Seattle to San Jose
San Jose to Narita
Narita to Hong Kong
Hong Kong Part 1
Hong Kong Part 2
Hong Kong Part 3
Hong Kong to Narita
Narita to Seattle
Monday 3rd June 2013
I woke up to sun glinting in through the curtains and quickly hit the retract panel to open the first set of curtains. It was bright blue sunshine outside with barely a cloud in sight. Hell Yeah! I had (with the help of the staff the night before) worked out the way to the otherside of the road to the harbourfront so that I could run Hong Kong Harbour for my first ever run in the city. I was excited. I have run Central Park, the Thames, Kyoto, the back streets of a Normandy Township, Hiroshima, Berlin, Qatar and Sydney Harbour. I was soon going to add another one to the list. I was excited to get out and run along the Avenue of Stars, past the Bruce Lee statue, soaking in the sun (and no doubt the heat and humidity) before breakfast.
Within minutes of emerging from my room I was in the lobby and heading towards the entrance. Waiting on the driveway as my garmin found satelites and warmed up was a little bit awkward. There was the occasional person roaming about in their finest, the page boys and hotel staff dressed so immaculately and here I was wearing running shorts, shirt and wearing my buff and sunnies..... awkward!
When I was good to go, I got started and as I cleared the corner of the hotel and hit the subway (almost stacking it on the first few steps) I was good to go, at speed and in heaven. There was heat and humidity and I enjoyed the run immensly. I just kept running my way past the star ferry, along the waterfront, dodging people where I could as it was the middle of monday morning commute and it wasn’t exactly quiet and soon I was clear into the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade and the Avenue of Stars. Passing other runners, people out walking, tourists taking morning sunrise photos it was awesome. The first few kilometers were good and I was soaking it all in.
As I approached the last half a kilometer before I was due to turn I started to head up a long long ramp. I sucked it up and powered up but things didn’t feel good. My leg was burning (I figured it was just stiff after the flights) and pushed the pain aside, getting to the turn point, found a clear space and turned back around to head down the ramp. As I reached the bottom of the ramp, things were worse. The pain was out of my legs but moving towards the muscles around my groin. I knew what this meant. It has happened a few times in the past but it had been a solid 18 months or so since the last time. It looked like my old groin injury was flaring up. I had pushed to hard lately and this was it. The WORST possible time for me to have this flare up was this trip. Not because I was going to be in pain, but purely because it was going to limit my workouts and possibly my movements. I sucked it up hoping that it was temporary and picked up the pace a little bit to try and get me back ASAP.
I got about 4.2km into my usual run and I could not go any further at speed. I could barely walk let alone run and this was not going to be good. It was REALLY painful so I stopped. The first time in over 2 years I had stopped in the middle of a run, before my 5k point. Even in driving snow or rain had I pushed through the pain or discomfort to get me through my 5k run. Not this time unfortunately.
I decided to try and stretch it out a little to see if that could let me pick up the pace to get back to the hotel as I was still not close to the hotel (on the route, in a straight line I was maybe 100m away). It didn’t help that much so figured I would try and push through the pain to get me back. Yeah nope! I could not get up to speed at all not even how hard I tried. It SUCKED! I was floored. I did not want this to happen right now. So I walked as fast as I could to finish off the 5k and headed for the hotel. I would just have to deal with it. I got back to the hotel in a bit of pain and drenched in sweat from the humidity outside I stopped by the gym on the way back to my room to check it out.
After cleaning up and laying out all my things since I hadn’t done anything apart from unpacking my running gear the night before, I set about exploring the room some more. I found the coffee machine and there was much goodness to be found in that room. I set about catching up with life, since it was still Sunday back in the USA there was no point remoting into work as my inbox would be fairly empty still. Instead I caught up on emails, blogs, wrote a blog post as well and headed down to breakfast.
Breakfast was spent consuming as much coffee as possible while trying not to be obvious that I was sitting next to someone I thought was a celebrity. Not sure but I think was sitting next to an Iron Chef (American one that is) and the coffee flowed from elegant silverware and china while I looked like a wierdo working away in the middle of a restaurant.
After consuming breakfast and being joined by a few others eventually I headed back to the room to drop my stuff off and swap a few things out and head for the spa. We were told we had to be at the spa an hour before our scheduled appointment to begin our “Heat Experience”, whatever that meant. All I knew was it was good timing to get a massage! I was hoping it could do me some good!
There was one or two final tweets before we left the Spa reception. It was not as if I was going to be able to use my phone from the Spa itself and meant a few hours of solitude. something I was kind of looking forward to. The spa was going to be interesting. I had no idea what to expect, nor what was going to happen. All I knew was I was here for the next 3 hours. As long as I could get them to focus on my leg it would all be ok. I was shown the spa facilities by one of the staff who then handed me a locker room key, told me to change into the robe and “disposable underwear” provided and I could then head back to Spa Reception.
