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A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Macau: The Vegas of Asia May 24, 2014

Filed under: China,Hong Kong,Macau,Travel — Kelocity @ 2:39 pm
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We woke up at our Hong Kong hotel in time for another amazing breakfast. This buffet was huge. Here’s plate #1… this was followed by a couple more. And let me point out, they had cheese! It wasn’t until we got to Hong Kong that I realized I hadn’t eaten any dairy while in China. They don’t use a lot (if any) cheese in their foods. I realized how much I missed it! IMG_2507

They also had a “Pancake Machine”. All you had to do was Press Ok. Wait one minute! Easiest pancakes ever! They were delicious too! OK!IMG_2514

We said goodbye to some tour mates in the lobby, and then headed off on our own for the next leg of our trip. We took the subway over to the Ferry Terminal to depart for Macau!IMG_2516

Macau isn’t part of Mainland China or Hong Kong really, so we had to show our passports and off we went on our boat! It’s only an hour ride, I read my book the whole time. IMG_2518

Macau is known as the “Vegas of Asia”. They have lots of big casinos and it’s growing by the day. Each hotel/casino has a free shuttle bus from the Ferry terminals, so all you have to do is find the one you want to visit and all your transportation is free.
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We decided to stay in the ‘new’ section of town called the Cotai Strip. We chose the Sheraton which was right across the street from the Venetian. Great location, highly recommended.
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It was also randomly voted one of the world’s best hotels for kids. Perhaps the daily character parade helped it earn that title!

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That was the biggest difference between Macau’s casinos and the ones in Vegas. These catered to kids in a big way.
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We were very excited to check out the Venetian to compare it to the one we know so well in Las Vegas! It’s a little bit smaller, but man, it looks exactly the same!!IMG_2547

 

 

 

 

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Even the false “daylight all the time” ceilings were the same!IMG_2591

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Across the street is the Hard Rock Hotel and the City of Dreams complex.
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Since we were already there buying tickets to a show for the next night, we grabbed dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. The food was so ridiculously expensive that we decided “Hey, why not make it outrageous and order two drinks while we’re at it.” When in Rome, right? The bill alone made us feel like we were in Vegas. HA!IMG_2555

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One of the biggest differences between Macau and Vegas…. it’s mostly smoke free! I think they allow it on the casino floor, but no where else inside. That was really nice. IMG_2576

Tomorrow, we’ll head out to the older side of Macau and explore a little of the history. This trip has been amazing so far!

 

Hong Kong: Escalators, Lights & The End of the Tour

Filed under: China,Hong Kong,Travel — Kelocity @ 10:15 am
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Ha, that title pretty much sums up this post! I left you after lunch in Hong Kong, here’s a recap of how we spent the rest of our day. Our tour guide took us to an iconic part of the city. A glimpse into ‘old Hong Kong’. Or perhaps ‘traditional’ Hong Kong. Most of the city is very developed and modern, but it was fun to visit this area as well.
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The colors were so fun. Especially with all the umbrellas added as well. IMG_2374

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It had all the pieces of a ‘big city’ with the advertising and bustling people on cell phones, but still had old charm as well. IMG_2386

After a failed attempt at shopping in some of the touristy kiosks, we used some free time to experience “The World’s Longest chain of escalators“, totally a half-mile total. And we rode the whole thing. haha.

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Of course riding the escalator all the way up meant walking the stairs all the way back down. It took a while, but it was fun and it’s in a buzzing part of town with lots of stores and restaurants to look at along the way.

I loved the reminder that they drive on the other side of the road here! It must be an issue with tourists and mainland China visitors!IMG_2398

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Here’s a map of how far the escalators take you! From here to here!
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Wow, really does feel like home here!IMG_2403

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Finally back at the hotel, we met back up with our group to attend our farewell dinner and the Hong Kong light show! Here’s our trusty tour guide, Alex!IMG_2405

On our way, we sped past the Peninsular Hotel. This used to be an iconic place for the wealthy to stay and dine. They’re famous for their “High Tea” which is so authentic, you feel you’re back to England! Next time, Hong Kong!IMG_2406

First up was the light show! We sadly missed the show in Shanghai, but this one more than made up for it. It was very cool to experience. Music plays on the viewing platforms we were on and the entire skyline lights up and animates to the sounds. Here’s a plethora of photos and a video at the bottom!IMG_2408

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A video of the show!


A Selfie with our local guide, Gain, before dinner!IMG_2494

The last included dinner of the trip was at a British Pub. Fitting for Hong Kong, but we all sort of wished it was Chinese Food instead. But it was fun and delicious.

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Bread pudding for dessert!

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After the dinner, the tour was officially over. We’d be on our own for the next three days while we explore Lantau island and Macau! The adventure continues!

