Sunday, July 31, 2005


We haven't seen many of the sights in Perth yet. It's been the weekend, and now that it is Monday, we're just trying to get as many errands done as possible. We went to the nursing board to get Tracie's registration, but we need to get certified copies of her passport and New South Wales nursing registration first. We bought two identical cell phones. We went to the imigraition office, but the line was so long, we couldn't bare it and so we are going back in the morning 15 minutes before it opens. Then we rode the train to the Western Australia Nursing Association to get Tracie all signed up for woking right away. This afternoon we will be looking for a more permanent place to live. Hopefully we can move in right away.
Once we get these few errands taken care of the photos and posts will come along a lot more often and be a lot more interesting.
-Garydile Dundee

ps. Only two dingo bites so far today.


We made it to Perth and called the hostel to pick us up. The have free airport pickup if you book three or more nights, so it was really easy to get there. The room is a lot bigger than the last two places we stayed.
We went out exploring after a very long nap, and got attacked by 3 dingos and 2 of the top 10 most poisonous snakes in the world. Then Tracie fell in the river and was swarmed by platupuses (platupi?) but luckily a crocodile came by and chomped them before they could jab her with their spines.
-Garydile Dundee

Friday, July 29, 2005

Goodbye Singapore, Hello Perth

Siloso Beach
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
As it turns out I had a very nice time in Singapore, once I stopped comparing it to Hong Kong.

We went to Sentosa Island yesterday for a tropical retreat, which was a lot of fun. We visited the southern most point of the Asian continent, swam in the Ocean, and got sunburnt. Not bad for one day.

As Gary said, we rescheduled our flight to Perth and we bumped it up by almost a week. We contemplated going to Kuala Lumpur, but we plan to go to Malaysia and Thailand next year on our way back to Canada. Plus Gary is pretty anxious to get settled.

We're at the Changi airport now. It's about 4:30 pm and our flight doesn't leave until 1:00am, so we're having fun hanging out here.


FYI: The toilets in Singapore flush straight down.

Going to Perth Early

We decided to move on from Singapore a few days early. I was starting to feel that we were just killing a little time here in Singapore, and so I wanted to move on. We decided to move our flight to Perth ahead to tonight instead of going to Malaysia or Thailand. We'll go there on our way back instead.
I'm craving the a little more stablity than we have while we're here on the road. That being said, I have really enjoyed my few days in Singapore. I may post again before we fly away.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

This is a Recap of Just About Everything So Far

(Copied from our travel journal...some of it written by Gary, some by Tracie)

Day1: July 17th Sunday
The flight to San Fransisco from Calgary seemed short and was uneventful. When we got to San Fransisco at about 9pm, we found the next gate very quickly and went through security without hassle. We had a 4hr stopover, so we got someting to eat at a mexican restaurant. Delicious nachos... best food ever. Well, best nachos either one of us had ever had.
On the flight, we met a young guy, about 30 or so from England. He was really nice and chatty. He was on his way to Cairns, Australia for fun.
Having never been on a plane before, I was (am) new to the flying culture. I noticed right away that people in airports (passengers waiting for their flight) are friendly. We had several people strike up conversations with us and it made waiting quite enjoyable. I guess its easy to strike up a conversation at the airport because you already know you have something in common with the other guy.

Day2: July 18th Monday
Flight to Hong Kong was long and boring. We flew on Air Singapore which was a pleasant change from Air Canada. The stewards were very attentive, bringing hot towels and drinks around. They gave us pillows and blankets, toothbrushes and socks. There were tvs on the back of each chair so we each got our own.
A few turbulant patches, but mostly a smooth flight... 13 hours of flying was not fun on the butt, but the captain said we were way ahead of schedule because of a tail wind- so it would have been 2 hours longer.

Day3: July 19th Tuesday
Time change meant that we lost 14 hrs, so all of a sudden, Monday became Tuesday. We didn't go through any customs (as far as we could tell). Someone stamped our passports and then we were here. We got our backpacks and took a cab to the hostel for $200 hkd (6 hkd=1 cad). We weren't sure about forking over the cash for the cab, but in hindsight, we're glad we did because it would have taken forever for us to find it ourselves. Even if we had found the general neighbourhood, all the streets are busy and confusing in Tsim Sha Tsui.
It was still only 7am when we got to the hostel, and check in wasn't until noon. So we took to the streets (left our backpacks at the hostel) and happened upon Kowloon Park. This is a huge, beautiful park with wonderful trees and flowers. People were out in full force (well, maybe notbut there were lots of people anyway) Here in Hongkong, people go to the park and do Tai Chi(or something like it) Where we would have joggers, they have guys meditating. It was prety intersting.
About 1/2 hr later, Gary yelled "Oh, Crap!" I jumped, and it turned out we forgot our duffle bag full of shoes. We headed for the airport and decided to take the subway.
Subways here are huge! They are clean and they don't smell bad. We figured out (with a little help from a passerby) that we needed to buy a one way ticket from an automated machine. Everything at the subway is automated. There are no people to check tickets, once they print off, you feed them into a machine that lets you in, and you can only get out by feeding it to another machine. I guess if you tried to ride the train further than you paid, you wouldn't b able to get through the gate.
Upon arrival at the airport, we were directed to the lost baggage office. We found it quite easily, but is was the for the wrong airline. The office we needed was about a km away at the other side of the building. We travelled down the longest, narrowest hallway I have ever seen. The poeple in the office said we need a claim check, which we left at the hostel. They said we should see if security would let us in to the baggage pickup area.
On our way up one of the workers caught up to us and whisked us to the security entrance and took Tracie in because only she had her boarding pass. The bag was sitting all alone beside the carousel.The Lost Shoes

