A 38-day adventure by Bob
  • Day37

    That's it folks!

    November 17, 2019 in Hong Kong ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Our last day has been a funny old day. Our flight leaves HK tonight at half past midnight that’s half past four UK time and we had to check out of our room by midday.
    The temperature today has been in the early thirties so once we had packed we wandered into town for a leisurely lunch and a final look round. There are any number of upmarket shopping malls in HK most of them occupied by the likes of Armani, Gucci, Rolex talk about Crazy Rich Asians!
    Came back to the hotel mid afternoon and we still had access to the swimming pool and an area set aside for guests like us leaving late in the day.
    It was whilst looking out from the ninth floor where the outdoor pool is that we saw the protesters for the first time. A couple oh helicopters had been circling for some time and then we saw the protesters were gathering by the bridge near the Polytechnic which is close to our hotel. Soon the riot police arrived in force and there was a stand off with protesters one end and police the other. The protesters had thrown bricks all over the road to prevent vehicles passing. Soon petrol bombs were being thrown and tear gas in retaliation by the police. As it stands that is all so far. Jane was talking to a lady whilst getting changed who got caught up with it and is suffering from the effects of tear gas. We shall be making our way to the airport sooner than we would normally do!
    So an eventful end to a marvellous holiday. We have enjoyed every moment and would do it all again in a heartbeat. We have been very lucky with the weather particularly in New Zealand where we were prepared for the worst. We have eaten well, enjoyed some excellent wines and met some interesting people along the way. We have stayed in fifteen different hotels and B&B’s, will have had ten flights and flown over 23,000 miles by the time we return home.
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  • Day36

    Like a tourist in HK

    November 16, 2019 in Hong Kong ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Following a good nights sleep we were up promptly due in no small part to the three hour time difference between Sydney and Hong Kong. Had a very good breakfast and as we left the restaurant I picked up a paper (old habits die hard!) and we were then collared by the restaurant manager who was keen to talk to us about the current troubles here. He is a man of about 40 who agrees with their motives but not their methods. These demonstrations are obviously damaging to HK, annual events are being cancelled, the country is on the brink of recession and there is graffiti everywhere. Looking out from the back of our hotel there is a major toll road which is currently closed. The toll booths have been smashed and there are rocks and bricks on the carriageway.
    We asked the concierge about the best way to get to the airport on Sunday evening. Definitely taxi for the metro may close without warning at any time.
    Anyway we had a good day wandering round the city in the warm weather. We walked along the harbour front and took the Star ferry across to Hong Kong Island. These ferries are a HK institution and run to and fro all day long with very cheap fares. Once over the other side we walked for about thirty minutes to take the funicular railway to the Peak a viewpoint above the city. Great views despite the haze that seems fairly permanent here.
    Next task was to seek out a replacement camera so we took the ferry back over to Kowloon and into a huge shopping area Harbour City where there was a big selection of possibilities. We quickly discovered that cameras are not really in vogue these days probably because most people use their phones. The cameras they did have were more than I wanted to pay for we only use one whilst we are on holiday.
    Following this decision we boarded a ferry to do a round the harbour cruise. How many high rise buildings are there in HK? Quite staggering to see the skyline.
    Having had a busy day we went back to the hotel pool for a swim and relax ahead of an evening out which was fun, a few drinks, a decent meal and a walk up Nathan Road, the main road through Kowloon, to the Temple Street Night Market. Absolutely heaving with people and neon lights everywhere which is typical of Far Eastern cities, but great fun!
    We ended up walking over 14 miles today.
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  • Day35

    Harbour to Harbour

    November 15, 2019 in Hong Kong ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    Following a brilliant five days in Sydney we were up at 5:30 to catch our 8:50 Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. Generally checking in and going through customs is very slick these days but not with Cathay. There was a long queue in their area despite the fact we had checked in online. It took an hour from arriving at the airport to eventually getting through customs! The flight itself was fine nearly nine hours and we were met at the airport and driven to our hotel. The traffic in HK is quite unbelievable not a city I have any desire to drive in!
    We are staying on the Kowloon side within walking distance of the harbour and the hotel is very comfortable and very modern.
    Obviously we are a bit concerned about the recent troubles here but so far all we have seen is graffiti stating the desire for democracy.
    Once we were unpacked we took the hotel’s courtesy bus but fairly quickly realised it would be quicker to walk. We had booked cocktails and canapés at Aqua a restaurant and bar overlooking the harbour and at a time when we could watch the daily laser light show from the high rise buildings on the harbour side. It really is a great show coupled with the Christmas lights that are of course in place.
    Aqua is quite close to the Peninsula Hotel, the hotel in HK and adjacent to it are huge shops from the biggest up market names in retail, HK and its people and its Asian tourists clearly are not short of a bob or two!
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    daphne wadsley

