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Sophie's Adventures

Welcome to sophie's Travel Page. Here is where I will be keeping a record of my travels for all of you to read. Please feel free to leave a comment for me. If I have time in between discovering new places and meeting new people I will reply to them!

Diary Entries

Sunday, 17 April 2005

Location: Hong Kong

We started the day by taking our luggage to the train terminal in the city and checking it in there, it's quite weird as we are used to checking in at the airport but it's such a good idea if you've got a late flight and don't want to be stuck with your luggage all day. We then took a taxi past the 'armah' Filipino ladies, who sit under the HSBC building and around the city on a Sunday as that is their day off from there housekeeper duties they sit and sing, read, chat, knit, etc, we went to one of the best Dim Sum restaurants in the city - funnily enough called Dim Sum! It was the best for us!
Following a lovely Sunday lunch we took a walk from here along the back of the Peak along Bowen Road to Central where we went to Happy Foot, a massage house, to have a really invigorating foot massage (I'd like to say it was relaxing, but the lady kept forcing her knuckle into the ball of my very painful foot - painful after walking the wall and around two major cities for the week!). Afterwards we took the last look from the Peak over the city and a final bit of souvenir shopping before heading back to the station to catch our train to the airport. So off to Sydney and then Auckland hoping our luggage is there when we get to our final destination!!!!!!!

Saturday, 16 April 2005

Location: Hong Kong

We went to the market at Stanley on the south side of Hong Kong Island for a browse at the silks and other nik naks you can pick up for about a pound.
We saw an apartment block famous for it's hole in the middle which is significant because it is said a dragon can fly down from the hill to reach the water through the hole.
Next we took a boat across to Lamma Island which is not far from Hong Kong. On this island there is a dozen or so restaurants and little else. We had the most amazing meal in one restaurant that was on stilts over the water. In front of the restaurant was a line of tanks and sitting in the tanks were prawns, mussels, cuttle fish, fish, and all sorts of other seafood, which then became lunch!
Then we went back to Kowloon to visit the markets. First stop was the flower market - very beautiful exotic plants, including orchids of every kind. Next stop the bird market, where hundreds of birds in cages were on show for sale. Finally we visited the goldfish market, which was a whole road where every available space outside the shops was filled with plastic bags holding fish of every description and colour.
As it got dark we had a beer on Temple Street (the night market) and watched the stalls being set up. Then we took the interesting walk through the market looking at everything from fake gucci to fake rolex! Very interesting!
We ended the day with another fantastic chinese meal.

Friday, 15 April 2005

Location: Hong Kong

Today we walked around the city, exploring the expensive shops! After shopping we found the "escalator", which was a series of escalators, steps and skywalks through buildings that was an easy route up and down the steep mountain that Hong Kong is built on. In the morning the escalator goes downwards and then turns upwards for the rest of the day as people return back up to their homes.
In the evening we first had a drink at Lan Kwai Fong, a road with back to back bars that has become the place to be after work. You could be forgiven for thinking you were out in London here and the atmosphere was great! Then we took the Star Ferry across to Kowloon to have cocktails in Felix, an expensive restaurant bar that is worth a visit just for the views back across to Hong Kong Island. Whilst sipping our champagne cocktails we could watch the light show of the highrise office buildings!
Afterwards we went to a couple of bars in Wan Chai and ended up having a kebab - very classy!

Thursday, 14 April 2005

Location: Beijing, China

Today we started our next part of our travels, onto Hong Kong.
The time we spent in Beijing was brilliant, we got to see a hell of a lot but I would like to go back and see some more.
I haven't said much about the evenings that we spent there, well I have to say the food was amazing, we are now experts in using chopsticks! My favorite meals were dim sum and having Beijing duck which was delicious. I'm a fan of chinese food anyway but the way everything was cooked I could quite easily get used to it, (the diet was at the back of my mind!!!)
The whole experience was one to remember and I'm glad I had the opportunity to go there!

Arriving in Hong Kong was like coming back to civilization. First impression was that it could quite easily have been London, except for the pleasant warmth and beautiful surroundings!
We left our luggage with a friend and then walked around the antique shops and found yet another temple. This one had huge spiral incense burners all over the ceiling, which we didn't see until we started getting drops of ash on our heads!
In the evening we took the funicular train up Victoria Peak to get a view of the city from above - this was amazing as all the buildings were lit up!

