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Just added photos of our last day in Hong Kong and Durban. Head on back in time to see them.

Hong Kong / Kowloon Day 6

Very almost a full day as our flight out is at 23:45. So we’ve had a day to fill. This time we really did take it easy in the morning. Well I did. I caught up on the blog while Helen packed. It does work best that way.

Around midday we left our bags with hotel and headed out. We had lunch at the Lie Heung Tea House in Central Hong Kong. The food didn’t impress us but it was a real experience eating with the press of Chinese that frequented this popular spot.

After lunch we decided to watch a movie, Django Unchained, at the movie theatre in the very posh IFC Mall in the area. We really enjoyed it and at 2½ hours long it certainly killed some time. It had to be one of the most comfortable theatres we’ve ever sat in, complete with polished leather chairs to sit in.

After the movie we headed to the roof of the mall which we’d read had great views. It did, as long as we ignored the building work going on in front of us. We did have a small surprise when we recognised, nearby, the building from the TV adaptation of Nobel House by James Clavell. We had thought it might have been torn down since the TV 3 parter. It did look a little dwarfed by the very tall buildings nearby which had gone up since the series but it was there.

Feeling as if we hadn’t quite had enough of the crushing press of Chinese locals in the street market we headed off to Chunking Manions and Mong Kok to pic up some last minute pressies.

We decided to go to the airport early which was good as the taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong terminal. We then waited at the wrong gate and nearly missed the plane but were found by the airport staff in time. D’Oh.

After many interminable hours of flying we had a fast change over at Joberg before flying on to Durban where we were met by Dianne and Gerald from Whiskers.

The conversation, beer and wine carried on from where it left off back in French Polynesia in 2010. We’ll be here in Durban for a few days before heading down to Grahamstown to visit my family there.

Hong Kong / Kowloon Day 5

Our last absolutely full day in Hong Kong. There were two places we had to visit.

The first was the Big Buddha on Lantau Island to our west. It’s a very popular tourist attraction and despite it feeling a bit cheesy we thought we should go. We took the train out to the town where cable cars take visitors up the mountain. Unfortunately, it turned out they were having their annual maintenance that day so they weren’t running. We could still get to the Buddha by bus which took us up the steep mountain road, down again and back up to the Buddha.

The good news was that just about everybody else knew about the maintenance so the place was relatively quiet compared to what we’ve heard from others.

The Big Buddha itself was pretty impressive. We had a bit of a climb to reach it but it was worth the effort. After that we visited the nearby monastery which was a smaller version of the nunnery we saw on our first day. Nestled in it was a food joint selling vegetarian food. We ate here but it was a bit yucky.

The whole area, unfortunately, was overlaid with tourist tack. This was trebly so in the “Village” which was all shops and very Disney like. We’d have had to walk through the “Village” from the cable car had it been running. Would have been awful. The only saving grace was how few people there were there.

The bus ride back was much quicker as there were two descents and only one ascent.

We headed back to the hotel for some rest and then went out for our second must do – the Happy Valley races which are held every Wednesday evening. We’d timed our visit to Hong Kong to ensure we’d catch this and are now so glad we did.

We arrived early around twilight, paid to go into the members enclosure (US$12 each) and paid for seats overlooking the winning post. We read our form guides for the eight races and picked our winners. Splashing out about US$20 each for all the races we were set for a fine evening, particularly with Helen’s horse picking form (she picked the winner for the Melbourne Cup).

As night settled the races ran. The atmosphere was great. Our horses not so. Despite each race being very close that was about as far as our picks ever got. Still, we had a great time and learned next time to pick horses with four legs. Best leave it to the pics to give a real sense of the evening.

Incidentally, yesterdays pics didn’t all upload at once so avid readers may wish to go back and check them out again.

Hong Kong / Kowloon Day 4 – Macau

I’ve almost caught up. Recently, I’ve been a day behind in my blogging. Not enough time.

Yesterday we were up early and headed over to Macau in the TurboJet Express Ferry. Once up and out of the water on it’s hydrofoils, the ride was incredibly smooth taking an hour to cross the approx 40nm of South China sea between Hong Kong and Macau.

The terminals at each end were just like airports with immigration, customs, backage checkin, the whole works. It was all incredibly efficient so we were through in no time.

