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zanzibar138
03-31-2012, 02:12 AM
I'm back! And I'm now a Mrs!

We had an amazing time on our honeymoon, and enjoyed Vietnam, Hong Kong and Africa. But being a Disney forum and trying to get in before others make the trek to HK, I'll get straight to the interesting part :-)

I'll start with an overview of our experience in HK.

We stayed at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel for 4 nights, and got annual passes so that we could go into the park every day we were there if we wanted to, except for our last day which was a Saturday and was blocked out. We did indeed go into the park each one of those days, even if only for a little while.

We both enjoyed the hotel immensely. Even my DH can never get over the Disney details and just how *well* they do everything. Meals were nice, but ridiculously expensive. We spent a lot of time just hanging out in the lobby, taking in the atmosphere while reading a book or catching up on facebook.

The park itself, yes it was small, but still very Disney! DH had enough by the second afternoon, but I could have easily stayed for another few days just taking it all in. The atmosphere was slightly different, I guess with the different customs in Asia. It had more of a 'fend for yourself' feel. There was lots of pushing in lines, and people spitting (mainly in bins, but still), which to me is just the most disgusting thing in the world. Of course, I'm only comparing to Anaheim where I found most people to be polite and courteous, and even friendly, with a lot more of a 'looking out for each other' kind of vibe.

Now, onto the details!

zanzibar138
03-31-2012, 02:21 AM
Our flight got in to HK at about 12:30pm. HK airport is like a maze, and it felt like we were going around in circles following the signs to passport control. When we got there the line was insanely long, but surprisingly, went fairly quickly. As we had nothing to declare, customs was easy.

The next challenge was finding our shuttle bus (which the travel agent had arranged for us before we had a chance to say 'no thanks we'll catch the train'). We found a pole with the correct number on it, that told us to go elsewhere. So we got a bit lost and finally found elsewhere. We checked in with the people there and were told to take a seat while they organised the bus. Ok.

It was at least half an hour later, after quite a few more people had turned up, that we were finally given any more instructions. We were told to 'follow me'. I felt a bit silly traipsing around HK airport after a guy holding up a flag. As we passed the train station I looked longingly, thinking if we'd have just caught the train we probably would have been there by now. After 10 minutes of traipsing we were told to sit and wait again.

In the time we were there, about half a dozen other groups traipsing after a guy carrying a flag all arrived and departed on their buses. After another half an hour, more action started happening for us. Random people kept coming in and announcing hotel names, and small groups would peel off and follow them, and take off in their buses. Finally, someone said 'Disneyland Hotel'. So we got up and followed them to the bus, and sat there waiting for another 10 minutes before we FINALLY left the airport at about 3:30pm.

Lesson learned... catch the train.

zanzibar138
03-31-2012, 02:44 AM
We FINALLY got to the hotel. Bell services immediately grabbed our luggage and sent it straight to our room. Upon entering the hotel the first thing we noticed was the magnificent lobby, but checked in before investigating any further.

The check in staff were friendly and helpful. Even though our annual pass print outs said we needed to go to the park to redeem our passes, our check in assistant was able to do it for us. She gave us a whole heap of loot - maps, pamphlets, dining options, passholder information, hotel information etc, and went through most of it with us. Then sent us up to our room on the 6th floor (the highest up below concierge level). We were told to get the elevator all the way in the opposite corner to where check in was, so we dilligently followed her instructions, and found our room.

Immediately when we opened the door, this horrid stench started coming out of the room. We walked in to investigate, wondering what the awful smell was and hoping it would go away. Then I noticed an ash tray on the desk. The smell was making us both feel quite ill, so I called guest services to enquire about an alternative non-smoking room. She managed to find us one that was just being cleaned and said someone would be up in 10 minutes to take us and our luggage to the new room. In the meantime I had a little look around, checked out the view from the (non-opening) window, which was lovely. It overlooked the Mickey maze with the sea in the background, even though we'd only booked a garden view room. We ended up waiting in the hallway for the last 5 minutes because the smell was so bad.

We were eventually met and transferred to our new room. It had a lovely view of the carpark. But it had a balcony which was beautiful, and we immediately opened the door to get some fresh air.

Later on we figured out that the room actually overlooked the park (we just couldn't see the park through the trees) and that we would actually have a view of the fireworks.

I immediately went around taking pictures before DH 'ruined' anything lol!

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zanzibar138
03-31-2012, 04:51 AM
By the time we got settled in our room, it was nearly dinner time. Of course I was pretty keen to get to the park, so we decided we'd go and see what was on offer for dinner over there.

My cameras both fit in my pockets, and I had my lanyard with my annual pass, room key, and ID (required for the first entry into the park). So no need for a bag which was very handy.

Here I am ready to go.

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We decided we'd walk to the park as I'd read that it was a short walk and I'd seen the little path to the park from our bus as we pulled into the hotel. Now, where was that pesky little path again???

I got a pic of one of the chandeliers in the lobby as we were leaving the hotel. They were pretty impressive!

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We also found another elevator that was MUCH closer to our rooms. It was the big birdcage style one in the lobby so maybe they tried to discourage people from going in there with all their luggage.

We actually turned the wrong way out of the hotel and ended up going through the carpark and towards the Hollywood Hotel. Soon enough though we came across a sign for Disneyland that was pointing the opposite direction, so we turned around.

The path was VERY quiet. I thought it was just because of the time of night, but we never really saw it much busier. I think for some insane reason that I can't think of, people just preferred to get the shuttle bus.

The path had Disney character banners on either side of it, and Disney music piped in, and it was a very enjoyable walk. DH was pretty tired by that stage so I didn't stop to take too many photos on that first walk in.

This topiary was at the junction between the path to the hotels, the path to the pier, and the path to the park.

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And we got a lovely welcome from Mickey.

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Now and then there were feature trees or fountains to break up the path a bit, and some of the trees had plaques with information about the species and where its from. It was quite interesting reading the next morning when I wasn't so rushed.

When I saw the famous 'Mickey surfing on the whale' fountain, I knew we couldn't be too far away, particularly given the sudden influx of people coming from the opposite direction (which I figured out must be where the train station was).

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Lo and behold, we turned the corner, and were greeted by a familiar sight.

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zanzibar138
03-31-2012, 05:12 AM
I felt quite important going through the turnstiles as an annual passholder. We both got our fingerprints taken for next time (so we didn't have to keep taking our ID with us) and we were in!

We'd decided that we would take a ride on the train first, so we made our way to Main Street Station. Just as we were climbing the steps, a train pulled up, so that was pretty good timing. The trains in HK have 2 rows of bench seats, both facing into the park, with the one behind raised up a bit so everyone can see. And of course they have bits and pieces set up along the track to keep the passengers entertained. As we got to the Jungle Cruise, there were a few animatronics to look at, and we saw a boat go past too.

We got off at Fantasyland Station, which wasn't too much further along. It's only the 2 stations in HK.

Directly in front of us was Winnie the Pooh. DH, bless his heart, had remembered that we hadn't been able to do Winnie the Pooh in Anaheim, so suggested we go there first. I loved the theming in the queue area with the giant book pages, but it was our first experience of the pushing and personal space invasion which were to become the norm of the next few days.

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As I mentioned, we didn't do Winnie the Pooh in Anaheim, so I can't compare. But it was a fun little ride. There were the special effects for bouncing along with Tigger, and sailing along on the river, and wind in your face in the blustery day scene. I'm glad I got to do it.

Next we decided to check out what we could find for dinner. The Royal Banquet Hall was right next to us, so we decided to go in there. I had a chicken curry with rice and tomato soup that was quite good. DH decided to try a western style steak which he said was a bit disappointing. The theming never ceases to amaze me.

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After dinner we wandered back towards Adventureland, and ended up on the Jungle Cruise. It was just getting dark, and it was a pretty good time to do it I think. Added to the mystery a bit. I actually enjoyed this version a lot more than the Anaheim one. I think the scenery looked a bit more realistic, and it had a couple of updated scenes. The fire and water scene at the end was pretty good.

Next we thought we'd check out Tarzan's Treehouse, which, as you might know is on an island that you have to take a raft to. So we got on the raft and made our way across. The only trouble with the raft is that a whole group of people arrive on the island at once, and all go directly to the start of the tree climb. So even though there may not be that many people there, you all seem to be in the same spot at once. We enjoyed the view from the tree anyway, trying to figure out where everything was.

We thought since it was our first night, we'd see what the view of the fireworks was like from our balcony (the fireworks are on every night). We headed into the bakery on our way out to get some dessert. I got one of these Minnie chestnut chocolate tart things which I thought was quite good, but DH didn't like. I forget what he got.

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The walk back to the hotel was only 15 minutes max. And once again, the path was practically empty. We got settled on our balcony with a glass of wine ready to view the fireworks. I'd figured out in the park that from our balcony, the castle would pretty much be directly in front of us, so thought we should actually have a pretty good view.

Unfortunately we realised once the fireworks started that they weren't actually launched from the castle, and were fairly well obstructed by a tree to the left of the balcony. Still, it was a good taster and we enjoyed it anyway. We were only wishing that they piped the soundtrack into the balconies (we later found out that they played the soundtrack on a specific channel on the TV).

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After that we went to bed, to be ready for another exciting day.

zanzibar138
03-31-2012, 05:21 AM
We had decided the previous night, that I would go to the park on my own in the morning, so I could feel free to look at exactly what I wanted to, and take as many pictures as I wanted. Then we were going to meet up for lunch back at the Royal Banquet Hall again.

In the morning we ended up waking at about the same time anyway, so we figured we may as well go to breakfast together. We ended up going to check out Walt's.

I took this photo of the door on the way out. I was pretty impressed that each door had its own proper little knocker lol!

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Walt's looked lovely.

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We both had the American style breakfast with sausages and apple juice. I had my eggs scrambled and DH had his 'over-easy'. The sausages were a bit different, and DH's eggs were well undercooked for his liking. My scrambled eggs were fine, but there was far too much!

After breakfast we split up as planned and I headed out to the park.

I took a few photos in the hotel lobby first, as I had wanted to the previous day.

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And I got some more photos of the pathway.

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zanzibar138
03-31-2012, 07:17 PM
I particularly wanted to buy a set of Minnie Mouse ear hair clips for the day, so I thought I would just wander down Main Street and check out the shops there. I went to the Emporium first (where I got my mouse ears, and 'earmarked' a few other things for later!).

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Coming out of the Emporium, I was lucky enough to catch the marching band, and hung around watching for a while.

