Terry's Tiki Tours

Joined April 2018
  • Day12

    Plans B through 27

    October 8, 2019 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Due to ongoing disruption of the MTR system and an inclement weather forecast, featuring thunder and monsoon rain, the planned Hong Kong Disneyland excursion was postponed until today. Instead of Disneyland we got all intellectual and hands on at the very impressive Hong Kong Science Museum. Time well spent.

    Luckily for us by this morning most of the MTR system was back in action, apart from a few stations which were too damaged to be safely opened. None of the closed stations were on the route I was taking from Tsim Sha Tsui to Lai King, then Tung Chung and finally onwards to the Disneyland Resort.. This meant I could use my Octopus card instead ponying up the $600HK taxis would have stung me. Score bonus points for the tightarse that I am.

    Arriving at the park in time for rope drop, which unlike the US Disney parks was at the leisurely hour of 10:30am it was already 32 degrees, so shade was highly sought after unless you fancy seeing photos of a shallow Celtic puddle on the ground. (that would have been me after more than ten minutes in this relentless tropical sun!)
    Although I was at the park for rope drop it was the least populated park opening I've ever seen, which was great news for wait times. Basically there were no wait times, you could just walk straight on to any ride. It was a dream run. There had to be an upside to the strife and chaos which had disrupted lives and schedules throughout Hong Kong! In no time Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine train had been ridden twice, Mystic Manor, Fairy Tale Forest, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, It's a small world (for the air conditioning of course!) The Iron Man tech showcase, Ant Man and the Wasp Nano Battle had all been tested and approved by this Disney veteran.

    Along the way, and in between rides, every Disney store had also been thoroughly investigated and I even found time to squeeze in some fine Disney vittles at the Starliner Diner.

    It was a surreal experience having so much space at a Disney park, I almost miss the crowds for some of the atmosphere they generate, almost. So in a mere five hours the resort had been conquered, then it was back on the MTR a final fast retail splurge at Citygate Outlets before riding the 45 minutes back to Kowloon.

    Now it's my last chance to enjoy the room's view of the junks, cruise ships and barges as they ply the harbour and the technicolour light show from the skycrapers on Hong Kong island.

    I'm ready to be impressed by Cathay Pacific's Business class on tomorrow night's return flight to NZ. It's already scored more points than Air New Zealand because they'll be flying us in an A350-900, my favourite ride. See you next time from Aotearoa.
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  • Day10

    Now that's a Buddha!

    October 6, 2019 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Yesterday was an unscheduled break day as the local government had decided to close down the entire MTR system (the subway) because of damage to the stations caused by protestors. My original plan had been to visit Lantau Island and ride the Ngong Ping cable car. So yesterday's plan became today's, because I'm more flexible than a yoga instructor!
    Anwyay, we headed down to the lobby about 8:30am, and even though the MTR was back in action, it was in a limited fashion and frustratingly not the stations I needed. This meant alternative transport needed to be found for the 30k plus journey to Ngong Ping. I had researched the cost of a taxi and decided that $300HK was acceptable to my hereditary frugalness.
    A smooth 25 minute taxi ride dropped us off at the Ngong Pin 360 experience Lantau terminal. We were soon cocooned in the comfort of our gondola and climbing our way across the bays and over the hills towards Ngong Ping. The views are majestic and as we ascended we had a superb view of the planes taking off and landing at adjacent Hong Kong airport, which was a great bonus. In about 15 minutes we arrived at the upper terminal and exited our car to be offered a printed photo of us beginning our trip. They had printed and bound this in a presentation folder and even encased our image in a snowglobe. I don't know what tricky Chinese magic they had used to get this done so quickly, but I was happy to hand over my $280HK, for the photo folder of course, not the snowglobe, I'm not a narcissist.
    The reason this cable car exists is to ferry tourists and pilgrims to the Po Lin monastery and giant buddha at the top of the peak. I'm a bit of both I guess, which allowed me to enjoy the experience on multiple levels, because I have more layers than an onion.
    We hiked the hundreds of steps uphill to the giant buddha, where we were suitably awed and then spent time meandering around the monastery trying to be respectful and not cause any international or religious incidents.
    After about an hour and a half we journeyed back down from the mountain, and spent the next three hours worshiping at the alter of capitalism, which in these parts is known as the Citygate Outlet Mall.
    Finally we caught another taxi back to Kowloon through the now torrential late afternoon rain. As we were driving back to Tsim Sha Tsui we noticed hundreds of black clad and face mask wearing protesters streaming down Sailisbury Road towards the Star Ferry terminal. There will be more trouble in town tonight. I really hope both sides can show some restraint!
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  • Day8

