Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Hong Kong

In Seoul airport the clerk at Jeju airlines told me that I need an onwards ticket to board the aircraft - I had none. I said that I didn't think I did need one, and I get 180 days to stay. After already waiting for ages behind hundreds of people who all seemed to have 20 suitcases each she made me wait longer while she checked with her Hong Kong connection. Finally she said it was OK (yes I knew!) and I could go through. Security was packed - it took an age. I made it with minutes to spare - I was literally the last person on the plane, through no fault of my own. But after this I vow to arrive at airports THREE hours before the flight leaves - I can't be doing with the stress of running about  

I love Hong Kong! It's got all elements of almost everywhere I've been so far, plus a welcome Englishness in the buses, the traffic lights, the police, the signs - I even saw a black cab! I felt quite at home immediately. I stayed at the Hong Kong hostel in Causeway. The not-so-friendly staff put me in the "welcome mansion" - another building over the road. It was like having my own apartment as there was no-one else there, apart from a Russian guy who spoke pretty much no English. I have no idea why he was there. although he did say "shops" to me and he was out from 11am to 11pm, every day! He insisted on having the windows closed and locked (despite being on the 8th floor with bars on the window), and the room door closed (despite being behind 5 levels of security), meaning the room was ridiculously hot - I moved to the sofa most nights, which was comfortable and cool.

I didn't do much high-up sight-seeing as most of the time was rain and fog. I did go to the peak, you have to when In HK! The view was zero; it was paying to go to an extremely expensive, high shopping mall. Most of my time I enjoyed walking about, soaking up the busy streets, dipping into Chinese cafe's and galleries. I caught up with my good Russian friend from Malaysia, who now lives there, and we celebrated Halloween with some friends from his Uni - arriving home at 7am - I've not had a blow out like that in a long time!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Live blog from Hong Kong!

I'm *almost* up to date with the blog, just a few more items to add to Korea. And I thought I'd treat you to a live update, which has never occurred before! It's not going to be particularly interesting as I'm just sitting here doing nothing; I shall go out after posting this - I'm not really a sad individual!

So it's now 8pm Hong Kong time (1pm UK time) - I'm in the Causeway area on Hong Kong island and - how can I put this - it's like hot London with lots of Chinese people. The double-decker buses are here, the pavements, the tree-lined streets, the signs and traffic lights... you get the idea. The most noticeable thing though is the lack of overhead spaghetti wiring everywhere; it's tidily underneath the streets - where it should be!

Me, live now! Notice the odd cat pictures

Halloween weekend - this weekend

Childish I know ... but funny ... c'mon!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Busan, Korea

I'm not sure what I expected on the South coast of Korea - I think a small dark beach town with a few delicious food stalls. I was right about the food, but small this place is not. Busan is a huge city along a long beautiful beach front. It's the second biggest city in South Korea and holds some of the most expensive square metre space in Korea.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Gyeong, Korea

A rainy trip south from Seoul on the 200mph KTX train brings me to Dongdaegu where I meet up with Seth and we get a bus to Gyeong. We check into a motel, not normally frequented by foreign tourists; you need to speak Korean. In fact most motels here are aimed at young couples, getting away from their parents, or naughty people having a "romantic" night away from their partners! Some of the motels are ridiculously gaudy - with huge "romance" signs that flash neon at night! I'm not sure what they thought about three lads checking in, but they're certainly the cheapest option so we didn't care.

The town is the ancient capital and has MANY burial mounds containing treasures of the king and queens. It's freezing after the rains have gone - I wish I'd bought a jumper!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Seoul, Korea

The journey from Kathmandu > Delhi > Hong Kong > Seoul, and associated stops and trains/buses, took 24 hours. I was completely wired on arriving at the homely Bibim guest house in Mapo-gu, run by two cousins Konda and Panda. Despite the extreme tiredness I was excited to meet my good friends Seth and Juchan for a Korean pork BBQ. By the time bedtime arrived I was more than ready to sleep!

Seoul, after Nepal, was like a trip - they're worlds apart. Fashionable, great-smelling people swarm the streets with their heads buried in their super-sized super-phones, always connected to the internet, completely oblivious to the outside world. I almost missed the over-curious and friendly attention received from Nepali people. I'm not sure anyone really wondered who I was and where I came from, but this is big cities for you. Westerners are plenty here; American men mostly; NGO's; with Korean girlfriends. Korea shares a lot with America - unfortunately one of those similarities is a love of plastic surgery!

Food is everything in Korea. They know how to put on a spread! A thousand little dishes surround the meaty main course - this is up there with some of the best food I've eaten on these travels, and possibly ever!

Memorial to sex slaves from the war - cunningly placed outside the Japanese embassy

Chicken Galbi - YUM!

The controversial "tsunami" building - placed behind the Japanese colonial hall

Bibim guest house sign

Panda, me, Konda