 

Hong Kong: The Peak Tram and Stanley

Filed under: China,Hong Kong,Travel — Kelocity @ 4:37 am
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We woke up to the sound of rain outside. A quick glance out the window revealed a very grey, cloudy day. The rain literally chased us around China during this trip, but we were quickly cheered up after seeing how amazing the breakfast buffet was! I can’t believe I forgot my camera on this day, because it was huge…Vegas-sized! A+ to the Harbour Plaza Metropolis Hotel. I think it’s mostly a business hotel that caters to Westerners.

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We boarded our coach bus and headed first thing to the Peak Tram. Because we were part of a tour, we skipped the line and quickly boarded one of the world’s oldest funicular railcars up to the top!
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We were excited because the views at the top were rumored to be spectacular. It leads up to one of the highest peaks in Hong Kong that used to be home to rich Westerners living in Hong Kong. IMG_2267

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After a quick, fun ride to the top, we were excited to take in the views!IMG_2272

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Oh, look! Another “Mail a postcard to the future” store in the visitor’s center!IMG_2276

Ok, back to those incredible views we were about to see…… Uh oh…. Nothing but fog and clouds! WHAT?!IMG_2277

See this view here… this is what we saw. Grey all around us. I’m not even kidding. We couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us!

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For comparison’s sake, this is what the view was supposed to look like (borrowed from our friend, Ed, who went back a few days later for a better look!) What a difference, right?!
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Haha I love this picture of what we’re supposed to be able to see… IMG_2281

I laughed and said, “Let’s get a picture of us in front of the skyline!” And here it is: IMG_2282

We braved the rain to walk around for a few minutes before finally ending up in a Starbucks nearby.IMG_2284

This place will come back to haunt us a few days later when we try to visit again… only to be caught in the rain AGAIN! Oh well. It just wasn’t meant to be this time. Guess I’ll just have to come back some day 😉
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From there, we got back on our bus and drove to our next destination. The drive was really pretty (yes, rain and all). Here’s a drive-by shot of the Hong Kong Cricket Club. We also passed one of Hong Kong’s only golf course. It opened in 1889 and rumor has it that it cost hundreds of dollars to play there.IMG_2286

We stopped to take a Sampan boat ride through a bay that housed really expensive yachts alongside really old fishing boats. Old Hong Kong meets the new. So neat to view something like this from the water. IMG_2287

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I think this is the world’s largest floating restaurant.. (Another “Worlds Largest” superlative!)IMG_2294

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You can picture what it used to look like when Hong Kong’s fishing industry was at its height. IMG_2316

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We went from boat back to the bus to head to Stanley Market. A quiet neighborhood situated along a beautiful bay. This was our lunch spot today.IMG_2328

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Hong Kong belonged to Great Britian up until 1997. The Chinese have British accents and they drive on the left-side of the road there. The whole city looks very European, which is probably why I loved it so much.

Here’s a little history lesson about Stanley, courtesy of our friend, Wikipedia.

After the annexation of Hong Kong in 1842, the British made Stanley the temporary administrative centre, before moving it to the newly founded Victoria City (present dayCentral) on the north shore of Hong Kong Island.

Stanley Fort was where British and Canadian troops mounted a last stand during theBattle of Hong Kong. The survivors surrendered to Japanese forces in December 1941. The fort, which was the former British Army barracks in Stanley, is now occupied by the People’s Liberation Army following the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong to thePeople’s Republic of China in 1997.

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We had a few lunch options here, most of them had Western food. It was between a few British Pubs and this Italian place. (Which we later found out was a huge chain in Hong Kong, who knew!)IMG_2343

I had the most amazing gnocchi and Irving had a bowl of tomato soup. Perfect for a rainy day.IMG_2344

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On the drive back to our hotel, we passed this mountain. If you look closely, you can see a giant gondola, 1 mile long, that goes up and over the hill. On the other side is Ocean Park, a huge amusement park. Some friends went the next day and loved it. Have to add it to my “next time in hong kong” list. IMG_2355

Here’s a closeup of the park in the distance!IMG_2356

See the gondolas here?

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I’ll save the rest of this day for another post. These days were very full and exciting, indeed!

 

Arriving into Hong Kong May 23, 2014

Filed under: China,Hong Kong,Travel — Kelocity @ 3:25 pm
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We arrived into Hong Kong quite late. We checked into our hotel quickly and turned back around to have a late dinner and experience the night life a bit. Even though we were exhausted, we were also very hungry, so we joined a small group from the tour and set out in search of food. Luckily we didn’t have to look far, our tour guide had the perfect place in mind for some delicious Hong Kong noodles. Enter: King’s Noodles & Dumplings.