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I checked out each shop in turn, marvelling at the bejewelled Disney characters in the jewellery store (and getting annoyed by the assistant who was shadowing me), drooling over some gorgeous t-shirts in the merchandise shop, and wondering at all the tinned biscuits available in the confectionery shop. I took other pictures, but they all got lost when my laptop got stolen on the way home (I only have what I uploaded to facebook).

At the end of Main Street I spied the Plaza Inn Restaurant. It was our favourite in Anaheim, so I thought I'd take a pic of its HK cousin.

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Then I had a chance to really check out the castle. As far as castles go, it is definitely on the smallish side. It has more than enough charm to make up for it though. It was lovely with the mountains in the background, and although Tinker Bell doesn't light it up at night anymore, it still has her pixie dust wound around it, which sparkles in the sun/moonlight.

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It was odd not seeing a partners statue, but the gardens around the front of the castle were lovely.

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To the right where Snow White's Grotto is they do character greetings (with princesses of course!).

I walked straight through the castle to Fantasyland, and thought I would check out the store at Pooh Corner, which is right at the back of the castle.

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Between the store and the ride there was this cute statue, which looks just like a picture I have of Pooh and Piglet.

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And this is the back of the castle.

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Since I was close to our meeting place and time, I thought I'd just hang out around there a bit, so I took some photos of the carousel, and Dumbo with the mountains in the background. And, perfect timing, just as I was taking photos of Dumbo, several Disney characters got on! Mickey, Minnie and Goofy all had a go!

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Just as that was all happening, DH found me, and we continued our travels together for a while.

zanzibar138
03-31-2012, 08:06 PM
DH and I both decided that we weren't hungry yet, so thought we'd wander a bit more before lunch. The night before, I had noticed Mickey's Philharmagic close by, so I suggested we do that.

I really enjoyed the show. DH struggles with 3D, but I think he enjoyed most of it too. I wouldn't have minded doing it again actually.

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After that we kept wandering towards Adventureland again, which I get the impression was DH's favourite part of the park. We passed the entrance to Toy Story Land, and hadn't been there yet, so we thought we better check it out.

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I actually found Toy Story Land to be underwhelming. Of course, all the Disney details were there. I especially liked the effect of the 'grass' being so tall. But it really did seem like a tacked on land with not so much thought put into it. The rides were very close together and all had much the same theming. And I thought there was too much emphasis on photo opportunities.

We weren't that keen on any of the rides there. We thought RC Racer would probably make us sick, and Slinky Dog was more of a kiddie looking ride. We wouldn't have minded doing the Toy Soldier Drop if it was a walk-on, but we weren't willing to wait half an hour for it.

We got a pizza cone from the food cart and ate that while we considered our next move. I wasn't a big fan - it was all sauce and cheese!

We decided to wander over to Tomorrowland, as that was the only part of the park we hadn't been to yet.

Along the way I took some photos of the Jungle Cruise (at the fire and water part).

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And the bridge to Tarzan's Treehouse rafts and Festival of the Lion King (which was down for maintenance while we were there).

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We found a cute little waterfall grotto at the back of Adventureland.

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We went through the back way to Main Street, by the side of the castle.

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Then made our way to Space Mountain. Which only had a 10 minute wait!

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After Space Mountain I suggested Buzz Lightyear, but DH wanted something a little more sedate. So then I suggested the Golden Mickeys. So we went through the back way to Fantasyland, but unfortunately there was a couple of hours until the next show.

Still, we hadn't been to that side of Fantasyland yet, so I took it all in as we walked through and took some photos around Fantasia Gardens.

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We headed back to Adventureland to try out the Riverview Cafe for lunch. I had a stir fried beef thing with noodles and DH had the Fijian fried rice. Neither of us were that impressed to be honest, but I think we were both just hanging out for some western style food by then.

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DH was getting bored by that stage and wanted to do something else, but I wanted to stay for the parade. So we thought we'd split up again. And since DH was going back to the hotel, I thought I'd do some shopping so he could take it back with him :-)

In the confectionery store.

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And a very cool model house, complete with Disney touches in every room.

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DH pointed out this silhouette of Mickey in the Emporium.

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I sent DH off with the goodies, and went to find a good spot for the parade.

zanzibar138
04-13-2012, 10:47 PM
When we were in Anaheim, there were no full parades on at either park (only the little Pixar pop-up parades), so I was pretty excited about seeing the parade, and wanted to get a good spot. However, by the time I had sent DH off with the shopping and started wondering where a good spot would be, there wasn't much left to choose from.

I was thinking it would be cool to get pictures of the parade with the castle in the background, so thought I'd check out the view from upstairs at the Main Street station.

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Yep, good enough for me :-) I stood a bit to the side as there was a big gazebo right in the middle which I was trying to avoid having in all my photos. I was still early enough that I could choose where I wanted to stand (there was still 10 minutes until the start time).

Because of my viewing location, my photos are a little mixed up, as I took some when I could see them coming along Main Street, and then some more when the floats were directly in front of me. So for the purpose of simplicity, I'll just upload them here by float. I'm also very disappointed that I've lost all my extra photos from the parade, as I only uploaded a small portion to facebook.

Dumbo led the parade up Main Street.

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Dumbo was followed by Mickey and the gang on this floating ship. The parade stopped for the interactive parts when Mickey was directly in front of the castle, then again when he reached the end of Main Street.

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Mickey was followed by Winnie the Pooh and Co in a 'heffalumps and woozles' themed balloon. The second float had 'bees' on bungee cords, and 'tiggers' bouncing on pogo stick things.

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I didn't see the princess float coming because it was shorter than the others. But I managed to snap a few pics as they came in front of me in this beautiful swan boat.

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Then it was a jungle themed float. It had characters from both The Lion King and The Jungle Book on it.

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Then there was a fairies float. It was just a little one with Tinker Bell in it, and I'm not that into fairies so I didn't get many pics.

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After that was Lilo and Stitch. This float was pretty cool. The big wave was decorated with heaps of flowers, with the big swing under it.

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And the parade finished off with (of course) a Toy Story float. I've lost most of my pictures of this one unfortunately. I've only got this one left of the green army men doing a bit of a choreographed routine.

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I LOVED the parade :cloud9: So glad I stayed for it, and I was a little disappointed I didn't get to see it again.

PrincessInOz
04-13-2012, 11:08 PM
:wave:
Congratulations Mr and Mrs. Sounds like you had a brilliant honeymoon.

It's lovely to see your photos and read your perspective on disney so far. Mine will take a little bit longer to get up to your stage. I laughed when I read your experience with the bus. We caught the taxi instead.

There were at least 4 other groups of travellers on our flight heading to DLR. Despite being the last ones out of the airport, we beat them all to the resort by a country mile.

Don't know how the train would work out; but it would definitely be better than the bus. I found the MTR so efficient and convenient.

Looking forward to reading more of your trip!

zanzibar138
04-13-2012, 11:08 PM
After the parade I started wandering towards the Golden Mickeys, as I knew there was a show coming up. I walked straight down Main Street and through the castle, as I wanted to get some more photos of that side of the park.

I wandered through Fantasia Gardens. Unfortunately I didn't really have time to hang around for character meetings (they'd just gone for a break), but I got some photos of the topiaries and it was a nice place to wander.

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I walked past the tea cups.

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And thought I'd check out IASW. I didn't have a ride, just wanted to see how it compared to its Anaheim counterpart. The facade was very similar, but the landscaping was definitely lacking.

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Then it was time to line up for the Golden Mickeys. I had about 20 minutes before the next show, and the line wasn't too long. It was definitely a lllloooonnnngggg wait on my own! But definitely worth it - the show was awesome! The speaking part was all in Cantonese with English subtitles on a TV screen next to the stage. But the most entertaining part was the singing and dancing numbers, which were all Disney songs that we all know and love anyway (in English). Besides which, it was somewhat amusing hearing the fab 5 speak Cantonese lol! There was no photography allowed in the theatre, so I just got this one photo of the entry.

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After that I'd kind of had enough of being on my own, and thought I'd try to catch DH for dinner.

I saw this familiar face on the way out.

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I rushed a bit on the way back to the hotel because I didn't know what time DH might have dinner and didn't want to miss him. I needn't have worried. I walked into the lobby and there he was reading a book. Turns out that's where he'd been the whole afternoon, watching the greetings with the princesses, listening to the pianist, and reading his book. He'd really enjoyed just sitting there relaxing in such a nice atmosphere.

The pianist was just finishing off when I arrived, and DH wanted to wait for him to come back, so we ordered some drinks and sat there people watching for a while. The princesses had retired to their castles for the night, but it was fun anyway.

My drink was a fruit punch - it was really yummy and it was a mocktail, so kid friendly too!

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Once the pianist came back, we listened to a couple of songs, then headed to Walt's for dinner. I forget what DH had, but I had the butter chicken which was the best meal I'd had for a long time. DH did have a really good cocktail though - I think it was called California Dreaming or something.

After dinner we went back to our room, and watched the fireworks from the balcony again before heading to bed.

zanzibar138
04-13-2012, 11:16 PM
:wave:
Congratulations Mr and Mrs. Sounds like you had a brilliant honeymoon.

It's lovely to see your photos and read your perspective on disney so far. Mine will take a little bit longer to get up to your stage. I laughed when I read your experience with the bus. We caught the taxi instead.

There were at least 4 other groups of travellers on our flight heading to DLR. Despite being the last ones out of the airport, we beat them all to the resort by a country mile.

Don't know how the train would work out; but it would definitely be better than the bus. I found the MTR so efficient and convenient.

Looking forward to reading more of your trip!

Yep, it was awesome!

I'm pretty keen on taking my mum back for a visit, and will definitely be suggesting we take the train.

I'm enjoying reading yours so far. It's nice to see things from a different perspective, and I'm looking forward to reading about HK itself, as we didn't really get there in the end.

I thought I'd start with Disney, but I will be adding a bit about Vietnam and Africa later if you're interested in those too (probably not in as much detail though lol!).

PrincessInOz
04-13-2012, 11:33 PM
Yep, it was awesome!

I'm pretty keen on taking my mum back for a visit, and will definitely be suggesting we take the train.

I'm enjoying reading yours so far. It's nice to see things from a different perspective, and I'm looking forward to reading about HK itself, as we didn't really get there in the end.

I thought I'd start with Disney, but I will be adding a bit about Vietnam and Africa later if you're interested in those too (probably not in as much detail though lol!).