    Most spectacular ! What a holiday you have had ! Daph

    11/16/19Reply
     
  • Day34

    Wombat Tour Part 2

    November 14, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Sarah picked us up from our hotel at 9am and we drove the Bridge heading for the Northern Beaches. It was interesting driving through the Sydney suburbs seeing where Sarah lives and on out to Palm Beach which is quite wonderful. A narrow strip of land with water either side. We had coffee where, so I am reliably informed, Home and Away is filmed!. We walked along a gorgeous beach with the clear water lapping the shore then a walk up to the lighthouse which gave us stunning views. The coast on the other side to where we had coffee is very different as it is open to the ocean and therefore good for surfing. Started to meander our way back but stopped again in Palm Beach to see the outdoor pool. There are many of these around Sydney, the majority of which are free to use.
    I can’t think of anywhere in the world where there is such a proliferation of beautiful sandy beaches all along the coastline. We stopped for lunch at Newport at a pub that Sarah knows well. The pub garden overlooks the beach, a perfect spot.
    Drove on a bit further towards Manly and to North Head from where we can look across to South Head where we were on Monday. Between the two Heads is the entrance to the Harbour from the Pacific.
    Sarah drove us back to the outskirts of Manly where we said our farewells as she had to go to work. We have been enormously grateful to Sarah for we have seen areas of this great city that we would never have done on our own.
    We caught the ferry back to the city for I had booked an early dinner at Doyle’s a fish restaurant at Watson’s Bay. Unfortunately on checking the ferry times the last ferry there was 4:10 so that ruled it out.
    We leave Sydney in the morning for Hong Kong. We shall miss Sydney and fully intend to return one day.
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  • Day33

    Another busy day Down Under!

    November 13, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Woke up and switched on TV to discover that the threat of bush fires was no longer catastrophic which is a great relief to everybody here. Had breakfast at our new favourite place, Radleys and then set off walking to the Botanical Gardens about ten minutes from our hotel. They are very well established and in a super position butting up to the waterfront. Seems strange to see roses in full bloom in November! We walked all round the headland past Mrs Macquaries Point where in fact we had been with Sarah on Monday and had coffee at the same place which overlooks an outdoor swimming pool. There are a number of these salt water pools all around the harbour and the next time we are in Sydney (I’m sure there will be a next time) we must try one out.
    At lunchtime we were booked on a Cruise like a local tour around the harbour. We waited on quayside next to one of the largest cruise ships we have ever seen, Ovation of the Seas. Each day that we have been in Sydney there has been a different ship moored at Circular Quay. They seem to arrive in the early hours of the morning and depart late afternoon.Our trip was a four hour tour around the harbour with a barbecue lunch and drinks as part of the package. There were about a dozen of us on the boat and we teamed up with Kevin and Lynn, a couple from Mississippi who we got on famously with and had a good laugh with them for the four hours. The tour was interesting with the skipper pointing out houses of famous Aussies, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Mel Gibson etc. We also had on board a trainee skipper who has often taken part in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race so was able to point out and describe a number of the yachts in the harbour. The harbour itself is the largest natural harbour in the world.
    Arrived back from our cruise around 4:30 quickly back to our hotel to change for we were meeting Cat after work at 5:30. Cat took us up to the floor where she works,the 35th floor of the KPMG building to admire the views. The building is in an area similar to Canary Wharf in London. Had an excellent Thai meal with Cat who is clearly and understandably enjoying the Sydney lifestyle.
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    Cat May

    Thanks for a lovely dinner! It's been so great having you visit Sydney - please return soon! Enjoy tomorrow's wombat tour!

