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Korea and Hong Kong - September 2011 - Page 1

Day 1 - Saturday, 3 September 2011

Adelaide to Brisbane

Time for another holiday, since its been almost 4 months since the last one.
This time I am again heading to Hong Kong, to arise the suspicions of everyone as to why I keep going there.
After 3 days of collusion with the triads, I will then head over to South Korea for 10 days.

In South Korea, I fully intend to de unify the country, for too long they have been ignoring the democratic rights of West and East Koreans to form their own great nation.

Right now of course, I am sitting in the Adelaide Qantas lounge, same place I generally am every Monday, eating cake.

Malevolent Elf !!!
I dont normally talk of other people on here, but this picture might help explain why I have to keep going on solo holidays.
During this week my girlfriend has been terrified since finding this trinket on her car seat.
She is convinced it is possessed and is insisting I put it in someone elses baggage so that it breaks the hold of the evil spell it has on her.

I swear I cant make that up.

Usual photo of qantas club airport food. Get used to it. I dont care that no ones interested. Im not interested either.
Shut up.

Here is my 737 to Brisbane. I have flown on similar qantas 737's over 700 times (no exaggeration). The flight was practically empty, I had the front row of economy to myself. Short flight for Adelaide to Brisbane too, not even 2 hours.

Whilst I was waiting to board, a Malaysian 777 bound for Kuala Lumpur took off. The same flight I took many years ago to India

Brisbane Airport

Brisbane airport is like the other crap setups around Australia, in that the domestic terminal is a drive away from the international terminal. Only Melbourne and Adelaide can get this right by building them next to each other, everywhere else is a conspiracy to sell taxi fares and bus and train tickets for people transiting.
The international terminal itself is surprisingly impressive. Its cavernous, modern and has lots of shops and services, probably more than twice as many as I expected.

There were basically no flights leaving for hours, so going through customs etc. took people by surprise, there was only 1 person at each of the differents steps you have to go through and they were all half asleep.

The above mentioned transit bus. Its free if you have an onwards Qantas flight, for everyone else, $5. The driver decided to try and charge me the $5 anyway. This almost resulted in a bus hijacking, but my piercing glare convinced him just how wrong he was, he apologised twice.

Inside the Brisbane international terminal, 'landside' as we say in the industry.

Inside the business class lounge. It wasnt actually open when I arrived but the nice lounge dragon said I could go in anyway. She also told me at 8pm I can go in the other lounge, I had no idea they had a first lounge here at all.
When I said the same to her, she informed its tiny and no one stays in there for long.

Long wait was long.
I decided to go for a walk, the full length of the terminal, its huge, I estimated its a kilometre long, and all abandoned.
The central foyer had a few people in the restaurants etc. but once an emirates flight left there seemed to be no one at all at any gate.
After my walk I returned to the lounges and the first class lounge was open....what a dissapointment. Its an identical smaller version of the business lounge, same food, same decor, no restaurant. I guess the only difference is the wine and spirits are of a higher quality but that doesnt mean much to me.
After yet another walk I returned to the business lounge as it has more room to use a laptop.

An amusing thing happened, a guy pulled all these zip lock bags out of his pocket and filled them with the licorice all sorts, cookies, nuts etc. and put them in his bag. I guess he was determined to get as much value out of his lounge visit as possible.

Heres my plane, shot through a wet window, Airbus A330. I have spared you photos of leg room and plane food. I had a bulkhead row as always, flight was great, I think I even got some sleep.
I had the movie bridesmaids on the in flight entertainment, this was amazingly boring, the trailer suggested it was a non stop barrel of laughs, who knew it was actually a boring romantic non comedy with one scene where the girls soil themselves as the only 'humor'.

Before I got on my plane, one more plane photo, cause I know you love them. Leaving just before me is this EVA Air flight to Taipei. Its a Qantas codeshare. One day I might go on it.

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David Newton on 2011-10-23 said:

testing my new comments thing on the last trip

Day 2 - Sunday, 4 Semptember 2011

Hong Kong Arrival

As I mentioned, my flight was pretty good, seemed to go quite quickly.
My leg seems to go to sleep until I take my shoes off, as much as I think thats gross to do, everyone else does and it really does seem to assist with blood flow.
There must have been a tailwind because we were 30 minutes early, flight time of under 8.5 hours.

