A Travellerspoint blog

Hong Kong

rain 30 °C
View Evan goes to Asia on evancampbell's travel map.

Day 30-31 - May 16-17

Hong Kong tourism is my kind of travel but not for the faint of heart - heavy on great food and drink, light on focused commercial tourism.

11:25 - Dim Sum Square - delicious Dim Sum brunch with friends

12:45 - IFC Mall - shopping at one of the world's largest malls to avoid the rain

13:30 - The Saint Gastro Bar - early cocktail hour

15:30 - The Roundhouse - late lunch of wings and wine (have to keep it classy, there are Europeans amongst us)

17:00 - The Blck Brd - proper cocktail hour at a rooftop lounge against vowels but pro more wine

18:45 - Kau Kee Restaurant - famous noodle house known for good food and speed, we sit in the kitchen... Not the chef's table, more like the drying rack, but it's tasty

20:45 - The Stockton - great NYC style cocktail speakeasy

22:30 - Quinary - mixology on the molecular level, boozey marshmellows are served

00:30 - Tonic - club of the loud variety

01:00 - Club 97 - louder and darker than the previous

RECAP: 15 hours, 6 bars, 3 restaurants, 4 friends, 0 sleep, much merriment.
Oh, and there's also a good view from Victoria Peak.

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Posted by evancampbell 02:55 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Lombok, Indonesia

Day 24-26 - May 10-12

We should have looked more closely at the itinerary.

Had we done so we would have noticed the 2nd day on the Mount Rinjani summit trek involved 15 hours of climbing starting at 2am - ascending 2km of altitude, and descending another vertical 2km. Carrying a 30lb pack through most of this would prove a much more difficult task than on the
flat beaches of Bali.

In fact, sharing a similar volcanic history is about where the comparison ends between Bali and its lesser-known Indonesian sister-island Lombok. The 5 million locals live at a near subsistence level, drought is common and devastating, there is virtually no commercial development or tourism, and curiously there is very little ethnic diversity in the near exclusively Muslim population. Also of note is a deep and universal affection towards the Dutch, whose merchant navy was leveraged in the past to free the residents from the oppressive rule of the powerful Balinese. With that bit of history the story behind the distinctly contrasting islands became clear.

While the modern Balinese impress travellers with their calm and serentiy, Lombokians impress with their sheer force of will. The 3-day trek that started out with a moderate 5 hour hike to base-camp (if at >30C temperatures), was made a much more challenging task the following day with a summit push and traversing a volcanic rim (around an active volcano!). Climbing with moderately-sized packs is one thing, but our mountain guide carried water and snacks for 3 days - his pack was 70lb - and his two porters carried the camping equipment, the cooking equipment, and all the fresh food - their loads were 110lb... which they carried on thick bamboo poles across their backs... while wearing cheap flip-flops... speeding sure-footed up grades approaching 40 degrees... and out-pacing all of the travelling climbers.

We finished the trek a day less than most western-travellers, and took pride in the words of our guide that Canadians rank only with the Germans and the Swiss in having the determination to tackle the 25km trek without rest. High praise in my books, but walking anywhere was a challenge for the next few days.

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Posted by evancampbell 07:05 Comments (0)

Bali, Indonesia

Day 20-23 and Day 27-29 - May 6-9 and May 13-15

Ironically for an island utopia, people from Singapore talk about going to Bali with a breathlessness reserved on the east coast for the Muskokas and the Hamptons. In hindsight it isn't enough.

Bali fills in the gaps left wanting by the glitz of SG. In the town of Seminak the hotels and beach clubs offer all the amenities and beauty of world-class resorts, with an added and unexpected perk - genuine happiness.
Whether attributable to the fact that the majority of the island's population is a practicing Hindu, or perhaps to the higher standard of living than other less developed Indonesian islands, the service industry in Bali delivers big on smiles. Big.

From the front-end staff to the bathroom detailer, not only are they all readily doing their jobs to spotless perfection, but their ubiqitous eye-wrinkling grins fail to belie an underlying joy and contentment. From a North American perspective this is astounding; noted by my taxi driver in Singapore, Asia also finds astounding.

Perhaps it is religion, or perhaps they have culturally taken a few steps closer to a grasp on the meaning of life:

"I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world.

Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain, and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life...

You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday."

- Lester Burnham, 'American Beauty', 1999

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Posted by evancampbell 17:55 Comments (2)

Singapore

semi-overcast 32 °C
View Evan goes to Asia on evancampbell's travel map.

Day 18-19 - May 4-5

Despite being a well credentialled expert in the field for more than 10 years, I must admit it is difficult to grasp how Singapore functions as it does, or even exists.

Perfect weather 12 months a year, sheltered from nearly all natural disasters, close proximity to major urban centres in Asia, Singapore would seem a tourist mecca for the region and the world. It isn't.

The permanance of the above, have enabled Asia's ultra rich to make Singapore the base for their Gulfstream jets. The result is a lovely urban paradise, where everything but the price is perfect. Infrastructure is new, streets are clean, everyone speaks the business language of English, and the hotels and apartment complexes sparkle. It isn't just that these assets exist, but rather their scale that is impressive - from the airport to city centre one hardly sees anything else.

The views below illustrate this beauty, as they should for >$400/night... in the off-season.

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Posted by evancampbell 19:55 Archived in Singapore Comments (1)

Sydney, AUS

Day 13-17 - April 30-May 4

rain 15 °C
View Evan goes to Asia on evancampbell's travel map.

Day 13-17 - April 30-May 4

Statistically, the average 4 day period in May should experience 23.6 hours of sunshine. Outliers are a bitch.

I experienced 1 hour. The four days of my first visit to Australia are best characterized as wet. British Columbian rainforest wet.

According to TripAdvisor this was indeed unfortunate as 23 of the top 25 activities in Sydney are best experienced outdoors, in less than inclement weather.

Regardless I count my sojourn a success for the following reasons:

1) I was not successfully attacked by any poisonous animals (2 spiders and 2 large unidentified insects were casualties of short battles)

2) I watched my first Australian Football League match ('Aussie-Rules football)

3) I was able to reconnect with friends and classmates I hadn't seen in as long as 15 years - from SMUS to UBC, and even from Toronto

I've been told I must revisit for longer, see more of Australia, and see the lovely beaches and patios in all their glory. I will be buying inclement weather insurance contracts.

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Posted by evancampbell 00:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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