    11/13/19Reply
     
  • Day32

    The Zoo and The Rocks

    November 12, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    This morning we took Cat’s advice and had breakfast at Radley’s a breakfast bar just a few paces from our hotel. Excellent bacon and egg Roll and much cheaper than the hotel breakfast.
    When Rachel came over here a few years back she was very impressed with Tarango Zoo as indeed were Cat and Sarah yesterday so we took the ferry across the harbour, only about a fifteen minute trip from Circular Quay. As forecast it was noticeably hotter today than yesterday. The zoo is in a great position on the side of the water. When you arrive you take the cable car up to the top and walk back down seeing the animals as you go. Having come to Australia we had to see a koala, a kangaroo and an emu all of which, and many more,were there.
    It was very hot so at around 12:30 we got back on the ferry to the city.
    From Circular Quay it is a short walk to an area called the Rocks and it is quite close to the bridge. This is an older part of the city and very reminiscent of England though having said that we had a snack lunch and drink at the Munich bierkeller! Again, because of the heat, we made the decision to go back to the hotel and the air conditioning - a great relief. Watching the news on TV there is huge concern here about the bush fires some of which have been burning since September. The major concern this afternoon was a town about fifteen miles north of the city, Turramurra, and the shots from the air were quite alarming.
    Late afternoon we stepped boldly out into the heat once more and explored more of the Rocks area and had a drink at the Lord Nelson, one of the oldest pubs in Sydney. Whilst sitting outside the colour of the sky to the north took on a worrying orange tinge which must be the fires. Had dinner this evening in Darling Harbour, cheap one tonight, burger and fish and chips!
    Despite the heat we managed to walk over ten miles today. Temperatures predicted to drop tomorrow fingers crossed!
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    Have been watching the news about the fires - it must be very frightening for the people caught up in it. Here it is the other extreme with bad flooding in the north.

    11/12/19Reply

    Hope all well and enjoy the rest of your trip.

    11/12/19Reply

    Both messages from me Sara !!

    11/12/19Reply
     
  • Day31

    The Wombat Tour Part 1

    November 11, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Had to get up early this morning with the alarm set for 5:30 as we were booked to go on the Behind the Scenes tour of the Opera House at 7am. This was a great tour with a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide who took us along with six Americans around the Opera House seeing all six concert halls from all angles followed by an excellent breakfast, a really worthwhile and memorable trip also learning about the quite chequered history of the Opera House during its design and development.
    The tour finished around 9:45 and we had arranged to meet Sarah and two of her friends from England, Phil and Beverley, at 10 for the legendary Wombat tour that Sarah does for all her visitors. This is a tour around the city principally by the water that Sydney has an awful lot of, certainly more than we had realised before we got here. We saw some fantastic views across the harbour in all sorts of directions and some marvellous beaches including the iconic Bondi beach where there was plenty of surfing going on today as the weather has been lovely with temperatures in the mid twenties. Stopped for lunch at Watson’s Bay and had lunch at the library which was a new place for Sarah but unbeknown to Sarah didn’t have a drinks licence!
    During lunch I contacted the travel company with whom we have a tour booked with to the Blue Mountains tomorrow only to be told that it has been cancelled due to the bush fires into the north of the city. From there on in we have heard many warnings about tomorrow when catastrophic conditions are expected with temperatures set to rise to potentially 37 degrees and the bush fire to intensify. Already as the day has worn on we have noticed visibility decreasing due to the fires.
    We got back to our hotel around 5:30 and were pleased to see Cat who was waiting for us in reception. We had a quick shower and then joined her in the bar prior to dinner with Sarah, Phil and Beverley at Cafe Sydney. Sarah had booked an outside table with superb views towards the bridge and over the harbour. We had a great meal despite the temperature dropping and the wind getting stronger.
    After dinner wandered along towards the Opera House for drinks in the Opera Bar and were impressed to see that poppies were being projected on to the Opera House in recognition of Remembrance Day. All in all an excellent day.
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  • Day30

    G'day Sydney!

    November 10, 2019 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    How lucky were we with the weather in New Zealand? Woke up today to pouring rain which continued through most of the morning, almost the only rain we saw in three weeks! Spent the morning packing and as we were on a flight everything had to be in our cases and not flung in the back of the car! Dropped the car off at the airport and checked in for our 3:30 flight to Sydney. Had a nice surprise to find that we had been upgraded and were in the front row with plenty of legroom. We certainly had the benefit of this on arrival at Sydney for our cases were first off our taxi was waiting and within an hour of touching down we were at our city centre hotel.
    Looking forward to our time in Sydney and seeing Cat and Sarah. For those reading the blog and unaware Cat is the daughter of Graham and Beverley and Graham and I were at school together and Sarah is Beverley’s sister. Sarah has been over here for a number of years so will be able to show us around. We are booked for dinner tomorrow evening together so should be fun.
    Once we had unpacked we took the short walk from our hotel and saw the iconic sights of the city, the bridge and the Opera House followed by pizza and a couple of drinks at a bar with a marvellous view of the Opera House.
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    Rachel Marshall

    Love those views. Enjoy Sydney!

