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whY go to Jordan?

klm597

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I didn't have much of a plan for the first day in Hong Kong. Ended up doing some damage to the house deposit with some tea shopping in the morning.

As the weather seemed okay I caught the bus up to Victoria Peak. I prefer the bus to the tram to get to the peak especially if you can grab the front seats on the top level. It's quite a wild ride - the bus drivers do a great job with the narrow winding road.

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I ended up going for a bit of a hike from Victoria Peak along to Mount High West and then all the way down via Pinewood Battery to HKU MTR station. Plenty of families out and about going for walks but it was still very nice.

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klm597

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I had heard there would be demonstration activity in the Tsim Sha Tsui District that afternoon so I caught the MTR to Kowloon station and walked back to Jordan and the hotel from there.

During the walk I noticed a lot of debris and vandalised bank branches around the place. When I got to Nathan Road it was completely empty of traffic. Plenty of people were still walking around however.

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Half an hour after making it to the hotel I noticed a police vehicle entourage making its way down Nathan Road. I went out onto the hotel bar terrace but instantly started coughing (along with everyone around me) so quickly retreated back indoors. I assume this was tear gas. I went back outside half an hour later and had no problems.

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Seems like I was very lucky with my timing as I missed the initial mass movement of people down Nathan Road earlier in the afternoon towards Tsim Sha Tsui and got into the hotel just before the cavalry arrived.
 
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:D

I will be in Jordan in a week with a different tour company (Exodus); will have to up my TR game ;)

What is your final destination/when do you leave Jordan?
 

klm597

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:D

I will be in Jordan in a week with a different tour company (Exodus); will have to up my TR game ;)

What is your final destination/when do you leave Jordan?
Could make an interesting comparison between Intrepid and Exodus, at least in Jordan. Will this be your first time visiting Jordan?

I get into Amman on Thursday and depart Jordan straight from Madaba a week and a bit later on Saturday morning where the tour finishes.
 

klm597

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On today's agenda was a day trip to Macau purely out of curiosity but also to tick off another "country."

I caught the Turbojet hydrofoil service from Sheung Wan. Walked up to the counter and got a departure in 15 minutes. The return fare was about 70AUD. Immigration was a breeze as was boarding. Seating is allocated but randomly assigned with stickers during boarding. I got an aisle on the way over and lucked out with a window on the way back. Seating was about the same as international economy which was fine for the hour trip.

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Google Maps had the walk from the ferry terminal to the centre of the island at only 30 minutes so I had a good wander around Macau making my way to the old Portugese area. My initial impression of Macau was somewhere between Hong Kong and Taipei with a lot of more scooters than Hong Kong.

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klm597

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I found my way to Mount Fort and the Ruins of St Paul's when a million other people suddenly appeared. Up until that point it had been relatively quiet.

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Mount Fort is quite well preserved and very lush but sadly the Macao Museum was closed as it was a Monday. Good view of Macau from the top however.

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I walked through a very dense crowd of people down the pedestrian mall to Senado Square where I gorged myself on Portugese Egg Tarts. On first glance this area feels a bit like Disneyland with the fake facades but once you take a closer look you realise they are all very old and very real. Makes for an interesting open-air shopping mall.

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I grabbed a quick bite to eat from small noodle vendor and continued my slow walk back around to Guia Hill / Fortress. Compared to the rest of the city this hill was a calm oasis! The chapel at the top was built in 1622 and in 1998 frescoes were uncovered on the chapel ceiling under many layers of plaster. Sadly no photos inside so a picture of a picture will have to do. Although faint the ceiling of the chapel was exquisite and was an interesting meld of Chinese and Christian symbolism.

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The lighthouse next to the chapel was built in 1865 in the same style as the chapel and was the first western-style lighthouse to be built along the coast of China. This area felt a lot more European and again had a fantastic view of Macao. Unfortunately the exterior of the chapel and lighthouse were being restored.

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The rest of Guia Hill was incredibly lush and calm so I took a breather before continuing my walk back down to the ferry terminal and then a straightforward journey back to Hong Kong.

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Overall I found Macau very worthy of a day trip from Hong Kong but couldn't imagine spending too much more time there. I haven't factored the many casinos into that conclusion however as that's outside my area of expertise.

Oh and one last thing - so many CCTV cameras! More than I have seen anywhere else in the world including London.
 

