A Travellerspoint blog

April 2014

Hong Kong, Pearl of the Orient

semi-overcast 15 °C
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Next on my list was therefore Hong Kong, after having had an unsuccessful attempt to visit it before my trip to Korea, because of the Chinese New Year's celebrations. Indeed at that time (around February 1st), the Chinese New Year occurring at the same time meant that all cheap accommodations were already fully booked and the prices were rocketing high. But two weeks later, it seemed that everything was back to normal and I had no problems finding a hostel to stay in.

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The first thing which strikes any visitor coming to Hong Kong for the first time is the multitude of skyscrapers. It seems that every company wants to have a higher and bigger building than their neighbours, and more shining as well with lightning effects. Inhabitants face also a space issue, because there are too many people for the space the Hong Kong island has to offer, then people usually live in tiny flats in 15 or more storeys buildings. Unless you make a lot of money I think it must be very hard to find a decent sized accommodation not too far from the centre. And my hostel was no exception to the rule: in what probably used to be a normal flat on the 14th floor of a building in the Tsim Sha Tsui busy district, there was now a hostel with dorms rooms, with at least 12 beds in a 12 square metre room... you see the picture... But I was not coming to HK for its quality of life but more to catch a glimpse and understand why people nicknamed long time ago this lively city Pearl of the Orient.

Actually from the beginning of the 90s, people also started to refer for Hong Kong as the "Golden Egg" because anybody could come, start up a business and make a good fortune, a bit like the American Dream.

And I actually quite enjoyed my days there, it was not as hot as it could be with temperatures averaging the 15 degrees, and humidity was not an issue either (I have been told that during other months the humidity levels can reach 100%!). As usual, staying in a hostel meant that I could meet a lot of people who were like me willing to explore the city and its surroundings (an hour away from the centre, there are actually very nice hikes to do and beaches to relax on), and even managed to fit a day trip to Macau, one of the two "Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China" with Hong Kong. Macau was actually quite interesting with its mixed Portuguese/Chinese heritage and its new massive Casinos which makes it Las Vegas' little brother.

But one week was enough (at least for this world trip) as Hong Kong is far from being cheap and after a week I realised it was time to move on to South East Asia if I wanted to make my bank account happier... Overall I had a great time there, met nice people and I would definitely recommend to spend at least a few days in Hong Kong if you are in the area!

  • Hong Kong

Hong Kong "by night" is quite impressive and photogenic!

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  • Dragon's Back hike

One of the nice hikes available only at a short distance from Hong Kong island.
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  • Lantau Island

Lantau Island is the largest island in Hong Kong, where is located the 85-foot (26 m)-high bronze Tian Tan Buddha (or "Giant Buddha") statue, once the world's largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha statue. Walkers can ascend from Tung Chung to the monastery in two hours. Visitors can also take a 25 minute ride on a Ngong Ping 360 from Tung Chung to the Ngong Ping Plateau via a 5.7 km cable car journey with a cultural themed village and easy access to the Tian Tan Buddha Statue.

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  • Macau

The streets, old fort and casinos of Macau.

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Posted by manolo84 19:30 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged cities english treks Comments (0)

Instant musique à Séoul

Musical interlude in Seoul...


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A few months ago, a friend of mine made me discover a amazing musician called Yiruma, a famous Korean pianist. His music is, how I would say? inspiring, and the perfect companion to my long bus journeys through South America and beyond.

And by pure coincidence, when walking in a subway station with the same friend, we spotted a few people setting up a piano and a banner announcing a musician playing a few minutes later. Turned out it was Yiruma! Hope you will enjoy it too! (I will try to get the end of the video translated soon).

Posted by manolo84 09:52 Archived in South Korea Tagged music english Comments (0)

How to subscribe to the blog

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Just a quick post to answer a question some people sometimes ask me: How can I subscribe to the travel blog?