    11/10/19Reply
     
  • Day28

    A windy day at Jack's Point

    November 8, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    I mentioned in a previous blog about my intention to play a round of golf at Jack’s Point reputedly one of the finest courses in New Zealand and was hoping that the weather would stay fine. Throughout the week I have been checking the weather forecast for Saturday and it was always forecasting heavy rain. Last night we had a thunderstorm and heavy rain through the night and it was raining when I got up at 6:30 as my tee time was booked for 8:00. The rain, though light, continued as I drove to the course so was not too optimistic.
    Checked in at the proshop and got my rental clubs organised followed by ten minutes on the range and then on to first tee. I was booked to play on my own but caught up with two guys on the second tee and asked if I could join them. No problem they said. They were two Aussies Ted and his son in law Kieran, who arrived in Queenstown last night. They were very good company and we had a few laughs. Remarkably the rain had not only stopped but the sun came out and despite the very strong wind it was warm and sunny. For the golfers reading this Jacks’ Point is a stunning course in superb condition and it would have been a tough challenge on a calm day but the wind was really very strong. So strong that for large parts of the round you could not keep your hat on. The views over the lake and to the Remarkables mountains gave the course a fantastic backdrop.
    Talking with Ted and Kieran they told me about their experience of getting to Queenstown yesterday. Queenstown airport has quite a short runway and their flight from Australia yesterday had two attempts to land due to the very strong winds and then had to divert to Christchurch where they collected a rental car and drove over arriving at midnight.
    We have been so lucky with the weather on this trip. We came prepared for all eventualities bu had mainly blue skies. Even today when I wanted it fine for golf it was then from about four o’clock it poured down!
    Whilst I was golfing Jane seemed to be having some animated conversations with some American guests in the hotel with differing views on Meghan Markle! We have some interesting fellow guest including a Dutch couple on honeymoon who followed us from Te Anau. They are in to the adrenaline stuff and did the scariest zip wire yesterday.
    Today is our final full day in New Zealand for tomorrow afternoon we fly to Sydney a four hour flight where there is a two hour time difference to here meaning we shall be eleven hours ahead of UK time.
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    Much as the golf does sound great please tell more on the animated conversation about Meghan!!

    11/9/19Reply
     
  • Day27

    Queenstown and another camera issue!

    November 7, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Woke up to another good weather day and so set off to retrace our steps back to Queenstown.
    En route we stopped at Jacks Point golf club. Janet and John were hugely impressed when they played here so before leaving the UK I booked a tee time for this Saturday but at the moment the weather forecast is not so good for Saturday hence the decision to call in on a fine day. It certainly looks good so fingers crossed! Whilst there we saw a group of paragliders just near the course.
    Arrived at our small hotel in Queenstown and we are about a five minute walk into town. Now Queenstown markets itself as the adventure and adrenalin rush capital of NZ and probably even further. Here you can bungee jump, zip wire, paragliding, loads of stuff on the lake, hiking, climbing and of course golf and because of all this activity it attracts a lot of youngsters and a multitude of bars and restaurants. Our first impression is of a great and vibrant town and we shall enjoy our stay here.
    This afternoon we took the steamship TSS Earnslaw for a trip across the lake. She was built in 1912, same year as the Titanic, and is a big tourist attraction here and rightly so for the views of the lake and country around it were brilliant. When we got off the boat it was happy hour in most of the bars, so it would be rude not to ...
    Whilst walking back to our hotel a young person rode their bike down several flights of stairs at great speed into the town and just stopped in time. Adventure Capital......
    Did I mention the camera? Yesterday at Doubtful Sound we asked a fellow traveller to take a photo of us. He was struggling a bit with the controls so I helped him and in so doing between us we dropped the camera. I was able to take a couple more shots but realised that all was not well so thought we would get it checked out when we got to Queenstown. Found a camera shop and you know when you take your car in for repair and there is a sharp intake of breath and blowing of cheeks? Well this is what we had. I think the expression is, beyond economical repair. Fortunately every day I always download photos on to my iPad just in case. We shall be in Hong Kong at the end of next week so may take the opportunity of looking for a replacement camera there.
    Had an excellent Vietnamese meal this evening and lengthy conversation with the couple at our next table. They were Indian who had moved from Calcutta eleven years ago to Dunedin where they are real estate agents. He was passionate about cricket and plays at a good level. A good night.
    Apologies no photos, will try again tomorrow.
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    Janet Townley

    Must be something about New Zealand and cameras!!! I lost my memory card when it fell out of my camera case at Frank Josef glacier that had pictures of the first 5 weeks of our trip! 😡 Sounds like you’re having a fabulous time. Can’t wait to catch up when you’re back xx Janet Townley

    11/7/19Reply