I’ve just returned from a visit to the far east, my first time to that part of the world. It was a combo trip, both business and pleasure. I have to say – both went quite well.
Business was taking me to Bangkok to speak at the Rotary International Convention on Social Media, but my boyfriend and I opted to head out a little early and spend some time in Hong Kong first. The trip was amazing – but I wish we had more time to spend in both cities (we’ve already decided we’re going back).
Hong Kong is a metropolis in every sense of the word. It’s also the cleanest city I’ve ever seen. The shopping, the skyscrapers, the bustling people gave it a Manhattan feel – but the personalities are very different. We took full advantage of public transportation, which was efficient and convenient. One of our favorite sites was Victoria’s Peak. I highly recommend taking the tram ride up. You can take the tram down too, but you will be traveling backwards. The view of the city below is breath taking, even with our over cast day.
Make sure you set time aside to visit Lantau Island. We took a glass bottomed tram up the mountain, climbed the 250 some odd steps to see the worlds biggest Buddah and toured the monastery. Even though I am not a big fan of heights, I enjoyed the tram ride tremendously. We shared our tram car with three young Californians who were touring with an artist. After some conversation and Googling, we are pretty sure they are part of the Lady Gaga tour troupe. Even if it’s not true, it’s fun to think it is (I am a fan). The timing was on target and given their hotel accommodations, we were hard pressed to think of other artists that could afford it.
Most of all, take the time to just sit and people watch. I’ve found that no matter where I am, you get some of the best insights about a place by simply being an observer. Plus it’s fun.
Bangkok had a completely different feel to it. We got off the plane, through customs and into our car to the hotel and kinda felt like I was in sensory overload. It’s a wonderful place, just different. I really have nothing to compare it to. We stayed at the Lebua, which was outstanding. The service, the people, the rooms were just top notch. Be sure to get a room that gives you tower club privileges, it’s worth it.
Since I was there for work, we had 3 or 4 half days of touring ~ but in those few days we managed to get custom suits made, find a tiny Japanese restaurant (completely by accident) called the Bangkok Cafe and check out the Sky Tram and River taxi system. Our big tourist day was spent busing 2 1/2 hours out to the River Kwai to visit the bridge, the museum and the cemetery filled with members of various armies captured by the Japanese to build the bridge. I learned a great deal about the war that I had not known, and found the whole experience fascinating. Do it – and take a ride on the Death Train while you are there. Our second day was a fun filled adventure to the floating market. Brush up your negotiating skills and get yourself into a boat and tour the market place. There is no comparison if you do it by foot. While in your boat, buy a freshly cut up mango and a coconut for 10-20 baht ~ you will never eat fresher fruit in your life.
Again, take the time to sit and people watch. The things we noticed the most was how polite and demure the people of Thailand are. Perhaps it’s their religion, but I never felt unsafe. There were signs at the tourist attractions to watch out for “non-Thai” pick pockets. The reality is, it’s no different from any other city. You have to maintain awareness of your surroundings and just say no to tuk tuks rides and anyone who has an offer that is too good to be true.