Sunday, February 6, 2011


Tuesday, April 3, 2007 HONG KONG

The alarm woke us at 7 am giving us time for breakfast, taking in the laundry…only $5.00 for three pounds of clothing…and a quick go on the free Internet in the lobby. They have two computers and they are extremely fast. We checked emails for any problems at home and then on the bus by 8:45 am for our morning tour with Jo and Polly.

More history: The British were awarded the Hong Kong area at the end of the Opium Wars in 1842. They controlled it until 1997. The land had all been leased by the British who in turn leased to people to build on. In 1984 the British agreed to give back the land to China in 1997; this was also the year the ninety-nine year lease expired from an agreement to lease rather than colonize the area from China. Hong Kong is known as a financial power and also for services. Ninety-five percent of the population is Chinese.

We asked about earthquakes and Polly said “mama who who”: so – so…but they do have the skyscrapers built to withstand typhoons and high winds. Polly said that as a child her mother said to be careful when saying “so, so”….if she said “mama ho ho” it would mean that she was calling her mother a “horse”.

Our first stop was at the longest escalator in the world. Built in 1993 it is 800 meters long and is used like a subway for the people to get down from the residential section at the top of the mountain to the commercial area at the bottom. We started half way down and ended at the bottom in Chinatown. We had some free time and found many interesting shops that had roasted ducks complete with the heads still on; fresh fish being scaled and gutted on the street, flowers, and many small stores for everything you could imagine. The Chinese like to buy their foods fresh daily. We also saw a large ornate building called a “Memorial Building” where people may purchase a plaque for their loved ones and visit them regularly there as opposed to going to the cemetery. As in Europe, a burial plot is resold every ten years because of the scarcity of land.

We then drove to Hollywood Road; the first paved road in Hong Kong and is named after the bushes that grew along the road: Holly. There we visited the Daoist Man Mo Temple built in 1847 AD. The Daoist belief is based on “The Way” described in the “Book of Morals” and traces their history back 4700 years ago. They offer fruits and burn incense as offering much like the Buddhist. They believe in the Ying and Yang; Fung Shu; balance in life.

After a quick wash room stop (we all agreed that we’ve found the cleanest and best stocked rest rooms in China here in Hong Kong even if they are mostly squat type) we had a few minutes to shop. Norm found a small brass Opium Pipe and Jim got a small brown piece of jade.

Back on the bus and by the way…we’ve been having light sprinkles since our first stop this morning… we drove through the tunnel to the other side of the island to the Marina in Aberderen. There we boarded two Sanpan boats for a tour of the harbour (we’re very British today) around the houseboats, fishing boats and beautiful yachts. Nancy and Gena both purchased Chinese coolie straw hats from our boatman. Many of the fisherman families live in their boats in this bay.

Our last stop was at the Aberdeen Jewelry Factory for a quick demonstration on the making of jewelry and then an opportunity to purchase some of the exquisite pieces. Many were tempted but much to the delight of the husbands we all left empty handed and headed back to the hotel. We have the afternoon free for lunch; we ate our noodle soup in our room that we purchased yesterday at the grocery store. We’re hoping for no rain tonight on our evening tour. I think that we’re going to walk to Victoria Park this afternoon.

Yes, we walked to the park but I got cold and headed back to hotel after dropping Jim at the Hong Kong Public Library. I also had a toe that was beginning a blister. Walked in and found the free computers open so spend some time on that before heading to the room. Jim arrived back on schedule at 4 pm and we were ready for the evening tour that began at 5:30.

Polly does an excellent job with her running narrative. She told us her Chinese name is Fun Lin (at least that what it sounded like). Also the 2008 Olympic Event being held in Hong Kong is the Equestrian Venue. The name Hong Kong was named by fisherman who found a very fragrant flowering tree in the Harbor that smelled very good. So: Hong = fragrant and Kong = Harbor: fragrant harbor!

Our first stop was at a Malaysian Restaurant in Kowloon; an opportunity for a different type of food. Our tables were very old butcher tables that had been found in a scrap heap and reconditioned, two round cutouts that we think were for rendering pans had been filled in with newer wood; very unique and they’d put a plaque on the table that told the story. And you thought that I’d made that one up!

After dinner it was raining lightly as we made our way to the bus; by the way we’re a group of twenty tonight plus three guides. A small group from another OAT group joined us for the Optional Tour this evening. A short ride took us to the Asian Night Market where we wandered in the rain for forty minutes. A few small purchases: my umbrella gave out this evening so I got a new on for HK$39. (about $5) and Jim found a belt for another $5.; nothing to break the bank. Gene found his t-shirt from Hong Kong; Jo told him that it is a three generation shirt: it gets passed down each time you wash it.

Our next stop was at the Star Ferry Terminal for a walk along the waterfront with views of Hong Kong lights, Historical Clock Tower, and Museums. Then we rode the ferry across the bay from the Peninsula of Kowloon to the island of Hong Kong. The bus drove across the bridge and met us on the other side. We nearly fell over when the boat docked; it was a very rough landing.

Drove up Victoria Peak for the view of the Harbor and city at night; misting lightly so views were not as spectacular as on a clear night. Enjoyed the views for about half an hour and then most got ice cream before heading back to the bus and the trip down the mountain. By this time it was “raining” and we definitely had lost the view. But our stop at the bottom for a ride on the double decker trolly was fun even if a bit cold.

Our last discovery before the hotel was a drive down Suzy Wong Street…no stops…with girls standing in every doorway! We bid our goodbyes to Polly and headed the rooms; it was 11 pm….a late night for us old folks!

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