Marc's Public Blog - Trips to other locations


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This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I, or Jennifer and I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

Paris over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 | Japan in winter 2017 | Great Britain in 2017 |

Table of Content for trips:

More pages: December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997



2017/11/05 4 Days in Hong Kong
π 2017-11-05 00:00 in Trips
I'm not keen on going to China for a variety of reasons, and Hong Kong was still different enough from China, that I was willing to go (by the way, it's only one country, 2 systems for 50 years, after that Hong Kong will alledgely be China 100%).

Because our flight to Brisbane went back through Hong Kong, I figured it would be a good idea to stop for a few days. We first went 2 days to Macau old town and New Town/Casinos, and then we spent 3.5 days in Hong Kong before going home.

Qantas has stupid carry on policies, but nice seats in business
Qantas has stupid carry on policies, but nice seats in business

the plane wasn't exactly full
the plane wasn't exactly full

looked smoggy as soon as we arrived
looked smoggy as soon as we arrived

the new airport area is still being built/developed
the new airport area is still being built/developed

Day 1

After arriving at night from Macau, the next morning we started next to our hotel in Koolong:


we checked out the nearby bird park
we checked out the nearby bird park






We then took a cab to Yuen Po Street, Bird Garden:



mostly men, bring their birds to 'socialize'
mostly men, bring their birds to 'socialize'

bird food
bird food

more bird food
more bird food


and yet more bird food
and yet more bird food

I found one that escaped, it became my friend for a while :)
I found one that escaped, it became my friend for a while :)



Nearby was the flower market:



We then walked around a bit:

many families seem to use low paid indonesian girls who get the day off on sundays, so they just hang around in groups to socialize
many families seem to use low paid indonesian girls who get the day off on sundays, so they just hang around in groups to socialize

Next (not on my tour, but I noticed a sign for it), was weird fish street, and weird fish indeed:









We celebrated by going to a well known michelin rated dim sum restaurant (Tim Ho Wan)


and went back on our route to check out some street markets:




We then went to Sham Shui Po market in Koolong, which had an interesting collection of street markets and computer/electronic gear:








get your cell phone fixed, in 15mn stat
get your cell phone fixed, in 15mn stat


After the Science and History Museums, we walked towards the pier for some views:



The avenue of the stars is currently closed for renovation, so all the stars were moved in a park:





After sunset, we great views from the pier, and it ends with a light show at 20:00:










It was then time to head back. Jennifer went back to the room to rest, and I checked out the nearby night market:

wired taxi driver
wired taxi driver




Day 2

For the 2nd day, we headed towards the peak tram before the crowds got there:




the tram takes a very steep route up
the tram takes a very steep route up

we then took a cab to the very top, which has a nice garden, but otherwise isn't worth the extra hike
we then took a cab to the very top, which has a nice garden, but otherwise isn't worth the extra hike


a bit smoggy
a bit smoggy





The peak tram station had some tourist attractions, including a place to take pictures:




After getting back down, we went to the Hong Kong Park and Conservatory which had a very nice walk through aviary:




two big pigeons getting very friendly :)
two big pigeons getting very friendly :)




The rest of the park was worth a quick walk. We then went to the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens next door:






It was then time for a quick pit stop, we had french crepes and walked towards the Central-Mid-Levels Escalators that take you up quite a bit:





we eventually ended up at the Man Mo temple:
we eventually ended up at the Man Mo temple:





We then had a bit of time left over, so we went to Ocean Park, which we was supposed to close at 19:00, but sadly closed at 18:00 instead, making our visit a bit rushed (barely over 2H). Sadly, there were also way too many people despite it being a monday afternoon;














the cable car to the top had way too much of a line, so we took the tunnel train
the cable car to the top had way too much of a line, so we took the tunnel train








while we didn't have much time, Jennifer wanted to do one ride, so we did
while we didn't have much time, Jennifer wanted to do one ride, so we did

and it was then time to go back down
and it was then time to go back down



Then, after an interesting dinner at Michelin rated Ming cout (see pictures) there was a bit of time for another night market:




Day 3

For our 3rd day, we headed towards Nan Lian Garden, a very pretty garden (although in hindsight, we should have done Che Kung Temple first to avoid the crowds). The garden was quite beautiful, and attached to a temple which was also worth seeing:












Next, we went to Che Kung Temple next door, which was already packed with people by then:














From there, we took a cab towards Sha Tin Park, to rent bikes and do a waterfront ride that was recommended to me. But first, we were sadly told that it was better to not take the bike to the nearby temples, since some unscrupulous locals could try to steal them, or parts of them:









the 10,000 Buddha temple was impressive
the 10,000 Buddha temple was impressive

long way up
long way up




every little statue inside adds up to 10,000 statues
every little statue inside adds up to 10,000 statues











