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Birthdays in HKG + SYD (CX F/J, QF J, HA F)

Birthdays in HKG + SYD (CX F/J, QF J, HA F)

Old Dec 18, 15, 11:56 am
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Location: SFO
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Birthdays in HKG + SYD (CX F/J, QF J, HA F)


Another year another devaluation. With AA devaluation looming and actual devaluations from Club Carlson and IHG, time to spend those points & miles. And visit another racetrack! [I also discover the panoramic mode on my phone ]

Miles & Points:
130,000 AA miles + $5.60 + 87.20 = $92.80
50,000 BA miles + $65.13
100,000 IHG points
50,000 Club Carlson points
2 free nights from Hyatt cc sign-up
Not quite free = $157.93

Planning & Booking
Last year was Europe, so time to try transpacific again. I was thinking either Hong Kong or Tokyo to add a new city to my list. Couldn't get the Japan Cup or HK Championship dates to work with a return flight. Around the time I was searching, there was the announcement of the Club Carlson devaluation. That got me thinking of an open jaw to Sydney as the Radisson was pretty good there. I was able to find the red-eye CX J SFO-HKG for Thanksgiving week and QF/HA J SYD-HNL-SFO returning a week after. The last of my BA miles tied it all together with another red-eye CX J HKG-SYD.

My sister had mentioned I should let her know if my next vacation included cheap fares. $500 rt to HKG in coach is pretty cheap. A few days later, she booked UA landing a few hours after me and returning the same day as I leave for SYD. Our birthdays are a few days apart so this trip would be a birthday trip!

She didn't want to change hotels during our 5-night stay, so I booked the Holiday Inn Express - Hong Kong Soho for 100k (just before that went up in price). Finished up Sydney with Hyatt by phone and online with Carlson for the final 1+1.

As usual AA partner tickets don't ticket well, had to give AA a nudge on the CX flight to get it ticketed after waiting a few days. The QF/HA was better, but went back to "on request" months later due to schedule change of 30 minutes and had an AS HNL-OAK tix listed on request. A phone call got my original ticket back in line to ticket. What a PITA. BA ticketed my CX flight from HKG to SYD nearly immediately and I didn't have to call or watch it in case it un-ticketed.

I checked CX sporadically using BA not really expecting any F but 2 days before my flight I see one for my red-eye. Called, waited for close to an hour and it's still available! Later learned I made it difficult as I had checked in earlier in the day. [Tip #1 - un-check-in before you upgrade a flight.] What the hell, my birthday was in a few days. Go ahead, put me on hold for another 20 minutes. The AA agent did her thing and got it cancelled and redid the ticket as a F. Early b-day present to me! The next morning it ticketed - thank goodness. So much trouble but for the price I shouldn't complain (too much)!

The itinerary was not in stone. I really could have been better with the notes I made from info in these forums but I was pretty lazy in organizing all I copied. Didn't help most of it was on the laptop at home. So played it mostly by ear but still hit most of the things on the list.

Hong Kong


Last edited by lmwong1977; Dec 23, 15 at 10:41 pm Reason: Add and fixed links
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Old Dec 18, 15, 11:03 pm
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CX F SFO-HKG + Holiday Inn Express - Hong Kong Soho & Happy Valley

I'm going to try not to post too many CX pics as there's plenty all over this forum if you want to see the lounge, the seat/bed, or bathrooms.

SFO CX lounge

I headed to the airport after trying to make sure any work over Thanksgiving was done. This is my first Cathay flight so I can't compare what it was like before. But it seemed pretty large in a longish way.

As the flight wasn't leaving for awhile, I tried a bit of everything including the small noodle bar - had to get the won ton as they're a favorite of mine.

I've tried AA Int'l F last year, but this was my First Int'l flight, so I don't have anything to compare so it was pretty awesome to me.

I knew I'd get PJs so didn't bring any and they're very comfy. Only thing missing is a pocket in the top, but the bottoms have them. Love! The slippers too - they have little bit of spikiness on the bottom for traction.

Amazing amount of leg room, my carry on is 21"

Maybe should not had eaten in the lounge as I had no room for desert, it was a lot of food. There was some nuts while waiting for others to board and also a bread basket I didn't include.

