Sunday, 25 September 2016

Day 12 - Outlet Shopping

We tend to leave the Dubai Outlet Mall until the last day, but this trip we decided to head there early. So the day kicked off the usual way, with some pool time, gym time and lazing about outdoors before taking a taxi to the Outlet Mall.

Hard to believe sitting beside the pool it will be Christmas Day in just three months time!

It was dusk as we travelled out into the desert, seeing downtown Dubai through the haze of the setting sun was spectacular. 

We’ve been to this mall many times, right it’s not as fancy as The Dubai Mall but it’s cheap. It’s good to know what you want before arriving to save time. We were getting aftershaves (Ouds) and trainers. All the major brands are here and there are great bargains to be had. After making some savings, we stopped by Tim Hortons for a donut which we got for free! Bonus!

We dropped our shopping back at the hotel and at 10:30pm we took a cab to The Dubai Mall. We could take the metro but at this stage it’s faster and quicker to take a taxi. The walkway from the Dubai Mall metro station to the mall is over 12 minutes long. With stores closing at midnight we didn’t want to waste time. Actually we weren’t shopping this trip, we were heading for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, Vapiano.

Fed, we did hit the shops, well one in particular, the Franklin & Marshall store. It’s an odd one - it’s like Abercrombie, but very rare (around 11 stores worldwide). It’s Italian made and boasts of all things the logo of a small American university. The designers fell in love with the logo and made a retail business out of it!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Day 11 - Back in Dubai

It’s always strange coming back to Dubai. Lots change over the course of a year, the city expands, buildings get taller and yet it’s all so familiar to us. We are definitely creatures of habit, returning to the same hotel for the 4th year in a row. It’s perfectly located some 10 minutes drive to the airport, beside the metro and 5 minutes by car to the Dubai Mall. Yes there are hotels with their own beaches (but they are in the middle of nowhere). We love this place and they know us now. It’s very comfortable and very well situated.

Technically it’s our second day in Dubai, but our first morning. We arose around 10am for the famous Crowne Plaza breakfast. It’s like a tour of the planet in one room. Food from every continent is provided, plus the mix of nationalities makes it great to people watch!

Our usual routine here is breakfast, then hit the pool, laze in the shade (as it’s almost 40 degrees outside you can’t sit in the direct sunlight) before spending some time in the gym burning off those few lbs we’ve put on eating our way around Hong Kong! 

After that we like to head to a mall. Here in Dubai you can’t walk about the streets, it’s too warm. They don’t even have footpaths. Everyone drives, everyone goes to malls. The Malls aren’t like those back home, they are designed to be cities themselves. A place to gather, to wander, to get lost, to eat, to play etc. All done in the coolness of air-conditioning. 

We spent time at The Mall of The Emirates, home to the new Abercrombie Store (including the worlds only A&F Fragrance Store) and Apple Dubai - both only opened in the last few months. This mall is also home to an indoor ski slope!

On the way home we popped into the Dubai Mall, our personal favourite as it’s just SOOOO big. 

We managed to catch the famous dancing fountain show - which never fails to impress. 

Another favourite of ours, Waitrose, is located in this mall. We dropped on by to pick up some food for the hotel (as we’ve a little kitchen etc).

It’s great being back in Dubai - it’s a slower pace here. We loved Hong Kong, but it’s good to get some time to relax before heading back to work.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Day 10 - Leaving Hong Kong

It’s unfortunately our last day here in Hong Kong. Whilst this is our third time here and our second time staying at this apartment we actually don’t want to leave. We really feel at home here and adore the routine we have. The heat of the city is just about bearable and everyone is so friendly. The city has so much to do still haven’t done everything in our three trips. We will have to come back.

We arose early to get out before time to finish the packing and leave for the airport. We spent the morning exploring our area before taking the Star Ferry over to Kowloon. Along the waterfront we set and city watched the skyline of Hong Kong Island. The views are stunning if you are into big cities. 

We took the long way back taking the subway back over to central and walking back to our apartment during the lunchtime rush.

With the final packing done we left for the airport. From experience, taxis will not pick you up if you have luggage. They must fear a ride to the airport. So used Uber and had a very nice car pick us from the front door. The airport express leaves from Hong Kong station every 10 minutes or so. You can even check in your luggage at the train station. This really removes a lot of the stress about travelling to the Airport knowing you’ve already checked in your bags. 

It only took us 20 minutes from leaving the apartment to have had our bags checked in and be on the train. Super efficient. 

