An open-ended adventure by Shahnavaz Mehta
Currently traveling
  • Day15

    Next stop Hong Kong... For 10 hours...

    October 30, 2018 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    The flight from New York was the reverse of what we did before. New York to Beijing, 1 hour 15 min transfer in Beijing, Beijing to Hong Kong. As the flight has left an hour late I'm not sure this is going to go well...

    Will found a row of seats empty so was able to sleep quite well. I tried to take sleeping tablets but after 2 hours the lady next to me dropped something on my lap and I had woke up with a fright! Luckily she was really sweet and although I'd missed the serving of food she had got me a Haagen Daas vanilla ice cream! I wasn't annoyed for long 😊

    The flight didn't feel as restless as previously. I slept for a bit, watched Hunters Prayer, slept, ate and watched Ice Age 4. We were running seriously late now and as there was nothing I could do I was feeling surprisingly relaxed. I informed the airhostess of our transfer and they looked at us terrified and said we won't make it. Now, I've not told you our full travel plans... Once we reach Hong Kong that isn't the end. We are flying to Cebu, Philippines, the next morning at 9am so we are planning to sleep in Hong Kong airport as it is only 10 hours. I've come prepared with air china blankets and a pillow, so hopefully I just need to find a quiet corner. Anyway, so as you can see we have quite a tight schedule and if we miss our connection in Beijing and there are no more flights that evening we will miss our flight to the Philippines!! It's now 5:15pm and our next flight departs at 5:45pm... Hmm

    We ran as fast as we possibly could through the airport when we arrived. Luckily we did this 8 days ago so we knew what to expect, unlucky for us no one seemed to know our gate number so we had to look for it, but then luckily after sprinting through the airport our flight was actually delayed so we had plenty of time. We arrived at 5:45pm on the dot! Phew!! Gosh I hate flying! But we've made it and to be honest as I'm writing this blog we are still sat on the plane having not left yet and it's 7pm! It was supposed to leave at 5:45pm.

    We finally set off at 7:30pm from Beijing and arrived at 10:30pm. As we have a flight first thing in the morning we have decided to sleep in the airport. Now I'm not sure this is a good idea but I'll let you know in the morning...
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  • Day5

    It's going to be a long day...LITERALLY!

    October 20, 2018 in Hong Kong ⋅ 🌬 24 °C

    Today is our last morning in Hong and to be honest it was good fun. For breakfast we went to a cafe recommended by Tammy. Tammy sent us a list of things we had to try so we just ordered one of each! It was really popular with locals and to be honest the food was a bit odd. We ordered macaroni and ham soup, fried eggs and toast drowned in peanut butter and condensed milk. In addition we ordered the tea and coffee, that is tea And coffee in the same drink... Absolutely stuffed we then headed to Wan Chai Market which is a big wet market but also famous for being in Deus Ex, one of Will's childhood games.

    As we were going to be on a flight for the majority of the day we decided we had to get our steps done before, we don't want to break our 28 day streak, so we wandered around and decided to walk to a local jade market on a hunt for a gift. When we got there we found exactly what we wanted but definitely not at the price we needed it! Luckily with our pretty good haggling skills we got it for the exact amount!

    With time now ticking till our flight and our steps complete we ran back to the flat, showered, packed, grabbed a quick Mc Donalds (seriously when it's only £2 for a burger and fries you can't really say no!) and then jumped on the bus to the airport.

    Our next flight is to NYC! Now I hear you say, are they crazy?! Why on earth are they going there. Well it's one of Will's close friends from High School, Simon, wedding. We are super excited to be able to go and to have been able to find the perfect flights. However, here is more detail about the flights we are about to embark on. Our flight from Hong Kong is at 5:30pm which is 3 hours 45mins. We then have a transfer in Beijing of 1 hour 15 min. Our flight departs Beijing at 10:30pm local time and arrives at JFK 16 hours later around midnight. On the surface, although ridiculously long, the timings seem OK. BUT... this is assuming that all flights are on time and there is no delay,which obviously there was.

    Our flight to Beijing was an hour delayed and was able to make up 15 mins, giving us 30 mins to transfer. We mentioned it to the airhostess and she looked at us very troubled. Before the plane landed she moved us to the very front so that we could run!

