Contents

Latest Update

Day 1 - Sunday, 2 May 2010
  Adelaide to Tokyo
  Sydney Airport
  Sydney to Tokyo on an A330
Day 2 - Monday, 3 May 2010
  Welcome to Tokyo
  Afternoon and Evening
Day 3 - Tuesday, 4 May 2010
  Akihabara and Ueno
  Shibuya
Day 4 - Wednesday, 5 May 2010
  Ginza, Ikebukuro
  Tokyo Metropolitan Building, Roppongi
Day 5 - Thursday, 6 May 2010
  Ueno Park, Musems and Zoo
  Food in Kabukicho
Day 6 - Friday, 7 May 2010
  Asakusa, boat ride
  Its Raining
Day 7 - Saturday, 8 May 2010
  Yokohama
  Akihabara and Ginza by night
Day 8 - Sunday, 9 May 2010
  Imperial Palace, Guitar Street, Harajuku
  Dinner in Shinjuku
Day 9 - Monday, 10 May 2010
  Odaiba, Shopping in Shibuya
Day 10 - Tuesday, 11 May 2010
  Edo Museum, Shopping in Ikebukuro, Cats
  Last night in Japan
Day 11 - Wednesday, 12 May 2010
  Flying to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific
  Welcome to Hong Kong
Day 12 - Thursday, 11 May 2010
  Sha Tin and Mong Kok
  Big Buildings, Star Ferry
Day 13 - Friday, 12 May 2010
  Shenzhen
  Dinner in Causeway Bay
Day 14 - Saturday, 13 May 2010
  Walked up the Peak
  Shopping in Mong Kok
Day 15 - Sunday, 14 May 2010
  Stanley
  Last night in Hong Kong
Day 16 - Monday, 15 May 2010
  Last day in Hong Kong
  Hong Kong to Sydney
Day 17 - Tuesday, 16 May 2010
  Holiday over

Japan and Hong Kong May 2010 - Page 5

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Day 13 - Friday, 12 May 2010

Shenzhen

Well, today I was succesful in going to Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.
The internet is full of conflicting advice on if, and how to get there, so I can confirm a few things.

First of all, getting to the border station at Lo Wu takes a long time, Hong Kong is not keen for you to get to Shenzhen in a hurry. Unlike all the other MTR trains the one that goes to the 'Frontier Zone' is unbelievably slow, and stops at stations for 5 minutes at a time for no good reason. I could have got out and jogged quicker.
The next trick, which the internet is right about is, you have to get off the train at the station before the frontier zone, exit and reenter the station. You do this if you have the tourist MTR pass, because the frontier zone station is not permitted on the 'free' station list with that pass. So you go free all the way to the second to last station, then pay for the last station (does that make sense?). This doesnt add much time as trains come every 3 minutes.

Once you exit the train at Lo Wu, you must first exit Hong Kong, if you have recently arrived you should already have a departure card (oh yeah, you do need your passport). Theres lines for foreigners that are deserted, the lines for China and Hong Kong residents are huge. I passed straight through with no issue.

Next, you find the small sign pointing up an escelator for visa service. When I arrive there are Americans pleading their case for a visa but they cant get one. The internet is right on that, if you are American you need the full China visa which costs a lot and must be applied for before leaving America.
They look at my Australian passport and confirm its no issue, 'that will be 130 yuan'.
Now I am in trouble, the internet sites describing the process said Hong Kong dollars are fine, not anymore!
So now I have to leave my passport with the visa control board of the Peoples Republic of China, and try and find a money changer in no mans land.
There are no ATM's here, but luckily there are two money changers, they have the most basic of offices and operate out of a briefcase! I guess theres no chance of them getting robbed as theres full immigration control points on both sides. I wonder how they get permission to trade here?
Once I have my money, I go back to the office and theres some muslims attempting to get a visa as well, I just go straight to the payment window, pay my money and get my passport back.
Now you have to clear Chinese immigration and customs, fill out an arrival card. This is confusing because some nationalities have a different card which has been pre filled out before they get there, this seems applicable to Americans who have their departure card dated and stamped for the same day before they can even enter, assuming they already have a full China visa.
I was looking around for this bigger form but couldnt find one, so I asked the police man who told me 'Australian? need not worry, small form like Chinese person'.
So I filled in the smaller arrival card and waited in the foreigner line. In front of me are an entire tour group of people from India.
These guys have full China visas, but their issue is they have flights to Shanghai from Hong Kong, and their China visa is single entry. So if they were to enter China now, they cant enter again unless they get another full visa. A lot of arguing with Chinese border police is going on about this, to make matters worse it seems one of their group has entered china, and had his visa stamped, and the remaining 20 are still technically in the frontier zone.
The same Chinese police man that helped me before, came and got me and took me to the front of the line, and now I am in mainland China.