Mango Amuse Bouche

Caviar with blinis, chives, cream fraiche and chopped egg

Mesclun salad, grilled jumbo scallops, Heirloom Tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette

Double-boiled Ginseng & Chicken soup
Cold Plate - soya beans, preserved vegetables and tofu
Stir-fried Maine lobster, stir-fried kailan, ginger, spring onion, mushroom, carrot, and jasmine rice

Pot of Jasmine tea and pralines

Fruit (4 pieces) and OJ
Chicken and mushroom congee, pan fried turnip cake with preserved meats

I totally forgot about getting the discount airport express tickets thru the duty free catalog.

Immigration was pretty fast as I had only carry ons. I went to find some cash but the HSBC machine didn't like Schwab debit! Called Schwab via Google Hangouts just in case as I had used HSBC in France with no problem. Nothing on their end, so tried the Bank of China and that took my card fine. The arrival lounge was pretty busy already, but squeezed in on one of their apple terminals to checked my email before grabbing some food plus water and fruit for the trip to the hotel. Half of the stores in the airport weren't open so I opted to get a sim card later.

Wasn't much of a line to buy the Airport Express card and the Octopus. So off to ride the train. It's a nice way to get into the city. Very clean and smooth. So unlike MUNI. Also nice it comes with a shuttle to take folks straight to the hotel.

Holiday Inn Express - Hong Kong Soho
It was dead easy to catch the shuttle bus as there's a big sign. I was the only one that morning for my particular minibus, so it was a fast drop off at the side of the Holiday Inn Express - Hong Kong Soho.

I could have tried some of the higher priced hotels, but it was the easiest with the shuttle bus and I had the points to do a five-night reservation without transferring UR points.

They let me check in early and had a sim card for sale there, so kill 2 birds. It was the five day CSL one. Worked great everywhere we went (except Macau as it requires more $$).

The room was on the 28th floor with a view between the buildings of the harbour. The amenity was one coke, one orange juice and a travel sized Oreo pack. Fridge was handy.

Happy Valley
My sister wasn't coming for hours, so after unpacking and checking email it was time to for one thing I had listed for Wednesday - Happy Valley Race Course. Yes horse racing! I decided to try the subway and take it to Causeway Bay. The hotel was about 3 blocks from Sheung Wan station.

I popped in the little museum they had, security followed me around so I didn't take pics. There were a few stuffed horses including a Mongolian pony. Stupidly, I had locked up my cash and atm in the room safe so couldn't do the tourist badge thing as it was cash only. [Tip #2: Two wallets might not be that great of an idea if you usually only carry one.] But I had enough for general admission at least and it was plenty good enough as the horses go on the track extremely close to the rail nearest to the crowds as you can see.

The track is pretty impressive especially the city backdrop, it's great its so close to the city. Lots of young people at the track - it was a James Bond themed night.

It was also at the track where I found out how horrible my Cantonese was. I'm a third-generation American, but first-born in the US. My dad was all about assimilation, so the only person who spoke Cantonese was my grandmother who knew about 3 words of English. Like most racetracks before and between races are on-track analysts shown on the video screens to pass the time between races. I pretty much only understood the numbers and about five words. They talk a lot faster too.

I left a bit early as my sister was due around 10pm and the cigarette smoke was getting pretty bad. Next time, I will be sure to make sure I have my cash on me. I grabbed a Ding Ding tram back. It was just like the historic streetcars in SF, crowded and noisy but it still was cleaner! My sister's plane was late so I still beat her to the hotel.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 11:56 pm
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Day 2: Macau - The Venetian Macao

Breakfast at the Inn

So the first full day for my sister started with the free breakfast in the Thai restaurant in the building. You give the breakfast coupons to the person at the entrance and then another person lead you to a seat. We woke kinda late, but there was plenty of food. The options didn't change much during our stay, but there's a some variety of food to choose from. I went Western and this was the only day with bacon.

It looked a bit foggy/smoggy that morning so figured the Peak and Buddah might be better later in the week. That left Kowloon or Macau. Macau won.

Some late night googling found a promo for people who's birthdays were in the same month as they were travelling - $218 r/t so saving about HK$100.

My sister was disappointed that she was yet again given a piece of paper instead of a stamp in her passport. Immigration was fast and easy. Outside were a bunch of casino buses waiting.

