Hello hello! I've got some time to kill at an airport, too early to check my bag even :(, so you get a blog update! I'm sitting in the Chaing Mai airport, having just flown from Hong Kong, waiting to fly to Udon Thani, to take a bus to Nong Khai, where, for the first time in 2 or 3 weeks, I will sleep in a bed in a room all to myself. I have been couchsurfing and hostelling since I moved out of my place on August 24th. It's gonna be glooooooriouuus!!
So, Hong Kong
Day 1 - September 3
I arrived in the afternoon and easily found the bus to take me to my hostel. Hong Kong is amazing to find your way around, I've never seen a city with so much tourist friendly signage. I don't think you could get lost there even if you tried (unless you couldn't read or something). Checked in, hung around and relaxed until the evening, when I met my friend who lives in Hong Kong for dinner. She took my to a super grimy Indian/Pakistani restaurant located in the back alley behind Chungking Mansions. The food was as delicious as the location was terrifying. After dinner we walked down to the harborfront to check out the nighttime skyline. It was impressive.
Day 2 - September 4
On my second day I ventured out to strike off some of the obvious tourist stuff to do. I slept in kind of late, then headed to the peak in the afternoon. The tram on the way up was pretty impressive, frighteningly steep. The official "peak" tourist area was pretty disappointing. Usually, when you think about the top of a mountain, you don't picture a shopping mall. But that's what was there. So I tried to find this walking path, walked the wrong way, twice, and by the time I found it it was too late to get around the whole thing before it got dark and I got attacked by mosquitos. So I just walked partway up to the very top of the mountain, turned around and took a nighttime photo of the skyline before descending on the tram. When I got back to the hostel, I found the table of people with the most empty beer cans and persuaded them to join me on a pubcrawl I had heard about. Unfortunately this was not the most memorable night out, I think there might have been TOO many people joining. That being said, I still managed to lose my phone without remembering how, so maybe things got more interesting later on.
Day 3 - Friday, September 5
Woke up with a killer hangover, had to pack my bag and officially check out by noon, had to make my prebooked cable car by like 2pm. Not possible. Got to the cable car about an hour late, but lucked out and caught them when they weren't busy so it wasn't a big deal for me just to jump on. The cable car is the main attraction of Lantau Island, and takes you across the mountains to the "big Buddha" and a monastery. The cable car ride was definitely the best part, the big Buddha was cool, the monastery was alright. I had some time so I took a bus to the "idyllic fishing village, "the Venice of the east" Tai-O. Waste of time. It was just a Chinese fishing village. It smelled bad, the old men didn't wear shirts, and to top it off, I nearly got stranded there! The bus stopped running back to the cable car at the ridiculous hour of 5. Luckily, several Chinese speaking tourists were also stranded, and were very helpful in finding us a way back. The guy who worked at the bus terminal ending up borrowing a car and driving the 20 minutes back to the cable car. That night, I moved my stuff into my friend's apartment, and, as it was her birthday, went out for some drinks with her Hong Kong friends. This turned out to be quite a good night, much more my speed than the pub crawl haha.
Day 4 - Saturday, September 6
My friend and I went to a little neighbourhood called Stanley, a scenic 40 minute bus ride from Hong Kong Island. It was SUPER hot when we got there, so we just walked around a bit, got a beer and a pizza, and headed home. That night I again sampled the Hong Kong expat life, ate some mediocre Chinese food had some drinks.
Day 5 - Sunday, September 7
Went to the beach at Shek O. It was beautiful! We joined in with a barbecue and had a fantastic day. The water in Hong Kong is almost TOO warm, feels kind of strange and unnatural. Stayed at the beach the whole day, grabbed some icecream on the way home, and called it a day.
Day 6 - Monday, September8
Woke up with a sore throat. Decided to stay home and take naps all day. Went for more mediocre Chinese food for dinner, had a few drinks (although I switched over to ginger tea instead of beer haha).
Day 7 - Tuesday, September 9
This was the Midsummer Festival, so everyone had it off work! We went to the beach again, this time to an island called Lamma. It was a really cute area! Reminded me of Bayfield back home. Spent a few hours there, went swimming, went home, had some tasty street Dim Sum, then home.
Day 8 - Wednesday September 10
Woke up with snot literally pouring out of my nose, decided to cancel my plan to take a day trip to Macau. Slept all morning, but exerted the effort in the afternoon to go and pick up my passport from the Chinese embassy. I got another Chinese visa! Success! Had a last meal in Hong Kong of so very tasty tasty sushi.
September 11- That's today! Woke up early and flew to Chiang Mai! Flying with a head cold SUCKS. We landed and hour and a half ago and my ears still haven't popped :(
I will actually be back in Hong Kong in about a month. I was only planning on staying a couple days at the most, but because China's visa is only 30 days (dumb) I can't go in until October 20th, which means I will get a second chance to do some of the stuff I missed because I wasn't feeling so hot.