Too much text and I have barely started!
Outside the station area, I am confronted by more touts than I ever have been before, most want to take me on a guided shopping tour, those ones speak good english. Then theres the guys that just say 'SEX?', 'FUCK!?', they dont seem to speak english beyond that. As you get a bit further away the girls start grabbing your hand 'massage?', 'sex?' etc.
One girl wont take no for an answer, and she walks with me for a couple hundred metres, I kept telling her no and get lost etc. but she kept talking, I tried to take her picture but she was good at avoiding that. Then she says 'you pay now, I escort you now you owe money. You pay or I tell police. You in China now buddy, what you do?'
So theres police absolutely everywhere here, on bikes, complete with red and blue flashing lights, and also elevated police towers. So I say 'OK, we see the police then', and start heading to the nearest police man on a bike. She spit on the ground and ran off!

By the way whilst this was going on I could see police chasing away a number of other touts in the general area, but I guess they keep coming in their thousands.
Once you get about half a kilometre away from the station you are into areas of nice restaurants and shopping malls and all the activity stops. It was kind of fun!

I wandered about for 5 or more hours, stopping only for coffee and later a cake thing. I didnt really want to eat anything weird cause if I got sick and overstayed my visa, id be in trouble!
Shenzhen is the only place I have ever been to where people drive on the right, and as most visitors are from Hong Kong where they drive on the left, I saw so many people almost get killed by speeding busses it was unbelievable. I was ultra careful of this and never in danger, but drivers in Shenzhen are hopeless, its 90% taxis and busses and they just dont care. Much like Macau, pedestrian crossings are nothing more than white lines drivers ignore.
The actual streets are very wide, and parts of the city are surprisingly quiet, but the main area is closed off to cars and very busy, called 'Dongman' (yes really).
Loud speakers are blaring from every shop, and a new thing is, everyone in every shop claps their hands every 10 seconds or so to try to get your attention.
The buildings and malls are very impressive, theres also spas and saunas everywhere, these are all brothels, apparently theres very few actual spas or saunas, I took a picture of an entire complex that is a huge brothel (see below).

Prices for things are cheap as you would expect. A 600ml bottle of Pepsi Max is 40 cents, A big mac seemed to be $1.20 (they have lots of fast food chain stores, including some not in Hong Kong). They also have Wal Mart, who had the blu ray legit version of Avatar for $4. Wal Mart in China is owned by the U.S. company, but seems to be just a supermarket in China.
I guess I could keep going, the malls range from totally made in China crap with people grabbing at you to come into their store, to the most luxurious of malls over the road full of top European brands.
It is still not quite right though, because out the front of a Gucci shop in a beautiful mall with marble tiles, a guy was arc welding in the middle of the walkway.

I managed to get totally lost, which is fun, theres so many tall buildings you sort of cant use them as landmarks, I thought I had a system worked out based on a gold colored building but it turns out most streets have gold colored buildings!

Ok, I crapped on enough about my China trip. Onto the photos.

Frontier zone sign.

Outside the station, where people wouldnt leave me alone and wouldnt take no for an answer.

The buildings are very impressive.

I stumbled across the unveiling of a new Chinese car, Geely I think.

Some of the gold colored buildings I mentioned above.

In the Dongman district, theres piles of anything you could want to buy, shoes like in this photo, but also clothes, handbags, socks, umbrellas, kids toys. Do you think a truck just pulls up and unloads a big pile of crap to sell? By the way those are 19 Yuan, which is $3.

