We're getting on a plane for Japan tonight, so I thought I'd throw up a few more shots of HK before we leave. We loved wandering around the artsy neighbourhoods of Soho and Central (pictured in the last post) and checking out the bird and flower market. I was surprised to feel right at home in the Stanley market area. It felt just like North America. I know most people wouldn't desire that during a trip to Asia, however, it's been six months since the last time we were home, so it just felt so good! Give me a boardwalk and a patio and I'm a happy woman.
Check out all 3000 of our Hong Kong photos in four minutes over here! (Nicely done, Mike!)
I've been sitting on these Hong Kong photos for awhile, but the last few weeks I've been caught in an end of term/report card haze. Happy to report that I have emerged unscathed and now am able to share some photos from our most recent trip.
At the end of January, we headed to Hong Kong for Chinese New Year (설날 - Seollal in Korea). There were are definite advantages and disadvantages to going to HK during that time. On the plus side, we got to be there for the Chinese New Year parade and fireworks. On the down side, accommodations and flights were more expensive and a lot of places were closed. While all the Chinese New Year stuff was neat, we weren't blown away by it and would probably recommend for people to avoid going to HK during that time.
I am not usually one for big cities, but I genuinely really liked HK. There was so much to do, the weather was beautiful, and it was so easy to get around. More details about our favourite spots in my next post.
We made a quick stop in Dunedin for a terrific dinner date with Gemma and her man, Andrew. They were just the nicest and I can't wait to cross paths with them again. We drove to the Moeraki Boulders straight from supper. We had planned to camp at a nearby doc site but the entry was flooded over. So we parked our van and spent the night in the Moeraki Boulders parking lot! :)
As a result, we were able to get a nice early start the next day. It was a bit rainy so the boulders weren't that crowded. We had ample opportunity to hop between boulders and take lots of pictures. It's such a neat spot - probably one of my favourites on the trip.
After our Milford Sound cruise, we ate some ham sandwiches in our van, swatted away the sandflies, and then drove to the start of the Key Summit hike (part of the larger Routeburn track). I had seen the hike on a few blogs and it looked fantastic (look here and you'll know what I'm talking about). However, it was blustery, rainy, and cloudy so we didn't get to see that amazing view. Ah, well. It was sort of moody and other worldly feeling so it still had a cool vibe. Also, we discussed numerous times on our way up how in the world this hike was rated as "easy". Ha!
After Fox glacier, we went to Queenstown for a day (a few photos from there in a later post) and then made our way to fiordland. Initially we had planned to spend only one night, but it was just so beautiful we had to stay two. We spent two nights at Gunn's campground - a bit of a quirky campground with steaming hot showers! It was nice to warm up as it rained almost the whole time we were in fiorldland.
We did a morning cruise on Milford Sound with Jucy Cruizes. It miraculously stopped raining when we got to Milford Sound (maybe that's typical, I'm not sure!) so we were able to spend a beautiful morning out on the water (with unlimited cups of tea).
After spending some time in Kaikoura, we drove across the island, spent a night at a beautiful campsite in the middle of nowhere and checked out the Pancake Rocks. Photos documenting these stops will be included in a big final wrap-up post (there weren't enough of them to warrant a post of their own).
Anyways, we then drove down to Fox Glacier. We stayed at a fancy holiday park and finally took a shower (woop!) and had a good sleep before our glacier hike the next day.
In recent years, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier have changed considerably. It is no longer possible to hike up on to Franz Josef Glacier because of how much it has retreated. The only option is now to take a helicopter which is hella expensive. So we opted to do a day glacier hike on Fox Glacier. While it is still accessible to walk up on to the glacier, it certainly doesn't look like what it used to either. (If you're interested, here is a picture of Fox Glacier in 2008 compared to 2012 and here is Franz Josef Glacier in 2008 and 2012 as well). Our guide told us that Fox Glacier Guides is in the midst of updating their brochures to reflect the changes and predicted the company might even be obsolete in a few years.
All this to say, the hike was a little different than we imagined. We had to climb quite a bit of rock to get to the glacier. The glacier was also grimier than we thought it would be. (It certainly didn't look like this!) I culled the photos and chose only the prettiest photos of the glacier for this post. :) Anyways, it was still really a neat experience. Who knows if we'll be able to hike a glacier again?! One of my favourite parts was when we were able to crawl into a glacier cave. Our guide said that caves like this open up for a few weeks and then as the glacier continues to melt, they crash in. We were so lucky that we were able to visit it! It felt like a totally different world in there.