Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hong Kong/China Part 4

Day 10 ~ Saturday

The Kunming sunrise....

We walked around the corner for a quick breakfast at Starbucks before heading to the airport.  Our luggage fit in the trunk of the taxi so that was a relief.  It was a 2 hour flight back to Shenzhen.  We took a bus the MTR station, walked back across into Hong Kong, and took the MTR to where we were staying that night, the Hyatt Regency.  We relaxed for a bit and then met Ernest.  We headed into Kowloon for dinner.  We had an awesome dinner at "Jimmy's Kitchen" which was recommended by a local friend. 

We walked around for a little while, but we were all pretty tired.

Day 11 ~ Sunday

Ernest came to our hotel to have breakfast with us before we left for the airport.  After we said our good-byes, we got packed up and checked out.  As we were getting into the taxi, we saw 2 different wedding parties getting ready for their big events.  Apparently, November 11 is a lucky day for a wedding.  Here's two of the cool wedding cars we saw...

We made it home safe and sound, with no major delays.  The kids were very excited to see us.  It was nice to be home, but what an amazing trip!  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hong Kong/China Part 3

Day 7 ~ Wednesday

We got our things packed up and ready to check out of the hotel.  Onto the next part of our trip:  China!  We met Ernest and rode the MTR to Lo Wu.  We had to get off and walk across the China border at Shenzhen, through immigration and customs.  Andy's passport wouldn't scan so the guards made him wait in a little room (and stay seated) until they got his passport information into their computer.  Ernest and I were wondering what was going on, but then everything was fine.

Here are few pictures we took right after we crossed the border...

Doesn't the mask just ruin the outfit?!

We took a high speed train to Guangzhou.  We wandered around some back streets that Ernest was familiar with and really got to see the real China.  It was quite the experience!  I don't think I could put it into words, even if I tried.  We decided to get dinner and this was the menu of the restaurant.  We didn't even take pictures of all the snake dishes on the other pages.  We thought we ordered a beef dish, but we still aren't sure what it was....  we never got sick though!

We rode the train back to Shenzhen where we stayed that night. 

Day 8 ~ Thursday

We had a 7:30 am flight from Shenzhen to Kunming, where we were staying for a few days. We had to catch the airport shuttle at 6:00 so I was VERY happy to see a Starbucks at the airport!!

China airlines are different than ones in the U.S.  First of all there is less room between rows on the plane.  Hard to believe, I know.  But they give you lots of food, even on a 2 hour flight.  After arriving in Kunming, we grabbed a taxi to our hotel.  Our luggage wouldn't fit in the trunk so the cab driver just left the trunk open!  I kept looking back expecting our bags to be all over the street.  We made it though.

Here is a view looking out of our hotel window, from the 18th story.

We walked around and it was great people watching.  It is mass chaos in the streets with buses, cars, mopeds, bicycles, and pedestrians.  It's crazy!

Ernest got a recommendation from the hotel front desk staff for a restaurant and the province's signature dish, guò qiáo mĭxiàn, "Crossing the Bridge" noodles.  It was one of the most interesting eating experiences of my life.  They brought a bowl of cold rice noodles, a large bowl of very hot broth, and countless plates of all kinds of stuff, from thinly sliced meats, a raw egg, flower petals, and who knows what else.  They mix it all together for you right at the table.  It was very good, but I have to admit that I did pick out some of the pieces of meat that looked weird.

Day 9 ~ Friday

We had breakfast at the hotel, which was a very interesting buffet.  We got a good laugh out of some of the food translations on the little signs (like mayonnaise was labeled as sandwich jam).  We had a private taxi drive us to the Stone Forest in Shilin.  Andy saw this cattle truck along the way and had to take a picture.

We spent a couple hours looking around the Stone Forest. It was very pretty.  There were some caves with stairs that you could wander through also.

We asked Ernest to take a picture of the two of us (yes I really was there!), and while he was taking it, some random guy started taking our picture too.  We are pretty sure it was only because we are Americans.

We asked the taxi driver to take us somewhere to grab lunch so we went to this road-side place that was actually very good.


After lunch, we asked the driver to show us the country and farmlands.  There were some great picture taking opportunities.

