As a lover of bad puns, I’m pleased to say I hope that everybody had an ‘eggcellent’ Easter, I know, I know. My Easter weekend was pretty eggciting :’) ok ok that’s enough egg yolks.. I means jokes.. for one post.
But seriously, I had an awesome Easter. I actually had my first bank holiday off work! So in total we had Friday, then the weekend and Monday and Tuesday off. Five day weekend! Ching Ming festival fell in such a way that we got an extra day off, I have no clue what Ching Ming festival is and I didn’t notice any celebrations so, yeah. I’m slacking a bit but it didn’t seem to be a big deal so I’m just going to accept the extra day off!
Last week, over a lovely Thai dinner, Paul told me we could look into going away for Easter weekend. Unfortunately it was far too last minute and the prices of flights to decent places (Thailand, Phillipines, Malaysia, Japan…) were all excruciatingly high as to be expected, they were literally double what they should be. After a few days of desperately searching we gave up and started making some Hong Kong plans instead. This resulted in us booking a day to Ocean Park, Hong Kong’s local theme park (It’s literally a 10 minute taxi ride away from our door). And then we booked a last minute ‘Staycation’ to an area in New Territories called Ma On Shan.. More about that later.
Ocean Park, we’ve been there before for Halloween but there was so much we didn’t see there as we mainly focussed on the rides and later on I was far too terrified to enjoy myself. This time, we decided to set our sights on zoo side of the park as Ocean Park is home to a lot of different animals, some I’ve never seen in person before so that was quite exciting. The most exciting part of the day was the awesome ‘Penguin Encounter’ that we took part in, Paul and I and two other couples got to go into the Penguin habitat, all dressed up in wellies, coats and overalls and fed and stroked the penguins! It was amazing being so close to the cute little things, they just stood next to you, or attacked your knee like in Paul’s case, and ever so slightly in my case too (which made me yelp much to the zoo keepers concern!). The organisers try to educate you about the life cycle of the penguins up to when they start to reproduce and also give you information of how to protect the penguins environment. It was pretty interesting but the poor guy had to say his spiel in Cantonese and English so it felt like we were sat in the classroom area for quite a while. We also got to see how they take care of the penguins, where the keepers weigh them and check their little cutey feet for any cuts or infection. The penguins came waddling in in the super cute waddle run which made mine (and Pauls) hearts melt a bit, and then they hopped up on to the scales for measuring. We want penguins. Actually, I did see a penguin do a poop, and it kind of just squirted out and made a lovely line spanning from the penguins butt to a couple of feet behind it, so after a bit of consideration I’ve decided I don’t want a penguin, too messy.
The staff were all super friendly, they clearly took their jobs seriously but they had a laugh and a smile with us and seemed happy to answer any questions. Who wouldn’t be happy and smiley with the job of penguin mamma and pappa.
After our experience we got let back into the park and given a token to pick up our souvenir photos. We’ve already decided our next experience.. Seals.
The rest of the day was spent wandering around and meeting all sorts of different animals, including giant pandas! Fortunately we weren’t in such close proximity as the penguins as giant pandas really are huge. There were alligators, lizards, dolphins, red pandas and even some exotic looking goldfish. Of course, that wasn’t the extent of the animal collection but I guess you’ll have to go find out yourself. There’s still some things we haven’t seen, including the dolphin show (but whether you should watch things like that is pretty questionable in this day and age.)
We fitted in some rides as we got to the park as soon as it opened and it was eerily empty for a few hours, do not ride ‘The Dragon’ it’s a rickety roller coaster masquerading as a modern coaster, our heads got thrown around so much that I failed to notice when we did a loop de loop.
I can safely say we both had a fantastic day, the sun was out, we stroked penguins and this time we didn’t spend a ton of money on the awful park food!
When we got home, we set about booking somewhere to stay for a couple of nights and settled on the Courtyard by Marriott Sha Tin. It looked like a nice hotel in an area that would give us easy access to some parks and most importantly to Sai Kung as we have wanted to check out a specific beach for a while now. It took us about an hour to get to the hotel on Saturday, it was right near the MTR however I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody who wants to be in the main parts of Hong Kong, it’s pretty out of the way which is why we went there.
Our room was lovely, big and modern with a lovely view of a river where you could see people cycling alongside it. At check in, the receptionist asked us for a credit/debit card for a deposit, however due to the incredibly awful Chinese banking system Pauls card doesn’t work for things like this due to the card type, so the guy told us we can’t use the minibar. Which is fine, you’d only end up paying extortionate amounts of dollars for a small tube of Pringles and some bad wine anyways. A couple of minutes after we got in the room there’s a knock on the door and it turns out they sent themaid up to get rid of all of our mini bar merch, she locked it away underneath the tv and even put a lock on the minifridge to stop us from using it. I think, for the price we paid, that is exceptionally awful service! They never even offered us another way of paying a deposit despite Paul trying to ask, the guy just interrupted and said ‘don’t use the minibar’.
Anyway, aside from that (which made us laugh at the time but after pondering it for a while it got us a bit annoyed) the hotel was lovely, the beds were clean and comfortable, the shower was an amazing rainfall shower and the hotel restaurant food was delicious. Also, there was a pool, and we enjoyed being in the pool in the early evening before dinner, whilst the sun was setting.
