A wise man- J. R. R. Tolkien, to be precise- once said, “not all those who wander are lost.” He had a point, however sometimes those who wander are just plain lost. Getting lost is not always a bad thing. If you fall off the beaten track, you might get to see the real city, find places which you never thought you’d see or stumbled across hidden gems. Yes, it can be a nightmare, I’ve had horror film scenes flashing through my mind and you can lose valuable time if you’re in a city for a limited amount of time but I’ve found that it usually turns out for the best. At the end of the day, you’ll probably at least get a decent story out of it.
After writing yesterday’s mammoth California post, I figured it may be handy to write a shorter post with only my highlights from California- just in case you don’t want to wade through 4,200 words of places I went shopping and where I ate lunch. In all honesty, the real reason I had a fantastic trip was due to the people I was able to stay with. My travel buddy had family up and down the state and they took us in, treated us and showed us the sites. I know not everyone will be as lucky and be able to get down with the locals so in this post I hope to pass on what my hosts showed me.
Get ready for a pretty hefty post (there is a shorter alternative here). I wanted to do a city guide for the places I stayed in California but I realised that I didn’t explore any of them fully enough to write a good guide. Well maybe I did but it was a while ago so I don’t remember all the details. Instead, I thought I’d put together a guide for anyone planning a road trip through California, with a brief outline of where I went, ate and stayed. In April 2010, I went on my Great Big Gap Year Adventure. California was my first stop, for a 3.5 week road trip from San Jose in the north to San Diego in the south, and back again. I’m now going to pass on the infinite wisdom I gained in this post. On first glance, this may just look like a guide to places but if you bear with me, there’s also tips on transport, routes, music, time and food. I appreciate that this could be deemed an excessively …
Surfing was something I had always wanted to try, but I had just never got around to it. When I was on the East Coast of Australia, however, it finally seemed my time had come to give it a try. After all, you should always get down with the locals- in this case, the Aussie surfer dudes.
When my friend told me about the toilet-themed restaurant in Hong Kong, I decided this was something I needed to see for myself- if only just for the photo opportunities. As we sat down, it was pretty easy to tell that we were in the right place: there were pipes, urinals and decorative toilet seats on the walls, the tables were sinks with a glass top and we sat on toilets. Part of the restaurant was also designed to look like a shower room. The food was served in miniature loos and basins and, I have to say, it didn’t taste great- but what the food lacked in taste, the restaurant made up for in sheer novelty-value. Although, they seemed to have run out of quite a bit of food. We had unlimited cake and ice cream but sadly the only flavours of ice cream were taro (a kind of purple potato thing), coffee (which I didn’t like at the time but, since my time at university, necessity has made me a coffee-fan) and sesame. We …
Dates I was there: 13-15 July 2010 After a not-so-cultured lunch of Caesar Salad at the Pret-A-Manager in the IFC Mall, we hopped on the MTR and headed over the the cable car we needed to catch to get to the Tian Tan Buddha. It was a pretty picturesque way to travel, above the water and the green mountains below.
Date I was there: 11-12 July 2010 As our big Gap Year trip drew closer towards its end, my travel buddy and I were still not inspired to get out of bed early and as 12.45pm, our host came to chase us out of bed. We all went out to Kowloon with a stop off at a View Point for… wait for it… some views of the suspension bridge, heading towards the New Northern Territories for some impressive scenery around the Gold Coast. We wandered up and down the Piazza, looking at different stalls that were situated near the water edge. We even got a cartoon done of us as a little memento- out of all of us, I think mine was the closest resemblance.
Date I was there: 9-10 July 2010 In the morning, we went out to Aberdeen for a late lunch of noodle soup which consisted of beef, pork, squid balls, fish balls and some other bits and bobs. Afterwards, we decided that that was quite enough excitement for the time being and so crashed out by the pool, under the clouds. Despite the lack of sun, it was still hot enough for us to sleep on the sun-loungers.
Date I was there: 5-8 July 2010 After only a two hour flight from Vietnam, my travel buddy and I landed in the Hong Kong heat to be met by our old school friend, who would be hosting us during our stay. After some reunion hugs and a brief train ride, we arrived in the city itself and were picked up by our friend’s mum who took us to their home. We freshened up and headed out to dinner at Times Square in Causeway Bay, where there was a Toy Story theme going on in celebration of the upcoming film (this was a while ago). We were thrown in at the deep end with some casual duck’s tongue. I ended up dropping it on the floor but didn’t make a second attempt. We also had “drunken chicken” (i.e. cold marinaded chicken) and some tasty noodles, fried fish and crispy fish, so overall it was a good start to the trip. We then rounded off the night with cocktails and my first shisha experience at Sahara.
Date I was there: 25-28 June 2010 My travel buddy and I awoke late (again) to find that the family had gone out for Friday prayers. When they returned, we went out for some more Penang Fried Kway Teow before heading back to pack for the wedding. The family had invited us along to their nephew’s wedding. It was to be the first Islamic wedding I had ever been to and I was excited to watch the ceremony. We all climbed into the car at around 5pm and four hours, and one Baskin Robbins stop, later we arrived at Johor Bahru and settled down to a dinner of seafood fried rice and line juice with the extended family, in front of more World Cup fun.