Adventure is just bad planning.
— Roald Amundsen, 1872 - 1928
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tysonandamandatravel2012

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About me

I'm from Canada

Where am I now?

On a Catamaran on Whitsunday Islands, Australia

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My route

Canada
Hong Kong (S.A.R.)
Brazil
China (People's Republic)
Australia

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Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, China

Sep 2012

Live the dream...

30 mins from departure

10:36am

Amanda and I are 30 mins away from our flight from Edmonton to Van city. We have checked our bags several times to make sure we have everything, but my credit card reassures us, especially Amanda, we can buy anything we need in the first part of the trip. The collective 20 hour trip to HK should give me enough time to read the Hong Kong book I promised Amanda I would read a few months ago. Plans when we arrive:It will be 9pm their timeRapid familiarization of the Mass Transit System which commutes millions daily to somehow, someway find our way to her Uncles houseJetlagged+++Depending on smog condition, take my puffersWe leave for Australia Friday so that gives us 4 days to see the market, see her families houses, be touristy, and purchase anything we forgot to pack that we think of over the next 20 hours of our lives. We will have more time in HK at the end of our trip, but apparently horse racing opens the week we return and I have been warned we will spend a day at the tracks. but for now, it's time to board our first plane which will start our adventure. Hopefully another episode of Mayday will be on, it makes small talk a bit easier in the air.

Hong kong

11:09pm

05 Sept 2012
We left Canada Sunday morning at 1130 and arrived in HK Monday night at 9pm with time change.
We were up for almost 24 hours and exhausted. Thankfully Amandas cousin, Kym, picked us up from the airport with HKs most abundant transportation, the bus. It took about an hour to get to Auntie Florence's place. Although short on sleep, several minutes out of the airport and I was no longer tired and the buildings were tall and vast. As we left the airport we crossed the worlds longest bridge to Lantau Mainland. It was on this bridge I realized several findings.
1. I was on a double decker bus.
2. We were driving on the other side of the road.
3. Poor driving taxi's were all over the place.

Daytime sightseeing is significantly different. The highrises appear run down on the exterior. Decent amount of smog. Construction workers working without any safety equipment- ex. Welding without faceshield. More poordriving taxis..... A McDonalds, 7-eleven and Circle K on every block.

Prices for food and drinks are very different here. A McDonalds burger and fries are $6 each in Hong Kong Dollar whereas a coffee is $24 HKD. $1 Canadian dollar is approx $7 HKD. Unfortunately this math doesn't support my coffee habit.

Hong Kong island is beautiful. It cost $2.5 HKD to cross with the ferry. All the buildings are tall, the tallest being 104 floors. There are escalators built in a section of the downtown called the Midlevels. Before 9 am they run down to help commuters go to work. After that they are a tourist attraction. They take you up the streets with local shops built on the sides. There is also a tram down the main street. This is a busy street full of swerving cars and horns. It was scary sharing the road with these drivers on a constricted path with no possibility for an avoidance maneuver. There are also no commercial drop off places such as back alleys for all the businesses. Often drop off trucks would block traffic for several minutes to parallel into a spot far too small for their delivery trucks.

After HK island we went to the markets. This is a condensed area with not enough room for all the market goers. Most booths sell the same product, and bartering is allowed. In a book I read it suggested to offer 1/4 the asking price and try to settle for half. This strategy, however, does not work. My $30 offer on an $88 item was apparently so terrible the girl refused to even deal with me anymore. With that said, my skills slowly improved. Amanda also claims she paid more for her items because I was there. I object to this statement, although secretly agree to it.

TJ said:
Last updated: 11 Sep 12, 06:49am

Sounds like you guys are having a blast. If 4 burgers and 4 fries cost the same as 1 coffee in Canada, everyone would be fat and tired! You should blame Amanda for ruining your $30 for $88 deal. Turn the tables on her! Be safe, have fun, I'll check back here often.

Macau, China

9:19pm

We had the opportunity to spend a day in Macau, China. This has been compared as "The Las Vegas of China" and it's name has held true. The main casino's all hold a major stake in this area such as MGM, Ceasars and Venetian, which has it's own bridge and essentially own island. We were on the high speed ferry from Hong Kong and it took approximately an hour on this speedy vessel, passing many traditional fishermen in their wooden boats along the way. The South China Sea was beautiful. With many islands full of trees and beautiful waters, it is easy to see why and how so many people live in this region of the world.