After we got back to the hostel and checked in, we explored the neighbourhood. Walking around Kowloon gives you a sensory overload. The buildings are so high. There are so many that they seem to block each other from view. It becomes hard to see the forest for all the trees.
We were pretty tired so after seeing the avenue of stars and the festival of lights, we went home for the night at around 10pm.

Day 4 July 20th Wednesday
We decided to go to Kowloon City to see the old walled city, but on our way we happened upon the ladies market. The ladies market is a must see for anyone visiting Hong Kong. It has mostly clothes, purses, fake watches and jewelery.
I bought a copy watch , Tracie got a shirt and purse.
After the ladies market we went to find something to eat. The place we chose was on the third floor. We felt really out of place. We were unsure of the proper ettiquette.
They brought the food out one tray at a time, giving us the impression that it was to be shared at the table, and not just eaten by one person. We waited for the rest to arrive before starting which seemed to confuse some of the staff.
After supper we went to the Temple St. night market. Here they have more electronic type things along with clothes, watches and other knock off items.

We each bought shirts, Tracie got a necklace and I bought a DVD.

Day 5 July 21 (thursday)
First thing in the morning we walked to Kowloon City to see the old walled city park. It was a very long walk, but well worth it. We found it a pleasant respite to be away from all the people pestering us to buy suits or watches. It is a very interesting place. A lot of effort went into making it nice. You probably wouldn't see that much attention to detail at a park in Canada. For example most of the foot paths had small disk shaped stones set sideways in the concrette.Walkway Close-up Out side the walls there was a very interesting jogging/walking path that looked a lot like a go-kart track.Walking Track There were a lot of beautiful stones, some carved and some just naturally beautiful. We took pictures by the "Long Life Stone" and the " Marriage Stone". There was a chinese Zodiac garden with each figure carved out of stone and displayed in a big circle. The chinese Zodiac figures were also carved (trimmed edward sissor hand style) into bushes.
We decided to take the train back, because it was a good 1hr-1.5hr walk.
It was still a fair way to get to the subway, but we found a bakery on the way "Le Bon Pain" that was so delicious it was worth the walk. We really like going to bakeries to eat, and since one item is around $5hkd) it's a pretty inexpensive lunch and it doesn't involve eating animal guts.
Since we spent so much money shopping at the markets the day before, we decided to spend as little as we could that day. Park in the morning and beach in the afternoon.
We chose Repulse Bay as our destination (because it was mentioned in our travel guide book) and set off on the bus. We sat at the top of a double decker right beside about 8 people from Edmoton. The one couple was in Hong Kong teaching English through a bible school. They were almost half done their 2 year term and really loving it.
The beach was a nice escape from the sweltering humidity. It was 35 degrees C, but with 97% humidity, you are drenched in sweat within the first few steps out of the airconditioning. It's very hot and sticky here.
Anyway the beach was very fun. Not too crowded at all. My uncle Jeff mentioned on our blog a few weeks ago all oceans are freezing cold (this was in response to Gary's comment that oceans in Canada are ice cold)This is not true. The water was cool and refreshing. Maybe a little colder than my shower in the morning, but that's all. We jumped right in. Swished Echodale last week was colder than this ocean. We stayed and played in the water for a few hours, and then took the bus to the hostel.

In the evening, we walked around looking for somewhere to eat. As Gary said before, every 2 steps in Tsim Sha Tsui you are attacked by guys trying to sell you stuff. You learn quickly to ignore them and keep walking. One guy that shoved a flier at us, I pushed past, but Gary said, "Hey, this is a menu".
We were immediately ushered in. It seemed that we got handed off several times on our way up the stairs into the building. The whole while competitors were shoving menus in our faces. A few steps into the building, tempers flared and our guide shoved one of the other guys. I (Gary) said to them that I already had a menu. We got dropped off at the elevator with someone there to make sure we went up.
The whole experience turned us off eating there so on our way up to the 7th floor we decided to sneak out using the stairs. They didn't see us leaving, and we avoided that area for the rest of the night.
We found a nice internet cafe that was nice, clean and quiet. I had Tandori Chicken with Fried Spaghetti and Tracie had noodle soup with leeks and beef.

