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Hong Kong

Year of the Monkey

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After a two hour fifteen minute flight from Bangkok, we arrived into Hong Kong airport ready to negotiate a taxi to our hotel. Little did we know that Hong Kong would be well geared up for this and gave us all the useful information such as taxi etiquette, how much it costs to certain areas, what the taxi meter means, details of our taxi driver and a card with important numbers to call such as the police etc.

Once checked into the hotel we sauntered down a nearby side street to get a bite to eat. The small alley like street was packed with restaurants and bars, each equipped with a mouthy sales person trying to get you in. We settled on an Italian (when in Hong Kong!) and ate scrumptious pizza and pasta, albeit at hefty London prices. The beer was weak and overpriced. Just like home.

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The next day we arose early, packed a rucksack and headed out navigating our way through Hong Kong's MTR stations all the way to Disney Land!!! The MTR even had it's own line to get you to Disney Land that played fairytale music, had Mickey Mouse ears for handles and Disney character motifs adorned the windows. Feeling like a six year old we skipped into Disney Land and spent the entire day there. We saw the daytime parade, night time parade and special fireworks celebrating both the 10 year anniversary and Chinese new year's eve over the Disney castle. We went on all the rides (some twice) and saw all the shows. Money well spent and we left feeling satisfied but exhausted. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at 'Welcome' supermarket for some staple food supplies. They had regular sized yoghurts on sale for £15 each. Obviously we did not purchase these, we're on a budget after all. The majority of our meals were shared peanut butter sandwiches, crisps and boiled eggs (that we boiled in the kettle in the hotel - yes this is possible, you just boil it twice)

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Luckily we picked a hotel that was a five minute walk from all the Chinese New Year activities, in an area on the northern bit called Kowloon. We had a wander around on the Monday (New Years Day) down to the harbour and shopping centre. It was absolute carnage with a million tourists walking in every direction. At 6pm we headed down to the parade route and picked our spot. It was already filling up at this point but over the two hour wait for the parade to start, hoards of people filled in pushing and shoving for the best view. People were handing out goodie bags also, which we managed to nab, inside was a packed of vegetable crisps and a honey drink. The parade itself was a little on the disappointing side in terms of the array of floats and acts going past (especially compared to Disney Land). We got to see a traditional Chinese dragon though and a lot of people on flipping stilts (Kiwi's phobia). But overall it was a good experience and would definitely recommend it. Afterwards we made a quick exit to avoid the crowds and had a walk through the streets of Hong Kong and down to the waterfront and took in the incredible sights of Hong Kong Island's colourful sky line.

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After a late evening back at the hotel watching Nat Geo Wild, the next morning we headed over to an area called Mong Kok to look for souvenirs. There had been riots in protest of the government shutting down illegal street vendors the night before but all looked good during the day. We were also on the look out for Tim Ho Wan's dim sum restaurant (a famous five star restaurant at affordable prices) however the first one we located had shut down and the second one located on Hong Kong island was opening in two days time. We threw our hands in the air and headed for a McDonalds (cheap and affordable). At 5:30pm we walked over to the waterfront to get a spot for the New Year firework display that was starting at 8pm. We were jealous of the people that brought along camping stools and flasks of tea. They took it very seriously.
At 8pm sharp the sky lit up furiously as the sound of thunder roared over from the river. It had started. What followed for the next thirty minutes was a continuous eruption of sounds and an explosion of colours unlike anything we had ever seen before. Best. Day. Ever.
We took a slow jaunt towards temple street night market where Jack purchased a steamed pork bun for 70p and we perused the stalls for souvenirs. Weirdly dotted around nearby streets where karaoke and fortune teller tents. The karaoke tents were literally pop up gazebo's with a karaoke machine and a pair of oldies belting their hearts out. An odd scene.

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For our last day in Hong Kong we decided to go to the New Years races at Sha Tin racecourse. Again we navigated our way through Hong Kong's MTR system, taking a wrong turn at one point and going a stop too far, only to have to turn back around. Neither of us having ever gone to the races in the UK we had no idea what to expect, except that maybe people in the UK dress up all fancy and get wasted. Well, Hong Kong races are nothing like that. On arrival to the station we followed the mass of people entering the racecourse into what looked like a warehouse. It was absolute mayhem, people walking in all directions, people queuing to spin the lucky wheel of fortune, vendors handing out free pens - we had no idea which way to walk or what entrance to go through! Eventually we found our way through to one of the main betting halls and wandered around bewildered. With not a clue how to put on a bet it was even more confusing in Chinese! We approached one of the betting guys who kindly showed us how to place a bet and ushered us over to purchase an English booklet explaining each race and what the odds where for each horse. Finally getting our heads around it we placed a bet for the next race, queuing up in the betting lines with little old ladies pushing and shoving. Overall we put three bets on and Kiwi won on two races, albeit a lowly amount as we only bet one Hong Kong dollar per race (about £0.89) however we walked away £1 up so we were pretty chuffed. We even shared a pint too.
Following from the excitement of the races we decided to stop by Hong Kong history museum on the way back to the hotel. It was pretty interesting stuff.

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Quick turn around back at the hotel and then out on the hunt for some Chinese food! We settled on a restaurant and ordered food - Jack opted for traditional chinese soup with dumplings and minced pork rather than the chickens feet/tripe in broth and Kiwi ordered the only vegetarian option on the menu, vegetable fried rice. Although when it arrived it was literally rice with bits of cabbage in! We were also served tea with condensed milk that was pretty rank, although Jack quite enjoyed it. We finished off the evening with a walk around the nearby Kowloon park. Although it was a central city park it felt really safe at night and was quite bustling for the time of day.

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We thoroughly enjoyed Hong Kong and would definitely recommend going, it's insane and colourful and loud and busy. But it's good. Now all we need is a good rest in the Philippines....

Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 19:10 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged buildings skylines night fireworks travelling hong_kong chinese_new_year disney_land lunar_new_year travelling_honeymoon year_of_the_monkey chinese_dragon Comments (1)

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