Day 1 Hong Kong: Thursday 26 April 2012
Eventually negotiated the long stay car park, impressed that it knew who we were. Literally parked metres away from the hotel. No queuing, bag drop done and through security. Gate is open and flight at 12:30
Landed Hong Kong airport 06:30. Caught Airport Express to Kowloon station, then K5 shuttle bus (free) to Metropark Hotel, Kowloon arriving about 08:45.
Day 2 Hong Kong: Friday 27 April 2012
Took free hotel shuttle bus to Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). Took the Star ferry across to Central Pier on Hong Kong Island. Caught the 15C open top bus to the Peak tram terminal. Then we took the PeK tram up a very steep rise to the Peak. No view due to low cloud. Had coffee and snack in cafe at the top. Took the tram back down and walked to Central MTR station taking a train to Mong Kok station. Mong Kok was originally called Wong Kok but a sign writer got his letters mixed up. Took a 10 minute walk back to the hotel. After checking in I went to the gym while Les had a lie down. In the evening we took the hotel shuttle bus to TST and went to the Peking Garden, quite expensive but a nice meal. We followed this by walking across to Victoria Harbour to watch the light show, an impressive display of neon and laser which lights up the Hong Kong sky line. Hopefully got some good photos. Taking the free shuttle bus back to the hotel, we felt we had an action packed first day and were pleased that we hadn’t succumbed to jet lag. Went to bed about 22:00 feeling tired but very pleased with our first day.
Day 3 Hong Kong: Saturday 28 April
Got up 730 am and took the 9 am shuttle bus to Mong Kok MTR station. Went on MTR to Central station and checked out where entrance to City Hall was. Went for a latte at Costa Coffee nearby and then went to meet Helen Swinnerton in City Hall. Had Din Sum in City Hall restaurant with Helen. Amazing experience – glad Helen was there to show us how and what to order! Went to HSBC building where protesters were camped like they were at St Paul’s in London. Mel took some pictures for HSBC’s archives! Lots of Philipino maids on day off were picnicking in the tunnel under the road. Said goodbye to Helen, walked up to St John’s Church ( the only freehold building in HK) and then onto the escalator up to the Mid-level. Went to the Man Mo temple, then back through the Wet Market. Caught a tram to Causeway Bay. Very busy – lots of people out shopping due to national holiday – budda’s birthday. Caught MTR back to TST and then we went to the Avenue of Stars again and Mel took a picture of Bruce Lee statue. Back to hotel on shuttle bus and another session in the gym for Mel. Caught the shuttle bus to Mong Kok and walked through Ladies market where there were lots of stalls all selling the same ‘tat’! Onto Temple Street Market where we ate at a street side cafe -noodles and chicken, satay beef and broccoli with garlic. Delicious and cheap! Took a taxi back to the hotel – quick and cheap! 20 HKdollars. Late night for us 1130 to sleep.
Day 4 Hong Kong: Sunday 29 April
Laura’s 30th birthday Had lie in till 9 am – heavy rain and forecast not good so changed plans. Didn’t go to Stanley but went on shuttle to TST for a look round the shops and explore the area of TST further. Mel spent some dollars in a camera shop – surprise! He bought a memory card and lens filter. Weather actually turned out to be hot, sunny and dry! Had the usual morning stop at Starbucks for a latte and found Knutsford terrace where there were lots of bars and restaurants. Went to Harbour City just to look at all the upmarket designer shops. Went to Kowloon Park where there was a Kung fu display going on. By now it was very hot and sunny – Mel nearly melted taking photos. Went back to hotel on shuttle bus and we both went to the gym. Some folk were in the outdoor pool – that’s how hot it was. Went to see the light show again without the rain this time. Then took MTR to Mong Kok , bought a pair of trainers for Les and had a bowl of noodles at a cafe where only locals go – no English translation of the menu so not sure what we had with the noodles. Got a cheap taxi back to hotel and Mel is asleep already!
Day 5 Hong Kong and Tokyo: Monday 30 April
Les packed whilst Mel rested – it works best that way! Caught the free airport express shuttle bus to Kowloon station – the next bit was amazing. HK is so efficient. We bought our tickets for the train and then we checked in and handed over our suitcases at the Cathay Pacific desk in the station! So we travelled to the airport in comfort on the train without suitcases. Then we just went through passport control, immigration and security in no time at all. HK airport so clean and orderly; there are helpful customer service people everywhere who direct you to the right place or tell you how to do things – all speaking English of course. Frequent communication from Tom telling us how he is doing with organising things in Tokyo ready for our arrival. Arrived at Narita airport at 8:30pm local time and Tom was there to meet us. Exchanged our rail passes and bought tickets for the NEX (Narita express train). We were very impressed with Tom’s Japanese. Got off the NEX at Tokyo and onto the subway which was all very confusing but thankfully we had Tom with us to help out.