Tag Archives: traveling in China

Huge Hong Kong

This blog post took a bit longer than I expected. My plan was for this to be published already last weekend but my brother’s birthday and the EU elections didn’t leave me much time for editing. Today will be all about Hong Kong and next blog post will be about our experience in Disneyland. At first I wanted to bundle it all together in one post but I must admit that our day in Disneyland deserves its own blog post.

We had six days to discover Hong Kong and it was honestly not enough. We did not even have full six days as we arrived at our Airbnb apartment in Mong Kok right at the Ladies Market in the evening and flew back to Xi’an in the early morning of the sixth day. As for flying I really have to mention that it was our first time flying with Cathay Dragon and Oh boy what a difference it is to our standard Finnair flights. To sum it up Finnair feels in comparison with Cathay more like being bundled up in your own carry on while being manhandled by farmers with pitchforks. Of course this is only when comparing it with Cathay Dragon as all our other flights were pretty much on par with Finnair so far but it was really nice to have such different flying experience for once.

Nice view

Yes our Airbnb was in Mong Kok right next to the Ladies Market. It was rather an interesting sight stepping out of the bus and to be right in the middle of Nathan Road,  everywhere advertisement and way too many people. Our accommodation was small but good enough for us and the most important thing was the location. From here we were able to get around with ease and could experience Mong Kok every day. For our first day we set out immediately to Central to take the Cable Car to Victoria Peak. At least that was the plan. While walking from Central uphill with Nathalie in a push car in that incredible warm and humid air we saw a sign near our destination telling anyone interested that the cable car is out of order for maintenance and that we should take the bus. Great, just great, everyone was exhausted from the march but complaining wouldn’t help so we set out for the bus station few hundred meters away.

So much happening at once

The bus ride to the top was really fascinating and I tried to record as much as possible with my camcorder. However in doing so I could not take any pictures. More than just a few people got a bit scared when the bus was just on the edge of the road as most of the times there was no curb, just a steep drop few dozens of meters. Nathan was no help either for those poor souls when he explained excitedly in Mandarin  “Ohh it is so high we are falling down now!”. At the top it was a bit cooler and pretty windy. For some reason most people wore winter jackets of all things while I was just happy to be able to cool down a bit after the oppressing humid warm air below. The view was really something else and it was really hard to find some good spots to take videos and pictures without having dozens of people in front of you taking selfies.

Nathan at the beach on Lamma Island

The next few days we continued our exploration of the city such as taking a ferry ride, travelling between Kennedey Town and Causeway Bay on a Ding Ding, walking along the Avenue of Stars and “hiking” around Lamma Island. The island was a really nice change to the lively city even more emphasized due to the near complete absence of tourists due to occasional rainstorms. We did not suffer the rain as nothing major came down on us until reaching the ferry port again where we met a group of people with their Shiba Inus. I had some interesting talk with them while the rest of the family slept due to the little hike up and down the hills on Lamma Island.

Lamma Island is worth several hours of exploration

Now I come to the part which was not working out at all for us. Hong Kong is known for its cuisine, especially the seafood. However none of us is really fond of seafood so we tried to settle for all the other great restaurants. But here comes the problem: either each restaurant we wanted to go had a line of people already reaching the street (which is a no go for a family with two little kids near starvation according to them) or they had no space to take us all in (three adults and two children). The worst of it all was that we even got kind of kicked out of a couple of restaurants when Nathalie started to complain too loudly due to being hungry and slightly feverish. In the end the best food we had were some takeaway noodles from a Sichuan restaurant and pizza slices from Paisano’s. To be honest even the food we had a Disneyland was grand in comparison to most of the restaurants we could find seats in Hong Kong. It is not that we hated the food but we could not get into any restaurant we had planned to due to the above mentioned reasons. Enough of the food for now even though it was a downer for us. All in all Hong Kong was a great experience, especially for the kids. Even now I still can see little Nathan looking at Nathan Hotel in awe telling us that he didn’t know that he owns a hotel, kids can be really wonderful.

 

Next up will be all about Disneyland and how we got very lucky with the weather.

 

Have you visited Hong Kong  and how did you like it?

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At the Guangyun Lake

We have been in Xi’an multiple times over the past years but somehow each time we find something new which we haven’t visited yet. One of those things was this time the site of the Xi’an International Horticultural Exposition 2011. Back then  in 2011 we were also in China together with my parents and even had tickets for the Expo. However it was so hot during that time that we decided to skip it. Years passed by and we forgot about the expo and the still existing park. This all changed when my wife’s friend invited us to go there for the afternoon. I was ready for some intense walking around the huge area and taking tons of pictures. Yes I was ready but it all didn’t work out as I had hoped for.