JohnM

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Could make an interesting comparison between Intrepid and Exodus, at least in Jordan.
IME of both Exodus and Intrepid, they are very similar. I've done quite a few (c. 10) of each and never faulted either of them. Choice has depended mostly on dates and personal-appeal variations in itinerary rather than any difference in 'quality'. They have a very similar look and feel.

Exodus is a British company (but it has an office in Melbourne); the Intrepid Group is Australian (Geckos - under 35s backpackers, Intrepid - mid-range, and Peregrine - a bit more upmarket) are their brands. Exodus pitches closest to Intrepid, except that Intrepid does tend to sub-divide into Basix (as they label it), which tends to use more public transport and Original (= Exodus).

Bear in mind that they can use the same DMCs (Destination Management Companies) that set up the local packages, and that the leaders are freelance, so may have experience of both companies. IME, you can't go wrong with either. Both companies set very high standards of their leaders.

One advantage of Intrepid/Peregrine over Exodus is that they will, in most cases, guarantee a tour with one booking; Exodus requires a minimum of four. I have been caught once (just this year) with an Exodus tour not making minimum numbers in low-season in India (but, being India, easily worked around). Both have a maximum of around 12-18 pax.

I did an Exodus tour in Jordan (not the same one as you): starts at Post#120 here: A global ramble - RTW 2017.
 

esseeeayeenn

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On first glance this area [Senado Square] feels a bit like Disneyland with the fake facades but once you take a closer look you realise they are all very old and very real. Makes for an interesting open-air shopping mall.
I assume you haven't been to Lisbon? 😂
I agree with your closing comment about Macau though - the Portugese area is pretty but I wouldn't want to spend much more than a weekend there.
Enjoying the report and the photos!
 

klm597

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I did an Exodus tour in Jordan (not the same one as you): starts at Post#120 here: A global ramble - RTW 2017.
Thank you for the super detailed review of both companies JohnM! The intrepid tour Trek Jordan is an original style tour and at the time of booking it was cheaper than what Exodus were offering but I assume that isn't a consistent observation. I will continue to check both for future trips however.

I had a read through your marvelous trip report a few weeks ago, thanks for all the tips and tricks.
 

klm597

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I assume you haven't been to Lisbon? 😂
I agree with your closing comment about Macau though - the Portugese area is pretty but I wouldn't want to spend much more than a weekend there.
Was it that obvious? 😂 I haven't been to Portugal (or Spain, mostly stuck to Northern Europe up to this point) but it's quite high up on my list of places to visit. I'll just make sure to be there in low season if that exists.
 

pagingjoan

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kim597: Welcome to AFF.

You have had excellent tips already for Jordan, so I will just add a second vote for a trip to Jerash, which was a highlight of my time in the country, and a strong recommendation to begin your touring in Petra as soon as the gates open.

There is a huge difference between being on the massive site as the day dawns, with almost nobody else around, and being there in the afternoon with masses of "drop in" tourists taking selfies during their half hour visit. :)
 

esseeeayeenn

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Was it that obvious? 😂 I haven't been to Portugal (or Spain, mostly stuck to Northern Europe up to this point) but it's quite high up on my list of places to visit. I'll just make sure to be there in low season if that exists.
Yes it was. Portugal and Spain are both amazing. Just avoid July and August.
 

klm597

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There is a huge difference between being on the massive site as the day dawns, with almost nobody else around, and being there in the afternoon with masses of "drop in" tourists taking selfies during their half hour visit. :)
Thank you for the information. I'll do my best to get to Jerash as early as possible and not be one of those "drop in" tourists . 😅
 

pagingjoan

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Thank you for the information. I'll do my best to get to Jerash as early as possible and not be one of those "drop in" tourists . 😅
No, no, no. :)
The "drop in" tourists are at Petra.
Or were, when we were there.

Picture shoals of glamorous women in stiletto heels, posing for their Instagram pix, amidst the horse drawn carriages!
Rather different from the post-dawn silence of that majestic site, with stunning light - and almost nobody around.

Jerash, when we were there, maybe four years ago, was relatively lightly populated.
We had a brilliant guide who had been on site as a young boy when the first discoveries of the amazing history were made, and he brought the history to life. It certainly was a highlight of the Jordan adventure.
 

klm597

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The "drop in" tourists are at Petra.
Or were, when we were there.
Ahh gotcha sorry. I have two full days in Petra and two in Wadi Rum so I'm hoping to do a few sunrise walks if possible.

