Monday, October 01, 2007

Hong Kong

We're now in Hong Kong, visiting our son Daniel. It's good to be here. The trip was not good though.

We flew Emirates from London through Dubai to Hong Kong. There were a number of flights shown as connecting flights one with a 2 hour layover in Dubai and one with a 9 hour layover in Dubai. Because flights that are shown as 'connecting' normally have accommodation provided I assumed we would get accommodation for the longer layover. No... we didn't. So we spent a long and boring night in Dubai airport, kind of drowsing, Tim somewhat sleeping on the floor, Sue curled up on a chair and me feeling very stiff and very painful in my back.

Why so painful in my back? Well... as soon as we got onto the aircraft in London I found the chair was horribly, terribly uncomfortable, with a bar across the back sticking into my kidneys/spine. Sue said this was the most comfortable airline chair she had ever sat on with support for her back whereas normally it wasn't. And she felt mine and said it was the same as hers. So I assumed that for the first time ever she has a comfortable chair and mine was painful.

I tried jamming the pillow below this bar, and that relieved it a little. I tried folding the blanket and jamming that below this bar, and that was slightly better. Both were still very painful. It was sufficiently painful I was gritting my teeth from the pain for part of the flight to Dubai. Since it was comfortable for Sue, maybe at least she would get a good flight.

Second flight from Dubai to Hong Kong, we found that the chairs had labels on the buttons... and one of them controlled this bar that digs into the bottom of your back (or makes it comfortable if your body is like Sue's and not like mine). So I could move the bar back and reduce the pain in my back. I couldn't eliminate it totally, but it was significantly better, and with a pillow below the bar it was nearly comfortable.

We finally arrived in Hong Kong. We had had problems finding appropriate accommodation. What we wanted was a good basic, cheap hotel/guest house, nothing fancy... and something that took bookings online. We had the Lonely Planet guide [great, we highly recommend these] and we were using that coupled with searches on Google.

Looking online and in Lonely Planet there seemed to be two choices: cheap or expensive. Nothing in the middle. Last year in Singapore we managed to find a couple of low/mid-priced hotels that were very good, but here in Hong Kong there seemed nothing in the middle at all and the expensive were very expensive. So we booked a couple of rooms in a cheap place... also we wanted en suite bathrooms rather than shared bathrooms. Oh... and we wanted it to be close to where Daniel's ship was moored.

The booking confirmation email was slightly alarming with warnings about people accosting you outside as you went in. Daniel visited the place and his comments were something along the lines of the place being basic.

We arrived... very very tired... could have slept anywhere.

The double room for Sue and me was 1.5 metres by 2 metres (5 foot by 6.5 foot) with an en suite bathroom [including toilet, wash basin and shower about 80 cm by 80 cm (2'6" by 2'6"). The bed was 4 ft wide which means there was a 1 foot gap to the wall alongside and 1 foot 6 inches at the end. Never mind... we slept.

Following morning Tim and I went out to check out another place up the road that was in Lonely Planet didn't have online bookings. Much better... still very very basic... we booked a room for that night but we would have to move rooms again the following morning. There was a bunk free in Daniel's cabin and so Tim moved in with Daniel and we moved to the new place.

Hong Kong seems like a dirtier, busier, very much more expensive version of Singapore. We have been here 5 days now. It's nice to see Daniel, but Hong Kong is nothing very much to write home about.

In order to do email/web we have to go to Starbucks as we bought a 30 day Internet card that works in some branches of Starbucks and some other locations which we have yet to find.

Starbucks here is cheaper than Cyprus or Lebanon, but still pretty expensive compared to other places, and the coffee nothing very much to speak of. In fact I think I shall be pleased if I don't have to visit another Starbucks for another year after this trip. One of the branches has plastic columns with millions and millions of coffee beans in them as a display. I thought what a waste... well maybe considering the quality of the coffee its not, but that's another story...

I am beginning to feel pretty fed up with the waste I see everywhere. On the ship Daniel is on they have had to change from containers for the margarine to individual sealed portions in plastic. So every meal there are hundreds of plastic containers thrown away.

I understand this on the aeroplane, as a necessary evil, but on the ship its ludicrous. And whenever we have one of these Starbucks coffees there's also loads of waste too... the plastic cup, the lid, the heatproof sleeve. And if its a cold drink then add a straw to the list [keep the heatproof sleeve so that you don't get frostbite on your fingers].

Why can't we wash things up and use them again?

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