It could not have come at a better time. FREEEEEEDOM!
And not only did I have traveling to look forward to, but my mom was coming with me who I have not seen in almost a year!
The trip was a little poorly planned out (my fault) but I took the fast rail train to Beijing, stayed overnight, then went from Beijing to Shenzhen (like Chicago to Miami) via fast rail the next day. It was pretty miserable…why didn't I just look into flights?
For the amount of traveling that we did, I packed WAY too heavy. But there were so many things I wanted to send home with my mom! A lot of strategic packing in between flights to keep our luggage underweight!
This was in a big square in Beijing--Happy Year of the Horse!
A food street in Beijing. No, I was not brave enough to try it!
This is Friday Jan. 24th at the Beijing train station. The huge CNY migration around China has begun
After I arrived in Shenzhen, I traveled by metro to the border, went through customs, and then got on the Hong Kong metro to meet my mom at our hotel (12 hours of train/metro transit…woof)
A gorgeous view from our hotel in Hong Kong!
Heres a picture of our hotel on the left--it was right in the middle of the downtown area
Complete with a rooftop pool! (it was about 65ish while we were there so I didn't really take advantage of this)
I have posted about this many times, but Hong Kong is not really my ideal spot to vacation. I think each time I go, it grows on me a little. One reason--I can freely access Facebook and Twitter :)
We spent 2 full days in Hong Kong
A small protest in Hong Kong to raise minimum wage. (Apparently minimum wage there is only 4 Hong Kong dollars, which is extremely low for the price of living--thats equal to .42 cents)
The seasonal Starbucks drinks are chestnut flavored (so good--my new obsession!)
For the most part Starbucks has many of the same drinks as Mainland China, but it has more Western food choices (similar to those you would see at an American Starbucks)
It also allows you to customize your drinks a little more. In China they only have whole milk--in Hong Kong you can order drinks with non-fat milk or soy milk
The first thing we did was take the Ferry across the Harbor to Hong Kong Island. This is a "must do" and is actually cheaper than taking the metro to Hong Kong island.
Before we grabbed lunch, we walked around a bit. Hong Kong Island has many big malls--it has more Western shops than in mainland China (Forever 21, Topshop, Victorias Secret, The Body Shop) and it is a little cheaper than mainland China so many mainlanders go there just to shop.
Like mainland China, the malls put a lot of detail and effort into appearance and decoration.
Next we went to a well-known traditional tea house for some tea and dim sum
I'm not sure these would be considered "dim sum" but we got BBQ pork, goose liver and chicken, and then almond pastries for dessert.
Overall it was very simple and traditional--I would love to go back and try more things on the menu
On our way to the Peak Tram we walked through St. Johns Cathedral
And finally…Peak Tram up to see Victoria Harbor
It was a pretty clear day out--breath taking view!
After walking around and sightseeing all day we went back to our hotel and did an all you can eat buffet
Literally every food you can imagine. The barbecue and dessert were my favorite part!
If you've ever been on a cruise and gone to formal dining this is what it reminded me of--we had an appetizer, then barbecue and then dessert
Perfect way to end the day in HK :)
Cant forget about the night markets…we had to check out the Temple Market
Up next…flight to Bangkok! (1/28)
This is where the bad planning came in--we arrived in Bangkok around 1pm and then left the next morning for Cambodia. Our half day in Bangkok was a little frustrating. It was hard to get used to the city--its extremely crowded and not a pedestrian friendly place (the streets are hard to walk on)
Also because of the protests, there were some areas that we had to stay away from. We decided to take a boat on the river, but couldn't find the pier so we just took the metro around and saw the city. First impression of Bangkok was not so great…
Mom chilling at our hotel
Buddhist relics and offerings were everywhere. A very large percentage of the population practices Buddhism
A street view--I love how the cars are all tropical colors
We came across a small protest
(one party was protesting and trying to shut down major parts of the city so the election would be rescheduled--they want the Prime Minster (Yingluck) of Thailand to step down. In 2006 Yingluck's brother was the Prime Minster and protests forced him to step down and leave the country--now the people are saying that he is still controlling Thailand through her)
It was a pretty early night because we flew out for Cambodia very early the next morning.
CNY's decorations at the Thai airport…
So many Western chains that I have not seen in AGES (there was an Aunt Annie's pretzel)
Ronald with a Thai bow (you are supposed to do this to elderly people to show respect and to Monks)
Off to Cambodia! One of my favorite places that I have been thus far. I have SO many pictures--stay tuned until my next post! :)