Asia 2019, Hong Kong, Japan, Kyoto

Hong Kong -> Kyoto Travel Day

My jet lag wasn’t over yet – only five hours of sleep. Oh well, it could be worse. I was up at 3:00 a.m. though. We woke up very early, checked out quickly, and took a cab to the train station.  This was the only time this trip that we were given an estimate on how much the fare would be and it was actually lower. We left so early it was strange seeing empty streets during daylight hours in Hong Kong! We took the Airport Express back to Hong Kong Airport and it couldn’t have been easier. The apartment high rise portion of the city seemed like something out of a science fiction movie.

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Asia 2019, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Day Three – Anybody Hungry?

All of my pics from this day are of food.
Warning: this post might make you hungry.

 

My most important note of this day? “10 hours of sleep.” Boy did it feel good. Sal was totally jealous. It was about time I slept better than him, though. Sorry, Sal.

We decided to go for Dim Sum at this place I saw on a few different videos on YouTube: Social Place. They are known for their cute and tasty food. As we left the hotel and headed outside the humidity hit me hard. It was almost hard to breathe; it was just next level. Luckily we didn’t have to walk far to reach our destination because I was starting to feel iffy. Sal said we might have to rethink retiring to a country with high humidity. Hey may have a point. The good news is the restaurant was in a mall, with sweet, sweet AC. Have I mentioned the huge number of malls there ? There are malls attached to subway stations, malls attached to business offices, malls attached to residential spaces, and malls that are their own buildings. Lots and lots of malls. If you’re a certain type of shopper, Hong Kong is for you.

We got to the restaurant before it opened and perused the menu. Soon they opened and sat us. Not a ton of English spoken here, but the menus had it and that’s all that matters. This restaurant had a time limit for tables as well. We’d basically made our choices while waiting, so it wasn’t a problem.

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I almost felt guilty eating this little cutie. Almost. This little piggy was delicious.

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Hey, wait. Is that a…
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Yes, it is a pigeon head. He did not eat it, but he sure looks happy holding it, doesn’t he?
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Dessert bun with a caramel filling–so gooooood.

The presentation of the food was fantastic. A few tables down from us they got the flaming pineapple with beef:

We thought we would walk off our big lunch at Kowloon Park, which was nearby. This was a bad idea because it was so freaking hot and the park was on a hill. Ah well. We walked around some, saw some birds, watched some men practicing some sort of fighting, and took some pics of interesting statues. Where are those pictures? Good question. They appear to be missing. We also noticed a couple of videos missing yesterday. I’m worried what else is missing as we get further into the trip and review the photos and videos. It’s very upsetting.

Deep breath. Deep breath. Sorry for the sidetrack. Back to the food!

After the park we decided to do a little shopping. We went to a lovely tea shop and got a gift for my friend who was watching the cats for us since she’s English and a tea addict. The women working at the shop were so friendly and helpful!

Walking back to the hotel a Hong Kong man walked by wearing a shirt that said, “Lift Heavy Shit”. Not gonna lie. I giggled wondering if he knew what it said or not. We often see people wearing shirts with English words, and a lot of times the English isn’t correct…which makes us think they don’t really know what they are wearing sometimes. Well, I thought it was funny. Probably had to be there.

We got back to the hotel and cool, cool air conditioning. We showered and changed for our fancy dinner at Man Wah Restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. We chose this place because of the awesome views, great food reviews, and the fact that we could get 1/2 a Peking Duck (most places you have to get the whole duck and that is way too much duck for two people).

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My handsome dinner date.

 

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This was their signature charcoal/gin cocktail. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was delicious.
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Shrimp spring rolls.

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Hello, handsome!
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Our eyes rolled back into our heads. They were that good.
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The rest of the duck was used in these lettuce cups. It was very filling!
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The egg tarts – our first – were so yummy.
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The little extras cookies at the end came in a bird cage. Cute presentation!

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And that’s how we ended our time in Hong Kong. No egg waffle – way too stuffed – but what a fantastic meal!

 

 

 

Asia 2019, Big Buddha, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Day Two

I repeated my 5 hours of sleep routine and was up at 3 again. Good grief. I was envious of Sal sleeping away. I just couldn’t fall back asleep, so I read while he snored contently.