I'll have lots of details. :laughing:

I was surprised about your comment about the Golden Mickeys. I certainly took lots of pictures in there....no one said anything about no photography to my knowledge....just no flash photography.

zanzibar138
04-13-2012, 11:35 PM
DH had booked a character brekky for us on the Thursday morning at the Enchanted Garden. We had the first session which from memory started at 7:30am or something. The second one started at 9:30am.

The restaurant is on the floor below the lobby. You can either take the regular lift, the fancy birdcage lift, or the stairs.

Here's the entrance to the restaurant.

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The restaurant was HUGE! There was seating inside and out, and it ended up being full.

The brekky was good. As we were accustomed to by this point, there was both Asian and Western offerings. By this time the novelty of having noodles and prawn dumplings for breakfast had worn off and I was pretty keen to get back to toast and cereal lol! I did enjoy the Mickey pancakes though.

We were pretty much finished our brekky by the time we met our first character.

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A lot of people didn't quite seem to grasp the concept of the character breakfast, and kept getting up and trying to interrupt the characters at other tables. The character carers sure had their hands full!

It was quite a long wait between characters, as there only ended up being four, and there were a LOT of people to get through.

Next up was Daisy, which I was a bit excited about as I haven't met her before!

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Then Goofy came along in all his chefy finest.

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And Mickey of course!

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Overall we were a bit disappointed, but I think it was because we got spoilt with our first ever character brekky in Anaheim, where we barely had time to talk between characters and got to meet about a dozen of them! For over $30 AUD, we were expecting a bit more.

Since it was still early after brekky, we decided to wander around the hotel a bit before heading to the park.

We thought since we were on the ground level we'd check out the indoor pool. Most of the time we were there it was too cold for swimming, so we never bothered to use it. It looked nice though.

The outdoor pool was closed for maintenance (as was the one at the Hollywood Hotel, meaning that any guests from either hotel who wanted to swim had to use our small indoor pool), but we were able to walk around it and have a look. We thought it was in a bit of a weird spot, kind of tucked in a corner out of the way.

We made our way around to the back of the hotel and found the Mickey maze.

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There's a nice view from out there too which we checked out for a while. Over the other side of the hotel there was a huge lawn area that would be great for letting the kids use up a bit of energy.

We came out in what seemed to be a service entrance, and I kept telling DH I didn't think we were supposed to be there, but there were no signs and no one told us otherwise. We walked down the driveway and came out at the other side of the front of the hotel, where there was a big sign saying 'Staff only beyong this point' lol!

Where we came out was the conference centre and attached lawn area. Then we passed the shuttle bus stop on the way back to the lobby.

By that time it was nearly park opening time anyway, so we decided to just walk straight past and make our way to the park.

zanzibar138
04-13-2012, 11:40 PM
I'll have lots of details. :laughing:

I was surprised about your comment about the Golden Mickeys. I certainly took lots of pictures in there....no one said anything about no photography to my knowledge....just no flash photography.

Oh maybe I got confused then. It does tend to happen from time to time :rotfl: I think I would have struggled to get any good shots anyway without a flash with my camera.

I was extra careful too coz I saw someone get in trouble for taking video.

I'll look forward to seeing your photos anyway :-)

PrincessInOz
04-13-2012, 11:44 PM
Oh maybe I got confused then. It does tend to happen from time to time :rotfl: I think I would have struggled to get any good shots anyway without a flash with my camera.

I was extra careful too coz I saw someone get in trouble for taking video.

I'll look forward to seeing your photos anyway :-)

Oooh! They must have been more relaxed in April. There were heaps of people taking pictures and some of them were videoing as well. Both at the Golden Mickeys and also at FoTLK.

zanzibar138
04-21-2012, 07:56 PM
By the time we made our way to the park it was about 9:45am, and the park was due to open at 10am. There were already lines at each gate, but we weren't too far back.

The park opened without much ado - people just kinda started going through the turnstiles. We soon realised we had (once again) chosen the wrong line! Ours was ridiculously slow!

Once we were in the park, and over our disappointment at having lost our advantage, we headed straight for Autopia (DH's suggestion). However, when we got to the hub it was still roped off. We asked the CM and he told us the rope would drop at 10:30am! So, be warned, it is opposite to Anaheim, where the advertised park opening time means rope drop, but they open the gates 1/2 hour early. In HK apparently the advertised opening time is when the gates open, but then you have to wait another 1/2 hour for rope drop.

Anyway, even though we were one of the first at the rope, we decided we were not that anxious to be first in line for Autopia that we were going to hang around there for 1/2 hour. We walked back up Main Street to see what we could do to fill in the time.

We decided to check out the Art of Animation/temporary magic access pass centre. We soon realised that we'd started going around the wrong way, when we started off with the latest Pixar movies, then saw Aladdin/The Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast, then the Jungle Book, Cinderella, and ended up at Snow White. Still, I always love seeing the artwork behind the movies!

We noticed some people were lining up and getting free stuff, so we thought we'd check that out - I'm not one to ever turn back any free Disney stuff! Turns out if you had a magic access pass (which we did), you got a little pack of Disney trading cards. When I opened them later I found out that we got EXACTLY the same ones, so felt a little ripped off!

After that it was nearly 10:30am, so we thought we'd make our way back to the hub for the actual rope drop. When we exited the building we saw some of the cast members doing some welcome street art.

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The stuff they were using to 'paint' with looked like molasses. And then the welcome sign was little pebbles all lined up to make letters. We stood watching for a couple of minutes as it was pretty cool to see.

We had of course lost our good spots when we arrived back at the rope, so I couldn't really see what the opening ceremony was like, but it didn't seem to be that exciting. And then we were FINALLY walking, not running (lol!) to Autopia.

zanzibar138
04-21-2012, 08:35 PM
By the time we got to Autopia there was about a 10 minute line. But they only had one track operating at that stage. We waited patiently for our car, and hopped in.

DH didn't realise you were supposed to steer, and thought all the bumping around was part of the ride :lmao: I soon informed him that he was mistaken, and we were really on our way.

I haven't been on Autopia in Anaheim, so I don't really have much to compare it to, but it was a nice ride, and the scenery was cool and 'spacey'. But then I've always been a big fan of topiaries. I believe DH was underwhelmed, but I'm not sure what he was expecting. I realised that in HK it's probably even a novelty for a lot of adults to be driving cars...

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When we exited the ride we noticed that they had opened up another track, so there was actually less of a line than when we were lining up...

While we were in Tomorrowland, we thought we'd take a spin on the Astro Blasters. It was a walk on. It really was much the same as its Anaheim cousin, except that it didn't take your photo. I liked that bit in Anaheim where you could then email your photo.

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The ride actually stopped twice while we were on it, which was actually quite good for our scores lol! I didn't realise at first, but while it's stopped you can still keep shooting.

After that we'd pretty much done all the rides and shows that we wanted and were able to, so I suggested we re-visit the Jungle Cruise and Tarzan's Treehouse so I could get some better photos.

On the way through we stopped for a snack. I ended up with a Minnie ice-cream bar which was mango and strawberry flavoured. DH got a jelly bar which was a bit strange, but apparently tasted ok.

The Jungle Cruise was pretty much a walk-on. Here's DH in the line.

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It was actually amazing how many people were in the line for the English version, who clearly didn't speak English as a first language. I guess anyone who doesn't speak Chinese has to do that one...

Our boat was the Zambezi something (I did have a photo with the proper name and everything, but I hadn't uploaded it to facebook so lost it... :furious:), which was ironic as after visiting Hong Kong our next destination was the Zambezi River :rotfl:

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In another ironic twist, we would also later on see a REAL hippo doing this on the Zambezi River!

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We then made our way to the raft to Tarzan's Treehouse. DH offered to take my photo on the way through.

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After getting off the raft at Tarzan's Island, you walk through a little waterfall grotto to get to the treehouse.

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Other than being on an island, the actual treehouse is much the same as the one in Anaheim.

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But the view is kinda different. Here's the view towards Fantasyland, looking over the Jungle Cruise queue area.

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This is the view looking back towards the hotel, and over a yet-to-be-opened land, which looks suspiciously like it could be Grizzly Gulch (that mountain looks very 'mine train ride' to me!).

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And here's a Jungle Cruise boat going past.

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And of course at the bottom there are all sorts of interactive bits and pieces.

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Once we were finished with the treehouse we made our way back to the raft area. A bit of a line formed behind us, then some pirates came and started terrorising people in the line! They tried to board our raft but were told they must also join the line. So with much huffing and puffing they joined the end of the line and boarded properly.

Once we were on the raft, they got one of the young boys there to raise their pirate flag, and we hung around for a while for people to get photos etc. Of course this was all in Chinese lol! At one point one of the pirates turned to us and asked if we had any idea what was going on... we said the raft had clearly been taken over by pirates. He seemed pretty pleased with that.

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Before long we were back on the mainland Adventureland.

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zanzibar138
04-21-2012, 08:36 PM
It was getting towards lunch time then, so we thought we'd go to the Main Street bakery to get some lunch.

Going through the hub, we finally noticed the star guest program stand.

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One of the CMs standing around told us to go and line up, so we did, still not really knowing what we were going to get! We were given a little pack with a gold badge, a couple of tokens to give to cast members, and an activity book. It took us a long time to work out what to do with them due to the language barrier, but eventually we figured out that the point was that CMs were supposed to give whoever was wearing a gold badge special treatment, and when that happened, you gave them one of the tokens. In the end I decided to just put my badge on and see what happened.

While we were hanging around there, we saw the marching band again.

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Once they were finished their set at the hub, they hung around for photos with guests, and even let the guests have photos playing their instruments (only the non-mouth based ones).

We wandered up to the bakery and got some lunch there. We both got what appeared to be something like a hot dog, but the bread seemed to be baked around the sausage. It turned out to have some weird sauce in it too, so I basically just ended up removing all the bread and just eating the sausage... I also got a chocolate mousse, which was very yummy!

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We ate in the little courtyard next to the bakery. There was a food cart that cut the courtyard off from the street, and on the other side there was a merchandise shop. At the back there was a sign for a dentist, and now and then they piped in a conversation of someone at the dentist having a tooth removed.

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After lunch we thought we'd go and check out some of the other sites around the area and come back for the fireworks.

DH snapped this pic as were exiting the park.

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zanzibar138
04-22-2012, 12:26 AM
I wanted to check out the Hollywood Hotel while we were there, so we decided to catch the resort shuttle. The shuttle station was just past the train station, and it was a rather uneventful trip. Given it was in the middle of the day, the shuttle was fairly quiet, but I was still quite surprised by the number of people using it.

This was from the shuttle bus stop at the Hollywood Hotel.