I've never been to the Las Vegas Venetian so no idea how it compares, but wow it was humongous - we in fact basically got lost in the complex so didn't get to see the historical part.

I think this was the Sands part we wandered into.

All that walking meant I was hungry again, we ended up at a Chinese restaurant called Old Hong Kong right next to the canals, where two gondoliers stopped to perform. One with the lady singing and the other providing the guitar.

The restaurant had fake gondola booths we sat in.

The food: Seafood fried rice (the abalone, scallops and shrimp was hidden under the rice and noodles), seafood rice noodles and shrimp dumplings (there was also sui mai that came later). We had plenty of leftovers for dinner later.

And of course you can't go to Macau without trying their egg tarts. Who needs cake when you have these:

One amusing thing was the lack of paper napkins/towels - especially the non-American branded places. We first encounter it at the restaurant. My sister asked for napkins and the waiter was like "Tissue?" He comes back with a travel-sized box of tissue. I later noticed other patrons had their own napkins. Later in a couple of other women's bathrooms, the paper towels are labeled as "tissue." It amused us throughout our trip to see if things said tissue.
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Old Dec 19, 15, 10:40 am
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Day 3: Ngong Ping 360 - Big Buddha & Po Lin Monastery

Breakfast at the Inn Part 2
There was also toast, I think you know what that looks like.

So it was slightly clearer than yesterday, so I figure Big Buddha would work. We didn't wake up very early but I think it was earliest of the trip. We took the subway to Tung Chung and then waited in line for the cable car.

Despite the seemingly huge line, when we got to the very touristy "village" it wasn't crowded at all. The touristy part was worse as my sister bought those pictures they take of you on the cable car as a souvenir and redeemed her free gift in said village of more goofy pics of us with cgi backgrounds. I hate taking pictures, but she loves it.

After the whole picture taking, we head to the stairs and my sister just zooms up them - Ms. half-marathoner has no problem. I had to stop three times to catch my breath.

After all of those steps, I was starving, luckily they have that vegetarian lunch at the nearby Po Lin Monastery you can buy tickets near the bottom of the Big Buddha. It's a set menu and they just start piling the plates and pots on your table. No waiting more than 2 minutes. We were one of the few tables who ate all of the food. I ate about five bowls of rice and veggies. Man I was stuffed after all that! I can't imagine what was on the deluxe menu.

On the menu: Winter melon soup; bok choi, carrots and mushrooms; corn, peas, and soft tofu; Cucumber, celery, yellow bell pepper and hard tofu; deep fried spring rolls; jasmine rice and tea.

Well fed, we head over to visit some of the temples and looked at all the Buddhas. As we were leaving, we spot a small cattle family wandering around. My sister had to take a selfie with one. They basically ignored the people to graze.

Then it was back through the village where my sister bought more knick knacks at the shops. Finally back to the cable car and we head over to the outlet mall next to the subway station and check out the plastic covered fruit and vegetables at Taste.
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Old Dec 19, 15, 5:59 pm
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Day 4: Kowloon: Park, Comic Bruce Lee, Hello Kitty dim sum & Symphony of Lights

I'm not going to bore you with the Holiday Inn breakfast as it didn't change after the first day - it was ham, no bacon and some days they had no beans. There were also tiny croissants for the bread option. The Chinese option had rice for two days and noodles the other three. My sister had some and thought it was quite good. The congee was a bit too watery for my taste.

So after breakfast (and my sister deciding going down 20+ flight of stairs was faster than the elevator) we decided to try Kowloon. I had only a few things on the list - most of it food places. My sister decides a restroom stop was necessary so into one of the malls on the main drag that wasn't full of American known brands. No paper towels but the spot for them are labeled tissue. She was fascinated by the styles they had in the windows. I didn't really care, but it's not like we didn't have time.

Kowloon Park
Finally with that urge done, I say why don't we try the park?

And we find Bruce Lee in comic form and a bunch of other popular Hong Kong comic characters.

We wander some more and a map notes there's a flamingo pond. I was expecting one or two. Color me surprised, there's a bit more than that after rounding the pond.

There was also something labeled as an Aviary and one can hear the parrots calling. Up the stairs...

