Sunday, 1 December 2013

Overland Hong Kong has moved!

For all stories related to my container trip - and for more adventurous tales, head on over to Leaving Cairo  See you there!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Rounding off the trip nicely - and women on ships are NOT a bad thing!

Yes, I'm back in Athens now after my summer of fun...ready to face a new round of challenges.

To round the trip off nicely, yesterday (30AUG) the ship arrived back in Athens as well!  I had been staying in regular email contact with the Chief Officer, (remember my avuncular figure who looked after me?) and we arranged to meet in Athens.

Stepping off the Metro in Piraeus, there he was, waiting for me amongst the crowds, looking a little lost (well, when you've spent days at sea and then are faced with mass crowds ashore, I thing you would too).

"When do you have to be back tot he ship?"
"Oh, not until 8pm.  I trust you - you are my guide today.  And you are my niece so I will pay"
Nice to see my 'adopted uncle' again

(Ha!  Maybe I should take him shopping then?!)

And so we headed back into the's only about 25 mins by Metro from Piraeus to the Acropolis. 
Wandering around the Acropolis
Waiting for the coffee
I introduced him to Cafe Freddo, we wandered around the foot of the Acropolis, we sat (at the Chief's request), at another cafe for another Freddo (iced coffee) and a Mojito (for Chief too!), wandered some more and then rounded off the day with some souvlaki in a traditional Greek place (not frequented by tourists) before he headed off into the sunset back to the MV Hanjin Boston.

It was lovely to see him again - and I know we'll be staying in touch...I've already half jokingly told him if they need a Secretary on the ship for all the massive amounts of paperwork the Captain and Chief has to do, I'm their woman.  He has semi-seriously said he'll discuss the matter and see who he and the Captain need to talk to.

Interestingly, he says that to have a couple of women on board the ship - whether Captain's wife or girlfriend of a crew member, or passenger - really balances the ship's atmosphere makes it a 'softer' environment to work in.  So you see?  It doesn't have to be a negative to have a female on board.

I really hope to be able to go on a similar trip again one day - maybe even work on board a ship.  I hope you've enjoyed my posts about my experience. I'm back blogging at my usual site now - Leaving Cairo - where you'll get Author & Expat interviews & Guest posts, as well as updates about life and culture in Greece.

See you over there soon!

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Saturday, 10 August 2013

A cabin of a different sort

And so my journey came to an end when I touched down at LHR airport.  What took me five weeks in a container ship with beautiful views took me twenty hours in a steel tube!
Hong Kong Airport

I flew with  Aeroflot and as you know, initially I was quite nervous about this.  But no need!  The journey was very comfortable, an Airbus 330 from Hong Kong to Moscow, and then Moscow to London.  Food good, over 40 movies to choose from and with your own TV, I'd highly recommend them.  The only hiccup was at the Transit Desk in Moscow airport: only two members of staff on duty in a small area for over 100 people trying to rush to their next flight.  Yes, a lot of pushing and shoving, but once that was over and done with the airport was clean, well signposted and guess what?  The sun was shining!

I reached Heathrow and was exhausted.  In total I'd been awake for approx. 20 hours ( I don't sleep well on planes ) and was desperate to get to my Yotel cabin.  Instead of booking a hotel for the night at LHR, I took the cheaper (and more fun) alternative.
Ever heard of the Japanese style sleeping capsules/pods?
Well, I'd always wanted to try one and Yotel offer an upmarket version of this.
The concept is simple: "...the luxury of airline travel and a touch of Japanese influence into a small but luxurious cabin" as Yotel founder Simon Woodroffe, OBE states (Source).

And what an experience!  I had a Premium double cabin with a sofa bed that at the press of a button converts to a double bed. 
At only 110sft en-suite, it's pretty 'cosy' but oh so comfortable!  Free Wi-fi, flat screen TV and 'monsoon' shower room, I freshened up with the products from my pack given to me before calling Reception / Mission Control to order some food (available 24/7).

