Monday, March 24, 2008

Hong Kong Highlights!

Here are highlights of our trip to Hong Kong!




We arrived in Hong Kong at 7am. After going through customs and picking up our luggage, my sister and I had our own bus to our hotel on Hong Kong Island. We checked in, and as our room was already ready for us, we showered and were on our way. First order of business: dim sum! We went to dim sum in City Hall at Maxim's Palace. There, we experienced for the first time (but not the last time), Hong Kong's version of cleanliness. We were given a pot of hot water and a bowl to clean our eating instruments. We also noticed that dim sum in Hong Kong was a time for locals to relax. Many of them came in with reading material and would just sit there with tea and read. After our dim sum, we started our walk through Central towards Victoria Peak. We took the Peak Tram up to the Peak, and it was actually quite a fun steep ride. The views up on top were amazing, and we took a walk around the hill. Afterwards, we went into Kowloon to the Temple Street Market. Tania didn't see anything she liked there, so we went to Ladies' Market. Again, Tania didn't see anything there, so we decided just to go see the Avenue of the Stars and wait for the Symphony of Lights.

The Symphony of Lights in the Guinness world record holding longest light show in the world, and it was neat how for over 15 minutes, the buildings in Hong Kong danced. After the light show, we took the ferry back to Hong Kong. We went to dinner at a hole in the wall noodle joint near our hotel.

The next day we went to Luk Yu Tea House. As much as Maxim's Palace the first day was the dim sum with the dim sum carts that we were used to, Luk Yu looked like what dim sum must have looked like mid century. Women carried the dim sum selections in tin trays, and everything had an old world feel to it. After breakfast, we wandered around Hong Kong Island some more until we came upon Hollywood Road and Man Mo Temple. Then we hopped on the subway for Lantau Island to see the biggest outdoor Buddha in the world. Now, I had already seen the second biggest outdoor Buddha in the world in Japan, so I was interested to see the biggest. The stop before ours was the transfer stop for the Disneyland line, and we smiled when we saw the Disneyland train, all dolled up Disney style.

Now, we knew that at the end of the subway line, there would be a cable car. What we didn't realize was how long the cable car ride was -- over 5 miles long. It was quite lovely, having a bird's eye view. We got up there and walked through the little shopping village to the Buddha. Unlike the one in Japan, one can see this Buddha sitting on top of the hill from many vantage points, and it was a very popular tourist site. We saw the temple nearby. At night, we went to check out the Causeway Bay shopping area. In the morning, before our flight, we had our last dim sum at a restaurant near our hotel. If Luk Yu was "old school," Viking was "new school" with no carts, only menus (kind of like sushi bar menus) to mark. After our dim sum, we went back to the hotel to check out and catch our ride to the airport.

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Back Home!

It's been thrilling to travel around, but it's also very nice to be back home. I've been busy sorting the pictures and putting everything up online for posterity. A couple things that I've welcomed:

- Potable tap water. So so nice.
- Enforced traffic laws.
- Catalytic converters. I didn't think I would call LA air clean, but man, it certainly seems clean after Hanoi.
- Cushy bed. Nuff said.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Leaving Vietnam

It's 7am here in Vietnam, and we're going to be leaving this afternoon. I wish we had more time here to see more of the country. We stuck mainly to Hanoi, with our overnight cruise to Halong Bay. It is warm and sticky here in Hanoi during the day, and I can't imagine going any later than spring. I am definitely going to have to come back to see more of the country -- especially Hue and Saigon which we did not get anywhere near.

Anyhow, once we're back stateside, I'll be able to upload the pictures to share all the fun we've had so far. I've got to start my morning soon...

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Last Full Day in Hanoi!

Yesterday, my sister and I saw the majority of the remaining sights in Hanoi. The entire morning was taken up by queueing up to see Ho Chi Minh himself. It was quite the surreal experience. Afterwards, we saw the One Pillar Pagoda (Chua Mot Cot), perused the Military History Museum, and then had a super late lunch of Cha Ca. At night, we walked to Bobby Chinn and had a superb dinner.

Today is our last full day in Hanoi, and we're going to spend the majority of it in the Old Quarter. It's been a lot of fun and a lot of walking. Now to start our last day here...

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Hello Hanoi!

It's been an interesting trip so far. Right now, my sister and I are back in Hanoi after doing an overnight trip to Halong Bay. Hanoi is a noisy, lively city, and the trip to Halong was peaceful and quiet. The Internet connection here has proven to be super slow, so I've decided to wait until I get home to upload our hundreds of photos. Our trip is more than half over, and I wish we had more time to explore more of Vietnam.

Here is an overview of what we saw/did so far:

Hong Kong -
Day 1: ate dim sum at Maxim's Palace, went up Victoria's Peak, went to the Temple Street Night Market, went to the Ladies' Market, walked the Avenue of the Stars and saw the Symphony of Lights, ate at a whole in the wall noodle joint
Day 2: ate dim sum at some fancy tea house, walked Hollywood Road and saw the Man Mo Temple, went to Lantau Island, took the Ngong Ping cable card to the Po Lin Monastery and the world's biggest outdoor Buddha statue, wandered around the Causeway Bay shopping area and found a whole in the wall Chinese BBQ place for dinner.
Day 3: ate dim sum at Viking Seafood Restaurant near the hotel, then went to the airport to fly to Hanoi!

Hanoi -
Day 1: wandered around Hanoi's Old Quarter and stumbled upon a night market, ate bun bo Hue at Restaurant 69 near our hotel.
Day 2: walked around Hoan Kiem Lake, visited the Ngoc Son Temple, passed the Cathedral, ate a delicious delicious lunch at Green Tangerine, shopped some more, then at night walked to the French Quarter, saw the Opera House, ate dinner at Club Opera.
Day 3: went to Halong Bay on an overnight cruise, went kayaking in Halong Bay.
Day 4: saw Amazing Cave before cruising back to the pier and returned in Hanoi!

We have tickets to see the famous water puppets tonight, then afterwards we're going to go find some yummy food for dinner. I'll go into more detail once I upload all the pics.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

In Hong Kong...Next Stop: Hanoi

It's almost bedtime for me here in Hong Kong! My sister and I arrived here yesterday morning after a 15 hour flight from Los Angeles. (Strangely, Hong Kong is 15 hours ahead of Los Angeles.) We've been all around Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and even Lantau. Tomorrow, we are leaving for Hanoi, Vietnam. If we had stayed in Hong Kong for one more day, I would have probably broken down and gone to Hong Kong Disneyland like my sister wanted.

Anyhow, we've taken lots and lots of pictures, but we've been using one of two shared Internet terminals in the hotel, so pictures, videos, and more details will have to wait until we get to Hanoi.

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