Paul and Rita's World Tour 2006/7 - Hong Kong


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We've been to Hong Kong several times before and quite like it, although it is a densely populated place.  Only going to be here for two nights this time, hope to meet up with some friends and maybe a little shopping.

History: Former British colony, lease ran out and given back to the Chinese in 1997.   Language: Chinese and English Population: Money: 1GBP = 15 Hong Kong Dollars, HKD as at 29/12/06. Toilet Situation: Outlook: From past experience, moderate. Guide Book: None, not here long enough to warrant one.  Visa:  Tourist visa issued free on arrival, for UK residents valid for 180 days

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29th Dec 2006 - Hong Kong
30th Dec 2006 - Hong Kong
31st Dec 2006 - Hong Kong to Bangkok

Fri 29th December, 2006

Arrived in Hong Kong International Airport on time at 13:15.  It's been open 8 years now, since it replaced the old airport near the city centre, but its still an impressive building, they've got it right as far as processing passengers is concerned. By the time we had walked from the gate, processed through immigration in about 5 minutes, through the health check screening (heat detection cameras, to pick up anyone with a fever) and into the baggage claim area, my bag was already on the carrousel, waiting for me, for a change.  I'd checked in my bag for this trip because I had a couple of sharp items that probably I should not have taken on board, and after loosing my little scissors to security in Jejudo, I wasn't going to take any chances.

We were looking for the airport bus, number A11 to be precise, to take us to Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island, but on the way spotted the new(ish) Airport Express train.  Well, I don't remember it being there last year when we were here last, any way.  So we thought we'd give it a go.  It only went as far as Hong Kong Station, and, at 100 HKD it was more expensive than the bus, but why not give it try.  It was a smooth, fast ride into the city, no traffic to contend with, and we were soon there wondering how to get to Causeway Bay.  On the MTR, of course.  

When we emerged from the MTR at Causeway Bay station, we didn't immediately recognise it, but after 2 minutes of wandering around we got our bearings and we realised we were in exactly the same street as we had stayed in 20 months ago.  Strange how we didn't pick that up when we booked our hostel on the internet, but it seems that all the budget accommodation in the area is grouped within a few buildings.   From the internet directions, we found our hostel with no problem, but like last time we were here, we were taken to another building to book in and pay, and be allocated with a room, which turned out to be in the place we first went to.  Only 800 HKD for a double room, with en-suite, for two nights, that's very reasonable for Hong Kong, I can assure you.  The room was small but clean, not too stuffy, and a clean toilet and shower room. Perhaps the weather helps, its only about 16C here today, the locals are finding it cold, but they say it will warm up in the next day or two. 

Main meal of the day at a steak house, of the Australian variety, bit of a blow out for us, but for some reason it doesn't seem so expensive this time in Hong Kong.  Apart from the UK pound being fairly strong against most currencies at the moment, thanks to the weakness of the US$, it also depends on how expensive the previous country you've been in was.  The last time we were here we came from Thailand, which is a very cheap place to visit, but having come from the relatively expensive South Korea, Hong Kong seems a bargain this time.

After a little retail shopping therapy, (Rita brought a bra from M&S, I bought a 12 pack of beer, some real cheese and a jar of Marmite) and a visit to the Royal Pub, the place we always go to whenever we're in town, (actually, we went there once when we were last here, but that means we've been there every time we've been in Hong Kong for the last two years!) we had an early night.  Back to Itinerary

Sat 30th December, 2006

Thinks dont get going too early in Hong Kong, so why should we.  The big shops dont open until 10 at the ealiest, and some places later, so we took our time getting up and ready for the day.   I wanted to check out some computer and camera supplies, I dont desperately need anything, but while in Hong Kong you may as well take a look.

Jumped on one of the famous old double decker trolley busses that ply their way up and down the streets of Hong Kong Island.  They are normally quite busy, but we got on one that had nobody upstairs at all and so we got the coveted front seats.  I remembered that you paid on the way out but couldn't remember how much, so when the trolley arrived in the Central area, we went downstairs to get off, only to find we didn't have change smaller than 10HKD and they dont give change!  The charge was 2HKD per person, regardless of how far you go, so we had say goodbye to the extra 6 dollars, a lesson we wont forget in a hurry.  Or did we have the same problem last year and have forgotten it?  I can't remember.