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Some of you might just have my blog in your favourites' bookmarks or type the address each time you want to access and check if new articles have been posted, but for those who did not know there is also a way of getting an automatic email every time I post a new article with pictures.
In order to achieve this, nothing is more simple, just click on the Subscribe button on the right side-bar and enter your name and email address. That is it, next time there is a new post on the blog, you will be warned immediately!

(And you can also achieve the same result with the RSS feed if you want)

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Posted by manolo84 23:06 Tagged english Comments (0)

Detour via South Korea

in a Gangnam Style...


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Not originally in my list of places to visit, but after hearing a lot of positive things about South Korea, I decided to make a short detour to Seoul in order to join a few friends I had met along the way and discover the Korean culture. And indeed it was quite a nice surprise, at the exception of the weather with temperatures oscillating between a chilly 5 degrees Celsius during the day and a freezing -5 degrees at night... But with some good gloves and scarf, nothing is impossible.... :)

Although I did not spend too much time there (about two weeks more or less), I absolutely loved the Korean food, was pleasantly surprised about the kindness of Korean people (although their average English level is really not that good, even worse than France if I may say so...) and was really astonished by their culture in general. It would be too long to detail all the little things which made me like this country but I would definitely recommend a visit (maybe more during spring or autumn though, when the temperatures are more mild). I had very little time to visit the countryside but I heard there is lots of hiking to be done in the high season so I will definitely come back one day to explore the back-country.

Therefore here are a few pictures taken during these two weeks, between Seoul, the capital, and Jeonju, a smaller town in the South.

The Gyeongbok Palace, the former king's residency

The Gyeongbok Palace, the former king's residency


Another house from the Gyeongbok Palace's complex

Another house from the Gyeongbok Palace's complex


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The National Folk Museum, near the Gyeongbok Palace

The National Folk Museum, near the Gyeongbok Palace


Little detour via the fish market, near Noryangjin

Little detour via the fish market, near Noryangjin


Inside the Hanok (traditional) village in Jeonju

Inside the Hanok (traditional) village in Jeonju


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The traditional dish of Jeonju: Bibimbap. Rice, meat, vegetables, all mixed in a big bowl... Really good!

The traditional dish of Jeonju: Bibimbap. Rice, meat, vegetables, all mixed in a big bowl... Really good!


Having someone who can translate Korean definitely helps! <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

Having someone who can translate Korean definitely helps! ;)


Totems protecting the village (in ancient times)

Totems protecting the village (in ancient times)


In the Korean Folk Village, just outside Seoul

In the Korean Folk Village, just outside Seoul


My friend Bo-ok trying to fit into a Korean gama (litter vehicle)... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

My friend Bo-ok trying to fit into a Korean gama (litter vehicle)... :)


Horse show

Horse show


Seoul too has its tower with the Namsan Tower, overlooking the city

Seoul too has its tower with the Namsan Tower, overlooking the city


View from Namsan Tower

View from Namsan Tower


The toilets inside Namsan Tower, not bad... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

The toilets inside Namsan Tower, not bad... ;)


That's what I call some a nice restaurant BBQ!

That's what I call some a nice restaurant BBQ!


The side dish...

The side dish...


Seoul by night

Seoul by night


Obviously I couldn't come to Seoul without having a glance at that famous area from the Song! <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Obviously I couldn't come to Seoul without having a glance at that famous area from the Song! :)


Seoul by night, near the canal

Seoul by night, near the canal


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Seoul by night

Seoul by night


A few month ago, my Korean friend had made me discover an amazing Korean pianist, quite famous here and maybe in the world, Yiruma. And by pure coincidence, I could assist to one of his "concerts" live in the subway, which was part of a promotional event organised by Sony Music. Definitely unexpected!

A few month ago, my Korean friend had made me discover an amazing Korean pianist, quite famous here and maybe in the world, Yiruma. And by pure coincidence, I could assist to one of his "concerts" live in the subway, which was part of a promotional event organised by Sony Music. Definitely unexpected!

Posted by manolo84 17:26 Archived in South Korea Tagged villages food cities palaces music english Comments (0)

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