Our first stop was the popular Ruins of St Pauls and the more interesting nearby museum/fort. It could have been a bind to reach the museum/fort but for the now ever present escalators.

Next we had a wander through town. The place is a unique mash up of manly places, China (of course), Portugal, Venice (the channelled tourist paths), Cartagena (church façades), Pape’ete (for the mix of new and old) and a poor imitation of Vegas (Atlantic City springs to mind).

As Chinese New Year approaches, more and more colour and gaud is hitting the streets. Much was about and a few photos taken.

Next stop was the A-Ma Temple which I found a little disappointing. Except, perhaps, for the whiffy odour of countless joss-sticks of all sizes.

After a latish lunch we both felt a bit exhausted so we decided to head back to Kowloon where we put our feet up for a couple of hours in our hotel room.

A great finale for the day was heading back out around sunset to the OZone bar at the top of the Ritz-Carlton (118th floor) and drinking bubbly while the buildings all far below us slowly lit for the night. Awesome.

Hong Kong / Kowloon Day 3

With the weather improving, today was our day to visit Victoria Peak, one of the more popular tourist attractions in Hong Kong.

We took an oh so cheap taxi to the Star Ferry terminal where we boarded the ferry to cross over from Kowloon to Hong Kong island.  We’d heard from a number of people that the escalators up to mid-level were a lot of fun and we’d been left with a strong impression that the escalators met the peak tram somewhere along the way.

We found our way to the escalators and made our way up.  They were indeed an experience.  Only in Hong Kong.  We passed on exploring each level or any level for that matter.  We just kept on going on and on to the top.

At the top there was no sign of the peak tram, just a sign showing how far away it was.  We decided to walk.  It was quite an eye opener as our path threaded it’s way through a concrete spaghetti of roadways splashed all over the hillside.

When we made it to the lower tram terminal we had to wait some time to get our ticket and then for one of the two trams (imagine two trams, a big pulley at the top and a lot of steel cable).  The tram ride to the top revealed more great views of the area’s architecture.  This is not Fiji.

We’d bought tickets to the very, very top viewing platform so we made our way up a few more escalators (we’re getting very used to these). The view down to Hong Kong and Kowloon from the top platform was awesome and worth the extra fee to visit.

We then decided to hike to the Victoria Peak Garden.  It was a bit of a climb but we got to peek into some very, very nice properties whose values/rents must be as high as the peak.  The gardens were very peaceful and had hardly anyone there.  There was one ubiquitous Chinese bride/groom photography session going on and some folks having a picnic.  Not a lot else.  The view down to the South side of the island where we’d been the previous day was all misted up so no pics of that.

On the way back to the peak tram we noticed that our path had taken us well above the highest viewpoint we’d visited earlier in the day.  The advantage of the latter was the clear view down to Hong Kong and Kowloon.  Higher up all the excellent viewpoints had properties built on and walls to protect the wealthy occupants.

Back at the bottom we struggled a bit to find our desired train station.  More escalators, concrete and malls to navigate.  We made it and took the train back to Kowloon for a short rest.

Back out we visited a local Indian Restaurant Helen had found prior to heading to the water to watch the Festival of Lights.  I forgot my camera so pressured for time we had to return to the hotel to pick it up before going to see the lights.  We caught a taxi and were half way south before I ‘realized’ I didn’t have my wallet.  We frantically asked the taxi driver to turn back before Helen found my wallet on the floor of the taxi.

By now we were stuck in horrible traffic going the wrong way.  The driver eventually got us to a place where we could walk the remainder of the distance.  This remained stressful as the first bridge over the road we needed to cross was under repair and finding the second blocked our view for a while.

In the end we just made it.  The Festival of Light show is just a bunch of search lights and lasers on a few of the HK buildings and the lights on those buildings dancing to music.  In of itself, not so spectacular, but pretty cool when the whole scene is absorbed.

We headed back via Temple Street night market as we both had a couple of things we wanted to pick up.  Back at the hotel we were pretty exhausted and didn’t take long to fall asleep.

For those of you expressing concern about Dignity in the aftermath of the terrible weather Queensland has recently experienced I can happily tell you she’s perfectly fine.  She hung onto her lines well and where other boats didn’t, marina liveaboards did an excellent job shifting chaffed lines for absent owners.  As far as I know, no boats were harmed.