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

Location: Beijing, China

Today I think was the best so far we went to Great Wall of China. Our driver Mr Zhang drove us an hour and a half out of the city to a part of the wall called Mutianyu. We got a cable car up to the wall then started our trek, we walked to the highest point you can get to which took over an hour as the wall is built on the peaks of the mountain so it was very hard work, lots of steps up and down and climbing through little windows - quite weird. After walking up the steepest set of steps I've ever seen we reached the top which was amazing and the view was spectacular! But of course we then had to walk back down, by this time we were very tired and it was quite a hot day which didn't help!
We walked back the way we came to where we started, but we had decided to take a different way down which was the luge, but to get to this part we had to walk another hour or so, again up and down steep steps. We must have walked at least 6kms in all so we were very thankful when we had done the luge and reached the bottom again. That was until we got mobbed again to buy things from the locals, we found the best way to get through was at a fast walking pace and just keep saying NO, but they were very persistent!
Mr Zhang then drove us back to the city, where we promtly got in and collapsed! But it was well worth it!

Tuesday, 12 April 2005

Location: Beijing, China

Today was very interesting. We didn't have our driver so had to use taxis. Armed with a taxi book that had different tourist places translated into mandarin in it, we set out. Using the book, I have to say, was harder than it sounds. Quite a lot of the taxi drivers in Beijing can't read so when you get in and point to where you want to go they start shouting at you! Of course we didn't understand a word, so a couple of times we ended up just getting out and trying another one, which was quite funny!
We did finally get to where we wanted to go. We started off at Yonghe Gong which is a lamaist temple, very beautiful with Buddahs everywhere, and lots of incense burning! In this temple stands an eighteen metre high statue of the Maitreya Buddha, the worlds largest carving made from a single piece of wood! Quite spectacular!
Then back in another taxi to The Temple of Heaven, which basically is a huge park area and in the middle is a cluster of temples. This was where the emperor planted the first seed for the years harvest, they used to fast for three days then offer a animal sacrifice to the gods so they have a good harvest! It was very beautiful here, but again we got all the history from our guide books, as they don't mind you coming to see these historic sights, but nothing is written in english so you don't actually know what anything means!
Once we had been "templed out" we moved to another park! Ritan park which was round the corner from where our friend Rachel worked. This park was very pretty and nice to just sit and watch the world go by, (you see some pretty strange things!).
One thing we did notice is that in the parks and even just on street corners they have gyms, yes gyms, they kind of look like children's play areas, but the chinese are told that exercise is good so you just see them on a cross trainer in the middle of the street, quite bizarre!

Monday, 11 April 2005

Location: Beijing, China

Today was spent at Tian'anmen square and the forbidden city. It was quite a funny day as we had a driver, which is far better than the taxis! He dropped us off and straight away we got mobbed by people wanting to sell things. Then this girl came over to us and asked us if she could come round with us to practice her english and in return she could be our guide and tell us about the places we were going to visit. Well, I have to say she was useless, she was very shy and hardly talked so made it very hard for Tracey and I.
Before we went to the square we went to a tea shop where they did a little demonstration for us which was very interesting.
The square was huge and interesting to walk around and as we walked we could read in our books the history of the place. We had an interesting moment when some Chinese boys came up and wanted their photos taken with us! (People coming from the countryside have not seen western women before). The forbidden city however was brilliant very beautiful and interesting, well the bits that they weren't rebuilding ready for the 2008 Olympics. It's quite sad really as they have so much history in China but they don't no how to preserve it properly so they were just rebuilding the forbidden city to make it look better for the tourists!!
After spending the day in the city we went to Beihai Park which was beautiful, you can forget that you are in the middle of a bustling city - apart from it being swamped by Chinese people spitting on the floor, which was quite disgusting. We never got used to it!

Saturday, 09 April 2005

Location: Beijing, China

Arrived in China on the 10th April in the morning. Beijing was a mad place to visit, very busy!
As soon as we arrived we took a taxi which was very scary, to a restaurant and had dim sum, which was very tasty!
We then went to visit a place called Ho Hei Park, which was very beautiful. We took a rickshaw around the Hutongs, which are the old parts of the city - that was very funny and interesting.
It was very different from anything I'd ever seen before.

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Hi Soph, I've added the last day of Hong Kong so get on with the next year in New Zealand will you...
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