Day 6 July 22 (Friday)
There was a wild storm all night and it was still raining in the morning. We decided to get some laundry done, so we gave it to the hostel people and they sent it out for us.
The rain had almost stopped by about noon so we took the star ferry over to Hong Kong Island. The ferry has two classes it costs 2.20 on the top deck and 1.70 on the botom deck. Other than that there is no difference that I can see between the two classes.Star Ferry
When we got there we went to Hong Kong Park. It is a very nice park with lots of stuff to do and see. There is a fountain that is big enough for people to go in and see the back side of the water falling all around them. We went in and took some photos.
There is an terrarium that you can go through and see all sorts of plants. The cactus area didn't seem to be any less humid than any of the other ares. There was no entry fee.
Hong Kong Park also has an aviary that you can go through for free. It is basically a huge dome net over jungle with lots of exotic birds. You walk through on a boardwalk high in the air. They made us spit out our gum before we went in which was disappointing because we both had fresh pieces. We left right away though because the sky was clearing up and there wasn't as mcuh haze as usual. It was a prime time to head over to victoria peak.
The peak tram was just across the street from where we were. It cost $20 one way and $30 return each. We decided to get return tickets. We headed up, it was a pretty steep climb, but kind of boring. The real sights were to be seen at the top. It only took 6 or 7 minutes to get up. The tram is pulled up by a single cable.
At the top there were 2 main lookout areas and one of them was also a mall. The other was under construction to become a mall. We went up to the viewing area and took some photos.peakpano2 It's hard to tell how huge Hong Kong is until you go up there, and even then it's hard to believe it when you see it.
After about 30 minutes, we decided there wasn't too much more to see.
We walked around a walking path/road that took us in a circle around the top of the "mountain". We got some more photos of the city. It is very big and very beautiful. There are some gorgeous homes up there... You have to be really rich to afford to live up there. They all have security gates with guards.
When we got back to the peak lookout, it was around 5pm and we figured there was only about 2 hours or so until sunset. We decided to hang out until then for some night shots of the city. It was a boring wait, since the only thing to do up there (other than see the views of course) is to shop, and we don't have a lot of money for shopping.
Night came, we got our shots and when we went to leave, the lineup for the tram was very long. We figured it would take the Tram at least 3 trips down and back before we could get on. We decided to walk down to save time. The walk was brutally steep, but we had a lot of fun. We only saw about 4 or 5 other people the whole way. The path was well lit.
At the bottom, we had to weave in and out of narrow roads with traffic before we found our way to the central area of hong kong. We passed about 3 hospitals on the way that looked pretty big. We took the ferry back and skipped supper and went to bed.

Day 7 July 23 (Saturday)

Today we went to Lantau Island to see the Big Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery. We rode the ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to HK Island Central, and then another ferry to Mui Wo on Lantau island. The ride was about 45 min long. At Mui Wo, we took a bus to Ngong Ping, which is where the Monastery is. You could see the Big Buddha from a ways away as he is on the top of a hill and he's frickin' huge. We walked up the stairs to the Buddha, but didn't pay for meal tickets (because we brought our own lunch from a bakery that we've been going to around the corner from our hostel) so we weren't allowed into the area under/inside the buddha.DSC_0028
On the main level (downstairs from Buddha) was the monastery. It was big and very nice. There were a series of areas to pray/meditate and some dining halls for monks.
There were incense stick to be bought (regular size up to human size) and a ton of places to light them and incense holders everywhere. Each building had smaller (human sized) buddhas to pray to.
After the monastery, we bought some water (and souvenirs, hats for Gary and I and a lion figure & chopsticks for my parents) We wanted to go to see the fishing village of Tai O on the west end of Lantau Island, and we decided to walk. It was a downhill walk and took almost 2 hours (with lots of stops for photos.) A dog joined us for the whole walk (we named him Chinese Barky) We saw several more monasteries in the hills and some huge spiders. Bigger than my hand. Gary wishes he'd never seen them, because after seeing the first one he started noticing them everywhere. He would have rather been oblivous to them the whole time. Other than those spiders and a few ants, we didn't see any other bugs.
Tai O seemed like a small friendly town. Right away we met a villager named Ping something. He said he'd lived there his whole life and was a handyman. He took us to the stilt houses where we took a lot of photos. TaiO
He took us to a small Buddhist shrine and gave us each an incense stick to burn. He told us to pray for happiness, long life and health. He said marriages are predetermined from before birth, and that we are a perfect match for each other.
He showed us a cemetery on the hillside (it's good feng shui to have them there). He gave us dried kumquats and at the end of the tour he took out some trinkets. We bought a bracelet. We would have bought more, but we needed the money to get home. We hopped on the bus to Tung Chung and took the train back to Tsim Sha Tsui with $3.00 to spare.
The bus to Tung Chung had a cooling line problem. I saw them spraying water on the motor before we left, and just before we got to Tung Chung, some passengers noticed the engine smoking and demanded to get off. Everyone got off, and most people waited for the next bus to come along while a few hailed cabs.

Day 8 July 24 Sunday

We went to church. The branch was small and most of the people it seemed were not from HK. Lots were from the us, uk and australia. Not only that but about 30% were just visiting that day, as they were travelling on business. We think we would have like to be in that branch. I met a woman named Rhonda Crosbie, who is from Perth originally. She emailed me the next day some contacts in Perth.
hong kong templeWe also met a girl Gary recognized from Medicine Hat, Julianne. He doesn't know how he knows her though.
After church we went back to change, and then returned to HK for the day. We went to the Happy Valley Sport complex to take photos of the racetrack and to several cemeteries across the street. There are huge tombstones that are practically in ruins. We finished off the night at the worlds longest set of escalators. I bought some earrings on the way back.

