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Archive for the ‘Hong Kong adventures’ Category


Here stand the old and the new.. not a commoner marrying a prince, but two child backpacks. One has seen a lot of action. We were given it by friends who’d used it for their two boys, then we used it for Aiden and Aoife. It’s been to the beaches of the Gold Coast, forests of Tasmania, and jungles of Christmas Island. Most recently, it kept Aoife from escaping into the crowds of Hong Kong and China. On the flight back from this destination, the backpack fell victim to some rough baggage handling and had its support bar bent so it couldn’t be used. But yay for Singapore Airlines who credited us $250 – not enough for a new Macpac Possum (RRP $350). But yay also for Macpac who had a sale.. we ended up getting the new pack for $210!! You can judge from the photos that we’ve certainly received an upgrade.
Aoife is very fond of ‘her’ new pack and is always very happy to jump in for our city adventures. Rob even used it last weekend for our picnic at Hanging Rock (yes, we all returned!) to great effect, with Callum in the hugabub on the front.

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We are getting to the end of blogging about our experiences in Hong Kong and China. But one of the highlights (?) of our trip was the trip up the giant Cable Car from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping village and the Giant Buddha.

When Di and I visited Hong Kong in 2005 the cable car was under construction. We visited the Giant Buddha then but that required taking a rather precarious bus trip. Now the cable car has become the easiest way to get to the Giant Buddha, but it still feels like a precarious trip.

The cable car is really really high. We got into our little cabin and the trip began gently enough. But soon we were going right across a big bay. We were a long way above the water below and we kept getting higher. Aiden absolutely loved the trip but poor Di held Aiden’s hand for comfort.

As we kept getting higher and higher poor Di went whiter and whiter. And we really did go a long way up.

As you can see there is a lot riding on those little wires not snapping or breaking at all! As we were going higher and higher Aoife was loving the view and looking out the back of our cable car. She was repeating a phrase, ‘airpoo’, ‘airpoo’. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but then I realised ‘airpoo’ was toddler speak for ‘airport’. You get a great view of the Hong Kong airport as you climb higher and higher on the cable car.

So it was quite amusing as we went on this cable car with Aoife looking down at the airport saying, ‘airpoo’, ‘airpoo’.

The cable car goes to Ngong Ping, a little tourist village that’s been built near the Giant Buddha. I think they built it to give tourists a sense of Chinese/Hong Kong culture. But with Starbucks there and the food vendors offering western food and all the signs in English, I think it was built more to give tourists a familiar shopping experience in Chinese architecture.

It was still interesting to see the Giant Buddha and go on a short walk to the ‘wisdom path’, which had great mountain views. It was a fresh change to be in the ‘country’ albeit with concrete paths. We all enjoyed the day, with Aiden and Aoife particularly liking the cable car and seeing the airpoo.

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Recently when we were in Hong Kong we discovered that they’ve built a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark. We didn’t remember this when we were in Hong Kong previously and we discovered that it was opened only last year. We thought it would be an interesting day trip and so we decided to go along. And it did prove to be an interesting day trip. As it turns out this is the only full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark in the world.

As with many things in Hong Kong, it is a little bizarre. Note the giant bridge just behind the ark making is fairly impossible to ever believe you were in the Ancient World.

A lot of money has gone into the exhibition and the whole thing has been together quite thoughtfully. We wandered through the main museum which was interesting (though I couldn’t have been as attentive as I would have liked as our children required constant attention – and we tried to ensure they didn’t sink the Ark!). The museum describes the plausibility of a giant Ark and go into some of the mechanics of how such an Ark could have been made in the Ancient World. I was thinking that Hong Kong seemed like a strange  place for Noah’s Ark, but it all became clear as we went through the museum. The museum outlines the various searches for the missing Ark and climaxes in describing how a group of Hong Kong explorers have claimed to actually find the Ark on Mt Ararat. We then understood the impetus to build such a thing in Hong Kong.