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I didn't really take many pictures of the lobby, probably because it wasn't that impressive. There were check in desks on the left, and a whole heap of chairs on the right for people to sit and wait. It reminded me of an airport, and certainly had none of the opulence of the HK DL Hotel. Still, there were little Disney touches everywhere - it was very Mickey oriented.

We would come back and visit the gift shop later, but I couldn't help getting this pic as we walked past.

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They seemed to be doing a lot of work around the place. It looked like they were doing some painting at the front, and there were lots of blocked off places, including their pool. From the lobby, there were lots of hallways leading to the various restaurants and amenities. We preferred the openness of the HK DL Hotel.

We went outside to check out the landscaping.

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We were able to walk past the pool, but not enter the enclosure. It wasn't really worth taking pictures from that angle. After hearing so much about their pool, I was slightly underwhelmed. It was a novelty being piano shaped, but it didn't look any bigger than the one at the HK DL Hotel.

I did enjoy their retro Hollywood themed landscaping though.

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And the view from the back over the sea. This was similar to the view from the back of the HK DL Hotel too.

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After wandering for a while we went back inside to the gift shop. This is where I ended up doing most of my shopping as they had a sale on! I ended up with a t-shirt and a jacket for me, a t-shirt for Mum and a top for SIL.

This is where I had my first experience with the star guest program (the gold badges). One of the CMs in the shop gave me a couple of stickers. I didn't think much of it at the time, but then I remembered about the tokens and realised I should have given her one. I went back to find her, and she'd actually gone to get me MORE stickers! She'd noticed my Toy Story lanyard (that came with the annual pass) so had gone to find me some Toy Story stickers! I gave her the token and she seemed very pleased. She asked what characters I liked and suggested if I like princesses I should go have a look at the other hotel lol! She also gave us some inside info about the dinner at Chef Mickey's. She said they were piloting some character appearances there and they might send Mickey in that night. After thanking her very much and gathering my many new belongings, we left to go back to our hotel, feeling quite lucky that we'd ventured further afield.

We decided to just walk back to our hotel, which was only a few minutes away. It was just an ordinary path with no Disney theming or music, but nice landscaping around nonetheless.

When we got back we thought we'd just sit in the lobby and enjoy the ambience for a while. We'd no sooner sat down, then we saw Belle and Aurora coming out! I got up straight away and was second in line. Belle asked if I'd like a photo with my prince too, and Aurora asked if we'd met once upon a dream ;)

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We sat back down and watched the princesses for a while. They eventually disappeared, and then Cinderella came out!

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I was pretty thrilled as when we went to Anaheim I didn't really get to meet any princesses, and now I'd just met 3 within about half an hour, and with very little wait!

When the princesses left, the band appeared on the little stand upstairs and started playing.

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Eventually we decided to get up and take our stuff to our room, and decide what we were going to do for dinner. On the way we passed the band (the stand was on our floor), and they were really friendly, smiling and waving when they weren't busy playing.

We decided to take the CMs advice and head back to the Hollywood Hotel to check out Chef Mickey's for dinner. I put on my new jacket :-)

When we got there, Goofy was hanging around in the lobby! I was thrilled as all the photos DH had got of me and Goofy at the character brekky were blurry. Again, I was second in line.

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Unfortunately I have lost all the photos I took at Chef Mickey's. The ceiling was very cool. There was a great variety of food available for main and dessert, and we both left feeling quite full. Having said that, when we saw the price we kinda wished we'd eaten more lol! We both enjoyed it anyway, despite not being lucky enough to see Mickey.

After dinner it was time to head back to the park for the fireworks. I figured we'd aim for Main Street Station again as that had been a great spot for parade viewing. We took the shuttle bus back to the park, which was pretty full.

We got to Main Street station about half an hour before the fireworks were due to start, so I still had a pretty good choice of spots to set up. I ended up in a very similar spot to where I viewed the parade.

And without further ado... here are my fireworks photos!

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The main difference I found between these fireworks and the ones in Anaheim was that there were far fewer of the traditional high circular fireworks. There were a lot more effects involving the castle, so it was worthwhile viewing from directly in front. I really enjoyed them though, especially the Mulan section, and told DH that we would have to come back so I could view them properly without taking photos.

And with that, we headed back to our hotel, to ready ourselves for what would turn out to be an eventful next day.

zanzibar138
04-22-2012, 01:32 AM
So our plan had been to go into the city today and then come back in time for DH to see the last show of the Golden Mickeys, and since it was a Friday (and our annual passes weren't valid on weekends) it was his last chance.

That all changed when I went into the hallway to check my emails (which by the way is what you have to do - there is no wifi in the rooms) and found an email from smart traveller issuing a travel warning for Zimbabwe, which was our next destination.

We spent the morning, and early afternoon, with DH on the phone to our travel insurance company, finding out if they would cover us if we cut our trip short. They were unwilling to help, and after having to send them copies of everything, said that they would get back to us within 10 working days with the outcome. Really useful considering that our flight to Africa left the following day, and in 10 days we would actually be back at home :rolleyes2

I did a lot of people watching while DH was busily organising things.

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Finally we were able to leave for our 'day' out. It was well past lunchtime, but we didn't want to waste any more time and figured we could get some lunch in the city.

We walked to the train station and bought tickets to Kowloon (not sure why DH wanted Kowloon instead of Hong Kong...). The ticket machines were really easy to use, and even I didn't have any trouble working it out! I had been unsure of catching the train at first as I thought we would get lost when we had to change trains etc. Turns out that was really easy too. All of the signs were in English as well as Chinese.

The Disney train was very cute, with Mickey shaped windows and little display cases with Disney characters in them. We changed trains at Sunny Bay. The regular trains were good too. There was a light that indicated the next station, and some of them even had a light indicating which side of the train you would be exiting from. It didn't take long to get to Kowloon.

By the time we got to Kowloon we were both pretty keen to find something to eat. The train station was part of a large shopping complex (high end), and after much wandering (and wondering how on earth you were supposed to get out of the complex) we came across a cafe, overlooking an ice-skating rink. Yep, in the shopping complex... Unfortunately I forget the name of the cafe now.

We had a nice 'lunch', and DH got a coffee cocktail which was so strong he couldn't finish it! It was a pretty high end sort of place, and it still about half what we were paying at Disneyland.

When we finished our lunch we somehow found our way out of the complex, and kind of wandered aimlessly around just taking it all in. After about 10 minutes we ended up at another train station just over the road - Austin station. Annoyingly enough, it was about time to go if we wanted to be back in time for the final Golden Mickeys show, so we decided to just get on that train. That station was a little more difficult to find our way around, and it also meant we had to change trains a couple of stations down. We managed though and soon we were back at Sunny Bay.

I took a couple of photos as the Disney train was pulling in.

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We got into DL with about half an hour until the last Golden Mickeys show, so pretty much went straight there. Maybe it was because it was the last show of the day, or maybe because it was a Friday night, the line was a LOT longer than it had been when I had previously seen the show, and we ended up with seats right at the back. TBH though, once the show started, I didn't even notice we were at the back.

After the show while we were waiting for the fireworks I wandered around and took a few night time shots of the park.

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I picked up the last minute shopping I needed to get - souvenirs for people back home mainly, and then I made my way to the station again for the fireworks viewing, and DH picked up some desserts from the bakery on the way.

With only about 15 minutes to go until the fireworks, it was fairly crowded up there, but it didn't matter so much when I knew I wasn't taking photos. I enjoyed the show and was really glad I'd gotten to see it again.

Then we went back to the hotel for our last full night.

zanzibar138
04-22-2012, 02:13 AM
Our last day started with another breakfast at Walt's.

Then we went back up to our room to finish packing and investigate sending a parcel back home (as we didn't fancy lugging ALL that stuff with us to Africa).

I'd noticed something in the hotel information file about them being able to send parcels for you, so I called for some information and they said to go down to Bell Services. So I gathered all our stuff to send and went down to sort it out while DH finished packing.

The guy at Bell services (Jason, but that doesn't mean much as there were two other Jasons both working in Bell services) was very helpful, and I ended up giving him my other token from the star guest program. He found a box for me and put it together, then helped me pack it, and found some bubblewrap to protect a wooden ship we'd bought in Vietnam. I was very pleased!

DH turned up soon after, having already checked out, and organised for our bags to be stowed while we went off exploring. Then we were off for a day in the city!

We had decided after finding Austin station, that we would go directly there next time, as it seemed to be close to some parks and things that we thought might be worth exploring, then I thought we could catch the ferry across to Hong Kong and spend some time there too.

We got off at Austin station and had a bit of a wander. We found one of the parks, which was underwhelming to say the least. We were getting a bit hungry, but wandering around the back streets of Kowloon we weren't game to try anything. We realised we had seen signs to the ferry from Austin station, so we thought we'd go back there and see where that took us. Then we realised we were close to Kowloon station where we found that nice cafe, so we went back there.

These pictures are from our wanderings.

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The construction work is for a new station they are building (between the two existing ones... go figure...) for a future train line from China.

We had a nice lunch at a different cafe (more of a restaurant/bar than a cafe actually), just down a bit from the one we were at yesterday. After lunch DH suggested we check out the ice-skating rink. It wasn't too badly priced - you paid in 1/2 hour blocks. But the catch was, you needed an Octopus card. We decided it was a bit too hard and that if we really wanted to we could go ice-skating back home, so continued our search for the ferry.

We made our way back to Austin station and followed the signs from there, but they just kind of faded out after a while. We kept going in the same direction and eventually came across a ferry terminal. We checked it out, but it looked more like an airport and we discovered that it was for ferries to Macau.

We kept walking again, and I decided that if we could get to the waterfront we might have more luck. We went through an outlet shopping centre which didn't end up going through to the waterfront, and walked along there for a while.

The next thing we came across was a big cruise ship terminal. Nope, not much help. Kept walking.

And just after the cruise ships, there it was, a little ferry terminal to get to Hong Kong :cool1: We bought a ticket for about 20 cents lol! There was a ferry already there so we boarded straight away and soon after we were off to Hong Kong.

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This is where we came from.

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And the ferry terminal on the other side.

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The whole time we were at DL, we had wondered about the dock they have there. We went down to have a look once and it looked like it had been deserted. There were no signs or timetables or anything, and there were a few people around fishing. So we wondered if we could find anything out from the HK end.

We found a ferry that went to Lantau Island, but it went to Mui Wo, which we'd never heard of and had no idea where it was in relation to DL. Still, we figured there must be some way to get back from there and decided we would give it a go. It took an hour on the slow ferry or half an hour on the fast ferry.