    Mac-wow

    October 4, 2019 in Hong Kong ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    Today's plan was to visit the island of Macau, the biggest gambling centre by value in the world, so I shouldn't have been surprised when my gamble of leaving after 10am didn't fully pay off. First of all we had ridden two MTR lines and were heading for the ferry terminal when I remembered that because Macau is technically a different territory to Hong Kong, we would need our passports. Guess where those were. Yep, safely locked away in our hotel room. Good news is I got to enjoy another two Star ferry rides, two taxi rides and a run up to the hotel and back to fetch them.

    Secondly, I did know that this week is Golden Week, the Chinese national day celebration, and had planned accordingly for it in Shanghai. However, because of the ongoing protests in HK Chinese tourists have been avoiding here and going elsewhere. Guess where it seems they have all headed instead? Macau! I have never in my life seen such unrelenting swarms of tourists!

    We had ridden the Cotai Water Jet express ferry the hour to Macau then jumped on one of the free casino buses to get to the Cotai Strip, the local equivalent of the Vegas strip. So far so good, but the minute we stepped foot in the Venetian Hotel and Casino we knew we had entered another dimension. Chinese tourists by the thousand packed every inch of the facility. They were even sitting on the floors against the walls eating their lunches. It slightly detracted from the grandeur and opulence of these temples to extravagance. The Parisian and the Venetian, the two casinos we visited, were even bigger than their namesakes in Las Vegas, which was mind blowing, but even they weren't big enough to hold this human king tide. This amount of tourist overload slammed the brakes on my plans to tour the sights of Macau literally, as traffic was worse than I have seen anywhere. I decided to pull the pin on this ill-timed excursion and we caught the fast ferry back to Hong Kong island.

    Exiting the Macau ferry terminal we headed for the mall that would lead us to the Star Ferry only to find it blocked off. Heading back out onto the street it became obvious what was causing the closure. One side of the road was completely blocked by thousands of marching protesters. At this point they were all peaceful, so I hope it remained that way.

    Eventually we crossed the harbour and concluded a less than perfect day, with a near perfect feed at the Cheescake factory. Day over.
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  • Day7

    I like big bus, and I cannot lie...

