Hong Kong

Hong Kong: A non-spitting, non-staring introduction to China.

We eventually arrived at our hostel in Hong Kong after many long and slow attempts to leave the airport. It had been made unbelievably simple, yet we still managed to be stuck there for about an hour longer than we needed to.

Our address was blah blah Hostel, 14/F, blah blah street, Hong Kong. After a stroll to find the hostel and many a sign saying ‘Restaurant! 1/F’ or ‘Shop! 2/F’, we soon realised that everything in Hong Kong works upwards. So 14/F was 14th floor. Thankfully, our actual room was on the 8th floor, a little less time in the lift every day.

What had we decided about Hong Kong by this point? Busy. Verrry busy. But it was a Saturday. And it’s nearly Christmas. So it might not always be a battle to cross the road.

On our first afternoon we headed to the “goldfish market”, which wasn’t too far from our hostel on the map. This turned out to be a part-adorable, part-sad pet shop street, complete with puppies in glass cages and fish in plastic bags. Lovely. From here, we wandered the local area and came across some interesting looking snack stalls and foam shapes floating up and up from a Nokia stand in the street. Look out for the potential TV advert – I caught a foam smiley!

The next day, our first full day in Hong Kong, saw us set out around 7am (I blame the jetlag) and return at least 12 hours later, to then head out again for the evening. We knew we would be spending the majority of the next day on a train so thought it best to use our legs whilst we could. We managed to see quite a bit in that time – we walked all the way down the riverfront and saw the “Avenue of the Stars” (like a Hong Kong Hollywood) before heading across to Hong Kong Island on the Star Ferry for a bargain 30p! The seats were amazing – the backrest bar flipped so you could sit facing whichever way the boat was going. Very cool.

As we wandered through the mass of skyscrapers, we soon came across what I’d most been looking forward to about Hong Kong…yeah, I’m gonna say it, no matter how uncool it makes me sound…the longest escalator IN THE WORLD. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. I was expecting an 800m long escalator cutting through a luscious green grassy hill. Instead, it was loads of smaller escalators making their way through a concrete jungle. There were some interesting looking restaurants in SoHo on the way through though, including “Yorkshire Pudding” – a British restaurant surprisingly.

If you can work your way around the roads when you get to the end of the escalator, you’re not far off the entrance to the Victoria Tram. For which you will undoubtedly queue for at least 45 minutes. We weren’t sure what to expect from the Peak. The answer? An obscure looking building with what’s known as the “Sky Tower 428” on the rooftop and which will block your view for any chance of a decent photo of the skyline. Oh, unless you want to pay extra to get on it yourself that is. We didn’t. We did find the free rooftop of the shopping mall opposite gave a decent view though, and it isn’t even that much shorter. Yeah, that’s right, I said shopping mall, at the top of a hill. A touristy hill, mind you. Complete with a Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant. There is a nice walk around the Peak though. A very safe walk – the slopes all have “registration numbers” so you can be sure, they’re regularly maintained, and even if a slope does cause you offence, you can report it to the slope maintenance team, because, believe it or not, they exist.

That’s one thing I did find quite entertaining in Hong Kong – the construction industry. The water man is really concentrating to get the job done for you, the slopes have to be registered and the scaffolding in made of bamboo. See below.

Amusing building work aside, Hong Kong is a pretty cool place. I had been told it’s a “poor man’s Singapore”, which is a little harsh. It has its own identity. It knows it’s bright, brash, busy and kind of quirky and it’s not trying to tell you otherwise.

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Home Alone, Made In Chelsea and Those Three Little Words…

After listening to someone behind us in the queue who will undoubtedly be involved with the next series of Made in Chelsea (“I’m going to see grannie in Sussex and then go for dinner at Alesandro’s.” “It’s a bit cold in Alesandro’s.”), we were sent to the “Premier Check-In” to help get the queue down. It was much nicer – carpets, no cattle market barriers to keep us in the herd of the queue…and some grumpy Italians with too many bags.

Then it happened. VISA NOT REQUIRED. Those three little words nearly made my heart skip a beat! The happy smiley check in lady didn’t know what it meant for me to be getting on a plane first attempt from Heathrow Terminal 4 as she wrote that on my boarding pass!! No moody travel agent phone calls, no rush to find a new ticket, no repeat journey to Heathrow the next day! So far, so good.

In fact, the whole process was a breeze in comparison with my first attempt back in August via Saudi Arabia. Sadly though, Aeroflot planes don’t quite match Emirates. I’d been spoilt. The first flight to Moscow was 4 hours, which I thought would be the “cut off point” – the point at which it’s not quite long enough to get a TV, but just long enough to want one. There was no TV, so we occupied ourselves with  The Inbetweeners Rude Road Trip and An Idiot Abroad clips on my iPod. I say we…let me introduce you to Ashley…











…my boyfriend who’s joining me over the next 5 weeks. I can’t draw him without him looking like an old lady, but I assure you, he doesn’t really. I’m sure you’ll become acquainted as the next five weeks go on. He’s pleased to meet you.

Anyway, back to the Aeroflot journey….we arrived at Moscow and had an hour and a half to make it to our gate. So unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to get out and see any of the city, but fortunately this meant we didn’t need a visa! YES! Visa not required!

What can I say about an hour and a half in Moscow’s airport?…Lots of adverts for alcohol, lots of Christmas trees dotted about in random places and a rabbit warren of the same duty free shops. Oh yeah, and I want a Russian doll. Maybe next time, when I go to Russia, when I need a visa.

And so we boarded the next flight – the big one – nine hours, a Boeing 767, complete with 2 meals and surely, individual TVs….nope. 3 out of 4 ain’t bad. No TVs. Just communal ones dotted down the centres of the aisles.

“Well, we probably won’t get a choice, but at least we’ll get a film,” I said to Ashley, trying to offer some consolation – we were pretty excited about our own little TV units.

“Yeah but it’ll probably be in Russian.”

“Oh yeah, good point.”

The film was Home Alone, in English, which wasn’t too bad if not a bit retro. I lost count of the amount of times we pulled out a headphone to point out a flaw to each other though…lot of flaws in that film. I’d never realised before. The one I can remember now is why does it hurt him when he puts the aftershave on? He’s 8 years old!!

The lack of filmage meant that after dinner we had no real option but to sleep. Which is probably a good thing. And that’s where we are now, after a few hours sleep, the window blind being opened by the seats in front of us gradually woke us up. And so we wait for breakfast – filmless, in the dark and still a bit sleepy. Think it’s Spider Solitaire time….ahh, it’s just like being back in Asia.

Categories: East Asia, Hong Kong | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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