Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is basically a collection of mountainous islands with skyscrapers stuck on the coastline and any other flat areas. The airport is a man-made island in order to create a flat, long area for the runways. When it comes to infrastructure, it is very interesting. The very modern shops at the base of all the buildings are connected to old, dirty looking apartments above. The incredibly clean, modern and efficient subway system is a joy to ride. All of this was evident on our amazing trip to see the Big Buddha. This landmark, a giant Buddha Statue on the top of a mountain, is located right beside an ancient Buddhist monastery. To get there we took the subway over to the island, then a bus up to the Big Buddha. It is a beautiful site with statues of warriors, a temple, wisps of incense in the air and of course the Big Buddha itself. On the way back we walked through the very commercial shopping area to get to the cable car which we took back to the subway system. This cable car winds up over the mountain, across the water, and then turns 90 degrees to get to the other island. Amazing! It also provides a great view of the airport and the islands that make up Hong Kong. A subway ride, followed by a walk through some very narrow alleys packed with shopping stalls got us back to the hotel. In the evening we decided to have dinner at the hotel next door. It was probably one of the best meals we have had in a restaurant. The style was unique and the ingredients were fresh. YUM!  
Now we are sitting in the Business lounge for Cathay Pacific waiting to get on the plane to Vancouver. We both feel shocked by the fact our trip is almost at an end. It seems strange that when we land we will be back in Canada. At the same time it seems like such a long time ago that we left the house on a cold winter’s morning to head to the Toronto Airport. We will see you all soon!
By the way, Happy 44th Anniversary (Belated) Mom and Dad! And Happy Mother’s Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Singapore to Hong Kong...It's Still Pretty Hot

Our last day in Singapore was spent wandering around Chinatown and the markets, enjoying the atmosphere. Chinatown was full of vendors selling all sorts of clothing, including tailors who would make you a personalized suit in 8 hours. It was exactly what I pictured, crowds of people weaving through stores of colourful clothing and strange trinkets all packed in narrow alleys. Singapore itself was an interesting country, in some ways it was very organized, while in others it was not. For example, they have electronic signs all over town stating exactly how many parking spaces are available at various sites. Amazing, since it means you don’t end up driving around aimlessly searching for a non-existent spot. However, the concept of a line up seems to be lost on a large number of people, as demonstrated by the shoving match that occurred while we tried to get into the zoo the other day. (Colin was shoved out of the way by a bunch of older ladies).
So now we are in Hong Kong. We wandered around the Chinese food stalls last night looking for dinner. Although English is one of the two official languages, most of the signs were only in Chinese. So, we ended up going into a small, clean and friendly looking place to order a rice dish and noodle dish of their choice. Good food resulted! Today we headed down to the Stanley Market which is basically a ton of stalls selling clothing, trinkets, purses etc. Prices were really cheap, I got a little silk dress purse for $20 Hong Kong, which equals about $2.50 Canadian. No clothing however, sizes were too small for Colin and my North American hips were not going to fit into the dresses! In the evening we took a shuttle bus to one of the huge shopping centres, the whole area was big name designers so no purchases were made. Walking back to the hotel was a challenge, none of the streets are parallel and the buildings are all skyscrapers so you cannot find a landmark to head towards. Got here safe and sound however!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fun & Fish in Singapore

The first day in Singapore is a bit of a blur. We had slept very little on the overnight flight, so we wandered around in the neighbourhood and then got some sleep.
Day two was amazing! We walked down to the Singapore Flyer, a giant ferris wheel like the one in London, England. The ride gave us great views of the city allowing us to get "the lay of the land".  When we got off the Flyer we wandered around the surrounding complex and found a Fish Spa. We put our feet in a pool of water containing tiny fish that nibble off the dead skin found on your feet and legs. During this time we also got a 10 minute shoulder massage. Then we moved to a second pool that had larger fish that continue the process. In the end we had our feet in with the fish for 30 minutes. It is the strangest sensation - kind of tickles in a funny kind of way. The fish really loved Colin's feet, especially his heels! We both felt our feet tingled for a long time afterwards. Once the fish were done we went signed up for a hop-on hop-off bus tour. We rode most of the route, enjoying the commentary as we went along. After a quick rest at the hotel we headed back to the Flyer building where we enjoyed some incredible satays with great peanut sauce from one of the stands, along with a glass of sugarcane juice. After dinner we got on a bus for our Night Safari Tour. This is a zoo that is open after dark to display nocturnal animals. It starts off with a tram ride along paths in the rainforest. Animals are on either side along the path, some of the less dangerous ones are just walking around free. After the tram ride we walked along other paths to see the rest of the animals. This was magical - the quiet paths in the dark with a huge variety of animals such as Sloth Bears, Fishing Cats, Flying Foxes, Bats, Mousedeer, etc. The end to a perfect day!
Today (day three) was less dramatic and VERY HOT. The sun was shining, so the 32 degree, 90 % humidity was crazy! We jumped back on the hop-on, hop-off tour bus to check out an area of shops that included floating junks that had been changed into seating areas. Not very busy during the day - probably great at night. Then back on the bus up to the Botanical Gardens. The part of the gardens we saw were lovely, but the heat got to us both, so we headed back to the hotel. Once the sun set we took a cab to the top of Orchard Road, the huge shopping area here in Singapore. The stores were all big names like Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vitton (sp?) so we didn't buy much. We did manage to get a good dinner for some of the stands and Colin found some sandels to replace the ones that fell apart during the trip.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Good-bye to W.A.

Our last week in Geraldton was great. Colin & Brad tried to go fishing, but large waves slowed them down. Instead we had a relaxing day around the house and then went on a "Kangaroo Hunt" that night. This was a non-violent hunt however, where only pictures were taken. We went searching for kangaroo near the Australian National Security Site where they have listening devices and radar. The kanagroo apparently like the area, and there is limited access. Of course we also met some very nice security gaurds checking out what we were doing, but they actual helped us find some kangaroos in the end!
Wednesday we went to the Perth museum which explored the animals and history of the area. The most interesting part discussed the famous shipwrecks of the Batavia and Zeewijk. Following the shipwreck of the Batavia a group of men took over and ended up killing 150 of the survivers. The poor people on the Zeewijk spent 10 months on the tiny islands totally exposed to the elements before they got fed up, made themselves a small boat out of the wreckage and sailed back to civilization. Colin cooked all afternoon, putting together a lovely pork rib BBQ dinner including roasted potato salad and coleslaw. Yummy!
Thursday we left Jack and Tess with Claire's parents to go on a tour of the Abrolhos Islands. You fly out there in a tiny little prop plane (7 seats including the pilot). The airstrip is a dirt path on the East Wallabi Island, which is not inhabitted. We walked down to the beach where we went snorkling. Unfortunately the water was quite cold and the visability was limited. We wandered around the island afterwards finding lizards and wallabi in the brush. Beautiful! During the flight home we passed over the Easter group of islands then the Pelsaept Group as well. We saw the sites of the shipwrecks and lots of fishing villages, some of which were just a few houses on a tiny piece of land.
Friday Claire and I headed to the spa for a full body exfoliation and facial. What a wonderful way to relax (especially when the men are at home taking care of things). A nice lunch out and a bit of shopping finished off a great day out.
Saturday we went to the farmers market before heading back to the house to pack up. We flew out of Geraldton to Perth and then took a night flight to Singapore. So now we are in our Singapore hotel, slightly tired due to a lack of sleep.
We are both going to miss Claire, Brad, Jack and Tess. I can't believe it took us so long to visit.