    October 3, 2019 in Hong Kong ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    The circadian rhythm has a lot to answer for. No, not those insects that rub their legs together all night long in summer, your internal body clock. You know the one, it tells you when to go to sleep and when to wake, except when you mess with it, by doing something like flying five time zones East. Yep, I'm still waking up at 'Oh f*&k o'clock'. First world problem I know, but it may explain some of my more erratic behaviour.
    Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, Hong Kong.
    This was our first full day in HK and I had scheduled to the minute what my campaign would include. First call was the inclusive hotel buffet breakfast. I often book hotels based on the quality and range of their breakfasts and the Intercontinental had rated highly on both scales with fellow travelers. After this morning's calorie frenzy I would give it two thumbs up, if I could raise my hands. I'm still Christmas day full from this morning's Buffet battle round 1. The day's most important, or free-est meal consumed I headed out on task one, redeeming two tickets on the Hop-on/Hop-off Big Bus Tour of Hong Kong. This meant a mere 1.5km stroll along Ocean Promenade. A doddle you say, so would I if it wasn't already 31 degrees by 9am and moister than Aunt Betty's chocolate cake. In less than an hour I was back with the tickets and a kg lighter from water loss. Fortunately the Kowloon bus route had a stop right outside our hotel. What a stroke of luck! What wasn't so lucky was deciding to sit on the open upper deck of the double decker tour bus. Soon feeling crispier than a piece of the Colonel's special chicken we scurried for the sanctuary of the covered area at the front of the bus. This provided minimal respite from the relentless heat and humidity, and this is Autumn! Enduring the elements we rode the tour round Kowloon enjoying the informative commentary on the local landmarks and history. We hopped off (see what I did there?) the bus by the Star Ferry terminal and caught the next ferry across to Central where we resumed our Big Bussing, this time on the Hong Kong Island route. This is a much older area than Kowloon and is rich in history. At the fourth stop we left the bus to ride the Peak Tram to the summit of Victoria Peak. The funicular hauled us to the crest of Hong Kong's highest hill where we oohed and aahed at the impressive 360 degree views, then took time out to process the majesty of the location by consuming Bubba Gump's finest shrimp. Shrimped to the gills (do they have gills?) we rode the tram down to the terminal and waited to catch the next Big Bus. You can track these buses using an app, so that you know when the next one will arrive and my app told me the next bus was 3 minutes away. Now brace yourself for a truth missile kids, apps sometime tell bloody porkies. The bus took more than 15 minutes to arrive. That's 900 seconds with no air-conditioning, the cruelty of it all! Eventually we were happily seated on our bus, downstairs in the AC, because we're not stupid, despite what Mr Gump says. And this time we got to enjoy aforementioned AC for much longer than anticipated as the traffic around 4pm HK time was glacial in speed. After several millenia we arrived back at the Star Ferry terminal, sailed back to the safety of Kowloon and then went and spent a silly amount of money on new smartphones. Guess what I'm setting up now while writing this? It's not flatpack furniture. Tomorrow we hit the seas bound for the gambling den of Macau.
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  • Day7

    It's electrifying!

    October 3, 2019 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Rolling out of bed at the leisurely hour of 7am we woke to a very soggy Disney Resort after last night's continual heavy rain. In fact it was so heavy last night that the nightly fireworks were cancelled, which was disappointing, but expected. Luckily we had a great view of the fireworks on our first park day. One of the best parts of that show was listening to the appreciative 'ooohs' and 'aaahhhs' from the Chinese. If I ever do a live stand up show I want these guys as my ring-in audience!
    Anyway, we had packed our stuff and trundled through the grand foyer for the last time. We wont see you real soon Shanghai Disneyland, but we loved our time here and we'd definitely love to come back at some point. Our cab ride took us about 25 minutes and again I was astounded at the endless parade of massive apartment blocks and those under rapid construction. If Jacinda really wants KiwiBuild to work she needs to get these lads on the job, as I'm sure they could knock up 100,000 houses in about 18 months, and at a third the price!
    We arrived at Shanghai Pudong airport just after 8am, were through security and immigration in about five minutes (take note America!!!) and checked in for our Hong Kong flight. The next two hours were spent in the blissful environs of the Cathay Pacific lounge, complete with a noodle bar and impressive selection of food and drink, including highly addictive custard dumplings.
    Our Shanghai-Hong Kong flight started boarding just before 11am and we were in the air about 11.30 for our 2 and a half hour flight. This gave us enough time to scoff another delicious two course Cathay lunch and me time to watch the movie Yesterday, which is charmingly funny and well worth a couple of hours.
    Our Cathay Dragon A321 touched down at Chep Lap Kok airport just after 2pm and a mere 15 minutes later we were through immigration, had collected our luggage and were waiting for our pre-booked special transport. I could have taken the Airport Express train into Kowloon, but when I was online checking airport to city connections last night I noticed one option was a chauffeur driven Tesla. By law, nerds must take a Tesla if it is available, and I'm nothing but law-abiding, so I booked this option. After a little aimless wandering at the terminal trying to find our chauffeur we finally tracked him down and sat back into the leather clad luxury of the world's best electric car. The next half hour will stay with me for a long time. I WANT one of these cars. The centre console is a massive touch screen and the acceleration blows your hair back more than a V8 powered hair dryer! Reluctantly getting out of the Tesla we checked into the Intercontinental and are currently enjoying our room's glorious view of Hong Kong harbour. Tomorrow the sightseeing whirlwind warms up.
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  • Day5

