Sunday, 14 August 2016

In Transit - 6 hours in Hong Kong

On a recent business trip I was travelling back from Taiwan to Bangalore and had about 6 hours lay over at Hong Kong Airport. I was with a colleague of mine who had never been to Hong Kong so we decided to explore the city instead of hanging around in the airport. As soon as we arrived we rushed to the immigration counter stood in queue for about 20 minutes before we got the on-arrival visa valid for 14 days.

Once we got through immigration we took the Airport Express to Kowloon station. From Kowloon station we switched to MRT and made our way to Sham Shui Po. The plan was to first make our way to Sham Shui Po electronics market, buy a new phone for myself and then head to Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade to view the Hong Kong skyline, take a boat ride and cross over to Hong Kong Island grab a quick meal and then take the airport express back in time for the flight.
Hong Kong Skyline
Victoria Harbour- The most photographed harbour in the world. A must see while in Hong kong

The electronic markets of Sham Shui Po is a must visit while in Hong Kong. You can get very cheap deals on all kinds of gadgets and accessories here. I came here to get a new mobile phone because my LG G3 died during the trip. I got myself a brand new LG V10 which had just come out and was not available in India at that time.
sham shui po market
The Busy streets of Sham Shui Po

sham shui po hong kong
Vendors selling clothes and phone accessories 

sham shui po market
Streets lined with electronic stores 

Being Gadget geeks that we both are, we spent way more time than we planned in Sham Shui Po so as soon as we were done we hurried to Tsim Sha Tsui via the MRT to our next stop.
It was not a perfect day to see Hong Kong as there was a storm the previous day and it was still raining on and off. I was surprised to find a lot of tourist at the promenade in spite of the rains. Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade has to be the most visited tourist spot in Hong Kong. The best time to see the skyline would be around 6 in the evening when the sun is setting and the harbour is bathed in golden light and the colourful neon's light up the skyline.
tsim sha tsui
Windy day at the Promenade 

Avenue of stars
Skyline Selfie's

tsim sha tsui promenade
Dad pointing out the Ferris Wheel 

Hong Kong
First shot with my brand new LG V10

clock tower hong kong
Hong Kong Clock Tower & Salisbury Road 

There is a laser and light show that happens every day at 8 pm which I recommend you MISS because the promenade will be flooded with tourist and the show is definitely not worth spending your time if on a short visit! There are much more interesting things you can do.

We started feeling hungry so we stopped for a quick bite at a small restaurant near the promenade. I had Pork Chops and and Chinese fried rice, some Dumplings and of course a Beer.

After exploring the promenade for a bit we walked down the waterfront to the Harbour Terminal and took the star ferry to Hong Kong Island. These steamer styled boats have been ferrying passengers from Kowloon to Hong Kong island since 1888 and is great to get a splendid view of both sides of Hong Kong( The Island and Kowloon) in the most economical way as compared to the junk ride called Aqua Luna.
star ferry hong kong
Star Ferry 

Chinese Junk Boat 

Once we reached the island we spend some time exploring the maritime museum which has free entry and you can finish seeing the whole museum in maybe about 15 mins. We got out and found a nice spot by the water to really soak in the view.
maritime museum in hong kong
Inside the Maritime Museum
Central Pier Hong Kong 

There is a breathtaking 195ft Ferris Wheel overlooking the Victoria harbour. This is called the Hong Kong Observation wheel and a ride on this should give you a great view of the sky scrappers. I got a nice shot of it from near the Central pier.
Hong Kong Travel Blog , Victoria Habour , Ferris Wheel
Hong kong Observation Wheel overlooking the Victoria Harbour

Another landmark of the Island part of Hong kong are the Tram service in the financial districts. The trams have been running since 1904 and today caters to the transportation of a large population and is a very economical and the most green way of transportation. They all mostly have nice bright and catchy advertisements and it is quite a sight to watch them go.

Tram Hong Kong

By now it was getting late and we decided to head back to the airport. We got the airport express back from Hong Kong Island directly to the airport, it took some time to find the train station but we made it on time.

So thats the breakdown of how we spend about 5 hours running around Hong Kong while in Transit. Way more productive that sitting around in the airport and trying to kill time.
Hope you enjoyed the post Cheers !

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Senshu Park Akita, Japan

Akita prefecture is located in the North West mountainous regions of Japan and is well known for its fine Sake and snowy winters. I had my first encounter with snow at Akita in 2015 on a business trip and fell in love with the place. Akita lies nestled between the beautiful snow capped mountains in the North and the ocean on the West. Senshu park is one of the main attractions in Akita apart from the Kakunodate Samurai village and Tazawa lake.
Akita, Japan , travel Blog , Senshu Park
Main gate of Kubota Castle 
Senshu Park was constructed around the historic ruins of Kubota Castle which was the base of the powerful Sakate Clan. The actual castle has stone walls, watch towers and moats to defend it from enemy attacks.
Japan, castle , akita
Reconstructed Corner Turret of Kubota Castle 
Although the castle was destroyed ages ago the central watch tower and the main gates of the castle have been restored.  Inside the watch tower is a small museum that displays ancient artefacts from the the Sakate clan. The entry fee is 100 yen and you get to go up the castle for a awesome view of the Akita Town .
Frozen Lotus pond in Winter 

Near the entrance of the park you will find large ponds which are the remains of ancient moats. During summer, they are filled with beautiful lotus flowers and in the winter they freeze up. 
Yoshitaka Statue, Senshu Park, Akita City
Statue of Yoshitaka Satake the 12th Lord of the Clan 

You can go up the tower for a nice panoramic view of Akita city  
Akita Japan
Senshu Park was voted one of the most beautiful parks in Japan 

Japan Park
Winter is Here - Senshu Park, Akita 

Akita Cherry Blossom
Beautiful View of the mountains from Senshu Park 

East Gate of Kubota Castle

If you ever visit Akita then Senshu Park is a must see. I spent around an hour inside the park strolling through the woods and taking pictures though my Sony RX 100. I have heard that the park is even more beautiful in May during the Cherry Blossom festival. The park is a short walk from Akita station and entry is free. When I went there, there was hardly anyone inside the park, make sure to take appropriate footwear while visiting in winter as I was slipping all over the ice. Inside Senshu park is a beautiful shire "Iyataka Shrine". I will be posting pictures of the shrine in my next post, hope you enjoyed this one.