The receptionist then took us up for our “Heat Experience” prior to our time in the spa itself. This was time to go from the Steam Room, to a special mint scented shower/mister and then into the Sauna for some dry heat. This was pretty awesome and a good way to start things off. After all of this (usually about 25 minutes or so) we could then emerge from this area and head into the “Relaxation Suite” with its brialliant harbour view and there we could rest up (not that it was strenuous yet) before our treatment.
I was soon collected by my therapist “Candy” who was a pint sized asian woman. She was very pretty and what I would soon found out to be extremely strong! She sure did know how to pack a punch when it came to working my muscles. She may have looked small but she sure could get some pressure on your muscles. I had let know about the injury and she said she will do what she can to try and fix it. So I ended up deciding on a Facial with Neck, Shoulder and Head massage for an hour then also a body massage for an hour with a focus on my lower back and upper legs/thighs to fix up some of my running issues.
The treatment was great, exactly what I needed at that moment. The facial made me look just wierd with some of the stuff they had put in my hair which it seemed when I emerged that a few others had the same experience as Jason’s hair was puffy as hell, but Deborah looked like she had just woken up. Funny++
After getting changed back into my civvies I headed quickly up to my room to grab my camera and fix up a few things so that I could prep for lunch and the afternoons activities. As I ventured out of the Spa I was handed my Hong Kong Sim Card that a friend had dropped at the hotel a week or so prior, and i quickly set about getting this set up.
Our lunch was an amazing reduced course feast in the First ever French Fine Dining restaurant in Hong Kong. Gaddi’s at the Peninsula is extremely popular place and we were wined and dined on a special menu designed by the head chef (who is French of course) who personally met us during lunch and explained to us, so much about him and his passion and the food etc. The amazing experiences just kept on coming! There was furious tweets and photos being taken. I was having a blast now that I had figured out all my phone dramas.
The lunch was amazing but it was what was set to follow that had my excited. We were escorted from the restaurant back to the 27th floor, where we were to change over to another lift (a very very tiny lift) to head up to the “China Clipper Lounge” on the very top of the hotel. We were heading to an amazing venue that would make any Avgeek drool.
The China Clipper lounge is the pre boarding airline lounge for the Helicopter company based at the Peninsula. An amazing place filled with aviation memorabilia, mementos and what would equate to a museum if it not for the fact this was a private lounge on top of a hotel, and the only hotel in Hong Kong with a helipad on its roof. Not one pad but TWO! I was in heaven and snapping away for the story I was going to write and the views were spectacular. I was hoping I could do this place justice. Pretty soon I had to stop taking photos and pay attention to our safety video (no stunning beautiful flight attendant this time, just our Pilot Ben and the ground staff in an orange jumpsuit). Damn.
It was still amazing and we reached the roof where more photos were taken, of the helicopter, the view, the helicopter, the view, the helipad, just about anything! I was super excited. Jason had the front seat, I had the rear left, the other 3 ladies crammed along the rest of the back seat and we sealed up, started up and soon we were cleared off the pad to circuit Hong Kong Island. Our little AS355N Twin Squirrel handled the flight really well and we circuited the city after our backwards take off.
I took several hundred photos of so much stuff from the Air, getting some great shots of the hotel, Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, The Peak, Ocean Park but the best few experiences were as we turned back towards Kowloon for the end of our flight. As we approached the old Kai Tak airport site, the pilot gave us a little bit of an old straight in approach to Kai Tak’s runway and even did a nice slow turn to the left so I could get some nice clear photos. Then to show off, we headed back over towards Kowloon harbour above the star ferry pier. He was getting ready to line us up to “Shoot the Duck Approach” over the giant inflatable rubber duck moored next to the Star Ferry pier, and land onto the hotel. But first he decided to HOVER the helicopter above Hong Kong harbour. We were pretty much hovering at 6 knots ground speed right above the rubber duck. Amazing experience.
The flight was soon coming to an end as we “Shot the Duck” into the roof of the Peninsula and then it was back to earth and reality. I had a giant grin on my face and couldn’t of cared about anything right then. We were ushered off the pad quickly to allow the next group of people to take their flight over the city and we were moments away from a lift ride back to the main part of the hotel, and down to the lobby. Sadly the fun was over 🙁
As we came back down the lifts, back to reality I was still grinning ear to ear and trying to tweet and catch up where I could. We were taken back to the lobby to skip the giant lines that had formed, meet the head of PR for the Peninsula and enjoy that famous Peninsula tradition of Afternoon Tea. When I first saw this had been added to our revised itinerary (one that was given to us as we left the spa) I had one thing on my mind. SCONES! Proper British scones. None of this Seppo (American) scone BS. It was going to be pure unadulterated baked goodness, covered in real clotted cream and strawberry jam. I couldn't care less about anything else on those tiers. I just wanted the scones.
We enjoyed Afternoon tea (and I had a good 3 or 4 scones, both plain and “Fruit” (really just Sultana.... my favourite). Lashing of clotted cream, jam, the occasional other treat from the tier and right then and their, I said to myself. If for nothing else today, I would behave myself just because I got to enjoy those amazingly good scones. The brits sure did pass on one right thing to Hong Kong before they got kicked out.
