Saturday 30 December 2017

Our Adventures in Hong Kong!

During the first few days of September this year, we were in Macau – the Vegas of Asia – and you can read all about that fabulous trip in my previous post. From Macau, we took a Turbojet High-Speed Ferry over to Hong Kong. We were there in the wake of a terrible typhoon and although the weather was sometimes cloudy and a little wet - as you'll see in the photos - that didn't stop us from having the most fabulous few days there.

Hong Kong has long been a fascination to us. We were thrilled to be there at last and determined to make the most of every minute of our visit. We had a lot planned but found it actually impossible to do and see everything that Hong Kong has to offer in the time we allowed.

The first thing we did after checking into our hotel – the Holiday Inn - was to put on comfortable shoes for a long sightseeing walk. This is of course the best way to see the sights and attractions and to browse the shops and markets and street food stalls – of which there are thousands!

We must have walked along the street and the entire length of Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour. Feeling pretty tired afterwards, we hopped onto a traditional tram all the way back to our hotel. The transport system around the city is really good and there are a constant stream of buses and trams and trains and subway trains and taxis and boats to take you quickly and easily and cheaply (not sure about the taxis as we never used one) to wherever you want to go.

On the corner from our hotel was a restaurant called Dim Sum Square and this was where we ate on two occasions because they had the best dim sum we have ever tasted. As you might expect, the best dim sum is in Hong Kong!

We also ate at several other small restaurants – not the fancy western ones or hotel linked ones – but in the side streets where the locals ate and we found the food delicious and reasonably priced. I did see various unusual and strange bugs and insects and sea creatures and parts of animals being cooked and eaten in Hong Kong and, although I'm normally quite adventurous with food, I have to admit that I stuck to what we consider to be normal Asian foods, like fried rice and shrimp and chicken and duck etc.

One thing that fascinated and also appalled me in equal measure in Hong Kong was the amount of traditional medicine shops that are selling very strange things as tonics and remedies. I won’t go into the details.

The next thing we did was to take the famous and charming Star Ferry boat across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon. This is the most inexpensive way to see the famous city skyline and to experience a beloved icon and traditional mode of transport that has been in operation since 1888.

We spent some time in Kowloon, exploring once again on foot, until we eventually ended up at the famous Temple Street Market – the last remaining example of a traditional market in Hong Kong. This is a famous market in its own right for shopping and souvenirs and street food but also the star of many a movie – as it is every movie makers ideal China Town.

One of my very favourite things to do in Hong Kong was our visit to The Peak on The Peak Tram. Not only will the tram take you to the top of Victoria Peak – to the Sky Terrace and a 360 degree fabulous view over the whole of Hong Kong and its skyscrapers, the harbour and all the surrounding islands - but you get there on the world steepest funicular railway. It was an amazing experience and the views – oh my goodness – they are truly breath-taking.

The night before we left Hong Kong we did something so memorable and so iconic that I will forever hold it dear to my heart. We took an old junk boat - an old traditional boat with its billowing red sails - out into the harbour after dark to watch the spectacular nightly light show from the best vantage point possible.

The Symphony of Lights – a light show set to music and colourful lasers and spotlights and LED screens flashing and streaking across all the tall shiny glass and steel buildings around both sides of the harbour is now recognised as a signature icon for Hong Kong – and was simply stunning.

I will forever hold Hong Kong in my heart as a wonderful, romantic, happy and exciting and memorable place. But we were ready to leave simply because our flight the next morning was to take us to Seoul in South Korea – where for the next ten days we would be visiting our family there – our son James and his wife Sujeong and our beautiful two-and-a-half-year-old grandson Aaron and our in-laws, the lovely Kang Family.

So next time here on the blog, I’ll be in South Korea. Join me soon!

Love Janice xx

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Our fabulous weekend in Macau – the Las Vegas of Asia!

At the very start of September this year, we were looking forward to spending a couple of days in Macau – the Las Vegas of Asia!

It’s a place that has long been on my bucket list and I was keen to see for myself how its fun attractions and cosmopolitan hotels and casino resorts really compared to those we enjoyed in Las Vegas USA.

Macau has its own international airport although it is just an hour away on a fast ferry from Hong Kong. So, we planned to fly from Kuala Lumpur into Macau and spend two nights there and then three nights in Hong Kong to make the most of our time in these two iconic cities. But, right up to the last minute, we really didn’t know if our trip was going to happen at all because just a few days earlier a terrible and devastating category typhoon had hit Macau and Hong Kong.

I contacted our airline for an update and we were told our flight was unaffected and leaving as scheduled. I contacted the Parisian Hotel, where we had tickets for the final night of the Michael Jackson tribute show ‘Thriller’, and we were told the show was going ahead as planned too.

We were concerned and also sensitive to the loss of life and the destruction that Macau and its people had suffered, but it was made clear to us that the city was recovering quickly from the terrible storm, and that it was business as usual. We decided to go ahead but to keep away from the old historic town that had been worst hit by the typhoon. We certainly didn’t want to add to the burden and pressures of the recovery effort, and so decided to confine our stay to the Cotai area, and to The Strip.

The weather was not so good after the typhoon – it was wet and stormy - but that hardly mattered at all when almost all attractions are undercover and there are walkways between them. We stayed right on the Strip by all the big hotels that both Macau and Las Vegas are known for – like The Wynn, The Venetian, The Mandarin Oriental, The Ritz Carlton, The St Regis, The Conrad, The Sheraton, The Holiday Inn, and others - and still in Macau - the famous Sands Hotel and Resorts.

It was sad, however, when we were able to venture outside, to see some of the evidence of damage and what was left of the palm trees in the area. They just looked like broken stumps.

We did manage to have a fun ride in the gondolas at The Wynn and we had a fabulous lunch there too at the famous buffet – which we had enjoyed in Vegas too - and can report that they are both equally as good!

We had a good walk around the resort hotels, and in the Venetian Hotel particularly, I wouldn’t have known that I wasn’t in the one in Vegas as it was exactly the same and as equally impressive with its canals and operatic singing gondola drivers and exclusive shops and fabulous skydome interior.

Perhaps the highlight of our trip was attending the Thriller Live Show at the Parisian Hotel. It was the final performance in Macau and this show had started in the West End in London and has travelled throughout the world.
It was truly fabulous and everyone was up dancing!

After a truly amazing couple of days, we were really excited to be leaving Macao knowing that we had not only done it proud but we were going on to Hong Kong next by TurboJet High Speed Ferry.

Join me next time here on the blog when we explore Hong Kong – the iconic city and the colourful harbour with its famous skyline, the mouth-watering food and the history and the culture, our trip by tram up to Victoria Peak and our Star Ferry trip over to the island of Kowloon with its famed Temple Street Market.

Love, Janice xx