Around Sri Lanka

Our days in Trincomlee came to an end quickly. We decided to travel around Sri Lanka for the remaining 5 days. We booked a tour through Visit SL Tours and were on the road early in the morning with a driver.

Paddy Fields around Sri LankaWe drove for almost 5 hours through the Eastern Province and Central Province of Sri Lanka. The countryside is beautiful beyond belief with paddy fields, coconut trees and hills everywhere. Unlike Trincomalee, these provinces are the heartland of the Sinhalese Buddhist population which meant, we saw Bodhi trees, Buddhist shrines and monks dressed in saffron quite often.

Sigiriya, Sri LankaOn the way, we had a quick pit stop at Sigiriya, which is very significant to the Sri Lankan history. It is basically a huge rock where the king built his fort and now only a lion sculpture and so
me paintings remain. As we didn’t have enough time, we decided not to climb up. Our next stop was for lunch in our driver’s city, Karunegelle. The city has a great hill with a large Buddha statue.

Elephant Orphanage

We finally reached Pinnuwala Orphange at 2:45pm. We bought our tickets to the sanctuary but as it was bathing time for the elephants, we walked to a river, 100m away, where the herd were enjoying themselves.

Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka

Elephant Orphanage, Sri LankaThere were around 30 elephants chilling in the water and mud. It was quite hot and the crowd had gathered all around the river watching the elephants and feeding a few of them some bananas. The caretakers were charging up to LKR 1000 to hug and touch an elephant. We stood at the edge and managed to interact with a few for free :)
The highlight was watching a very young elephant calf playing around the older elephants in the water. Elephant Orphanage, Sri LankaIt was so happy just being in the water and the herd was taking close care of it. Once we had enough of the heat, we did some souvenir shopping. We then waited around for the herd of about 25 elephants to head back into the pens. We watched them cross a major road, walk into the sanctuary, eat the trunks and leaves and finally drove to Kandy.

Here is a mashup video of the elephants –

Music credits to Bertn1991 – http://www.newgrounds.com/audio/listen/618232

Kandy

It took around an hour and a half to get to Kandy. It was pure luck that we managed to be in Sri Lanka during the Kandy Perahara event, which is one of the biggest religious event in Asia. It is a Sri Lankan procession which has dancers, drummers, monks, elephants and an idol or relic related to the Buddha.Sarongs at Kandy Perahara, Sri Lanka Once we parked, we rushed through the crowds towards the Temple of the Tooth. We were told that Suyash and I could not enter the premises due to wearing shorts. Therefore in a hurry, we bought two sarongs and learnt how to put them on.

Our excitement was turned into disappointment when we were told that we couldn’t enter the temple as the Perahara was getting ready to move. However, we didn’t have to wait long to cheer again as we realised that the Buddha’s tooth relic came out on a huge elephant ready to be shown to the whole city of Kandy.

Kandy Perahara, Sri Lanka

Kandy Perahara, Sri LankaWe quickly grabbed a spot as the procession got moving. We saw flame rotators, disc rotators, sword fighters, elephants with lights, monks, dancers and drummers. The highlight of the night was the Nedumgombo Raja, the biggest calmest elephant with huge tusks charged with carrying the tooth relic.

Tip: The perahara starts from the Temple of the Tooth and goes around the city. Getting a spot early in the temple is the best option as you can finish watching the whole procession by 8:30pm. This also applies for any parade or procession, otherwise you will be stuck with the crowd.

Here is a short mashup of the performances at perahara –

Adam’s Peak

After grabbing quick dinner in Kandy, we then drove to Adam’s Peak area for an early morning walk to the summit. We reached Nallathanniya at 12:30am after a crazy night time drive through mountains and bad roads. Suyash and I rotated responsibilities to accompany the driver through the late night drive on mountain. We spotted wild boars, horned deer and hedgehogs on the way.Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka
We checked into our room, which was 2 floors below basement, slept for an hour and went climbing the peak into the night. The manager at the hotel told us it will take approx. 2.5 hours to climb the peak. We started our ascent in the pitch black night. We had a few people ahead and it was a nice walk up the hill in the first hour. After this the climb got hard and harder with the temperature lowering and the stairs getting steeper. In total we climbed 5660 steps and it totally killed our legs.

