ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 15

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Hong Kong Day 1

The weather in Hong Kong is perfect – 24 C and sunny!  We have been to Hong Kong several times and so we just wanted to chill out, go to the Ladies Market and the Temple Street Night Market, eat some food and enjoy the vibrant street scene.  We took the complimentary shuttle to one of the metro stations (Holland America does a great job of arranging shuttles wherever possible) which was under quite a large mall.  Unfortunately, the mall wasn’t open yet but one the passengers we had met before recommended visiting the Nan Lian Garden, just across the street.  Never heard of them but what the heck.  What an amazing find for us!

Established in 1934, the Chi Lin Nunnery is part of the garden complex and is literally in the middle of the concrete jungle of Hong Kong.  As you can see from the pictures below, it is absolutely stunning!

From the gardens, we caught the metro to Tsim Sha Tsui, quick and easy with only one transfer.  Our goal was to walk up Nathan road to the market, stopping at shops and sights along the way.

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Nathan Road is named after Hong Kong’s only Jewish governor, Matthew Nathan, Kowloon’s main drag is a bit of a traffic- and pedestrian-choked crowd of malls, jewellery stores, and fashion boutiques. It’s nonetheless an iconic Hong Kong scene where guesthouses rub shoulders with luxury hotels.

 

So, we walked and walked until hunger got the best of us and we stopped for Dim Sum at a great little restaurant.  We were pretty sure that the food was good even though it was directly on Nathan Road, as it was crowded with Chinese and we were the only obvious tourists there.  As it turned out, the food was delicious. Dumpling soup filled with pork and vegetables, fried scallion pancakes and crab filled dumplings.

 

We finally made it to the Ladies Market!  Chock a block full of clothing, trinkets, electronics, bags, scarves and the like, it attracts huge crowds looking for and getting bargains.  You have to be very careful about the quality, but it is a great place to soak up the local atmosphere.  It is quite large and runs for several blocks.  Did I mention it attracts huge crowds down a narrow walkway where you squeeze through and get jostled all the way?

 

After our fill of bargain hunting, we walked back to the Temple Street Night Market.  When night falls and neon buzzes, Hong Kong’s liveliest market rattles into life. It covers multiple city blocks.  In the 1920s, vendors gathered there to serve temple-goers; a century on, the crowds descend nightly for cheap clothes and watches, street food, trinkets and tea ware. Marked prices are mere suggestions – this is a place to bargain.

Tourist trap? Absolutely, but that didn’t stop us. It remains Hong Kong’s most thrillingly underdeveloped district, where, if you veer away from the bare-bulb stalls you might encounter Canton singing houses, fortune tellers, herbalists, street eats, sex shops and prostitutes lurking in the shadows.

They say the market is at its bustling best from 7pm to 10pm.

 

Back to the ship in time for the nightly show which was a series of Chinese performed by a local cultural dance group.  Hard to get good pictures.

 


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Hong Kong Day 2

The shuttle today was able to drop us off very close to the Star Ferry Terminal.  You can’t say you’ve ‘done’ Hong Kong until you’ve taken a ride on a Star Ferry, with its’ fleet of electric-diesel vessels with names like Morning Star, Celestial Star and Twinkling Star.

At any time of the day, the journey, with its riveting views of skyscrapers and jungle-clad hills, must be one of the world’s best-value cruises. At the end of the 10-minute journey, a hemp rope is cast from the back of the boat and caught with a billhook, the way it was in 1888 when the first boat docked.

The cheapest fares are only available on the lower deck, but the views are a little better and there are less fumes on the top deck. You get tickets at the pier through an easy to use self-serve terminal.

 

The only hopeful destination today was the Man Mo Temple but we just wanted to wander around the SOHO (South of Hollywood Road) area of Central district on Hong Kong Island.  It is an entertainment/shopping/restaurant area that has a very vibrant feel to it.  We had no agenda in walking around, except to find a decent place for lunch which we accomplished at a fusion Chinese restaurant called Chifa Dumpling House.  Nothing too exotic today…a pork stir fry, crab filled wontons and New York style Cheesecake for dessert!  It was delicious!

Perhaps you are noticing a trend in our travels…food and wine.  They go together like a kiss and a hug!

