““All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
The fantastic folks at our North Korea travel agency Lupine Travel, passed on an interview request for one the the UK’s biggest morning television shows – ITV’s Daybreak. After a chat with them, I was so excited and pleased to be asked to come into the studio as a guest on the couch!
I was driven to their London studios at an eye-watering 5:50am (ouch!) and was passed into hair and makeup. While the lovely lady was doing my face, I was introduced to the other guest for that spot, Dr. Sally Leivesley, a regular commentator and specialist on extreme risk. With a quick chat to the producers about what we might cover, we made our way through the hallways to the studio set itself. As this was live tv, going out to about 1,000,000 people, I was pretty nervous, which wasnt helped by the production assistant saying,”You know you are going on with three very experienced presenters, right?” Gee thanks, mate!
Kate Garroway and John Stapleton finished with their last segment, then spoke to their man in Seoul, South Korea before turning the conversation over to us! It went by so quick! They asked a few questions about why we went there and what our reception was by the people. I’d given Kate a few of the postcards I’d picked up – with scenes of their recent rocket launch and a few with anti-US sentiment, and she showed them to the camera. And then they moved to Sally and what the liklihood of an imminent attack was. And then it was time to say goodbye! Super fast! But according to Jon’s dad, a tv cameraman; 3 minutes in television is a long time, and we filled it well. Whew!!!
A great experience and one I hope to repeat! I’m trying to get a hold of the clip and when I do, I’ll post it here!
Erika was interviewed on BBC Radio Essex about her time in North Korea! Click the link to open a media player and hear all about it!
Days 352 – 356 – Hong Kong
Such a great few days in Hong Kong! I had been here before and liked it the first time so was excited to go back, and for New Years!
The first two days were a bit chilled. We had errands to run, like getting our Chinese visas (requiring two trips to the agency) and a visit to the Post Office to FINALLY get rid of all our summer clothes and all the South East Asia souvenirs I had been carrying for months! And then we could explore! Hong Kong is a brilliant mix of British and Chinese culture and you can really see that as you wander down the streets and alleys. There are high class shops like Dior and Chanel on Nathan Road, but then step down a lane, and you are in a sea of Chinese only shops with roast duck hanging in the window and strips of unidentified meat being sold from a cart. Our first few days were in Causeway Bay, the heart of the shopping district. We’d booked into a seriously dodgy hostel( with signs on the door announcing this was a residence only and any commercial enterprise –ie: a hostel – was illegal), but above a street of designer stores. Bizarre!
In the next few days I took Jon to see the Avenue of the Stars, the harbour walkway in Tsim Sha Sui dedicated to Hong Kong cinema’s greats. He was very excited to get his picture with the statue of Bruce Lee! Then we had to hit the famous Star Ferry for a cheap ride across the Harbour, and of course, the markets! As we’re not that prepared for the freezing temperatures awaiting us in China, we had to stock up on some wooly socks, a jumper and some great faux fur lined leggings at the Ladies Market!
On New Years Eve Day, we decided to go to see the Big Buddha on Lantau island. We hadn’t counted on the crowds though and so waited in the queue forever before getting on the cable car up. It’s a beautiful view and the big Buddha (the world’s largest seated Buddha) is definitely worth seeing, but maybe wait for a less busy day! Lantau is really a whole day out’s worth, as there is a village, a monastery, and a few other things to do there as well.
At night, we joined the thousands at the waterfront to ring in the new year with the celebrations in front of the convention center. We didn’t arrive until 10pm and thought we would be miles away from the action, but we managed to grab some really good spots! We were the only foreigners in the crowd it seemed and it was really cool to hear the countdown in Chinese!
New Years Day we got up late, but with no hangover (woot woot!) and went to see the 2013 Dragon and Lion parade! It was amazing! Apparently, they were trying to break the Guinness World Record for biggest one and there were so many different groups there! We took a load of pictures of the long windy dragons and the brightly coloured and fuzzy lions. There were even groups that were only small children – so cute in their mini costumes! It’s was something really Chinese and I thought it was great to be a part of that on New Years Day! Afterward, we went to try out one of HK’s most famous restaurants, Tim Ho Cha’s. It’s apparently the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant, and just around the corner from our house! We’d passed it a few times and there was always a huge queue, and the weirdest queuing system. You had to wait around, and then pester someone to get a number, then wait til your number was called. Sometimes this could mean a wait of up to two hours! We’d given it a miss before, but this was our last chance so we managed to score a number, and be inside in an hour and 15 minutes! It was actually really good, but quick as you were always conscious of the giant line outside! But, I’m glad we stuck it out! How many people can say they paid £10 for a Michelin starred meal for two people, eh?
And that was our time in Hong Kong! Wow does time fly! But I really do love this city and think I could live here. So hopefully, I will be back soon! Tomorrow, China!
2012 has been a truly amazing year for Jon and I. We have been lucky enough to live the dream and see the world. As of today on this adventure, we’ve been to 5 continents and 34 countries. It will be hard to top a year like that! Here’s to 2013, the last 2.5 months of the trip and the next chapter in our lives!