This lands me in Hong Kong at 5:30 AM. I took my time collecting my bags and got changed into some shorts, put my contact lenses in (cause I look like an idiot in public with glasses, more so than my usual level of idiot).
On a Sunday morning in Hong Kong, shops wont even open until 11, and I cant check into my hotel until 2, so I decided to hang out at the airport and take photos and type this boring nonsense to entertain myself.

I love airports.

Theres an upstairs restaurant area 'landside' but they werent really open yet. Plus I wasnt hungry. Not even starbucks was open!

CHATIME! not open either, but I will go here on my way out, or find one in town.

Heres where I am now, enjoying the free wifi, and getting angry at my laptops sticky ctrl key.
Pacific coffee was open, and is really good!
Sitting near me is a guy eating licorice allsorts out of a zip lock bag, I think hes doing this on purpose because when he stole them back in Brisbane he saw me looking down my nose at him.
I am a little bit jealous of him now.

Waiting for the airport express train, looking tired and stupid.

Tsuen Wan

The airport express train was as efficient as ever, transfering me to a bus that takes me straight to my hotel, at 9am. This is of course an issue, there wont be a room ready until 12. Thats a bonus as check in time is 2, but they seemed to all remember me from my last visit, the reception girl knew my name before I handed over my passport.

So I need to kill some time, head into the subway and decided to stay on a line until the last station, which is Tsuen Wan.

A fellow sat down next to me and started talking, he was very concerned I had got on the train going the wrong way, all the stations this way have Chinese names, where as central, admiralty and causeway bay are in the other direction.
He was thrilled and fascinated to learn I was going to Tsuen Wan for no particular reason, and that I had just landed from Australia. He is from Nepal (looked Chinese to me), hates his job, but he only has a month or so of shifts left and he will own his house in Nepal and return home and be the richest person in his village and family.

Normally the end of this story would be I would get off the train and find my wallet missing, but that wasnt the case, I guess I could wake up later in an ice bath missing my kidneys.

Its Sunday, so all the parks are full of muslim slave women. You might think I am being culturally insensitive, but it really is the day off for all the live in maids and they all sit and have full day picnics and line up to send remittances home.
Unless of course I have that completely wrong.

I have no idea what this was for, but its impressively large and impressively red.

There are many many wet markets in Tsuen Wan, this one is large, smelly and multi storey. The Australian government has issued a travel advisory for H1N1 bird flu in all of asia, warning people not to visit wet markets specifically. So where am I within 2 hours of arriving?
There were big concrete cubicles with drains where I presume they used to butcher live pigs, but there was no butchering going on that I could see.

This entire building is encased in a bamboo and shadecloth exo skeleton. I am thinking of getting one for myself, the many gentlemen offering to make me a suit can surely fashion me a bamboo man suit?

Typical street scene in Tsuen Wan, busy for 9am I thought.

Hong Kong has nothing on Japan as far as vending machines go, but this umbrella one was quite impressive.

Causeway Bay

After a refreshing nap, it was time to head out at dusk and find some food and walk around. Nothing particularly amusing happened, I woke up feeling really tired but started to feel much better once I was out and about and drinking some pocari sweat.
Causeway Bay is on the Hong Kong Island side of Hong Kong, and where I stayed the first 2 times that I came here, Kowloon is generally more interesting, but everything changes so rapidly.

The harvest festival moon cake hysteria is in full swing. I see moon cakes in my future since apparently its a much bigger deal in Korea than it is here.
Still, every shop has removed most of their regular stock to sell moon cakes, what a moon cake is exactly I am unsure, since they seem to come in sweet (black sesame, red bean, custard) and savory (dried fish, pickled vegetables). I have also seen Ice cream versions, chocolate versions and ones you give your dog.

Due to a prediction of many moon cakes in my future, I had a small dinner. This was listed as the healthy option at the Indian place (yes, I will eat Indian food in Hong Kong).
I dont know how dough fried in ghee stuffed with lamb can be healthy, but it was quite delicious none the less.

Each time I come here I keep an eye on this construction site near the ferry pier. It doesnt seem to be moving with the speed that I have come to expect. During my site visit tomorrow, heads will roll.

No trip to Hong Kong is complete without crossing the harbour on the Star Ferry, which still costs about 25 cents.

