Saturday, December 02, 2017

Honeymoon Journal post: Links to all blog posts

That's the end of another Trip blog! Here are links to each post from our epic round-the-world trip. Thanks for reading :)

Honeymoon Trip Dec 30, 2016 - Jan 25, 2017 Journal
Paris, France
The Seychelles
South Africa
Hong Kong

Honeymoon Day 27: Tea Museum, Hong Kong Peak and Flight Home

Honeymoon Day 27: Tea Museum, Hong Kong Peak and Flight Home

And so begins the final day of our crazy, round-the-world, honeymoon trip. But, as you can see from the style of the rest of these posts -- we maximized the heck outta the day with a flight out at 11:40pm!! So a pretty epic and awesome final day to wrap up this crazy trip.

It started with packing up our stuff and getting ready to leave. We had to pack carefully (multiple glass bottles of Rum from The Seychelles!) and since we're insane we fit our entire 3.5 weeks of stuff into just one suitcase each. Packed to the max, but we succeeded. We had some more of our Singapore Airlines honeymoon cake (!!) that was in the fridge over the past few days, and then checked out and had the hotel hold all our stuff for the day.

All packed and ready to go!

We headed out and wandered to the fancy mall near the hotel. First stop was the famed Hong Kong Tea Shop called Fook Ming Tong, which Matt had brought me some awesome Oolong tea from a year or so before when he went to Hong Kong. It was a super fancy spot and we tried a couple different teas in a little mini tea ceremony/tea tasting area. I got some Taiwanese Oolong to take home... mmm...

Fook Ming Tong tea shop
Funny Godiva "Year of the Rooster" chocolates!

Next up: MUJI!!! That store is awesome, and we got a pen set for Michal and a nice ballpoint pen for me. Michal loves their pens for writing thank-you cards. I also got some funny laser-cut cat-shaped post-it-notes for Mom. :) Fun place.

We enjoyed the mall for a bit and then headed on the subway to Wan Chai (wait, or was it Chai Wan?!) En-route to Eric Kayser bakery to get some lunch, we walked through a more "local" market rather than the more tourist-focused markets we'd seen thusfar. There was lots of Rooster stuff for the New Year which was cool to see. They also had those AWESOME Lion-Head backpacks again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I looove those things. I was laughing at them as well as the sign the dude had up next to them. The dude at the stall saw me and smiled, "They are backpacks!" hahaha. So, so, sooo funny and so awesome. I should have bought one. :)

"We Bite, Don't Touch!" haha
Next, to Eric Kayser!! We had been in Paris about 2-3 weeks before by now... and were already sorely missing their legendary baguettes. It was soooo gooooood. We got a nice and tasty "croque" as well as an almond croissant to eat there, and then took a baguette with us to the supermarket to go find some cheese to go with it,

Fun times
The supermarket was fun to look around and see what types of products were there. Interestingly, this supermarket had a lot of imported stuff (most of the cheese we found was imported). But, amazingly, they had an L&P can there, my absolute favourite soda in the world, generally never available outside of New Zealand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Man!! So that was NUTS and I got a can to go with lunch later. Not a ton of local stuff at the grocery store but fun to see anyway.

LOTS of kinds of Soy Milk
Lots of juices too
So many mochis
Longevity Bun
We walked with our baguette and cheese over to the Hong Kong Park, a man-made park in the middle of big office towers. It felt a little bit like the Presidio! They had a waterfall and a lake smack-dab in the middle of the bustling city... it was a small oasis! We sat on a bench there and had our bread, cheese and L&P while people-watching a bit. The security lady there was very fierce -- a kid was trying to throw a leaf into the lake... and she said very sternly, "No no no!!" as she walked at a hurried pace over to the kid and shook her head and finger. It was quite funny how much security there was at the park to keep people from over-staying their welcome, being loud, or making a mess or not throwing out their garbage promptly. Other than worrying about being scolded by the security lady, we had a good and relaxing time there.

Looking pretty thin after this 27 day trip of eating?!

