I managed to witness the Noon Day Gun, but it was a very very close thing. They really don't like putting up directional signs around here at all. I was told that there was a underpass from the World Trade Center next door to the harbour front near where the gun was, so off I traipsed to go find it. I ended up in the top floor of the carpark and there wasn't a single indication I was even heading in the right direction. I had to head all the way out of the WTC and come in via a different entrance to find the underpass...which was on the top floor of the carpark.
Anyway, it was, as expected, a very tiny gun, but it made a very big boom. Not earth shattering thankfully though. I took a movie of the whole process (it involved ringing bells too), so expect that up at some point. I think I'll wait until I get home when I have nice fast broadband to play with. The rest of the day was spent bimbling about. I found a restaurant from the guidebook and had some kind of hot garlic sauce chicken dish. Not very big on the garlic, but it was certainly very hot. I watched National Treasure 2 (I also saw I am Legend yesterday too btw). I bought some movies. Blu-ray movies are so cheap over here, but so very few of them are region free. DVDs are also pretty cheap (like 4quid) so I got a couple of them too.
Now I have only a few hours until I have to leave the hotel and fly back to Blighty. If all goes according to plan, that should be in around 24 hours. Hopefully you haven't all gone crazy and wrecked the place whilst I was away.
I think so far, that out of the 3 new and exciting places I've been to, Hong Kong is my least favourite. It's too crowded and confusing. I see a sign for a shop/restaurant/whatever and then I have to work out where it is. Take for example my attempt to find a cinema in one of the local shopping malls. Turns out, to get in to it, I had to go outside and around the side. Hardly what I'd consider "inside" the shopping mall.
I kinda failed to find a local eatery today. My guidebook appears to be really out of date. Every place I've tried to locate has either been replaced or just doesn't exist. I ended up eating in something random I found that appeared to be a Hong Kong take on what an Italian cafe should be like. I'm not 100% convinced, but I tried ordering the Duck Cabonnara...I think they misunderstood and gave me the bog standard ham version. And just cos it seems to be standard, I had the Tiramasu which wasn't especially great - too much creamy stuff and not nearly enough spongey goodness.
I had a good look around at the shops. It looks like getting Blu-Ray discs here is quite finacially sensible...except that most of the ones I've looked at aren't the right region. And I'm not sure there is a "fix" out for the PS3 to get around that issue. I'll have to have another look to see if there are any region free discs or something tomorrow.
I've cancelled my "Ocean Park Tour" that I don't remember booking, so that frees up tomorrow for hopefully watching the Noon Day Gun and more randomly wandering the streets of Hong Kong.
Well I'm in Hong Kong, but it's all been a bit of a trauma.
The flight was 11.55am, so obviously that meant getting up unnaturally early. But I managed that and got all packed and mostly ready to go in time to meet up with cryx. We got a taxi easily enough and made it to the airport with at least 2.5 hours 'til the flight left. Only when we got there, we found that there was an enormous queue for check in. I waited in the queue whilst cryx went to see how feasible it was to upgrade my ticket as that'd meant no queuing at all. She tells me I have to go over to the customer service desk (where she'd gone) as they had a query about my ticket.
Over I go only to discover the real reason why they wanted to speak to me, was because my ticket had been cancelled. It turns out that my flights homeward (via Hong Kong) were invalid because for some reasons or other, the flight from Hong Kong (via Paris) to London had to be taken within 24hours of me arriving in Hong Kong. So Qantas had cancelled my tickets. Luckily the nice lady managed to re-enable my ticket and get me an aisle seat and then book me on a different flight from Hong Kong. I then had to re-locate cryx who'd taken my place in the queue and resume queuing.
Every so often, they'd call out for anyone on a particular flight to jump ahead of the queue, cos their flight was going to leave soon. I jokingly predicated that I'd get to almost the front of the queue and then have that happen to me. I was right. It took over 1.5 hours to get as far as check in. I'm very glad cryx was there to chat to and to help out otherwise, it would have got pretty hairy I suspect. We figured that I should go and do customs rather than hang around, so at that point we said our goodbyes and I raced onwards towards the plane. Amazingly I managed to get to the plane before they'd started calling for my row number, so I had time to sit down and catch my breath.
The flight was otherwise uneventful. Choice of movies wasn't as good, mostly cos I'd seen most of them, although I did pluck up the courage to see 1408. Wasn't nearly as scary as I'd expected and had one of those endings I think I'd need to see again - possibly on a decent AV setup - just so I could understand what was going on. Hong Kong was pretty grotty looking weather-wise as we arrived. It's not particularly warm either, so I'm glad I've got my coat.