In the meantime we thought we'd see if we could get to Victoria Peak. We lined up for a bus and after a few minutes realised we would run out of both time and money if we went... So we went back to the ferry terminal and got on a slow ferry. DH forked out the extra for a first class ticket, which meant we got comfier seats at the front of the top deck.

Unfortunately, I have lost most of the pics from this journey, and only have this one left.

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We were surprised with how open the sea got, and the little scattered islands everywhere. We were passed by a massive container ship, and saw several others in the area.

When the ferry docked at the other end we found ourselves in a little touristy kind of village. There were pushbikes EVERYWHERE. There were thousands of them lined up in a bike parking area, and more throughout the town. We managed to find a bus to Tung Chung, where we knew we could catch the train and eventually get to Disneyland.

The bus took us on a little tour of the town first, going to the library and other town amenities before heading back to the ferry terminal and branching off to go up the VERY STEEP hill! The scenery on that bus ride was absolutely breathtaking. There were gorgeous views both inland and out to sea, and in between was beautiful hilly forest with walking tracks and camping spots. I'd actually like to spend more time in this area next time I go to HK.

Eventually we were coming into Tung Chung, and we realised we had no idea where to get off the bus lol! We were looking out for signs that looked like trains, then realised we were getting confused with signs for the cable car. Luckily there was a westerner in front of us who obviously knew the area and realised that we were a bit lost. He told us not to worry, that the bus terminated at the train station, so we wouldn't be able to miss it.

Right he was! We got off the bus and into the train station. I wouldn't have minded checking out the outlet shops (or getting something to eat) but not knowing how long it would take us to get back, we didn't want to waste any time.

Turns out it didn't take us long at all. Soon enough we were back on the Disney train, then walking the path back to the hotel for the last time.

We got back with about half an hour to spare, so waited in the lobby, enjoying our last moments in the hotel until someone came to tell us our bus was there.

As we pulled out of the hotel, CMs waved us off like we had been visiting family. It was so nice, and I really was quite sad to leave.

We found the airport quite difficult to navigate when checking in, but luckily were there HOURS before we needed to be. Even when we found the check-in desk they weren't ready for us yet. And, even being one of the first to check in, we still ended up with lousy seats down the back of the plane.

We were VERY disappointed to see all the shops closing up, including eateries, and had to go through customs and security before we could find anywhere to get some dinner. Even then our choice was very limited. We finally found somewhere to have some drinks while we waited for our boarding time, then we were off to Africa!

PrincessInOz
04-22-2012, 02:21 AM
I'm really enjoying your take on HKDL and HK. Your fireworks shots are making me kick myself. I wish I'd stuck with my first instincts on Day 2 now. Oh well....c'est la vie.

Did you end up at the iSquare Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui?

zanzibar138
04-22-2012, 02:39 AM
Oh, what happened on day 2? Guess I'll find out soon enough... I don't think you need to worry though - your fireworks shots are awesome!

And I have no idea if that's where we ended up lol!

PrincessInOz
04-22-2012, 02:46 AM
Oh, what happened on day 2? Guess I'll find out soon enough... I don't think you need to worry though - your fireworks shots are awesome!

And I have no idea if that's where we ended up lol!

:lmao:

And yes....you'll find out about Day 2.

zanzibar138
04-25-2012, 02:41 AM
While I was on a roll, I figured I may as well put up the other parts of my TR.

Our trip began in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). We flew the 8 hours from Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City with Vietnam Airlines. It was comfortable enough, but I didn't think their entertainment system was quite up to par. Eg they had no Disney movies in their selection :sad2:

Upon our arrival we made a fairly quick exit through passport control and customs, and found a girl holding a little sign with our name on it. She led us outside and before we knew it there was a guy there instead who ushered us onto a minivan. The heat and humidity hit us as soon as we left the air-conned building - it was above 35 degrees while we were there.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel, which seemed to be in quite a good location near some touristy looking areas. I was well over half an hour's drive, even though distance wise it wasn't that far. It was all the traffic and motorbikes we had to dodge on the way through.

When we arrived at the hotel, we were swooped upon by half a dozen staff members taking our bags and showing us to the check-in desk. Check-in was nice and easy, and we were shown to our room. When we got there we were given a small tour and left to settle in.

The room was very nice, and had a big window, which I hear is a rarity in the city. We were in the new wing and my memory fails me but I think it was about the ninth floor.

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After settling in we thought we'd take a walk. First we went to our travel company (through Flight Centre) to try and sort out the mix-up with our train and flights later in the trip. Without much luck. We got them just to cancel it all and thought we would organise it ourselves as we went. After that we thought we'd check out the river. It looked pretty interesting, but it was on the other side of a busy road and we didn't really want to die that early in the trip. So we just did a blocky and made our way back to the hotel.

When we got back to the hotel the power was out :scared1: The hotel staff were being pretty good about looking after the guests, but there wasn't really a lot they could do. We weren't able to use the lift to get back to our room, and didn't fancy climbing 9 flights of stairs. We then realised our door had an electronic lock so we probably wouldn't be able to get in anyway! So we decided to take another walk and go the other way.

We passed this building on our way around, which was a flash hotel with a casino.

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I only had my little camera (had left the big one in our room), so I wasn't able to get many photos since it was dark.

When we got back to the hotel they looked like they were having a bit more success with the power. It was on when we got back, but it went out again soon after. Then kept going on and off for a while. We decided it would be a good time to get our welcome drinks and just sit in the lobby.

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The power came back on after a while and they started checking people in and ushering them to their rooms. We managed to squeeze into a lift (I have to admit I was more than a little concerned about the power going out again while we were in there) and get to our room. We gathered some more belongings and made our way to the rooftop bar, where we thought we'd have some pre-dinner drinks.

The rooftop bar was on the 20th floor, and offered amazing views of the city and the river. The staff there were amazing and really looked after us, and we ended up staying for dinner. We just ordered a couple of plates of snacks like spring rolls etc and shared.

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We had a relatively early morning the next day with a morning tour, so after eating, we just headed back to our room.

In an interesting side story... DH set the alarm for 6am in the morning to allow us enough time to pack, have brekky and check out before we went on our tour. Unfortunately he forgot to check that his phone had changed time zones, and got up to have a shower when the alarm went off at 3am :rotfl: I wondered why I was finding it soooooooooo difficult to get up!

PrincessInOz
04-25-2012, 06:27 AM
Love your latest posts. Happily sitting here waiting for the next installment.

What a pity about the electricity. I would have been the same in the elevator.

zanzibar138
04-26-2012, 05:28 AM
After our early morning breakfast (which was I think the best we had on our trip BTW), we were met by our tour guide for the morning (which would turn into the day, but more about that later...). In Vietnam when you go on a tour you have both a driver and a tour guide, as most drivers can't speak English. Even the guides were a bit difficult to understand.

Our destination was the Cu Chi Tunnels, which was about an hour and a half out of the city. Most of the drive was along the main road, but the last bit was on skinny dirt back roads.

We arrived and our guide organised our entrance tickets and led us to a group of open pavilion type things where the introduction movie was playing in a continuous loop. The movie has obviously not been updated for many years, like as in before the war actually ended. It is VERY one-sided and anti-American, and there is a lot of talk about how many Americans people killed. Our guide said he does warn any American tourists he takes in and offers the option of skipping the movie.

After the movie we made our way in. First of all, let me say that all the tunnels have been made bigger to accommodate western tourists, and it actually wasn't scary at all. We got the obligatory photos of us coming out of the ground. We were standing on solid ground in these shots.

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And were shown a little hidey hole.

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Along the way there were displays of some of the traps they used, and 'rooms' in the tunnels, which had been excavated and covered with little thatched roofs. There was a kitchen, medical room, workshop etc. And between each 'room' was a tunnel.

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The only time I was concerned was in the tunnel where a light seemed to have gone out and became VERY dark for a few metres.

There was an opportunity to do some shooting at the rifle range, which we passed on. It was extremely loud and we just wanted to get out of there!

Towards the end we got to taste the tapioca and tea which the people who lived in the tunnels used to live on. The tapioca was kind of like a potato, and was served with a mixture of crushed peanuts and sugar, which was kind of like a dip. It was quite good!

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The entire morning was hot and humid, and we were pretty happy to get back in the air-conditioned car and be given bottles of cold water.

Our guide convinced us that we would have time to do an afternoon tour before we needed to get to the airport, so we went to check out the Mekong Delta.

zanzibar138
04-26-2012, 05:26 PM
It was a long drive to the Mekong Delta - about 2 hours - but we were able to bypass the city so the traffic wasn't too bad.

We stopped at a place just outside Mekong and our guide ordered our lunch for us. I don't think the waitresses there spoke a word of English... The lunch was little servings of about 5 different courses (as would be the norm in Vietnam).

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We got to the river and waited while our guide found our boat. Then we were off down the river.

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We pulled into a canal.

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And got off for a tour of one of the islands formed by the delta. We came across this guy walking through a farm type thing to get to the main road.

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Then we got into our horse cart for a ride down the street. I had to feel a bit sorry for the little pony as it was stinking hot! He looked in good condition though.

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After our horse cart ride we made our way back to the canal. On the way we stopped to see some more wildlife...

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Then we got to taste some tropical fruit. Most of it I'd had before, and most of the stuff I hadn't had before I wasn't a fan of, but I did enjoy the dragonfruit (which I don't think I ever got a photo of). We had some tea as well, with local honey and the juice of a tiny fruit which I forget the name of. Our guide put some more in mine as I'd been coughing a bit.

After that we walked back to the river and got in a canoe. It was a lovely peaceful way of meandering down the canal, although I couldn't help feeling sorry for the lady paddling. Our guide helped as well though.

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We met back up with our boat and made our way back up to the river to the dock. On the way our guide cracked open a couple of coconuts.

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We passed these dredging boats all the time. They pull the soil up from the bottom of the river, dry it out and sell it to builders.

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Once we were back on land, we made our way back into the city to collect our bags from the hotel and continue on to the airport for our flight to Nha Trang. Here is a little sample of the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City.

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PrincessInOz
04-27-2012, 05:52 AM
Fabulous. Love the snake pictures and the Mekong River.

zanzibar138
04-27-2012, 09:24 PM
We arrived at Nha Trang airport late in the evening, and got a taxi to the Mia Resort. It was about halfway between the airport and the city of Nha Trang, tucked into a cliff off the main road. It was only a 15-20 minute trip, and not much traffic. It was then that I realised how they drive... they get to the inside lane, and when they're coming up to another car they toot and flash their lights. Then it's up to the car in front to get out of the way!

