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I went to London to work some more, then I went to Hong Kong

Day 20 - Wednesday March 17th 2010

Hammersmith, Camden

Second to last day in London before I head off to Hong Kong, so I looked at a map and decided where I could walk from/to and around.
Hammersmith seemed to be a nice place, id heard about it, it wasnt too far, I had no idea what was there, so I set off.
Turns out theres nothing there really. I walked around looking for anything of interest and its one of the most un interesting places ever, 2 tube lines end there.

So I caught one of the 2 tube lines to Camden, a place I have been before, to wander around the markets there that sell nothing anyone would want to buy.
All of the food looked dodgy, and chinese women were literally chasing me out of the store going 'taste sir!' with something unidentifiable on the end of a fork.
I then spotted a strange shop called cyberdog guarded by giant robots. Inside they didnt allow photos but it was full of t-shirts that have OLED's embedded in them and other glow in the dark clothing. All of the staff were 7 foot tall giants with platform boots on, robot armour, and massive fluoro dreadlocks, they took their job very seriously.


These pigeons were the most exciting thing I could find in Hammersmith.


The cyberdog storefront, never before have I seen a store take their image so seriously, I bought a t-shirt with a light up pentagram that spins around and morphs into a robotic dog that shoots lasers out of its eyes, then catches on fire and explodes.


This is what most of the world famous camden market looks like, you know its world famous cause theres signs everywhere reminding you, if you dont want a t-shirt with an ironic statement like 'im with stupid' or 'no fat chicks' then a large range of dope smoking gear is also available.


Back on the main street, and some of the shops have put in some effort to distinguish their t-shirt stores from the others.


All my life I have wanted some new rock boots, so I can put my leather pants on and be taken seriously. Finally I have achieved that dream, and purchased two pairs which I also arranged shipping of back to Australia as they weigh a tonne.

Harrods

In the evening, I set off for my walk as usual, and as I was passing harrods I decided to use their restroom facilities. Of course this being harrods, theres a guy in there who expects to get paid to watch you urinate. I opted to not pay him as he did absolutely nothing, not even offer to hold it for me.
I then proceeded to get completely lost in the store, and found myself in the guitar section. To all those who said 'why dont you visit guitar shops', I did, and I did it at Harrods.
I also risked my life by taking photos in Harrods, as I dont think they like it, and its pretty risky cause if you recall, the owner is a powerful arab who arranged the death of princess Diana (the queen of hearts) so that Prince Charles could marry his horse Camilla Parke Bowels without having to convert to the church of england to get a divorce first like Henry the 8th had to. Thats how brave I am.


Pointy awesome guitars, I wanted to buy the white one in the middle row with the maple neck with black inlays.


Boring old people guitars

Day 21 - Thursday March 18th 2010

Last day in London

As today is my last day in London before I head off to Hong Kong, I decided to take it easy, and go to a show, especially since it was supposed to rain.
So I tried to book a show, for either the afternoon or the evening, and it was very difficult, no website would accept my Australian credit card, and calling up the box office resulted in being told to go to the website or come in person.
However you cant check availability in any way I know of, and the box office isnt open, but still I went into town to check. I go to the only official ticket place and they tell me they have tickets tonight for everything, then quote prices substantially higher than the regular price, seems they only want to sell me front row seats.
I tried the box office at a couple of theaters, but they werent open...so fail.
Instead I went to the movies and saw Green Zone, which was ok, first half was better than second, cinema was empty, it was very anti American, Im not sure what sort of box office its done but I can see how it would be very unpopular.

This being my last day, heres some general observations about London/England.

  • The trains are fantastic, yet people whinge about them non stop, quit whinging
  • The supermarkets are fantastic, and substantially cheaper than Australia, even for Australian beef/lamb which they sell
  • The checkout operators and people buying stuff all over England are useless and take ages to do anything, its frustrating
  • There are no public toilets, people just piss in the street all the time, in daylight in central London
  • Phone coverage and 3g internet is terrible
  • Television is terrible, really, theres good British shows on Australian tv, but thats less than 10% of whats on tv here
  • Hotels in central London are cheaper than Hotels in Adelaide
  • Movie tickets are about $10, compared to $14.50 in Australia, on the flipside I sat through 30 minutes of ads before the previews
  • London is mostly French people, and suffers from their rudeness
  • A hat makes all the difference when its cold
  • The difference between 3C and 10C is immense as far as comfort goes
  • My new Adidas shoes are awesome, I walked further than I ever have before and have no foot problems to report
  • The museums are hugely impressive and free, almost all of them
  • There are a lot of people who are old and somewhat crazy, and think they are important, in shops they talk a lot about the service they arent getting
  • In London at least, theres a huge amount of good quality food available for cheap in stores, cafes and restaurants
  • Laundromats suck