    We were making OK time and could see our gate, however in front of that was immigration and security with a huge line. Luckily we realised we were not alone and there were actually quite a few people doing the same including first class passengers who were also being escorted. We met a lovely lady in the line who was a local and she kept us sane. It took us 20 mins to get through so we ran for our lives to the gate. The lovely lady we met in the line waited for us half way to make sure we didn't get lost finding the gate and made it just in time!! Another moment when I am so glad our bags are pretty light! Let's just say this is not how i wanted to prepare for a 16 hour flight, but gosh I'm glad we made it in time.

    The next 16 hours were very uncomfortable. Between Hong Kong and NYC there is a 12 hour time difference. Even thought we set off at 5pm on Saturday 20th (5am NYC) and the flights took 20 hours we still landed on the same day! We try and avoid jet lag as much as we can and therefore set our clocks according to the new timezone, sleep when would be a normal time and eat when a normal time. This meant that technically I shouldn't sleep until maybe the last couple of hours and that I basically have a whole day's of food to eat. I was screwed. I felt horrifically groggy the whole flight and at one point gave up and tried to sleep. I couldn't. I tried to watch films and read to try and send me to sleep and I wasn't reading or sleeping I was just in some weird trance. It was awful. Luckily in the last 2 hours I was able to nap twice for about 20 mins, which really helped.

    When as arrived in NYC it felt like we were both on drugs we were both so giddy waiting in the immigration line haha For once it actually didn't take that long as we had been before and we're able to use their machines. Well that's what we thought... I was able to go straight through with no problems at all but for some reason we were split up and Will had to go to a different line and he took forever. While waiting on the side I was listening in In to the various immigration officers and they were brutal. There was one old couple of Asian origin and from what I overheard they were citizens of the US. The officer was going ballistic at them and yelling in their faces repeatedly "Just because you're a US citizen I don't have to let you in". They looked terrified and from what I overheard they didn't actually do anything wrong, but they were being interrogated for going to Hong Kong. I watched sooo many people of Asian and Indian origin being taken individually by security guards. Not a single white person was taken. It was really awful and why I could never live in this country. Eventually Will got through and said he had the horrid lady and she just kept yelling at him too. It was now 1am and we got to our friends flat at about 3am. We are so lucky to have friends in in so many different countries! Unfortunately our friends Luke and Ines aren't actually there but fortunately we are able to stay here while they are on holiday.

    And wow what an apartment, its just next to Central Park and it is super super swish!! I think we are the luckiest people in the world 😊 Safe and sound we went straight to bed.
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    Tom Mitcheson

    Wow, what a journey!

    10/26/18Reply
     
  • Day4

    A Hike, Great Food & Even Better Company

    October 19, 2018 in Hong Kong ⋅ 🌬 27 °C

    Today was jam packed with all our favourite things to do, a hike, amazing food and meeting locals.

    In the morning we had Hong Kong's famous Roasted Goose from Yat Lok. Again we were warned about huge queues but luckily we didn't have to wait and walked straight in. It was super tasty! The crisp duck skin was cooked perfectly and melted in your mouth. However, it was a bit pricey so we just got one to share and then went for Shanghai dumplings again.

    As the weather was the best we had had so far we did the Dragon Back Trail to Big Wave. This is a popular coastal walk and although some said its not worth, I fully disagree. Its a really lovely walk with really great views of the coast of hong kong. Along the way we saw lots of huge Black Kites which was really amazing. It was super super windy but a fun, picturesque walk which ended at Big Wave where we watched the surfers either being awesome or being taken out by the huge waves.

    In the evening we met up with Tammy and Sam who had kindly got in contact with us via Couch Surfing and offered to take us for dinner in the evening. We met them in Sam Shui Po. While waiting we went to the Golden arcade which is a huge electronics store and then found a new backpack. Unfortunately our day pack has seen its end. For dinner they took us to an amazing modern dim sum restaurant. It was such good fun learning about Hong Kong, politics, travelling and of course eating the incredible food. We even tried chicken feet (they were yum). They also ordered Hea which are sweet bao the colour of an orange with a sleeping face drawn on filled with custard. They were called lazy buns. Really yum!!

    They then took us through the area and up a local hill known as Garden Hill. It's a viewpoint that only the locals know about and is a well known place for first dates. It was such a cute spot!