 

 

Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Adam's Peak, Sri LankaOur fitness level was not the best and we realised that halfway in to the climb. Unfortunately, though we made it to the top, there were too many clouds and the sun was nowhere to be seen after the time of the sunrise. Eventually, we decided it was best to descend and make it back to hotel in time. The walk down was as hard as the walk up and we eventually made it back around 9:30. Though the photos on the way down were amazing, we recommend attempting the Adam’s Peak climb if you are fit enough and there is a high chance of seeing the sunrise.

Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip: Always check the season and weather forecast for any location you want to visit.

Galle & Unawatuna

As we left Nallathanniya, it started to pour. Though there were pretty sites around, we crashed very soon as we were all too tired after the trek and no sleep through the night. We made no stops on the way other than lunch.

Soon after lunch, the boredom of the drive made Suyash and Shruti play random Bollywood related games in the car. Since I don’t remember the films much, I was a spectator. The game was hilarious, both of them were clueless at times and I had a lot of fun watching the siblings coming up with random things to do.

We arrived in Galle around 6pm just before sunset and checked into Happy Night hotel, along the Unawatuna Beach. The name was a bit funny but the hotel was amazing regardless being cheap. Due to the lack of sleep and aching legs, we decided to get pizza, sandwiches and beer while watching a Hera Pheri, a hillarious Bollywood classic, in the room. We called it a night early and slept for a good 9 hours.

Though we felt refreshed the next morning, the legs were still in pain. We decided to see some of the highlights around Galle city and return early. Once there, we had traditional Sri Lankan breakfast and walked to the Fort. As Kumar Sangakkara had retired a day earlier, the cricket stadium in Galle was full of posters of his farewell. Though we don’t support Sri Lanka in cricket, we salute the legend for his contribution to cricket!

Galle Fort, Sri LankaGalle city is quite small and the highlights are all walking distance from each other. A tuk tuk driver saw us walking around the Fort and told us he’ll give us a tour of the old city for LKR 500. We decided against it as we wanted to walk around and absorb the surroundings. However, he was adamant and decided to reduce the price to LKR 400. Against Suyash’s advice, we decided to take the tuk tuk as our legs were in quite bad shape.

Eventually we realised it wasn’t a bad decision. The driver stopped at 3-4 places and gave us 20 minutes each. Old Galle city is an amazing place. It looks like an European town in the middle of Sri Lanka. The town was settled by the Portuguese before the Dutch took over. It had Dutch churches, houses and other Dutch government buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries.

One of the highlights for us was the Dutch museum. The museum was housed in a renovated Dutch Governors house by a local businessman. Artefacts from the Portuguese, Dutch and British eras were carefully preserved there. It was also interesting to see an old lady making lace the traditional way while another man was cutting and polishing gems using a wheel blade. It really was a trip back to the past. The entry was free but the staff showed us around and eventually lead us to the jewelers shop within the museum. They were not forceful but it was a clever ploy nonetheless.

Galle Fort, Sri LankaWe stopped at the church, lighthouse and a Buddhist temple before the time was up. On the way back, Suyash had planned to go the Japanese Pagoda and a place called Jungle beach. However, the driver was charging too much and being on a cliff it would be a pain to walk back from there. Due to Suyash’s great bargaining skills, we managed to offend the tuk tuk driver who accused us of being tightarses (slightly justified!) :P

Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

Since we didn’t want to go the beach or walk, we decided to chill with music into the evening. We again played a game of ‘play a random song on youtube’. The game was a success and it made us quite happy listening to a whole range of songs from 90s Bollywood, Punjabi and House classics. We ended the night with local food though I had a slight Galle belly in the middle of the night.

Suyash left early in the morning for his flight to Singapore while we stayed back, slept a little more before taking an express bus to Colombo for the home run in Sri Lanka.

Final Thoughts

From the Adam’s Peak experience, we will be more careful about planning for back to back activities and never visit a place for one single attraction. But nevertheless, driving around Sri Lanka was a good experience. We crossed many towns and villages and saw the different cultures, Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims in the country.

