Whampoa and the Avenue of Stars

After a great morning at Lantau Island, we took the MTR to Hong Kong Station, then a mini bus (bit scary) to Whampoa, where my boyfriend used to live. We took this opportunity to buy phone cards just in case we lost each other. They are around 50 HKD each and have 50 HKD credit on them so they’re definitely worth buying if you visit in case of emergencies. We checked out some of the shops and had lunch; my lunch was from McDonald’s (I haven’t had a McDonald’s since Hong Kong and I don’t think I want to have another, really made me hate them) and my boyfriend had some meat and rice from Maxim’s, a Chinese fast food place. The only plus side of McDonald’s was the cute toys you get with the Happy Meals! We then went to Hong Kong Toys R Us and Wonderland, where I bought some things including a Totoro toy and a really cute rabbit money box for just 9 HKD (Around 75p)

P1150084Whampoa

We then went to see where my boyfriend used to live. It was a flat close to all the shops and really cramped in with other flats. A lot of Hong Kong is very cramped but I never realised the extent. The windows of one set of flats were just metres from the window of the flats next door – if I lived there, i’d never want to open the curtains or the people across would be able to see in! It made me realise just how small and populated Hong Kong really is. He pointed out his exact flat, which was very high up. I’m not sure there are many flats in the UK that would go up that high.

P1150089The block of flats where my boyfriend used to live

Once we were finished in Whampoa, we took the ferry to North Point. I didn’t have my travel sickness pills with me so I felt a bit unwell, but luckily it was just a short journey and I managed to take some nice photos of the HK skyline. We dumped our things at the hotel before taking the MTR to Causeway Bay.

P1150105The view from the ferry

Causeway bay was very busy. For some reason it was filled with big Lego statues. The reason we had headed to Causeway Bay was because my boyfriend knew there was a shop here called “I love rabbits”…and I really do love rabbits! Sadly we couldn’t find it and think it may have closed down or moved, so we headed back onto the MTR to Tsim Sha Tsui (which I learnt how to pronounce correctly…but have now forgot)

Tsim Sha Tsui is the home of the Avenue of Stars, an Asian version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located on the Victoria Harbour waterfront. We knew that at 8pm, they would have a Symphony of Lights show that we really wanted to see. The buildings on the other side of the water lit up or had lasers coming out from the roof, all in time with the music. Sadly, I think all the Christmas lights didn’t help the show, it made it a bit hard to see in places, but it was still fun to watch.

P1150126Watching the Symphony of Lights show

We then walked up the Avenue of Stars and found Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan’s stars, the only two people I had heard of! Sadly I hadn’t realised just how awesome Jackie Chan was at this point (I have realised it now!). I definitely need to watch more Hong Kong films so that I will recognise more of the names next time I visit.

P1150142Bruce Lee’s Star at the Avenue of Stars

We finished the day with a trip to Harbour City shopping centre, browsing the shops and eating a pretty amazing brownie and cream crepe. We also found more gashapons! We then headed back to the hotel as we were pretty tired…and I was starting to feel a bit unwell…

More posts on my adventures in Hong Kong here:

Day One: My first trip to Hong Kong

Day Two: Lantau Island

Day Two: Whampoa and the Avenue of Stars

Day Three: Hong Kong Disneyland

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Lantau Island

We woke up early today to head to the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars and the Tian Tan Buddah on Lantau Island. My boyfriend struggled to speak Cantonese to the woman selling the tickets, so she ended up talking in English to us. I think my boyfriend was just a bit rusty, because he seemed to do a lot better later in the holiday. He got 10% off the ticket for being a Hong Kong citizen (bit jealous). There were two types of cable cars we could have taken; a crystal cabin with a see through floor or a standard cabin. The waiting time for a crystal cabin was 40 minutes, so we decided to go on the standard one (next time we’ll go on the crystal one!)

P1140926Our view from the cable car

It took about 20 minutes on the cable car to get to the top. We went over the sea and a huge forest on the hillside. We also got a good view of the airport. Half way up, you could see the huge Buddha that we were heading towards in the distance, really showing it’s size! There were lots of shops when we reached the top which we walked through on the way to the Buddha. It really felt like traditional China which is something I really wanted to see coming to Hong Kong. It’s interesting to see this side of the Hong Kong culture, even if it is still very touristy.