On our way out the park we saw there was a youth drum corps performing in the park - they played some Phantom of the Opera and YMCA.

Hello Kitty
I was starting to get hungry and I suggested we find someplace for food. My sister decided the Hello Kitty place sounded more fun than tea at the Peninsula Hotel. So off to find Hello Kitty, not exactly easy as it didn't stand out on the street. Anycase, I was expecting a line as the reviews said it was pretty busy. But no line.

Everything was branded Hello Kitty but thankfully not garishly pink everywhere like the stores. Even the paper lining under the buns were shaped like her head. No paper napkins, but there was Hello Kitty wetnap.

We had shrimp dumplings x2, custard buns and the sponge cake buns. It was quite good.

And yes the bathroom also had Hello Kitty.

My sister got me a Hello Kitty from the restaurant - she ate up a lot of my luggage space and got a bit squashed on the way home as I had to debox her. But she's really cute in her traditional Chinese dress and the little bamboo basket with a bun.

A Symphony of Lights
There weren't that many lasers that night.

Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop
It was crazy busy so we ended up taking the subway back where the Avenue of Stars were relocated. My sister didn't feel like doing that or walk over to the ferry so we took the train. I was hungry again so we got off at central and went into the IFC. I was trying to find Tim Ho Wan (my sister thought I was crazy. More dim sum?), but didn't see it on the directory but saw Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop listed. That works.

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Old Dec 19, 15, 7:13 pm
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Day 5: Victoria Peak

The last full day for my sister meant the last biggie for first time tourists like ourselves, Victoria Peak. We ride the Ding Ding Tram to Central. This is the one behind us:

There was a discount for the tram with our Ngong Ping 360 stub ticket which made them the price of a senior ticket. The tram was interesting there are big ridges in the aisles so those standing have something to stand against with out sliding down on everyone. It was pretty cool how the buildings looked so slanted as we went up.

The Peak Tower and Galleria are very commercial - basically malls. We wander outside and find the Lions Pavilion.

My sister finds a trailhead and we end up doing the Peak Circle walk. It's pretty much paved roads, so was easy to do, I think there was a tiny section that had some incline. It was nice to get away from the very touristy galleria.

Surprisingly I'm not hungry after that 3+km walk. I grab some ice cream for one more round of looking at the shops. My sister didn't want to stay after sunset, so we head back to the hotel. It's crazy busy at the tram station.

Back at the hotel, my sister starts packing up. After that, it time for food. Being lazy, we decide to try the crepes place next door.

Smoked Salmon, egg, spinach and strawberry & pana cotta crepes with apple juice for me and apple cider for my sister.
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Old Dec 19, 15, 8:41 pm
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Day 6: IFC Mall, Tim Ho Wan, Star Ferry & Bruce Lee (Ave of the Stars edition)

Last day for me in Hong Kong. After our last breakfast at the hotel, it was time for my sister to go to the airport. Instead of waiting for the shuttle, we jump on the MTR so she can grab the airport train at Central.

Late check-out was 2pm, so might as well go back to the hotel. Packing cubes are pretty useful for quick packing as you just throw them in the bag. Hello Kitty fits better once she's out of her box. I find the tag from the CX PJ bag and note the location of the PYE shop in Central.

I find one of the PYE shops and redeem the handkerchiefs. I stuff them in my luggage and head for in-town check in. They take my luggage and I get my boarding pass. Dead easy.

Back up to the IFC Mall. After staring at the map, looking at the paper pamphlet and not seeing any Tim Ho Wan, I ask a mall concierge where it was. It's between the IFC and the MTR. There's a small line and I grab a menu.

Chinese Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf (aka Glutinous rice dumpling on their English menu), Shrimp Dumplings (lost pic - Tonic Medlar and petal cake - it looked like jello rather than cake)

Time to try some of the things we missed. The Star Ferry was connected to the IFC building and HK$5 for two ferry tokens cover the roundtrip.

Then it was to find the temporary location of the Avenue of the Stars at East Tsim Sha Tsui. It's an OK location, but the regular location looks more picturesque.


And Anita Mui

There were also a bunch of hand prints of famous Hong Kong artists.

I stop by the Peninsula Hotel - still too full for tea, though.