    For desert we tried 4 different sweet soups, which is a common desert. We had black sesame, red bean and Mandarin peel, snow fungus and lotus hearts and sago. None of them offended me but I don't think I would order them again! Definitely a one time try for me 😂

    It was such a lovely evening and I think my favourite day in Hong Kong. At first I wasn't sure if I liked Hong Kong. It wasn't quite what I expected and to be honest I much preferred Singapore or Ho Chị Mình, but the city did grow on me today.
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  • Day3

    Blitz of Hong Kong

    October 18, 2018 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Today we had a lot of making up, so we got up early packed our bags and left to check into our airbnb. The MTR was absolutely chaotic,well it was peak time! 5 trains came and went before we were able to squeeeeze on with our backpacks. After checking in we went for brunch at Tim Ho Wan, a Michelin Star dim sum restaurant. As we went at a super off peak time we were able to get a table instantly. We ordered Baked Bun with Barbecue Pork, Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumpling, Steamed Pork Dumpling with Shrimp, Vermicelli Roll stuffed with Shrimp, and the Pan Fried Turnip Cake. We drank endless amounts of tea and stuffed our faces with the elegantly made dim sum. Such a great start to the day.

    We then wandered to Kowloon Park which had an unexpected aviary with various exotic, macaws, cockatoos and even a great hornbill! Obviously it was chucking down with rain while walking through, but honestly we are beginning to get used to it now. To warm us up we went for a quick snack and got Shanghai dumplings which are baked dumplings filled with pork and boiling hot soup. You eat them by biting a tiny hole out the top and sucking the juice out. They come with a warning sign to prevent burnt mouths but obviously we thought "how hot can they really be". We quickly learnt they are burning hot!

    Next we walked to the Garden of Stars which hosts the famous Bruce Lee statue and finally we got on the Star Ferry across to Hong Kong Island, jumped on a bus and made our way to The Peak to see the views from the top. Just our luck, the clouds lower, it even gets cold and the views aren't the best but we made it to the top and meandered around until it was dark so that we could see the city in daylight and nighttime. To be honest it was so nice to get out in the fresh air as it was quite stuffy in the city!

    For dinner we had Clay Pot Rice which was recommended by some local cousurfers we are meeting up with tomorrow. I must admit it wasn't as good as the claypot we had in Malaysia but it was still pretty good and just what you need after a cold walk.
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  • Day2

    It was a tough day...

    October 17, 2018 in Hong Kong ⋅ 🌧 23 °C

    Obviously we didn't get up till later but surprisingly we were up before lunch!

    For lunch we went to a local eatery in Tai Wai. No menus were in English and we just pointed at pictures hoping they were what they looked like in the picture. So we thought we ordered battered pork with rice and chicken with rice. We were mistaken! We actually got battered fish with rice and Tofu with rice. Luckily we eat everything and aren't so fussy.

    In the afternoon we wandered to the Hong Kong Museum of History. At first I was highly impressed and thought a lot of work had gone into it. However, the more we went round the more we realised, it's great for people that just want to take losts of pictures however there was no structure to it. Everything was scattered here there and everywhere and there wasn't an obvious route/ chronological order to the information being given. Also the history felt quite vague and not very detailed and so actually it was very difficult to take a clear picture of Hong Kongs history. From the face of it the museum is really fun but actually it doesn't really grab your intellectual needs.

    By the time we left it was dinner time. We went to the famous temple Street and ladies market which were famous for its street food and night market. It was very disappointing. Unlike in Taiwan which was always full of young locals and hundreds of food stalls this was 100% a tourist trap. Not a single local in sight and all the food was inflated in price. After going round the whole street we decided to leave. Upon leaving we found a hidden entry to an indoor marque and it was full of locals. This is exactly where we wanted to be. We ordered char sui pork, rice and steamed vegetables.

    Fed and shattered we jumped on a bus and headed home.
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  • Day1

    Country Number 9: Hong Kong!

    October 16, 2018 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Eeek!! We are super psyched for our next destination!! We are only staying for 4 days but its going to be jam packed, which is why we didn't go crazy and cram lots in our last few days of Taiwan.

    In the morning we grabbed a taxi to the airport with a couple from Hong Kong also at the hostel (10 mins by taxi, 35 by public transport or an hour walk) and then chilled out in the teeny airport till our flight. So as you know we have a ritual, toilet, fill bottles, get a spritz of perfume and then try and spend our remaining small change currency. When we got past security you won't believe what happened... There's no shop!! So we couldn't spend our remaining TWD! From our estimations we could have bought 6 Chumpos (a chocolate biscuit). The flight was fine and really short. In no time we had the perfect misty view of Hong Kong. I think we've brought the rain from Taiwan!

