A Travellerspoint blog

Hong Kong Conquered (new and improved with photos!)

in just 8 hours

semi-overcast 80 °F

the journey was long, and somewhat restless. the first hour or so of my flight was excruciating. imagine the most annoying child fake crying. and then imagine that times 4 and over a period of an entire hour or possibly more: pre-, during and post-take off. even my earplugs wouldn't stop the pain! luckily at some point, the kid wore himself out i presume.

my journey in a nutshell:
2 or 3 sleeping pills (i was a bit groggy, i can't remember exactly)
3 full movies (hereafter, blue valentine and love & other drugs)
5 episodes of 30 rock
1 pork and rice dinner
1 ramen breakfast (i think it was breakfast?)
1 fuel stop in vancouver

and THEN i had a lovely 8 hour layover in hong kong. i got to see so much in that amount of time, or at least i felt like it was so much. after taking the airport express train into the city (easy as pie, and only 24 mins) i meandered around for a good 10 mins getting my bearings and just taking it all in. it was really, really humid and hot - a vast departure from the 50 degree rainy weather i left in nyc a mere 2 days before. then i finally found my way to the victoria peak tram. i was debating this cause it was extremely foggy that morning. the tram ride was fun though, just like a roller coaster cranking up a hill. the view was still pretty amazing at the top, even with all the fog. i could see all around the harbors and the surrounding green foliage in the hills up there was cool, like being in a jungle.

tram up

tram up


view from victoria peak pagoda

view from victoria peak pagoda


look, i was there!

look, i was there!

i picked up a map (finally) at the top so i had a plan for when i came down the peak again. i had read about a couple dim sum places before leaving, and luckily they were mentioned in this map/guide i picked up. so i made my way to luk yu tea house for a nice dim sum meal with tea of course. i ordered off a menu which was set up like a sushi menu where you check off what you want. i tried some steamed dumplings with shrimp and bamboo shoots, a egg pancake with crab and for dessert a banana dough ball thingy with sesame (tasted like peanut butter) on the inside. yum! and the jasmine tea was yummy too.

stanley street, location of luk yu tea house

stanley street, location of luk yu tea house


tall, skinny street trams

tall, skinny street trams

next i walked down to the pier and hopped on the star ferry over to kowloon (the other side of the harbor). when i got there i walked all along the harbor - the view was pretty awesome of the other side with all its tall buildings.

  • *(i have a cool video of this, but having trouble uploading)

further along the harbor is a little spot called avenue of the stars, which is hk's version of hollywood walk of fame. it has chinese film stars' names in the sidewalk, some with hand prints. there are also statues of bruce lee and some other film-related things.

jackie chan on avenue of the stars

jackie chan on avenue of the stars


bruce lee on avenue of the stars

bruce lee on avenue of the stars

after that I tried to walk up to this park on the way back to the subway station, but the entrance to the park was blocked off. so looking at my map i thought i could walk to the station - boy was i wrong. well i mean i did walk, but i had book it cause it was really far and not easy to navigate due to construction and big intersections with confusing subways (under road passageways). i was sweating buckets once i got there. but luckily made it and got on the airport express back with plenty of time at the airport to sit and relax before my flight.
i arrived in bangkok around 6 pm. after customs/baggage claim etc, i followed signs to the city line which takes you into, well, the city. i had directions from there to my hostel (had to switch to another train line called the skytrain/bts which took me right by my hostel). i was really pooped after my neverending journey and dirty and jet lagged. so after dodging some traffic, i checked into my hostel, relaxed in my room with a/c (huzzah!) and called it a night! so what if it was only 9 pm...

