And continuing onto Tuesday ..
Had a bit of a sleepin on our last day - til 7:15am!
I did photo and blogging stuff then headed out for a walk around the Gardens by the Bay.
Came back and got ready, then headed down to Rise for the buffet breakfast. It was a lot bigger and the hash browns were actually hot (they hadn't been anywhere else), but also a lot more people so a lot more craziness. Plus I was stressing about getting everything done before we checked out.
After breakfast had a final swim in the infinity pool to have it under morning light. We watched a rainstorm come closer and got out just as it hit.
Then back to the room to repack all our bags, and we managed to checkout right on 12pm.
Left our bags at the Concierge then went for a wander through the Shoppes. Stopped and had some ice tea and macarons, and wandered around for a bit. But The Shoppes is a really awful boring mall. Unless of course you're into the high end super expensive watches and handbags. Boring boring boring.
I couldn't stand being there for another hour or two, so we jumped on a train and went one station to Downtown and had a bit of a wander around there. Stu stopped for coffee and I wandered, and even found an outside bit to get a view of the bay from another angle.
Finally headed back to the hotel to pick up our bags. Then three trains to the airport.
Had some noms and some bubbly at the Qantas club before boarding. Our boarding passes must have been checked at last half a dozen times. Security was only at the boarding gate, not any earlier.
A330 for this flight - up near the back on the left. Took off to the north so no interesting views (other than the airport).
Had the beef goulash for dinner.
Watched The Walk first up which I really really enjoyed. I'd seen a documentary on it relatively recently, and this was a sort of a docu-drama. Very cool. All CGIed of course. Although even if the towers were still there, they'd have had to CGI a lot of stuff *out* of it.
Then watched The Hangover which was actually ok.
It was midnight by this point so attempted to sleep. Failed.
Thinking I had time, I put on Boyhood, but the time listed was wrong and I was still watching it right up until arrival at the gate in Sydney, so missed the end of it :(
(They turned the cabin lights on at 1:30am, and got a bit of breakfast at about 2am. Landed at 3am, which was 6am Sydney time).
I was feeling about anxious about everything actually (mainly missing the end of the movie), and I thought this set off an upset belly. But in actual fact I just had an upset belly which was making me feel queasy. Stuff came out both ends which was fun. Not. Luckily all at Sydney airport. And felt better after that. Stu was feeling a bit delicate too.
Then our last flight to Canberra. A fairly empty Dash8 in the back row on the right. Took off from half way down 34L and were airborne by the time we passed the east-west runway. Rain and clouds all around Sydney though, so not much of a view.
Chrissie picked us up at the airport which was lovely of her.
At home we snoozed for a couple of hours then started tackling the mess that is our house.
So pretty good holiday. It was spoilt a bit by the rainy weather in Hong Kong and the unbearable humidity in Singapore, as well as not having much of a plan for what we wanted to do. But we did do some cool stuff and eat lots of good food, so pretty good in the end.
Had a super slow start. I'd had trouble sleeping (woke up in the middle of the night and took forever to get back to sleep). Ended up sleeping in past 7am.
Spent some time getting ourselves organised, and went down for a fairly late breakfast. Then back to the room to pack up.
It was 11am before we finally got out the door.
Our destination was just across the harbour - the Marina Bay Sands. At over $600 a night we certainly weren't going to stay here more than one night, but as it was the last night of our trip we decided to splurge.
Also because it was our last night, the hotel staff let us checkin when we arrived at 12pm instead of waiting til the normal checkin at 3pm. And they gave us a late (12pm) checkout instead of the usual 11am. So lovely :)
The hotel is amazing. Even the atrium is spectacular. When you get into the room and plug your card into the power, the curtains open up and you see the amazing view. Although we missed that effect because we didn't plug it in straight away heh. The room is *huge*. The bathroom is nearly as big as our bedroom heh. Just amazing.
So we enjoyed the view for a bit, then headed up to the roof to have a look at the pool and the observation deck. Wow.
Then we headed down the "shoppes" downstairs to find some lunch. Got some food at the food court but it was very busy and getting a seat was a challenge. We were a bit hot and frustrated by the end of it.
So we came up and had a swim in the Infinity Pool. It was super windy up the top, and then it rained, which successfully cleared out most people. But then the rain stopped and they all came back - doh!
Went back to the room. Stu chillaxed and I went out for a walk to get some photos of the building in the afternoon sun and go over the "helix" bridge. It was hot, but the breeze meant it wasn't too unpleasant.