One of Hong Kong’s oldest temples and a declared monument, atmospheric Man Mo Temple is dedicated to the gods of literature (‘Man’), holding a writing brush, and of war (‘Mo’), wielding a sword. Built in 1847 during the Qing dynasty by wealthy Chinese merchants, it was, besides a place of worship, a court of arbitration for local disputes when trust was thin between the Chinese and the colonialists.

Oaths taken at this Taoist temple (often accompanied by the ritual beheading of a rooster) were accepted by the colonial government.  Outside the main entrance are four gilt plaques on poles that used to be carried around at processions. Two describe the gods being worshipped inside, one requests silence and a show of respect within the temple’s grounds, and the last warns menstruating women to keep out of the main hall.

Lending the temple its beguiling and smoky air are rows of large earth-coloured spirals suspended from the roof, like overgrown fungi in an upside-down garden. These are incense coils burned as offerings by worshippers.

 

Off to the side is Lit Shing Kung, the ‘saints’ palace’, a place of worship for other Buddhist and Taoist deities. Another hall, Kung Sor (‘public meeting place’), used to serve as a court of justice to settle disputes among the Chinese community before the modern judicial system was introduced. A couplet at the entrance urges those entering to leave their selfish interests and prejudices outside. Fortune tellers beckon from inside.

 

Back on the Star Ferry crossing over to Kowloon, we rush to catch our shuttle bus to be back on the ship in time for a mandatory life boat drill since we have new passengers getting aboard here in Hong Kong.  We made the bus by 1 minute!

 

Next stop…Vietnam!

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Celebrating 2016

2016 has been a year full amazing travel experiences and adventures.   We thought we would share some of our favourite personal travel moments with you.   This is such an amazing world we live in and we are so happy that we get to share it with you!

Karen’s Visit to Club Villain at Walt Disney World

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“The one thing I have learned about Disney from my past trips is to never pass up a special ticket event. My favorite that I have been to so far is Club Villain. There is themed food and cocktails. A Dj and his dancers entertained us throughout the evening. We were given an opportunity to socialize with several diva Villains. There were no lines awaiting you to meet up with Maleficent, the Queen of Hearts, Cruela De Vil and the Evil Queen.  This is an event not to miss!”

Amanda’s Jamaican Vacation

“Beautiful water and great weather.  The Jamaican people are the friendliest and most accommodating I’ve ever been around.”

Correna’s Search for Charlie Brown in Hong Kong

“My great adventure in Hong Kong began when I tried to locate this Charlie Brown Café in downtown Hong Kong.  One piece of advice, do not think you can get by with land marks in Hong Kong.  There just happens to be a Rolex store on every block!   It was well worth the search!”

Casie’s Trip to Puerto Vallarta

“It’s fabulous”

Joanne’s Blue Lagoon Plunge in Iceland

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“Iceland is the perfect destination or people looking for the unexpected.  It has something for everybody.  I was lucky enough to experience the Aurora Borealis, take in geysers and glaciers and bath in the Blue Lagoon.”

Jamie’s Family Vacation to Kauai

“Kauai Hawaii. Land of flowers, sunny beaches and Jurassic Park movies. Poipu had perfect weather and we loved the quiet, laid back feel of this Island. “

Elena’s Romantic European River Cruise

“Life on the ship is amazing.  They say food fills the soul, well your belly will be happy also.  I went on the galley tour while on board. For a kitchen so small the meals are impressive. No soup or dressings are made from powders or pre-made starters, everything is from whole natural foods, it’s evident in every bite.

The cabins are comfortable and take your breath away.  I highly recommend paying the extra to upgrade your cabin from the lead in category. You may not think you’ll spend time in your cabin but when the sun comes up around 5am or you’re leaving port then you can just draw back the curtains and doze off and on while watching the views as you sail by.  Sailing past countless Vineyards and castle is great way to start your morning if you ask me.”

Kyra’s Family Camping Trip to Banff

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“I went to the beautiful Moraine Lake and Lake Louise.  I had never been to either of those lakes before and I just fell in love with how pretty they are!”

Heather’s Destination Wedding Travels

“In 2016 I was lucky enough to travel not once but twice for amazing, beautiful destination weddings.   My brother was married in Puerto Vallarta and a dear high school friend was married in Ucluelet, British Columbia.  The first trip was another amazing family vacation but even more special.  The second a bit of a high school reunion and a road trip with two of my very best friends.”