On the ferry ride back, I buy an egg tart from the Tai Cheong Bakery kiosk at the ferry terminal. Yummy!
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Old Dec 20, 15, 3:50 pm
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Day 1: CX J HKG-SYD + Radisson Blu Sydney

HKG Lounge - The Wing
There wasn't much set up in the buffets when I first came in, but I found a plate of Tim Tams perfect for my trip!

I spent a bit of time sending emails and uploading a few pictures to my sister of my adventures after she left. Read a few newspapers and found the Noodle Bar!

I know - won ton again?

You could also order buns at the noodle bar, so of course I had some. One custard and one BBQ pork bun

HKG-SYD - Business
There was a lot of turbulence throughout the flight so half of my pictures came out blurry. The J seat was the usual 777

Fruit mix, savory dip (hummus?) with breadsticks, plus garlic bread

Sauteed Prawns with Kung Po Sauce, Choy Sum and Steamed Rice

Too full for desert (fruit with syrup), so had tea - no tea pot in J and one praline

OJ and roll (off camera), Fresh fruit, Greek yogurt with apricot compote and granola

Dace Fish Julienne with Pak Choy Congee, Served with Pan-fried Turnip Cake with Preserved Meats

Baggage takes forever - the priority tag is useless. I think early in-town check in just shunts your bag to the back of the plane as your bag is the first loaded. No big deal, not like I'm on a schedule.

Two years ago there was no Opal card (for tourists at least) - their Clipper/Oyster/Octopus card equivalent. Still, easy to buy it from the manned counter with a credit card at the airport station.

Radisson Blu - Sydney
Having stayed at the Radisson before, it was easy to find the place and locate the correct exit that drops one off a block away vs 5 blocks at the main Wygard Station exit.

The front desk said they can have a room ready in an hour. It is hot as hades in Sydney - 96F that day, so I'm happy to stay indoors as much as possible. I just use the free wi-fi in the lobby to do email.

The room is a bit different from the one I had before with an upgrade to one with somewhat of a view.

Note the "painting" near the bed. Another improvement - an outlet I don't need to move furniture to access.

For all you voyeurs - the painting turns out to hide a window. They changed from Peter Morrissey to the This Works in transit line of toiletries.

Welcome amenity

Unpacked, took a shower and set up to do some work - there is an option to use an actual cord. Thus leaving the wifi for my phone. I decided not to get a sim as it was just myself.

One thing I hate about vacation is you log back in and find 100 emails. By the time I clear all that and do everything, it's time for food. I wasn't too hungry but some dim sum would work, so I head to the Westfield mall seeking Din Tai Fung. Darn place is closed when I get there. I wander around and find a sign that Tim Ho Wan was coming to the Westfield next year! In the end I decide to get something not Asian and try Mexican to go. Not a foodie but it was pretty good.

Tinga Chicken with guacamole, sour cream w iceberg lettuce & queso fresco, Pibil pork with caramelised pineapple & latin pickles, and beef fajita grilled skirt steak, with red and green caps, bacon w onions &
oaxaca cheese

Last edited by lmwong1977; Dec 23, 15 at 10:31 pm
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Old Dec 20, 15, 5:03 pm
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Day 2: Hyde Park, Barrack Museum & Royal Botanic Gardens

Sleep like the dead for nearly 12 hours. It's thankfully cooled down with a storm front in the area bringing things down to 70s F.

With the threat of rain I decide to go with the park itinerary. But first is brunch, I find a cafe with a bit of an outdoor area.

Chicken, Almond, Spinach sandwich and a pot of tea

Hyde Park

ANZAC War Memorial - the water part was blocked off for redevelopment

Hyde Park Barracks Museum
It's very well set up for field trips for school kids with interactive screens and lots of things kids can touch. As a former Exploratorium docent - ^

You can sit in the judge's seat (no gavel though)

Convict food


Convict hammocks

Convict census with crime and sentence. Stealing a pig or sheep was 7 years, but a horse is a life sentence

Immigrant girl clothing - in the trunk next to it are kid sized versions of it so they can try the clothes on if they want

Immigrant girl beds - when you lift the lid of the trunks, an audio of a girl's story begins and inside are some artifacts they found in the floorboards and their fate in Australia.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Cycad - a "living fossil"

Wollemi pine - only three stands in Australia

Lions Gate

There was a tree just covered with cockatoos, but some kid ran up making a bunch of noise so they scattered before I could get a picture of it.