That night we decided we needed an American dinner so we found a Papa John's Pizza.  That could've been the best pizza I've ever tasted!  And then Dairy Queen Blizzard for dessert!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hong Kong Part 2

Day 4 ~ Sunday

We had a relaxing morning.  Around noon we got on the MTR and met Ernest at the stop closest to his place. 

We met and had lunch with his friends, which was really nice.  Then we just hung out and chatted.  Nice and relaxing Sunday afternoon.

After we left his place, we rode the MTR and found a street market on Fa Yen Street.  Wow.  There was a lot of people.  This picture doesn't even do it justice!

We didn't buy anything but it was a great people-watching experience.  Then it was back to the hotel for a drink, a nap and dinner.

Day 5 ~ Monday

After breakfast we decided that we really needed to buy some walking shoes.  I wish I would've had a pedometer with me to keep track of how much we walked because it was a lot!  We headed out to find the Jade Market which was supposed to be really cool.  We took the MTR and then had to walk quite a few blocks, but we found it.  It was just opening when we got there.  We looked around and bought a few gifts.

Andy took this picture just for J.T.

We met Ernest for lunch and played tourist for the afternoon.  We took the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island, an open top double-decker bus, and a tram to get to Victoria Peak.  It was a great view, although it was pretty smoggy that day.  We looked around and got some snacks at Bubba Gump's so we could admire the view. 

Our last event for the evening was the "Symphony of Lights" show in Victoria Harbor.  It's a light and laser show with music that they do every night.  Pretty cool thing!

Day 6 ~ Tuesday

We did a little shopping in the morning and then Ernest met us in our hotel room so we could Skype with the kids.  It was about 1 pm in Hong Kong and 9 pm in Humboldt.  It was nice to see the kids and they were excited to see Ernest (and us too I think).  Then we went to pick up our China Visas and walked around Kowloon for awhile.  We had sushi for dinner, which was really good.  Although we were a little nervous when we were the only people in the restaurant.  Not usually a good sign..

We got a drink at the bar and sat outside.  It was a nice evening.  It took us about 100 attempts to try to take a picture of ourselves.... we finally got one, but it could be better. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hong Kong Part 1

Day 1&2
We left in the morning on Thursday, November 1 for Hong Kong to visit our friend Ernest.  We had a couple delays on our flight out of here, but we made it to San Francisco.  We grabbed lunch and boarded our plane.  It was approximately a 13 hour flight.  It actually went by fairly quickly.  It seemed like all we did was eat and sleep.  For as lacking as the service is on domestic flights, they feed you pretty well on international flights.

We arrived in Hong Kong on Friday at 7 pm.  It was really great to get off that plane!  Unfortunately our luggage didn't arrive with us.  Come to find out, the bags were never even loaded on our 30-seater plane in Arcata!  You would think it would be San Francisco that would screw things up.  We were told our bags would arrive the following night, which was the next flight from SFO to Hong Kong.  After dealing with all this, we met up with Ernest and were on our way to see Hong Kong.

We rode upstairs in a double-decker bus so we were able to see a lot of things, even though it was dark.  It was about an hour ride to our hotel, Royal Park Hotel, in Shatin.  Lucky for me, the hotel was attached to a really big shopping center, New Town Plaza!  We grabbed some chinese food (what else?!) for a late dinner and a few necessities (shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc) at a drugstore.  Then we headed back to our room.

Day 3
After grabbing breakfast at the hotel buffet, we took a little walk around Shatin.  Here are a few pictures that we took...

Our hotel

Andy found a real estate office to check out

Yep, McDonalds is everywhere!

Walking around...

After doing a little clothes shopping to have a few extra things to wear, we met up with Ernest.  We got on the MTR (metro) for one of our many metro rides.  We grabbed lunch and then had to apply for our visas to go to China.  Then we played tourist.

We took the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island and then took another ferry to Lamma Island.  It was a little island so it didn't take long to walk around.  I took a few pictures with my new fisheye lens...

After grabbing something to drink, we took the ferry back to Hong Kong.  We were all craving some American food so we found a burger place at the mall.  Then it was bedtime!

Andy couldn't sleep so he was watching TV.  About 1 a.m., a message flashed on the screen that said that we had a delivery in the lobby.  Yes, our luggage had arrived!!  I was never so glad to see my clothes!