Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy in Hong Kong - Day 1

My apologies in advance for a lengthy post - but it was a lengthy day! So grab a tea, coffee, or wine (depending on your time of day, but hey, who am I to judge?) and let's go exploring!

Alrighty, let's get to the interesting part of this trip, shall we? Australia - tick. Sailed the ocean blue - tick. Finally, we are Asia!!!! Woot! Our first stop? Honkers. Hong Kong, if you will! None of us have ever been (not even for an airport stopover), and it's so iconic, so we were pretty excited.

The morning dawned misty and mysterious. A low cloud/sea fog seemed to settle in around us as we headed around the southern tip of Hong Kong Island and into the flow of sea traffic.

Our first sighting of Hong Kong Island

Starting to get a little more populated

That is actually Ocean Park, on the southern side of the island

See - rides!

After breakfast, the crowds started to gather on deck, to catch a glimpse of the famous Hong Kong skyline. The temperature was quite warm - t-shirt and shorts weather.  
This little fishing boating decided to gun it to pass in front of the Diamond Princess, but (probably wisely) decided it wouldn't make it...

The Hong Kong Harbour skyline starts to reveal itself

Smile! We're in Asia!!!!

You can just make out the International Finance Centre (IFC) building through the mist

Ahh Hong Kong

And Victoria Peak

Passing under the bridge which would take us to the container port where we were docked for the day

Welcoming committee!

We had to get into one of many upcoming shuttle buses for the 20 minute journey from the port to the city centre. In that 20 minutes, it went from mild and overcast, to cool and rainy...Hubby had convinced me we didn't need to lug jumpers (sweaters) or raincoats with us. Note to self - even if you never use them, always lug jumpers and raincoats with us, because if you are cold and damp (or wet), you are miserable.

So then we had to decide what to do. It was raining and foggy and all of our plans involved being in the great outdoors! Our first plan was to skip Hong Kong Island and the Peak, because half the boat was booked on a tour there the first day. We decided we were going to Lantau Island and catch the cable car up to see the Big Buddha. But given you could hardly see your way 100 metres in front of you, we didn't think that the Big Buddha would be all that visible.

It is one of the things that don't show up in all the holidays snaps. The wandering around, seemingly aimlessly, trying to decide, as a group, what to do next. It's enough to make you want to travel by yourself, sometimes! I was pissed off, because here we were, finally in Asia and we were wandering around, arguing!

What to do??

So we saw giant teddies in the rain...

...and took photos!

And walked around the Tsim Sha Tsui area.

Past the Cultural Centre and the space museum (which was closed that morning - of course it was!)

Past the famous Peninsula Hotel

Nathan Road in the rain

Finally, after much discussion, we decided to head to Ocean Park. So first, we had to get from Kowloon to Hong Kong side. And there's only one way to travel - the famous Star Ferry!

The weather had settled in!

We decided to get on the Big Bus Tour, which is a hop-on/hop-off circuit and head down to the southern part of Hong Kong Island.

Ocean Park is a huge theme park with two main sections - the Waterfront and the Summit - separated by cable car. So, we missed Lantau Island's cable car, this one would make do. Plus, we had a SUPER important reason to come here - pandas. We were on a mission to see Giant Pandas - and did we evah!!!!!

They were playing music from Dr Who as we entered - we took it as a good omen!

Quite a spectacular site - at night it lights up

Taken from their website, we didn't stay that long!

So we followed our noses to the Giant Panda...
...and BAM!!! Panda!!!!

Sitting up, just munching on his (her?) bamboo.

And if you imagine, smiling at us...

Nom, nom, nom
Nom, nom, nom...
Seriously, you can never include too many panda photos on your blog, don't you think?

We had to drag Panda Girl away...

But we had other stuff to look at:

Like monkeys!

And red pandas!!!!!

Did someone say Red Pandas???

Have you ever???? Aren't they just the most delicious things? Look at that fur - from black to white with deep red in between. I think I'm in love!

And just because you can never have too many pandas:

I went to the toilet and saw this! I guess panda poo is mostly cellulose and would ideal for paper-making.
Oh go on - you know what it is! Future paper!!!

Sooooo sleepy.....

You know, it's hard work digesting all that bamboo!

OK. Enough with the pandas. Time to cable car!

 The kids were super-keen for some rides. They weren't that keen to go by themselves, so I did what any good mum would do, and made Hubby go with them:

That's Video Boy, Hubby and Panda Girl in the back row (someone had to take the photos)

I was feeling a bit peckish after that (not sure about everyone else) and we were in Asia! So, although there were the ubiquitous hot chips available, when we spotted this at a stall, we had to try it:

Korean BBQ grilled squid in Hong Kong - it was nice! And only about AUD$3.50

It was to be our last food until about 7pm at night...but more on that later. Time to see some more animals:


Seals underwater

And seals above water (or are they sea lions? I can never tell...)