Spent several housr wandering the back streets around the south of central district, some interesting shops and street stalls caught our attention occasionally, as well as the odd bar.  Happy hours are commonplace, usually lasting much of the day and often upto 9pm, and just to put the icing on the cake, we found one pub, The Globe on Hollywood Road, selling Old Speckled Hen.  Wasn't in perfect condition, but after a dearth of decent ale for 3 months, a couple of pints went down very well, I can tell you.

Not sure what happened after that.  Oh yes, I remember now, looked for some bargains in the Wan Chai electronics market, but the price of compact digital cameras didn't seem any cheaper than the cheapest in England, so decided not to rush into a purchase.  

We'd arranged to meet up with Grace, a Hong Kong girl who we'd met at a backpackers in Hobart last year.  She'd been at university in Adelaide, but was now back in Hong Kong, so we made our way over to Kowloon via the Star Ferry to meet up with her and her boyfriend.  Had a great evening with the pair of them, ending up at an Indian restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Gaylord, for an all you can eat buffet.  The food was ok, though not brilliant, and we had the "bonus" of live Indian music!  What more could you ask for?  A bit of peace and quiet would have been nice, now you're asking, but others seemed to enjoy it so I suppose I shouldn't grumble.    Back to Itinerary

Sun 31st December, 2006

When we were in Seattle recently, I'd bought a couple of plastic folding bowls, fantastic they were, used them often in our room when making a snack, and because they fold flat they're so easy to carry.  So we were a little upset to find out this morning that the one we'd use to make up our marmite sandwiches on yesterday morning had been chucked out by the cleaner when she did the room yesterday.  How could she, it was lying on the bed, complete with crumbs and a plastic knife (can be taken on planes) and she dumped the lot.  The crumbs I can understand, we didn't really want to hang on to them, but our bowl! Actually, to be fair, they do use a lot of disposable containers here, so she probably just thought it was another variety, and when we complained to the manager and explained it had cost us US$10, he gave us the money, which I was only ever so slightly embarrassed about, as it actually hadn't quite cost us that much.

Checked out of our room and left our bags with the manager to look after until this evening, hoping the cleaner didn't get her hands on them and chuck them out!   Our flight to Bangkok is at 10pm tonight, so we've got the whole day to enjoy in Hong Kong, and the sun is shining and its a lovely warm day.   Caught the trolley bus down to central and walked the back street of the Central area again, around the part known as Soho.  It's strange how that name crops up in so many places, I don't know where it originates from, but the one in London is just a name, whereas everywhere else it represents an acronym for the area, e.g. in Hong Kong its the area SOuth of HOllywood road, in New York its the area SOuth of HOuston road, etc.  I guess people like the name Soho.

Had the all day full English breakfast at The Globe, very nice it was too, my first proper breakfast for many months, probably wont see another until we get back to Europe.  Eased down with a couple of pints of Old Speckled Hen, what more could you wish for on a Sunday afternoon?

In the evening we made our way back up to Causeway Bay, trolley bus and the subway.  Both were getting very busy with people coming out for the New Year celebrations, loads of people were sitting on the pavements at various points and the police were starting to put up crowd control barriers.  I'd like to think they were celebrating the introduction of the smoking ban that comes into effect on the 1st Jan, a more stringent ban than that which is being introduced in England in that it applies to a lot of open spaces as well.  Why dont they just ban it altogether! (That's going to upset some people, te-he-he)   Something was definitely afoot, we just hoped we hadn't left it too late to get the airport bus out of the city, it being 60HKD cheaper than the Airport Express.  It's not that we're tight, well, actually, I suppose it is in some ways, but its more to do with only spending as much as you need too, an important consideration when you're trying to stretch your travelling money for as long as we try too   4 quid might not sound a lot, but that's a nights accommodation in some places..

We were lucky, the A11 bus was running on time and we didn't get held up by traffic at all, and we were soon through to the enormous departure lounge.  I think its a bit too big in some ways, spread over several floors its easy to lose your direction, probably why they have people on hand to ask you if your ok when you stand in front of the concourse map looking bewildered. Not that we did, of course!   We were departing from gate 61, which involved a ride on a shuttle train out to the end of the concourse.  What a stroke of luck, right opposite gate 61 is a bar, so while we waited for the long queue to quietly feed through the ticket checking process, we had time for our last beer in Hong Kong.  In all the airports we've been to a few, I dont think I've ever encountered such a well positioned bar.  Thanks Hong Kong!    Back to Itinerary


Continued on our Thailand page

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