June 02, 2011

14 Hours to ASIA!--Hong Kong

We boarded the plane in San Francisco after I worked a few hours in the airport--yes, I pack WAY too much into our days--and I was on the phone with the cellphone company five times to get our phones worked out so we are not paying for them and not using them. Right up until we gave the nice ticket lady our passes to get on the plane. Still not fixed either...

We had 14 hours of flight! We played cards, slept, and did anything we could to pass time. This plane, too, was delayed because the large guy sitting right in front of me said he "needed" his medicine and it was in his suitcase under the plane. So we all waited while they re-opened the doors and dug out his pills from the abyss of luggage below. Very interesting guy, his snoring and off the wall questions to the plane employees became commic relief for me and the Chinese man across the aisle from me.

We landed in Hong Kong having missed a day because of the dateline and late in the evening. Hong Kong airport is HUGE and spotless. It was almost eery to walk around in a place that is starving for people but is quite barren. Makes you feel like you need to whisper for some reason.

The nice customer service/tourism lady, was so happy to direct us--and ALL our luggage--to a taxi and showered us with "oohs" and high pitched sqeeks of delight that I could rewrite the Chinese symbols for the Hotel--I guess my two semesters of Chinese paid off after all! The driver did not know English, so it was good I did copy the notes down. I was glad we were not driving, the little red taxis were really aggressive in the streets and it made me nervous a bit when they took on a bus. But we made it!

Our Hotel, Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers, is right in the shopping district of Kowloon. We could look out our window to the west and see Victoria Harbor, and the east Kowloon park and some of the MANY shopping malls. Hiva and I brushed our teeth--to rid ourselves of that nasty-I-have-been-flying-for-like-79-days-dragon-breath and we went to explore the area. We thought we liked Chinatowns in the cities of the USA, Kowloon was that times 10! Lights, people, food and cars were EVERYWHERE. We looked for something to eat that was popular and local...McDonalds! Ha! McD and 7-11 were on every corner!

The next day we got up early, me because I could not sleep anymore and I was still fretting about the stupid phones, and Hiva because I was up and she decided to join me. We walked through Kowloon and rode the Ferry across the Harbor to the Hong Kong island side of the city. Hong Kong is the business district, so it is a bit nicer and the houses, buildings and stores are more high end. We were amazed how you never have to walk out in the sunlight in Hong Kong anywhere. Covered walkways connect buildings, underground tunnels span the city, and malls spill over into each other. Lady Hiva and I definitely took advantage of the air conditioner in the mall to escape the oppressive humidity and heat a few times.

Everywhere we went I was accosted by the Indian men selling something. I was taller, whiter, and more American looking than ANYONE else around. Lady Hiva got quite a kick out of my reaction when they would come over. At first I was nice, but then I learned if you give them a look in the eye, or a smile, they took that as encouragement and would follow me, grab my arm to keep me from leaving, or corner me...none of which I appreciated much. I started ignoring them, but even that did not work. I had to yell at a few to get out of my face--little did he know my Bradshaw claustrophobia rage is REALLY intense! Sadly, if I saw an Indian guy looking at me the rest of the time in Hong Kong I would cross the street or do anything else in my power to avoid them.

We rode the tram to the top of Victoria Harbor. It was beautiful. The Mountains of Hong Kong are steep and green so, on the peaks you can see over the enormously tall buildings to the area below. After that, we rode a bus to Stanley--thank goodness for the British influence (I don't agree with colonialism AT ALL, but it DID make it easier that everything was written in Chinese AND English). Stanley was the last place that the Britsh held onto during the war and one of the first it took back afterwards. It is a cute little city on the sea with some shops Lady wanted to explore and we ate at a cafe. I am allergic to shellfish so being in an Asian country that is rather difficult. They put shrimp in EVERYTHING. So we are choosy about where we dine. IT is hard to explain an allergy to someone with hand gestures. If I said, "I am allergic to shrimp, it will kill me." and use my hands to show me choking by holding my neck and closing my eyes. They pick up on the only word they know--SHRIMP, and said, "We have shrimps! You like?" Ummm, no. I am not sure what they thought I was doing choking myself, must be a sign for something delicious!

We found a great little Italian restaurant to eat at. I had to laugh because here we were, Americans, at an Italian restaurant owned by and Australian in Hong Kong eating Mexican Nachos served by a Filipina! Talk about International experiences. We then bussed to Aberdeen and took a "Junk" boat up and down the canal to see all the docked fishing boats. They only fish a few months of the year and are parked in Aberdeen the rest of the time. There were also several communities of fishing villages that live in homeade house boats on the sea. Our Junk driver gave a tour in his broken, but energetic English. It was great! "Look! House boat, live there, the people, house boat! See TV? See A/C? Look! TWO A/C! Nice House boat!" or my two favorites was when he would whistle to a dog and say, "House dog...whistle whistle...see house dog?" and one of the boats had a few pots with herbs growing in them and he said, "Boat garden, pretty little boat garden."

We saw the famous "Floating Restaurants" one big one survives and is beautiful and ornately decorated in the front. We all took photos and you can come back to eat at night. Then the tour took us around the back of the building and it was a faded lime green with black mold streaking up the walls. Trash and debris was piled everywhere! Jokingly the driver held up his nose and said, "Nasty Jumbo Restaurant!"

We finished the day riding the ferry back over the Kowloon, proud of ourselves for making it around all day without any major mishaps. Not bad for Hong Kong day 1


  1. this post brought back so many awesome memories, I love HK! glad to see you two are doing well, thanks for sharing!!

  2. Hahahahahaha! oh my. your shrimp story is epic. Your italian restaurant is globalism at it's best! Awesome. HK looks beautiful!

  3. This post is bringing back memories for me too. We stayed at Kowloon for 3 days and it was crazy but a lot of fun. I enjoyed shopping with my mum mostly since the shopping places wer connected to the hotel and as u said, everywhere else. I'm so happy we get to read about your experiences.

  4. Watch out! Here comes the indian man...hahahaa Love your experiences. Much ofas to Lady Hiva.