Hong Kong

Saturday, 12 December 2015

The final destination. We were only meant to be stopping in Hong Kong for a few hours, but when booking our trip decided to extend our stay by a night so we had a little more time to explore before heading back to London. The 10 hour flight was with Fiji Airways and we had individual TVs unlike the short haul flight to Fiji. The selection of films was pretty minimal compared to our flights with Qatar and Emirates where we were spoilt for choice. Don't ask me why but I have an obsession with researching the in-flight menu before I fly, and found out that Fiji Airways had recently redesigned all of their menus due to an influx of complaints. I dread to think how awful it must have been prior to the change as the breakfast was disgusting. I had chicken and noodles which did not taste like chicken and I barely ate, Kate couldn't eat her omelette with sausage and mushrooms as she said it was equally as horrible and Abby barely touched the sides of her vegetarian potatoes, greens, sweetcorn and baked beans. She's not a veggie, by the way, just fussy with meat. I watched Vacation which made me laugh out loud a lot followed by Southpaw which made me an emotional wreck. Abby and I watched it at the same time, upon Kate's recommendation, and were both sat there with tears streaming down our faces. We were giggling about it as the flight attendants probably thought we were genuinely upset wiping away the tears, when infact the story was just heartbreaking. 

managed to get some sleep while watching Entourage and was pleasantly surprised when lunch was much better than breakfast. I had a chicken and cheese roll which again, didn't taste like chicken but was edible, followed by a plain muffin, cheese and crackers and a chocolate bar which tasted like the smell of cleaning products. Again, not the best, but miles better than the first meal. I wasn't given the whole can of Coke when I was offered a drink like I've had on all other flights and the attendant served me coffee when I asked for tea. Nothing major, just a few minor little flaws. The rest of the flight went pretty smoothly, although I struggled to get comfortable, but I did play Hungry Fish, Fruit Shoot, Sodoku and Perfect Match before listening to Beyonce's I Am... Sasha Fierce album for the final few hours. The music selection was so good and I alternated between old school RnB, 90s hits, chart music and even listened to a bit of Susan Boyle (a bit meaning 11 seconds - sorry SuBo) so it's safe to say I wasn't bored. We also challenged ourselves to name all 50 American states - we got 32 between us which isn't bad going. We've since looked through them and are going to try and beat our score on the way home. My geographical knowledge has considerably improved in the last 3 months so I'm going to attempt to be able to name all 50. No promises, though.

By the time we landed we'd already been up for 15 hours and realistically would be up for another 9 - we wanted to spend our last night going for a nice meal and drinks to end our incredible trip on a high. The thought of being up for 24 hours straight pained me a little and I knew I'd reach a point and flag. We got our luggage and were greeted with a large plush airport and a wooden Santa shack displaying a large luminous 'Seasons Greetings'. Immigration was speedy and we grabbed some food before heading to the hotel because we were all starving. McDonald's everywhere else seems to be so much more upmarket and each have their own McCafe serving a variety of drinks and cakes. The menu was slightly different so I opted for a McChicken spicy fillet burger meal which came with a large drink and large fries. It cost 43 dollars which is around £3.65 - pretty damn cheap. We knew to get the A11 bus and get off at stop 20 which cost 65 dollars for a return which is £5.50. We waited for around 20 minutes before hopping on the double decker modern bus with wifi, leather seats and tourist information displayed on the screens. Tall skyscrapers sat behind thick fog and the buildings were dated - comprised of stone coloured exterior and drab reflective glass. 

I didn't expect the mountains or the sea, and it had an eerie kind of vibe as we made our way into the city. We crossed the 22km Tsing Ma Bridge which is world's longest road - something pretty cool to say I've done. The bus service was very efficient and as we got further into city and it drew darker, we saw the more plush and sleek side of Hong Kong. The festive vibe was prominent with twinkling Christmas lights hanging from the extravagant buildings and glittering shop window displays, alongside expensive cars and the sophisticated entertainment scene which boasted the connotations attached to one of the world's leading international financial centres. As we left what seemed like the main business district, the streets got a little dirtier and the atmosphere a little grubbier. We got off at stop 20 and ended up walking the wrong way before asking for directions and finding M1 North Point Hotel on Chun Yeung Street. There was street food in abundance which left the most insulting lingering smell of fish. The stalls looked small and grubby and I wondered how anyone would willingly eat from a stall which visibly lacked hygiene and health and safety regulations. It held a similar Bangkok market vibe and we were quite shocked that M1 was located on such a cluttered and chaotic road. 

