Bangkok Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
After the onslaught of the last few weeks, Pam & I decided that we deserved a little R&R so we made our way by boat to Pueto Shan, an island east of Shanghai. The island is known mainly as a pilgrimage for Buddhist followers, with plenty of temples and religious sites to look around; we were there for the beaches. We chose to take the overnight ferry and shared a cabin with an elderly Chinese couple. We managed to establish that he was a soldier whilst she was a nurse, even though neither of us could speak the other's language - it's amazing what can be achieved with a flurry of hand signals. The couple were lovely and went so far as to treat us to breakfast the next day. Not sure whether they just wanted to show us their food, or whether they were intrigued to see us using chopsticks. I think a mixture of both. It was our first real experience of unashamed friendliness in China, and it left us asking ourselves as to whether we would have done the same back home. Sadly, probably not.
We also took the chance to live it up for a few days so had booked ourselves into a very nice hotel, with sea views and everything. It soon transpired when we got there that we were the only Westerners at the hotel, and by the amount of stares that we were attracting, a rare commodity as well. This also made for an interesting time when we wished to eat, having to resort to the old-age tactic of pointing and praying, especially as the fish were still swimming around their designated killing tanks. However, as always the food was excellent, and on our first night we finally cleaned off the second bottle of wine that we had been carrying (including glasses) since Beijing - fish and wine - fantastic!
The R&R was so good we decided to stay an extra day and it promptly chucked it down for 24 hours. Ah well nothing's perfect. On to Hong Kong we go. We caught the overnight train from Shanghai, a mammoth 27 hour journey. There was only one way to get through it - drink, drink, drink! So we promptly did.
The mission for Hong Kong was to buy James an all-singing, all-dancing camera. By day 2 the mission was accomplished and he is now the proud owner of a 9 megapixel, 10.7 x optical zoom digital camera, which is very dangerous as he can take pictures from miles away and you don't even know about it. It's like travelling with the paparazzi!
Camera in hand, the next day, we hit Disney Land Hong Kong which was brilliant. We spent the whole day acting like complete kids, going on ALL the rides (even the crap ones for 4 year olds), and getting our photos taken with as many characters as we could find. The highlights of the day were the amazing 3D shows and the fireworks display over the palace at the end of the night. Definitely worth a trip if you ever get to HK.
Hong Kong itself was totally nuts. We have never seen so many people and buildings crammed into such a small space. Everything is built on the side of the hill that dominates Hong Kong Island. As there are so many people who commute to the city district by foot they have put a whole series of escalators from the top of the hill to the bottom so no-one has to walk - crazy! The whole place was really western, it was a lot like being in London and you certainly felt like you were in the rat race. Lots of suits everywhere and drinking in the many bars in Soho after work. One of my personal highlights was going to a Spaghetti House and enjoying Bolognaise that was so very nearly as good as my Dad's - praise indeed!
On our penultimate day we went to the island of Macau, which was dull as dishwater, it chucked it down with rain, we weren't allowed access into any of their casinos and the landmark building had an extortionate entrance fee. But we ramdomly bumped into a guy we had shared a cab with after arriving at HK train station, plus we got an extra stamp in the passport, so all was not wasted.
However, we loved HK. We could definitely see ourselves being city slickers there for a year if the opportunity arose and the skyline at night was amazing and might just top New York for us.
But all good things come to an end, and as the HK$s were going through our fingers like water we caught our flight to the land of all things cheap - Bangkok. This place is like any dreadful Spanish holiday resort but we relished in a breakfast of Weetabix and boiled eggs with soldiers - heaven! Plus we got to watch the first England game here with loads of other Brits, it was just like being at home. But the best thing about watching England games abroad is you don't have to read all the rubbish in the papers the next day. On the other hand, the downside was that at this time it was also the celebrations for the Thai King's 60th Anniversary of being on the throne. The Thai's love their King with a passion and unfortunately we missed the first 30 minutes of the match as every channel was showing the programme about the King's events of the day. As you can imagine a pub full of beered up Brits was not a happy place to be, but peace was maintained...just!
So we got our Western fixes, thank you Bangkok, and headed to the island of Koh Tao for sun, sea and diving.