Day 9 July 25 Monday
By our last day, we were starting to feel tired. We decided to spend the day relaxing. In the morning we sent our laundry out, got some Singapore money and mailed away some souvenirs for my family.
We took the ferry to HK island and then hopped on the bus to Stanley for the afternoon.
The beach at Stanley (St. Stevens??) was pretty bad. There were nice showers, but the water was dirty and full of garbage. We swam for a while anyway to escape the heat.
The market in Stanley was really nice. It was a lot like the other markets we'd been to, only it was less crowded, the displays were nicer and it was airconditioned. We bought some stamps with our names in English and Chinese for HK$120 for both. I bought some place settings. We got a mango to share, which was sweet and delicious and after we ate it we realized we were hungry for supper.
We ate in Stanley at a nice place called Bayside Brasserie which was like any restaurant in North America. I got crab coconut mango risotto, and Gary got some lamb curry with indian bread. It was $311 hkd but it was the tastiest meal we had. There was a nice view of the beach, and they played all songs we knew. (pearl jam and live)
We got back to the hostel, packed our stuff and spent our last night in HK.

Day 10 July 26 tuesday

We got up early and left the hostel by 7:30. We took the MTR to the airport and our flight left at 10:30. We got to Sinapore around 2pm. The flight was a lot shorter than our last one, which was really nice.
In Singapore, we found our hostel easily (Back Packers Cozy Corner). We took a room with a double bed over 2 twin beads which we think was a mistake because our room is in the lobby (loud) and our blanket is small. (Actually it's a large towel).
We don't have our own bathroom this time, but it's ok. This is more of a party hostel than our last one. We took to the streets by about 4:00 to explore. As compared to HK, Singapore sems a lot more like home. The signs are in English, people speak English and it's not very busy at all. It reminds me of Calgary. Also, it seems breezier here than in HK which makes it seem a lot less hot. In HK I was drippng in sweat, here I'm not. I thought that was odd considering we're practcally on the equator here.
( Singapre is a much slower pace than HK. There are a lot of shopping centeres. They have a few street vendors selling the exact same things as in HK only for more money. I think we would have more fun here if we had come straight from home, instead of from a bigger, more exciting Asian city.)

We walked around malls mostly in the evening. One mall in particular I can't remember the name had a lot of furniture stores with a lot of interesting pieces that were different than what we'd seen in Canada. Gary was fantasizing about buying wholesale and selling them in Canada. He asked the store cleks about it, and they all sell wholesale.
We retired to bed early although didn't actually et to sleep until around midnight.

Day 11 Wednesday, July 27
This morning we were up at 8:00 and ate toast at the hostel. We went to Suntec Mall to see the world's largest fountain, but apparently it only gets turned on at night. We decided to walk to Chinatown. We walked by the Esplanade and a Merlion Fountain (Head of a lion, tail of a fish, like mermaid only a lion) and took some photos and then followed a suggested wallking path through chinatown in our book.

Chinatown was mainly a bunch of street vendors selling the same old stuff.
(Tailor made suits, purses, jewelry) We took some photos at an Indian temple. We headed back to the hostel to recharge the batteries and for a much needed nap.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Good Bye Hong Kong, Hello Singapore

Well, we are one step closer to Australia now, since we got to Singapore yesterday. We were very sad to leave Hong Kong as it is a beautiful city and a very exciting place to be. If you are planning your next trip, but don't know where to go, I suggest Hong Kong.

Some final tidbits about Hong Kong:

1. It is very hot and humid, especially when you come from the prairies, but you adjust quickly and after a few days it's just normal. You're still wet and sticky, but you learn to ignore it.

2. They drink a lot of tea there. When you go into a restaurant, instead of pouring you some complimentary water, like they do in Canada, they pour you some complimentary tea. Who in the world wants to drink hot tea when it's 35 degrees out? When all you can think about is a nice cold glass of water, hot tea just doesn't cut it. If you do manage to get some water, don't expect ice. Drinking water there is luke warm, but beggers can't be choosers, I guess.

3. Cars rule the road. In Calgary, pedestrians rule the road. A pedestrian can just start walking and all the cars will stop. In Hong Kong, even a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk will get honked at and almost run over when a car comes along. You have to be on the alert at all times.

4. Always carry an umbrella. Coming from a place where it only drizzles a few times a year, I have never even owned one. Although it only rained for a few hours in the week we were there, I am glad I bought an umbrella. It provides shade in the sun, and shelter in the rain. Everyone in HK carries one at all times. Every store, even convenience stores, has a bin for them at the front door (like where we would have coat racks in Canada, maybe)

5. There are more 7-11 stores than you can shake a stick at. I have seen more 7-11's in one turn of the head in HK than there are in all of Calgary combined. That's not an exageration either. EVERY block has at least one or two of them.