Upon arrival we were again swooped upon by numerous staff. Someone took our bags, and someone got our documents needed for check in and then sat us down in some nice comfy chairs overlooking the ocean, and someone else brought us our welcome drinks and a yummy piece of cake.

After check in we got into a golf buggy with our bags and were driven down to our ocean front room with private pool :thumbsup2 As the resort is kind of on a cliff, and it's a fair hike back up to reception, they offer the golf buggy as a way to get around. Any time you want one you just call reception and they send one down.

Again, we were given a little tour of the room before being left to settle in for the night.

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By then it was fairly late so we went to bed, and slept like logs lol!

Breakfast was included in our room rate, so we made sure we were up in time to go to the restaurant. At breakfast the customer service manager for the resort came to introduce herself to us. We saw her often during our stay, just checking in with how we were going, and making sure we were being looked after.

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Our first day we just hung around the resort, admired our room, took advantage of our private pool, had some massages, and booked the next day's activities.

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We went back to the restaurant for dinner where we had another several course Vietnamese meal and rice wine tasting.

zanzibar138
04-27-2012, 09:48 PM
The previous day we had booked a tour of the islands in the bay. So we were up relatively early to be whisked off for that.

Our driver and guide showed up and we made our way into the city of Nha Trang. There was a massive port, but it was definitely quieter than Ho Chi Minh City, and before we knew it we were at the dock for our boat.

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Our first stop was an aquarium. The aquarium itself was built to look like an old pirate ship. It wasn't like the aquariums over here though where they try to make the habitat as realistic as possible for the animals - they were mainly just in basic tanks.

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There was an outside section where you could feed some fish. There were turtles in there too.

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Then it was back to the boat for our next destination.

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Our next stop was snorkelling off one of the further out islands. We past lots of slow, crowded big boats on our way there, and I have to say I felt a bit like royalty in our little private speedboat.

I've never snorkelled before, and I'm not a big fan of swimming in general, so I wasn't sure how I'd go. Turns out I was fine with the snorkel, but not so good with the flippers. Once I'd taken the flippers off I was good to go and we spent a fair while there.

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Continued in next post...

zanzibar138
04-27-2012, 09:50 PM
Next we visited one of the many floating fishing villages that are dotted around Vietnamese waterways.

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Our final stop was lunch on VinPearl Island. There's a massive resort and amusement park on this island, but we went around to the other side facing Nha Trang where there was just a basic restaurant. And had another several course meal...

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After lunch we had some leisure time for swimming, wandering, or just relaxing in the many sun lounges that were around.

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After a while it was time to get back in the speedboat for the last time, speed past a couple of cruise ships back to the dock, and drive back to the resort.

PrincessInOz
04-27-2012, 10:16 PM
I remember you talking abou the Nha Trang resort in your PTR.

It looks as lovely as you described it. I think I could have stayed there and not gone anywhere else.


Next we visited one of the many floating fishing villages that are dotted around Vietnamese waterways.


Our final stop was lunch on VinPearl Island. There's a massive resort and amusement park on this island, but we went around to the other side facing Nha Trang where there was just a basic restaurant. And had another several course meal...

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That's an ap-per-ti-zing looking meal.....but I have to ask......You're NOT suggesting that you were served cat and dog, are you????? :scared1:





:rotfl2:

zanzibar138
04-28-2012, 04:17 AM
That's an ap-per-ti-zing looking meal.....but I have to ask......You're NOT suggesting that you were served cat and dog, are you????? :scared1:


OMG I didn't think through the order of those photos very well did I :lmao:

I'm happy to say that most of the meal was seafood, so I'm pretty sure we were safe ;)

zanzibar138
04-28-2012, 04:27 AM
I took a few photos of the lobby when we got back to the hotel.

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Then we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in our pool.

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zanzibar138
04-28-2012, 04:49 AM
Yep, that's right. We had signed up for a cooking class at the resort.

We made our way to the restaurant late morning.

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And noticed someone on our roof watering the lawn (yes, the villas all had 'green' roofs).

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They were all set up for our lesson.

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I have to say I don't mind cooking nearly so much when everything is already prepared for you, and no dishes either :thumbsup2 After we cooked the main part, our instructor took it off into the kitchen and presented it for us to eat. We ate as we went, and we by the time we finished the last course, it was about 3pm!

First course was fresh spring rolls. These ones we made with pork and prawns. I was pretty happy with how mine turned out :blush:

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Next course was a beef stirfry type thing. They had brought out little gas burners while we were eating the spring rolls.

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Next was fish with noodles that we also cooked in the frypan.

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Then we made a traditional Vietnamese braised fish with clay pots. It was actually a bit tricky - everything stuck to the clay pot, and they got so hot they were difficult to handle.

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When we got back to our room we noticed we had a visitor in our pool. There was a maintenance person in the vicinity so we called out to get him to rescue our visitor.

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We went up to the restaurant/bar near reception for pre-dinner drinks.

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We were so full after our lunch we didn't really feel like dinner, but we ended up going back down to the ocean front restaurant and shared a pizza (their pizzas were nice and light).

Then went back to our room to pack and be ready to leave the following morning.

In the morning we had booked a last minute massage at the spa, so it was a bit of a rush getting ready to leave, but totally worth it! And before we knew it we were saying goodbye and on our way back to the airport ready for the next part of our trip. And for anyone reading this I'd be happy to recommend the Mia Resort. We had been so well looked after and had such a great time, I actually almost shed a tear when we left!

zanzibar138
04-29-2012, 04:03 AM
Our next destination was Halong Bay. This is the place that really put us out with our itinerary as it was difficult to get to and kind of out of the way for us. But we couldn't go to Vietnam and NOT visit it!

We ended up flying into Hanoi and getting a private transfer out to Halong Bay, which is what we were trying to avoid. It was about 4 hours by road, and the traffic was bad the WHOLE WAY! Once we got off the freeway type thing they've got, we were probably averaging 40kmph most of the way...

We FINALLY got to Halong Bay and checked into our hotel - the Novotel. Even though it was directly across the road from the bay, it was so misty we couldn't see anything. Glad we didn't pay extra for a bay view room. Our room itself was quite nice, and modern, and we still had a little bit of a view (if only we were able to see anything!).

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Although our room was nice, we were both pretty disappointed with the hotel. Where everywhere else we had been almost overwhelmed by the service, there really was no service to speak of at this hotel. We felt very much like just a number.

The restaurant was pretty ordinary. We ordered a Vietnamese tasting platter between us, which we only ate half of. The service in the restaurant was bad too, and we were pretty much just left to fend for ourselves.

We'd been trying to figure out where the place was that we had to go to get on our junk in the morning, and weren't having much luck. None of the hotel staff were able to help us at all (which could have had something to do with the language barrier, but I would have thought they would have HEAPS of people staying there who were going on to a junk).

We still hadn't found anything out by the morning, so we decided to just check out and figure out what to do from there. The breakfast was just as bad as the dinner, and the check out lady was no help to us on the location situation either. We ended up calling the junk company directly and were told that we would be picked up from our hotel at 12pm.

Well, we'd just checked out of the hotel then and it was only 8:30am... In one redeeming act of customer service, the hotel staff let us go back up to our room to wait. DH used that time to try and figure out a better way to get back to Hanoi.

When it was nearly time for our pick up we went back down to the lobby. We waited and waited and waited. Our driver was nearly an hour late, and we were hoping and praying that we had not missed our junk!

We got in the car, left the hotel, drove about 5 seconds down the road, and turned into the dock for the junk... :lmao: Turned out because our driver was actually from the junk company, they had to wait for us. I don't know why NOBODY we spoke to was able to tell us that the dock was just across the road and would take us all of about 2 minutes to walk to...

zanzibar138
04-29-2012, 04:15 AM
The dock area had a few restaurants and shops, and was bustling. These lions were overlooking the activity.

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We walked down a long jetty to some little boats, where we were transferred to our junk.

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We were last on board (no surprises there), and when we arrived we were all called to the dining room to be given our room keys. We were then given 10 minutes to settle in and be back to the dining room for lunch.

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We found out that night that the beds were super uncomfortable - like sleeping on a block of concrete... The pillows pretty much deflated when used, and we ended up sharing a bed so that we could double up the pillows and blankets!

Anyway, back to the lunch... seafood!

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The prawns were our first course, followed by mussels in their shell, followed by a big plate of clams in their shell, followed by squid, followed by a seafood stirfry. They did mention on the website that seafood would feature in the meals, but I did think that they might serve something else with it lol!

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I got stuck into the wine and tried to enjoy the novelty of having so much seafood.

PrincessInOz
04-29-2012, 04:16 AM
Strange....I thought I had made a post regarding your cooking update but it seems to have gone into the ethernet.

I was just remarking about how the rice paper rolls look good and wondering if you were considering making them at home.


Anyway....I hope you enjoyed Halong Bay. Everyone seems to rave about it so I hope it ended up being worth it for you and DH. Pity about the hotel lack of service.

zanzibar138
04-29-2012, 04:24 AM
Strange....I thought I had made a post regarding your cooking update but it seems to have gone into the ethernet.

I was just remarking about how the rice paper rolls look good and wondering if you were considering making them at home.


Anyway....I hope you enjoyed Halong Bay. Everyone seems to rave about it so I hope it ended up being worth it for you and DH. Pity about the hotel lack of service.

Yep, we're planning to utilise our newly found cooking skills. The rice paper rolls were very easy to make and we thought they'd be good for work lunches. We have the rice paper sitting in the pantry, but just haven't got around to doing anything with it yet lol!

I would certainly say that Halong Bay was worth seeing. The scenery was incredible, but the experience as a whole didn't live up to my expectations, which was a bit disappointing. Everything was just so difficult and uncomfortable. I would recommend going if you're in Vietnam, but I wouldn't go again.

ehsmum
05-02-2012, 09:10 AM
Loving you TR so far! Vietnam looks amazing, I'd love to visit there one day :). I know exactly what you mean about the hotel staff swarming on arrival - that was really disconcerting! Sometimes I would have liked to have gotten something out of a bag before heading out for the day, but our luggage was confiscated the minute we got to the hotel lobby!

Looking forward to hearing about the rest of you trip :)

zanzibar138
05-05-2012, 02:48 AM
Loving you TR so far! Vietnam looks amazing, I'd love to visit there one day :). I know exactly what you mean about the hotel staff swarming on arrival - that was really disconcerting! Sometimes I would have liked to have gotten something out of a bag before heading out for the day, but our luggage was confiscated the minute we got to the hotel lobby!