We had a lovely walk around one of the parts of Ma On Shan (though I can’t remember which stop oops) there was a lovely waterfront, with a small maze, a shop selling ice lollies and some amazing views. It was so hot, so we just sauntered around and tried to look for somewhere to eat, we had no luck which is why we ended up eating in the hotel for the first night. If you go into these little areas in the New Territories, you find the food choice is limited to mostly local cuisine, and a lot of the menus are Cantonese only which isn’t a bad thing but I’m not very good at ordering Chinese food that I enjoy when the menu is in English..
Wow this is getting long.
On Sunday we got up and navigated our way to Sai Kung. This was pretty easy, just a bus ride. Until I then looked at ‘Step 2 of getting to Sai Kung beach’ and realised we needed to get another bus and then a 2 hour walk. Eesh. We had a pit stop at a restaurant in Sai Kung, Anthonys Ranch. This guy was a super friendly American, with all sorts of cowboy and indian memorabilia all over the walls. He was running the ‘ranch’ with his wife (I think) and their son (I assume). Their son, who was pretty young, made a cute little waiter who was so friendly and seemed really happy to be helping out despite the fact it was a sunny bank holiday weekend. I ordered deep fried pickles. Deep Fried Pickles. And I got a huge plate of them and they were amazing. And we both ordered a steak and onion sandwich which was also huge and also amazing. Usually steak on sandwiches is quite tough but this was so soft and so easy to eat. If you go to Sai Kung, pay him a visit as he was a great character and made us feel really welcome.
Full of meat and armed with a football and a frisbee we took our second bus to a random stop (I promise I’ll update this when I figure out the details, otherwise just google Sai Kung Beach) where we then began a walk that I didn’t realise would be as harrowing as it was. It started off enjoyable, we covered ourselves in bug repellent and got the only remaining drinks from the vending machine at the trail start (lemonade and Aquarius energy drink) and off we went. It started well, nice views, a few ups and downs. And then came the major ups and downs. I’m not fit, I just did 5 minutes in the gym and found it difficult to walk back to lift, I’m deadly serious. I hurt pretty easily. So when I’m trying to drag myself up a near vertical hill with a frisbee in one hand and a can in the other I feel like I’m going to die. I got a bit moody, not too moody, just a bit.. and Paul will back me up on that. I started thinking we wouldn’t make it to the beach, that it would be dark if we did make it and I was under the impression we were going to one of the nicest beaches in HK, but not THE NICEST beach in HK. And I wanted to go to the nicest beach (it’s easy to forget how fortunate you are at times, and this was one of those times). If you want an example of how unfit I am here it is, an older lady was dragging her dog up the hills in one of those shopping cart bag things, she was dragging another being up a hill and I couldn’t even deal with dragging myself up. We managed to overtake her but she got to the beach not long after we did (yay we got to a beach).
Eventually my eyes met with a shop sign that was advertising surf boards for hire, we had made it. We stopped for some well deserved water, met a cute little friendly man and then carried on to what we then found out was Ham Tin Wan beach. We’d made it, and we’d made it to THE beach, the ultimate beach. White sands, clear sea and not overly busy. There was space to have a kickabout and a throwabout and there was restaurants (which we didn’t use as we had hardly any money.) I exclaimed to Paul that there was zero chance of me walking the hell walk back to the bus and told him to go ask about boats back to land, which he did, for some reason after me being a bum pain he was still being nice to me. He came back and handed me a voucher valid for one person back to Sai Kung. Yes, Paul had spent the last of his cash on a boat trip for me back to Sai Kung, the last possible space on the boat… which meant Paul was walking back. I know, I’m an awful girlfriend, but you have no idea how unfit I am, I tried to explain just how unfit but it doesn’t do me justice… if that makes sense.
We had a good few hours on the beach, it was hot and the sky was clear and blue. The sea was pretty choppy so I didn’t venture in too far as didn’t want to get swept to sea. Most of our time was spent kicking the ball to each other and laughing at Paul trying to throw a frisbee. He wasn’t too good at it.
Paul got a headstart on me and left before my boat got there, the whole boat thing was a bit of an ordeal for me. We got put on one boat and then taken out into the sea and told to climb onto another boat, and the ride itself was mega choppy. The boat was lifting off the water and then slamming down hard, it physically hurt and was so loud and cold. Still, it was better than walking back. Paul made good time without me and I ended up meeting him in Sai Kung and we had dinner! Success!
Now I need to tell you that I’ve had a 24 hour break since I wrote the first 2000+ words so if I repeat myself I guess I apologise. I’m not a professional writer and I can’t be bothered to reread all that business up there ^^.
Ok a little lie, I just reread the last paragraph so I know where I got up to. That’s basically it for our Easter weekend. We made our way back to the hotel and it was hometime the next day, sad times. I’m pretty sure Paul will write a more summarised and hilariously funny post about the weekend if he gets time between being an international QS and a world renowned football player.
So, it’s time to bombard this post with pictures as usual. Enjoy them 🙂 – Ok so I put in a slideshow and it put it at the top of the post and I’m too scared to move it down in case I destroy all that I created… So I guess you’ve already enjoyed those pictures and you might not have read this far down the page because Oh Boy this is one long post! If you got this far then you deserve 50 gold stars.