Hong Kong NOT phooey!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve visited HK in both Winter and Summer months, respectively.  Here’s our takeaway.

If living/ visiting HK from a SE Asian country South of HK in Summer though still in the Northern Hemisphere, the slightly less albeit smaller humidity % will be heaven-like! So HK Summer is quite nice if using the aforementioned ‘formula’.

If arriving from, say, Wyoming or Colorado – you’re going to melt..! We’d adopted the adage, ‘Embrace the sweat’.  An incredible placebo if I may say so..!

Arriving in late-July we were quite fortunate to get into HK.  We were one of the 1st flights to arrive, on-time, post-Typhoon Vicente. Though the damage seemed to be minimal on-land, the wind and rough seas seen when on final approach into HK was evident. Many inbound HK flights were rerouted apparently to nowheresville China for days on end.

Again, we were quite fortunate.   With HK’s monsoon season winding down shortly thereafter, late July-early August you may consider waiting until mid-August or September.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Renae & I stayed at Hotel de Edge.  A new, hip hotel a mere 10 mins. walk from the ferry area on Hong Kong Island.  As well as ~3 minutes walk for water, snack provisions.  Essential if you plan on walking a great deal.

For HK’s not a ‘driver-friendly’ area if a tourist.

As per request. our room was situated on a corner, away from other guests and our bay window facing Kowloon Bay.  Fantastically beautiful.

The complimentary breakfast the entirety of our stay and check-in cocktail were excellent. The breakfasts consisted of 4 choices.  Including a superb eggs benedict and hollandaise sauce that was surprisingly good.  The 3 instances I’d ordered as such.

The coffees: Tall Blacks, Americano and Espresso etc., also complimentary were all above par. The management, personable & tasteful style exuded in the restaurant and front desk was again, top notch.

HK, like NYC is a sights and sounds marvel.  The non-stop hustle bustle is an ethereal sight to see. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The ever-expanding brightly lit skyline combined with the sun-rain beaten older buildings – modern day & traditional cultures go hand-in-hand with the bright lights surprisingly well. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA From Western type diners, chain restaurants to gorgeous Eastern restaurants/ ballrooms serving shark fin soup & other LEGAL (at least to we Westerners!) seafood marvels, there’s something for anyone & everyone.  Even those with a non-risky/ picky palette!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Incredible cheese, wine tasting (The, ‘Classified’ is a bohemian chic joint that’s a must to-do.  If stinky cheese is your thing, THIS is your type of haunt).

The Dim Sum places, too many to name let alone mention – we’d found those to our liking being mostly in working class family-owned hole-in-the-walls with limited, crowded seating.  Exactly what the doc & our aching stomachs needed, ordered!

The near-vertical trolley car taking one high up in the picturesque HK Island hills for a gorgeous panoramic view (Note: Be sure to make a reservation a few days in advance). The Kowloon side boasting of hip, chic restaurants, pubs, clothing stores intertwined with 5+ generation Mom n Pop restaurants and temples dotting both islands.  One’s visual sensory is inundated with a forever-changing though smoothly functioning society in all it’s splendor. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The walker-friendly ease (As long as you move with the ebb & tide of people.  Or have a ‘pusher’ in your group..!) of HK and it’s East meets West component is evident everywhere.  Though tastefully so. A free zoo, banyan trees adorning buildings, walls & sidewalks alike to often times-fascinating tchotchkes in storefront windows. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery – the hike up can be arduous for some.  Though the sights, both natural and otherwise is many & nothing short of awe-inspiring.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   HK’s airport is a technological marvel whereas a crammed bus SHOULDN’T be an option to get to/ from your booking.  A state-of-the-art, clean train runs often to/ from the airport with simple, understandable maps to get you to your destinations. More importantly you can check-in your luggage AT the train station rather than the airport, saving you time & ensuing headache(s) with airport screening protocols!

Your HK trip will be one to remember.  So much so like us you’ll HAVE to visit more than once.

In a nutshell..

Our Bangkok trip was entertaining, educational and very memorable to say the least.

Guard dog with style

 

Traveling to Thailand during their winter months is ideal weather-wise and highly recommend doing so as well.  Late November- February is ideal.

North Bangkok is more so, ‘authentic Thailand’ whereas GREAT Thai food is miniscule in price as to that of the downtown area.  Chatuchak Market (the THOUSANDS of booths amongst a tent city atmosphere in a flea market-like setting goes beyond your imagination, expectation) has incredible items whereas seeing is truly believing.