We then went to et our rental bikes, and ride up the river. Views weren't bad, but air was pretty bad to breathe. By the end of the ride, my throat was hurting. Jennifer also thought the whole ride was not the best use of time, and I think she's mostly right:


good luck indeed :)
good luck indeed :)




The Hong Kong Science Park was probably the highlight stop of the ride
The Hong Kong Science Park was probably the highlight stop of the ride



they even had a supercharger for all the teslas I had been seeing
they even had a supercharger for all the teslas I had been seeing

Eventually we arrived to the end our our ride, Tai Po Waterfront Park (Tai Mei Tuk was even farther but didn't seem worth going to):

people were flying kites
people were flying kites




ok-ish view from the top
ok-ish view from the top


We then tried to get into Tsz Shan Monastery, but without an invite we were left at the door, unable to enter:


they had a family of kittens, there
they had a family of kittens, there

so we used a cab to drive to a few vantage points
so we used a cab to drive to a few vantage points

in the distance
in the distance


We then took our cab to get back to the main train station in Tai Wai train station, and train to downtown Hong Kong to go visit the Google office by time square and see Jennifer's friend, Margaret:







views from Google office
views from Google office


Pictures from Google Office here, and after that I went to visit two cat cafés before heading back

Day 4

Our last day, we were supposed to go see the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery by the airport, but sadly the cable car closed for maintenance (which happens on semi-irregular intervals it seems). As a result, the only way up was via a long bus or taxi route around. In the end, Jennifer was having enough a good time in the History Museums, that we just spent most of our time there instead.
Since the train to the airport was in the same building than their observation tower we were not able to see the first day, we stopped there on the way out:








this is where we should have gone, but didn't
this is where we should have gone, but didn't

Flying from Hong Kong back to the US has become a joke. You used to be able to check in your luggage at the Kowloon train station and then just take the train to the gate. What a novel idea. But the US prevented that a while ago. Instead, you now get this:

  • someone physically stops you from actually reaching the check in counter by asking you for your itinerary. I'm like "err, I don't carry one, I'm going to get my boarding pass" at the counter behind you, and the answer is "you cannot get to this counter and get your boarding pass before going through me"
  • "has anyone at all been in contact with your luggage since you packed it" this means better not mention if you used a courrier service to get your luggage from the hotel to the airport, because you know, they are preventing the airline from getting your luggage from town to the plane
  • then you get your boarding pass, go through immigration, then security which takes all your liquids
  • it took almost 1H between the time we entered the airport to when we were in the lounge (which was not very close either)
  • and then, before you board the plane, another level of security where they open your carry ons again and steal all your liquids, the ones you got from the secure zone.
  • In downtown Koolong, before getting on the train
    In downtown Koolong, before getting on the train


    the new train that takes you to the new Hong Kong airport
    the new train that takes you to the new Hong Kong airport


    Jennifer was very keen on checking out the centurion lounge in Hong Kong
    Jennifer was very keen on checking out the centurion lounge in Hong Kong




    I then went to check out the Cathay lounge, which wasn't bad either
    I then went to check out the Cathay lounge, which wasn't bad either

    the plane wasn't bad either
    the plane wasn't bad either




    landing in SFO
    landing in SFO

    See more images for 4 Days in Hong Kong
    2017/11/03 2 Days In Macau (old town)
    π 2017-11-03 00:00 in Trips

    Since we were flying through Hong Kong on the way home, so it was a good excuse to stop for a few days, and I figured it would make sense to start with Macau, in this case a full 2 days since one day really didn't seem sufficient after what I had read online.
    The good thing is that you can land in Hong Kong and take a direct ferry to Macau without even going though Hong Kong immigration, so that's what we did. We landed in Macau, waited in Hong Kong 1.5h for the next ferry, and they took our luggage from the plane and got it directly on the ferry along with us. It was a bit unnerving since we never got to check that the luggage made it, but it did:


    Macau has two piers and 2 ferry companies, Taipa was the closest one to our island
    Macau has two piers and 2 ferry companies, Taipa was the closest one to our island


    Macau immigration
    Macau immigration

    Macau technically uses MOP which no one really seems to want, and readily accepts HKD. They even have ATMs that give you HKD directly
    Macau technically uses MOP which no one really seems to want, and readily accepts HKD. They even have ATMs that give you HKD directly

    Turbojet is the competing company to Cotai Jet, the one we took back to HKG 2 days later
    Turbojet is the competing company to Cotai Jet, the one we took back to HKG 2 days later

    The next morning, we got up reasonably early due to the time difference, and went to visit old town, starting with A-Ma Temple before the hoards of tourists would show up. Honestly, it's nice to see, but it's far from being one of the best temples we've seen, including those in Hong Kong a few days later.
    Sadly, our first cab screwed us over by taking a clearly longer route to the temple, hoping we wouldn't notice, but at the end of the day, we couldn't do much about it, and cabs were still dirt cheap (we paid something like $8 instead of $5 or somesuch). Still, that was annoying...






