Hong Kong - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 213 (23)

Hong Kong

Thursday 7th October

On the heels of our massages yesterday, we were both very sore and tired this morning but Sandy was keen to get us both mobilised due to our early start tomorrow morning to catch our ferry and flight. If we kept sleeping in late like this, we would be too tired to get up tomorrow morning, or so her logic went. It took us both a great deal of effort to wake up and neither of us would fully energise ourselves all through the day, as it turned out. Nevertheless, we forced ourselves into gear and headed out towards the MTR. Our destination today would be Kowloon to see what we could find on the other side of the bay. This would be our final day in Hong Kong this time around. We will be returning here at the conclusion of our China round trip, as our onward flight to Bangkok departs from Hong Kong.

The brief MTR ride to the other side of the water was swift and just as efficient as ever. Our Octopus cards were getting dangerously low so we topped each of them up with another HK$50 ($6,75). We did this as a precaution just in case we ran out of money today and needed to use the cards to get to the ferry terminal tomorrow morning. Traipsing around the city with our full backpacks looking for an ATM is probably not a very good idea. It also seemed like a prudent move given that we would be returning to Hong Kong in a few weeks time.

Over on the other side, we were heading for a part of town that is home to several of Hong Kong’s major museums. I wasn’t quite in the mood for the fine art museum but the science & space museum seemed like it might be an interesting diversion. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be open to the public for another hour and a half. I should have thought to call ahead but I could hardly find my way from the bed to the floor this morning, much less think that lucidly. I still didn’t fancy the art museum so we found a corner to hide in and sat and rested for a while instead. Sandy gets bored quite quickly when we do this and her restlessness drove us to a small cafeteria inside the main museum complex, where we sat and read up on what to expect from Beijing tomorrow. Unlike the last time, we will be arriving in Beijing tomorrow with no less than three separate bookings at our preferred budget accommodations. It was probably not necessary to book ahead and doing so may very well have blown our chances at negotiating a lower rate but at least we have the security of knowing that there will at least be a room there waiting for us if we fail to find anything more to our liking.

The museum finally opened and we bought our tickets. Sandy’s student pass has apparently expired and the shrewd old lady behind the ticket booth window noticed this and refused to issue two discounted tickets but mine was fine and I got in for the half price of HK$10 ($1,50). In addition to our entrance tickets, we also bought tickets to see a film presentation inside the planetarium dome. Today’s showing would be a feature on the lava volcanoes discovered at the bottom of the deep ocean trenches. It was actually a very well presented feature and constituted the more interesting portion of our day. The museum itself was OK but nothing special. I’ve seen better but also worse.

After an hour or two at the museum, we wandered around outside a bit but it all seemed to be more of the same of what we’ve seen over on Hong Kong Island. Perhaps there was much more there to be explored but we were still quite lethargic and sapped of energy and the whole thing seemed like a lot of effort so we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel. We’ve also been trying to conserve our remaining local currency today so it was always going to be a slow day anyway.

Actually, we’ve done rather well on the budget side of things here in Hong Kong. We budgeted for $200 per day, under the assumption that it would be very expensive here. Indeed it is comparatively very expensive here but we’ve managed to keep our outgoings under relatively good control. Excluding our massages and the flight tickets to Beijing, which come under our separate luxury and flight transportation budgets respectfully, we’ve managed to average $133 per day ($214 a day with the flight tickets and luxuries included). $45 of that has been on accommodation and the rest has been on food, local transportation and site seeing. There have also been a couple of one-off things like our mobile phone SIM card, some medicine and so on. We’ve found that for any given country, regardless of how cheap or expensive it is, our daily budget is usually split in approximately four equal quarters: accommodation, food, local transportation & site seeing. Sometimes the ratios are a little different but by and large this tends to hold true. With a daily budget of $80 per day for Beijing and China, we will be looking to pay approximately $20 per day for our accommodation there. We may yet increase our daily budget for Beijing specifically to $100 since our time there will probably be the most expensive part of China overall.

Back at the hotel, we sorted out a selection of Hong Kong photos to put up on our web site. Sandy rested for an hour when I took the laptop to the nearby Internet Café to upload the pictures. By the time I was through with this chore, we both decided that a good meal was well overdue. Still very groggy and lethargic, we undertook specifically not to spend an hour wandering around aimlessly trying to find a restaurant we were both happy with. This was, however, exactly what happened. Foolishly trusting our guidebook recommendation as opposed to relying on one of the thousands of restaurants in the immediate vicinity, we decided to head into the Central part of town. It was by now dark and we got off the tram in an area we thought to be heavily populated with restaurants but found to our cost that we were very much mistaken. We did eventually find the guidebook’s recommendation but the menu proved to be very much more expensive that we had been led to believe. Having struck out there, we went in search of somewhere else. This search took us all over the place and even through a very large and soulless shopping mall. After about an hour of escalating irritability at not finding what we were looking for, our knife edged and argumentative moods drove us back to where we had started and we went into the restaurant just around the corner from our hotel entrance, where we ate yesterday as it happens. It took most of the meal to go down before the tension between us ebbed enough for us both to start talking civilised with each other again. With nutrients now flowing more rapidly through our veins, we eventually shook off our bad moods and went for desert just down the street.

Back at the hotel, I decided I wasn’t yet tired enough to turn in (half my problem) and went back to the Internet café again. Sandy curled up with a big book and spent the remainder of the evening tucked comfortably in bed. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.