Singapore vs Hong Kong

Although we've only been in Singapore for a day, I'm going to have to give it a thumbs down, but only because I've just come from Hong Kong, and by comparison it's just not as good.

That being said, I think that if I came straight to Singapore from Calgary (or any non-Asian city), I would be having an amazing time. There are markets, interesting plant life that we don't have in Canada, interesting food and some huge Shopping centers. However, since I've just been in HK, I've seen it all, only bigger, better, and for less money.

Not to say that I'm having a miserable time here, but I can't help but compare everything to HK, and Singapore comes up short. It is nice here, though, and it's a change to be in a city of a slower pace (more like Calgary), and English is much more widely used here. It's also a small city area wise, and we have been able to walk everywhere we've wanted to go in a short amount of time. Oh, one thing I like about Singapore is the weather. It's a few degrees cooler than it was in HK, and there seems to be a constant light breeze, so the weather is very pleasant. This was a nice surprize...I thought it would be hotter here since we're closer to the equator.

We are scheduled to leave for Perth on August 4th (next thursday). We haven't decided yet if we'll travel into Malaysia or re-arrange our flight to Australia to get there sooner. For sure we won't be able to spend more than another day here.


Monday, July 25, 2005


I was awarded first and third prizes for two wood carvings that Jane entered into the art competion at the fair. The carvings were titled "Empire of the Bay" and "Cigar store Indian." I have about three others entered in the better living section as well . I 'll keep you posted about that.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Man Murdered by Mistake in London

In London yesterday the police saw a guy running to catch the subway. He was wearing a heavy overcoat so they assumed he was a suicide bomber and that he was running from the police. They knocked him down and shot him five times in the head at point blank range. Prime Minister Tony Blair immediately issued a lie that the victom was "directly linked"to the previous suicide bombings. That was lie number one. Now he says that the police accept direct resposiblilty for the killing---lie number two. Guess what responsibilty means. It means personal accountibility. Person accountibility means you are liable for your actions. There is absolutely no intention for any of those involved to admit that they should be held liable for their overzealousness. Let any one actually accuse them of an indescretion and the air will be filled with excuses. One possible reason Blair said that the police accepted full responsibilty was to steer any possible blame away from himself. He isn't even "pretending" to accept any responsibility. Actually I don't think the police did accept responsibility. That was just what Blair said they did.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Big Buddha and Other Adventures

Big Buddha
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
The last two days in Hong Kong have been very fun, today especially. Yesterday we went up to Victoria Peak via the Tram. It was a spectacular view of the city, especially at night when all of the buildings lit up. You can click my flickr link on the left to see photos.

Today was a great time. We headed out for Lantau Island, west of Hong Kong Island. It took about an hour by ferry. Then we headed up by bus to the Po Lin Monastery, which is home of the Big Buddha in the picture. The monastery itself was very big, with lots of interesting buddha figures and a lot of places to light incense. I found myself wishing that I knew a bit more about buddhism so that I could understand what was going on. At around 1:30, the Monks gathered in the monestery and began chanting. It was very soothing to listen to. I wanted to take photos, but it wasn't allowed.

After the Po Lin Monastery, Gary and I decided to hike down to the small fishing village of Tai O on the west end of the island. About 10 minutes into the walk, a dog decided to tag along, and it never left our side for the entire hour and a half or so that it took to get there. Gary figures he's lost 5 pounds already from all of the walking we've been doing. The hike was beautiful. On the way we saw several more monasteries in the hills, some shacks and some HUGE spiders.

When we got to Tai O, we wandered through the markets and then headed for the stilt houses. A man from the village who was walking in our direction and who spoke English, gave us a tour of the town. The stilt houses were amazing to look at. Imagine about 10 city blocks worth of houses all on stilts, and all connected by homemade planks. I thinkg the houses were also homemade. One lady, as we were walking by wanted us to stop and look at her house because she was proud that it was brand new. It was a tin house with a tin roof and a wooden door. I can imagine what it must be like to sleep in there when it's raining. It was nice and shiny though, and you could tell it was new. Our guide told us that everyone in the town is very content to live there, and they all live long lives. The aged appartment complex was huge.

He took us to a temple and gave us incense to light, and said that we should pray for long life, good health and happiness. He told us that our marriage was destined from before birth, so we would be very happy together.

He also showed us a cemetery on a hillside . He said it is good Feng Shui to have the cemetery facing a mountain, but because of government rules, they now need to be cremated to save space.

I bought a bracelet from him before we left. It was just a cheap one, but I like it and he said the inscriptions on each bead are Buddhist Prayers.