Hong Kong Park

Next up was the Teaware Museum. It was really really cool!!! And free!! It was a nice spot and interesting to see all the different types of teaware, both historical and also newly created. We couldn't find their apparent tea cafe there (though we already sortof had a tea ceremony at Fook Ming Tong earlier in the mall!) They had handmade pottery teapots there of all types. Particularly interesting was the competition, they had a school competition and all the winners. They described it as a "Prestigious yearly competition to promote the art of pottery"!! Wow!! Pretty awesome thing to be encouraged and nurtured in the next generation. This contest had inspired some super creative and interesting designs. It was a really cool exhibit and pairing the history of tea and teaware over many centuries, with this new influx of creative and throw-back designs from modern students and adults, was a really cool thing to experience. Especially for a tea nerd like myself!

Different types of tea
Ming Dynasty
Yixing Clay Teapots
Awesome gaiwan from the Qing dynasty
Loved this one
Modern designs (from secondary schools and colleges)
Super creative designs

This water-themed and ocean-themed teapot was INCREDIBLE

Funny dolphin teapot -- the tea comes out of his mouth!

So that was all totally awesome and we spent a good 45 min there checking out all the stuff. Great museum and fun that they promote teaware and pottery so passionately. That was great.

We walked from there to the tram for The Peak. It was a long 1hr wait in line to get up The Peak on the tram, but totally worth it. Though we were in line for a while, our timing, as always, was perfect. We ended up getting up the mountain RIGHT before sunset so we could enjoy the sunset from the viewing platform at the top of The Peak. Win.

Long lines

Up we go!

We got off the tram and headed up the remaining few flights of escalators up to the Sky Terrace 428 view platform. It was packed up there, but so so cool. The crowds were all trying to get photos of the city at the same time, so it was a bit of an art to try not to get too many people in your photo of the skyline. After sunset, the crowds subsided a bit so I managed to quickly snap a few photos of the lit-up Hong Kong Skyline at night. Super awesome. Also funny was the marketing for couples up there. There was a funny exhibit called "I ❤ U at The Peak"! In the advertisement for it was a video of a dude proposing to his girlfriend at The Peak. :) We wrote a "The Peak I ❤ You" heart and attached it to the tree of other hearts on there. Cute.

Busy up here!
What a view!!

Sun setting

Managed to find a spot where there weren't too many other people standing :)

The amazing daytime view turned even more impressive as the the sun went down. The nighttime view with the lit-up skyline was pretty darn epic. Also the crowds started to thin out a bit so we jumped at a chance to get a spot at the edge of the platform so we could take a few photos there. Good times!

Lots of phone screens :)

Finally managed to get a good shot :)
That was super awesome and a very Hong Kong way to wrap up the trip!! Loved the views up there. On our way back down the escalators, we noticed a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant right there, nearly empty, and with huge windows over the same view. Next time we should book a table there and get a burger at sunset :) We saw a few funny things at "The Peak Mall" which was attached to The Peak platform area. Great views and a super cool last-evening-of-the-trip activity for sure.

On the way back down it was unclear if we should cab or tram... the wait was so long to come up on the tram and time was ticking to get everything else done we wanted to cram into the evening before heading to the airport... but after much debate we decided to go for the tram back down. It ended up going a bit faster than expected on the way back down, and the views were great as well on the way back down of the city all lit up... a super fun and beautiful way to end the trip in Hong Kong. We got off the tram... and... let's roll!! A few more things to do before going to the airport. Now, how do we get back across the water (across the harbour) to see the nightly light show we hadn't seen yet?!? Not sure re: cab or subway... we made a split-second decision to take the subway to the Star Ferry and that was a huge win. A fast walk from the subway exit to the ferry terminal... and managed to get onto the ferry swiftly and across the water to the other side of the harbour so we could see the light show... we arrived on the other side of the water at precisely 7:59pm. Seriously. We are insane. Light show started at 8:00pm!! It was a bit silly as expected and not a super super necessity per-se, but we really wanted to see it and we're glad we did. The buildings across the water were participating in the light show but some more than others -- "Hey, that one is doing all the work!" haha. The lights on the buildings would light up in time with some sync'd music that was playing. There was an advertisement on a skyscraper for how to download and sync the music to your phone. :)

We stopped for about 5-10 min only and then figured "OK, check, got the experience..." now... let's roll!!
Tram on the way back down
At the Ferry Terminal

Epic harbour view!!!!!!!