Looking back towards Hong Kong island on the ferry at dusk. I have taken the same photo many times so if you are bored easily, you are probably bored right now.

Back on the Tsim Sha Tsui side where my Hotel is, and I decided to take photos of people taking photos. Its clearer here than it has been in my previous visits, but still smog laden.

Last photo of buildings for today.

Leaving my moon cake purchase to a place near the hotel resulted in getting fruit instead. They only had huge decorative tins full of them and I wanted just 1. Plus all the writing was in Chinese only, so I could have been getting cake stuffed with kim chi.

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Day 3 - Monday, 5 Semptember 2011


I decided that seeing as though its a Monday morning, the beaches will be deserted. Might as well head to the most popular beach at Repulse Bay, strip off to my underpants that are about 9 sizes too large and terrify a few sharks (scroll down for photos.
It didnt quite turn out that way.

I caught the ferry to the central bus depot, armed with the knowledge that ll busses that start with a 6 go where I want to go, those with an X on the end are quicker as they are express and use a tunnel.
The only 6 bus I can find is 603, so I jump on.

This was totally wrong. It crossed under the harbour back to Kowloon in a tunnel, then went up some hills into the poor areas of Hong Kong. There were lots of signs about 'low economic home owners project initiatiive' etc.
I thought, its a good view, the bus is comfortable and air conditioned, I will just enjoy the ride until it gets some place with a metro station (to get from anywhere to anywhere on the metro takes 15 minutes max).

Wrong again....

Heres where the bus stopped, I was the only person on it the whole time!
Luckily there was an enourmous shopping centre near here I could buy some supplies at for the long journey back, it was an interesting shop too, with fake watches and cheaper supermarkets and stalls that were piles of clothes and shoes.
I seemed to be raising a few eyebrows by being there, maybe cause I look like a homeless drug addict.

In this part of Hong Kong, the supermarket had a KFC in it. I know USA has them in churches, but I am not likely to go to a church, so the best KFC spot I can do is inside a supermarket.

I decided to buy a moon cake from a street stall that was the most non western looking place I could find, they are actually expensive! nearly $4 each. I think you can probably feed 4 people with one though, but to put this into comparison, I think I could buy 10 x portugese egg tarts for the same price, so it better be good...

I dont know which one I chose, there were a few to choose from and zero english available. I smelt it and it that gave no clues, could be either red bean paste or swallows nest (which would explain the price)

Turns out it was like a fruit cake with some added seeds. 2 bites was enough for me, its huge and I didnt want to carry it to look for the train. I am not sure what all the fuss is about, the hot custard sandwhiches are much nicer! It could of course be I got the crappy flavour, the pictures advertising them on the train seem to have gold inside.

Repulse Bay...yes

After a lengthy walk (not really, and I was never really that lost, but I like to exaggerate), I found the train, and caught it back to a different location where I know you can get the right bus to the beach.
After a few seconds the bus came along, and we went up the extremely picturesque road, also the bus was full of people in beach clothes.
The road over the top of Hong Kong island is fantastic, I wish I could have taken photos out the bus window but you only ever get a glimpse through the trees.

Arriving at Repulse Bay, theres some impressive looking apartments, including this building with a hole through it.
That is however all there is as far as buildings go, theres no shops or restaurants (besides a pizza hut). A new beachside complex that will house many shops and restaurants is nearing construction completion.

Before stripping off, I took notice of the e-coli levels in the ocean. They seemed to have machines out there treating the water too, probably trying to chlorinate the ocean.

The beach is picturesque, with the outlying islands and lots of big ships going past. The sand is not soft, its like the sand in Chennai, densely packed with lots of gravelly stuff through it. I am not 100% sure it is natural or if they transported it there to make a beach.

I find it unusual that there are trees growing in the beach. Theres an army of people cleaning it constantly, more than there are people using the beach.

The hills are a great backdrop, photos never really make them look as big and impressive as they are.

At the end of the beach is a buddhist temple / ice cream shop. You cant really see from the photos but all thats inside the building is an ice cream shop. It didnt stop the tour groups from mainland china stopping to offer prayer to hagen dagz though.

I had the place pretty much to myself, the only people bathing were fat bald men in tiny speedo style bathers. Not to be out done I pulled my rio undies as high as they could go and joined them parading around the sand scaring away any females that might dare set foot on the sand.
This may be the only time I am the fittest guy at the beach.