Obligatory bridge/opera house shot

Mrs. Macquarie's Chair

HMAS Adelaide

Bamboo graffiti

Being from Oakland where we have Jack London Square, this was cool:

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Old Dec 20, 15, 6:10 pm
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Park Hyatt Sydney

Checked out of the Radisson and walked to the Hyatt. Not surprisingly my room wasn't ready but that's OK, I need some food. So I order a chicken club sandwich with fries from the Living Room.

Staff pretty much disappear after I get my food and I end up asking the man who escorted me to my room to charge it to the room. That was the only flaw.

Park Hyatt - Sydney - City Harbour King

Insane amount of closet space, plus double sinks and a heated toilet seat with bidet functions and another sink in a separate room from the tub/shower.

Is this a trend in Sydney hotels to be able to look into the bathroom?

The view is the cruise terminal but if you stand, lean out a bit and and look out to the left:

Fruit plate + Kakawa soft chocolate nougat bar with pistachio and cranberry dipped in dark chocolate
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Old Dec 20, 15, 8:01 pm
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Day 3: Bondi to Coogee Walk

Well half the day is gone, so lets try the beach. Already been to Manly so time for the other popular one: Bondi. Grab a bus at Circular Quay, it takes about 45 minutes with all the traffic. At Bondi Junction the bus driver turns off the engine and just leaves. OK then, guess his shift is over? We get off and line up for another bus, then the bus driver returns and begins boarding. The other bus we lined up for leaves sooner and I get off near the middle part of the beach.

The walk is about 5km and I guess I walk fast as it took me just over an hour to walk it.

There's a good bit of water bottle filling fountains at the beaches near Bondi as you go father out, they get more sparse - still I was able to do quite well refilling with just the one bottle I grabbed from my hotel room. The water even comes out pretty cold too. Bathrooms were I'm happy to say quite clean. The pathways are pretty much paved or wooden walkways.

There was one section that wasn't well marked, it looked like we were just walking on a street in the neighborhood, but there's a lot of people walking, eventually you're back on a recognizably trail.

The Gordon's Bay section had a particularly steep section of stairs.

Some Sculpture by The Sea works

Walkway and Waverley Cemetery ahead

Coogee Beach

Mina Wylie statue (Aussie Olympic swimmer) + Wylie's Baths

Wedding Cake Island

I actually went a bit further past Coogee into the Trenerry Preserve, but I turned back to return to Coogee as I was starting to get hungry.

C'mon gotta try it just for the name.

Fish N Chips - it was really nice moist and flaky, didn't even need the tarter sauce - used it for the fries
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Old Dec 20, 15, 9:10 pm
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Day 4: Blue Mountains + The Rocks Village Bizarre

I didn't wake up early enough, but it's my last full day, so head out for the Blue Mountains with a quick stop at Starbucks to grab a muffin and wrap to go - yeah I know - but there was no line there and had some gift card money on me.

It's two hours by train to Katoomba then its a bus to Scenic World as we're low on time.

The Rocks - Village Bizarre

Ladies in a painting come to life

Phillip’s Foote: roast pork roll with crunchy pork skin + a Pistachio ice cream
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Old Dec 20, 15, 9:45 pm
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Day 5: The Rocks Saturday Markets and Pylon Lookout

Last day in Sydney! I pack up and drop off the luggage to hold until later in the afternoon. First thing is to find some food.

The Rocks was set up for Saturday markets. Did a visit to the The Rocks museum. It's small but it's pretty interesting (and free).

These smelled amazing!

I had used up my cash at the night market so I decide on DARE (Delicious and Responsible Eating) for its avocado smash - had a vague remembrance of something I should have in Australia. Probably did it wrong but it hit the spot.

Pylon Lookout
Time to try the Pylon Lookout - lots of stairs and could see a group doing the Bridge climb

As I was coming up, I thought the bottom guy was sitting in a rest area on the stairs! There are little bits of history throughout the Pylon so you're not staring at just stairs and plaster as you go up.