    Shanghai Storm

    October 1, 2019 in China ⋅ 🌧 22 °C

    We were up and at em this morning for our second and final magic morning at Shanghai Disneyland, Another early start had us at the Hotel Guest park entrance just on 7am, but this time we were covered in ponchos and jumping puddles as forecast rain stubbornly sat over the park. We managed to fit in Buzz Lightyear, Pirates of the Caribbean and Soaring around the world within 90 minutes, which is stunning considering yesterday's wait time for Soaring Around the World by itself was 180 minutes. After this early morning ride tour de force it was time for the consumption of mass quantities, which naturally meant another visit to Remy's Pattisserie on Mickey Avenue. This has become our brunch du jour as we feast on haute cuisine, a sausage roll and giant chocolate chip cookie. I could really get accustomed to this health food. Now fully mentally and physically replenished it was time for our scheduled Fastpass ride, Seven Dwarfs Minetrain. This is a very popular ride, and even in steady rain the queue was sizable. Fortunately our Fastpass queue only took about 15 minutes and then we were flying through tunnels, roaring past dwarves and zipping by animated critters. Once I had enjoyed the company of the little people I could select a new Fastpass and the only ride I had yet to do was Roaring Rapids. This is very similar to Grizzly River Run at California Adventure, and both rides guarantee you get wet. Today that outcome was a moot point as everybody was already soaked. Jean doesn't do these rides. Too many drops and too much moisture, so she hiked back to the warmth and dryness of the hotel. I had an hour and a half to kill, so I roamed the park and Disney Town. The shops in Disney Town have followed the Disney trend of being more expensive than their counterparts anywhere else and these shops are right on trend, which means the tightass in me ain't buying anything. I'm still happy to browse though and give the shop assistants false hope. One peculiarity of the shops here is that you are greeted when you walk in and then one of the shop assistants stands beside you wherever you go in the shop. Eventually I decided to test this, so did three laps of the Superdry store as my new shadow dutifully followed. Could be a new Olympic sport!
    Eventually my Fastpass time rolled around so I trekked back across the park to Islands of Adventure and Roaring Rapids. This is a great, fun ride and my seven new Chinese chums in our raft, giggled and shrieked in all the right places as we made the most of the moment. Wandering off the raft I finally sloshed out of the park and made my way through the wind and rain to refuge of the Disneyland Hotel. So long Shanghai, it's been wonderful. Tomorrow we say Ni hao Hong Kong.
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  • Day4