At the airport we just had time for dinner before boarding our 8 hour flight back to Dubai. This time we are back in economy, we didn’t get the offer to upgrade our tickets. So it’s down the back of the plane for us. 

We have loved our trip to Hong Kong and Macau Staying at Kenny's apartment (the chap who owns the place) is a real home from home. We felt really welcomed and comfortable here. We will will be back.

Next stop for us is Dubai where we start our final adventure for our 2016 holiday.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Day 9 - Stanley

We started the day by visiting Hollywood Road Park, which is actually in front of our apartment. It was the original site where the British would rise their Union Flag when they originally claimed ownership of Hong Kong back in the 1800’s.

Nowadays it’s a very traditional Chinese style park, complete with tortoise pond. As it’s still Mid-Autumn Festival, the lantern displays were still up. 

The main adventure today was a trip to Stanley. It’s a small fishing village on the southern part of Hong Kong Island. It used to be the most populous town here but those days have long gone. We took the number 6 bus, which takes the long route, but it takes you through some of the most scenic parts of the island. Like Dublin Bus back home, the buses here are double-decked. 

Going over the mountains the bus does take some very frighteningly tight turns. It’s incredible they’ve build 20 story buildings along the side of some very steep slopes.


It took around an hour to reach Stanley. It felt very unlike the rest of Hong Kong, the pace was slow and being by the coast it was a little cooler. In many respects it reminded me of Howth Village back home in Dublin.

There used to be a British arm barracks here, but they moved it brick by brick to Central. However they built a replica a few years back which now is a H&M store! We even found a deli after my own name. 

The oldest template in Hong Kong is also here, built in the 1700s. The main alter had an offering of a dead piglet on it (inside the red bag below), it was gross.

Taking a walk along the pier we saw a fishing man descaling his daily catch. 

After dinner in Milanos we took the bus back to the city and a wander around the Causeway bay area to do some lasts shopping.

It’s our final night here in Hong Kong, tomorrow evening we fly on to Dubai for the last part of our holiday adventure. The bag packing starts now.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Day 8 - 10,000 Buddha’s

Today we made our way north to Sha Tin to climb the 410 steps to the Monastery of the 10,000 Buddha's. En route we enjoyed a refreshing ice-cream from McDonalds were it’s only €0.40 for a cone. So cheap and needed in 30 degree heat. 

The 410 steps up to the Monastery are flagged by hundreds of golden statues of monks. Not in the slightest bit frightening. But more frightening were the signs to beware of wild monkeys. And we stumbled across them - and yes there were vicious. They went for anyone who passed by them. We stayed well clear.

The Monastery is on two levels, the main level had a 9 story pagoda, temple rooms and even a vegetarian restaurant. 

The main hall contains two interesting things, the first 13,000 golden Buddha statues covering every available wall space. But of more interest was the gold painted mummified corpse on the altar of the monk who founded the Monastery. Tale has it when he died, he was buried, exhumed 8 months later to find his body fully intact. He was then mummified and put on display. 

On the second level there were many temples including this one with a horse statue!

Before returning to the city, we discovered two malls beside the train station, one of which contained an IKEA. We did venture in for some vegetarian balls. 

We took the Star Ferry back over to Hong Kong Island, the views are spectacular.

We made a little time-lapse video of the 9 minute journey crossing Victoria Harbour, below in 13 seconds. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Day 7 - Return to Hong Kong

We awoke to a very overcast day in Macau. Looking down to the wave pool and beach from our room there was no one was out - just the life guard. Perfect day for sailing, we are travelling back to Hong Kong today.

We've really enjoyed our time here in Macau getting the five star treatment. We picked up a Starbucks before taking the free bus from the hotel to the port.

Leaving was very efficient and quick. It was 13:45 when we arrived and we picked up a ticket for the 14:00 sailing. Passing through passport etc we were on the boat before 2pm. Perfect.

Thankfully we left the rain behind, it was nice and sunny in Hong Kong. It almost felt like coming back home. Odd.

After refreshing, we went out to explore our neighbourhood including the local Man Mo Temple.

Walking towards Central we popped into the IFC mall for a quick bite at non other than Pret.

We took the MRT (subway) to a new area, Kwun Tong, to visit the APM mall. There was an Apple Store there I wanted to visit, but it hadn't opened yet!

It was getting late, so we had just enough time to ride the subway north to visit the massive Festival Walk mall (which has an Hollister).

Wrecked after our trip to Macau, we retired early for the night.