Many of the stores have bizzarre lighting such as this, I dont know how you can tell what color anything in the store really is, maybe thats why they do it?

Dunkin donuts! They dont have that in Hong Kong or Japan to my knowledge. It was full of bike cops (not really).

Wal Mart.

Inside Wal Mart. It had an extensive live seafood section.

This is the worst mall of all time, it is alongside the station, and the narrow hallways are full of people that grab you!

Example of the shops in the crappy mall.

This is the border control station. Although I havent shown it in photos, there are actually quite a few buildings that look Chinese like this one.

I am pretty sure this entire complex is one huge brothel.

KFC is popular, and sells tacos, beef tacos. They also have bike delivery men. I am not sure if they are samurais or not.

Here I am in no mans land. Note my red shirt, I bought it especially for visiting red China. Its the only thing I have bought on my holiday! The security guys were a little bit suspicious of my posing for the camera on the timer.

Dinner in Causeway Bay

After such a big day, the evenings activities were quite brief.
All I did was wander around the local area which was packed to the gills for a Friday night, with most of the streets closed off to cars.
Whilst eating my dinner, something unusual did happen. A European looking guy sat down next to me in the packed food court with an asian guy.
He turns to me and says 'Are you Russian?' to which I answer no. He then asks 'Do you speak Russian?' to which I also answer no, I am Australian.
He then clarifies, 'So you cannot understand any Russian at all?'
To which I say 'I know that nyet means no, but thats about all'.
He then says 'OK, enjoy your meal' and turns to his asian friend and holds a lengthy conversation in Russian.

Now I think the purpose of his questioning was to ensure I wouldnt understand at all what they were talking about, perhaps it was some sort of arms deal.

This is a nearby market. Thats as wide as it get and it goes for 100 metres like that with no exits apart from at each end. What would happen if a fire broke out?

These kittens are busy killing each other.

The sky was looking ominous, it glows above Hong Kong with all the Neon whenever theres any cloud. The cloud looks low enough to touch but it still didnt rain at all.

The police are prepared for Friday night with a huge mobile prison.

I am still amazed at bamboo scaffolding. Does this look safe to you? Another form goes out over the road just inches above the height of a bus.

Look closely at the seafood restaurant sign and you will see that they are serving nemo, from finding nemo fame.

Here is my dinner being prepared.

And the completed meal, which is some kind of pancake/omelette hybrid stuffed with noodles and various vegetables. It was delicious and filling.

Day 14 - Saturday, 13 May 2010

Walked up the Peak

This morning I decided to return to the Peak. Hong Kongs premier tourist attraction which is a mountain on Hong Kong island that overlooks the skyscrapers. I went there last time on the cable drawn tram and took some photos at dusk.
Today is very misty and a bit rainy, without actually raining, so there will be no view, however given that it felt a bit cool at 9am, I decided to walk from sea level to the summit of the peak.

I am not sure I ever sweated so much in my life.

The lower levels are actually the steepest, and there are still cars around the apartment blocks jutting out of the hills here. The road goes straight up the side of the moutain.
It then becomes a walking track and its fantastic. But steep! I think it took me about 1 hours and 20 minutes from Central station total, which actually isnt too long, 1/2 that time is getting to the actual walking trail itself.
I saw lots of people walking down but no one else walking up.
Once I got to the top I was planning to take the tram back, but I was too sweaty for that, and had too much fun so I decided to walk back down again.
Only one other person was walking up on my way down, and that was a tiny asian girl being pulled up by two large dogs, so this make me feel like a superhero.

I rewarded myself with a massive sandwhich for lunch from the wellcome supermarket which was delicious, made from real bread with chicken tikka and salad.

On the way I passed some sort of segway expo for green living.

A reminder that the way up to the peak is the area of town all the rich people live in. The Balboni stripe is ok, but the white intake vents are horrible!

The start of the walking path.

Theres public toilets on the ascent, but no drinkable water. I immediately bought a pocari sweat once I got to the top.

The view of the lush forest. You can see the predator if you focus carefully.

View from halfway up, obscured by clouds.

Turn a corner and all of a sudden you are there.

Check out how awesomely sweaty I am.