    Our Long March

    September 30, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Once again I was keeping robber's hours this morning. Up just after 5am and checking out of the grand opulence of the Shanghai Park Hyatt headed for jewel of the East, Shanghai Disneyland. Riding the 87 floors to the lobby one last time we emerged into the weak early morning light. I confidently whipped out my phone and was ready to fire up the Didi app to order a ride the 30k's to the theme park. But wait, no network connection! Skinny roaming was having a sleep in. Wake up you lazy Western imperialist tool! Alas, it was not to be, technology had yawned in my face and rolled over. Fortunately Jean sprang into action and headed back up 87 floors to the lobby to have them phone a cab. In just minutes our chariot had arrived. When I say chariot, that's a little kind. It was a beat up Volkswagen, that looked like Mao himself may have driven it. No matter, it had four wheels and delivered us through the endless sprawl of Shanghai into the green hinterland. In just over 30 minutes and 120 Yuan we were ushered through the doors of the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. Obviously we had to check our luggage, as like all hotels this one was part of the rort which has you pay for a full first day when you can only check in after 3pm. That's a rant for another day. Bags stowed we boarded the hotel shuttle for the park and just after 7am we approached the special Disney Hotel Guest entrance to the park. This perk lets the chosen ones enter the park without the drama and scuffle of the main entrance, plus you get into the park a full hour before the standard ticket holders. This is the golden time, where queues are short and crowds sparse. We immediately power walked to Tron. This is one of Disney's hero rides. A fast coaster based on the Tron movie, where you ride a lightcycle rollercoaster through high speed pitching dips and turns, all to the driving beat of the movie's music. After wobbling off this ride we walked across to the far side of the park to the Pirate's of the Caribbean. This bears the same name as the Anaheim original ride, but it's that ride reimagined for the 21st Century. It makes full use of the latest ride technology and is a visual tour de force. I will be riding this one again! Leaving the Seven Seas behind we rode Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan and then sought shelter from the heat at the Pirate's of the Caribbean Stunt Spectacular. This is as advertised, a live stunt show. Although it was all in Mandarin and I missed a couple of punch lines it was time well spent, and in the haven of air-conditioning. By now we had worked up a mighty appetite, so we weaved our way back across the park towards Disney Town, this park's shopping precinct. Just before we reached it we realised the parade would start in just 15 minutes, so we did as the locals and staked a claim on a piece of parade route real estate and waited for the mobile Disney magic to dance, cheer and sashay past us. Nobody does a parade like Disney and so fully entertained we resumed our trek towards vital calories and announced ourselves at the Cheesecake Factory. What happened next is too graphic to share, but I can say that enough calories were consumed to choke a starving hippo and the cheescakes are flown in daily from the States and they are still magnificent!
    Now clinically obese we staggered out into the sunlight and roamed Disney Town for an hour or so before finally setting our compass for the hotel. We are finally checked into our Park View room and are regathering our strength for a planned night time assault on the Park.
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  • Day3

    What's the time?

    September 29, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Today started at 1.30am. That's when my brain decided it was time to wake up. Time Zones are such fun. It did mean I got to watch the impressive light show displayed on the skyscrapers along the banks of the Huangpo River. Eventually getting back to sleep I finally had to get up about 5am and start planning the day. A visit to the Bund was a no-brainer. It's a tourist must see, and since I'm a tourist, well, I think you can see where this is going. Initially I thought that if we could just get to the river front we'd find a bridge and simply cross over to strut the bund like international bon vivants. What I really should have realised is that the amount of large traffic motoring up and down the Huangpo, including cruise ships, indicated that bridges would be few and far between and any bridge would need to be high and probably vehicle only. Once this information was processed I realised that I'd need a vehicle to get me across this muddy brown slow moving liquid road. Then I had the revelation, what we need is a hop-on, hop-off bus. Fortunately I happened to know where one stops. After a few false starts and about two kilometres of moderately aimless wandering we finally lucked upon a parked Citysightseeing bus. We paid our 160 Yuan and boarded to enjoy the great sights of this mega-city. Sitting on the top deck, cruising the boulevards and timeless lanes of Shanghai was well worth the time and money invested, apart from the occasional frustration of a few random long stops. I think this was probably because the driver was gasping for a smoke. After about three hours of motoring around Shanghai we backtracked the loop and got off across from the Bund, but on the opposite side to our hotel. What the? China you devious devil! Not to be denied I rememberd reading about a tunnel that runs under the river transporting tourists from one side of the river to the other, in a psychedelic trippy mixture of lasers, spotlights and mood music. I, and probably you, have probably never seen anything like it. It was a one of a kind and got us to the right side of the river. Now we could casually saunter back towards our hotel, with a stop at the Disney store and the flagship Shanghai Apple store on the way. Tomorrow we get a Didi ride to the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel before hitting the park for our first day. Can't wait!Read more

  • Day2

    They see me rolling...