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This place was perfect. What was supposed to be a quick, nothing-special meal, turned into an amazing people-watching experience that lasted about two hours. They definitely weren’t ready for a group of 20 hungry English-Speaking Contiki folks. They had a system of numbering everyone’s seat, giving everyone a piece of paper and a pencil, and a menu with everything numbered. All each person had to do was make a list of what we wanted. But then they got confused on who was which number and who ordered what and did they want that tea hot or cold. It was pretty awesome to watch. The dishes were coming out of the kitchen faster than they could carry them and they were all yelling at each other to move faster which made them get even more confused. And then the drinks came out well after the meals did and people forgot what they had even ordered. Oh man, we were all so tired (it was 11pm at this point) it was just so funny. The food was amazing though. My first authentic Hong Kong noodles. LOVED them!!!
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After that, we hailed some taxis over to the Ritz Carlton (fancy, right?) to visit the World’s Highest Bar: Ozone! (I’m a sucker for superlatives. I’ll visit anything that is “world’s biggest”, “world’s tallest”, “world’s whatever” places. Of course I had to see this place!
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We didn’t stay that long… and we actually didn’t even grab a drink! Talk about a missed opportunity! But we were happy to look around, take in the atmosphere and check it off the ole’ bucket list. It was an awesome bar.
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Of course, the views were incredible as well. You could see the skyline in the distance.

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Soon after, we took another taxi back to our hotel. We were so impressed with the taxis in Hong Kong. They are all regulated so you know what the price will be before you even get in. 
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Get ready for an exciting (and rainy) day tomorrow in Hong Kong! Rain and all, I’d have to say this city is on my top 10 list. Perhaps my top 5. Our time here wasn’t long enough, but we made the best of it and really enjoyed it!

 

 

Yangshuo: The Beauty Up Close May 14, 2014

Filed under: China,Travel,Yangshuo — Kelocity @ 4:48 am
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I’m aware that I have posted an insane amount of China pictures recently. And not enough Adele pictures, according to my family. But I’m just trying to get them all up so they live on the interwebs. Feel free to skip the captions and just look at the pretty pictures. Especially the ones in this post. These pictures really do make my heart skip a beat. I feel so lucky to have visited such a beautiful place.

Our last day in Yangshuo started with more breakfast. And more watermelon. (And always served with tea!)

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Our expedition of the day was a bike ride through the country roads to Moon Hill. Along the way, we stopped to take pictures. Everything is just so beautiful in a way I’d never seen before anywhere else. These little rock mountains were adorable. IMG_2104

Ha! Adorable. A word I use to describe my daughter… and moss covered rocks. But they are though, look how cute!IMG_2106

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Oh, and in case you were wondering, it was raining on our bike ride. Just a drizzle, but still. Come on, rain! Stop it!IMG_2111

 

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These bikes weren’t your average cruisers where you can pedal for a few minutes and then coast for a little bit… no. If you weren’t pedaling, you weren’t moving. And that meant pedaling a lot! My legs were tired!IMG_2122

But all the effort was worth it when we got to Moon Hill! (It looks like a crescent moon!) On a good day, you can actually hike to it, but we settled for taking pictures in front of it instead.
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Our brave group of bicyclists! IMG_2127

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On the way back, we got a close up view of some rice patties. IMG_2137

Those farmers work so hard! This man was literally moving rocks out of the way to clear the land or build a wall or something.IMG_2139

I mapped the route later and it came out to be 10.8 miles of biking total! But these legs weren’t done yet. Oh no, siree. It was time to hike up a mountain when we got back! To the top of the town Pagoda! I had watermelon for breakfast, I was ready to go!
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It was a lot of steps, but didn’t take too long, and the views from the top were totally worth it! IMG_2143

How cool to see a little town nestled in the adorable rocks!IMG_2147

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Lots. Of. Stairs. I wonder if there’s a Chinese proverb somewhere that says something like “No great view can be seen without stairs”. If not, I just made one up. Because its true!IMG_2155

(Oh, hi Hotel down below! That’s where we stayed!)IMG_2159

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We reached the top!IMG_2163

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Once we made it back down to the bottom, we met back up with our group to head back to the Guilin airport. This was our local guide during our time here in Yangshuo. IMG_2194

On the bus ride to the airport, our driver kindly stopped at this bridge to let us out to take pictures. We missed it on the way in and wanted a chance to photograph the boats!IMG_2198

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Most of our group!
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And then our time in the countryside was over and it was time to head to HONG KONG!!!
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But before we get there, I’ll let you listen to this song that our tour guide, Alex introduced us to. Warning, it WILL get stuck in your head:

 

 

 
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