All in all it was a great day. It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and see the way people in small villages live. There were tourists galore at the Po Lin Monastery, but as far as I could tell, we were some of the few if any tourists in Tai O, and we were certainly the only ones who walked down from the monastery. There weren't really any sidewalks, and there were a few close calls dodging trucks that came whipping around corners.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Inside a Fountain

Tracie and I rode the Star Ferry over to Hong Kong Yesterday. WE wanted to explore a little and ride the tram up to the peak for the spectacular view.
We found a fountain that you could go inside and took this photo.
The view from the peak is really quite amazing. As big as everything is over in Kowloon, everything on this side of the water is much bigger. When you see it from the peak it's hard to comprehend how big it actually is. It is hard to even imagine how there could be so many people to fit in all those high rises.
When I'm walking through them all, I find it hard to see anything but the first floor of the side of the street that I'm on. I just block out everything 20 or so feet above me. I block out the people around me and walk around in a daze, only paying attention to what ever might be right in front of me in order to avoid collisions.
We are having a great time, Hong Kong is spectacular and we will be spending our last few days on that side of the water exploring it. The ferry costs a little over fifty cents each, about a quarter the cost of the subway.
Hong Kong seems to be a much richer, more work oriented place. The stores are much larger but have fewer items for sale. There are lots of stores that belong to the big name fashion houses. The buildings are much newer and nicer over there as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fighting Makes Me Hungry

Tracie and I were on our way to get some hot eats and we had a wild experience.
We had it in mind to try a hail mary excursion and find the place in this photo again. We knew the general direction from the hostel, but that was about it. As we were walking, some Indian guy stuck a menu out at us. Tracie just ignored him, but I said, wait that's a menu, take it. Little did I know the feeding frenzie that would occur.
The guy imediately wisked us into the building. Five or six other guys tried to give us competitor's menus, but I turned them down.
We got handed off to partners three times within the first 20 feet. The third guy took us to the elevator, but on the way, some other guys tried to steal us away from him by passing us their menus, and a small shoving match ensued. I shouted, "I already have this guys menu, lets go", and we kept moving along.
We got passed off to the guy by the elevator, and thankfully the elevator was full because that gave us time to look at the menu. We rode up to the seventh floor where the restaurant was and on the way we were still undecided. By a pure miracle, nobody got off with us on the seventh floor and there was nobody there to greet us, so we decided to sneak back down the stairs. On the Ground floor I knew there was no way that I could possibly find the way out to the street without running into all these guys again, so we snuck ("did sneak" for my international readers) through a door into a narrow passageway between two of the buildings on the block and exited out the back way.
Tomorrow I'm going to start a fight by switching restaurants several times before I get to the elevator and then slip away during the hilarity which most certainly will ensue.
-Gary Milner

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Away From The Tailors

We headed north about three train stations after lunch today. The equivelent to about a 30 minute walk. The major differance was that there was a lot less people attempting to drag us into their stores, and very few if any of the stores had English in their signs. It was a lot more enjoyable.
We were on our way to see the old walled city or something like that (I can't remember the name right now.) and we happened upon the Ladies Market. That was a real treat.
I really enjoy a flea market and Hong Kong has the best in the world. Better than Buenos Aires, Hawaii, and anything in Alberta, combined anyway.
We bought a few small things and decided to postpone the trip to the old city to get some dinner and then head down to the Temple Street Night Market and possibly the Jade Market.
We ate at a pretty nice place on Nathan Road. We ordered two things, but we don't really know the conventions of eating in places that don't have a North American style. They brought one of the items on our order, but Tracie didn't want to start without me so we waited for my part of the order. As it turns out, or at least what we both imagined, was that we were supposed to be sharing the items we ordered, not just eating them ourselves.
I think the waiters clued in to the fact that we were pretty clueless, and they just started leaving the stuff on the table instead of waiting for us to finish eating the first bowl of stuff. Watching us use the chopsticks must have been pretty painfull, because they brought us some forks about 3/4 of the way through the meal. Using the chopsticks is kind of nice though because it slows you down. It's hard to wolf with chopsticks.
After dinner we made our way to the next street market where we bought a few more things that interested us. The coolest thing we saw was a remote controlled UFO. The body is made of styrofoam in the shape of a propeller with a ring around the outside to protect the blades. It flys by spinning a smaller propeller the opposite way inside the ring of styrofoam. I really really wanted to buy one, but the guy was charging 150 hkd and I don't really have anyway of transporting it.
We did buy a dvd to watch, but we were too tired to watch more than 30 minutes. I wish they sold movies in Canada for $3.
Tomorrow we will see the Old Walled City and then head across to Hong Kong Island to go to the beach.
-Gary Milner

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

First day in Kowloon

Festival of Lights
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
Well, we survived our first day and night in Hong Kong. We spent the whole day yesterday in Kowloon, except for the trip to the airport to get our luggage that we stupidly left behind.

Since the second we landed, I have been uncomfortably conscious of the humidity. Having previously been to the southern United States and the west coast of Canada, I thought that I knew what it was like to experience humid weather. I did not. All I could think about yesterday was when my next shower would be. It is just like walking around in a steam room. It's hard to breathe at first and it's hard to see very far in front of you. Our cab driver said that it's how the city always is.

Another thing I noticed is how nice the people are. We must have looked lost on several occasions (oddly enough) and strangers would come up to us and offer some much needed help. Also, when riding the train, people would stand up and offer their seat to old people.

Hong Kong, although packed with people and buildings, seems very organized. The transit is efficient and they have directions (signs) for everything, including how to get on or off of an escalator or the train. It's pretty easy to get around when you speak only English, because many of the signs are in English and there's always someone within earshot who speaks English who can translate.