Looking forward to hearing about the rest of you trip :)

Welcome aboard! I would definitely recommend Vietnam - we really had a great time there and saw some amazing things.

zanzibar138
05-05-2012, 02:55 AM
As we were finishing our lunch, we could start to see some of the rock formations that make up the bay. So we all went outside to get a better look and take some photos. Most of us made our way to the top deck first, which had sunlounges around the edges (which didn't get used much at all on this particular trip).

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Then we went down to the lower deck to take in the view directly in front.

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We didn't know it at the time, but we were to climb to the top of that island behind the boat the next day.

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PrincessInOz
05-05-2012, 03:11 AM
Super cool limestones! :thumbsup2

zanzibar138
05-05-2012, 03:17 AM
After a while of sailing along, we came to an area that was crowded with boats, and stopped. We were told to gather anything that we wanted to take as we were going to see some caves.

We all got into the little boat again and headed off towards the island.

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The entrance to the caves was half way up the hill, and there was a section to the side that was like a lookout. It was VERY crowded and I struggled to find my way to the edge of the lookout to take a photo.

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The caves were massive inside, and lit up with different coloured lights. Access was pretty good and people were allowed to touch the rocks, unlike caves in Australia.

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Although you could touch the rock formations, you were not allowed to draw or write on them...

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More caves - they were really quite large.

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This rock was shaped like a turtle and people dropped money in as, in Vietnamese culture, turtles are supposed to bring good fortune.

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When we exited the caves there was another lookout point. This one was also extremely crowded, so I thought I would take photos from a point just below it.

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As it was, I did end up getting to the lookout here.

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This was a cool rock formation that looked like someone was sitting above us.

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We made our way down to the jetty to get back on our little boat. On our way we saw a monkey. It was quite amazing the way it just made its way along the cliff face.

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zanzibar138
05-05-2012, 08:39 AM
Back on the junk, we sailed a little further around and anchored a bit around the corner. On the way we were told that we would have the chance to go kayaking.

Only 4 of us chose to go. We were to go through a little cave and into a pool on the other side. It was the closest thing to tranquil we experienced in the bay, and we saw heaps more monkeys. Unfortunately though I was unable to take very good photos. DH and I realised that we weren't that great at kayaking together lol!

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After the kayaking it was time for dinner. More seafood, accompanied by some pretty nifty looking veggies!

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After dinner it was time for bed, and time for us to realise exactly how uncomfortable we would be for the night lol! We also had a couple of boats around us that seemed to be doing karaoke or something.

Breakfast was early, and was mainly western style. It was a nice break from the seafood!

After breakfast we made our way back to the island from the previous post, where there was a lookout at the top.

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There was a beach at the bottom of the hill. We were offered a swim, but it really was too cold!

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When we got back to the junk it was wedged between 2 others.

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After our expedition on the island we headed back to shore. Lunch was more seafood lol!

PrincessInOz
05-05-2012, 08:00 PM
Despite your initial posts about how challenging it was to get to Halong Bay, from my comfy chair perspective, it looks great. Hope you had a good time there.

zanzibar138
05-06-2012, 12:37 AM
Despite your initial posts about how challenging it was to get to Halong Bay, from my comfy chair perspective, it looks great. Hope you had a good time there.

We definitely enjoyed it most of the time. I think I had such high expectations and it just wasn't what I expected.


When we disembarked from our junk, the other passengers all waited in a restaurant type thing for their bus to take them back to Hanoi. DH and I had plans to get to a nearby town where we thought we could catch the train.

We found a tourist information centre nearby where we eventually managed to get our plans across to the lady there. When she finally understood that we were planning to catch a train she just shook her head and said 'no train, you catch bus'. Turns out there was no train at all.

We went back to where the other passengers had been waiting, hoping that we would be able to get on their bus. Nope, not enough room. So we called the tour place again and ended up organising to get onto another bus, that would be another half an hour or so. Our guide from the junk was still with us, and ended up being a great help through all this.

When the bus arrived, the guide got on to tell the driver where to take us (as the driver didn't speak any English). Then we got on and started the long and tiresome journey back to Hanoi. We assumed we would be picking up other passengers along the way, but it ended up just being us the whole time. I also assumed that we would be making a pit stop halfway as we had on the way to Halong Bay, but that didn't happen either. We ended up managing to get the driver to understand that we needed a bathroom break and he stopped at a petrol station for us.

We finally got to our destination, the Sunway Hotel Hanoi. I did have a few pictures, but they all got lost. It was a nice hotel, and the service was good. We enjoyed our night there, and our dinner at the restaurant.

It was an early morning to get our flight to HK. And pretty soon we were on our way to Disney!

As I have already done the Disney part of the TR, the next post will skip ahead to Africa.

zanzibar138
05-06-2012, 03:11 AM
By the time we left HK, the stress of the last couple of months had begun to catch up with me, and I found myself struggling to stay well enough to travel. We flew to Johannesburg with South African Airways. It was a 12 hour flight leaving at midnight. The plane was comfortable, and the entertainment was great - plenty of good movies to choose from. Unfortunately I spent the entire flight with my head spinning thinking I was going to throw up. I tried to sleep it off, but when I closed my eyes the spinning got worse. I tried to take my mind of it with a movie, but whenever I tried to watch the screen the nausea got worse. All I wanted was to lay down and make myself more comfortable. I ended up swapping seats with DH as I was getting up to the toilet so much, and DH was quite prepared to have to call for medical assistance when we arrived.

Fortunately, as the sun came up and we got closer to our destination, I started to feel better. One of the flight attendants brought me some dry ginger ale, which I think helped, and I even managed to eat a tiny bit of the breakfast.

After we got off the plane, we went straight to the international transfers station, as we were going straight from Johannesburg to Zimbabwe. Good thing I was feeling better, and that we had a couple of hours until our connecting flight, as we were in that line for about an hour. We finally came out into the international departures area and tried to find somewhere to have some proper breakfast now that I felt up to eating. It was a futile effort that ended up with us getting some pastries and me feeling sick again :(

Anyway, soon enough we were back in the air and I was feeling better again. It was a short flight to Vic Falls - only about an hour - and the plane was a small one. Unfortunately we didn't see any wildlife on the way, but I did get to see the mist from the falls.

zanzibar138
05-06-2012, 03:29 AM
We arrived just after lunch time, and it was early afternoon by the time we got through passport control and got to our hotel.

We stayed at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, which is all built in a crescent shape around a waterhole. You can pretty much see the waterhole from anywhere at the lodge, and every room had a balcony overlooking it. Our room was on the top floor and had awesome high ceilings.

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This is the view from our balcony.

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After we got settled we went to check out the activities desk. We decided to do a sunset cruise that evening, and the next day do a walking tour of the falls, followed by horse riding. The lady at the desk was very busy, and we were slightly late for the sunset cruise, but she managed to fit us in. While we were there we had a look at the hotel facilities. There was a bar around the corner from the activities desk, and a pool a bit further along. And upstairs was a restaurant. And they all looked out onto the waterhole. There were beautiful native flower arrangements everywhere too.

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Before long it was time for our cruise. We met at the lobby, and were shuttled with a few others from our hotel, and one across the road. The dock wasn't far away.

These dancers were at all the touristy places. They posed for photos if you put some money in their bowl, but I misunderstood and thought they were telling me no photos, so this one didn't turn out very well!

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The boat was fairly basic, open sided with a roof. There were tables and chairs set up along the sides, and because we were last on, we missed out on a 'window' seat. You could get up and wander around whenever you liked though so it didn't really matter. We didn't go anywhere near the falls, but we got to see a bit of wildlife. Apparently we were lucky to see the giraffes.

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It was an open bar on the cruise, and we also got served some basic finger food.

When we got back to the hotel we went to the restaurant to have an early dinner. The food was great and the waiters were awesome! They brought the food out with a silver lid, and removed the lid with a grand gesture. While we were eating we saw some elephants at the waterhole. I tried to take some photos, but as it was getting fairly dark by that stage and the waterhole was quite far away, my camera was not cooperating.

After dinner, I went straight to bed, hoping to ward off any sickness that was creeping in.

ehsmum
05-06-2012, 04:12 AM
Sorry to hear you were sick :(. Great first day in Africa though! We thought the Night Safari in Singapore was awesome but I think you've topped that! :lol:

zanzibar138
05-06-2012, 06:00 AM
Sorry to hear you were sick :(. Great first day in Africa though! We thought the Night Safari in Singapore was awesome but I think you've topped that! :lol:

You ain't seen nothing yet! :rotfl:

zanzibar138
05-06-2012, 06:25 AM
We were up fairly early the next morning to have our brekky and meet for our walking tour of the falls at the lobby. The falls were a 5 minute drive away. There was a free shuttle from our hotel, but we never really bothered with it.

There were more of the dancers when we arrived at the entrance to the falls. There were also a few stalls selling ponchos. We had our own jackets, and our guide also had umbrellas, so we didn't bother with the ponchos, but apparently they were very pushy.

We waited while our guide organised our entry to the park. There was an information centre and a shop at the entrance.

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On the way to our starting point there was a collection of animal skulls, and we spent a few minutes there with our guide telling us a bit about them.

Further along was our first opportunity to view the falls.

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We passed this statue of David Livingstone, the main pioneering explorer in the area.

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Here's where we started, overlooking the rapids before the falls. It's really something you need to see in person to get an idea of the speed of the water here.

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It started to get damp a bit further along.

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A rainforest has developed in the surrounding area due to the mist from the falls.

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A bit further along it got VERY wet! It was like a rainstorm out here!

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We ended our tour at the bridge - Zambia is on the other side. This is the bridge where they do all the bungee jumping etc. There is also a scenic train line that goes over, we didn't get to do that as it was on different nights than when we were there.

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We saw a little bit of wildlife around. There was a monkey, and then we came across a group of mongooses on the way out.

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We stopped at the gift shop for some of the members of our group to do some shopping. Then back onto the bus to go back to the hotel. On the way back we stopped at this massive baobab tree.

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zanzibar138
05-06-2012, 08:48 AM
Back at the hotel we had a bit of lunch and watched the waterhole for a while. I went down to watch the hotel staff feed the vultures. Nothing much happened while I was there - apparently it was a pretty slow day.

After a bit of relaxing it was time to go for our horse riding. We go on a bus with a family from Germany who were fully kitted out in jodhpurs and chaps... Turns out they were doing a riding holiday around Zimbabwe and that was a warm-up ride for them. They had done riding holidays in at least a dozen countries!