We also regret not climbing Sigiriya – we would have possibly experienced more culture there.

Around Sri Lanka Gallery

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Sri Lanka – 5 days in Trincomalee

We are currently in Sri Lanka, enjoying the sun, water and air! If you are surprised about our change of plans, read find out why we aren’t in Nepal.

I must say the last few days have been was AMAZING.

Suyash at TrincomaleeBefore we get into the details, we want to thank Suyash, my brother, for organising the trip. Due to the last minute change, Manish and I were could not plan the trip. We basically booked our flights, arrived in Sri Lanka and followed Suyash’s plan.

We landed in Colombo on 17th August, afternoon. The western part of the island gets monsoon at the same time as India so Suyash planned on taking a train to eastern town, Trincomalee, on the same night. We made our way to the railway station and bought train tickets. We then killed the next 5 hours grabbing dinner, checking out food eateries outside the station, playing Uno and just catching up.

Tip: The Colombo International Airport is outside the city. If you want to save some cash, there are shuttle buses available from the airport to the Central Bus Stand in Fort, Colombo, approx. every 30 mins, for about LKR 110. Otherwise you can get taxi service too for about LKR 2000.

Also, we weren’t aware of the elections happening in the country. Most of the shops were shut and there weren’t many people on the roads for the first two to three days we were here.

Btw, in the previous post we mentioned about claiming for Nepal flights and guess what, the Insurance guys are settling the bill :) Really great news for us considering we are on a budget.

Train Ride

Manish and I slept the previous night in the flight from Hong Kong and at the Kuala Lumpur airport. It wasn’t very comfortable so we thought we will get First Class Berths on the way to Trincomalee, hoping to catch up on some sleep. We were wrong!

Train from Colombo to TrincomaleeBeing an Indian and having traveled in Indian trains a lot, I have to say – this train wasn’t the most comfortable for the over night ride. It appeared to us as though the trains haven’t been upgraded for decades. The train was an old style, appeared to be straight out of a 60s movie. On the bright side, we got a private cabin for 2, which definitely eased all our concerns about our and the luggage safety. Before we slept, we had a couple of drinks :)

Train from Colombo to Trincomalee

Day 1

Upon reaching Trincomalee train station at 6:30 in the morning, we negotiated with the tuk tuk driver for the ride to our hotel, which was in Uppuveli. The hotel was basically a big house converted for home stay accommodation. We showered and made our way to Nilaveli Diving Centre where Manish and Suyash were supposed to take their theory class. I sat through most of the session just refreshing my memory. Nilaveli Beach in evening, TrincomaleeOnce the boys were done, we headed to the Nilaveli Beach for a quick swim and walked towards to main center.

Upon reaching the main center, we realised it was pretty much a dead town due to the election. We grabbed Lion Lager at a beach resort and decided to head back. As we stepped out to find a tuk tuk, we came across a small local eatery. Turns out it was run by a Tamil family and we sat down to have some sappad (rice & curry meal).

Tip: sharpen your bargaining skills. The tourists are usually charged higher for tuk tuk rides so it is best to know what a local would pay for that ride and negotiate.

Day 2

Diving buddiesThe boys were scheduled to do their confided dive. The dive master, Lakshaman, decided to take them out to the sea for their confided dive session instead of the swimming pool. I stayed back at the beach, swam, sun bathed, slept, blogged and took pictures along the beach.

After lunch the boys had to continue their theory class so we managed to wrap up the day around 6pm and headed out for dinner. We met Muhammad from Lebanon and Bernhad from Austria. They had just arrived in Trinco and were staying in the same hotel. We had a good time chatting and enjoyed dinner.

 

Nilaveli Beach, Trincomalee

Day 3

We got up early and headed to the Diving Centre for our first dive together! We managed to dive twice, hit the depth of 16.5m. The sea was slightly choppy but that didn’t affect us much underwater. The underwater world is so calm. The fish and corals living in harmony. We saw a massive sting ray, it was chilling on the sea bed. The boys also spotted two eels. We were definitely very happy and tired after the dives.