Jerash, when we were there, maybe four years ago, was relatively lightly populated.
We had a brilliant guide who had been on site as a young boy when the first discoveries of the amazing history were made, and he brought the history to life. It certainly was a highlight of the Jordan adventure.
Sounds like you had a fantastic guide Pagingjoan! I will try my best with what then hotel offers regarding Jerash guides. :)
 

klm597

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For the last day in Hong Kong I decided to seek out a piece of Hong Kong's aviation history and try and find the old Kai Tak checkerboard.

I found my way up the hill where the checkerboard is located in Lok Fu Park expecting to find at least a viewing spot and an information board but found nothing! The internet suggested I bush-bash along the boundary of a large fence and walk along a ledge in a steep concrete embankment to reach it but I thought it best not to follow those instructions. The view was mostly obscured by trees.

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Afterwards I made my way to Tsim Sha Tsui and went for a walk along the water's edge. No sign any damage from the demonstrations a few days prior. Did a little shopping then found my way back to the Eaton HK to pick up my bag.

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Rather than go backwards to Central to catch the airport express I decided to try the A21 bus from Kowloon to the airport. It stops right outside the hotel on Nathan Road and whilst it was a little slow (journey took an hour) I wasn't complaining for only 33HKD. Ample seating and luggage racks.
 

klm597

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Passport and flight tickets were checked to get into the terminal proper. After a 15 minute wait in the business check-in line for a few DYKWIAs renegotiating their homeloans I was through.

Whilst this was my thirst time flying Etihad it was my first as a VA Gold. I tried to gently push for a seat as far forward in economy (the first 5 rows were showing as 'blocked' on EF) but the agent could only give me one in the 6th row and made it sound like that was a huge honour.

Lounge invitation was provided and I was through on my way to the Club Bauhinia lounge very quickly. This is HK Airlines' old lounge but seems to mostly operate as a third-party lounge for a few airlines including Etihad.

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The space wasn't huge but there were ample very comfortable seating including arm chairs and dining tables. There were 6-7 different hot food buffet options available as well as 5 different noodle bowls cooked to order. Having had noodles for lunch I stuck with the buffet. Wine, beer and spirits were also available. I was happy enough with a 2018 white from Bordeaux (can't recall more information than that sorry). View was the classic HKG lounge view one level below the departures level. The lounge never really filled up in 2 hours I was there in the early evening and remained very quiet.

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Whilst a little old the shower was very clean and absolutely huge with a very nice rainfall shower head. There was a 5 minute wait while they cleaned it prior to my use.

So overall, good food, good view, good shower, good enough seating, acceptable drinks and it never got very busy. Tick of approval from me! 👍
 

klm597

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Priority boarding worked as intended. Once onboard I noticed the first 5 rows of economy were essentially still vacant and a few opportunistic few (including my seat mate) moved forward. Some tried to move up to the first row but we're kicked out by the flight attendants.

As boarding finished I got a dedicated greeting for being a VA Gold (much to the dismay of those around me) which was a lot more than what VA offered on my previous HKG flight! It went along the lines of "On behalf of Virgin Australia and Etihad we thank you for flying with us today." From there I was asked for my first meal option from a card with pictures.

Once in the air after the first round of drinks went by, my meal was individually brought to me. This was well before the meal cart appeared. Meal was on the small side I thought but after eating a bit in the lounge it was enough for me. Wouldn't want to have not eaten beforehand though. 2nd round of drinks went on offer and then a third containing just tea, coffee or juice.

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I noticed a few people around me cough up and buy some mid-flight snacks. I do not like all this cost cutting at Etihad especially with such small meal sizes but it might be a short-term boost financially for them. A pre-arrival snack wrap was offered just over an hour before touchdown.

Surprised to get a real gate with a jetbridge at AUH so arrival was a breeze even though priority baggage didn't work.

I got a good look at the new mid-field terminal at AUH as we taxied in - all the internal lights were on but no external ramp lights. Couldn't see any obvious signs of construction so I'd assume it's getting close (but one could say the same for Berlin Brandenburg Airport so that doesn't mean much).
 

klm597

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I jumped in a taxi for a very long ride to Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. Considering I paid nothing for this hotel I'm very happy.

Ended up with what is I assume a standard room on the 42nd floor with a view of the Corniche. The room is fairly large as is the bathroom and the bed incredibly soft (too soft for me even). I think the bathroom is bigger than my bedroom at home however. :D

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I also found the supermarket in the deserted shopping centre below the hotel very useful as well for a few snacks.
 

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