Central Bangkok is very metropolitan, modern.  The restaurants though were proven to be average in most aspects.  Many chain restaurants possessing everyday, greasy spoon Eastern and Western fare.  Though was the ideal destination for groceries, snacks and spirits for on-the-go excursions due to possessing large grocery stores.

Western Bangkok, other than the aforementioned Chote Chitr restaurant can be avoided.

Eastern Bangkok is very East meets West wherein a few minutes walk from a train stop destination provides a quaint coffeeshop, meager-posh restaurants and sales booths/ stalls lining the city streets or temples beside a modern day shopping mall.

Not 6 feet from this sanctuary is hustle bustle..

Not 6 feet from this sanctuary is hustle bustle..

Though Southern Bangkok for us is the most intriguing, alluring and welcoming.  An eclectic collective where you catch yourself in numerous instances stepping away from the crowd and admiring the city in its complex and charming entirety.

Wonderful food, sights, transportation (water taxi’s costing .12-.20 cents.  No kidding!) can whisk you nearly anywhere in the city in a short amount of time.

FYI: Avoid the tuk tuk drivers unless your hotel has a complimentary shuttle (whereas the Citin Pratunam hotel has such) for there is NO point A – point B amongst them.

 

'It's Dear-Tay'

'It's Dear-Tay'

Enjoy your stay and by all means share your travels, travails and everything else in between as well.

 

Wait a sec.. David Carradine stayed here? This hotel has incredibly strong doors

Of course it’s best to check the quickest, most comfortable form of travel from airport to your hotel.  Though also take into consideration where you’re going and the swindling that can go on if you don’t speak the native tongue or stick out (map in hand, luggage, noticing a ‘slight difference’ of your melanin as the locals etc.,).

Always get money AT the airport when arriving.  Many places, public transportation is cash-only.

We take the train or bus to our hotel.  Always booking a hotel near though not too near to a train station.  If exhausted or it’s late, take the train.

Take the bus ONLY if you’ve done your homework prior to leaving, knowing the route, no transfers needed, read reviews of the bus system’s dependability etc.

Bus stops are infinite-like though same rules apply for train station’s as bus depots.

A lull for busyness on our hotel's street

A lull busyness-wise for our hotel's street

Our arriving in Central Bangkok was in the early evening and our hotel, Citin Pratunam, is ~5 minutes walk from the train station.

Close enough to travel throughout the city though far enough to not hear its coming and going.

If you’re looking for a ‘quiet’ or ‘serene’ environment in Bangkok – you need to go elsewhere.  Bangkok is always hopping.  The energy is electrifying and very alluring.  The kind of place where you go to a 7-11 to buy a beer(s) and the clerk will have a bottle opener in hand and ask if you want your brew opened right then.

Yes, it’s a slice of heaven mixed with a dash of organized chaos, population-ese speaking.

When booking a hotel ask or write a ‘comment’ on Citin Pratunam’s site and request a corner room on a floor with as few occupants compared to the other floors during your stay.  Reaffirm a couple times prior to leaving whereas nothing’s lost in translation.

The Bangkok restaurants we highly recommend are Chote Chitr, Polo Fried Chicken (Better than KFC) and Once Upon a Time, respectively.

Chote Chitr

Chote Chitr is on a roundabout/alleyway type of street with tuk-tuks and/or vehicles parked in front whereas you may miss the tiny sign altogether.  Be sure you have a map and Chote Chitr marked on it.  You’ll be glad you had.

Chote Chitr’s owner is the 3rd generation owner.  A sweet, layed back woman you share a pint with.  It’s difficult to tell you exactly what to eat because everything and I mean everything is delicious.

The menu is small though excellent.  *Warning* *Warning* be aware of spicy dishes.  It’s not your typical Thai restaurant, ‘White Boy Spicy’.  If spice isn’t for you, don’t try to be macho or a hero.  You’ll only look stupid.  We didn’t for I’ve done such shenanigans in a ‘prior life’ though some tourists across from us played tough guys.  I can only imagine later..

Polo Fried Chicken boasts of incredible fried chicken and other Thai staples, favorites.  An East meets West Gastro Pub, really.

The business has a no frills, eat and leave type of decor.  Which is fine by us.

I’m thinking PFC uses lard, the MacGyver of cooking essentials until the health police invaded our lives.

Ah you know, the stuff debutantes and Real Housewives show-drones shudder to think of ingesting.  Which may be the reason why it’s incredibly delicious.

Beware of lunch hour madness.  PFC is within stone’s throw of ~ 1/2 dozen embassies and these gubmint types eat en masse.  Why is that so universal?  Gubmint and/or Union folks alike.  What a mundane, safe and boring existence.  O.k. o.k.