P1140959Walking through the shops towards the Buddha

P1140947The Tian Tan Buddha

P1140962The entrance to the Buddha

I’m not sure if we’re just very unfit but the walk up the steep stairs to the Big Buddha was a lot of effort. We had to keep stopping and pretending to take photos to have a break! It was a fairly warm day which made the climb even harder. Apparently there are 240 steps. Once we reached the top we got an amazing view of the Buddha, it really was huge! Apparently it can even be seen from Macau on a clear day. There was also an amazing view of the mountains, which really reminded me of Japanese landscapes in old paintings. Underneath the Buddha was was a room full of name plates of people, I assume Buddhists, who had died.

P1140980Climbing the steps

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Statues presenting offerings to the Buddha

P1150003The mountain in the clouds

P1140990A close up of the Buddha

We headed back down. There were loads of stray dogs around (at least I assume they were stray) sleeping in the sun and begging for food. They were very cute but I felt sorry for them too. We then walked to the Po Lin Monastery which had lots more Buddha statues which I actually found a bit creepy. Lot’s of people were burning incense sticks, because they believe that the Gods consume the smoke. It’s a shame that they were doing building work on the monastery because it looked very spectacular, and very Chinese. We went back to the shops and had a look around, getting some ice cream on the way as it was so warm. We also found some Gashapon machines which we went a bit crazy over. I think by then end of the trip we had spent about £20 on them, mostly buying little pokemon figures. We took the cable car back down and in the shop at the exit, my boyfriend bought me a cute little panda toy which I have named Buddha Panda. It’s basically a cuddly panda with a Chinese style shirt!

P1140963Stray dogs sunbathing

P1150037The Po Lin Monestery

P1150038A fantastic view

More posts on my adventures in Hong Kong here:

Day One: My first trip to Hong Kong

Day Two: Lantau Island

Day Two: Whampoa and the Avenue of Stars

Day Three: Hong Kong Disneyland

My first trip to Hong Kong

I’m going to write about my trip to Hong Kong. My boyfriend and I booked this trip just 2 months after we’d started going out. It was my first trip out of Europe so it was slightly scary (mostly because I wasn’t sure how well I’d cope on a 14 hour plane trip), but having someone from Hong Kong who could speak Cantonese certainly made me feel better.

P1140814Our journey on the plane

We went in December 2012, just before Christmas, because I’m not good with heat. I get sunburnt in the UK, so I would have no chance in Hong Kong in the summer. We took the plane from Manchester Airport for my first ever long haul trip and I was pretty excited! My boyfriend found it hilarious that the air hostess spoke English to him, but German to me as she hadn’t realised we were together. He now likes to tell me i’m German all the time… (We flew on Lufthansa via Frankfurt so it was understandable – I could have been German!)

We’d left Frankfurt at 10.15pm so we slept on the plane at a normal bed time for us. We hadn’t managed to sleep too much on the plane so we were a bit tired, therefore the time difference wasn’t too much of an issue for us. We arrived in Hong Kong at 4.10pm so we could just have a short first day.

P1140836View of Hong Kong from the plane

The heat was too much for me straight away. We took a bus to our hotel, an Ibis right next to the North Point MTR station, which took about 1 hr 10 minutes, giving me a chance to see Hong Kong for the first time. It was interesting to see that the hotel missed out a lot of floor numbers, which my boyfriend explained to me was due to Chinese superstitions. For example, in Cantonese, the number “4” sounds a lot like “death”.

P1140855Lots of British food in the supermarkets!

After checking in, we went to the Hong Kong supermarket “Park N Shop” which my boyfriend loved – all that Hong Kong food he can’t get back in the UK! It had a lot British food too so I was happy, even though it was a bit more expensive than normal. We had to stock up on lots of bottled water because the water in Hong Kong isn’t really drinkable. We also went to a very cool shop called “Wonderland” which is full of anime/manga things. One issue we had was that my boyfriend’s Hong Kong debit card kept being rejected because he completely forgot that the pin numbers are 6 digits, not 4 like in the UK! That caused us a lot of hassle, with him having to go to the bank to sort it out. We went back to our hotel for a snack before heading to the MTR.

P1140869My first real view of the streets of Hong Kong at mid-levels

My boyfriend gave me an Octopus card, a lot like London’s Oyster card, which made travel very easy. I was amazed at how cheap the transport was! We headed to Central where we went on the world’s longest escalator called Mid-Levels. It’s over 135 metres from top to bottom. I was expecting one massive escalator, which on reflection was a bit stupid of me, because it has lots of gaps so that people can get off. On the way, we found a pub called “Yorkshire Pudding” which made me laugh. (My boyfriend is from Yorkshire!)