Then got ourselves ready for dinner. We went to "db Bistro" by Daniel Boulud. Had some lovely scallops for entree. Stu got a *huge* bowl of seafood, and I had a very tasty coq au vin blanc. All super yummy but there was so much food we struggled to finish it!
Went and watched the 8pm light show outside.
Then had another swim at night.
Watched the end of the 9:30pm light show from our room.
Then I went back to the roof to get some photos at night.
Was about to collapse into bed when I realised I hadn't washed my hair. Doh.
So just a note about this hotel. Don't come here expecting any peace and quiet. You'd think from the price it'd mostly be business people, but unless (presumably) there's a convention on, business people don't seem to stay here (why would they, it's nowhere near the CBD). There's a *lot* of families and young people so there's a lot of noise and activity in the corridors. They make a bit of a fuss about the dress code, but since most people coming and going are using the pool, there's a lot of very casual clothing and bathrobes in the lifts heh.
Had a bit of trouble sleeping - stoopid thermoregulation issues.
Woke up at 6ish though. Got up, did photo and blogging stuff, then headed out by myself.
The sun was out so I thought I'd make the most of it before it got tooo hot. Decided to walk down to the harbour again. Even at 8:20am, the Merlion is super popular with the tourists. So got some photos of it and the harbour and it was all quite pretty.
Then back to the hotel to have a shower and have breakfast.
After breakfast (it was about 10:45 by this point) we headed out.
We took a train out to Orchard to see a couple of stores Stu wanted to see.
The first was Kinokuniya - a huge bookstore. Had a good long wander through there.
The second was The Demin Store - Stu thought maybe he could get some better quality jeans there. But it was just before 12:00 and they didn't open til 12 (!?) and the shop was quite small, so we gave up on that idea, figuring they wouldn't have anything in Stu's size anyway.
While we there, it rained. When we came out, the temperature was actually almost bearable. We headed back to the hotel, and by the time we got there, the sun had some back out. And it was HOT. And HUMID. Just awful.
Chilled out briefly in the hotel, then headed out again - downtown to go on a foodie tour. But this one had a lot more culture and history than the Hong Kong ones do. In fact we didn't actually eat anything for the first hour and a half - we just looked at some buildings and went into the Singapore City Gallery which was in the town planning office and it had all these super cool models of Singapore as well as history of the place and future planning.
The foodie tour bit then kicked off. We went to several food courts, where old street hawkers had been moved under cover, which gave them the benefit of running water and electricity and more space for customers but presumably less character. I guess similar to what they're trying to do in Hong Kong to move the little green sheds into more fixed premesis.
At the first one we had sugar cane juice, chicken rice (almost a rerun of yesterday's lunch!) an oyster and mushroom cake, and a banana fritter.
At the second one we had a vegetarian popiah (which is a wrap made with the same skins used for spring rolls, but not actually deep fried). Very fresh and very nice.
At the third one we had a Chinese-Malaysian chicken curry which was a tad spicy for me but very tasty.
Finally we ended up in an actual mall, and had a cake made with pandan juice. So light and fluffy.
So all up a pretty good afternoon.
Headed back to the hotel, had a shower, then had a swim in the hotel pool.
Had some drinks and nibbles at the hotel, then went across the road to the Swissotel to have a drink in the CityScape bar (after we found the entrance to the place - have I ever mentioned how much I hate malls?!). I had a Singapore Sling (as you do) and enjoyed the *ambience* and the view. Super expensive though :( Also didn't get the full panorama. Might have to try the restaurant next time.
Another approx 6am wakeup. The bed here is a lot more comfortable. Pillows ok. Worst thing is temperature control. Too hot with the doona on, too cold with it off.
Got up and had breakfast at the executive lounge. Not quite as fancy as the Hong Kong hotel, but perfectly adequate.
So then we headed out. Into the hot wet blanket that is Singapore air.
First stop was the Raffles Hotel to get a photo of it in the morning sun. Except as soon as I took my camera out it instantly fogged up :( Next time I'll need to give my camera a good long hug to warm it up before heading out.
Then a long slow walk to the Singapore Flyer.
This place hates pedestrians. Apparently nobody walks here. At least not outside. Every other intersection you're redirected to the other side of the road or to an overpass or underpass. Now I'd be happy to walk through malls and passageways *if* once you got into them you could get out again. Malls are completely evil - once you get into them it's impossible to find your way out again. Super frustrating.
After much weeping and gnashing of teeth (ok maybe just an awful lot of sweating) we made it to the Flyer. $33 each. Which would be fine. Except. People. I hate people at the best of times, but when you're sweaty and exhausted from a whole hour of being in Singapore heat I was ready to murder people. Especially those super annoying ones with the selfie sticks who don't just take the odd selfie to show they've been somewhere, but dozens and dozens of them. Get over yourselves people!!!! Hate.