Stephanie’s Costa Rican’ Adventure

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“Kayak and paddle boarding on Lake Arenal in Costa Rica, with beautiful views of the Arenal Volcano is one of my favorite travel memories in 2016. “

Colleen’s Bucket List trip to Newfoundland

“Ales, Whales and Newfie Tales is what is waiting for you in Newfoundland and so much more.  We went for 2 weeks but could have stayed for a month.  The people, the hiking, the music, the scenery even their own winery are just some of the things that are waiting for  you.  From Iceberg Beer which you can only get in Newfoundland to the East Coast music heard at every pub it’s a must return destination.  Oh, yes don’t forget the Puffins. “

It has certainly been a memorable year.   We can’t wait to see where 2017 takes us and hope to share it all with you along the way.    If you would like any help planning your own amazing vacation please feel free to call our office at 306-242-TRIP (8747).   We would love to help you have amazing travel experiences too.

*If you enjoyed this blog and would like to continue to follow our team as they have amazing travel experiences check out our Instagram @UniglobeCarefreeTravel
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Correna’s Asian Adventure – Part 1

My day started off fairly early – set my alarm for 0330, boy that hurt.  I am going to have a very long travel day and a half.  Flying from Saskatoon to Krabi via Vancouver and Hong Kong.  I am flying with Air Canada and Hong Hong Kong airlines.  My first flight with Air Canada was on a Jazz flight but I was extremely lucky and was upgraded to business class!  This never happens to me so I was pumped, they did put me in a window/aisle seat as the plane is 1 and 2.  I loved the leg room and service but pretty much froze, for people who know me this NEVER happens.  I ended up having to put on my sweater, scarf and then the flight attended gave me a blanket and hot cup of tea.  If I am ever lucky enough to be upgraded again on this flight I will make sure to make a quick trip to the bathroom  to put more clothes on. We were fed breakfast on the flight so when I arrived in Vancouver and checked into the Maple Leaf lounge I sure didn’t need their scrambled eggs, sausage and toast. It was fairly busy in the lounge so I just grabbed a chair and here I sit trying to make this entertaining, if I have failed just humor me and tell me I did a good job 😓.

My flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was alright, I am not the best long haul flyer as I can never sleep. This flight was a lot easier as I was flying in Premium Economy with Air Canada. Only a short 13 hours and 5 minutes later we arrived in Hong Kong, woohoo I made it!  I can’t believe how much they feed you on this flight, we were served three meals and snacks!  I know you get bored on a flight by holy who can eat all that food?!


Onto Hong Kong airport! Since my next flight was with Hong Kong Airlines and I was not able to check my bags all the way through, I then had to clear customs and pick up my baggage.  I have never been through this airport before and was a little intimidated by the size.  We are not in Saskatoon anymore Toto!

I had booked myself time at the Plaza Premium lounge before I left home and since I had been awake since 3 am, all I cared about was finding the lounge, having a shower, and catching a nap.  When I travel I always ask for directions, so I stopped at the first information desk I came across to ask for directions.  To make sure I was still on the right track, I stopped again at the second one. Yes, I know overkill.  I finally found the lounge, which just happened to be under renovations so it took a little longer for my turn to shower. At that moment, the best part of my trip has been the shower.  You did have to be careful where you stood because of the reno’s but oh my it was amazing 😂.


I didn’t try much of the food at the lounge as I was still full from all the plane food, but I was able to nap a little in their big comfy chairs.  The arrivals lounge is a lot smaller and quieter than the international departure Plaza lounge, I took a quick peek while I was walking by and can pretty much guarantee that no one would have been able to nap in that place. They have a lot for food and drink options, but I was looking for some thing a lot lower key.

Once I got checked in and through security I couldn’t believe the size of the airport.  My gate was 524, yes, five hundred and twenty four. On my way to find my gat,e I was surrounded by wealth. Chanel, Gucci, Hermes and Rolex just to name a few.  I wish that these stores were in line with my travel budget!

So onto Krabi!  My flight was for 2 am, everyone just jumped in line before they even told us they were boarding and bam on the bus to make the transfer and we are on our way.  The Hong Kong Airline flight was on a smaller plane, I would compare it to an Enerjet flight that we used to have out of Saskatoon. The flight was just over 3 hours and my transfer was already waiting for me when we arrived.  That is pretty much my travel day and a half.