Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hong Kong & Macau

Happy New Year!
We hope that everyone had a joyous New Year's Eve experience! Ours was a little lacking, but interesting nonetheless. Here, they celebrate New Year's Eve in a similar fashion as they celebrate Christmas Eve. They closed down the streets and again, thousands of people stood around waiting for something to happen. Once in a while, people would cheer as someone let balloons into the air, helping to ruin the environment. Approximately 15 minutes before midnight, the light show began. It was very similar to the light show that they have every day at 8pm, except they added a few fireworks as well. The finale at midnight included some cool fireworks shooting out from the sides of the Two IFC building (tallest building in HK) for about 2 minutes and then the show was over. There was no coherent countdown or anything that the crowd could join together in. Jason was hoping for something more along the lines of what he saw in Sydney, but there was no comparison. We returned to our hostel and watched the hordes of people making their way back to the subway. Pretty crazy.

The rest of our week following Christmas has been good. We spent Boxing Day relaxing and catching up with things on the internet and returned to the Temple Street market to do some Boxing Day shopping. :) The next day, we bused down to the south side of Hong Kong Island to find beautiful beaches. We went to the town of Stanley to check out the Stanley Market and relaxed on the beach at Repulse Bay. The beach was fairly nice, but it was the surrounding green mountains and classy hotels that made it amazing. The sun was low in the sky and it glistened in the water. It turned out to be a little too chilly to swim or sunbathe though, instead we walked around a peninsula to Deep Water Bay where we found an even nicer beach and we stayed to watch the sun set below mountains on the southern islands before returning to Kowloon.

The following morning we moved a couple of buildings south, from the Cosmic Guesthouse in the Mirador Mansion to Li's Hostel in the Chungking Mansion, still in Kowloon. They gave us a room right away and we set out for a day walking around downtown Hong Kong. We started with the Li Yuen Street markets then we rode up the longest series of escalators in the world. We stopped for lunch half way up at a Mexican restaurant. From the top of the escalator, we walked back down through the HK Zoological and Botanical Garden, which houses many birds and animals. It was a really nice park within view of the downtown skyscrapers of Hong Kong. We carried on down past the base of the Victoria Peak Tram to St. John's Cathedral, the oldest English cathedral in Hong Kong. The old church is nestled in the city with new skyscrapers towering around. We walked back to the harbourside and ventured up the Two IFC building. Unfortunately, they only allow you up to the 55th floor where there is a minimal view towards Victoria peak and the west. This was the best we could do in the 415m, 88-floor high structure.

After our first night in the new hostel, Nicole woke with some bed bug bites... We had a full day in Macau planned so we left without investigation. We walked to the China Ferry Docks and took the hour and 15 minute catamaran to Macau. Once there we took a bus to Taipa Village on Macau's south island. Taipa is a small city now but the old Portuguese village of narrow streets are filled with lots of shops and restaurants. We had lunch in a small Portuguese restaurant that was recommended by the Lonely Planet. Jason really enjoyed his stuffed pork loin and Nicole enjoyed her codfish fried rice. Yummy! After, we took the bus back to the main Macau peninsula, took some pictures of the new big casinos, then walked up the downtown pedestrian streets to St Dominic's Church and the ruins of St Paul's Church. The pedestrian street was very European and had a great atmosphere. We walked up to the fort next to the ruins of St Paul's Church and continued our walk all the way back to the ferry dock through many of the small downtown streets. We really enjoyed Macau.

That evening, Nicole investigated our bed bug problem. After much searching, she noticed one in a crack of our headboard. We told the hostel owner and he told us that he could move us the next day. Upon looking more, we found MANY more all around and behind the headboard... We used our packing tape to seal up all of the cracks but we figured that there were more in the bed... Nicole covered herself up with clothes and we went to bed. Turns out that they still got Nicole's face and hands and Jason's shoulder in the night. We can only hope that they haven't spread into our bags... They moved us to a new room with a window that was nicer so that they could spray the room and clean the mattress as best they could.

We didn't accomplish much that day, but in the evening we got in contact with Nicole's second cousin, Simon, and we met him for dinner. We had an awesome dinner at a Mongolian grill restaurant called Nomads where we could choose our own ingredients for the chefs to cook. Jason was especially pleased with his concoction. :) After dinner, we joined Simon and his friends for a few beers in the Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai bar areas. A friend of Simon's from Canada lives near Midland and we had a great time chatting about home. It was a fun night. Thanks Simon :)
On New Year's Eve day, we took the ferry to Lantau Island and a bus up to the largest bronze sitting Buddha in the world. Not only was the Buddha well maintained, but it was situated on a high point on the island and the views at the surrounding mountains were incredible. It was a very enjoyable sight. From there, a brand new gondola took us on a 30 minute trip back down the mountains northward to the city of Tung Chung where we were able to take the subway all the way back to the hostel.

Today we've just been relaxing and planning for tomorrow's trip to Bangkok. Nicole's paranoid about the bed bugs and we're both excited to move on to somewhere new and warmer.

Hong Kong Pics
| Macau Pics


At January 1, 2008 at 9:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,
Happy New Year!! And thanks for your call. It was great to hear your voice. Sorry the phone cut out again. We just got our new battery and hope that will solve the problem.
We hope you are leaving the bed bugs (eeeeuuuuwwww!!!! says Marm!) behind. Be safe! Stay aware! Let us know when you arrive in Bangkok. XXX OOO Marm and Rad


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