We had ok weather for the ride. It had been a bit sunny earlier, but had clouded over by the time we got there. Not thick cloud so it wasn't too bad.
Afterwards stopped for another drink so we could decide what to do next. Decided to find the nearest MRT station and head to Chinatown where we were meeting Kit's friend (and our former neighbour) Audrey for lunch. We didn't have very clear instructions (the ticketmaster booth) so it took us probably fifteen minutes of wandering around, including through dreaded malls, to try and find it.
Once we found the meeting spot, we still had about fifteen minutes, so walked up through the street markets and even through a Tintin shop!
So Audrey found us and we went to have lunch in a big indoor food court place. Had some "chicken rice" which is rice with some chicken. I thought chicken rice might have had the chicken mixed through it somehow.
It was also good to chat to Audrey. I'm not sure if we'd met before or not. She lived behind us for a year or so about five years ago, so we probably saw her in passing. We chatted about Singapore and travel and of course Kit ;)
After lunch (it was probably nearly 3pm by this point and some rainstorms had passed through) we trained it back to the hotel with the idea that we'd go for a swim. Except the rain closed in and didn't go away again. So I spent a few hours in the hotel extremely frustrated. Bored in the room, but not able to go out without getting soaking wet (from either rain or sweat) and/or hit by lightning.
Had drinks and food at the hotel then spent more boredom time before giving up and going to bed.
Another 6am wakeup.
Got ourselves organised, then breakfast as usual.
Out the door at 8:45. Train to Hong Kong where we did the In-Town Checkin so didn't need to cart our bags on the airport train.
Went through security, then had a drink, then headed to the plane.
It was a very full flight. Fullest I've ever seen a Cathay Pacific flight. I should have picked our seats weeks ago, but didn't, and only did it at the web checkin in the morning. They'd given me a window seat nearish the front, but too close to the wing for my liking, and they hadn't allocated Stu a seat at all yet. So I changed them both. There were no seats together, but luckily we could both get window seats up the back, so that was pretty good.
Takeoff was to the east, but Hong Kong was covered in cloud, so nothing to see there.
Lunch was a very nice chicken dish - the chicken was lovely and tender.
I watched Pixels first up, which was of course completely ridiculous, but a bit of fun.
Then a documentary - The Secret World of Lego - about the company and designers which was interesting.
We flew over Vietnam - lots of fires :(
Then saw Singapore from the air before landing from the south.
Getting through immigration at Singapore took what seemed like ages - about half an hour. And both my phones refused to connect to the airport wifi :( So that was all hot and frustrating. We took so long that instead of getting our bags from the carousel, they'd taken them off and left them next to it, so it was all a bit of chaos.
Then it was out to find money (easy enough), phone sims (Singapore Recommends didn't have them and no 7-Elevens in sight), train cards (Singapore Recommends had sold out). So that was all a bit fail. Got the train card at the airport station, $12 with $7 credit on them. Asked if that would cover the trip to the city - she said yes.
So two trains into town. Getting off, turns out the fare from the airport is like $1.30. Sydney please pay attention!!!
Everything here is in four languages. Except when it's too hard, they just go with English.
The heat and humidity here is like a blanket. At hot, wet blanket. I really think I'm going to die here.
But we did find a big mall (Raffles City) to walk through which saved walking a city block outside.
Checkin at the hotel was easy enough (although they only gave us one room key, and you can't use the room power without it, but you can't use the lift without it either - not very practical if one person wants to go out and the other wants to stay in the room - so went and got another key).
For dinner we just went to the executive club lounge and had a couple of drinks and some snackages.
Went to a 7-Eleven across the road to get some sims, but they'd sold out :(
Then I decided to walk down to the waterfront to have a look at the Marina Bay Sands light show. The walk down was a little frustrating in places - seems this place is not too well designed for pedestrians - presumably of course unless you know all the underground and in-mall ways to go. At one point I found myself in this underground walkway, that had a gallery inside it! You could never do that in Australia - it'd get destroyed by vandals instantly.
Finally got to the waterfront and saw the Merlion and the light show which was quite pretty.
Back to the hotel to shower and crash.
Also. Why do old people take so damned long to go to the toilet?
Since this is now our third time to Hong Kong, and it's possible we won't be here for a while, I decided it was time to visit Disneyland.
Slept til 6am again. Breakfast much the same.
Bought my Disneyland ticket at the hotel which saved me the stress of buying it at Hong Kong station or at the park (although given the complete lack of queues at the park it would have been fine to buy it there).
