Hola 2009

Happy New Year, everyone!

It’s scary to think it’s now been 9 years since the tick of the clock to 2000. To think, I had so many plans back then… that… er… mostly involved… ok, so I can’t remember a single one of those plans for the life of me, but I think they mostly involved getting through school and having a car. That’s me, ambitious as all heck.

So, er, here’s to more plans! Or plain ol’ spontaneity, as the case may well be.

Jon Stewart Explains to Congress

Jon Stewart is still in fine form:

Travel Tips for Hong Kong

  • Get an Octopus at the earliest opportunity. It’ll pay itself off over and over, is supremely convenient (you can pay at McDonalds or 7-Eleven with it), and you get most of your deposit back, minus a HK$7 (AU$1) processing fee. Typical ride cost is in single figures, and while it’s not as extensive as London or New York, it is as efficient as the tube and as comfortable as the subway.
  • If you don’t have much luggage, take the Airport Express. Taking a taxi is only worth it if you’ve got a few people together.
  • Victoria Peak is probably where everyone heads first, and with reason. The mountain rises sharply and to height, giving spectacular views over the city and harbour, despite the efforts of developers to build apartments in improbable places. Take the Peak Tram for a good ride up.
  • Try to time it towards the late afternoon or day – you’ll get both the day views, and after taking a walk around the Peak – there’s an hour long walking trail – you’ll feel pretty refreshed and hardly feel like you’re in a metropolis at all. Which is good, because the rest of time in Hong Kong will be pretty much the opposite. As the day sinks into night, Hong Kong truly comes alive in the lights across the city, and hopefully the smog clears a little too.
  • Central is the business district – a little expensive, a little soulless and without any decent places to eat. It is where the designer shops are, though you’re paying for it.
  • Lan Kwai Fong is just south and east of Central, and it’s where all the city workers go for lunch, and after work for a drink. Good for a wander, with a warren of streets.
  • Wan Chai and Admiralty don’t have much of a rep, and perhaps deservedly. I’ve heard tell of little gems, but only go there with local guides so you avoid the crap.
  • Causeway Bay is an extensive shopping district that feels a lot like Tokyo’s Shibuya or Shinjuku. Great for a wander, and prices are decent too. The Food Forum at Times Square offers a variety of food, and if you’re hankering for some Japanese, especially sushi, you can’t go past Wasabisabi, on the 13th floor. So funky.
  • The ferries are cheap, but nothing special by any means. Take a ride at night to see the city lit up.
  • Across the harbour, Tsim Sha Tsui (a.k.a. TST) is the tourist draw, where many hotels are and where the hawkers are thicker than flies on a camel’s back. Learn some choice Cantonese swearwords to send them off.
  • TST’s most famous stretch of Nathan Road, the so-called “Golden Mile”, is rip-off central. In fact, there’s little redeeming features to TST other than perhaps the Avenue of the Stars, on the harbour, from which you can watch the ‘Symphony of Light’, a laser-and-dancing-building-lights show on every night from 8 to 8:15.
  • If you want the cheap shopping, follow the locals to Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok. Still a little tourist oriented – they are after all just north of TST – but on the relative fringe and as such a little cheaper.
  • If your instinct says to buy, buy dammit. Don’t be like me and regret not buying that iPhone later.

In HK

In HK, at work. Great view over the harbour here, though the haze means it’s not half as spectacular as it could be. I feel like a bit of a country bumpkin coming here from London, because there’s hardly a building worth talking about that’s not at least 30 floors. “Crick in the neck” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

How awesome is Singapore?

Let me count the ways: free showers, free massage chairs, cinema in the airport, hotel in the airport (for those really long layovers), perfect-place-to-relax banana chairs, laptop charing points, and oh, free wifi. Man, I don’t think I’ll travel through anywhere else ever again if I have the choice.

Yeah, I’m here for about 4 hours all up – flight delay leads to flight delay and our next slot is at 3 AM Singapore time (conveniently enough, 8PM London time and thus just spot on to getting internal clock aligned. As long as I can avoid napping here…)

Holiday ahoy!

My first proper holiday – in the sense that I’m not going somewhere new and possibly exciting, I’m just going to take it easy and relax – is about to begin! With a 20 hour flight ;_; Man, Australia really is a ridiculously long way away from the rest of the world/action.

I’ll be in Melbourne from the morning of 3rd Sept to the evening of the 5th; all you people in Melbourne better have time for me some time in those 3 days because I’m coming a long way, dammit, and I don’t want to spend 3 days doing bugger all in Melbourne. I have better places to do bugger all.

Um. Better do this packing proper-like eh?

Monopoly Tour!

I remember playing Monopoly as a kid and thinking, “I’ve so got to visit all these places one day…” (what, no-one else?)

And now I’m here in London. And those streets on the Monopoly board? They’re real!

I know, I couldn’t believe it either. So I got my faithful Google Maps out and mapped it. And I’m going to tick it off one by one while I’m here =)

I’m not going to go all out and do it all in one day – that would be a pointless waste of time, right? But I am going to connive situations which land me near one of those spots, and whip the camera out to take evidence. Oh and look around too so next time I play, I know what I’m playing for.

The tour has begun! Check out my flickr monopoly tag =)