P1140880The streets in Lan Kwai Fong

We then went to Lan Kwai Fong, a square of streets in Central which is very popular with tourists as it’s full of pubs, restaurants and clubs. We weren’t that hungry so we didn’t stop for any proper food, but we did get some Hagen Daz ice cream from their own shop – expensive but tasty! We headed back down the escalators and towards the International Finance Centre for a quick look. As we came to Hong Kong just 2 weeks before Christmas, there were lots of Christmas lights up on the massive buildings, which was very impressive to see. We then went back to our hotel for sleep. My first day of being in Hong Kong was over, and I was loving it already!

P1140894Christmas lights near our hotel

More posts on my adventures in Hong Kong here:

Day One: My first trip to Hong Kong

Day Two: Lantau Island

Day Two: Whampoa and the Avenue of Stars

Day Three: Hong Kong Disneyland

Tokyo 2020

You may or may not have seen the news yet, but Tokyo has just been announced to host the 2020 Olympics. It’ll be back to Asia for the first time since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. I think I know where I want to go in 2020!

My boyfriend and I really want to go to Japan at some point, but the problem is when. We don’t have enough money at the moment and I really want to go back to Hong Kong first. I loved the London Olympics. I went to one of the Equestrian events and also a Paralympic event which were both amazing, and I want to go to another Olympics in a different country one day…so maybe waiting 7 years for this would be a good idea? It might be VERY busy though.

Together with my boyfriend, we have complied a list of things we would like to see in Japan. I don’t know too much about Japan so these are just a few things we found while searching the internet:

Square Enix Showcase, cafe and shop
I am a big fan of the Final Fantasy series, so this would be a really cool place to check out. My boyfriend wouldn’t be too interested, but he’ll have to put up with it. 😉

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Image from espadakiller.wordpress.com

Pokemon Center
It’s a shop full of Pokemon. If that had existed in the UK when I was 10 years old I would have been the happiest child in the world. As my boyfriend said, as a Pokemon fan, not going to a Pokemon Center would be foolish.

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Image from web-japan.org

Hot Springs
Onsen. This sounds really cool, though I won’t be wanting to go if I have to go in a girls only hot spring or i’m not allowed to wear a swimming costume…It would be a once in a lifetime kind of thing.

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Image from Japan-Guide.com

Cherry Blossom Trees
I think these blossom the best in the spring so if we went for the Olympics it would be at the wrong time, but really Japan without seeing cherry blossom is just wrong!

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Image from wong-avenue.tumblr.com

 

Yakushima
Beautiful National Park, but probably too far away.

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Image from japan-guide.com

Mount Fuji
My boyfriend suggested this, but it’s something I would love to see too, especially after studying Hokusai at school and seeing it in his famous series of woodblock prints.

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Image from slorker.com

Himeji Castle
When my boyfriend mentioned this, I was expecting a typical castle like you see in the UK, but this looks very impressive and very Japanese! Apparently it’s one of the largest and oldest castles in Japan.

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Image from wikipedia.org

Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea
What can I say, I love Disney!

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Akihabara
My boyfriend has a program on his computer with lots of CCTV camera films from around the world. The one for Japan shows Akihabra which apparently has lots of great shops!

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Image from japan-guide.com

Rainbow Bridge
When my boyfriend mentioned Rainbow Bridge, I was thinking of the depressing poem about where animals go when they die, but actually it looks very pretty.

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Image from bitrebels.com

Kiyomizu-dera
A temple in Kyoto on a hill, with impressive views.

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Image from Wikipedia.org

The Imperial Palace and Edo Castle
I don’t know much about this, except that the Emperor lives here! 😉

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Image from hiren.info

Tokyo Tower
It looks a lot like a more colourful version of the Eiffel Tower.

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Image from tripadvisor.com

Tokyo Skytree
It’s a big broadcasting tower… 😛

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Image from jdjapan.wordpress.com

Hiroshima
Probably far too hard to get too from Tokyo, but my boyfriend would like to see this. It’s a huge part of history so I’m sure it would be an amazing thing to visit.

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Image from news.bbc.co.uk

Does anyone else have more suggestions of places to visit in Japan? I’ve got 7 years to plan this trip, I might as well start now 😉