Padi Open Water Diving Course After grabbing some lunch we had to head back to the Diving Centre to complete the final section of theory class. The boys had to do a final exam of 50 questions. It was a laborious task considering we were tired and the sun was strong, but we managed to get through the day. We reached our hotel around 7pm, relaxed a little and then headed out for dinner with Muhammad and Beinhart. Muhammad is very talented – he translated an Arabic poetry and played the flute while we waited for our dinner to arrive.

Friends in Trincomalee

We called it a night after dinner and decided to wake up early for sun rise.

Day 4

Manish and I got up early to walk along the beach for sunrise and managed to click a few good photos as well. On our way back, we heard a tuk tuk playing ‘mere sapno ki rani‘ tune on repeat. We were curious to find out what was he selling and turns out it was variety of fresh bread. We bought about 5 breads for LRK 120 (really cheap!) and enjoyed that for breakfast along with tea.

Sun rise, Uppuveli, Trincomalee

We then headed to Trinco city. Koneswaram Temple, TrincomaleeOur first stop was Koneswaram Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it has his massive statue just at the entrance. The temple has a lot of history and some of the deities are from Chola Period, i.e., 2000 years old! The temple sits on a cliff overlooking the ocean a little away from the main city. The original temple was destroyed by the Portuguese in the 17th century. The new temple was reconstructed in the 20th century.

Deer relaxing in Fort Fedrick, TrincomaleeWe then walked down the hill to Fort Fredrick. The area houses Gajaba Regiment of the Sri Lankan Army. It was amazing to walk casually among the midst of army. And, the area is a natural reserve for deer. They were randomly chilling around the fort. The area is surrounded by ocean on 2 sides and is very beautiful!

We then walked to the Trinco main street. Along the way there was a small community of fishermen. Dried Fish, Fisher Men Market, TrincomaleeWe interacted with the locals and clicked lots of photos of the people and deer (yes, deer here as well).

Finally, we decided to walk to Dutch Bank Cafe to grab some beer. It was a long walk but we enjoyed the clean roads, temples and churches along the way. We also passed a prison. We spent the next few hours chatting and enjoying our drinks till we were really hungry.

Om Akshjaya Bawan Saiba Hotel, Custom Road, TrincomaleeI remembered seeing a small restaurant, Om Akshjaya Bawan Saiba Hotel, on the way to the cafe so we decided to check it out. Turns out, they made fresh dosas! Being a South Indian food lover, we decided to sit down for dinner. And, OMG, the food was amazing. I am not sure if it was the beer or our hunger, but we thoroughly enjoyed the dinner.
The address is 182 Customs Road, Trincomalee.

On the way home, we bought the local liquor – Arrack. It tasted great with both water or sprite and we chilled out listening to music.

Day 5

Like the previous day, Manish and I headed out early to grab some local brekky. We picked up a couple of vadas, rolls and rotti. While we enjoyed the brekky in the balcony, we decided to head to Pigeon Island for snorkeling. We got on a boat from Uppuveli Beach. The boat ride is about 30 mins to the island.

Pigeon Island

We were mesmerised by the island. The shore was full of dead white corals that looked really pretty but hurt our feet as we walked barefoot. The water was blue and transparent and the sky had occasional massive clouds that shaded us from the scorching sun. We snorkeled on either sides of the island and spotted boxy fish, eel, sword fish, ‘fashion disaster fish’ (I think it is called parrot fish) and lots of other pretty fish that ranged from really tiny to half meter. The island also houses black tip reef sharks. Among the three of us,  Manish was the lucky one to see it. We then headed back to Shiva Resort, grabbed some lunch and came back to our hotel for shower, rest and packing up.

In the evening, we made appointment for full body massage at Ayurvedic Center. The massage, with the ayurvedic oil was so relaxing. We walked out, had hoppers for dinner (finally!) and hit the sack as next morning we head to Kandy.

In Summary

Highlights – Uppuveli Beach, Nilaveli Beach, Pigeon Island, Koneswaram Temple, Fort Fedrick, local eateries

Transportation – Tuk tuks are very common in Sri Lanka. Tourists should bargain the price before boarding the vehicle. We didn’t spent more than LKR 1000 daily on tuk tuk. This cost can be further reduced by chosing the right location for our resort.

