This weekend, we’re going to take a break from the coverage of my recent trip to Hong Kong to bring you live coverage from the trip I’m on right now. I’m in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, and as you can see from this photo, it’s really rather pretty.
Back at home in the UK, we’ve been seeing the first signs of Spring. Here though, the air is still chilly and tomorrow, the forecast says that snow is set to return. I’ve just been out for a meal (Sautéed Reindeer of all things) and I noticed the waters surrounding the city (or which there is a lot) are still more or less frozen over.
Speaking of the water, I’ll be setting off onto it tomorrow, as I visit another brand new place; Tallinn in Estonia. It’s only a 2 1/2 hour boat ride away, so I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to check it out.
Stay tuned throughout the weekend for more from Eastern Europe.
It’s quite easy to draw comparisons between New York’s Central Park and Hong Kong’s Hong Kong Park. Both are treasured oases nestled between lines of tall, shiny buildings in the heart of the city. Both have places to sit, water features and enjoy relative tranquillity.
This photo shows Hong Kong Park on a bright, winter morning. Follow the path and you’ll find the Edward Youde Aviary, Hong Kong’s largest aviary which is completely free to visit. There’s also a greenhouse (the Forsgate Conservatory) and a tea-ware museum which gives a nod to Hong Kong’s former colonial power.
Traffic runs along a highway adjacent to Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island. This isn’t a video game, this is real life! What a cool place.
There isn’t anything particularly special about this, my first meal in Hong Kong. It’s just perfectly pan-fried pork with egg & vegetable rice, bought from a food hall on the top floor of a shopping mall in Causeway Bay. But it’s sometimes the simple things you remember when you’re away and a remember how I hoovered this up with gusto. It was delicious!
The suited Aussie businessman I shared a table with seemed to enjoy his meal with equal enthusiasm, noisily slurping his soup noodles until they were gone.
While we’re on the topic of mundane food chatter, did you notice the size of the cucumber slice?! It’s enormous! Clearly they grow mutant cucumbers in Hong Kong.
For my week in Hong Kong, I stayed at the excellent Y-Loft at Youth Square. While it’s a little way out from Hong Kong’s main attractions, it more than makes up for it in all other areas.
The rooms are large (particularly by Hong Kong’s standard), well designed, modern, well equipped, sound-proofed, clean & comfortable and really excellent value. I especially liked the open plan bathroom area (with a big sink in the main room), the always hot & always powerful shower, free WIFI and the direct lift access from street level. A fridge, kettle, hair dryer and helpful staff were also a bonus.
I judge everywhere I stay by how well I can sleep there (since I’m a terribly light sleeper). Thankfully, Y-Loft passed the test and I slept soundly. But it’s the extra attention to detail and the unique character and design that made for such a comfortable stay. Next time you’re in Hong Kong, I recommend you check it out.
Don’t just take my word for it. Head to TripAdvisor to read reviews from other travellers.
I’m not sure how common finding a window in an aeroplane toilet is. I’ve certainly not encountered it before. Needless to say, it was a little bit… distracting.
The flight was Qatar Airways QR814 from Doha to Hong Kong aboard an Airbus A330-200.
Earlier this year, I spent a week in Hong Kong. I’m pleased that I can now start sharing what ended up being a brilliant and unforgeable trip with you.
The sharp-eyed among you will have already noticed that the photos above aren’t of Hong Kong. The clue is in the presence of Arabic on the signs. I’m not one for breaking my journey, much preferring to take direct flights, but the difference in price between going direct and stopping over was such that I decided to call in on Doha, Qatar on the way to ‘Asia’s World City’.
Despite arriving at midnight local time, the transit terminal was heaving with people trying to make their connecting flights. I had two hours to kill, so I wandered about aimlessly and quickly discovered the terminal was tiny and didn’t have a great deal to offer. Other than browsing the camel baseball hats at the reasonably good duty-free shop, it seemed most of my fellow passengers were spending their transit time sitting or crowding around electrical sockets charging their mobile phones. This was a far cry from the likes of Singapore’s award-winning Changi airport. A new airport has been constructed in Doha, but bureaucracy and costly delays has seen it yet to open. It really can’t come soon enough.
The most compelling reasons why the new airport should open sooner rather than later is that the current airport doesn’t have aero-bridges, meaning moving between the terminals and the aircraft has to be done by bus. This isn’t too bad a problem if your plane arrives next to the terminal building, but it is somewhat of a burden if it’s on the other side of the airfield. Thankfully, my inbound flight couldn’t have arrived closer to the terminal and our bus journey lasted literally 10 seconds (everyone on the bus sniggered). My outbound flight however was literally miles away which meant the bus journey took a gruelling 35 minutes.
I’m still not sure where I stand on transit flights. I can’t say I’m completely sold on the idea that it’s worth the fare discount, particularly if you add the poor state of Doha airport to the mix. Perhaps it’s different at other airports, but I think next time, I’ll just pony up the extra cash and get the flight over and done with in one step.
How about you? Do you prefer to fly direct or stop-over?
Victoria Peak is one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist attractions, offering incredible views of the city below. Hidden behind the shopping malls and viewing terraces though is a much-cherished tree-lined walk around the summit offering shade and tranquillity, as well as even more opportunities to see Hong Kong in all its splendour.
Urgh or Mmmmm!?
To untrained eye, this might look like something rather unpleasant. But to the trained eye, this is a culinary masterpiece.
Take soft Daikon (white radish) and fry with egg and sweet soy sauce and you get Fried Carrot Cake, a south-east Asian dish I just can’t get enough of. It’s incredibly moreish, very comforting and lip-smackingly tasty.
So, what do you think? It is 'Urgh' or 'Mmmmmmm'?
Over the course of this weekend, the blog has received a flood of traffic and over 1,000 new followers. I’ve been studying the stats and they tell me precisely nothing. So, perhaps you can shed some light on this mystery.
If you’re new to Here To Geneva, how did you find out about it?