Harbour Bridge
Afterwards, I decide to walk across the bridge. It's not a very long bridge, so it's an easy stroll. There's a street market on this side too. These are more people who make stuff at home than stores with kiosks.

Head back, buy some stuff at the Markets and pick up my bag at the Hyatt before heading to the airport.
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Old Dec 20, 15, 11:20 pm
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Qf j syd-hnl & ha f hnl-sfo

Last one! Ugh on Google making it so hard to post things in message boards.

Anyway, checking in my luggage was easy, they had people around the self-check-in but the lady there told me to use the counter (which had no line) since I had a biz ticket.

SYD - Qantas Lounge
Salad, Beef curry with rice, fruit, cheesecake & brownie

It's the old seats that don't go flat, but I can sleep fine in them.

Confit salmon with smoked tofu, pickled daikon, ginger and lemon dressing; Crumbed blue eye with tarragon tartare sauce, roasted chat potatoes and crushed peas; Maggie Beer Burnt fig, honeycomb & caramel ice cream, tea and a tiny stick of valrhona chocolate

Watermelon and ginger energiser, Fruit salad with yoghurt; Free range scrambled eggs on toast, bacon, hash browns and mushrooms

Luggage came in towards the middle and went to recheck it. Ughh remind me not to take a flight that requires you to do that. PITA. I also realize later I had ended up at the premiere lounge not the new fancy one but it's OK as I spent all my time texting back my sister and friends as my cell service was working again.

Another old Biz seat but for 8 hours it was fine

Tomato chukamen salad with mizuna, chuka Noodles, grape tomato and Parmesan cheese (with a sweet roll that was purple inside); Guava shoyu Kalbi short ribs with truffle taro mash and pickled vegetables; and Lilikoi Passion fruit crunch cake

Last edited by lmwong1977; Dec 23, 15 at 12:31 am
lmwong1977 is offline  
Old Dec 23, 15, 12:29 am
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Overall it was a great vacation, hit a lot of things I wanted to see/do, saw some cool stuff, ate a lot of good food and shared it with my sister for the first time.

Things I learned:

Lounges are nice - especially if they have real food, but don't eat so much if you're in CX F (though I doubt I'll get another chance to try it again).

A rough itinerary works well, but having notes on hand would make things easier and remind me to do certain things (like get the airport express card on the flight).

Two wallets while good in theory did not work for me. Next time just put everything in one.

Setting an alarm would be helpful if you have a 2 hour travel time as one would have more time to see everything. Luckily, I am a fast walker, so that helps.

Self-checkout at stores don't like foreign cards.

A sim card is very nice to have but not totally necessary (at least to me).

Wi-fi calling is very useful. My sister called home using the wi-fi in the hotel.

Changing hotels is a small inconvenience, so won't rule out. Though not having to move is nicer.

Try and avoid connecting flights on returning flights if you have to re-check (I tend to check baggage coming back with souvenirs and gifts).

I think one thing I never know for sure is how much to put on a transit card and how much cash on hand do you need. ATMs were plentiful, so not a burden to get cash out if I ran out. My sister had to pay a fee on her card so she just took a lot in one go at the airport.

Transit Cards
In my case I put HK$100 (+50 deposit) and had HK$1.4 left which resulted in a refund of HK$42.40 when I returned the on-loan Octopus card. Not bad.

For Australia, this was the first year of the Opal. I asked the window guy for a suggestion and put in $50. I think I went into the red on the final ride to the airport, so a bit like our Clipper card, you can use it for 1 last trip as long as you have enough for some kind of a ride in the system.

In Hong Kong I took out HK$300 but it probably was not enough. My sister shared some costs so not sure what would be optimal. I know I didn't have cash for the Victoria Peak tram. The other 2 big things Ngong Ping 360 (though the lunch was cash only) and ferry to Macau took credit card. A lot of food places especially smaller places only took cash.

In Sydney, I took out $80. That was a little high as I bough some stuff from The Rocks Markets which were cash only vendors. $50-60 would of worked. Most places took credit card - didn't get hit with DCC, but I was mostly in the tourist areas so they all asked if I wanted to be charged in US$ or not.

Total vacation costs with airline fees:
Just over $750. Not bad for a two week vacation in 2 (3 countries).

I've been told my trip should be called: You're Hungry Again? or Stairs and More Stairs
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