The riding place was just down the road. We arrived and were given helmets and chaps, and signed our waiver forms. The lady in charge assigned us to our horses. Mine was called Tamar. Then she took off! We were escorted by a couple of local guides.

While we were getting on our horses, we saw a herd of impalas in the arena.

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We headed off across the road and across the train tracks into the National Park.

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We saw some more impalas.

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Then we rode over towards the river.

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And saw some warthogs.

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We were also lucky enough to see some buffalo on the ride.

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Here's DH and I on our horses at the end of the ride.

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And oen of the cute little doggies at the horse riding place.

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We rode back to the hotel on the back of a ute!

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We had an early dinner again, and saw the elephants come back to the waterhole.

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This group did a bit of singing at the restaurant while we were eating. They had some CDs for sale, but we didn't have any cash with us so were unable to get one unfortunately.

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These cute little keyrings were left on our bed as a goodbye present.

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Another early night for me trying my hardest to keep away that cold!

PrincessInOz
05-06-2012, 09:48 AM
Sorry to read that you were developing a cold.

Those pictures of Victoria Falls and the animals are sooooo cool! I'm so glad that I get to see it through your pictures.

zanzibar138
05-06-2012, 11:13 PM
Unfortunately it was at this point when I stopped uploading my photos to facebook, and was too far back for the recovery software to work on my memory cards, so for the next couple of days, I have no photos. But I will press on.

We had an involved transfer to our safari lodge in Botswana. Someone came to collect us from the Vic Falls hotel, and took us to the border. There we went through passport control, and someone else transferred us to the airport. It was there that we were picked up by someone from the lodge and taken the rest of the way.

I was very sniffly this day, and after the transfer I was starting to feel quite awful.

We were welcomed on arrival, our bags taken directly to our cabin, and warned about the possibility of coming across elephants and baboons during our stay, and told to ensure we kept our door locked whenever we were away or asleep to stop the baboons getting in.

Lunch was daily at 12:30pm, and they had someone beat the drums when lunch was served. It was always a buffet, and we all sat at one or two big tables, with the managers, our guides, and the other guests. After lunch one of the managers raided their medicine cabinet for me and found something not unlike lemsip that I could have.

There was an afternoon game drive scheduled to depart at 3:30pm. By that stage I was feeling so rotten I opted to stay in and have a nap, but DH went on his own. He got some really good photos of some elephants, giraffes and buffalo - too bad they all got lost...

Dinner was at 7:30pm and I managed to drag myself out of bed to have a small bite. DH hung around socialising a bit, but I went straight back to bed.

The morning game drive left at 5:30am, and I decided to give that one a miss too. DH again went without me, and was lucky enough to see a lion!

Breakfast was always at 8:30am after the morning game drives got back, and we ended up being late because I was still in bed when DH got back. They were actually about to send me some room service lol!

After all my rest I was starting to feel a bit better, and I vowed I would go on that afternoon's game drive no matter what!

When 3:30pm came I was at the front with DH waiting for our guide. It was just us with our guide, Nick. We sat in the first row so we would be able to talk to Nick easily and we were off! We had to stop at the entrance to the park to register - we always had to take our passports with us. And before long we were driving along the bumpy roads of the park.

On that first game drive we saw elephants, giraffes and buffalo, and were lucky enough to see a herd of zebras with a baby (they were supposed to have migrated by then), and a jackal. I'm pretty upset that we lost our photos of the zebras as we didn't see them again.

Then back at the lodge we had some dinner and went to bed, ready for our full day safari the following day.

ehsmum
05-07-2012, 08:47 AM
What a shame about your photos :(. I'm glad to hear that you started to feel better after some rest though!

zanzibar138
05-09-2012, 06:18 AM
The good thing about Chobe National Park is that you are able to do a river safari as well as a land one.

We left the lodge shortly after breakfast in our safari vehicle, and made our way through the park to get to the boat dock on the other side. Along the way we lots of interesting animals, and some nice birds. We stopped at a point overlooking the Zambezi River to have some lunch. After lunch we pretty much headed directly for the road, then to the boat dock.

We met a couple of other safari groups there, and ended up with a pretty full boat! We travelled upstream first, and this is the point in the trip when we managed to start recovering photos from (apart from the very first photos I took from the boat, which was a very cute tiny bright red bird).

Believe it or not, there is a crocodile under the log in this photo.

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We came across a small herd of buffalo cooling off in the water.

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There was a large group of hippos. This is when I felt a bit of deja-vu from the Jungle Cruise :rotfl:

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Then we came across a group of elephants who were also cooling off in the water.

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We came across this bird, and the day lillies were out.

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Continued in next post...

zanzibar138
05-09-2012, 06:22 AM
Further up the river we came across this pair of young male elephants having a bit of a play fight.

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On the way back to the dock we had a bit of a rain shower, which left this nice rainbow. We very nearly reached the pot of gold this time.

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And for anyone curious, this was our little boat.

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We went back to the lodge along the main road, and came across this family of warthogs waiting to cross.

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zanzibar138
05-09-2012, 06:31 AM
The next morning we were up at 5am for the morning game drive :rolleyes2

We set out before sunrise, with the hope of finding some lions. Alas, the lions did not want to be found by us.

We did come across this massive herd of buffalo.

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And then this hippo with a very new baby - our guide said it would have been less than a week old.

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Vultures were a fairly common sight. We saw many trees that looked like this.

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And we saw many, many impalas.

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I knew we were in the wrong area for meerkats (one of my favourites), but we did see some mongooses (mongeese?) which are remarkably similar looking.

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And plenty of baboons. They were so funny, we could have just sat and watched their antics all day!

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After breakfast (which we had when we got back to the lodge), our guide took us to visit the local school. We went into 2 classrooms and had all the kids introduce themselves. Then they sang us a song at the end. It was such a great experience, even for me (I'm not really 'kid-friendly')!

zanzibar138
05-09-2012, 06:41 AM
The afternoon drive left at a much more civilised time of 3:30pm. I took this photo as we were leaving the lodge. It overlooked the flood plains (which were filling up while we were there!).

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We saw this elephant by the side of the main road on the way into the park.

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And I took a photo of this sign because it was such a novelty being so close to so many different countries!

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Our first animal spotting inside the park was a waterbuck.

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Then we came across a big 'journey' of giraffes.

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We pressed on, still in search of lions. This stubborn elephant stood right in the middle of the road blocking our way!

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Towards sunset the baboons are very active, going to get their last drink for the day before heading to their tree for the night.

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We came across this group of eagles having a bit of a tiff over a kill.

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Then we stopped for our 'sundowners'. On each of the afternoon drives we had drinks and snacks packed to enjoy overlooking the flood plains at sunset.

After the sundowners we hightailed it back to the lodge (they are required to be out of the park by 7pm - some nights we only just made it!).

zanzibar138
05-09-2012, 06:51 AM
With the hope of seeing a lion firmly in my sights, I unwillingly set my alarm for 5am again and we were off for another morning drive.

It was just about worth it just for the beautiful sunrises.

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We saw another massive herd of buffalo.

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Apparently this is the largest flying bird in the world. It's hard to get an idea here, but it was pretty big!

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We saw some more kudus (there had been plenty of these in the first couple of drives).

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In our quest to find lions we ended up back over the other side of the park, near to where the boat dock was. We noticed the animals over that side were a lot less worried about us and we could get some closer photos. There were more lodges, and more vehicles over that side.

I was pleased to see another jackal (even more so when I realised I'd lost the photo of the previous one). This particular one looked so tame it was almost tempting to give him a pat lol!

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And some more mongooses/mongeese.

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We spent a long time tracking a lion, but after having to admit defeat once again, we were then running late for brekky, and were over the other side of the park. It was possibly one of the scariest experiences of my life doing 120kmph in an open safari vehicle with no seatbelts, down the main road of a national park where it was very likely that an elephant would suddenly run out in front of us :scared1:

But we did eventually make it back to the lodge in one piece (although we were still late for breakfast) :worship:

ehsmum
05-09-2012, 07:40 AM
Wow! What an amazing experience. An African safari has always been on my bucket list, but even more so after seeing your amazing photos!

PrincessInOz
05-09-2012, 07:53 AM
Absolutely gorgeous animal pictures and how fantastic to be on real safari for it!

Sorry you lost pictures on this trip.

zanzibar138
05-11-2012, 05:21 AM
On our final drive we gave up on finding lions, so that we could just enjoy the animals that we did see.

When we reached the flood plains we went the other way to we'd been before, which was nice for a change of scenery, and we even saw some hyenas!

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And another waterbuck.

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Looking out over the floodplains, there is a bridge in the background that leads to Namibia.

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We turned around after a while and saw a buffalo and some kudus on the way back to where we started from.

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We turned then and went back into the bush. We found this buffalo having a rest in the shade.

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And came across some more giraffes.

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On our way to the sundowners we saw heaps of baboons and watched them for a while. They were crossing the road in front of us and going to the big dead tree. It was hilarious watching them jump on it using it like a trampoline :lmao:

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We also saw a couple of reptiles, a water monitor, and a crocodile.

http://i450.photobucket.com/albums/qq224/zanzibar138/Facebook/Honeymoon%20%20Africa/530738_10150698754782272_550382271_8907660_1657550 429_n.jpg
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And kept watching the baboons and elephants while the sun set over the flood plains.

http://i450.photobucket.com/albums/qq224/zanzibar138/Facebook/Honeymoon%20%20Africa/541867_10150698757672272_550382271_8907666_1228855 714_n.jpg
http://i450.photobucket.com/albums/qq224/zanzibar138/Facebook/Honeymoon%20%20Africa/319769_10150698757807272_550382271_8907667_1479783 887_n.jpg
http://i450.photobucket.com/albums/qq224/zanzibar138/Facebook/Honeymoon%20%20Africa/535245_10150698757952272_550382271_8907668_1438291 256_n.jpg

Which pretty much brings me to the end of my TR. We spent the next 2 days travelling, with 2 overnight flights in a row. I won't bore anyone with the details. When we got home, I crashed and slept for most of the next 4 days :rotfl:

PrincessInOz
05-11-2012, 06:32 AM
Thanks for sharing your holiday and honeymoon with us. I certainly enjoyed it very much. ;)

You have some great pictures of your trip and I really loved the animals. Them are some wonderful memories to have for the rest of your lives together.

Thanks again. :hug:

zanzibar138
05-11-2012, 06:38 AM
Glad you enjoyed it PIO :goodvibes

petals
07-14-2012, 08:54 PM
love your trip report. All your pictures are amazing.. That castle in Disney looks tiny though.