a smart watch for Jenny. On-line searches point to an "Electronics Market". With the help of the front desk staff and a map we find the target and head off down Nathan Road to find the Jordon MTR station. We have walked further than necessary but we found one of the many entrances.

Feeling lucky we approached the automatic ticket machine. Select the destination - Sham Shi Po. Select the fare type - Concession. Insert coins or notes for HK$ 3.00. When we find the right coins it pops out a ticket. Repeat the process for the second ticket. Our station is only four stops away and we arrive in no time. Picked the correct exit and we're in the centre of the Apliu Street Market. For three blocks both sides of the street are lined with shops and stalls selling all things electrical, electronic and photographic.

We walked to the end in one direction then the other side to the other end and back towards the MTR station. Many of the shop/stalls obviously didn't have anything like what we were after. Others said "Sorry" or just shrugged or couldn't speak English. About two shops short of where we started we stepped inside a likely store expecting a negative outcome. Surprise !! Surprise !! Someone who spoke fluent English and actually had what we were after. Then as an extra bonus he knocked 10% off the ticketed price for cash.

By this time I was saturated and even Jenny had worked up a sweat so we found a McDonald's sign. Never had such a hard time finding the shop and what a scruffy place it was. The drinks were cold and the toilets clean, what more does one need. Back to the station, another ticket routine and we head back to the hotel. Picked up some supplies at the 7/11 across from the hotel. It was so hot the ice-creams had started to melt by the time we crossed the street.

Back in the room, stripped off our saturated gear and had a quick shower. spent a good while setting up Jenny's new watch, downloading the app and registering the pair. I left most of the daily targets at their default values and will tweak them when we get home.

Spent a few more hours writing up blog entries for the past few days and applying software updates that had been pending for weeks. Confirmed correct date and time on a number of devices and thought I deserved a nap. No way !! It is almost 19:00, we've had no meal since breakfast and no idea where to go for dinner. Back to Google and finally decide on the Temple Street Night Markets. Just across Nathan Rd and down a few blocks.

The markets were mainly selling trinkets, shirts and gadgets. There are literally hundreds of them selling the same thing. Crowds you can't get through and the humidity is still 100% and temperature over 30 °C. Finally found the food area of packed restaurants and were offered a table and two small stools. A 20 page illustrated menu and an offer of beer or soda to drink. Drinks arrived promptly and eventually our orders taken. The best thing to say is that the meal was cheap.

Tried to take some photos but results were poor. Most are blurred and highlights are blown out. It hasn't been a good outing for images. New camera ?? Idiot photographer ?? Challenging conditions ??

Already dreading the flight home.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 19:20 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Arriving in Hong Kong

Sunday, 20 May 2018

By the time our flight departed Vancouver at 13:30 on Saturday it was already early morning Sunday at our destination. The flight was uneventful and we both spent most of the 12 hours watching movies and TV shows. Caught, as we were, between two strangers we didn't get up as often as recommended to prevent DVT. I didn't get up at all and only wriggled my feet from time to time. When I finally tried to stand up after we'd landed I was none too steady on my feet.

We remained in our row until most passengers had passed us, we were in no hurry and I needed to return circulation to the legs and feet. There is a lot of walking to find your way through this huge terminal. There was hardly anyone around until we got to Immigration where there was a large crowd waiting to be processed. As we limped along one of the officials took pity on us and directed us to the VIP and Diplomatic line. There was no one waiting and we passed through with no delay.

Next came the luggage re-claim area. Huge crowd again and extensive delays between batches of luggage landing on the belt. I was starting to think that our luggage had gone astray. The fact that a considerable number of others were also waiting gave me heart that our strays would turn up. So they did and with a well loaded trolley and increasing temperature we made our way through customs and out to the arrivals hall. We stopped at the Currency Exchange to ensure we had money to cover the taxi fare.

The taxi rank was well organised and the attendant gave us a slip of printed paper with the expected total cost based on our destination. The prediction was pretty spot on and the service was first class. It is a long way from the airport to Kowloon but with most of it at almost free-way speed it didn't take very long. The driver was having trouble with his GPS device but he delivered us at the hotel door non-the-less.

Check-in at the hotel was efficient and painless and we arrived at our room as our luggage was being delivered. We were both pretty well out on our feet and unpacked only the essentials ready for bed. Hit a final little bump when we couldn't work out how to switch off one of the lights. The tricky key-pad had us beaten and I has to resort to calling reception for someone to turn off the light. I think we could have slept with the light on !!