Then trained it out. Took about an hour from door to door.
The park opens at 10:30am at this time of year, but when I arrived right on 10:30, people were already in the park walking around. I don't know if they just let people into the shops in advance but just don't let them on the rides?? Who knows.
So went over to Space Mountain first to get in a couple of rides. But Space Mountain has a singles line (win!!) so I knew that wasn't going to be a problem later.
Then over to Grizzly Gulch to have a ride on the runaway mining cart roller coaster. There's no big dips, but it has a couple of surprises in it which makes it quite fun. Ended up having three rides in a row - one at the back, one at the front and one in the middle.
Then I just wandered around the park, going on things as I went.
The other super fun ride was RC Racer, which is kinda like the Pirate Ship ride on steroids. Zero G fun! Had a couple of goes on that early on, and one as the last ride of the day.
I actually chose to go on a rainy day. I know right. But as locals seem to hate the cold weather, I figured the rain might keep even more of them away. And this seemed to be true. I barely noticed the crowds. Part of it was the singles lines, but generally I didn't have to wait too long to get on things. I even wondered at one point if I'd have everything done by like 4pm. There were a couple of things I didn't go on because of queues (eg the teacups and Dumbo), but easily could have waited the 20 minutes or so if I'd felt like it.
In the end I stayed til 19:00. I did a quick race around the park to get photos of it all by night - it's sooooo pretty at night! But I didn't stay for the parade.
I did enjoy the roller coasters, there just wasn't enough of them. And getting to see It's a Small World when it said on the website it was closed was pretty special. But seeing the place at night was probably actually the highlight. So all up quite a good day. And it only rained a little bit.
Came back to the hotel, and we went to the Scottish Restaurant for dinner (don't judge us), but also got some skewers from meat on a stick place next to the station.
Another day, another island.
Slept til only about 6am.
Breakfast was the usual, although a little earlier. We were actually out the door by 8:45am!
Walked down towards Causeway Bay to catch a bus outside the library - a 42C to Aberdeen. Got a front top seat which was good.
Got to Aberdeen arond 9:30. Hacked some portals while waiting for the 10am ferry to Po Toi.
The ferry is a private ferry, so no Octopus cards. $50HKD each return. Took about an hour to get there.
There's not much on the island, and even less in winter. But we were there to do a hike. Starting in the town, around past the Tin Hau temple, a couple of false starts due to inadequate signage, but then up and up and up over the island. Basically the island is a great big lump of granite sticking out of the South China Sea, and it's very exposed. The walk was pretty good and we took our time and took lots of photos.
The second part of the walk, down from the pavilion, was all paved which made it even easier (just a *lot* of steps going down!)
Got back to the ferry pier around 13:30 in time to finish our lunch and catch the 14:00 ferry back (there's only one ferry each way per day during the week - and only on Tuesdays and Thursdays). About another hour to get back.
In Aberdeen we hopped on a bus back to Causeway Bay.
Got back to the hotel about 16:30 but it was about two hours til we were going to meet up with Chris and Anne, so I thought I'd do a quick walk around Victoria Park to do some Ingress missions. Two hours and 8000 steps later... whoops! But did do the "Victoria Park" mission series which looks pretty good in the scanner.
At 18:45 we met Chris and Anne and Bronte and wandered into Causeway Bay - this time to have dinner at Lei Bistro which was pretty good.
Had some dessert back in Tin Hau - I had this shaved ice cream dish which was awesome.
Then back to the hotel to wash hair and crash.
(Blogging on the same day for a change!)
Best sleep in so far - 6:50am!
Got ready just a little bit earlier, but then we tried to find the laundry man we went to last time, but he was gone, so called Chris and he recommended another laundry so we went to that instead - and it worked out a lot cheaper - only $61HKD for our bag of washing. So it was about 9:45 before we managed to get to the station. And of course that meant we missed the 10am ferry, so took our time and caught the 10:45 ferry.
It had already started clouding over by then too. But it was still a nice ferry ride out to Peng Chau. There's not a lot to see and do on the island. We did go on the "northern" walk around the edge and middle of the northern half of the island. We debated doing the "southern" walk as well but we were a bit tired (had already done 10000 steps!) so didn't. Hacked a few portals then caught the ferry back to Central.
At Central we walked up to go to Dim Sum Square.. CRISPY PORK BUNS!!!! So awesome. Also some turnip cakes and beef and parsley rice rolls.
Then caught a tram back to the hotel, arriving around 4pm.