The museum (whilst I think assuming) doesn’t overtly attempt to convince the attendee towards a young earth creation view. Although, it does attempt to convince the attendee of a theistic worldview and that there is a creator. Whilst we are believers and accept a Creator is behind the universe we didn’t feel entirely comfortable with a zealous museum custodian trying to get us to accept a creation point of view. She asked lots of questions even to the extent of ‘do you think the universe was designed or just happened to be like that?’ We awkwardly said we believed in a designer, found her  pushiness and assertiveness a little off-putting.

The museum also had some animal exhibits, which were quite interesting.

I was impressed that the museum ended by highlighting pressing environmental issues on our planet. I was half expecting a cringe-worthy flashing Jesus in neon lights saying, ‘repent’, but the museum closed with a call to preserve the planet. I thought this was a sensible and thoughtful message to conclude the exhibition, something entirely consistent with the biblical Creation mandate and yet something even unbelievers could affirm.

So we walked out of the museum not entirely sure what to think. It was well put together and professional, but I’m not so convinced of their evidence for the actual discovery of Noah’s Ark.

We did see a Chinese Noah, who didn’t speak any English to us (but I don’t think he spoke much Ancient Hebrew or Aramaic either!).

It was an interesting day out and Di said as we were leaving the best part of the park was the sign about giving you a chop if you wanted to leave (which we mentioned a couple of days back!!) I’m not sure what that says about the quality of the rest of the exhibition.

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Our trip to Hong Kong and China was not entirely straightforward. We went with two young children (aged 2 and 3) and a heavily pregnant Di.  This visit was very different to the previous time Di and I were in Hong Kong (in 2005) when we had no children. In this most recent trip we learned a lot about travelling with young children. The big thing about travelling with a 2 & 3 year old is that travel is harder, slower and more exhausting. It’s still good, but it can be very stressful. We’ve compiled a list of some of the things which worked for us. This might be useful to others travelling to Asia with young children and hopefully reduce some stress.

1. Sleeping arrangements. In Hong Kong and China it’s hard to find hotel rooms which will allow more than one child to sleep (they often try to make you book two rooms). We found searching for rooms online difficult as many of the hotel websites don’t allow searching via number of children. The one we ended up using (www.zuji.com) did allow you to search for rooms via number of children and this worked fine, we booked rooms through this website and they were fine. When checking into the hotel I’d recommend asking for a room with 2 double beds, this gives you more space.

2. Toilets. We didn’t think much about toilets before, but Aiden really didn’t like Asian style, squat toilets. A defining moment was  in the Hong Kong railway station when Aiden was on the ground screaming, when I realised we needed to think about this. In the end we took advantage of the disabled toilets where possible. This proved to be a winner with Aiden.

3. Food. Food is a hard one for two little western kids in China. Fortunately Aiden likes rice, but we wanted him to get a little more nutrition than plain boiled rice. We worked out that having a big buffet breakfast in the hotel meant were weren’t really hungry at lunchtime. We could get by at lunch with a sausage bun, which both kids (and their dad) really enjoyed. We also stocked up on lots of snacks from supermarkets in Hong Kong. We even found our favourite brand of Australian muesli bars (Carmen’s) in Hong Kong. Just be careful bringing fresh fruit and veges into China, they don’t allow it (as we found out). Di got a warning notice and we lost all our lovely fresh snacks, but fortunately Di didn’t go to jail.

4. Hygiene. One great little tip was to buy a small bottle of hand sanitiser. This meant we could always clean our hands before eating and meant the kids would be kept safer from germs (none of us got sick in 2 weeks away – thanks sanitiser!).

5. Activities. Little kids just take longer to get going and move place to place. Having the backpack was invaluable for Aoife. She would sit in there and we could move a lot faster when she was there. This was particularly useful when queuing. We were very impressed with Aiden, he did a lot of walking! We’d recommend not trying to fit as much into your day as you’d do as a single person or as a couple. Everything just takes longer. We’re ready to go? No, you’ve taken your shoes off…let’s go, no, you need to do a wee. Let’s go. Where’s your jacket, etc etc (anyone who stays at home with their children will find this no surprise).