The other option is renting scooters. They are available for LKR 1200 per day. Once again, if your resort is at the beach, you would need transport to the city only.

Weather – August is the perfect time to be in Trincomalee. We had great beach days everyday.

Accommodation – There are plenty of resorts available along the beach which are approx USD 65 per night. There are also cheaper home stay / hotels available along the main road, Nilaveli Road which cost between USD 35 – 50 per night.

Cost – Usually you are likely to spend LKR 1400 per day for lunch and dinner at any resort. If you eat at local joints, you are likely to spend around LKR 600 per day.

Recommendations – Pigeon Island, Hotel Trinco Huts for dinner (74 Nilaveli Road, Trincomalee), Om Akshjaya Bawan Saiba Hotel (182 Customs Road, Trincomalee)

Final Thoughts

Trincomalee is an untouched rural part of Sri Lanka. This region was affected by the war till 2007-2008 and so there haven’t been much developments here. Usually the resorts can assist you with all your needs, such as activities, entertainment, etc, but I highly recommend stepping out and interacting with the locals. They are very welcoming. We ate at many local outlets and they were very friendly.

Trincomalee Gallery

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Change of Plans #1

A lot of our family and friends knew we were supposed to head to Nepal after Hong Kong. The Shuklas and Manish and his mother were supposed to visit Mt. Kailash and Lake Mansarovar in Tibet region. For those who don’t know, the Mountain and Lake are very significant to the Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. We had booked a 13 days onland journey from Kathmandu.

We are almost packed and ready to set on our journey, despite the recent devastating earthquake but about 2 to 3 weeks before our departure, our tour agency informed us that there are some issues. Apparently the Chinese Govt had restrictions providing permits to the region, especially to Indians passport holders. We assume these restrictions were likely to be due to the chaos caused by the recent earthquake.

The tour agency informed us of alternate Helicopter routes for Aussies (Manish and his mother) but those would cost more and the dates interfered with our India tour plans. We decided to postpone the trip for next year, though it is certain that Manish and I wouldn’t be able to visit as we are likely to be in the other part of the world.

The next big question was – what do we do for those 13 days now! The family discussed various options such as:

Visit Nepal nevertheless

Our flight tickets were booked so we could still visit Nepal. We did some research and while there were still places to see, the monsoon is at it’s peak in August so we decided to skip Nepal.

Visit Indonesia (Bali / Lombok)

As I am an Indian Passport holder, we had to look at places that provide Visa On Arrival for Indians or no visas required at all. Though some of the options looked appealing, Manish and I decided to skip Indonesia as Bali is relatively close to Australia and we could visit it anytime later too.

Visit Ladakh in India

When we were planning India and places to visit, we decided to skip Ladakh. As we were supposed to travel to Mt. Kailash, we assumed the mountains and landscape would be similar. Additionally, getting to Ladakh from Delhi isn’t too tough so we could visit it in future with friends. But now as Nepal wasn’t happening, we had the option to go to the mountains in India. We looked at getting to Ladakh and quickly realised that the onland journey would be tough because the northern region has monsoons as well. The roads will be wet and there is always a possibilty of landslide. We then looked at option to fly to highest point we could but that isn’t advised as we could easily get altitude sickness. So, this option was out too!

Scuba Diving

My brother, Suyash, suggested scuba diving instead. This was a great opportunity for Manish and Suyash to get their Open Water Diving License. And, as I already hold Advance Open Water Diving License, I got excited very quickly. We started looking at places we could go for diving in August and Indonesia and eastern Sri Lanka were the best options. After doing some initial research, we collectively agreed to head to Sri Lanka.

So, this post comes to you from Nelavali Beach in east Sri Lanka. The boys are out in the sea, doing their confinded water exercise and I relax under cool shade of low coconut tree on this clear skies day, enjoying the breeze and watching and hearing the waves. Life is good, I must say :)

Nilaveli Beach

Btw, we have to applied to our insurance company, Southern Cross, to claim the costs of our flight tickets to and from Kathmandu. We are hoping they settle the bill. We will keep you posted of the outcome.

