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    Thursday 3 September 2009

    Day Two - Arrival into The East

    Our flight into Hong Kong, stops for 90 minutes before continuing onto Melbourne for something like another 8 hours. We were wrecked after only the 11 hours it took to make it this far, one of these days we'll travel onward to Australia, but for this Holiday, it's China.

    The Airport is very modern indeed, first store to greet us is a Starbucks! Mental, but I love it! You don't need a visa to visit Hong Kong. EU citizens receive an immediate 90 day boarding visa. We'd to pass through a heath check (for swine flu) which required us to complete a health declaration form. The health officials, dressed in blue with surgical masks didn't take our temperatures, just processed our paper work. Previous to this, we did spot a health screen station, staffed with some 6 officials monitoring heat sensitive cameras positioned throughout the arrivals hall. Hong Kong takes swine flu very seriously. So passing health check, passport control, bag collection and customs, we enter the main airport building to find yet another Starbucks and now a Burger King! Are we in America or China? Either way, it's amazing thus far.

    The Octopus card is a must here. It's like the Oyster card in London. You load it with cash and can use it to make countless payments everywhere, from the Airport Express to 7 Elevens. The Airport express connects you to the city in around 25 minutes. It costs around HK$100 (€9). The train is very modern, fitted with LCD TVs and controllable speakers in your head rests! We took the express to Hong Kong and connected with the subway to our apartment on the Kowloon side of the city.

    We are staying in a busy shopping district, in a chain apartment-style hotel, The Citedines. They are a French company, with properties world-wide. We've stayed with them many times as they offer a home from home experience including bedroom, living room and kitchen. Perfect for us. We have great view from our 20th floor of Hong Kong Island and Victoria Harbor with it's awesome SkyLine, voted the worlds best.

    Once checked in, and cases dumped, we headed straight out to stock up the fridge. The Wellcome supermarket is located around the block from the hotel which stocks everything from local goods (which has bi-lingual labeling) to UK and American.

    This city is HOT, it's 29c in the morning and 33c at noon. We are warm, sweaty and HOT!!!!

    As we were wrecked we retired to bed for the afternoon. In the evening we explored downtown Kowloon, taking in the Avenue of the Stars and the world famous Star Ferry connecting us with Hong Kong Island (which only takes 5 minutes and costs 20cent!).

    It's funny, we talk briefly to a young Irish couple back in London. They too where transfering from terminal 1 to teminal 4. Our paths continued to cross. We met them in duty free, on the plane and now in the airport. And to make it "worse", walking from our apartment this evening we heard a "Hey lads", yes it was them again!

    We visited two bars, Volume and Zoo. The owner in Zoo was so funny, we went around giving shots to all the westerners, forcing them all to mix in the process :)

    We took a taxi back to the hotel, via an underground tunnel. The ride, some 15/20 minutes only cost €7. Very cheap. We retired to bed around 3:30am.

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