South East Asia tour, 2006 - part 1

Since we returned from our trip to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Jakarta on Thursday last week it’s high time I get around to writing something about it. Don’t you think? I’ve split it into three parts, one for Hong Kong (including this introduction), one for the brief stop in Singapore, and the last part covers our stay in Jakarta (and Bali).

We took off to Heathrow early, early in the morning. Parking went as smoothly as we hoped and before we knew it we were queueing for the security check. KLM, true to form, offered us absolutely terrible food on the first leg, London to Amsterdam. The food on the longer leg was much better. I’m just wondering why they insist on having different desserts for Halal meals and regular meals, what’s not Halal about chocolate cake?

Once off the plane in Hong Kong I began being amazed. Organised, clean, everything was working. Not really what I had expected. After a quick lunch we took a cab to Beauty Court on Robinson Road. Wow! Hong Kong was greener than I expected, and the streets were fascinating. Being built on the side of a mountain and being an amazingly crowded city they have some unique problems relating to traffic, and they’ve come up with interesting solutions. It was a long time since I had such an interesting taxi ride.

Our first whole day we spent on Lantau, visiting the monestary there and its large Buddha statue. Despite the rain it was a good day and the mist that came and went added to the experience. The vegetarian food offered in the restaurant in the monestary was delicious and very cheap.

One day we took a bus to Stanley with its rather famous market. I have to admit the market wasn’t as good as I expected. I’d recommend one of the markets in Kowloon instead, though Stanley offered some good vistas that’d be hard for Kowloon to match :-) The most memorable thing in Stanley was the food we had in a small restaurant squeezed in between stalls in the market.

On the only sunny day of our stay in Hong Kong we went up to The Peak. The tram up was impressing, and just a little bit scary. On our hosts’ recommendation we took the bus down rather than the tram–you go down backwards in the tram. The view was as spectacular as expected and as a bonus the shopping centre up there was very reasonable. We had lunch at the Peak Lookout, a bit on the pricey side to say the least, but it’s a must I guess.

We went to Kowloon a few times. The Symphony Lights was fairly entertaining, personally I found the Avenue of The Stars more fun. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I had watched a few more Chinese movies. We also tried to get to the night market in Kowloon, but when we got there when they had just started setting it up. Being a bit tired and hungry we decided not to hang around. For lunch one day we went to the Penninsula for high tea. Absolutely brilliant and it delivered that “colonial feeling” I was hoping for ;-) We ended our stay in Hong Kong by going to the bar high up in the Penninsula, Felix. Designed by Philippe Stark it will leave an impression, whether you like his style or not. The view is gorgeous, visit it at night and Hong Kong will show its best side. Also have to mention that a visit to the loo is a must!

All through the stay we spent a lot of time with our hosts, Matisse, Beulah and Antony. It was great to meet Matisse for the first time and to catch up with her parents. We are very lucky to have friends like them!

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