4 Days in Hong Kong

This post comes to you from the KLIA2 departures hall. We arrived in Kuala Lumpur after spending 4 days in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong

We arrived in Hong Kong on the 12th August and took a cab from the airport to Shruti’s Uncle’s place who offered us to stay with them during our time in Hong Kong. The Geography of Hong Kong amazed us. It is a series of islands with amazing hills connected by tunnels and bridges.

Geography of Hong Kong

Tip: Look up public transport to get to your location. The city is very well connected with trains, buses, mini buses and ferries. Download the HK Transport app and use the free WiFi spots around the city. Get yourself Octopus Card (initial payment of $150 required, $50 is deposit) which works across all public transport and also in grocery / small eatery stores, such as 7-11, Gong Cha, etc. Remember to return your card at the Airport MTR station to get your deposit and value on card back.

We didn’t know this earlier but we had landed in the rainy season of Hong Kong. There was warm drizzle which occasionally got heavy. During our entire stay, the island had low lying clouds that made the city even more beautiful though the humidity was high.

Day 1

Our first day out in Hong Kong was in the Central area of Hong Kong. Once we got off the bus, we tried to find The Peak Tram so we could get to The Peak. Though we could get there by bus or taxi, the tram is much recommended for the experience!

helpful local in Hong KongWe were kind of lost until a delivery man (in the pic) told us to follow him. We had to communicate with him by pointing to a picture of ‘peak tram’ and he pointed us in the direction of the tram station. He saved us at least a half hour of walking.

Tip: Always ask a local :) They may not be able to communicate well but will definitely try to help. We asked for directions and local food suggestions from locals quite a few times.

Enjoying The Peak at Hong Kong Being a cloudy day, we did not encounter lot of tourists at the Victoria Peak. There was hardly a queue and we got on the first tram. Victoria Peak is Hong Kong’s biggest tourist attraction and though it was misty, we were not disappointed. The temperature was comparably low (~26°C) and so was the humidity. Although only part of the Hong Kong skyline was visible occasionally, it didn’t affect our enthusiasm as we were literally in the cloud! I am sure the the view would be even more beautiful on a sunny day though.

Aberdeen Street, Hong KongAfter this, we walked from the tram station across the suburbs of Shuen Wan with its antique shops, Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) with its bars and Causeway Bay with its high-end shopping. We walked up the very steep hill of Hong Kong, along the Aberdeen Street. We visited a local temple called Man Mo Temple as well.

Day 2

On day 2 we visited the Lantau Island, home to the Po Lin monastery and Big Buddha. We took a train from Central to Tung Chung for the cable car to Lantau Island. As it happened, there was a thunderstorm warning and we had to take a bus to the Island. It took us around 40 minutes on the bus and we were mesmerised by the beauty along the way.

Once there, we first saw the Ngong Ping village which was a mock Chinese village with souvenir shops and restaurants from all over the world. It was very touristy but enjoyable nonetheless. As the clouds were constantly drifting, wWisdom Path, Lantau Island, Hong Konge decided to do a little walk along the Wisdom Path and visit the monastery later. The path itself was beautiful with mist through the greenery and deserted houses and shops. Although the visibility was low, we got a couple of good shots.

We then headed to the monastery which also serves strict vegetarian food. The interiors of the monastery were beautiful and the food was very tasty and cheap! We did overeat a bit ;)

Big Bhudha, Lantau Island, Hong KongBy this stage, the Big Buddha was visible clearly and we decided to walk up the stairs. It was an atrocious task to do after heavy lunch! We somehow managed it and the view of the Buddha, the valley below and the bay ahead was gorgeous despite the weather.