Getting the hotel wasn't as pleasant - I think I got screwed over by the taxi as they charged me far too much. The room however is nice and I've discovered where the local McDs is, so I won't starve. Annoyingly I realised only too late...and by the distance boom...that I'd missed a chance to witness the Noon day Gun being fired. Apparently that's right opposite the hotel. Have to do that tomorrow. In the mean time, I think I'm going to go out and explore and find something a bit less McD's like to eat.
Well I've only a few more hours left in Australia...next stop Hong Kong. I think I'm going to miss here, it's not that awfully different from the UK. You could quite easily mistake yourself for being in a random part of London if it wasn't for the weather which is obviously a lot warmer than we're used to. I can see why cryx likes it so much. We're obviously going to have to dig out the big guns to lure her back to blighty ;)
I really should be packing, so I'll leave off a round up of the colonies until I get settled in Hong Kong. Hopefully they have really cheap/free net access there too. I have a sudden dread, that my hotel is not as full of win and awesome as I'd like...
So, another couple of days have gone by, both of which were full of me doing stuff. Wednesday saw me start the day by visiting The Opera House. It's not at all how I imagined and is actually 3 seperate dome-things rather than just a mass of domes. It's also at the top of a rather large amount of steps. I tried capturing just how high up it was in photos, but I'm not sure how well they work.
After seeing that, I headed over the other side of the quay to look at Sydney's origins - The Rocks. So named, because of the large mass of rock the original settlers found that formed a natural barrier to their settlement initially. I failed to find the actual Rocks musuem at first, but instead found an tourist information place. This led me to find a leaflet about a ghost tour that they run around The Rocks late at night which I decided I must go on. I've been in many cities that have had similar, but have always somehow never managed to get myself organised enough.
My initial obstacle was that I'd already booked Thursday for a tour of the Blue Mountains and didn't know what time I'd get back. I figured it'd probably be early enough to go on the ghost tour too, but wasn't sure and the brouchure wasn't giving me any answers. So I decided to book the trip once I'd spoken to the tour guide. The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping. I figured my poor battered suitcase was unlikely to survive any more flights, so I thought I'd get a new one. I kinda over did it though and now have a new suitcase that the old one could easily fit in to. Not exactly what I planned, but it'll have to do. The evening was spent in a local cafe with cryx and her friends, drinking coffee and eating cake and generally chatting. Although it didn't last long and people headed home quite early.
Today (Thursday) was the aforementioned trip to the Blue Mountains. The tour guide was very good - witty and informative. He even told us that as a tour guide he was going to lie. So I guess that makes him honest too. We went up into the mountains and took lots of photos of vast open spaces and deep drops. Despite the name, they aren't actually mountains and they're not blue. Apparently they're a dissected plateux. A large shelf of land was raised up 1000s of years ago in one large flat surface and over the years the water has worn away groves that form valleys and stuff. The blueness comes from a similar effect to why the sky is blue - it's the euclyptus trees giving off oily vapours that diffract only the blue part of the light.
Anyway, I wussed out of going on the worlds steepest train and thus missed out on actually going deep into the rainforest. But I did pretty much everything else, like nearly killing myself walking back up from seeing some waterfall. I saw some wild kangeroos. I tried taking photos of them, but the blasted beasts get hiding behind bushes just at the wrong moment. And then at the end of the tour, they dumped us at a ferry point and we got the boat back to Sydney. Which was handy as it was only spitting distance from where the ghost tours started.
I phoned them up only to find they were happy for me to just show up and join in, which was annoying as being in the mountains had drained the mobile almost completely of battery and I needed to call cryx to arrange the evening's plans. Anyway, the ghost tour was suitably spooky. Everyone was given a role to play - I was the assistant undertaker. During his various talks on who died how and where, he'd get the appropriate folk to come up and do stuff. I got to go up twice - first demonstrating how rich people prevented themselves from being buried alive. They got a bell above ground, tied to themselves in their coffins, so if there was a mistake, they could ring the bell. Apparently that's where the origins of "Saved by the bell" and "Deadringer" come from. I also got to demonstrate what the undertaker did whilst collecting the dead...which involved slowly walking down the road, ringing my bell and calling for folk to bring out their dead.
After the tour, I managed to get hold of cryx only to discover that the film plan had been aborted, so instead I've come back to my little dingy hovel to regale you lot with my tales and stuff. Annoying I've discovered that there's a leak somewhere and one corner of the room is now very soggy. Worse, is that it's where I've been keeping my dirty laundry - admittedly in a bag, so the damage is minimal, but still, a few items are now very moist. It's a good job I plan on doing some washing tomorrow, first thing before heading back in to Sydney to look at cute fluffy animals. Hopefully I'll get a better photo of a kangeroo this time.
I've been told this is fairly common place over here, but today I went to the beach. The weather has for the past few days been doing what it's meant to have been doing the whole time I've been here, namely being hot and sunny and forcing me to put on the sunblock cryx's housemate's gf got me for xmas. Which I have been doing like a good boy.