    It's always fun getting to a new country and working through the same routine, wee, pack our 7kg back into the rucksack that we've had to wear, walk miles to go through immigration, get cash, get a Sim card and attempt to work out how to get from the airport to the city. Normally we aren't in a rush and it's quite chilled. However this time we had to rush. As we only had limited time in Hong Kong we decided to do a walking tour and there happened to be one on the day we arrived. The only problem was that it was at 2:30pm and we were expected to land at 12:50pm. I think the stars were aligned perfectly for us. We packed our luggage and had a wee on the flight and arrived at 12:20pm, immigration was super efficient, bought tickets for the HSR into central and was in town by 1:30pm! Perfect. Obviously we didn't want to carry our luggage all day so we headed straight to the luggage store, the price was per item with various time frames. So we decided to clip my small bag to my big one and hope they don't mind as it is small! They did, it was ridiculous... People were bringing suitcases that our entire luggage and a person could have fit in and were paying the same cost! The guy behind the desk said "We follow rules in Hong Kong, if you put all your luggage in one plastic bag then we can take it." Me and Will looked at each other and instantly thought a bin bag! Will found a cleaner asked for a bin bag and we were sorted! The bin bag so big we were able to put all our luggage in instead of just my bag and the small bag. 😂 Luckily even after this palaver we still made it just in time for the tour.

    The tour was OK, but I wouldn't recommend it to others as I think you could have just walked to the various places yourself. I think the guide was very new and so he didn't really know anything about the history of Hong Kong and didn't really offer any insider tips. He did take us to a couple of places we wanted to go to including Tai Cheong Bakery for their famous egg tart (really biscuity tart and really egg custard, perfect), Lan Fong Yen for their Stocking Milk Tea (OK for a one time try), and.......

    After the tour we went up the Mid-Levels Esculator whicg is the longest outdoor Esculator system spanning 2,600 feet. Part of it was under repairs, which was tiring, but eventually we got to the top. A fun thing to do, but you probably could have just done part of it, mainly because the esculator is only one way and so you walk back down 😊

    We quickly ran back down and met Andy, one of Will's colleagues for dinner at Mak's Noodle where we had beef brisket with wonton noodle. It was really yummy!!

    Now, a famous saying among locals and expats is “A New York minute is a Hong Kong second,” and I can officially say it is true. The night started by Andy taking us to a bar during happy hour. And I'm so glad it was! Drinks are super expensive here. We just chatted for a while and one obviously became two. We then went to meet some of his friends and this is when the night escalated... two became... more than two and then we realised the station luggage shuts at 1am! It was now 12:30am. We pegged it back to the station and unbeknown to us they only seem to have one entrance open at that time, which was the completely opposite side to our luggage. I couldn't run fast enough so Will just went for it. It was getting very very tight and suddenly we hit a barrier where you would normally pay to get on the train. We needed to get through this to get our luggage, but we didn't need to get the train. Will just went for it and lept over. A minute behind I got to the gate and saw quite an angry lady and I asked her how I can get round to which she replied "Well he lept over it!!" I took this as permission to also do the same. I got to the luggage and Will wasn't there. All I could hear was him yelling upstairs asking people where he needed to go. Eventually he came downstairs and we got our luggage literally with seconds to spare. What followed next was a moment of true testing. We had a huge row. I didn't know whether to omit this from the blog but I decided to keep it in because let's be honest this is normal!! Myself and Will are with each other 24 hours a day, everyday. In the past month we haven't really met other people and it's actually been quite tough compared to our last trip due to the weather and feeling more restricted. So honestly, I'm surprised we hadn't killed each other before! After quite a drama we both calmed down, became more civilised and started walking back to meet the others. To be honest we both really wanted to go back home but the party was moving to someone's flat and as we were guests we were to English to refuse. To be honest it was a good thing, we sat and chatted to the new crowd and it was just nice to meet other people and feel normal again! But... this then went on for way to long. Myself and Will were falling asleep in the corner when eventually we all bundled into a taxi and got to Andy's flat. In the words of How I Met Your Mother, "nothing good happens after 2am" and definitely not at 7am when you are crawling into bed and it's daylight... Tomorrow is going to be painful but what an eventful start to Hong Kong!!!
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