    We then walked a bit deeper in downtown to mostly see buildings peeling off and churches in sad states, or closed:



    probably the nicest building, but not visits allowed
    probably the nicest building, but not visits allowed



    Probably the highlight was the food market we found tucked in a corner, not counting stalls that cut still alive fish in pieces and let them slowly die there, heart still beating, instead of just killing them, sadly a pretty cantonese thing to do :(




    We eventually got to the old town fort, which was fun enough to see, and then waited for its museum to open at 10:00. It was actually reasonably good, and probably the highlight of old town:











    cricket fights were a popular pass-time
    cricket fights were a popular pass-time

    Next, were the ruins of St Paul, which were just that, ruins:


    From there, we took a cab to Fisherman's Wharf, a nice collection of buildings and shopping arcades and then walked around town a bit:



    pollution seems bad
    pollution seems bad


    we found a nice portuguese restaurant in old town
    we found a nice portuguese restaurant in old town



    The next day, we went to check out the zoo and did a quick side trip to Coloane, which honestly was not really worth it:


    an ok temple at the south end, but not worth the trip
    an ok temple at the south end, but not worth the trip


    fishing village in the background
    fishing village in the background

    The zoo was fun, though, especially the young pandas that had been born recently:


    saturday morning, all the kids were there
    saturday morning, all the kids were there






    the two babies that had been born the previous year
    the two babies that had been born the previous year

    Sadly, a lot of Macau old town wasn't that nice anymore, it went downhill from what it used to be, maybe due to lack of funds.

    See more images for 2 Days In Macau (old town)
    2017/11/03 2 Days around Macau Casinos
    π 2017-11-03 00:00 in Trips

    As a big contrast of visiting the original Macau and its old towns, we also went to visit the casinos. There are 2 casino areas, one on the north island, and the south island which has the bigger concentration of the two.

    It's definitely vegas like, except with casinos that are even bigger (but with very bad signage, so it's hard to get around and find things in some of them).
    We stayed at the studio city hotel:


    good buffet breakfast
    good buffet breakfast





    we did the lucky 8 ride
    we did the lucky 8 ride



    then we did the batman ride
    then we did the batman ride


    Pictures from higher up on the lucky 8 ride and the Paris Effeil tower:




    bridge to china
    bridge to china








    hotels don't just have swimming pools, they have water parks too :)
    hotels don't just have swimming pools, they have water parks too :)


    The Venetian is huge, maybe 3 times bigger than the vegas one:










    The Paris next door was also big:








    place vendome
    place vendome

    they had a show projected on the ceiling
    they had a show projected on the ceiling

    oh great, the lock disease spread there too :)
    oh great, the lock disease spread there too :)

    moulin rouge
    moulin rouge



    I can't believe they totally cheated and pasted bogus french text even with ISO-8851-1 accents that got turned into '?'
    I can't believe they totally cheated and pasted bogus french text even with ISO-8851-1 accents that got turned into '?'



    The 2nd Wynn was nice, it had a cable car ride to go inside:










    Other misc pictures from south island casinos:






    the 2nd MGM
    the 2nd MGM

    'interesting' design...
    'interesting' design...

    they are building a monorail
    they are building a monorail

    We then crossed towards the Sands across the street to go see the monkey show, which was ok enough (sadly the dancing water show was shut down due to some issue:











    Night pictures:




    we climbed up the not quite closed campanile tower for views (lots of stairs)
    we climbed up the not quite closed campanile tower for views (lots of stairs)






    The north island casinos are older, but some are still interesting. Some have a casino on both islands:







    North Island MGMs:







    North Island Wynn:


    Dessert break:




    Food was great. The second morning, per recommendation, we tried the buffet breakfast in the Hyatt and it was quite good:





    The 2nd evening, we went back to the Hyatt for their very famous and usually booked out buffer dinner. We managed to get a last minute cancellation, which was great:










    After that dinner, we went to the ferry towards Hong Kong.

    See more images for 2 Days around Macau Casinos

    More pages: December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 October 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 October 2012 September 2012 June 2012 April 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 May 2010 January 2010 September 2009 August 2009 June 2009 January 2009 December 2008 August 2008 February 2008 January 2008 October 2007 July 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 October 2006 August 2006 July 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 April 2005 December 2004 October 2004 July 2004 June 2004 January 2004 January 2003 January 2001 August 1997