Last night, we went to see the Festival of Lights. I highly recommed going if you are in Hong Kong. From the Kowloon harbour, you can watch the buildings in Hong Kong island light up to music. It's really a sight to see. Music comes on over loud speakers and commentators speaking Chinese only come on, I imagine to give a bit of an explanation. Then the builings light up in all different colours in interesting patterns. Very fun. You can see in the photo I posted that the building on the left has two white lights shining off the top, and the builing on the bottom middle is lit up in blue. Way more builings were involved than just the ones shown here.


Shopping Yesterday

Nathan Road is one of the major shopping roads, although there are stores pretty much everywhere. It's really interesting to see all the different stuff for sale.
The tailor and suit sellers all seem to be East Indians. The thing about them is that their stores are all in the middle of the block, not along the road, so they have to get people into the store.
By get, I mean drag. The stand on the sidewalk and ask you if you are looking for a tailor. You tell them no, and they say take one of my cards. Fine you think, I'll take one of your cards. But they keep the cards in the store not in their hand. So they drag you into the dead center of the block to get you a card. Trying to sell you a custom suit.
They all use the same trick. Not one of them has a different ruse. Some of them will follow you down the street. After only half a day of this, I'm getting sort of short with people asking me if I want a tailor, and am about ready to go off on the next guy who follows us down the block after we've already told them no.
I feel like I still blend into the crowd, although I know I don't. Everyone here is Chinese and I'm not. There are tons of tourists, but there are hundreds of tons of Chinese people.
The two things I did buy are a power converter to charge my battaries and a polerizing lens filter for my camera. He wanted $30cad for them, but I gave him $25cad. He accepted my first offer, so I'm pretty sure I was had, even with the first discount. The cheapest one I could find in Canada was 21.99, and I'm sure that the power converter would have been at least that much so I'm guessing that I saved at least $15, in addition to needing both of those things pretty badly.
The stores here don't open until 10am so if you want to get around without being attacked by the sellers, go out before then.
-Gary Milner

We Really Loved the Airport

We landed an hour early in Hong Kong. I guess we had a pretty good tailwind for most of the way.
The pilot was a little worried about a typhoon near Tiwan but it didn't affect us at all.
The imigrations guy stamped our passports without saying anything, and the customs guys stood their with their machine guns looking bored. Then we were officially in Hong Kong.
We got our backpacks and took off looking for a way to get to the hostel. A cabbie gave us a ride for $200, a steal of a deal, because he didn't want to leave the airport to get back to his area without a fare. He turned the meter on and by the time we got there, it read $250. I was going to tip him the extra $50 but he refused it saying he had promised $200. Sorry those prices are all HK dollars so divide by 6 for the CAD equivelent.
We arrived very early and so had to hang out for an hour until the guy who runs the place to wake up, then another few for the room to be vacated. During this time we went for a walk.
After a while, I wanted to change my shoes and realized that we left our bag of about 6 pairs of shoes at the airport. Luckily we were able to ride the train back to the airport and found a very helpful person from Singapore Airlines that got us back into the claim area to get our bag. I can say enough good things about the people who work for that airline.
-Gary Milner

Friday, July 15, 2005

Slurpee Heaven

Tracie and I went to the stampede yesterday. Let me tell you this, the Calgary Stampede isn't the amature hour. Some serious money and planning goes into putting it on.

The photo to the right is my business idea for a mall, a bank of slurpee machines with every conceivable flavour. Here they are selling for $3.00.

Worst Use of Green Screen Evar
The photo on the left is a money making scheme using green screen technology. Basically they have pre-recorded videos of people dancing without heads and they superimpose the head of you or your poor children onto the dancing bodies and give you a copy of the video.

I think it cost $100,000 to buy a video.

Spinning the Bike
This photo to the right is at the Bell X Rodeo. It was a pretty good show, and the had a really good setup, but I have to admit I thought the bmx/skateboard/rollerblade show in the other building was better. The Bell X Show was much more professional, if only because of the big name sponsers and money that was put into it. Of course they were selling videos and shirts, but I left a little disappointed, especially when I compared it to the other show that only had a quarter pipe and a table top but were able to do some pretty spectacular tricks.

Other than going to the stampede, we got some money converted to Hong Kong Dollars as well as Australia Dollars. I don't know if I told you this but about six months ago, my bank tried to lower my ATM daily withdrawl limit to $500 because I had never actually used my entire limit in the previous year. As if I have enough money or reasons to willy-nilly take out $1000 from my account every day. I call them and told them that, while yes I understand that they are doing it for my protection, I keep my pin secret and it is a real pain in the ass to not to be able to take out $1000+ if the occasion so requires.

It's rare that I need to take out my limit, and even more rare that it is a problem when I do because you can just use debit to buy anything you might need. Yesterday was the exception, we wanted to buy mini-doughnuts at the stampede. They don't take debit or credit cards. Then we wanted to get milkshakes at Peter's Drive-in. They also don't take debit or credit cards. Apparently you can't just call the bank and get the limit raised by $20 and they won't tell you the pin number to your credit card so that you can get a cash advance either. I guess there is nothing I can do about that though.