Day 22 - Friday March 19th 2010

Heathrow and flying in a bed

Leaving the hotel and getting to Heathrow was very smooth, the hotel didnt argue on check out that I hadnt prepaid (which I had) like most hotels do, there was no line, I crossed the road and stepped straight onto the right train which went direct to my terminal.
Once there I was given a fast track pass for security etc. and I was past everything in under 5 minutes, and headed straight to the Galleries first lounge, run by British Airways but the assigned lounge for Qantas passengers.
It was huge, and largely deserted, they have an a la carte restaurant (see below), 2 champagne bars, a day spa which is free and too much food to eat, I did my best to not engage in ravenous gluttony.


Before I left, heres inside the public self cleaning toilet cubicle thing, a panel has been removed and theres lots of circuit breakers, switches and all sorts of cool stuff to play with.


This is where non frequent flyer wankers like me have to wait for their plane, it was very crowded, when I came out later to get my plane it was doubly crowded and people sitting on the floor everywhere.


Here I am in the Galleries first lounge restaurant, enjoying a made to order bacon and egg sandwich, the first such thing I had on my trip despite it being the national dish of England.


One of the deserted food areas.


A champagne bar, not the chandeliers, also, the coffee they serve is absolutely terrible, I nearly had to leave and go to starbucks instead, then I realised that coffee is a bad idea as I cant sleep on planes.


A different champagne bar.


A selection of spirits, its self serve and one guy took a glass you are meant to pour coke into and filled it with scotch.


Last photo in London, just as I was boarding.

The flight

OK, so I had a first class lay flat bed thing, theres only 8 on the plane that holds 500 people, and I still did not sleep at all. If you pay for these seats they cost about $10,000, I really dont understand why anyone would pay that, hence they are being removed and replaced with all business class seats.
The food and service was great, they kept trying to bring more stuff which I had to turn away, and when I got up I realised at the back of the first cabin was a buffet area with lots of cheeses and chocolates (and wines), which I also had none of.
My seat actually wouldnt work, so they called one of the young guys who works down the back, who did a macgyver style move with 2 pens to remove the back and reset the chair, then it worked fine.
They are certainly long enough, I couldnt touch the end, you also get pyjamas but I didnt wear them, and a fancy toiletries kit with creams and socks and whatever which I didnt use. I not that the guys that did use them slept pretty much the entire flight.
The selection of movies hadnt changed since my last flight, so I am running out of things to watch, but I did enjoy Hurt Locker (Although I think I enjoyed Green Zone more the day prior? Hurt Locker seemed to have no point at the end), The informant which I really enjoyed, best film I saw on the flight, Up in the air (which depressed me), and Couples Retreat, which I think was supposed to be a comedy, but there was no comedy in it at all.


Thats the end of my bed, my seat lays down flat into that gap.


The seat behind me, 2 abreast seating in 1st class as compared to 10 in economy.


Leg room prior to lay flat.


Controls to lay flat, I couldnt photo it as a bed because the lights were already off when mine became a bed.


A big wooden table springs out of the wall.


Entree, an asparagus salad with parma ham, the ham was pretty nice, I was trying to choose the healthy options.


The main course which was a beef stew in red wine sauce, which was pretty delicious, again I was trying to be healthy....

I also got breakfast, which was a full hot buffet style affair, bacon, eggs, sausage, hash brown, toast, crossaints, tomato, mushrooms etc were all offered, but I had just scrambled eggs, tomato and mushroom (and took no photo, because I felt stupid taking photos by now).
Some of the other guests seemed pretty enthused with the wine selection, you get a wine menu and theres quite a few to choose from, I guess a lot of this is wasted on me.