It was 8:10, and our original plan was to leave for the airport at 8:30... and remember we were not even back at our hotel yet! Hmm... 8:30... we'll still get there in time if we leave at 9:15, right?!?! We "Amazing Raced" to Tsim Sha Tsui station to take the subway to Jordan... cashed in our Octopus Cards... and then went to Temple St. Market again!! At like 8:30! We're nuts. Do ALL the things!

I was in search of a silly emoji face pillow for my Dad and the nodding Tororo that I didn't successfully purchase a couple nights prior, and a nice Herschel pink backpack for Michal. We were in a rush so we negotiated fast and quick for the backpack after Michal saw the one she liked. "It's 180. How much you want to pay?"... "80"... "100"... then we walked away... "Ok, 80!" Nice!!! So that was a win, about $10 US. A win for Michal's awesome bag. I didn't find the specific emoji pillow I was looking for (a silly tongue 'crazy' face that my Dad always sends me in texts -- I ended up finding it later when back in the US), and the nodding Totoro guy wasn't there. But a win on the backpack.

We raced back to the street with Michal's new bag and got in a taxi to the hotel. "We have an extra 5 min... so... Din Tai Fung again?!?!" we joked with each other. We taxi'd to the hotel and then grabbed our bags and headed back out immediately to go to the airport. An action-packed last evening of the trip!

We were a bit concerned about taking a taxi to the airport instead of an Uber, as friends had warned us that the taxi drivers were ripping them off on arrival to the airport and adding more charges. We asked the hotel and they specifically spoke with the driver... but he said it would be OK, and we should expect about 260 for the transfer. As we got to the airport the driver did press some buttons to add money onto the end of the fare but it totally made sense -- it was baggage/airport drop-off fees!! Of course. So I wonder if perhaps my friend's bad experiences were actually simply airport drop-off fees and a miscommunication. Made total sense to us what was happening, so no stress :) The taxi was also awesome, the driver was HAULING IT to the airport. Sweet!! He  was really booking it, and we got there in 20-25 min. That was FAST. Super awesome.

Checkin was easy and good, and we still had time to wander the terminal a bit. They didn't have much kitchy stuff like I was looking for, it was too fancy. We need a market!! We were looking for some more fun take-homes like Green Tea Kit Kats, etc. Since it was pretty fancy, we decided to go with the flow and go to a Whisky tasting at one of the Duty Free shops. They gave me 4 Glenmorangies to try!! I really liked Glenmorangie Tarlogan, a new one made in New American Oak, making it a bit reminiscent of Glenmorangie Ealanta, my favourite-ever whisky. Loved it!! They also let me taste the Tayne, Duthac ("chocolatey" -- indeed!) and 18!! Crazy. Michal wanted to buy me a gift and I loved the Tarlogan, so we tried to buy it and the attendant said, "You're not on a USA flight are you?" "In fact we are"... "I'm so sorry, I can't sell it to you"?!?!?! Oh no!!!!!!! Apparently they did a final extra liquid check at the gate, and so I couldn't buy it. What a fail!!!!!!!!! Boo. I was sad about it but Michal said she'd find another way to get it for me (it's a travel retail exclusive) another time. Still a fun tasting anyway, and definitely liked that one specifically. (Update: just this past month I had a friend visit from our London office and he brought me a bottle of Tarlogan, yay!!!)

We found some Green Tea Kit Kats and then headed to the Singapore Airlines lounge. This being our final flight in the leg of three (THREE!!!!!!!) Singapore Airlines Business Class flights we had booked all with points, we got lounge access again which was awesome. We relaxed there for a bit and I had a few sesame balls before we headed to the plane.

And off we go to the plane... ohhh Singapore Biz... sweet glory. It was SUCH a nice ride. I tried lots and lots of the food and drinks again this time, of course. :) I didn't have the hot chocolate again this time (though it was super epic), but rather tried two different Chinese Teas. the first was served in a gongfu and the second in a regular coffee mug. I also had the amazing Singapore Sling again, as well as a "Bailey's White Russian" yupppp!

We're baccck!!

Oh man what an epic plane
For dinner I had my "Book the Cook" pre-ordered option of "Grilled Fillet of Beef with Shallot Tarragon Sauce" which was one of the best-reviewed dinners of the Singapore Airlines Business Class offerings ;) Haha. I watched Big Hero 6 (love that movie) and enjoyed dinner and dessert.

