Saturday, 22 March 2014

27th January 14, Hong Kong, Macau, Chinese dragon dances, Mermaids and so much more

27th January 2014
Goodbye China                                              Hello Hong Kong Island
the fun of china train travel

Saying goodbye sadly to China after a months travel we arrived in Hong Kong on the 27th January.  

We spent in total 8 days in Hong Kong and really enjoyed our time there. We stayed at the causeway bay Hostel which was ok for our budget, we had the tiniest room ever with 3 beds in it. Space is expensive on the island. 

It was very easy to get around the city, we used a mix of trams, buses and ferries to explore.
We had decided to just wander around the city taking it all in. It was Chinese New Year and Hong Kong was on Holiday.

What was really weird was walking along the upper walkways we saw mostly Indonesian women sitting on cardboard boxes having picnics and chatting to each other, they clearly was not down and out with expensive clothes, I was told its a tradition to come here and do this but didn't find out why ? 
 On our first day we hiked up the hills through the World War Two and Korea war cemeteries, here they were mostly ex-pat ones. We then climbed the vertical garden parks towards The Peak, a fabulous viewpoint high on Hong Kong island.

                                                      Its a beautiful poem

                   look what we found WH3, the hash is alive on the island

                                     Check out the name ! 
                                              Top of The Peak Hong Kong Island

 We visited a completely choker blocked fair in Victoria park where you had to all walk one way due to the heavy crowds. We did a detour and left as quickly as possible and sat and soaked up the (26 degrees by now) sun as alisha and seb played in a local kiddies park. There was quite a few English speaking kids, which was nice for them. 
 Everywhere in both China and Hong Kong we saw beautiful frees and bonsai trees. Orange trees decorated shop entrances and were given at Chinese new year for prosperity and good fortune 

The island is choker full of high rises and as you wander around you easily go from ground level to second and third level via escalators and travelators. Some people can go to work, to lunch and head home and never walk on the pavement!  The local main businesses and food /goods markets and small shops are mainly on the road level but the more expensive branded shops, and restaurants are higher up. There's a mid- level escalator that go's on for 800 metres up wards towards The Peak (Top of the hill in the centre of the island) Not that you would realise, because it still feels like you are on ground level, what with all the shops surrounding you.
Where we were in causeway bay, walking along the streets could find you intoxicated and buzzing from the load noise and vibrant neon lights and busy city life that never seems to sleep. It really is a very different feel from China, its much more a English experience than I expected.   

                                                      out and about on the island

I even got the shopping bug, and bought a Samsung Galaxy tab 3 tablet for my birthday and a 64 Gb SD card for our cameras as the current one is full of photos. 

Another day we rose early ish and caught  the bus to Stanley beach it had a fabulous English feel, It had an expats on holiday feel, We found a good pub called the Smugglers Inn where we had breakfast then we went to a small beach where the kids played in the South China Sea for the next hour. we then wandered around the small souvenir shops and crafty stalls before having another beer at the Smugglers Inn.
                                     Smugglers inn

                                      South China sea 
From Stanley we next caught a bus to Aberdeen (only 8 minutes down the road to visit the floating  fishing village. We had forgotten we could catch a boat which was a shame ! To be fair there's not much left of this traditional fishing way of life to see but its interesting for a quick look see. There is mainly now small houseboat turned local restaurants on the pier.

On  one of the days we took the tram to central and walked the short distance to the  ferry  Tsim Sha Sui. kowloom mainland. lunch was in a nice Italian restaurant and we then visited the Science Museum. The museum is free on Wednesdays so we only payed for the dinosaur exhibition ..Hong Kong $40. Once in the main hall we went round the electrical section first playing with coils lights batteries and magnets. Left hand rule and right hands rule! There was a rather adult orientated health and safety exhibition. Then up to the second floor for the automotive and motion displays and finally on the third floor the 'play learning area for children and the renewable energy exhibitions. At three o'clock a giant ball race was activated which took up part of all 3 floor and went on for about 20 minutes showing the laws of motion. Then down to the excellent dinosaur exhibition which contained several life sized models and then about thirty real fossil skeletons. ( as you can see from description Andy was just as excited here as the kids :-) 

From the kowloom main land we watched the  highly advertised nightly light show across the straight (river) . It wasn't bad but not a exciting as written up ! Then ferry and tram back to our underground rabbit hutch( hostel room).
                                 the view of Hong Kong island from Kowloon
respect...Bruce Lee remembered on the avenue of stars, Kowloon mainland

We woke with moans and groans at 8am as we had stayed up late the previous night. Taking a tram to Central island we walked  to the Macau ferry terminal. After received a hard sell for the tickets to Macau $1200 equals 100 pounds for all of us,  we slipped through customs and passport control which was so much easier without bags, and caught the 10:30 ferry to Macau. This took 2 hours to cross the water. To our surprise we found we had caught the boat to Cotai terminal on the other side of the island but were saved by the free bus to MGM casino in the centre of town.
The casinos provide free buses to attract customers. It's big business in Macau.

We decided to wander around the very fancy casino and much to our and Alisha's fascination the MGM casino building housed a a wonderful giant tube 10 metres high and about 4 metres across tank containing 'mermaids' and fish also much to my (Tracey) excitement, I at last got to watch a wonderful dragon dance weave its way through all the restaurants, wit fire crackers and all.  Fabulous! 

           We had fantastic views of the dragon dance 

 The tank inside the hotel wow!

                                         Alisha favourite mermaid

 The  architecture of Macau was fascinating, full of casinos, real big money has been put into the buildings. One was shaped like a pineapple with  golden leaves! And the inside was fantastic It's amazing what you can build when you fleece people happily of their money.

              Beautiful bone carving in the hotel
                                      Macau square

                                         Portuguese church 
 In search of a more traditional quiet place to eat, we had lunch in a small back street Chinese restaurant for 125 Macau dollars not to much...we had Pho2, a chicken noodle soup and fries beer
Back to sight seeing we wandered thought the streets and into the main square. Here building were typical southern European Portugese style. One street was renowned for their classic biscuits and sweets and of course we headed there. Down a narrow side alley we found a Chinese temple and then we headed for the ruined Spanish  church on the way back to the ferry. There really was a mixture of architecture that showed up its past history.
At the last moment we managed to pick up our hat pins for Macau :-)
Macau was definitely worthy of a day out from Hong Kong.

Monday February 3rd  found us on yet another big adventure. From Hong Kong  to Hanoi.Vietnam  ..One day train and Two sleeper trains.
See you In Vietnam xx

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