Once Upon a Time

Lastly is Once Upon a Time.  This restaurant has an incredible ambiance with its outdoor seating.  The outdoor decor is  Swiss Family Robinson-like.  Simple, low-lit and very private.  Even if sitting ~10 feet from the next table.  We recommend eating here at night.  Not 3 minutes walk from downtown.

Once Upon a Time also provides complimentary bug spray, nicely scented might I add if you wish to avoid any bites.

Puts Crummy Wolfgang Puck to shame

The food is VERY good and the staff very attentive.

‘One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster..’

Anyone else remember the 80’s tune, ‘One Night in Bangkok’ by Murray Head?  When hearing Mike Tyson sing that tune in the atrocious sequel, ‘The Hangover II’ I had flashbacks of my youth (naturally induced, we do live in a dry country).

You 30-something’s know what I’m talking about.  Devising ways to excel at ExciteBike on NES, wondering when the hell Back to the Future Part II was going to be released.

ExciteBike

I found LL Cool J (My first album with a ‘Parental Advisory’ warning), The Cult, The Smith’s and The Talking Heads to be lyrical lotharios.

Ahhh... no rapper..

 

 

 

 

 

All the while sporting feathered hair and bangs with grey striped tube socks,  Stadia velcro shoes, wristbands on each wrist & striped SHORT shorts (I’ll stop right there.  My sis has a picture on her fridge of me in that ensemble from that anything goes era.  Let’s just say it gives her, my brother-in-law Scott, my nieces and the many people who frequent their home much comic relief).. good times.

Bangkok is a must-see.  It’s not a destination only for the socially inept middle-aged White westerner ‘looking for love’ (looking, paying.  All the same for these ‘gems’) types.  Or the younger western nihilists, meatheads alike with bimbo girlfriends inundating West-Southwest Bangkok openly discussing their finds for, ‘..as good as Viagra’ at a petite coffee shop.  Pictures of such folks were provided in a prior post.

That area of Bangkok more so resembles the city of Cancun; with crummy western chain restaurants, tattoo parlors and water-like beer akin to Corona.  You’d swear your plane, perhaps hotel is in Texas by accident.

Evil Knievel's got nothin' on this ride

Evil Knievel's got nothin' on this ride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though Bangkok locals exude a sense of humor directed at the Westerner’s expense with memorable t-shirt slogans:

‘Excuse me.  Which way is the sex’?

Though a country known for being off the richter-like scale for tubesteak boogie-like exploits we surprisingly didn’t see, ‘Excuse me.  Where are the prophylactics’? t-shirt.

Intersection beside The Grand Palace

Whether it’s amazing temples, imagery/pallet overload or on-the-go, incredibly low priced and delicious food, finding an amazing knock-off/imitation.. well, anything – just go.  Now!

‘Ki ki ki.. ma ma ma..’

To paraphrase Tiny Tim, ‘A Happy Friday the 13th one and all’!

Sentimental.. oh stop.  I’m blushing!

I’ve always enjoyed a good horror-related movie.  Not the low-budget, ‘gotcha’ type nonsense.  When the plot is too involved it then becomes a ‘Thriller’ and those are fine.  When I wish to watch a thriller.

If you’re silly like me and find an excuse to watch a good, edgy movie check these out if you hadn’t yet:

Let the Right One In (the Swede original is fantastic though the English, ‘Let Me In’ remake is excellent as well), The Haunting (original, the retreads are HORRIBLE) and Dracula (1931 original.  I was a Bahaus fan when younger and still enjoy their song, ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’).

For campy though not completely dopey gore:

Dawn of the Dead (’78 version.  The original ‘Night..’ is good though this has far more hijinks, comedy/levity), Suspiria (an Italian horror flick which uses now considered dated though oh-so appropriate lighting, set & camera angles.  It’s violent at times though the gore is modest if compared with today’s cinema) & The Ring (Japanese version.  Sure the English version is decent but seems overacted, JMO).

As for classics:

The Exorcist (Stands the test of time), JAWS (Being a fan of the water this is 1 of my favorites, still.  Opening scene doesn’t get old), The Shining (Nicholson OWNS this role.  The best Stephen King movie adaptation), Bride of Frankenstein (quite possibly the greatest horror flick ever made.. still), The Thing (1980 – John Carpenter directed with Kurt Russell in a bolero hat – awesome!  Never mind the nonsensical clothing worn in a supposed Antarctic winter.. great flick).

By all means share your faves.

Here’s 3 of my favorite Friday the 13th songs:

Dead Kennedys – The Prey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJXxMqbjJYA

Metallica – Creeping Death – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO_84C3fpuI

Misfits – Hybrid Moments – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MDOKVSN_YM

Have a great 13th and keep an eye open for the closet & under the bed monster.