I did actually go on a smaller version of the HairRaiser as the kids really wanted to go on a "family ride". It was fine and I didn't lose my squid. But time was ticking, so we grabbed Panda Girl a panda t-shirt and hopped back on the Big Bus. We decided to go up top. It wasn't raining as such, but it got pretty chilly and we got pretty mad at Hubby for the "no jumpers" decision. Desperate times call for desperate measures and we pretty much all went for the complimentary Big Bus ponchos.

The Lily hotel, Repulse Bay

Our Big Bus tickets included a trip on a sampan in Aberdeen Harbour. This was such an insight into old Hong Kong meets new Hong Kong. The government is keen to get rid of the sampans, to "tidy" it up. I kind of like it the way it is:

And we went past the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. There goes lunch...

Onward! We headed to Central Hong Kong and wandered around to try and find something to eat. We got hopeless lost and spent what felt like HOURS in the International Finance Centre (IFC) Mall. Do you think we could find some Chinese food in Hong Kong for (late) lunch? We could not. Gloria Jeans, McDonalds, Starbucks. Far out. So we decided to head back on the Star Ferry to Kowloon - we might have better luck there.

Soooo hungry!!!!
Seriously? Pasta and pizza in Hong Kong? Nah. Not doing it!

Travellers welcome. OK then!

And it looked pretty authentic!
I was so hungry, I would have eaten chicken feet at this point!
Even the tea was nice! The menu was lacking a certain amount of English, but the pointing thing worked a treat.

The most succulent, divine pork I have ever inhaled in my life!

Kowloon at night

Bit of window shopping.

At this point, you may be wondering, "shouldn't they be back on the ship by now?". Well it was a two-day stay and the ship wasn't allowed to dock overnight, so at about 6pm, it upped-anchor and shifted into Junk Bay for the night. So, if you weren't back on board by then, you had to wait until 9:30pm to catch a tender back from the Hong Kong side. You have no idea how many people were confused by these arrangements, despite the many notes, announcements etc. But it was all good - we decided to stay out (despite being quite cold by this point) and watch the Symphony of Lights (on every night at 8pm).

'Twas pretty:

We got back on the Star Ferry and headed back to the wharf to pick up our tender to the ship. We were some of the first passengers to get there, so there was plenty of time to wander around, check things out:

On closer inspection, Pocari Sweat appears to be some kind of isotonic sports drink,
but I have a lot of other options before I have to drink refrigerated sweat.

It had been quite day. But about to get longer. We watched the passengers start to queue behind us. 9:30pm came and went. Apparently the weather meant the ship was having issues setting anchor. We waited. Around 10:30pm, our tender arrived. We got on the first one, and it took about 30 minutes to get to Junk Bay. It was noticeably rougher than that morning. Panda Girl fell asleep on my lap. We got to the ship, only to have to wait for another tender that was having trouble off-loading (someone?). Finally we were alongside, except due to the swell it took seemingly forever to tie up and then it took forever to get the (mainly elderly) passengers off safely. I have to admit to feeling a little queasy by the time we finally disembarked at 11:30pm. It had been a huge day and we had to go to bed and do it all again tomorrow!

Phew - if you stayed with me until the end, well done! And we'll do it all again tomorrow (or in the next few days when I get around to posting the next instalment).


  1. I so adore pandas. And your red panda shots are sublime. And I am really, really jealous. Y'hear!

    1. Thank you Jeanne! I got out the long lens for those - so glad I did!

  2. Yes, I stuck with you to the end, it was interesting! We've never been to HK, other than 6 hours at the airport, that was fun, even with 2 kids in the middle of the night. Get that child back to China for the panda sanctuary at Chengdu! They have ickle baby ones and toddler ones and teenager ones. So gorgeous! Sadly, HK isn't on our world tour, too expensive, unless the blog suddenly goes crazy with advertisers, fingers crossed!

    1. Good on you, Alyson! I would love to go back to China and see the bits we couldn't on a cruise (ie: inland!).

  3. It all looks amazing, but the pork... that's the picture that made me the most jealous. Yum.

    1. It was indescribably yummy. The fact that I would have, at that point, eaten pigs trotters, made it even better. Stay tuned for more yum (and some stuff that wasn't).

  4. Wow, so much to digest! I've read every day and stuck through to the end. We're learning as you post.


Bloggers LOVE comments! We are pretty needy that way, so go on, leave some love :-)

52 Ancestors - Unusual Name

In this week's post, we have been asked to look behind an "unusual name" and I've chosen my great-aunt's husband, Fred...