Istanbul to Hong Kong (via Qatar)

Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
Trip End Jun 27, 2008

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Flag of China  ,
Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lots of photos from Hong Kong can be found HERE

On Friday 13th July, we left Istanbul to head for Hong Kong, with a short stop over in Qatar.
We left the hostel around 3pm to head over to the airport ready for our flight at 6pm.
We were both sorry to leave Istanbul, and in particular the hostel. The guys that worked at the hostel were very friendly and we had a good laugh with them.  We would definitely stop there again and recommend it to anyone that is looking for cheap accommodation.

The next day or so of our trip would involve flying from Istanbul to Qatar (3.5 hours) then having a three hour stopover in Qatar before leaving on a 9 hour flight to Hong Kong - arriving in Hong Kong around 2pm local time.

We arrived at Istanbul airport and was promptly told that we couldn't enter Hong Kong on a one way ticket. We had been warned that this might happen, especially with Qatar Airlines, but were also advised that Hong Kong immigration never ever check and that we could sign a waiver with the airlines as they are responsible if you get rejected access to the country; it is up to them to foot the bill to return you to your destination. But for some reason they were not having any of this so we had to go to the nearest travel agents and book a cheap flight from Hong Kong to wherever as proof that we have an onward journey.  The cheapest option would have been to fly from HK to Macau but they were unable to do this for us so we had to book a flight from HK to Korea! At a cost of about 600 quid!! We knew that we ran the risk of this happening by only travelling on one way tickets so shouldn't have been too surprised.

So armed with proof of onward journey we checked in and boarded the flight to Qatar.

The flights were pretty uneventful and went by fairly quickly.  Neither of us got a minutes sleep so arrived in HK feeling pretty jet lagged and travel weary.  As expected, we never got asked for any proof on onward journey at immigration - we just got ushered through along with everyone else. Hey ho - never mind.

After collecting our bags and grabbing a bite to eat we walked out of the airport and then someone turned on the worlds biggest hairdryer!!  My god I have never known heat like it.  It is the humidity that is the worst bit - 85 to 90 per cent humidity!!
We soon located where we needed to catch the bus to the hostel and boarded - thank the lord for air con.  45 minutes later we arrived at our destination - Sha Tin (pronounced Shar Tin not Shattin as we kept saying).
From what we saw on the bus journey, HK looks great.  Plenty of hills, lots of bridges, lots of islads and tons and tons of high rise flats.  We were amazed as to how many high rise buildings there are - and they all look pretty grim.

After we arrived at Sha Tin we made our first HK mistake - following the directions given by the hostel on how to walk from the bus station to the hostel.  They have to be the worst directions ever...either that or we were both so travel fatigued that we couldn't follow them (we found out later that the directions are pretty bad and everyone has problems with them.  They should just say that it is best to get a taxi there from the bus station - would have saved loads of pain).
Without the benefit of hind sight we set off walking. The heat, humidity and a 90 degree slope (honest) did not make for a pleasant walk especially with our back packs on and hand luggage. According to the hostel it was a 15 to 20 minute walk.  45 minutes later we were lost!!! We walked and walked and walked.  We were both exhausted, dehydrated and covered, literally, from head to toe in sweat.  Mmmmmm nice.
It was at this point we decided to walk all the way back to the bus station and get a cab - which is what we should have done in the first place. (we found out later that we weren't that far from the hostel when we decided to turn back - gutted!!!)
We asked a taxi to take us to the hostel and he had never heard of it. Oh dear. So we asked another - he said the same. Asked another - same.  We started to get worried.  Fortunately a very kind local saw these tired, weary looking foreigners struggling to understand the taxi drivers and struggling to make themselves understood, and took pity on us and offered to help us.  He asked, in Cantonese, 5 more taxis to take us to the hostel and he got the same response from all of them that they didn't know where the hostel was.
Eventually, on attempt number nine, a taxi driver admitted that they all knew where it was they just didn't want to take us there as the fare was too little!!! Cheeky gits!!
So finally we found a non choosy driver and he took us to the steps leading up to the hostel. Our journey wasn't quite yet over.  Because of the location of this hostel, on a hillside, there was no drive way leading up to it.  Oh well - at least we were there.
So after nearly 24 hours travelling, via plane, bus, taxi, foot we arrived at the find it empty. Everyone had gone out for the day!! Seriously!!  You have to laugh.  We were gagging for a cuppa and there was no one there.
Fortunately we didn't have to wait too long before someone turned up and showed us the ropes.
The hostel is very nice, in a great location, very cosy and very very very air conditioned which is superb in this heat.
We had a cup of tea, cooled down, had a shower, felt human and were in bed by 10pm.

The next day, 15th July, was spent mainly finding our feet, reading at the hostel, and using the interet.  The free internet access is located in a hall about 500 yards further up the hillside.  Ascension House is part of the Lutheran Church and they have a small community not far from the hostel where there is a temple, further accommodation, class rooms and other buildings.  It is in the class room  and dining area, known as Pilgrims Hall, that we use the internet.
As today is a Sunday, dinner was served up at Pilgrims Hall with all the residents and all the church goers. 

July 16th - Happy Birthday Chris!!! 33 as well!!
After another night of no sleep (damn jet lag) we forced ourselves to get up at 8am and have breakfast in an attempt to force our bodies into accepting local time.
Staying at the hostel is a Venezualan lady, Isabel and her 5 year old son Jan.  They both live in Switzerland and at the age of 5, Jan speaks fluent Spanish and German. He also understands quite a bit of English. Not bad at that age is it.
So today we decided to spend the day together and headed off to Tsim Sha Tsui which is one of the main parts of Hong Kong. The transport system in HK is superb - really easy to understand underground system and is very similar to the London underground in terms of finding your way around.
As we left the station at Tsim Sha Tsui we got our first view of the famous HK skyline - and what a skyline.  I know its all skyscrapers etc but still very impressive.
We saw some of the sights down near Victoria Harbour, Avenue of the Stars etc as well as making enquiries on getting a refund on our flight to Korea that was never needed. We had a great day out with Isabel and Jan and at this point decided that tomorrow we would spend the day......wait for DISNEYLAND!!!! How exciting!!
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redmalc on

Ello Pat n Nic, Me and chris have just gone through Your pics, very nice AGAIN, you should take up photography when you get back!
Glad to see your enjoying yourselfs.

pierrelepont on

Nar then me old china!
Just updated myself with your travels and it sounds like you're having the journey of a lifetime. I gather you're in China now so I'm looking forward to seeing a few photos of you & Nic on the Great Wall and with Brian Law's terracotta army (strange choice of shirt colour). If or when you get to Beijing, stock up on clothes at the silk market. You can get a pair of Calvin Klein's for about 30p.
Take Care - Trev (Ronseal Old Boy's in Pub Jobs or ROBin Bar Stewards for short)

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