Changing gear, I pull you tighter to me! I’m your Turbo..

We don’t drive on holiday.  It’s never enjoyable feeling ‘lost’ the first few days, driving aimlessly, being the a-hole slowing down in flowing traffic trying to take in a sight for ~nanosecond.

Besides you ever try to parallel park on amazingly narrow streets with well deserved, applicable insults from effected drivers hurled your way?  I was successful but it was the last time in Sevilla, Spain   It ain’t fun.

Is that Toonces the Driving Cat?

Driving a standard vehicle with the stick on the opposite side one’s used to and having to fold in the rear view mirrors to not scrape the walls.. never again.

My Euro-friends, go ahead and laugh it up.  Many Euro vehicles are smaller versions than their American counterpart.  Though urban Europe has much older, smaller streets.

A Euro ‘Range Rover’ or BMW SUV is ~the same length of a USA sedan or compact car.

Someone lose their Hot Wheels?

Someone lose their Hot Wheels?

An aside: I was driving a Toyota Prius (alright alright get it out of your system.  It’s an ideal ‘kind of a car’ for low elevation areas) through Virginia Beach, Virginia USA following a decent night’s snow fall.  The next morning I was passing, PASSING trucks, 4X4’s, a city snow plow (!) and other macho-on-the-outside vehicles while driving safely.  Manhood thus regained!

Living in Washington D.C. you get behind your fair share of these folks.  Wait you get behind these folks when WALKING in D.C. !

On holiday we prefer close proximity to the train/bus/ water taxi locations.  Though far enough away from their expected noise(s), squeaks.

In this regard leaving no rock/possibility unturned.  Which results in discovering, eating at near impossible to find yet delicious restaurants.  Off the beaten path sights no local nor tourism book discloses and other worthwhile hole-in-the-walls.  Like this:

'Priest Priest Priest Priest'

Yes, a Czech Judas Priest cover band!  It was awesome.  No, the lead singer was not an intimidating bald, gay man but wow could he belt out, ‘Better by You Better than Me’!  I’m not usually a ‘cover’ fan but Judas Priest and this cover band does the ditty justice.

Oddly Renae sat this one out.

Some locals may see you more often while you’re walking and be more forthcoming/apt to give you deals on merchandise, food stalls to avoid altogether or frequent etc., (or lure you in, kidnap and dole you out for nefarious purposes.  Though WE are the gambling type so.. win-win).

To remain fueled for our tramping it’s essential we locate/scout out grocery stores, mini-marts in/near our hotel location when we arrive.

Pick up water, fruits, snacks, cheeses, prosciutto, an earthy bread and bottle of vino for our hotel fridge and provisions for the next day’s journey.  Or resting our dogs and enjoy a late start or day off.

In our experience it’s not worked out well using a GPS system for getting around most destinations.

GPS Fail

As many know a business spoken highly of a week prior to one’s trip may be gone, moved, changed ownership and business or its owner on holiday for a few months the very next week.

Many hotels have excellent free maps (fodors has fantastic, weatherproofed folding maps for many destinations at your local bookstore as I’m sure so do other travel books) and if you’re lucky a travel desk liaison nearby/ in the vicinity.  Grab 3-4 complimentary fold-up maps.  You’ll need ‘em.

Me.. a Germaphobe? Nooo. Rubbing alcohol scented hands is natural, right?

‘Morpheus’?

Before leaving be sure to have a few mini hand sanitizer bottles, mini-Kleenex tissues and chapstick.  I haven’t seen though read of the 2011 movie, ‘Contagion’ but am sure Renae and I live a post-contagion life so to speak already.  The movie would only confirm how awesomely ‘forward thinking’ we are.

What has 2 thumbs and turns down complete strangers offering a handshake while asking, ‘Where are you from’?  This guy!

Time to go..

Being on the OCD spectrum regarding germs, our caution/’MOPP 4′ is put to the test when entering ANY type of public (private in those rare instances as well) restroom and risking skin contact with door/stall/flusher/stall/sink/door-again.  The preparation, outcome is always successful.

The misnomer of, ‘1 in 3 men don’t wash their hands after using the restroom’ – that’s an urban legend.  The unwashed masses is higher!  Scary stuff.

I believe our germ fighting survival kit/ ‘skills’ is reason enough why Renae and I avoid being sick to/from holiday destinations.  Or could just be considered our, ‘Placebo’.

If the latter, I gotta tell you – it’s fantastic.  ‘The Blue pill’ IS our drug of choice!