Day 23 - Saturday March 20th 2010

Welcome to Hong Kong

Arriving into Hong Kong was very smooth also, first off the plane, first to the customs line, bought an octopus card tourist pass thing that gets you to the city on the cool train, then unlimited use of public transport for 3 days, train arrived 1 minute after I got there, I changed to an MTR train in seconds, that arrived at a mega mall that has a connection direct to my hotel...I had yet to set foot outside!
I thought I would have to leave my bags and wait hours for a room, but no, they had one available now, and check in was hugely efficient, very impressive compared to the idiots in England who take an age to do anything.


Thats my first class luggage tag, I may never see one again.


And heres my ticket, showing that I flew in row 2, which might happen again, but next time it will be a business class seat because there will be no first class on most planes and where there is, theres no such thing as upgrades to first (OK thats the end of plane status wankerisms).


The airport express train, it was pretty great, had a display showing where you are on a digital map, the only problem I had was at one point I know we went over a huge bridge, because I could see downwards that we were high off the ocean, but for whatever reason they had blocked the view apart from a little gap almost straight down.


The mall my train came out at.


The outside of my hotel/mall.


After checking in I went for a wander, I was excited, huge apartment blocks with clothes hanging out 50 floors up.


Meat.


Fish.


Mountains - the jaggedness of these was surprising, you see a lot of them from the airport train, im excited to go climb some of them as I could see concrete walking paths up them.


I found a supermarket more impressive than macro foods in Kensington London, this place really did have everything, it was very expensive though.


Another shot of said supermarket, yes I realise im the only so called man alive who gets excited at supermarkets

Evening in Kowloon/Mong Kok

It was probably the most exciting walk I have ever been on. I caught the train to Mong Kok, and got out and was dazzled immediately. Walked around in a stupor caused by bright lights and lack of sleep. Eventually I decided to walk to the water, I didnt realise it was so far, it took well over an hour.
But when I got there, I was exactly in time for light show they put on from the buildings (see photos).
After that I walked along the water looking for food, its not easy, most places are huge round tables for parties of 10, at lunch I was denied a table for 1 as they were too busy. All places had lines of people except mcdonalds and I wasnt going there.
So I just kept walking, everything is connected underground or overground, I was lost the whole time but it doesnt matter, as long as you can find the nearest MTR station you can find your way home.
Eventually I found a mall around 9:30pm with some seats at a teppenyaki place, so thats where I had dinner.


Riding the MTR, the trains are very wide and fast, also im a giant in Hong Kong, and I knocked out about 6 people by accident so far by walking into them, I was probably looking up at stuff, but I never saw them, they all came off very much the worse for wear, one dude fell flat on his ass, I helped him up and he thanked me and apologised.


Mong Kok.


More Mong Kok.


Mong Kok to the max.


I found myself in pet street, the kittens were quite cool and chinese girls were busy trying to convince their boyfriends they needed one. I thought the fish shops were pretty interesting, there were lots of them, how long do fish live in a bag like that?


Street level Mong Kok.


Mong Kok from above, theres pedestrian over passes all over the place, not just crossing the road but running up the middle of them as well, also most of the roads are closed except between midnight and 7am.


The light show, you cant see it but most of the big buildings shoot lasers across the sky, I put the camera on top of a phone booth to take these shots, no one else could reach that high and were all busy with their shitty digicams trying to use the flash or hand holding 5 second exposures.


Failboat appears to ruin our view.


Here I am standing in front of some sort of cultural exhibition, it was difficult to find places uncrowded enough to perch my camera.


An uninterupted view, it was a very hazy day and night.


Heres the teppenyaki place, you sit around the grill in case you dont know what teppenyaki is, I had pranws/squid/beef combo, it was not that great, but it was $11 Australian


My dinner.

i think today I set a new record for most photos taken in one day, hope you dont mind, a lot of them are similar to the one before it, but I was excited.

Day 24 - Sunday March 21st 2010

Cable Car and Buddha statue

This morning I decided that despite the smog ruining the view, I would go on the cable car to the monastery where you can view the buddha statue after climbing lots of stairs. The stairs help achieve enlightenment, and after all the build up theres less than 300 stairs and it takes like 2 minutes to get to the top. I was dissapointed in this, but it was shocking to see lots of skinny chinese people who could not handle it, they must be so terribly unfit.
The ride to get there is on a big cable car thats really impressive, it goes very high and the view is awesome despite the smog. It was amazing to see the number of concrete/stone walking tracks criss crossing lantau island through the forest, there are no roads or houses anywhere to be seen, just jagged mountains with steps and boardwalks over cliffs. I really want to walk on these but am not sure how to get to them or if I have time.
The actual buddha was only constructed in the 90s, and is impressively large. There were normal people genuinely praying when they got to the top of the stairs, I was prepared to see cool stuff inside, but dissapointingly theres only tourist shops and ice cream vendors.