Now that I am a toned and bronzed beach going muscle man, I thought I better have a salad for lunch. This was back in Wan Chai, near the future home of the Mclaren dealership (according to a sign on a rolls royce dealers window).

This photo was taken whilst standing at a urinal in a tower overlooking Wan Chai. The toilet attendant didnt seem concerned I was taking photos there.


No visit to Hong Kong is complete without visiting the endless neon of Mong Kok at night, with the gold fish shops, computer shops, kitten shops, 'saunas', hourly hotels, food stalls, suit salesmen, stinky tofu etc.
I have shown over 9000 photos of all that before, so you get none today, still it is mind boggling how busy it is on a Tuesday night. One thing I like is the parks where people just sit around and socialise, presumably until they go to bed. Completely different from Australia where we shut the gate and close the curtains and wait to go back to work tomorrow.

One thing thats mildly disturbing is fat asian men who feel the heat. Its a very common site if you are fat to fold your tshirt up under your man boobs so that you might air your heaving belly. This isnt just restricted to old guys who might have lost their minds, I have seen some young hipster guys with polo ralph lauren t-shirts and black rimmed glasses and man bags doing it as well.

Catching a train from Tsim Sha Tsui around 6pm is an experience. Theres a lot of people with signs that look like ping pong bats that bat you into the train, then blow a whistle when no more people can fit.
It took 3 trains before I was able to get on, which is OK when trains come every 60 seconds.

Onboard the train and you cant really move, you dont have to worry about falling over.

After touring up and down the streets of Mong Kok for a while, I crossed over Nathan Road and found this awesome new shopping centre / movie multiplex / restaurant / music venue which is a huge glass atrium built between 2 existing buildings.

Looking back down (this is only half way up, but harder to photograph from the top), I dont normally get vertigo but I was looking for something to steady myself on. The ceiling is a projected sky.

My dinner, grilled pork with tomato rice and salad. It came with a drink which I politely said no thanks to. This angered the lady serving me, 'drink included, you choose drink!', so I got a cardboard bucket full of flat pepsi I didnt drink.

Walking further towards the harbour, I came across the underground temple street market. The real temple street market is a few streets down, and sells I heart hong kong t-shirts and angry birds cushions.
This part of the temple street market sell mainly vibrators, replica hand guns, lasers and pornographic dvd's.

An offshoot of the main area has a row full of fortune tellers. Little do they know I have a time machine, and all of them are wrong.

This woman selling vibrators and various other battery operated latex contraptions really did not want her photo taken.
I told her I was putting her on the internent within the hour. If you are going to sell your sinful products then you will be exposed as a sinner!

One day someones going to chase me I think, there were 30 shops like this one, most had guys who looked like they knew kung fu. This one was a soft target for a photo.

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There is now a page 2, use the navigation thing below or the index thing at the top left.


Day 1 - Saturday, 3 September 2011
  Adelaide to Brisbane
  Brisbane Airport
Day 2 - Sunday, 4 Semptember 2011
  Hong Kong Arrival
  Tsuen Wan
  Causeway Bay
Day 3 - Monday, 5 Semptember 2011
  Repulse Bay...yes
Day 4 - Tuesday, 6 Semptember 2011
  Shenzhen Again
Day 5 - Wednessday, 7 Semptember 2011
  Hong Kong Airport
  Taipei Airport
  Seoul Arrival
Day 6 - Thursday, 8 Semptember 2011
  Din Tai Fung Korea
  Yongsan and Itaewon
Day 7 - Friday, 9 Semptember 2011
  Gyeonbok Palace
Day 8 - Saturday, 10 Semptember 2011
  War Memorial
  Love Hotels
Day 9 - Sunday, 11 Semptember 2011
  Dos Tacos
Day 10 - Monday, 12 Semptember 2011
  Seoul Zoo
  Taking it easy
Day 11 - Tuesday, 13 Semptember 2011
Day 12 - Wednesday, 14 Semptember 2011
  Walk until lost
Day 13 - Thursday, 15 Semptember 2011
  Korean National Museum
  Times Square
Day 14 - Friday, 16 Semptember 2011
  Incheon Airport
  Tokyo Narita Airport
Day 15 - Saturday, 17 Semptember 2011
  Sydney Airport