Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Friday 22nd July 2016 (Hong Kong / Bangkok, Thailand)

Gorgeous sunrise on the flight to Hong Kong. It was a bit strange having morning, when we hadn't really had a proper night yet!

I think this is Kowloon, on our approach to the airport.

The view from our aeroplane camera as we came in to land! Hong Kong airport is on an island of mainly reclaimed land, and the landing strip is surrounded by water on three sides. It was fascinating and scary watching as we landed!

I loved seeing mountains everywhere, in the morning sunshine.

We went from the airport to the adjoining train station, and got tickets from a machine to Hong Kong. Some of the ride was underground, but we came up again when going through Kowloon - loads of similar, closely packed highrise flats, with mountains in the  background.

We got off on Hong Kong island, and took our suitcases to an early check-in place. It was a bit confusing, as it turned out we had to buy return tickets to be able to check them in, and we hadn't planned to return to the airport from there because we thought we might go and visit a large Buddha statue on another island on the way back to the airport. We bought the tickets anyway and it turned out fine because in the end we were too exhausted to go anywhere else!

We wanted to go up Victoria Peak - the mountain overlooking Hong Kong. After managing to come out the station, walk in a big circle and end up back in the station, I asked for directions to the Peak and we headed the right way. You can see it here, peeking through the buildings.

We thought we'd hike up Victoria Peak, but after a while of walking through busy covered walkways, shopping centre-like corridors and interconnected office buildings (we didn't come to any actual streets for ages!), we got to a tram station. Scott had read there'd be loads of queues here, but because it was still early (sometime after 9am), the station was quiet, so we decided to get the tram. We were in the first lot waiting for the next tram. It was in the low 30°s, but we were pretty sweaty and worn out already. The kids were dead and everyone was feeling a bit grumpy while we waited.

Once on the tram though, we perked up a bit. The ride was fun!! It was so steep that I could hardly make sense of some of the crazy angles I was seeing!

At the top we came out through a shopping centre kind of building, and straight away saw the amazing views out over Hong Kong island and Kowloon in the distance.

It was pretty brilliant!

We wandered along the path a bit and took some photos, but then weren't sure what we should do really. The area at the top of Victoria Peak was described as a park, and I was hoping there would be some grassy areas where we could lie down and have a rest, but there were only paths and concreted areas that we could find. Everyone was just worn out and a bit fed up. I said we needed to get food and water as a priority and then decide what to do, so we headed back to the main shopping area and got sandwiches and hot dogs etc. in a 7/11, then walked back along the path a bit and sat on a little wall to eat. Saw some big insects!

After that we decided to go for a walk in the opposite direction, but after a short way, I realised there wasn't going to be anywhere soon for the kids to stop and rest properly, and Harry and Tom in particular were flagging. I ended up going with the three boys back to the train station, then airport, while Lucy and Scott had a bit more of a wander. I think they also made it down to the harbour area.

The building we came out through on Victoria Peak. It's like a maze inside though, and took us a while to find the tram entrance again - the signs were rubbish!

The boys and I had a nice time getting back, and it seemed much quicker. I felt quite brave travelling through Hong Kong, getting the train, then getting through airport security etc. without Scott!

Travelling backwards downhill on the tram!

Back at the airport we got a 1.5 litre bottle of water each, then remembered we couldn't take them through security! I was worried we hadn't drunk enough that day, so challenged everyone to drink their bottles before going through security! We pretty much managed it, and all felt sick by the end! What a laugh!

We went through passport control and security OK, and wandered around for a bit trying to find a good area to rest in. There wasn't anywhere great, because we were still hours off being called through to a departure lounge. Eventually we settled on a carpeted landing area. The boys played on computer stuff and I stretch out and had a nap. Luckily Harry had bought a little round smiley face pillow in his hand luggage, which I borrowed ( - not that he had any other kind of luggage - his suitcase never turned up! He was still in the same clothes as when we set off, with underwear borrowed from Tom!)

Lucy and Scott showed up after not too long and we stayed where we were for a while - still hours to kill before our flight. We had McDonalds for a second lunch, then wandering round the airport, going up and down escalators trying to get to a lounge we could see but not reach! None of the escalators would get us to the right floor, or side we needed to be on! Had a bit of fun anyway.

Eventually our flight made it onto the departures board and we sat at our gate. Lucy and I went to a shop and used the rest of our Hong Kong dollars on snacks and Tiger Balm, till the boys ran up to say our flight was boarding.

Lovely sun set over the sea and mountains.

It was a 2.5 hour flight to Bangkok, Thailand. We had a meal, and I finished watching Poldark, and slept a bit.
In Bangkok, we got our stuff OK, and came out the airport to find a taxi. It was about 10.30pm Bangkok time. The hot, moist air hit us at once! 
We queued at a taxi rank for a couple of minutes, then got two taxis to our hotel about half an hour away. I was not very happy! One of the seat belts wasn't working, so I asked the driver to pull over and I'd get another taxi. I got out and went to speak to Scott, who's taxi had stopped behind us. His taxi didn't have seat belts either, and I realised that this was normal, so I got back in my taxi and said to carry on! 
We went on the motorway and fast. I was feeling tired and worried, and that I didn't like Asia! - the unregulatedness of it all etc! I prayed a whole lot on the way, and we eventually made it to our hotel. The Mandarin hotel was 4*, and was clean and orderly and I felt much happier! We got our rooms fine, and it was bliss to get in bed. I had to have a good talk with Harry though, who was really upset. He said he felt claustrophobic and stressed - too much travelling, too many people, too hot. I just told him that at that point I felt similar, but that we were tired out and it wasn't surprising - and that the next few days would be much more restful! He was OK after that.

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