After “Tea Time” was finished we had some free time to which I found the coffee machine in my room, decided to call home from the free VOIP calls from the room (a feature I was told about that day with exclamations of “Didn’t they tell you that when you got to your room?”) and was rudely interrupted during the phone call by a knock at the door. I let mum and dad go (they were to busy making fun of my injury with suggestions I get accupuncture or perhaps some chinese medicine.. funny /sarcasm) and at the door was a man holding a plate of Macaroons to which he simply said “These are for you Mr Muir”, scurried in to drop them on the table and then ran out. I was shocked.
After our brief interlude of some normalcy we were given the rest of the evening off to our own devices, but no need to walk if we didn't want. We were to be provided with one of the hotel’s 2 Mini Clubmans to take us wherever we wanted to go. It was getting late so with night time approaching I developed a plan with Jason. Get up to the Peak, get some amazing photos. Take him to Hong Kong Station in the middle of Central so he can see just how amazing that station is. Walk over to the Star Ferry to get that over the harbour and then hop the MTR up to Mong Kok for a bit of street food, night market shopping and then back to the hotel.
It went off pretty well and the drive up to the top of the Peak though long was exciting from the back of the mini and then lots of photos before hurrying back down the mountain to Hong Kong station where we let the driver go and Jason and I headed off to explore. Jason loves subway stations and I wanted to blow his mind with the size of Hong Kong station to which we got absolutely lost a bit and then I hobbled off out of the building towards the Star Ferry.
We missed a ferry as it left just mere moments after we got there, I was trying to hobble rush towards the ferry but sadly there was no way in hell I was going to make it, so although Jason had decided to not even try to run, in my “rush” to get there, I had missed taking a lot of good photos *sigh*. We waited with the crowds for the next one and then we headed off on the short 10 minutes across the harbour for our hard earned $2.50 HKD (around 20-30c USD). During our wait for the ferry and the ferry ride over, we had tried to develop our plans for some food. I figured my friends tips from Foursquare (something he always used) would be the way to go. I was just scrolling through them (a lot of them were which were the best starbucks in Hong Kong) and then one single word caught my eye. Goose. I so badly wanted Roast Goose. Jason was up for the plan so we went with it.
After getting off the Star Ferry and taking a quick photo of the crowds swarming around the Rubber Duck, we made a breif pit stop at the hotel to change out a few things/bathroom break. With that complete, we ended up picking up Nao from ANA who joined us for the evening once we mentioned the words “Goose”. Down into the depths of the city we ventured to the MTR Station below the Peninsula and then it was 3 stops north to Mong Kok. Let the random adventures begin!
Once in Mong Kok my phone made its final death nells on the battery so it meant that my leading the navigation was not going to happen and it was up to Jason to try and take over. We found our way eventually to the small whole in the wall place that was full of locals and not a tourist in sight! Mind you it took us a while to try and find it with lots of “which street is this?”, “what way are we facing?”, “Are we going the right way?”, “Let me take a look at that”, or “Is this it?”. When we got there it was funny because there was not a single person it seemed that spoke english and none of us spoke any Cantonese. This was going to be fun!
We managed to order once they realized we didn't speak any Chinese and they bought us a menu that had English on it. It was funny all the same, it would make for a funny story right? Three Aviation people on the streets of a foreign city, not having a clue about any of what we were about to eat and hope and pray we understood. Jason and I went with Roast Goose on Rice, Nao went with Chicken Rice and I got some vegies to at least pretend I was being healthy.
The food came out Super Fast and although the service was non existent (communication issues no doubt) it looked DAMN tasty! It wasn’t super huge portions, but then for 34 HKD (about 4-5USD), it was still an absolute steal! The vegies were more expensive than the goose and to be honest I didn’t care as I just wanted some vegetable intake. They were tasty but the goose... wow!!! Sublime. It wasn’t like duck and it wasn’t like chicken. Kind of a mixture of them both. The Goose had the texture of chicken but the fattiness of duck. Served on the rice it was super simple but It was amazing!
We had some help from the people next to us when Jason and Nao wanted some napkins as the Hong Kong way is you have to bring your own for most places (I had forgotten this tid bit till the people reminded us) and they kindly provided a tissue for the two of them. Me I just licked my fingers clean!
After dinner Nao headed back to the hotel while Jason and I headed into the Ladies Market for some haggling. I was searching for some shirts and some belts (I just love the belt buckles they have in Hong Kong, I have not seem them anywhere else) and ended up also haggling for some headphones. Jason also did the same and I ended up half haggling for him and you should of seen the ladies face when I took her starting figure. Halved it and dropped it by twenty (she wanted 200, I counterbid 90) Hong Kong Dollars. Priceless!
We both walked away pretty content with the nights purchases me 3 shirts, 2 belts and a pair of headphones while Jason just some headphones. Back to the station as it was now approaching pretty late and we had another full day ahead of us tomorrow. As we headed out of the TST station towards the hotel I spied a cream puff stand. $19HKD for a giant Beard Papa style cream puff. The one I grabbed was a Pomelo, Mango, Sago flavour as it sounded totally wierd and unique. I enjoyed this back in the room at the hotel with the Macaroons and called it a night.