We found that doing things that the kids really liked was helpful. We didn’t try taking them through museums, instead Aiden went up tall towers, we went and saw Pandas at the zoo and we went on the world’s longest escalator twice because the kids would enjoy them.

Travelling with young children is hard work. If you’re organised it can work fairly well. But we must confess when we got home to our big house (compared with the hotel rooms we’d been in) we did relax a lot more.

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The Canton Tower is really tall. The Canton Tower is 600m tall and you can go to a viewing platform 433m above the ground. It is quite a staggering distance up. We have some photos to show how high we were.

Unfortunately the day we went up the tower, it was quite hazy and cloudy. Hence we couldn’t see very far. This seems fairly common in modern China. It does seem to defeat the purpose of building a really high tower if, from the top, you can’t see more than a few kilometres.

As you can appreciate from the photo, things on the ground are very small (and a long way away), but you can’t see much in the distance.

Just to give you an idea of how high we are, is this photo, Aiden is pointing to the Guangzhou International Finance Centre.

Where we are on the Canton Tower is about level with the top of that building. Now the Guangzhou International Finance Centre is amongst the top 10 tallest buildings in the world. The Canton Tower stretches for another 150+ metres above our viewing platform. As we said in the previous post, the Canton Tower is the second tallest freestanding structure in the world. It was a shame that the view from the top was so hazy.

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Aiden loves towers. He loves the tall city towers in Melbourne where we live (and the Eureka Tower is his favourite). He absolutely LOVED all the tall towers in Hong Kong (and China). Hong Kong is Aiden’s idea of heaven – a city of tall towers.

Our first two nights in Hong Kong were spent in the YMCA Salisbury which was right by the water. We were upgraded to a harbour view room and the view was stunning. We could see all the towers on Hong Kong island from our room. Aiden sat at the window gazing at all the towers in Hong Kong. This was the view from our hotel room…

We were also well placed to see the Symphony of Lights, an evening lightshow from all the towers on the harbour. It was great to watch it from the comfort of our room and listen to the accompanying music on the radio in our room.

We went up two of the towers in Hong Kong. We went to the 55th floor of 2IFC (International Finance Centre building number 2). That is the tall building in the middle of this picture. There is a small museum there open to the public. The museum on money by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority didn’t interest Aiden too much but it afforded amazing views over the city.

We also went up to the 43rd floor of the Bank of China tower (the one on the far left). There was a small viewing gallery there which was great.

But the greatest tower we went to was the Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China. It is actually the second highest freestanding structure in the world (only behind the Burj Khalifa in Dubai). It is massive, standing a whopping 600m high. We went to the observation deck at 433m. At this point we were nearly 150m higher than the Eureka Tower. It is a great symbol of the growing strength and confidence of the Chinese economy.

We have lots of photos, but here are a selection…

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Lost in translation

We’ve just returned from two weeks in Hong Kong and China. It was a fascinating and challenging experience to take two young children (and a heavily pregnant Di) to this part of the world. There is much to write about and we’ll write a number of updates over the next little while. Unfortunately we didn’t have our laptop with us in Asia so we couldn’t do updates on the go (and I don’t think we would have had the energy to do that anyway!).

One of the amusing things about travelling to Hong Kong and China is dealing with signs that have been written by some for whom English is not their first language.

Some of the signs were written in overly formal language. We found this sign in a Hong Kong toilet and whilst it makes sense and the English is well written, it really makes dealing with a cold seem like it is the most dangerous disease known to humanity.

Then some of the signs were just confusing. We found this one on the entrance to a nice looking office building in Guangzhou in China.I can understand why people are not allowed into the building with untidy clothes, but the rationale for iron heel shoes seems a little puzzling. And the reference to solicitors…?

But the best sign we found was at the exit to Noah’s Ark park in Hong Kong. We leave it to you to work out what it means, we thought it was very amusing.

Much more to say, and many more photos, will update again soon.

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