Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Macau Trip!

Recently, a few friends and I went to Macau for the weekend. Macau is the SAR next to Hong Kong, about 1 hour’s ride away on the jet ferry from Hong Kong, and at a pretty affordable price.

We went early on the Saturday morning for our trip, with the feeling of really going abroad when going through customs when we reached there. The free casino buses were eager to take us to their casinos, but people just use them to get around the city for free! We boarded one to take us to the Old Town part.

There we did a lot of photography and sightseeing, particularly looking at the Façade of St Paul’s Cathedral, the only remaining wall of it. We grabbed some lunch from the stalls around that main tourist hub, including some traditional Macanese pork chop bun.
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As it got later, we headed to the night-life sector where all the brand new, huge super-casinos are. Having never been to Vegas, this place gave me that awe-inspiring ‘Vegas-feeling’ and more! Brightly lit up in the dusk, and later, night sky, they were amazing.

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We headed to The Venetian first, which had a mock-style canal similar to Venice (complete with gondolas!). We tried out a few of the casino games there too, only a few bets though. It’s a shame we did not get to see a show this time round, but will try and come again soon.
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After a long night of checking out the casinos, we headed to our hotel. With this being a weekend trip, we stayed at a hotel we found through Hotelclub.com for the night. A much needed rest after the long day we had!

The Sunday, being our last day, we headed out again to check out the Macau tower. This thing is huge! The views were amazing from the top, and, even though we were too chicken to do the skywalk, that looked amazing too. You can actually walk around the outside of the highest point of the tower (safety harness on, of course). This would make a great birthday/Christmas gift for someone who is an adrenaline seeker for sure.

With our last few hours, we headed back to the old town to explore some more and walk the streets. We went past the Lisboa, the most famous and one of the oldest of the casinos there. With it being time to head to our ferry port, we caught an evening ferry back to Hong Kong, ready for work on Monday morning.

All in all, I thought Macau gave the tourist everything they would want. Great food, a new culture to experience, many modern and old places to visit and a great atmosphere. With the price of a ferry from Hong Kong, it is definitely worth a visit if you’re around Hong Kong and have a couple of days to spare.

My Last Post

Just before Adrian and I headed to Vietnam, our time with Chatteris came to an end.

The Saturday before (25th May) we had our last Junk Boat with the Chatteris lot. Despite the early rain, it was a really great day messing around in the South China Sea, drinking gin and genuiniely being an idiot.

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Thursday 30th May was our last day on campus – a Shanghainese Dim Sum lunch with colleagues, as well as a ton of photos with students and staff and receiving gifts. Was a good day, and especially good as all the staff were thanking us for our positive contribution to the English learning environment throughout the year.

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Friday 31st May was our last day with Chatteris. Getting gratuity and bonus money was a win, while photos, award ceremonies and speeches all brought our time to an end. An all-you-can-eat buffet at the Royal Plaza was amazing that afternoon, and everyone loved the Yearbook our Yearbook Committee had put together, especially the Signing Pages during the buffet! We took it chilled and had a memorable last evenings drinks at Red Bar with everyone before we all left to do our separate things.

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So that’s it – 10 months of living and working in Hong Kong finally comes to an end with Chatteris. From the first buzz of reading the e-mail that they’d accepted me, on a hungover Saturday morning in April, to pigging out at an all-you-can-eat restaurant 13 months later, it’s been a blast.

I’m lucky enough to be heading back there in August for Round 2, teaching Primary and Kindergarten children, which will be a lot different to what I’m used to but hopefully more fun. I won’t be keeping the blog up as much next year I don’t think, mainly because the novelty is definitely over now – I feel like a proper Hong Konger now.

Big shout out to everyone who had read this blog or kept up with it over the year. Jack W and Ka-mun deserve a mention for constantly telling me they’ve read it, as have a load of my best mates from Lonsdale/Uni.

At last count, I’ve had a total of 3,500 views, with 101 people reading it on a single day at one point. I’ve had people reading from mainly HK, UK, US, Canada, Singapore and Australia, and most weirdly from Guam, the UAE, Afghanistan, Oman and Moldova. Only had 1 view from China in total, which figures with their censorship laws. But thanks to everyone who has read about how mainly we go out and get smashed at weekends and have the time of our lives in Hong Kong. Cheers!

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Ho Chi Minh City

After our contract with Chatteris ended on Friday 31st May, we were free!! Adrian and I had tickets booked to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam from 1 June – 4 June, but on different flights.