Once again we had a cheap 7-11 breakfast. We also added money to our travel card. The woman at 7-11 didn’t speak English, really, but we learned pretty quickly that most people understand charades/pantomime. We had decided that we would go see the Big Buddha on Lantau Island that day, which meant an early start and a lot of travel to get there/back. We had a full day in store. We got to the Subway and I went through without issue, but Sal had a problem with his travel card and had to find someone and do the charade thing again. I waited for him on the other side of the turnstile since I had already paid. I had a pretty big epiphany while I waited, and that was that I would never want to go to a new-to-me large city (in a foreign country) by myself. I found it really intimidating and stressful. I was slightly worried Sal wouldn’t find me because of the crowds, but of course he did. I have new respect for the solo travelers beyond just having to deal with the loneliness that must be a part of that sort of travel. Thank goodness for Sal.

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Asia 2019, Hong Kong

Hong Kong Day One

I had been up about 30+ hours straight with no sleep. You would have thought I would have slept like a log when we finally went to bed. You would have been wrong. I slept for 5 hours, and that wasn’t even straight. Oh jet lag. You’re cruel.

Something that I forgot to mention about the first night is when we went to get the egg waffles we got lost in the mall and couldn’t figure out how to exit and get outside. It will surprise absolutely nobody that knows me that I got lost, but hey Sal did, too! It was a comedy of errors. It should have been obvious. We followed exit signs, but they didn’t look like ‘real’ exits, but more like emergency exits and we were afraid of setting off some kind of alarm. We even asked a nice lady who was cleaning the floors, but she didn’t speak English. She pointed to one of the fake looking exit signs, so who knows? We eventually figured it out, but let’s just say it was a humbling experience because we got lost a few times in that mall.

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Flights, Hong Kong, Vacations

A Very Long Day

The Back Story…

The plan in 2018 was to visit Japan for a couple reasons:

  1. Everyone we knew who had ever been there had only great things to say about it.
  2. We already had the Japanese encephalitis shot, so why not go before we had to get it again? Especially since I got sick from it the last time.
  3. We love sushi.
  4. We love temples.

Then Sal found out about a conference he could speak at in Sydney, and he had a work meeting a few weeks later also in Sydney, so we switched our plans and went to Australia instead because:

  1. Work would pay for the Sydney portion and Sal’s flight.
  2. See #1. That was the only reason. It’s really expensive flying Business Class that far and there was no way I was going in Coach!

That took care of the big trip of 2018, but since Japan was still #1 on our list of places we wanted to go we made it top priority for 2019. Someone suggested combining Hong Kong with Japan, so that’s what we did because we could get a direct flight there, too, and we’d arrive at night, which is better than having to stay awake all day.

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General

Disclaimer: Skipping Ahead…

I know, I know. I never finished blogging about Australia. I’ve been procrastinating like crazy and other things have gotten in the way. Sorry! But I will get it done at some point – I’m just not going to say when!

So because I just got back from a trip and had two people the same day ask when the trip report was going to come up, and I think I might literally only have three people who read this blog (AND MY MOM WASN’T ONE OF THE TWO WHO ASKED!), we will fast forward to….

Australia, Katherine, Vacations

Katherine: Randall…I Love You. (Day Two)

I woke up to this:

 

So we decided to give my foot a break and not do any sort of climbing/heavy walking. I had read on Trip Advisor about Top Didj Aboriginal Cultural Experience — a place that also rescues wallabies. Sold! We were finally going to see wallabies!! I was so excited!

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A sweet potato treat for the cutie.
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Sal made a friend, too!
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They were so cute and gentle. And I low-key squealed when I saw them hopping around. Finally!

The experience was run by Manuel. Manuel is an aboriginal man who told us stories about growing up in the outback, sang a song for us, played the didgeridoo, taught us how to paint the way his people do (it’s hard!), taught us how to make a fire and how to hunt by throwing a spear. It was all really interesting, and sometimes a little goofy. In other words, it was right up my alley; I could have listened to him all day.

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I took my painting very seriously to make up for my very serious lack of talent.

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Telling us a random story while a wallaby hopped by.
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Manuel singing a song

Our last activity was Manuel taking us outside to ‘hunt’ kangaroo. Guess who is the only one that actually hit the kangaroo?

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He even got a certificate for hitting the ‘roo. hahaha. To date, this was the only kangaroo we saw.

While we were learning how to throw a spear, two of the kids in the group got to hold wallabies. Was I jealous? Does the Pope wear a funny hat? Eventually, the young European woman who was working there and is an ‘influencer’ on Instagram (already forgot her name – oops) got one of the wallabies away from the kid that was neglecting it. And by neglecting I mean not petting it constantly or talking to it, like I was prepared to do. And then the best part of the day happened and I got to hold Randall.

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I loved him so much.