The view from the top reveals no buildings below, just cloud.

Once down again, heres a look at where I came from.

On my way back to Central Station I stumbled across a protest. Asians love a loudspeaker when they protest.

Shopping in Mong Kok

Another one of my short style updates, legs sore from mountain climbing earlier, but surprisingly my feet are fine!
This evening I went to Mong Kok which is the market/electronics/busy shopping area part of town with all the closed of streets etc.
This is where all the colored light signs are along with the Temple street and Ladies markets.
Its mostly crap but fun to walk along, or more accurately move along in a wave of people, its hard to change directions.
I bought a couple of things and had a really crappy dinner!

Along the market area theres a lot of promotions for different things going on in the streets, not sure what the boxheads were actually promoting.

Time for some Hong Kong promotions girls, they are very popular amongst the throngs of photographers, these ones advertising the world cup.

Not sure what these ones are advertising, but there was a hierachy of girls, some in full green business attire, some in shorts and regular tshirts, and then these ones in short shorts and tank tops doing the girly posing.

Heres some girls advertising pentax cameras being photographed by lots of people with non pentax cameras.

This is where my dinner came from, I didnt get what I ordered (I dont think). It was not tasty. The two women that work here seem mad at the world and their customers. More so than the regular chinese style service attitude.

Heres what I got, chewy beef on old rice with some very soft tofu. I hardly ate any of it.

The first Lotus I have seen in Hong Kong, plain base model Elise.

Day 15 - Sunday, 14 May 2010

Stanley

Today I took the bus to Stanley, on the far side of the island. First in looking for the bus stop I found a new ferry terminal and decided to jump on it and see where it went.
It did not go to Stanley, it went to Tsim Sha Tsui, so I caught the train back and then caught the bus to Stanley. Stanley is the location of a famous market, which costs easily 4x as much for the same stuff as the other markets, and the reason why is this is where all the fat english expat people live.
I hardly saw an asian person in the streets at all, and the restaurants along the shoreline are all direct english imports, even pizza express was there.
There was an awful lot of loud whinging guys in white shorts drinking huge bucket size glasses of beer at 11am in the morning.
There was also no decent food to speak of around the entire area.

The highlight of going to Stanley is the bus ride then, because the scenery is stunning, lots of cliffs, huge houses built up hills, nice beaches with shark fences, fancy yachts in the various bays and tiny little islands poking up all over the place.

On the way to the bus stop I went through a wet market, heres a fish area.

And here is a meat area.

Waiting for the ferry, heres some sort of interesting boat, I have no idea what it does, mine layer perhaps.

Riding on the ferry, heres what the shore looks like, shrouded in mist.

Theres a cruise ship tied up at Tsim Sha Tsui.

Riding on the top deck of the double decker bus to Stanley, the roads are way too narrow and twisty for this kind of bus, he had to stop a number of times to let traffic past.

The shore area of Stanley, best avoided!

Last night in Hong Kong

As the title says, its my last night in Hong Kong, not quite the last night of the holiday though as I am here all day tomorrow and then its an overnight flight back to Australia.
Its actually raining a bit and the streets are strangely quiet. I set off to find somewhere to watch the monaco grand prix, its not on in my hotel room, and the free hotel internet is censored by chairman mao, so theres no chance of stealing it to watch in the morning. However the search was a total failure.
Instead I found a dinner that was the same sort of thing as the Pepper Lunch meal I had at Shibuya in Tokyo over a week ago, but somehow not as good, despite looking a lot better. It was still quite nice but the flavour wasnt quite the same.

Thats an Aston Martin innit?

This is a Lotus Evora, the latest model only recently released (which means my plastic toy car is no longer the latest model!).
I still think it looks ugly, especially where the rear window and side window almost meet. They would have been better off making it a real 2 seater rather than pretending its a 2+2, something about the roof line is wrong.

I wandered east from Causeway Bay, further away from the tourist areas, and you end up in some interesting streets which are pretty much all markets.

Here I am waiting for my dinner, looking like I might smack someone.

And here is my dinner, complete with paper splatter guard.

There is a page 6 now, it will be the last page, you know what to do.

 

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