Saturday, 13 December 2008

Last day in Hong Kong

In the morning of our last full day in Hong Kong (Friday 12 December), we took Matas to the nearby Clearwater Bay beach. Neringa was at her Cantonese class. We had a couple of hours of beach-tastic fun building a sand fortress and making a running course with obstacles.



For lunch, Neringa took us to a dim sum restaurant in Hang Hau. Ordering for Neringa was fun. She matched the Cantonese on her cheat sheet with the restaurant menu to identify the right dishes. We had a good spread of tasty dishes from prawn parcels to barbecued pork in a steamed bun (cha siu baau). The restaurant was massive and full of locals so the prices were very good. Neringa also impressed the waitresses with her Cantonese.



To celebrate our last night in town, Delme and Neringa had chosen the very hip Aqua Spirit bar in Kowloon. There we enjoyed the stunning night-time view of Hong Kong Island. The bar was very atmospheric, and the cocktails were lovely! Delme's flaming ice volcano was particularly memorable. Finding your way out of the toilets was a bit like an episode of The Crystal Maze. Andy found himself in a restaurant, one floor below at the opposite side of the tower.




The views were excellent indeed with the tallest building in the picture, International Finance Centre Two , towering over Victoria Harbour.

Cocktails were followed by sushi at Kiyotaki Japanese restaurant before we caught the MTR home.



A big thank you to Delme and Neringa for entertaining us and having us to stay for the last ten days.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Macau

Macau is a former Portuguese colony which was handed back to the Chinese in the late 1990s. Located just 65km by sea from Hong Kong, we travelled by TurboJet boat and reached Macua ferry terminal in around an hour. Had we chosen to go by helicopter, we would have made the journey in just 16 minutes (at ten times the cost).

Navigating the local transport system gave us a few problems at first. We accidentally went to the Chinese border but luckily the bus stopped before we crossed. We eventually found our way into the old town after a pleasant detour through the back streets.



Lunch was some tasty seafood in rice – paella in a pot. It was certainly a lot more edible than some of the local meat.




We then went on an afternoon stroll through the old town, looking at a number of beautiful old buildings including the ruined fa├žade of St Pauls. The rest of the church burnt down a long time ago.



We tried to go for a cup of tea at the Cultural Club, but it was 100 HK dollars per person. Ouch! We made our apologies and left.

Once the city got dark, it transformed itself into Las Vegas, with all the casinos brightly lit. We went to the Macau tower to enjoy the view. It's home to the worlds highest (and most expensive?) bungee jump but we didn't fancy it.




Returning to Hong Kong, our boat glided into Hong Kong harbour with all the buildings lit up around us. Back at home, Delme and Neringa had bought a lovely cake for Andy's 34th birthday. It went down very well with a gin and tonic.



A birthday to remember.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Kadoorie Farm and Western Monastery

Kadoorie Farm was established in 1951 as an agricultural aid project to help refugees who had flooded into Hong Kong. Today the farm is an education centre with lots of lovely plants and animals. We particularly liked these pigs which were historically used for portering – the Hong Kong equivalent of a yak.



At the farm we could see some of the pollution from China emigrating over the border.



The farm also encourages people to lead an energy efficient lifestyle which we hope our readers will adopt...



After the farm we visited the very impressive Western Monastery. At the monastery two brothers had set up a shrine as a memorial to their mother's hard work in raising them. It was also quite heavy on their own personal glory and the success of their own children.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Jellyfish and Ice Cream at Ocean Park

Ocean Park is one of Hong Kong's major tourist attractions. It combines an aquarium with nausea inducing theme park rides. You might think that we came here to give the kids a fun day out, but no! We were totally selfish, and it was just the two of us. Sorry Matas and Indra. We'll take you next time.



After a light lunch, we discovered the jellyfish lava lamp which took up an entire wall. Officially it's called Sea Jelly Spectacular and has jellyfish lit by lamps which change colour.




Next, the aquarium on three tiers was home to some impressive aquatic life. The coral reef was pretty close to snorkelling in Indonesia with all the different types of fish.





Andy dragged Jen on the following rides: the Abyss, which was a freefall tower type thing, and the log flume (where he promised Jen she wouldn't get wet). You can judge for yourself who got wetter.



For revenge, Jen got Andy on the Space Wheel – you might remember this as Enterprise. Whilst he didn't throw up, Andy was incapacitated for a good three hours afterwards. Jen wanted to have a second go (albeit alone). Jen also dragged Andy on the vomit inducing Crazy Galleon pirate ship (or Viking boat as it is known in Finland). Nothing crazy about it – just flashbacks for Andy of when he was abandoned by his brother and Dad on the same ride at the West Midlands Safari Park, over 20 years ago!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Stanley and Ngong Ping

The big event on Saturday evening was a Finnish Independence Day barbeque. (We ate inside though, as it was too cold outside – in spite of all the flames).



On Sunday afternoon we went with Neringa, Matas and Indra to Stanley, on the south coast of Hong Kong Island. Stanley is apparently home to the majority of the British expat community and a very popular destination for drinking pints of Guinness. On the way to Stanley, we drove through some impressive skyscrapers on Hong Kong island.



Today we took the Ngong Ping 360 cable car (click the video below to share the ride with us from your desk).



Ngong Ping is famous for the world's largest Buddha (there's some small print here – it's the largest one which is bronze, outdoors and sitting). We managed some fine Japanese noodle soup for lunch, which took us back to our time in Tokyo. However, we weren't tempted by the 'Walking with Buddha' attraction, where you could pay to walk along the 'path of enlightenment'.




We caught a boat back to Central Hong Kong just in time for sunset.



PS. Hong Kong people like their rules....