Macau is spread out similar to Las Vegas but without the main strip. We walked everywhere and this was quite dangerous as there were no road rules. No set pedestrian intersections with many drivers on the roads and many people trying to navigate their way to further their gambling earnings or defecits. It appears many mainland Chinese people and Hong Kong people come here to gamble for a cheap holiday as we do in Vegas.

One difference noted is the amount of security in uniform at the casino's. This was significantly present upon taking a picture of Amanda playing a slot machine in a beautiful casino. Within five seconds, four security guards surrounded me, had their voices raised and my de-escalation skills came into use. Upon deleting the , the security guards left but kept careful eyes on us as we exited the casino. Not as welcoming as Vegas......

One of the most beautiful places we have visited as of yet was in Macau. The portugese settled in Macau in the 16th century and has vast catholic influence. The Ruins of St. Paul were beautiful. Similar brickwork and Portugese influenced city art is present in this area as well. This is the first time during our trip we did not feel like we were in China.

Brisbane, Byron Bay

9:46pm

We arrived into Brisbane early morning on the 8th of September. With a non-functioning GPS that we brought from Canada and a rather useless map that the airport gave us, it took us over an hour to get to Jay's house.... as we were trying to avoid the toll bridges. Driving on the other side of the road did not overly help the situation....

We drove my brother to the 'Stampede', which was our first taste of Brisbane's events. It was a 10km run through many obstacles which included crawling through mud and shocks of 10,000 volts delivered from hanging wires .... was a great way to start our trip.

After having supper and beverages overlooking one of the many bridges in Brisbane, we are quite jealous of his lifestyle. After meeting Jay's friends we had only met one Australian and the rest were Canadian....... all were amazing people and treated us like family. Local markets, fresh foods, nice weather and a beautiful river valley are all attractive qualities this eastern city has to offer. We were in Brisbane during their two week long festival, and witnessed one of the most spectacular light shows we have ever seen.

Brisbane has three notable downsides.....

The roadways are nothing like Alberta's grid system. Turning in roundabouts every four blocks, taking turns onto side streets that are somehow main roadways and aggressive drivers were all nuances, especially on the left side of the road.

Toll Bridges.....Why charge people to cross the river? It is automatically charged to the licence plate which is connected to my credit card through the rental car.

No drip coffee! Brisbane loves their espresso and doesn't even know what a 'coffee maker' is. When we asked for a drip coffee in any shop the closest they could do is put an espresso in water and call it a "long black".

We had the lovely opportunity to visit the Steve Irwin Zoo. After feeding elephants and seeing many varying species of animals, of which Aussie hosts 80% of the worlds most dangerous animals, it opened our eyes to the true elements this vast countries offers. We left the zoo with the impression back country camping is not for us.

The Koala sanctuary was beautiful. The life expectancy for above average of the Koala's in this home away from home is significantly longer, with the oldest living past 22 years of age. Our picture with a Koala was quickly checked off our bucket list and many more poisonous snakes were seen. More Kangaroos were petted as if they were dogs and the day came to a quick end at sunset before 6pm followed by a tedious drive back to Jay's place. Our favorite part of the sanctuary would be the designated 'kindergarten' and 'retirement home' places for the Koalas which consisted of similar eat and sleep cycles.

Off we went to Byron Bay. Along the way we passed Surfer's Paradise, which was anything but a surfer's paradise. Commercialized and overdeveloped, we had no desire to spend much time in this congestion.

Byron Bay was beautiful. Similar to Tofino, small town, local shops, hippies and surfing. This is surfer's paradise. We surfed at 'the pass' which we were surrounded by other surfer's twice as good and half our age. The waves were ok and the beach was great. Above 'the pass' is a spectacular light house that becomes more impressive as the sun sets. With whales visible in the background, this evening came to a perfect end.

The hostel we stayed at was clean and welcomed by everyone. We met mostly Europeans travelling the country with working Visa's. Our last night consisted of $5 supper, several free jugs of beer and Amanda winning more free drinks, kayak trip with the dolphins, hot yoga and a trip to Nimbin, which is apparently only used to purchase drugs from the inland. We were not able to use any of these 'luxuries' due to time restraints. We had a great night and a bigger headache leaving this small town than when we entered it.

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