Lantau Island is the place you have Hong Kong International Airport and Hong Kong Disneyland, but it’s also where the Po Lin Monastery and its Tian Tan Buddha statue is. To get to there, the popular option is to take the 25 mn, 5.7 km cable car, where you can relax (or not if you have a fear of heights) watching as you move in the air the mountains, the forest or the huge artificial island built for the airport.
Cheung Chau is an island south-west of Hong Kong, it takes 30 mn to get there with the fast ferry. A cave on the island is said to have been the hiding place of Cheung Po Tsai, a famous 19th century pirate.
Aberdeen (the one on Hong Kong Island, not the one in Scotland) is famous for its floating village, we went there mostly to visit the fish market: in Hong Kong fish is often sold alive, so the market consists of many aquariums filled with fishes.
After Bali, Hong Kong is a real change of pace. Reviewing the few photographs of the city itself, I wasn’t able to capture what I found was nice about Hong Kong, the mix of old and new, some form of patina. You’ll have to go there to find out yourself. When you do, go eat some dim sums, they’re really excellent.
One of the first visits we did was to walk to Avenue of Stars which is on the waterfront:
We made a few other visits around Mong Kok where there are several markets: bird market, flower market, goldfish market, ladies market (contrary to the name, they sell souvenirs), Temple street night market. One of the few things around that wasn’t a restaurant or for shopping was the Tin Hau temple:
I’m left with a few pictures from Bali that I don’t know where to put. So here they are. The first four are from Ubud Palace. The following three are from an obscure temple in Denpasar (referenced in the Lonely Planet but with a totally non-obvious entrance, the guest book made it clear only a handful of tourists find their way there every month). The last one will appeal mostly to environmentally conscious persons (and/or swedes) is about recycling Absolut Vodka bottles for holding petrol at impromptu gas stations.
The best place to see manta rays in Bali is at Manta Point on the south coast of Nusa Penida. Getting to the dive site take about one hour from Sanur (where we were staying). When we arrived on the site, we immediately saw one manta ray from the boat so we jumped right into the water. We mostly stood still in the water, looking at the rays circling in the water. There were a few other boats with other divers, snorklers and some people seemingly on their first dive (see the picture with one instructor holding two other divers). A real magical moment.
The two other dives the same day were drift dives. You jump in the water, dive to the depth you want to be at and you let yourself go with the flow. The first one was on the north coast of Nusa Penida and the second one north of Nusa Lembongan. It’s a little like being on a bus or a train under water, watching the landscape go by. We didn’t anything “special”, but we saw a lot of nice things: because the current took us at a faster pace than usual, and also because we were making less efforts we could stay longer (both dives longer than 60 mn).
The Ubud Monkey Forest is a small park in Ubud with trees, temples and many monkeys. The monkeys are interested in visitors for the treats they might offer, but also curious. We stayed and watched the monkeys playing, socializing, and we observed the elder bigger ones stealing from the smaller ones. A one point rain came, and monkeys as well as tourists took cover in a big hall. Monkeys formed small groups to keep themselves warm.
When we came back to Bali, we went to the city of Ubud where we stayed a few days. One of the activities we decided to undertake was a bicycle hike. The day started early with a minivan transfer to Kintamani on the rim of Mount Batur where we had breakfast and could admire the caldera and the lake. After that we went to a place where we got our bikes. The ride was pleasant as we went downhill between villages and rice fields. On the way we stopped at a place where we could taste (and buy as we’ve had the opportunity many times already) spices, tea and coffee and most notably the Kopi Luwak. We also stopped at a family compound where we learned some information about the way traditional balinese families live.
Before going to eat a late lunch, we got the choice between 10 mn of bike and minivan transfer or 45-50 mn of bike, with a warning that the second option was more “athletic”. Aline wasn’t interested, but I chose the second option. Of course, this turned out to be a much more difficult endeavor than expected, led by a couple of very athletic riders, we finished the (mostly uphill) route in 40 (very long) minutes. I was so tired and in need of rehydration that I didn’t really enjoy the lunch.