The beach was heaving with flesh. Flesh as far as the eye could see. So we trundled away in one direction in hopes of finding a beach slightly beyond what the tourists would find, but to no avail. So we decided to get our toes wet and sit on the first beach instead, watching the girls go by.
Other highlights of today notably include seeing the pilot for the Sarah Conner Chronicles. It looks oooh so good. I can't wait for it to be shown locally back home. And they've not skimped on cash for the Terminator effects, although it's only been early model Terminators so far - no liquid metal just yet.
And of course I spent lots of time with the most amazingly fabulous and sexy cryx, but that goes without saying, right? ;)
I went to the Sydney Aquarium today. It was soooo cool! I managed to fill up my 2Gb SD card in my camera. I then went to put in my other 2Gb card I'd got for the ipaq, but couldn't get to work only to find that I must have left it in the ipaq and I only had the original 32Mb card that came with the camera. Which was only good enough for 8 pictures, so I figured I was probably better off going back and deleting some of the duplicates I took to ensure quality.
Anyway, I saw lots of fishes. Red fishes, green fishes, blue fishes, silver fishes, big fishes, small fishes, Nemo fishes, see-thru fishes etc... And there were sharks and stingrays (I avoided prodding them until they stabbed me through the heart) and turtles and all manner of other sea creatures. There were even some sea cucumbers, which were in a petting pool. I got to stroke sea cucumbers! I took pictures of sea cucumbers so sea_cucumber could see...then I took pictures of me touching one of them...then I figured I might as well go the whole hog and took a movie of me touching all the sea cucumbers. They are so squishy and soft. Much like sea_cucumber, expect she doesn't have a big flowery maw with which to devour small tiny invisible things floating past her. Or at least, not that I'm aware of.
Obviously it'll be a while before I can upload any of this stuff so you lot can witness the wonders and delights of the gummi sea creatures. It'll probably take me a while to sort through them and weed out all the crap duplicates. That is the one good thing about having a 2Gb card to play with - I can take many shots of fishes and then keep the best one later. I'm even going to be really clever and try to stitch together some photos I took of a REALLY long crocodile. It was HUGE and not doing really very much. Although it did raise it's nose and eyes out of the water, just to prove it wasn't dead. I'm surprised the poor thing isn't lonely though as it was all by itself in the enclosure. No lady crocodile for it to smooch and cuddle up with.
For lunch I decided to have squid rings and chips. Totally not proper squid rings though. It was all mushed up inside the ring. What a cop out!
And ION the weather over here is definitely making it more like home for me. It rained on the way home last night (yes, I know, I forgot to mention it in the previous post) and then on the way out of the Aquarium. Which is partly why I'm online now :)
Another very exhausting day wandering around Sydney, this time on a mighty quest for .... Swimming Goggles. Now you'd think that in a country where swimming and other water related activities are pretty popular, that it'd be pretty easy to find such items. But no. There's plenty of shops for fashionable clothing to wear whilst doing water sports, but very few shops that actually sell stuff you'd use whilst doing them. So I ended up on a mighty trek around Sydney but eventually managed to find a pair for cryx to take with us on our trip to see the Great Barrier Reef this weekend.
Conversely it took me only at most 30 minutes to find a pair of board shorts and a pair of thongs! Yes, that is a picture of my thongs. Go on, you know you want to look.
Met up with cryx for chocolatey goodness at the Lindt cafe. Not too shabby, although the place in Singapore seemed better. There's apparently one from the same chain here in Sydney, so I shall hunt it down and see if it is just as good. And tonight met up with a bunch of folk cryx knows at a random cafe type place. Had to wuss out early cos I'm so very very tired. I think all this sunshine and walking is bad for me or something :)
And for riksowden there is a picture of one of the pie shops I've seen on my travels. I'm not entirely sure why they appear to have added "Hot" on as an after thought. Did someone come along and ask "Are your pies hot?" or something?
So I'm in Sydney now. Pictures are going to be a tad curtailed until I can find some proper spod. Spod at the hostel (*gasp* I know - I'm slumming it a tad) is only for "light surfing and email". I'm not entirely sure I know how to do "light surfing". But anyway, that doesn't mean uploading Gbs of photos.
Weather has been um...not what I expected at all. It's sunny but a little overcast and cold. The kinda cold we are used to for our summers. In fact I'd swear it was one of our summers so far.
I have located the crxy lady and passed on the one and only hug request so far received. We went out for some cheap food last night. Then had icecream in this place where you can mix it all up with bits and flavours - like DIYing your own Ben'Jerrys. Then we saw Beowulf on IMAX 3d. The 3d works, but makes my head spin and go squiffy. The film - not so great. Jolie nekkid? Not as such - it's all very Anime and anything interesting has been completely removed of any detail - even her boobs are just 2 round lumps.