Vietnam Airlines wasn’t the worst in the world, despite a tonne of negative reviews, got me there in 1 piece and I got a cab from a company recommended on WikiTravel, which were cheap enough at 170,000 Dong (about US$8). The hostel we stayed at was the Ngoc Thou Hostel in District 1 (the main place for tourists and backpackers) and was a decent hostel, which didn’t over-charge and were dead friendly.

The first proper day we had we were up early for a tour out of the city to the Cu Chi area near the Cambodian border where the Vietcong Tunnels were. Our tour guide called himself ‘John Wayne’ and his Dad used to be in the VC himself. That day, we…

– Went to a ‘Victims of Agent Orange’ shop where they allowed victims/people born with deformities to do art, sculptures and crafts which they sell. That was pretty poignant and our first taste of the other perspective of the ‘American War’ as they call it.
– Watched some VC Propaganda videos of them training
– Saw VC booby traps (proper chilling stuff…)
– Firing AK-47s (expensive, but SO COOL)
– Went down the VC tunnels themselves (really hot, little oxygen and you had to stoop, proper kills your calves!)
– Went in an US Tank which was destroyed by a missile and was now just a shell.

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That evening, we headed to the famous make-shift bars where Siagon or Hanoi beers are 50c each. We had about a dozen I think, with people from the tour that day. Great to meet so many new people, but I felt rough the morning after.

Day 2 was the Mekong Delta tour. Early get up, feeling rough and on a coach for 2 hours. But worth it. The tour itself was padded out with things like ‘Hold a Snake’, ‘listen to these musicians play, and look they have a CD out…’ and ‘fruit tasting’ but the highlights were definitely the small canoe boat rides with Vietnam hats on, and visiting a huge Buddha and Temple.

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That evening was more chilled due to me still feeling rough. So Cartoon Network in Vietnamese on TV was perfect.

My last day there, we spent checking out the markets, saw the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and went to the former US Embassy to South Vietnam, which was now the War Remnants Museum. Basically any war stuff that the Americans didn’t have time to evacuate or use as the north’s forces were approaching. It was full of propaganda and bias, but really showed a lot of truths about the war you can’t really get the feel for from books. A well good experience.

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After that, we chilled a bit before I had to go to the airport and Adrian had one more night before Kathmandu in Nepal, the lucky sod.

All in all, Vietnam is bloody amazing, Saigon even more so, a definite recommendation!

The Temple of the Dawn

The World On My Doorstep

Temple of DawnI work in a Thai cafe so it is really great to get another card from Thailand – this time from Jirat who welcomes me to the “Kingdom of Smiles”! I love how different every card I’ve received from Thailand is, but all are so beautiful!

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Kuala Lumpur

With Hong Kong celebrating the Buddha’s birthday, we had a day off work on Friday 17th May. Tony, Aids and I headed to Kuala Lumpur for a weekend city break, in what turned out to be one of the best bits of travelling I’ve done so far.

With a 1am flight getting us there about 5am, we got a taxi to the hostel, Suzie’s Guesthouse, who were kind enough to give us our 3 beds for no extra cost to have a kip that morning. We got up properly from our sporadic sleep at about 11am, showered and headed out to explore the city. We did a lot of street wandering, found a Hindu temple, Buddhist temple and Central Market all before lunch. Despite our best intentions of wanting to avoid Chinese food, we had to settle for a Chinese restaurant, but continued out street walking. We found the old colonial Kuala Lumpur railway station, before exploring the edge of a park, wandered into the Police Museum and saw the National Mosque.

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We headed to the world-famous Petronas Towers after where we were very snap happy, and asked to pose for pictures with lots of people, including a Sikh guy and some Chinese birds, they love it…

That evening, we had a fiesta and met Paul, an Irish guy in our room, who we went for a spicy-as-hell Malaysian meal with. We then headed out to a club called ‘Zouk’ – what is known as one of ‘The Best Clubs in Asia’ (no shit – http://www.clubbing9ine.com/news/top-10-best-nightclubs-asia/). Was a sick night there!

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On Saturday, we met 2 other guys in our room, John (from Australia) and James (from down South somewhere) and 5 of us headed out of town to see the Batu Caves. We caught the tallest national flag pole in the world too, as well as some proper good sights in KL.

The Batu Caves were amazing. A huge golden statue stand flanking the steps to the caves; wild monkeys roam the steps and you can buy bananas and food for them; and the caves at the top could easily have been beneath Wayne manor and house the all of Bruce Wayne’s vehicles. There’s a nice little temple right at the end of the caves too.

