John and I promised our selves for his 60 year we would visit Australia. Having saved for this trip for a long time our journey begins, here is our story.
We talked to many people of our dream trip over the years and began gathering our information. We had many offers of places to stay, this added more cities and extend our stay. Help came flowing in to us via e-mail or chance meetings. Our dear friends Jane and Mike "Drumsara" helped us plan our trip, they gave so much of their time. They booked trips for us to enjoy when in Queensland their home.
We booked our adventure trip with Trail finders, a company our son highly recommended.
We found Trail finders company to be exceptionally helpful, so much expert travel advice from Stuart who works in the the Leeds branch, (by coincidence). by getting to know us via a telephone call, Stuart knew what we were looking for in our trip.
After many e-mail's we booked via the internet and paid our deposit. Stuart telephoned us later that day and said, 'we can make your trip even cheaper', explaining the airlines have today reduced their prices, so by changing one or two flights by hours, we can pass this saving on to you, how many companies would do this. So this alone and reducing our bill they get our highest recommendation.
A chance meeting last summer on the Garonne with Caroline gave John and I a wonderful opportunity of meeting up again and gaining a guide. Caroline and Mathew were at the airport in Hong Kong to greet us, even though we had arranged transport with Trail finders. Caroline said "we just wanted to welcome you both to Hong Kong", a wonderful gesture indeed. Caroline presented us each with a local transport card, to use during our stay also a full itinerary of things she thought we would enjoy. We will meet up at your hotel after you have rested unpacked, together we all explored their home city.
I think we traveled on every mode of transport during our four day stop over, we managed to fit in such a lot during our trip. Caroline gave us lots of options. It was wonderful not too worry about where to go and what to do, she worked very hard to make sure we saw as much as we could during our short stay here.
Caroline negotiated in Chinese for the four of us to enjoy a private trip around the islands and this waterway system. Our lady captain, did not speak any English, she just chatted away in Chinese as we cruised around. I must say this was a wonderful trip, one we would never had made ourselves, it was so nice having Caroline and Mathew with us. The sun was setting as we ended our trip, a wonderful sky indeed, changing all the time. Sadly the air was not as clear during our trip, this did not make for great clear photographs, but this still did not spoil my fun.
No matter were we are in the world John and I are most happy on a boat or near water, especially when we can dip our toes in the river, sea or pool.
Sadly not always getting my exposure right - but the moment always captured, what ever my result was.
Hong Kong was busy and noisy but such a wonderful charm about this city, we found everyone friendly and helpful. Our hotel was central based for visiting everywhere and across the road a wonderful nightly market. This was fun very un like the French markets.
My knee (need a new one at some point) gave me lots of problems, but not enough to stop me exploring when it was possible, perhaps not as much as I would have liked. We enjoyed joining many people on a heart charity walk to the peak 550 metres high - (bus for us most of the way thankfully).
The views were far reaching, but sadly again viability was poor, so not good for the camera. We got the tram down 373 metres it was at a dizzying angle, at one point I thought I would fall over.
We enjoyed some wonderful food during our stay, so cheap to eat out in this city, every budget catered.
Thanks to Caroline guiding us through this city, she is a good photographer, taking the lovely photos of John and me. We were able to visit a lot more places and be more adventurous with Caroline along. Shopping was a delight. It would have been nice had we ended our trip in Hong Kong, so much we could have bought and taken home with us.
We enjoyed some great local fish dishes, fish came in all shapes and sizes and the Quay side was busy with people buying directly off the boat owners. We loved the hustle and bustle here. It's what we imagined Hong Kong would be like.
Ngong Ping Cable Car was a spectacular 5.7km ride our glass bottomed cable car journey started in Tung Chung, crossing Tung Chung Bay to reach the angle station on Airport Island, were we watched two planes coming and going, the cable car then turns 60 degrees in the air towards North Lantau.
Good views on this 25-minute ride: the vistas of the distant and vast South China Sea and the rolling grassland slopes of North Lantau Country Park from the cable car dramatically change from the hustle and bustle of the city, to the serene and natural surrounds that Lantau is famed for.
Approaching the Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminal, We caught our first glimpse of the mighty Tian Tan Buddha Statue, it was so huge. We enjoyed visiting Ngong Ping Village, (purpose built), a few attractions here on this 1.5 hectare site on Lantau Island. On the day we visited it was not a good day for photographs - big haze over this Statue.
Walking around on the lower ground the large bronze Buddha towered above us, the Buddha was completed in 1993. It was an amazing feeling indeed being here. We stopped and enjoyed views of this amazing site.
Sadly the 268 steps up - I managed 74 steps and was unable to go any further, sadly my knee let me down today, it was very swollen indeed, I sat and marveled the view, trying hard not to let my disappointment over whelm me. At least we were able to visit the Monastery next, not so many steps.
Po Lin Monastery symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and religion. It is a major centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong, felt like a very spiritual place, the smell's and colours will indeed stay with us.
Hong Kong has towering skyscrapers, dazzling neon lights, a very vibrant city to explore. Hong Kong has a huge amount of shops, really good for finding a bargain. This city is easy to get around with an amazing underground transport system, and of course all the buses and ferries.
Our daughter is in the process of booking her wedding - next year in Canada. I was always on the look out for tips and found myself drawn to snapping happy couples. We were at the bus stop as this couple drove past, and when I held my camera up, they were happy to give me a wave as they quickly passed by.
I loved photographing people in Hong Kong they are always happy to give a smile and a wave. I have never seen so many camera's in peoples hands, This city is a delight to stand and people watch with a camera, on looking thousands of camera's all going click click, mine included.
Our cases are packed and we are ready to fly to Australia. Our first destination is Perth. We hope to bring you more stories and photographs of our winter journey down under - heading for the sun this winter.
We took advantage of our specially designed View Trail system to look at our booking online and send this on to our family and friends. We also knew that we could access our details at any time during our trip or ask Stuart for any help if needed, we felt comfortable with all this information to hand, via the internet which we found no problem in accessing.
Our visit over winter 2009/2010 includes visiting Hong Kong, every major city + more in Australia, 10 days in New Zealand (a taster for future dream), ending our journey visiting Singapore for John's birthday in Feb in Raffles Hotel. We hope to bring you a taste of our favourite stories, magic moments and many photographs of this our incredible journey.