China - 2008

Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

Hong Kong

Thursday, October 2, 2008

We went to the airport following our boat ride on the Li River to fly less than one hour from Guilin to Hong Kong.  Although the Brits turned Hong Kong back to China a few years ago, it is still considered a foreign country and we are officially leaving China with our departure from Guilin.  We didn’t arrive at the Shangri-La hotel in Kowloon until after 10:00 pm because of delays with our luggage and heavy traffic caused by a big fireworks display celebrating National Day.  Hong Kong has a population of about 7 million people.  About 3 million live in public housing and many families have homes of less than 500 square feet.  Condos on the highway with views cost as much as $1,500 per square foot.  Gas is about $9 per gallon.  Thursday, October 2nd was our last day of sightseeing with our guide Yang.  He and a local guide Bill took the group by bus to the top of Victoria Peak for views of the city.  It was a cloudy day, so the views weren’t terrific.  We then went to the floating city of Aberdeen, where people still live in houseboats in the harbor.  We had a ride around the harbor on a sampan and had great views of all the boats with skyscrapers in the background.  From Aberdeen we went to Stanley for some shopping in the market.  Our group of six split with the tour group in Stanley, as we wanted to spend the whole day on the island.  We took a local bus and then walked to the SoHo area (south of Hollywood Road) where we had some good food in a Vietnamese restaurant.  From there we went to the Peak Tram terminal to go to Victoria Peak for views of Hong Kong at night.  Huge crowds were waiting to go up, and the crush of people made it a scary experience.  The views were great and the trip down was better, although we had to stand during the steep descent.  We walked to the Star Ferry pier and took the short ferry ride across the harbor.  By the time we got to our hotel our feet were sore from our five miles of walking but it was worth it.  On Friday, October 3rd, we had breakfast at our hotel and then watched the vice-presidential debate in our room.  Barbara and Jay took the subway to Mong Kok where they visited the Ladies Market, the Flower Market and the Yuen Po Bird Garden.  Although real estate is outrageously expensive in Hong Kong, transportation such as the subway, bus and ferry is very cheap.  Prices are reasonable at restaurants (Hong Kong has the highest number of restaurants per capita in the world) and there are bargains galore in markets around the city.  The subway system is impressive, as is most of Hong Kong.  Our group got together for dinner at an Italian restaurant in an interesting area of shops and restaurants on Knutsford Terrace.  Gayle, Jerry, Barbara and Jay then walked down to the waterfront to watch the Symphony of Lights Show, which is a laser light show with music.  It was an overcast, cloudy night, but was still enjoyable.  We walked back to our hotel along the Avenue of the Stars Promenade.

Our trip to China has come to an end and we are ready to go home.  It has been fantastic sharing adventures with such a great group of people from Grant Park.  We all enjoyed getting to know Jack, Paul’s friend from St.  Louis.  It has been a physically demanding trip.  Being a pedestrian in China is a challenge, as there are mostly crazy drivers.  Jay said crossing the streets where there were crosswalks but no lights reminded him of the old computer game “Frogger.” We have learned so much about this interesting country and thank Lynn and Jim for doing all the planning.  Hopefully we’ll start planning our next trip soon.

Sampan ride

Aberdeen - sampan ride

Aberdeen from sampan

Aberdeen - sampan pilot

Stanley Market

Dinner in SoHo

Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

Kowloon - Flower Market

Hong Kong light show

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