I've been introduced to the local supermarket, the cat and housemate too.
Today I shall bimble-forth into Sydney.
Only another 12 or so hours until I see cryx
The rain has certainly cleared the air a lot. It's no longer like walking through treacle, but it's still pleasantly warm. It's still quite wet on the ground in places though. Hopefully my trainers will dry out before the flight tomorrow cos they're quite icky to walk in.
I ate more chinese food tonight, although nothing too adventures for the main course - just sweet and sour chicken and rick. It tasted a bit like Sugar Puffs - I guess they must have used honey in the batter or something.
For dessert I had double boiled Snow Fungus. Definitely a WTF food item. It's like eating really white, almost transparent pasta that is completely tasteless. Or boiled egg white I guess. I would't say it was disgusting, but I'm not sure I could recommend it in the form I had (in a sort of fruit salad soup). *shrugs* At least I can say I tried something new and different whilst I was here :)
Today's trip out involved China town; filled with all manner of stalls and shops selling all manner of oddities and tourist tat. Oh and lots of tailors who, if you even give them even the slightiest hint you've noticed them, will try their hardest to sell you an item of hand made clothing. The fact I'm standing their in jeans and a t-shirt, whilst they offer to make me a suit is kinda silly. Do I look like the sort of person who wears a suit? Certainly not in my mind.
My plan had involved finding somewhere to eat, but I couldn't find the place I'd noted in my travel guide and those I did see, kind of scared me. It's difficult to know whether a place is any good based on a couple of example dishes they have pictures of and it's name. One placed for example had "Noodles covered in meat sauce". Meat sauce? Um...yeah. I prefer my food to have a little bit more specificness. I didn't ask what kind of meat and moved on.
Eventually I gave up on finding something a bit "local" to eat in and stubmled into the first place that sold food I recognised which was a tiny American style bar. The cheese burger I had was pretty damn good - certainly better than what The Railway serves up.Whilst I was eating the heavens finally decided to open up and let loose their fury upon us. It was a lot more impressive than the spot of rain from yesterday. Being British (god dammnit it ;) and not afraid of a spot of water, I walked to the nearest tube station. Luckily unlike Britain, they clearly have decent plumbing undergound and so the vast amount of water didn't flood the streets too much. Although I still ended up with soggy feet. My brolly also seems to have somehow broken too - although I think that was it getting caught on something in my bag rather than weather.
Their underground system is an example of what such things should be like. It's cheap for a start - only $2 to get back to the hotel and $1 of that was refunded on return of the funny plastic card you get. And it's clean. I think it runs on time too, but I wasn't really paying too much attention to that. The only thing that did remind me of home was the way that people would bundle in to the carriage and then not move down to fill up the empty bits.
Typically, the rain had stopped by the time I got back to the hotel, but I was pretty soaked, so I decided to call it a day for the time being. Maybe if I come back again, I can visit Little India then? Or maybe things will dry and I can do it this evening. I don't feel cheated though, as I've done far more in the past couple of days than I normally do in 2 weeks of holiday. Tomorrow I brave the skies once more and eventually get to see cryx. Hopefully my suitcase will survive long enough.
It seems the damage to the suitcase is a tad worse - the resting doodah on the bottom has been smashed in too. Luckily after much walking around, I found a place that sold some form of tape that'd repair the damage. Today has involved lots of walking around and shops. It seems I can't walk anywhere without finding shops. And they tend to feature heavily on the hitech stuff too.
On my travels I found a McDs and despite feeling bad, thought I should see how a Big Mac compares to what we're used to. Not that different to be honest. Then I found a Ben'n'Jerrys cafe. I think, even taking in to account the exchange rate, it was a tad over priced. But it's good to have nice icecream.
I took a walk down by the river and headed across to the other side to see a local attraction called the Merlion. As you can see from the pictures it's a lion crossed with a mermaid. On the way back I found something for sea_cucumber.
The weather has been very warm and the air is like treacle. All thick and gooey with humidity. It did have a brief stab at trying to rain, but it was a pretty poor effort. Certainly nothing like the monsoons I'd been told to expect. Tomorrow I shall make sure I wear sunscreen, cos it's definitely sunny above the clouds.
In contrast to lunch, for dinner I went to a random chinese place. They had an open air movie theatre on Fridays. Tonight was showing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which I've seen before and not been overly thrilled to with. I had Kung-po venison. It wasn't very hot, but had a slight tang to it.
Then afterwards I headed over to the giant battle slugs as my guide book mentioned there was a place that sold nothing but stuff made with chocolate. I was greedy and had some kind of chocolate and toffee mocktail and a chocolate truffle mousse thing. My belly is very happy and full.