I’m not going to lie and say that for a hot second I wasn’t trying to figure out how I could get him back to Jersey. Look how cute he is here in this video! I was totally in love with him. He’d lick my fingers and even licked and nibbled on my nose. He was rescued when he was only two months old. The sad thing about the wallabies is that they come out at night and a lot are hit by cars. The car will kill the mom and sometimes the babies are left to die. Other times when the babies are found they would be brought to the rescue. Manuel told us about how he liked to eat wallaby and when one was dead by the side of the road he considered it a free meal. I just blinked at that and clarified with him at one point that he didn’t eat any of the rescues. He confirmed he didn’t eat any that had names. “We don’t eat our friends.” Shew.

That night we went to Marksie’s Stockman’s Camp Tucker Night, which was dinner and stories. The dinner was made on the campfire and it was delicious. The stories were long and funny. Australians like to tell stories, whether they are true or not. We had a fun table – there was a man from South Africa there with his niece – and he was hilarious. One of the best parts of travel is the people you meet from all over the globe.

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One of the influencers cooking the dinner.
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The one and only Marksie!
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Be careful, dude. You could be tomorrow’s dinner…

 

The food was a lot better than I expected and actually one of the best meals we had in the Northern Territory. Marksie definitely knows what he’s doing. He uses all local spices and everything was very tasty and it was neat to try new flavors.

All in all it was a really fun, interesting day that didn’t involve hiking or additional injuries. Huzzah. Sometimes you need the slower days…

Australia, Katherine, Northern Territory, Vacations

Katherine: Waterfalls and Sunset Cruises (Day One)

I thought I’d already posted this, but it was in my drafts. Oops. Enjoy!

It was about a four hour drive to get from Kakadu National Park to our hotel in Katherine. Sal is the driver on our team (he got stuck with a really crappy driving partner as I don’t drive.). The people at the hotel in Katherine had recommended stopping by Edith Falls on the way, so that’s what we decided to do.

Edith Falls is a series of cascading waterfalls and pools on the Edith River in the Nitmiluk National Park, located approximately 60 kilometres north of Katherine, in the Northern Territory of Australia.

After we’d parked, we tried to decide which pool to swim in. Of course, my preference was the lower one because that meant no hiking. Then I saw this sign:

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Someone please explain to me how the crocs know to stop eating at 7 am if tasty legs are dangling at them? TYVM.

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Australia, Kakadu National Park, Vacations

Kakadu: Hiking, Hotel Shenanigans, And Crocs (Day 2)

We woke up early, grabbed breakfast, and headed off for our first adventure of the day: a free guided Burrungkuy Art Walk Talk (basically one of the trails you could do any time, but with guide(s) explanation. The nice thing about these tours is you get to learn more about the art and the indigenous people. The bad part is there were tons of people there and it made hearing difficult sometimes. The rangers did their best, though. The indigenous ranger was the first indigenous person we’d had any real interaction with. He explained some of their laws and traditions. It was very interesting. A lot of this rock art had been restored not all that long ago.

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Australia, Kakadu National Park, Vacations

Kakadu: Beware of Crocs! (Day One)

We got up early, and checked out without any issues. I tasked Sal with finding a breakfast place, and boy did he hit the jackpot. This place was delicious. We got there about 5 or 10 minutes after it opened, and it was almost full already! Laneway Specialty Coffee was everything you needed in a breakfast place: good selection, yummy food, and fast service. If we ever go back that way again, I’m sure we’ll check it out again.

img_20180701_0818537724427957216371786.jpgimg_20180701_0823478081556932343140548.jpgimg_20180701_0823561548795195469076549.jpgAfter a filling breakfast, we got on the road. We stopped at a grocery store to get a cooler and some foods for hiking/lunch breaks. We also picked up a couple of dorky hats. We stopped at Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve on the way, as there was supposed to be some good walks there. We saw this sign:

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OK, Never mind.

I made Sal take that pic from inside the car. We actually saw one of the croc-catching cages there, too. It was empty. Needless to say, we immediately turned around and drove on. While I appreciate these signs, they made me nervous. We had one more stop at some wetlands. Of course there was a warning sign about staying on the path because of crocs. As you can probably guess, I wasn’t so interested in walking around after I saw that sign. There were some nice views in the lookout, though.

pano_20180701_1256314594571437957969852.jpgimg_20180701_125812820392584901412041.jpgimg_20180701_1057174102447122558771026.jpgAnother thing I didn’t know I’d see in Australia:

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Termite mounds are all over the place there. This was one of the first small ones we saw.

Continue reading “Kakadu: Beware of Crocs! (Day One)”