And my trusty Samsonite travel bags that helped me with my journey
Boy did I sleep well.

Yotel's located Landside in Terminal 4, LHR and also London Gatwick and Amsterdam Schipol airport as well as a newly opened Yotel in New York City.  I'd love to stay there if I ever get to go over: located at 570 Tenth St (West 42nd Street),  at 7,000sqft it boasts the largest outdoor hotel terrace in NYC.

So if you ever need an overnight at any of the above locations and are looking for an affordable option, different from a hotel, don't hesitate to book Yotel.  You can book them on an hourly basis, minimum four hours stay, making it perfect for a few hours rest before or after a flight.  Example rates:

Standard Single Cabin (same facilities as a Premium, but single 'cabin' style bed built into the wall) for a four hour stay at LHR's Yotel: £32.00 inc. tax

Premium Double Cabin (such as I stayed in) for a four hour stay at LHR's Yotel: £46.50 inc. tax.

I'll be using them again if I ever need to.  Thanks for such a great, comfortable stay!
And so now back to the delights of the UK before flying back to Greece.  It's been one hell of a trip - unforgettable.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A few days in Hong Kong

This'll be my ninth day in Hong Kong now.  I've seen a fair bit: been to Stanley Markets on a Big Bus Tour, crossed the harbour on the Star Ferry and taken in the light show at night.
Star Ferry
I've met up with friends of friends of friends (the social network is great isn't  it?) who've shown me around: eaten Dim Sim, been to Cheung Chau and finished the day eating Thai in Kowloon.  I've even had high tea at the Peninsula Hotel.

It's been an interesting time, but I have to be completely honest: Hong Kong is not the city for me.  I've looked around, I've had some great foot massages at great prices but I find it too claustrophobic.  I guess going from being surrounded by nothing but sea for five weeks, it's something of a culture shock!
Temple - Cheung Chau

I know I keep exalting Greece and Athens, but it's a city where I find people speak to you on public transport, where I can sit in an old coffee house for hours on end if I like.  It's a city with amazing architecture.  But then again, it's not fair to compare Athens with Hong Kong, or Europe with Asia - they're so different.

Hong Kong at night

So thank you for hosting me Hong Kong - it's certainly been interesting.  I fly back to the UK on Thursday 8th...another culture shock?

In the meantime, the Chief Officer of the ship has emailed me to tell me that when they get back to Singapore, they have another passenger joining: a 74 yr old Australian travel writer.  So you see, interesting people do join container ships!

For more info on what to do in Hong Kong from a better source, look at Tim Ferriss's article Cheap travel in Paris, New York & Hong Kong.  He certainly gave me some pointers.

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Friday, 2 August 2013

So why do we need Security on board the ship?

I held off writing a full post about this as I wanted to check it was OK to say some things.  It's not a big secret - so I can share some things with you.  I alluded to it in this post, but will write in full here.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

A journal entry from Hong Kong

I was just about to write in my journal when I decided "Why not write my entry here and share it with you fine people?"

OK then -- what have I been up to on my second day in Hong Kong:

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Made it to Hong Kong

And so this brave girl made it!  My final destination on this grand voyage is Hong Kong, and the ship arrived at approx. 07:30 this  morning (30JUL).

What a voyage! I feel like I have an extended fact I felt quite tearful saying goodbye...after all, one month on board and a strong bond was formed.   Chief Officer really took me under his wing...we explored Singapore together, he became like an Uncle to me.  Oh, and he was very happy that I told him his English was good (he's Polish).  I was just being honest Chief.

And now for a nine day adventure in Hong Kong.  It feels a little overwhelming at the moment...going from peace and quiet to rush rush, lots of people and so much noise!

Keep you all posted.  Meanwhile, enjoy some pics taken on arrival by ship this morning:

From the Star Ferry

Gorgeous sunset the night before arrival
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