Sunday, March 05, 2017

Holiday plans 2017-2018

For those who know me from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I've been busy preparing and taking my Exit Examination for the Hong Kong College of Family Physicians. Basically it means I'm trying to gain the title of "Specialist in Family Medicine". I know I won't pass because I bollocked up the clinical audit part of the exam, by handing in the audit late and incomplete. Hopefully that is the only part I have failed.

Since there is nothing I can do about the outcome, my focus has turned to my holiday plans for the next two years. I am very obsessive compulsive when it comes to holiday planning, as I have prepared trips years in advance. I already scheduled a trip to Taipei this year, no matter what the outcome of my examinations were. I'm taking my mum along this time because a) she hasn't had a proper vacation for a long time and b) I need her to help me navigate the language (since I can't read Chinese or speak Putonghua). For 2018, I have two trips planned. I want to go back to the UK in May/June 2018 so I can catch up with my brother and friends. I couldn't go to Seoul last summer, so I'm heading there in October 2018 to coincide with the WONCA (World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians) conference.

All this scheduling has left me a gap in late 2017 for a small trip. I have prepared options but I'm a bit indecisive in the matter, so I'm throwing it out to the public to gather opinion. I have four options, in order of date:

1. Tokyo Game Show (23rd to 24th September 2017)
Apart from E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) and gamescom, the Tokyo Game Show is one of the most significant gaming conventions in the world. Since you need to be a member of the video game industry to gain entry to E3 and gamescom is a bit far away as it is held in Cologne, the Tokyo Game Show is a more accessible option. I want to see what games will be coming out and see if there are gaming options for smartphones and tablets, as I've gone back to gaming recently after my cousin gave me his Xbox 360. The tickets are not expensive (¥1000 for advance tickets, ¥1200 for onsite tickets and ¥3000 for VIP tickets) and I can always do a bit of sightseeing. I've been to Tokyo twice before but I can't remember anything from the previous trips.

2. Malaysian Grand Prix (29th September to 1st October 2017)
Although I'm not a enthusiastic fan of Formula 1, I enjoyed the experience of the Singapore Grand Prix in 2014. I was also intrigued by the hospitality tickets for the Grands Prix (that's the plural of 'Grand Prix'), so I looked around at the other Asian Grands Prix to see what they could offer.

There are seven Grands Prix in Asia. I've been to Singapore, so I can rule that out. The Chinese Grand Prix is held in Shanghai but the circuit is actually in the outskirts of the city, which makes travelling to and from the hotel a bit of a hassle. Also I don't feel comfortable going to Chinese countries and not being able to speak the language (hence why I'm dragging my mum with me to Taipei). The only thing putting me off going to the Bahrain Grand Prix is that there is no direct flight between Hong Kong and Bahrain. This adds to the inconvenience and travel time. The Japanese Grand Prix has the same problem as the Chinese Grand Prix. It is held at Suzuka but that's about an hour away from the nearest city, Nagoya, and there isn't much I want to see around there.

That leave me with three possibilities: Australia, Malaysia, Abu Dhabi. Melbourne hosts the Australian Grand Prix and since I've just been there last year, I won't be back anytime soon. Abu Dhabi seems intriguing, since I've just found some attractions worth visiting. However it's a bit far away and would be reasonably expensive.

That leave the Malaysian Grand Prix, held in Kuala Lumpur. To be more exact it is in Sepang, an hour outside of Kuala Lumpur. I know I'm being hypocritical, since I excluded the Chinese and Japanese Grand Prix for being too far outside the main city but I also had other reasons not to choose them. Also I have a friend who lives in Sepang, so I could bunk up with my friend and save on accommodation fees.

I've been to Kuala Lumpur twice but I can't remember the attractions I saw (my memory is failing me), so I probably want to refresh my memory. The hospitality ticket I'm eye is not that expensive at ~US$2000.

So what is putting me off going to the Malaysian Grand Prix? As I said, I'm not a big fan of Formula One and I enjoyed the experience of Singapore Grand Prix but less so of the sport. It helped that the Singapore Grand Prix also had concerts by John Legend and Robbie Williams. Also going alone (as I will be) seems a bit pathetic and I don't know why. It's going to be difficult to find somebody to go with me and fork up that amount of cash.

I have to decide soon about the Malaysian Grand Prix, since this will be the final year it will be held as the Malaysian Government is not renewing the contract.

3. WTA Finals (22nd to 29th October 2017)
Before anybody says I'm going only to perv at female tennis players - you're probably right. But I did enjoy watching the Hong Kong Tennis Open in 2015, so I want to see top level tennis again. My overall aim would be to see Andy Murray, preferably at Wimbledon, but the logistics of that seem very troublesome. As the WTA Finals are held in Singapore, this is a more convenient option. I didn't go to see many attractions the last time I went to Singapore, so I hope to rectify that with this trip. The only problems are that a) I need a tennis player to root for and the only female tennis player I would go and watch is Laura Robson, who is way off from qualifying for the WTA Finals and b) like Formula One, I'm not a big fan of tennis.

4. Tokyo Motor Show (27th October to 5th November 2017)
Like any other grown up boy, if it is not video games I like then it would be cars. As Japan is a significant producer of the automobile, the Tokyo Motor Show would definitely be a place to see what the motor industry is offering in Japan.

Again ticket prices are not that expensive (¥400-1600) and since it's held over ten days, there are plenty of days to choose from. The only downside to the Tokyo Motor Show is that it is a biennial event. So if I don't go this year, I have to wait for 2019 for the next opportunity.

At the moment, I'm leaning towards the Tokyo trips but I know this is the last year I have the option going to the Malaysian Grand Prix (and probably one of the cheapest hospitality tickets on the Formula One schedule).

No comments: