Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hong Kong and Eastern Europe 2009 Day 4

September 2009

Day 4

We caught our flight over Europe to Zurich, for a quick plane trip to Budapest in Hungary.

Before this trip we debated quite a bit how much time to spend in Budapest, or if we should take a few side trips instead, as we were due to start a Intrepid tour from here. We had a number of people state that we should not visit the city, and also an equal number state that it was one of their favourite European cities, so with this in mind, we planned to spend the whole time before our tour was due to start in Budapest, and we definitely did NOT regret this decision.

Living in a rather "isolated" country such as Australia (and DH's home country of New Zealand) we found it quite amusing that there was no border or customs control coming into Hungary, seeing that it's now part of the EU, it was all done in Zurich. After clearing customs, we got into a cab (which have a zoning system so you know exactly what you are to be charged) and headed to our hotel, The Kings. Once we checked in we headed straight down to the Danube river, to take in the beautiful day in Budapest.

The river bridges are some of the best know landmarks in Budapest, including the Chain Bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge, both which were destroyed during WWII and subsequently rebuilt. The chain bridge in particular is the well known link between Buda and Pest.

After grabbing lunch in a local supermarket, we went to visit the Great Hall markets. The bottom, or entry level has fresh produce of every kind, including cheeses, fruit, paprika and pastries. The upper level has handicraft, souvenirs and a number of hot food sellers, where you can buy local specialties and eat them fast food style.

After making our way back to our hotel, we headed out for dinner at a recommended courtyard restaurant in the Klub Feszek, where we tried a number of local dishes, before heading back for a well earned rest.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hong Kong and Eastern Europe 2009 Day 3

September 2009

Day 3

Our third and final day in Hong Kong, ahh.

We caught the MTR and bus to see the Big Buddha (noticing the trend? The MTR system and card makes it very easy to get around). The structure is the largest outdoor, bronze sitting Buddha in the world and the 268 steps (not that I was counting :) or anything) were worth it.

We caught the long and winding bus ride back, for those of you who get car sick there is a cable car that you can get, but this was closed when we visited. We had lunch in the local shopping complex before we caught the MTR back to Kowloon.

Before visiting Hong Kong, I had done a fair amount of research into what to do into Hong Kong and had narrowed the list down in consultation with DH. Someone had stated that the Hong Kong Museum of History is free on the certain day of the week, but I couldn't remember which one. We were pleasantly surprised that it was on this day when we decided to have a look for the rest of the afternoon. It was a great place to check out and with DH having a Pacific Island background, we were fascinated with the Pacific culture and history exhibit they had at the time.

We had a evening meal at a local Chinese eatery before heading off to the airport, you guessed it, via the MTR! Take note, because this influences our decision and choices of what to do with a long layover on our return trip.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hong Kong and Eastern Europe 2009 Day 2

September 2009

Day 2

We started the morning with a ferry trip across the harbour Hong Kong Island and we walked up to the location of the Peak Tram (due to us not researching what time the buses actually started running, which was a few hours from when we planned). Many people review the Peak Tram as over rated or expensive, but we used our MTR tickets to get a reduced rate and loved the view both going upwards to The Peak and downwards. The view from The Peak is amazing, even if the day isn't perfect, which it wasn't when we visited, and at least it makes an interesting people watching exercise. But for me (and my parents) a trip to Hong Kong is not complete without a visit for this view day or night (I have yet to see it at night but my parents assure me it's spectacular).

After taking the tram back down the Peak (which is a lot less crowded than the trip going up), we headed off to find a traditional Hong Kong Yum Cha house, also in this area of Hong Kong. Although the address was perfect and the description good, we found ourselves searching for what was in front of our face. It was great to pick items of the trolley, in which we had no idea what they were, to watch the old men sipping their tea and reading the paper and to be immersed in a true local experience.

We then caught the Star Ferry back across the harbour, to catch the MTR to our next sight seeing adventure - the 10,000 Buddhas. Now even though we had pretty good instructions from the Tripadvisor boards, we could not figure out how to get to the actual Buddhas. The best we got was a glimpse of them through the fence of the burial grounds located in front of the 10,000 Buddha site. Not exactly what we had in mind, but you've got to give these things a try. We headed back to Kowloon for a noodle dinner, before heading off to the harbour front to catch the nightly light show. This spectacular nightly sound and light show, utilises a number of the tall buildings in the harbour and can be viewed from either side of the harbour. All in all, a great day in the wonderful place that is Hong Kong.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hong Kong and Eastern Europe 2009

So it's been a while since I've blogged, but it's just over a year since DH and I took our 5 week trip to Hong Kong and Eastern Europe, so I thought it was a good chance to not only document all the notes I have but also get back into the posts!

September 2009

So our trip to Eastern Europe kicked off with a stopover in Hong Kong. It was my second trip, but DH's first, and after his introduction to Asia via Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in 2008, he was more than willing to make it our stopover destination.

Day 1

Hong Kong has a great MTR (rail) network and we made our way to Kowloon from the airport to our accommodation at the YMCA. We choose the YMCA for two reasons: 1 This is where my mother and her girlfriend had stayed during their first trip overseas in the 1960s (in a different structure mind you) and 2 Due to the location near the MTR, ferry and harbour.

After checking in we headed off to find a tasty meal, which is not difficult in Hong Kong and we settled in for some pork and chicken noodle soup at a local eatery. I was surprised how low the prices were compared to my last trip a decade before, and I was left wondering if this was because I was no longer a poor student and they seemed cheaper, or if prices had indeed dropped.