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Some of the wonderful flowers

Before we went to that huge park we were invited by the whole crazy family to go eating some buffet at the Shangri-La Hotel in Xi’an. Don’t understand me wrong it was pretty decent food there but nothing too extraordinary that I would write about it. Only three things are really worth mentioning from that time at the buffet. First my crazy Chinese mother-in-law was chasing behind Nathan to feed him around the playground next to the restaurant for several rounds. Not only once but multiple time. Second crazy Chinese Grandma ate two plates full of raw seafood. She never ate raw seafood before in her entire life and ended up few hours later very very sick at home. Third was a family with two children sitting next to us. The mother was one of the bit larger people out there, not that it would be worth mentioning at all but she had a very interesting taste in food. Each time she went to get some more sushi she took a tube of wasabi and ate it all, again and again and again. Okay that is all I have to mention about the buffet except of course that it took nearly three hours as all family members needed few breaks in order to eat as much as humanly possible. Due to this our trip to the Expo Site was delayed a lot.

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I couldn’t figure out how to reach that hut

My wife’s friend picked us up from the hotel a little after 3pm. With her she had her husband, baby, mother-in-law and nanny because you know it takes at least four people to handle a child in China. Once we arrived at the Expo we quickly realized that it would be impossible for us to cover the whole area as it was first of all too late and the area just too huge. We got ourselves tickets for the electrical mini busses driving through the main area. The bad thing was though that those busses only operated till 5pm meaning we had less than 1 1/2 hours time to cover at least a couple of things before leaving. While driving around you could see that they still put up a lot of effort to preserve the park however many sights were already closed and were slowly crumbling apart.

Our first stop was at a giant hall full of tropical and desert plants. The building was divided of course into two sections where the lower part was for the tropical plants and the upper area for the desert plants. It was very well made and I was surprised how on earth they got those giant trees there. Especially the rainforest part was interesting as it had all kinds of beautiful flowers around. Here I wanted to take many more pictures but the high humidity wasn’t the best friend of my camera lenses…

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Look at me!

After this we went to the animal section. I must say it was very sad to see how the animals were kept and I did not even take pictures of it. All in all it just looked terrible. The only part of the animals section where I took pictures was the peacock enclosure. It was full of male peacocks and upon entering the staff gave us dried corn to feed the birds. Those peacocks certainly went crazy showing off and we were surrounded by an ocean of colourful feathers. In fact there were so many that my wife got scared, okay she gets scared by all animals when they get too close…

Sad to say but those were the only two locations we managed to visit. While driving around the park we saw so many locations with certain themes such as European Village, Chinese Monuments etc. All over the park they had those Wedding Photoshoots and their staff carrying tons of different dresses around. We also saw the Chang’an Tower(长安塔) which is one of the main sights of the park. However we could not enter it due to one important reason, it never passed the safety test and thus was and perhaps will never be opened to the public…

Have you visited a similar Expo before?

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Hopeless Plans

Our China holidays are getting closer and closer. Sure I am very happy and can’t wait for the trip however I am also worried. The thing is that my wife got again some plans on what we should do there and what places to visit. For any outsider this must sound great but you just don’t know my wife so let me explain.

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One of my biggest victories: Getting my couch potato wife up the mountain

Over the years we had many plans to travel around when being in China. Those plans always stayed plans as there is something magical happening as soon as my wife enters her parents home. The person who had all those great ideas about visiting some nice places basically disintegrates in front of my eyes as the couch potatoeism spreads through her body. Yes, my wife is a notorious coach potato when being in China. There is no bigger joy for her than lying on the sofa, having her favorite snacks and drinks within arms reach and watching TV all day long. Within seconds all plans are forgotten or not important enough anymore. Who wants to see the beautiful nature in Jiuzhaigou 九寨沟 when you have the 100th rerun of 武林外传 My own Swordsman in the TV, some bubble tea and 大白兔White Rabbit candy?

I think you understand now the dilemma I am facing as my wife is starting to make all kinds of plans for our upcoming holiday. Each time she gets me excited about all those places we plan to visit and in the end we just stay for several weeks in Xi’an and the only times she leaves the apartment on her on free will is in order to go out eating. So what has she planned thus far? Now she no longer wants to visit places in China but is doing research on nice travel destination in Asia which we can reach rather quick (and cheap) from China. Few months ago she made some plans to go to the Jeju Island as her parents had invited us for such trip. Then suddenly she started checking on Thailand but then it was Jeju Island again. This morning she woke me up by pushing her mobile phone in my face. No, she didn’t try to kill me but to show some wonderful pictures of Bali.

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Some river in some mountains

While still in bed she started searching for plane tickets, hotels and whatnot all. She even contacted one friend in China if she wants to come with us there together with her little family (they also got a one year old child). Right now I am myself looking up what Bali is offering for tourists and sad but true, I am excited about it. By now I should have learned from the past years but still I really get hyped every time she makes plans because somehow I still have hope that one of those plans will become reality. Though our big plans never worked out we still went sometimes at least to nice places around Xi’an such as Mount Hua or the Mountain Range near Qinghua Mountain. However these destinations are far from the original plans we had before each holiday in China. For now I also hope that MIL won’t suddenly decide it would be a great idea to join us in case the Bali plan ever becomes reality!

 

Are you a couch potato?

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