On the way to the laundry to pick up our clothes, Stu started getting a migraine. So back to the hotel to dose him up on painkillers, and I washed some underwear. Another nice thing about this hotel - even though they don't have a guest laundry - they have big bathroom sinks, with plugs, and a retractable clothes line in the shower. Epic win!
Then I met up with Chris and Anne and Bronte and Marg and we went to Din Tai Fung for dinner. Got some shrimp xiao long bao, some mushroom dumplings, some spicy shrimp dumplings, a noodle with peanut sauce dish, some greens and some wonton soup. All delicious.
Headed back to Chris and Anne's, and we went up to the roof and saw the Symphony of Lights from their rooftop - just lovely. Then borrowed some lightweight pants off Anne, because I stoopidly forgot my own lightweight long pants - and I wanted them for Singapore evenings. So that was good.
Then picked up some snackages for the sweetie's dinner and back to the hotel.
Much better sleep - slept til nearly 6am!
Another rainy morning, another morning lacking motivation. But at least we had a plan.
We did start with watching the finish of the Hong Kong marathon, which we could see from our hotel room. So that delayed us a little.
By the time we'd had breakfast we didn't get out the door until 11am :(
We took a train (well actually four trains - and we went east from Tin Hau to avoid the worst of the post-race crowds) up to Sha Tin, and had a bit of a wander through the New Town Plaza. Well actually it was a long walk around trying to find the Starbucks there. Hrmm.
Then a wander down to the river and along to the Hong Kong Heritage museum. Had a little bit of a wander around there.
Then back to the plaza to find some lunch (it was about 3pm at this point). Ended up at a Japanese place which was quite nice.
I wanted to get more $2 lightning cables, and Stu needed a new luggage tag (his previous one had gotten ripped off on the way over), so we stopped in Sham Shui Po on the way back. I found what I was looking for straight away in the Golden Computer Arcade (which was super crowded), and even found a USB light that does very nicely as a keyboard light for when I'm doing stuff in the dark (my $300 lappy doesn't have keyboard lighting). Got two cables and the light for $8AUD. Then went to Apliu Street to find luggage tags, although I think we would have had better luck at the ladies' market or the Temple Street market. We did find something in the end though for about $3.
The sun came out!
Then headed back to the hotel. We picked up some beer on the way back and I did go out for some more snacks and we just had a quiet night in. Saw the Symphony of Lights, although from here you don't really see much. But there was nothing on tv worth watching so we ended up going to bed really early.
After waking up at 4am the first morning, this time slept through til 5am!
Spent the dark hours blogging and doing photo and gps stuff. Eventually Stu got up and we went down for breakfast. We didn't really have a plan for the day which is always dangerous. We struggle to find a good balance when travelling. Stu is happy to take things slowly, but I feel like a caged animal just sitting in a hotel room. The other problem is the rain. I might have gone for a wander by myself, but anything I'd normally want to do requires no rain. So I ended up in a pretty bad frame of mind before we'd even gotten out the door. Which was at 10am again.
Stu did come up with a plan for the day though. We took the MTR all the way out to Kennedy Town. We wandered down to the waterfront (nothing much to see except grey) and around the park.
Then we hopped on a tram at the Kennedy Town terminus and rode it alllllll the way along the island to the North Point terminus. This was actually quite fun, and we had the top front window seats the whole way. Took forever though heh.
At North Point we had a bit of a wander through the markets, and even found a bakery to get a pineapple bun. It wasn't as fresh as the one we had last year though.
Then things started to fall apart a bit. Stu wanted to go see a movie, which was fine, except it meant we had time pressure. We thought we'd maybe get some lunch first. We went to find Din Tai Fung, but missed where it was so had to backtrack. And it was crowded anyway. And Stu accidentally trod on my achilles tendon so I was in pain. That bad frame of mind came back. We decided to go get the tickets and just find something to eat around the cinema. Except we only had half an hour left at this point, and didn't want to go into any of the restaurants in case they took too long. So thought we'd go outside. Except there were no food places around. Eventually found one but couldn't get any service so we ended up getting a sandwich from 7-Eleven. Yay. I was grumpy which made Stu grumpy so it was just bad all around :(
Anyway, we went to see The Big Short, about a few groups of fund managers who bet on the housing market crash in 2007-2008. It was really interesting and quite well done.
It was 5pm now, which actually turns out to be a really good time to go to Din Tai Fung - no queues! So we got a few different sorts of dumplings.
Then we walked back to the hotel. It was only about 6pm now. I messaged @Chrispycon and later (after watching a bit of tv) we met up with Chris and Anne and her sister Marg, had an over-priced drink at Guay, then came back to the hotel.