I should have left this photo out since its boring.


My cable car.


Me.


Swinging from a wire.


1 wire moves, and 1 stays still, I never realised how they work until now, maybe they dont all work that way.


It takes about 30 minutes to get there.


The village the cable car arrives at, all tourist shops and a starbucks, however the shop selling every kind of ornate chopstick sets was interesting.


The dissapointingly short epic staircase.


They chose to remember buddha as skinny, kind of like how we remember elvis.


The view back down the stairs, it was concerning to see so many people grabbing their chests and choking.


high 5.


On the way back I got a cable car to myself, so I laid down and had a snooze.


Descending into the ocean.


The best shot I could get of the airport, it was dissapointing there was so much smog as I could see a hundred planes in there somewhere.


My lunch, chicken biriyani, when in Hong Kong, lets eat Indian food.


The tragedy that is a Porsche Panamera.<

Star Ferry/Tsim Sha Tsui

The smog has got a lot worse, which is a shame because I like to look at the buildings etc.
However I decided to do the harbour ride on the Star Ferry, it crosses from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui and costs about...30 cents!
The ferry is quite ancient, much older sounding than a Sydney ferry, with plenty of black smoke coming out of it as well, probably causing the smog, the view is supposed to be fantastic, but in the middle of the harbour I could hardly see any buildings on either side...and its not a very wide harbour.
Still for 30 cents its not worth complaining.
Once I got off I did a walk around Tsim Sha Tsui, which is colorful, I found a shed full of little stalls which seems to be where all the non chinese traders have set up. Most of them were Indian but there were also Pakistani, Somali, Turkish and various other arabic places represented, most selling fake phones and watches. However as I was wandering (with my hands in my pockets at this point) a young fellow wanders alongside me and said what I thought was 'hashish?' and then sped past me. And 5 minutes later someone else did so I guess you are supposed to follow them if you want life in jail in hong kong or execution.
However it would seem to me that some people think its worth it, because at the back of the joint was a staircase, and a line on it of roundeyes (white people) waiting anxiously to go upstairs. Nowhere else have I seen a line of only white people so I figure they were all queueing for hashish

After that I wandered around the sauna/hostess club region, where white people go to lose all their money buying drinks for girls that arent actually prostitutes but convince old fat guys they are. The signs were pretty colorful, and the posters were very creative, promising a good time would be had, free first drink! etc.
It was at this time I noticed a lot of old fat white guys leading chinese girls around by the arm as well, I dont think they got them from the hostess bar, but I cant be sure, because they seemed to be husband and wife, the couples I saw all looked miserable, but the girls love jewellery, mainly jade, and you need bracelets on both wrists, both ankles, a huge necklace, basically anywhere you can hang jade you should.

Then I face the same frustration as last night, no food for me. I would wait in line at places, get to the front of the line 'how many people' and I would say 1, and they would like distraught and go talk to someone, come back and tell me they have no table for 1.
I tried 3 places, the last one told me 'you try mcdonalds, they make food you like'.
This was really dissapointing, I have heard about how great food is in hong kong and how a great meal is inexpensive, and it seems I cant have one. The best I can do is food courts which im sick of already.
Instead I spotted Pacific Coffee, which is a hong kong owned cafe franchise, I had a vegetable tart, some bizzarre green tea cake and some orange juice.


I thought this looked interesting at the time, upon reflection now, the photo is quite boring, so please scroll down.


IFC 1 ascends into the smog.


Riding on the ferry.


A junk heading straight for us.


Hong Kong island through the smog.


Hong Kong loves escelators so much they build them to nowhere, I went up it though, just for fun.


I dont know what these girls were selling but they were getting plenty of attention.


Please kind sir be enjoying the yuppie sauna.


Where the wet market used to be by day, a food court sprung up by night.


My rather unsatisfying dinner from pacific coffee.

Page 6 is now go, it will be the last page, but theres already lots of picture, so go there immediately.

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