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That being our last night, we went hard. I met up with mates from Uni, Alex Stewart and James Gough who I found out were in KL that weekend too, such a small world. We met at the Petronas Towers so we got to see them during the night.

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So we ended with the guys from the hostel, having a proper Indian chicken roti that you eat with your hands, then at night doing an organised Bar Crawl. The bar crawl was pretty good as we got to explore the Bukit Bintang area of bars and clubs. We met loads of people from everywhere: Denmark, Iceland, Lybia, India, France and someone who went to Manchester Uni. Great atmosphere, and as Adrian screamed when we were in the club ‘Lust’, ‘THIS IS SUCH A GREAT TIME, EVERYONE IS HAPPY!’. Flight back the next afternoon was done slightly hungover and very tired.

All in all, KL is a fantastic place. I was genuinely gutted to be leaving but feel I’ll be back one day hopefully. Would recommend it to anyone thinking of going.

Finally, the classic cheeky video of our trip:

Hong Kong: My City (2013)

My video project I’ve been working on…

Inspired by the photos my Grandad showed me from when he was here, through the James Bonds set here in the 1970s and retro YouTube videos of old Hong Kong.

Let me know what you think!

Prom-ice and Gromit

So recently work’s become more and more hard-work. I told our boss on 1 May that I couldn’t believe how fast the year has gone and that I’ll be going home to the UK on 29th. Her reply was ‘Yes, but lots to do before then’. Shit on my parade, eh love? I know they’re gonna milk us as a resource for as much as they can before we leave. And I’m not wrong, had a few times this week asking us to do an event, Info Day preparation, EAT Party, EAT Farewell Party with Chatteris, Promotion Video filming, and lots of extra workshops. They’re definitely getting their money’s worth. Despite knowing that the last 3 weeks here will be nothing like the last 3 weeks were at Primary School, or at Uni, the sun’s really bloody hot these days and we’ve got a lot to look forward to.

On Tuesday 31st, we had a surprise half day birthday surprise for Jade round at the MAJJ Party Palace. Aaron had organised a Jade-Olympics which saw our team of Tone, Aids, Jack and me win at cups, beer pong and win a striptease; before we ended up in LKF. A great night made better that the 1 May Bank Holiday was taken on the Wednesday so no work!!  The rest of that week was taken up with workshops, modelling for a student’s fashion presentation (in which they said I’d put on weight since last time, cheers guys) and doing the Chatteris Yearbook with Jade (which is looking excellent now thanks to everyone who’s contributed).

Friday night was a quiet one round our new local pub, the Chaffee Brandish with Tone, Aids and Flintoff. We asked the owner where the name was from (it has a picture of a warship) and he just said ‘Is American Ship’. Google had nothing, only that ‘Chaffee’ was an American Naval Lieutenant and a type of tank named after him used in WW2 and a few post-war conflicts like Korea and Algeria. Definitely some sort of dodgy tax-avoidance thing going on. But pints were 4 for the price of 3 and some family next to us bought us shots so not all bad.

Saturday 4th was the long-awaited Chatteris Prom. Down in Sheung Wan, at a place called Les Boules, it was ‘Shanghai Nights’ themed and the open bar was a real open bar with every drink up for grabs, not just a selective list. We had a great time there, with massive thanks to Nat Belbin and Ian and everyone for organising it. Can’t remember much, but the photos from the photo booth show it was sick. Even got a waistcoat for the occasion, and little dicky bow…
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Work’s then been pretty standard this week. On Tuesday we had our Extreme Travel Party where kids had to design a trip to Everest/Amazon/Ocean Floor or Space. They mostly understood but a few thought UK was IN Australia while others thought Hawaii was in India. One kid didn’t even know they spoke Spanish in Spain. I swear this organisation needs to spend less money on computer programmes or Chinese DVDs that no one watches, and buy the kids some bloody atlases. I’m also doing a workshop on Spanish which I’m so shit at – my pronunciation is so bad my colleague had to help me, as did Google Translate. But it’s a lot of fun with the language workshops cos the kids like to respond more.

Anyway, I’m off to play footy tonight which will probably be out last game, at probably the best venue – Happy Valley. We’re hoping for a second win of the season which I’m sure we all hope for, but should be a laugh anyway!

Also 12 days left of work, 4 weeks until I’m back home. Start doing a big shop please Mum….