The journey begins...
Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
123Trip End Feb 27, 2006
My journey began on a bright note for me as I happened to bump into Kevin Pieterson (England's South African cricket phenomenon) at Heathrow Airport en route to meeting my fellow BUNACers! He was on the phone and listening to his i-pod so I didn't bother him, although soon after I met the first group member Steve who had no hesitation in going and asking for an autograph!
Anyway, enough of that!
Soon afterwards I met the rest of the gang and they all seemed really nice, friendly people on first inspection. The usual formalities followed such as "So why did you choose New Zealand?" and "So you managed to fit everything into your backpack" etc but it was all good fun
The next 14 hours or so were spent on the plane. Sure there was a TV for each individual, but there's only so many times that you can watch Ali G and Falling Down before you get bored! I was sat next to Adam, a 20 year old from Aberdeen who is a nice lad and we had a few games of Connect 4 (or rather, "4 In A Row" which I'm guessing is the fake version!) to pass the time. I only managed to grab about an hour's sleep and so by the time we arrived in Hong Kong, I was feeling pretty tired!
We were free to do whatever we wanted to do that evening and so it mostly involved wandering around with mouths open at the number of high rise buildings that surrounded us! We had our own local Tour Guide on the bus and she was a real character, complete with yellow beret! We all think that she made her statistics up, e.g. she insisted that Hong Kong was home to the world's ONLY double decker tram...has she never been to Blackpool??? She was entertaining enough though in her own bizarre way
As we were all tired, we decided it would be best to have a quiet night in and catch up on some sleep. HOWEVER, that was also a pretty boring option considering we only had 2 nights in Hong Kong. Therefore we strolled around for ages looking for some nightlife that didn't just involve Chinese Restaurants (i.e. bars) and luckily enough we stumbled on some good ones that sold fairly cheap lager. Needless to say, myself and three of the others had a good night and got to know eachother well. It must have been about 3am by the time we rolled into our hotel rooms.
The following morning Bruce (my roommate) ever so kindly woke me up at 8.30am to go down to breakfast. I'm glad he did to be honest though as it was lovely...cereals, fry up, fruit, etc. It made me feel a bit better and I was then ready to go on the guided tour.
The tour involved quite a number of stops to take photographs, some of which I will upload shortly. My favourite had to be Repulse Bay which was a stunning place with the mountains in the background. Much more my type of thing than all the high rise buildings. It was very peaceful and it was in stark contrast to the centre of Hong Kong
Sunday involved a bit of a chill out morning until the coach picked us up at about 2pm. From the hotel, we went to a temple which was interesting as we saw the locals praying. Then we went to another market (which some of the others didn't appreciate) but I enjoyed it...mostly for the huge variety of birds that were on show nearby. I think I must be a big kid at heart, as I particularly enjoyed seeing the parrotts and hearing them say "hello" and "goodbye" - tiny things please tiny minds!
Perhaps my favourite part of this short break was the final stop en route to the airport. It was in a place called Kowloon and we had about 90 minutes there. It began in a Jade Market where there was all kinds of Jade on show. I bought a little bracelet which will hopefully bring me luck on my travels! Then I spent about an hour on my own (as the others wanted to go to McDonalds!?) just wandering around the streets. They were jam packed with the locals who were out and about, and I found it fascinating just mingling with these people and seeing how they go about their lives
The break in Hong Kong had come to an end, and although I definitely enjoyed it, I was now ready to go to New Zealand where I could become truely independent. At times it felt like I had to do things to a set plan in Hong Kong, and the 10 of us spent a lot of time together. For that reason alone, I can see why people say it is better to travel on your own as you are free with no restrictions. Therefore as soon as I have spent my 2 days in the Auckland Central Backpackers, I'm going to check out and go and meet many more travellers. It would be so easy to stick to the group and hang around Auckland for a month or two (like some of them plan), but in my opinion that defeats the object of independent travelling. Also, everyone agrees that Auckland, although a nice enough city, just isn't comparable to the beauty that the rest of New Zealand has to offer.