Still adjusting to 30 °C outside temperature. Quite a contrast to near zero just over a week ago.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 02:44 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Disembarkation & Lost Day

Saturday, 19 May 2018

View 2018-04 Golden on greynomadm's travel map.

The big day has arrived. We berth at Vancouver's impressive cruise ship terminal. Have a final breakfast and adjourn to the Vista Lounge to await our group call. We've purchased bus transfers to the airport for US$ 29 each and our group is due to assemble at 09:30. We arrive early and wait along with a few hundred others. There are additional assembly lounges for other groups. Time ticks bye and there are repeated announcements that the process is delayed.

There are two bottlenecks that can delay the process, one is the delay in luggage coming off the ship. There's no point having people standing around looking for luggage that hasn't arrived ashore yet. The other possible delay can be the processing by the Immigration and Customs staff. Another bug in the smooth flow of the process occurs when people have delayed the collection of their luggage. In other words they didn't disembark when their group was called. This leads to a pollution of the grouped luggage and further delays. When it runs as designed it works well but there's no way that the idiot element can be designed out.

Things are running a bit late and with a 12:25 Boarding Time for our flight I'm starting to get anxious when we have lost over half an hour. Eventually we are called and proceed ashore, find our luggage and pass through immigration. We now join hundreds of people looking for their way out. the numbers are swollen by passengers from the Holland America ship which has also arrived. We join the line for "Prepaid Airport Bus Transfer" one of a number of different lines.

We find our coach and our luggage is loaded into the bins until they reach capacity. There are still seats but no luggage space. The coach backs out and threads its way through the Vancouver traffic. At some intersections we sat there for three or four cycles of the traffic lights. To top off this frustrating delay we are kept in a holding area before being permitted to approach the Departures area of the terminal. By this time many fellow passengers were becoming quite vocal. Their humour was not improved when some representative of the airport authority boarded the bus to present a long winded spiel about the facilities available.

Despite our late arrival at the check-in desk we were told that there was no need to rush. Relieved of our three main pieces of luggage we set off to walk a significant distance to the security check area. There was an essential stop at the toilet facilities and then further delays as my pacemaker required me to backtrack and be escorted through another line. The pat-down completed, I met up with Jenny who was guarding all my bits and pieces. Backpack, laptop, jacket, cap and man-purse, luckily I wasn't wearing a belt and hadn't needed to remove my boots.

We arrived at the boarding gate just as the VIP and disabled passengers were starting to board. I was quite relieved that we were not the subject of that "final call" that is announced for those who were running late. We were given priority when the economy class we allowed to board. We found our seats, middle pair in the row of four.

Not long after take-off we lost the balance of Saturday and started into Sunday. The International Date Line can be a tricky thing.

I'll cover the arrival in Hong Kong in the entry for Sunday.
Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 02:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Packing Day @ Sea

Friday, 18 May 2018

The last full day aboard and many of the events are repeats of previous 'last day' schedules. Started sorting out what was to be 'check in' and what can be in the 'carry on'. Then there's the need to balance the load between the cases. My original 'carry on' has been re purposed to the backup 'check in' role and a recently purchased 'back pack' is now the 'carry on'. That brings the total load to two large and one small 'check in' case and a backpack each as 'carry on'.

Part of the distinction is the content, some is OK as 'check in' but not as 'carry on'. It is rare for anything in the 'check in' is questioned or rejected. The 'carry on' is subject to a higher level of scrutiny. Another consideration is that the 'check in' items are put out in the ship's corridors by 22:00 on the night before disembarkation. There is only limited access to the content of the 'check in' until arrival at the destination. Once you've picked it up at the arrival terminal and again just before 'check in' at the airport. I think we got it right this time.

We also purchased a set of ship's DVDs which are not available until late this afternoon. Again a limited time window to get them packed. In my case the clothes I wear tonight will have to do until we get to the hotel in Hong Kong.

We have the 'last supper' with the dining room staff and some genuine exchanges of well wishes and a home to meet again on another ship some day in the future. the luggage goes out and we retire for the night.

Vancouver tomorrow and the flight to Hong Kong. We'll be home soon.

Stay healthy and safe.
Cheers ... Tony

Posted by greynomadm 00:17 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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