"Grilled fillet of beef with shallot tarragon sauce, French beans, roasted pumpkin and mashed potatoes"
Dessert was a Strawberry Mousse Cake with strawberry coulis, as well as a cheese plate of Camembert Le Pere, Pont L'eveque, and Bleu D'Auvergne.
This was our last event of the honeymoon and also the last of our epic flights, so I wanted to sit back, relax, and enjoy it, rather than catching up on my journal or reading and feeling like I had items I specifically wanted to accomplish. What an epic nice seat... oh man.... I loved it. Talk about traveling in style!! I converted my seat into a full bed and slept soundly for 4 or 5 hours. Ahh. It was magnificent.

I woke up in time to order something a la carte from the "Delectables" menu. I ordered the Vegetarian Noodles soup (with lettuce black mushrooms, and red chili), and it was so good I woke up Michal and ordered one for her too :) I enjoyed the awesome soup and watched the new Ghostbusters remake movie, which was all awesome.

Late-night soup!
So good
I napped for a bit longer after the soup and was again reminded how amazing Singapore Airlines is. An hour and a bit later, it was time for breakfast, but with our late-night soup snack we just had a light simple breakfast and a little bit of fruit. Once we were awake we were surprised with... wait for it... Honeymoon Cake #3!!!!!!!!!!!! Amazing and hilarious that we got one on this last flight was well, and again it was different than the previous two. This one was even more amazing, it was a Mango Mousse!!! Incredible!!!! Man, they really treated us amazingly well.

Happy Honeymoon, again!
After a wonderful and relaxing flight (how many times have I ever said that?!) we arrived back at SFO and it was nice to be home after this crazy 27 DAY trip. Wow. What an AMAZING trip it was. To make matters ever more awesome, the plane was super fast at SFO, the plane was in 1hr early. I made an order of grocery necessities on Amazon Prime Now at the airport, to be delivered soon after we got home (I love San Francisco) :)

It was a nice clear night (we had arrived in the evening local time). As usual, our timing is epic -- it had apparently been pouring rain for the past 3 weeks straight in San Francisco, the entire time of our honeymoon. Forecast for the next few days? 16C and Sunny. :) Haha. That'll do, that'll do :)

We arrived back to a super nice and timely text from Matt -- they had made a lasagna for dinner to share with us! That was a great surprise upon return and SUPER perfect. Matt came over to drop it off and a short chat and tea. GREAT lasagna and a really nice "welcome home" after an epic long trip.

And here are the obligatory "here's what we brought home" photos from after we unpacked:

Crazy B.Duck x The Simpsons shirt from Hong Kong, MUJI pens, Ngala safari hat
Rum from The Seychelles
Tea! Singapore Breakfast, TWG tea bags, South African Rooibos and Seychelles Black Tea
Another close-up of the rum
Kits from the airplanes

Playing Cards from Singapore Airlines
Pillow covers from South Africa

Plush leopard from Safari, Black Cat metal sponge holder from Pylones in Paris
Monsters, Inc. phone case
Da Kine "Gordon" toque from Switzerland
Mickey "Wedding Tea Set" from Hong Kong Disneyland

Puegot Salt and Pepper grinders from Paris, Raclette and Fondue spices from Switzerland
Bags and stickers
Raffles Praslin beach bag from The Seychelles
Last-minute Hong Kong market score -- Herschel backpack
Totoro carry bag and backpack from Hong Kong
What a honeymoon it was!! It was an amazing and special experience to share together -- truly, and literally, an adventure across the globe! Michal said upon returning that the Safari was "one of the best travel experiences of my life." WOW! A truly epic honeymoon.

A stewardess on our final Singapore Airlines flight from Hong Kong to SFO asked us "where did you go?" We answered "Around the World", not wanting to show-off how lucky we were to have been able to pull off this kind of trip (thank you Airline Points and travel perks!) She pressed, "Which countries?"... "Switzerland, France, Seychelles, South Africa, and Hong Kong"... to which she replied, "Oh, wow. I've never heard of such a honeymoon". Me neither!

It was truly magnificent. We are so grateful and happy for this magical epic honeymoon time. :)

Best trip ever.
-Mike Jutan
San Francisco, CA 1/25/2017 (typed on 12/2/2017)