Following this, we took the cable car (must try, even if just one way) down the hill and caught a bus to the Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei. The area is famous for its markets, namely the Ladies market and Temple St market. These markets basically sell everything under the sun! The weather turned bad at this stage and we walked undercover through the markets and took a train to Tsim Sha Sui area for the Hong Kong skyline. Hong Kong SkylineWe happened to get there just in time for the light and sound show which takes place between 2000 to 2200 on Fridays and weekends (if I am not wrong). Hong Skyline itself was beautiful but the show was quite touristy and boring. We later did a quick walk along Avenue of Stars and took a photo of Bruce Lee :)  We rushed home to meet Uncle, Aunty and their 3 boys who had returned from a long flight from the other side of the world. We stayed up with them till late just chatting away.

Day 3

StanleyOn day 3 our plan was to go to Lamma Island and do some trekking but there were thunderstorm warning and it would be impossible in the pouring rain. Therefore, we took a bus down to Stanley area and chilled there till late. Stanley was a quiet fishing village until it was taken over by expats in Hong Kong. Now, it is a mix of the local fishing community, expats and tourists. The bus from the South of the Island dropped us to Aberdeen and we decided to walk to Uncle’s home.

Day 4

Our final day in Hong Kong, We again went to the Central area. We had left a few ‘Hong Kong’ things the first day and we decided to finish them off. We rode the mid level escalator from top to bottom of the hill which was a unique experience.

Tip: The escalators function in one direction only. They usually run downwards from 0600 to 1000 and then upwards for remaining day.

Next, we went to Yum Cha and quickly googled Cantonese numbers so we would know when our table number was called out. The food was amazing, and relatively cheap, though Shruti has trouble getting vegetarian food. A quick Star Ferry across the Victoria Harbour and we visited the Hong Kong Museum of History. The museum provided us with an insight of the story of Hong Kong, its past as fishing villages of Guangzhou province to being ceded to the British in the Opium Wars and finally becoming a huge financial centre and merging with China.

Family

Finally, we took a bus home, packed and said our goodbyes to Uncle, Aunty and the boys. On the way to the airport, we decided to change buses instead of taking the Airport Express train. And, we did keep our fingers crossed for our baggage weight as we were flying with a budget airline.

We had dinner with Shruti’s family friend and later boarded our flight to KL. That was it for our first destination – 4 days in Hong Kong!

In Summary

Highlights – Victoria Peak, Central and Causeway area, LKF for bars and night out, Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Sui and Lantau Island.
If you are keen to shop, I’ll recommend you to carry an empty suitcase and filling it up there. Also, brush up your bargaining skills ;)

Transportation – Hong Kong has a immaculate transportation system. Buses / mini buses are available to most places and trains are also fast and cheap.

Weather – August may not be the best month as it is monsoon season. However, it wasn’t so much of an issue for most people here. In our 4 days here, it only rained heavily once.

Cost – HKD 100 would be enough for a decent breakfast and lunch from local eatery while for dinner you would probably spend around HKD 300. Alcohol is available in convenient stores and most dinner places are BYO – you just need to carry the receipt for the alcohol. Otherwise, you would be paying around HKD 50 – 70 for a drink as average.
For transport, we spent about HKD 175 for 4 days, so that should give you a bit of a gauge.

Recommendations – Qi – House of Sichuan, Tim Ho Wan at IFC Mall Airport Express level, Po Lin Monastery

Final Thoughts

We had an amazing time in Hong Kong. It is a beautiful city with a great culture and character. The geography is straight out of Kung Fu Panda and you don’t have to go very long from concrete jungle to misty trails. The food and alcohol are not the cheapest but transportation, environment and activities make up for it.

Hong Kong Gallery

Bye bye Australia

We were at the airport yesterday to drop mum off and we decided to leave our bags in the Smartecarte lockers at the carpark. It costed us $14 but we didn’t have to worry about making our way to the airport in the morning. Take note, these guys also have outlets at the airport, but the self lockers are cheaper. We jumped on the train and had a pretty relaxed train ride to airport. Overall, economical and stress free.

Dropping off our bags was quick – very quick! We didn’t even get a chance to take a pic! We also changed some cash.

Tip: post immigration there is only Travelex Currency Exchange around. They charge a flat fee of $12 and the rates they offer are sort of reasonable.

Anyway, we are now grabbing a quick small bite before our boarding to Hong Kong.

PS – the international airport is under renovation so the food options are really limited at the moment.