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Break grants chance to take in the sights

The Doctor had advised no seriously long haul trips until my ear was feeling better, so Bev and I decided to head to Hong Kong for a few days even though I wasn't playing in the tournament.  All our onward travel was booked from there and the weather in Singapore was so stifling I didn't think I would recover quickly staying where we were.  We thought we were booked on the Monday afternoon flight not the 945 flight.  Bev checked our itinerary on Monday morning at 730 just to make sure and discovered we were on the earlier flight.  Panic set in, we hadn't packed and were at least 45 minutes from the airport.  When we finally regained sense we called the airline and changed our flights to the afternoon, then booked the emergency exit seats for that little bit of extra comfort!  It's not as important for Bev (she's only 5 foot 5) but a 3 hour flight for me with no leg room is not ideal.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, having stopped to buy some Nunns electrolyte tablets.  Singapore is the only place out here I can get them, they're my favourite rehydration formula as they haven't got any sugars or dodgy sweeteners in them.  Shane, my physio had meant to bring me some but his supplier had let him down just before he travelled.  Bev had found a running shop out in Singapore which stocked them so we visited twice to pick up enough for the week in Singapore and then as we left to pick up some for Dubai and South Africa.

I actually felt fine on the flight, despite the Doctors warnings and we arrived into Hong Kong airport, heading straight to my favourite Ramen restaurant before grabbing a taxi and going to our hotel.  We normally stay in the same hotel in Hong Kong; it's on the train line to the golf course and is about 30 minutes from Downtown and has a fantastic buffet restaurant -so it's perfect.  Unfortunately it was being refurbished this year so we decided not to stay in case it was noisy.  Instead we'd picked a hotel recommended by caddies and players, its slightly further out of town but still on the train line and connected to a huge mall.  Bev had booked it late and had booked us an executive room, we had high hopes!  Unfortunately they weren't realised!  We got the small box room!  The aircon smelled of damp and the bed wasn't designed for someone over 5ft 9, so it wasn't ideal when you're over 6ft!  My feet were hanging out of the bed, all I can say is Chris Wood was lucky he hadn't been given our room as only half of him would have fitted in the bed; he's about 6ft 6!  Over the few days we were in Hong Kong I checked out James' and Shane's rooms, both were on lower floors and were much superior, so the moral of this story is don't pay for the upgrade and don't stay in the same room next year!

It's a little bizarre to have a few days off in a city like Hong Kong.  Normally all my time is spent getting up and down to the club.  We generally eat there too as the food on the verandah is amazing.  This year I spent it going into town with Bev and James, looking at the sites.  One of my favourite buildings, the Bank of China Building is in Hong Kong and I've always wanted to go up to the viewing platform in it.  Bev doesn't do tall buildings so I'd never gone up before, bizarrely if you put her on a mountain with snow and skis she knows no fear, but won't go above the 30th floor if she can at all help it! So James and I headed up to the platform and she got the order in at Starbucks on the ground floor.  Everyone was happy!  The view wasn't as amazing as I'd expected but was still good and was definitely worth the trip!  Then we headed up The Peak for a proper view.  It's the highest point on Hong Kong Island and gives a great view of Kowloon and the harbour when it's not smoggy.  We were lucky and had picked a clear day.  We had lunch up there too, in one of the big restaurants with huge panoramic windows.  As we sat down by the window we spied all the Getty Sports photographers practicing backswings on some astrotruf, we couldn't help but heckle!  Eventually the purpose became clear as Rory, Padraig, Paul Lawrie and YE Yang arrived for a dramatic photo-shoot.  It's always interesting, even for me, to see what the top stars have to do each week at tournaments! 

 A few days of window shopping and playing the tourist and we were on the move again, leaving Hong Kong just as the tournament started on Thursday, hopping the extra time in Dubai would help me get over the last of the infection.  It was a long flight and so I used miles to upgrade Bev to business, she generally travels economy as we can't justify the cost of 2 business class seats.  Occasionally I use my miles to upgrade her and we travel together, especially on the longer overnight flights.  We arrived into Dubai at about midnight and headed straight to our apartment, it wasn't the cleanest but we were only staying for a few nights so it would do. 

We spent Friday on the beach and wandering about a mall, even watching the movie" Flight", which wasn't what I'd imagined but I enjoyed it anyway.  Then James arrived on Saturday and preparations began for next week's tournament.   Normally European Tour players get to practice at the Jumeriah Estates course but it's closed for the tournament now so I went to the Ernie Els club instead.  Bizarrely I met up with 2 lads from Campbell, a girl from East Belfast and Justin Parsons who's the head coach; you can't get away from Northern Irishmen out here!