Two more sleeps untill we are on our way. HooRay!

-Gary Milner

Thursday, July 14, 2005

3 days left


Now there are only three days left until we leave for a year.

Our first stop is Hong Kong, and I'm very excited for it. We booked a hostel today, so hopefully it isn't too shabby. Things are coming along great, and as far as I know, we have only a few minor things to deal with. (Change addresses with banks and stuff).

Last night some of the girls I work with threw me a going away party at Joey Tomato's. It was a lot of fun and because of some stampede party, the place was packed. There was a band playing outside and maybe 50 or so people partying on the patio, and even more inside. As a going away present, they gave me a gift certificate for chapters, so I'm excited to buy a book to read on the plane. I think I might go today to buy it.

We left Medicine Hat yesterday after saying our goodbyes to the families. I was a bit sad...and even though I can't wait to go, I'm sure I'll miss them while I'm gone.


Monday, July 11, 2005

This is What it Feels Like to Emmigrate

Six more days to go. There are a few things to update. The Autotrader resolved our issue, we had to talk to two girls who really didn't know how to give customer service (other than "Sorry, but screw you") before we found a lady who actually knew how to resolve our concerns she is giving us a free week for our ad with the corrections made. I guess we will be here for four days during the new ad's run.

This morning we placed an ad in the Medicine Hat News and in the For Sale by Photo in the Medicine Hat Mall. You can see our car for sale in Medicine Hat here. We bought the ad online last night and then went in to see it at the mall this morning. It was still being printed. The guy said that it would be up in 15-20 minutes. We came back about an hour later and it had been printed, but he hadn't put it on the board yet, because he was talking in MSN Messenger. I asked to see it, but that didn't clue him in to the fact that I wanted the ad up so that other people see it an buy my car. A few minutes later I asked him if he was waiting for more ads to print or if he could just put mine up. He looked annoyed that I interupted his instant messenging.

Over all we are having a really good time here in Medicine Hat. I wish we could stay here untill it was time to fly to Hong Kong.

-Gary Milner

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ryker King of the Spoon

We made it to Medicine Hat yesterday and had a really good time visiting with everyone. Ryker seems a little afraid of everyone, Jackie says we are too noisy for him.
We don't really know what the plans are other than that we have to go back to Calgary on the 13th for the party that the nurses are throwing for Tracie. It looks like we will be staying there untill we leave on our trip.
Ryker will probably miss us a lot.
-Gary Milner, Vice King of the Spoon

Friday, July 08, 2005

Nine Days and Counting

Oh my gosh. We're into single digits now. It feels like there's so much to do in so little time, and yet it also feels like we just sit around day after day waiting for the 17th to get closer.

People seem to think we should be stressed out about it, but we're really not. It's much more exctiting than stressful. Eustress. (Well, except that we still own a car that we can't afford to own. That's causing distress, for sure)

Anyway, it looks like we will be going to Medicine Hat later today for the last time to see the families.

Things are moving fast. Yeah.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Trader Classified Media Sucks/Trader Publications Suck

Do not advertise anything with Trader Publications. They provide very poor service and nobody reads the ads anyway. I'm speaking specifically about the Autotrader, but I'm sure that they all suck equally.

I only received one phone call during the entire first week reguarding my ad, and it was from a competitor asking me if they could place my ad for free since they wanted to populate their database.

We went in to the Autotrader to make a few changes to our ad, WELL BEFORE THE DEADLINE FOR CHANGES and they failed to make the changes to our ad. This is why they suck.

The Autotrader is the worst publication I have ever used to advertise a car for sale. I strongly recommend that you do not use them to advertise anything. Due to their incompetence I have lost a week of time for selling my car, and possibly will take a hit to the tune of several thousand dollars if I have to dump the car.
Hopefully this post will convince 40 people or more to avoid advertising in this publication.

Warning do not use the Autotrader.

Also, please buy my car. Toyota Corolla for sale Calgary.


Photos of London Bomb Blasts

Here is the Flickr group showing the London bomb blasts. Here is another Flickr group showing the London explosions. There are a lot more photos in the London bomb blasts pool. Lots of people are posting pictures of their TV's showing the news, which I can't really understand. Other people have taken screen shots of the more popular websites to serve as mirrors because their servers aren't responding very well to the load.


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Happy Anniversary

Along with being Canada Day, yesterday was my sister Jackie and her husband Glen's second anniversary.

Happy Anniversary guys!

We left for Raymond early in the morning to arrive just in time for the Parade to start. It was just about the same as always, but it seemed longer than usual. It was almost 45 minutes long.

Tracie's cousin sold freezies along the route. He made$80 or so in about 20 minutes after selling 120+- freezies. He walked less than half the parade route on only one side of the street. He was selling them for $.50 or 5/$2. I suggested that next year he buy more to sell and charge $1.00 each without the quantity discount. He seemed skeptical. Some people just don't understand that competeing against no one on the basis of price is silly because you're just giving away your own money.

-Gary Milner