Posted by shlee 07:23 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (1)

Trains and the City

u.s. trains: maybe not all that different than the ones in asia after all...

i feel i have started my journey off on the right foot by walking in on a man taking a dump in the bathroom on the train to nyc. (first of all, use a door lock. second of all, who actually sits down on the train toilet seats? gross!). according to my well-traveled (in asia) friends, there aren't even bathroom doors in some parts of asia! so guess i better get used to this...

anyway, nyc in spring is a delight:

flowers

flowers

and there was also this strange ("thought-provoking"?) statue that just went up in madison square park:

mensa

mensa

with delightful italian food at eataly, a giant foodhall with food stations for every kind of italian food known to man: coffee, gelato, pasta, pizza, wine and cheese, meat, bread, a fruit and vegetable market and even a whole station dedicated to solely mozzarella. it's part sit down cafes, part take-out, part grocery store. bon appetito!

eataly

eataly

cheese

cheese

canoli anyone?

canoli anyone?

paninis

paninis

veggie market

veggie market

i tried this bizarre chinese rhubarb soda that was like a combo of sasparilla slash ginger ale. and soap. yeah. it was weird. but i devoured eggplant lasagna (delish) and my aunt had regular lasagna. we of course polished it off with some gelato. i ordered a green apple flavor, expecting it to taste like that fake green apple flavor, which sadly i actually kind of like. to my surprise, it tasted like actual, real green apples. shocking!

we scouted out one of my favorite tea shops (let's be honest, there's not that many tea shops around) called argo tea cafe. they have tea-infused foods and lots of interesting tea drinks. for example, i had mint & aloe sparkling tea and kathy had mojito (mint & lime) tea. :)

tea shop!

tea shop!

we ended the day at the theater to see the importance of being earnest. i looove me some oscar wilde, and the actors in this run were especially great. particularly the director, a male, who played the role of lady bracknell for some good laughs.

today is raining, blah, and cold, double blah. we've had a lazy/late morning putzing around the hotel and to get some bagels (obligatory nyc breakfast). we're thinking due to the weather, we'll head over to a museum before we move to the other hotel where my aunt will be staying for her work function. then it will be time to head to airport for ASIA. hopefully i can get some sleep on the plane...

Posted by shlee 08:30 Archived in USA Comments (1)

pack it up. pack it in. let me begin.

ziplocking my life

i've got my meds baggy. and my toiletries baggy. a baggy for some snacks. my camera and other important devices. and then there's one for all the important docs, etc etc...maybe all the plastic isn't so necessary, but it's nice how it organizes everything so compactly and doesn't add any additional weight considering i'm going to be schlepping this crap around on my back a great deal for the next 7 weeks! plus, i'll be prepared in case i get drenched in a monsoon downpour - a likely possibility since this is the first half of the 10 day forecast for essentially my first three destinations (the second half of the forecast is exactly the same, womp womp).

hooray for rainy season!

hooray for rainy season!

(2 points for me for planning my trip during the rainy season!) i read that it will rain hard, but usually only briefly and usually later in the day. but i'm sure it will definitely give my poncho and umbrella a good workout.

off to NYC tomorrow for some good food and a show or maybe even this. then off to bangkok, via hong kong where i have an 8 hr. layover. i'll definitely take advantage of that time to get a peek of the city and maybe eat some dim sum! once in bangkok, i'll have a day to orient myself and then FLO is coming to meet up with me (a friend of mine from an internship i did in nyc in 2005). i haven't seen her in many moons, so this is definitely a highlight of the trip. our adventures will continue on in myanmar for about 5 days, then back to bangkok and surrounds for a couple days. sadly, she will have to leave me and go back to work (sigh, reality) and then I will join my tour group.

here's the route i will be taking on my tour:

indochina tour map

indochina tour map

and here's the basic tour itinerary. warning it might make you dizzy just looking at it;)

* Day 1 to 1 Arrive Bangkok
* Day 2 to 5 Vientiane – Vang Vieng
* Day 6 to 7 Luang Prabang
* Day 8 to 14 Golden Triangle – Chiang Mai – Hill Tribe Trek – Chiang Mai – Bangkok
* Day 15 to 17 Siem Reap
* Day 18 to 19 Phnom Penh
* Day 20 to 25 Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Nha Trang
* Day 26 to 29 Nha Trang – Danang – Hoi An – Hue
* Day 30 to 33 Hue – Halong Bay – Hanoi
* Day 34 to 34 Depart Hanoi

this is going to be an amazing adventure. this is really the trip of my dreams, and i'm grateful to certain people in my life (you know who you are) and my circumstances that have allowed me this opportunity. :) :) :) bon voyage!

Posted by shlee 22:08 Archived in USA Tagged packing asia southeast preparation Comments (2)

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