We wanted somewhere nice for our last night so booked up an executive room over summer. We checked in and were greeted with cute Christmas decorations before getting the lift up to the 20th floor where our room was located. When I requested an upper storey room on the booking request form I was thinking of floor 4 or 5 maybe, but up to 20 we went. While the room was small it was cosy and exactly how it looked in the pictures. We had 1 large double bed and 1 large soda bed as well as towels, toiletries, tea making facilities, a hairdryer, a safe, slippers, flat screen TV and a modern frosted glass bathroom in the corner. Not having checked in until 7, just after 8 we were on our way to North Point station to go to Central for dinner and drinks. We paid 15 dollars for a return which is less than £1.50 and it reflected that of Singapore's MRT - modern, efficient and much better than the London Underground. Walking out of Central we were greeted with tall buildings, bright lights and an instant buzz. We'd planned on going for a curry but we struggled to find somewhere that didn't look grubby or wasn't infested with 100 boozy fancy dress Santas, which actually made us feel very festive. A cute little Italian, Ciao Chow, on the corner caught our eye with its open plan setting, dimly lit eating area and mellow atmosphere. The prices were good and we ended up paying around £20 for a pizza and a shared bottle of prosecco. The freshly stone-baked pizzas were lovely and the prosecco equally so. You just can't go wrong with a pizza and prosecco combo.

We sat for a couple of hours reminiscing about the trip and enjoying our last evening just the 3 of us. By the time we'd finished we'd been up for 24 hours and were all pretty wiped out so headed back for some much needed sleep. I was adamant I'd sleep like a baby but woke at 3, 5, 7 and then couldn't get back to sleep. I was slightly concerned knowing that once we checked out the hotel at 12 we'd be out for 32 hours until touching down at Heathrow followed by another 2 hour drive home and an evening with my family and boyfriend, but what can you do? After pretty much dodging insect bites for the last 12 weeks I was disgusted to wake up with about 20 bites, 8 on 1 foot, and a bed bugs bite which come in the form of a cluster of 3 small dots. It made me feel gross and it's weird really because I've only been bitten in cities, Singapore and Hong Kong where we've stayed in nice hotels, but have avoided them everywhere else in grubby hostels. After a lazy morning we checked out, left our luggage at reception and went out for our 1 and only day of exploring. We got the MTR again to Admiralty and then changed and got off at Mong Kok. It was 26 dollars for a return and it was heaving - clearly Sunday is a day for shoppers, especially this close to Christmas. First on the agenda was a pitstop at McDonald's and then we hit Ladies Market on Tung Choi Street. 

Walking up to it, the surrounding streets were lined with expensive jewellery stores. The market itself was on huge row with stalls either side. There were purses and bags in abundance and us girls were literally spoilt for choice. Obviously it's all fake designer brands but if you go from stall to stall, you can buy items which are amazing qualify for the price. Within the hour we'd finished and I treated myself to a Michael Kors handbag, a Mulberry clutch bag and a Mulberry purse, all of which I'm absolutely in love with. I also picked up a few presents so I won't go into detail as I don't want to ruin any surprises. I could have spent so much more as it was ridiculously cheap (£8.50 for my purse, £9.50 for my clutch bag and £17 for my handbag) so I left a happy happy girl. Saying that, although you can barter down the prices, when I told one stall owner I didn't want an item she demanded I paid for it. When I walked away she followed me and grabbed my arm. I genuinely thought she was going to hit me so I quickly dashed away. Moral of the story - just be careful. Clearly some of them are desperate for money so just have your wits about you. Luckily the situation wasn't dangerous, she was just a little aggressive. While the market was probably my favourite part and the meal was lovely, Hong Kong on a whole was disappointing. When driving in on the bus we saw a section which was plush, upmarket and sophisticated but sadly a lot of it is dirty, smelly, chaotic and run-down. Maybe if we had more time we'd see nicer parts but considering how incredible Singapore was and how much we did in a day, Hong Kong just doesn't compare. 

Shopped out we headed back to the hotel, minor interference being Kate getting shut out of the MTR train doors while Abby and I were whisked off to the next stop. It was like an emotional music video except it was hilarious. We got off at the next stop and waited for her, by the way, because we're nice like that. After grabbing our bags from the hotel we got the bus back to the airport and grabbed some dinner before checking in for our flight. The first was 10 hours followed by a 3 hour wait in Doha and another 8 hour flight to London Heathrow. I had 2 seats, 2 pillows and 2 blankets to myself on the first flight, got 6 hours sleep and the food was great. Despite that, when you're going to new places the flight doesn't seem as bad but going back home I just wanted to click my fingers and be there. I can't quite believe I'm sitting here writing this as my trip has come to an end after 12 weeks. I'll save the soppy shit for a reflective round up over Christmas which will be followed by a series of travel posts including suggestions, tips, tricks and everything else I learnt along the way. And no, before you ask, I didn't find myself. Before I start sobbing on to my screen, I just want to say a quick thank you to my wonderful parents for all of their help and encouragement and my lovely boyfriend for all his support and putting up with me being on the other side of the world for 3 months. Last but not least - the girls. Thank you for making me smile, laugh and enjoy this trip every single day more than I ever imagined was possible. We've made some of the most incredible memories, laughed until we've cried and I don't think you can ever break a bond after spending 12 weeks straight together. I'll miss you both like crazy but thank you for massively contributing to the best few months of my life. Unless wanderlust gets the better of me...

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