    September 28, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    After almost 24 hours solid of travel we have just checked into our hotel in Shanghai, the Park Hyatt. It's the second highest hotel in the world and we're on the 79th floor with a great view of the other skyscrapers and the Huangpo river, but it's not the tallest building in town. Shanghai is massive by every scale. Americans need to come here to see what they're up against. It's simply awe inspiring, but I digress.
    Our flight from Auckland to Hong Kong took just under 12 hours and was uneventful. The Air New Zealand service was its consistently good standard, but their hard product is really lagging behind other airlines. The lie flat beds and the personal screen size and entertainment options are more Economy-like rather than Business Class. It seems churlish to complain when most people are just happy to get a trip, but when you're paying serious money for your flights you deserve more. Anyway, like I said, the flight was uneventful. We touched down in Hong Kong a little earlier than scheduled at 7:10am and then hot stepped it through the endless walkways of the Arrivals hall to find the transit area. After one more security screening we found the gate for our Shanghai flight and luckily only had to wait about ten minutes before catching the bus that took us to our Cathay Dragon A330. Turning left again towards the Business section we eased ourselves into the luxury of wide seats and endless legroom. Before we'd even sat down the hostie was round to offer a drink. This time I threw caution to the wind and had a smoothie. Now even though this was only a 2 hour flight they still managed to serve a two course breakfast, including delicious dim sum. Woohoo! There were also only 10 people in Business Class, in a section that could seat 42. In no time we touched down at Shanghai's Pudong airport and taxied towards our gate, and taxied, and taxied. You get the picture. Pudong is vast, like the line at an all you can eat buffet vast. I swear it felt like we taxied longer than we flew. Finally we reached the gate and then surged towards immigration where we gave up our fingerprints and eventually made it to the Maglev station. This was one of the things I was really excited about for this trip. I like trains normally, but this one moves by magnetic levitation and zips along at 300km/h so I was giddier than Simon Bridges at a speech therapists as I rode it.. I'll post video of it soon. It's 24km from the airport to the city, but the train does this in just 7 minutes. Once we reached the inner city Longshang station we then had to get from there to our hotel. I was going to use Didi, the local Uber ride-sharing app. However, as I walked out of the station a local taxi tout spotted my foreign-ness and pounced. I had heard about unofficial taxis and to be wary of them, but I haggled this guy down to 100 Yuan, which is about 20 bucks, so the devil may care risk taker in me said "I'll roll those dice!" 20 minutes later he dropped us off outside our magnificently impressive, vertigo inducing hotel. After picking up our jaws we sauntered in to check-in and now I am surveying my Chinese kingdom.
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  • Day38

    The circle is complete

    October 28, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    While waiting in the Singapore Airlines business class lounge I looked up to see a very familiar famous face. Fighting the urge not to strut up to this person and start talking I quietly told Jean and instead we clicked off a couple of sneaky selfies. I hope he forgives me, but I'm a massive fan of his and couldn't miss the chance. See if you recognize him in the photo below.

    After 3 flights with 2 different airlines and 36 hours of continuous travel we finally made it home to NZ, touching down in Auckland just before 11am Saturday the 20th of October. We had been away almost exactly a month and it was lovely to see New Zealand sail into view as we flew over the Manukau heads. In less than twenty minutes we had breezed through border control, collected our bags, which is always a relief, and sauntered through customs. Rolling our suitcases through the arrivals hall we emerged into warm Auckland sunshine, which is an uncommon event for us. Normally it's winter when we return from overseas, so this was a real treat. Catching the shuttle to our airport hotel we checked in, reached our rooms and zonked out for the next seven hours. Bliss!
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