Saturday, February 12, 2011


April 9, 2007 CAMBODIA & HONG KONG

Nang arrived to take us to the airport at 8 am and he stayed with us until we were all checked in and through customs. We each had to pay a $25.00 (USA) fee to leave the airport (we were told ahead of time about this fee) and everybody sailed through security with our water bottles. We were on Bangkok Airlines in Economy class. They gave us a box lunch and this time we were in row 5 instead of the back of the airplane.

Arrived in Bangkok, located the China Air counter and checked in with no problems. They handed us our courtesy lounge cards and we found the lounge with only a minor problem…there were several different ones and it took us a few minute to find the Dynasty Lounge where we belonged. It was just as nice as the one in Hong Kong and we were delighted to be there for our four hour layover. We had drinks, food, several computer stations for internet and cable plus wireless for those who had their own computers. Plus there was a massage chair that many of our group enjoyed while we were waiting for our scheduled departure. I can see why people pay the extra to upgrade from economy when flying. I spent most of the time going through photos and setting up emails to send from Hong Kong of my Cambodian photos; I wasn’t very interested in the food.

Our seats were wonderful and again we had the full services with china, silverware, linen and the works as Dynasty Class passengers. Jim discovered that the napkin had a buttonhole in one corner for those that like to prevent dribbles on their shirts; what a great idea! The time flew by so quickly we hardly knew we’d been in the air.

Arrived in Hong Kong about 6:30 pm and found Robert from Overseas Adventure Travel waiting for us after we passed through customs. Christa’s suitcase arrived and the rest of us had only carryon so we were feeling very good about a successful day. I had eaten verrrrry lightly throughout the day and at this point, with taking some medication occasionally, I was feeling somewhat human again. Howard was also on the mend; he’d had a more severe attack than I’d had; but we’d both survived and lived to tell the tale.

Checked into the L’Hotel about half an hour from the airport; owned by the same company as our previous Hong Kong Hotel in town but this one is very new. Known as the Nina Et Convention Centre, there are two towers and final construction is still in progress. One tower is 42 stories and the other is 89 stories; they are connected by a sky bridge on the 41st floor. Our breakfast restaurant had access to the bridge so we were able to walk on it after enjoying a wonderful buffet breakfast on the 41st floor with window walls that offered views of Hong Kong Harbor and the nearby skyscrapers that dot Lantau Island, the part of Hong Kong that has Disneyland, the big Buddha on the top of the mountain and the new airport. This particular hotel was built by Nina Wang. She was the wealthiest woman in China and died of cancer on April 3rd. We’d just read an article about her in the newspapers on our way to Cambodia last week.

The design of the hotel was planned to represent she and her late husband. She is the shorter tower that is finished and he is the taller tower; she wanted that one to be even taller but the government refused to allow the added height due to the proximity to the airport. The bridge is their connection. There is a glass section in the floor of the bridge that allows you to look down to the ground; a real mind bender if you have problems with heights. Personally I enjoyed the opportunity and took multiple photos of my feet with nothing but space underneath.

Our rooms were similar to the Regent Hotel in Shanghai with a glass wall separating the bathroom from the bedroom. However, the outside wall had a huge window as opposed to a wall of glass. Beds were not as soft as in Cambodia but better than many we’ve had in China. A nice way to spend our last night as we repacked our luggage to put the breakables in our hand carry luggage and everything else into the big suitcases after we expanded the size. We had to watch for gels and liquids as we knew we’d be checked extra carefully leaving Hong Kong for the USA. Remembered to change the time on our alarm clock, we had to move the clock forward as we’d lost an hour during the day’s travels.

April 10, 2007 HONG KONG AND USA

Travel Day. We’d all said goodbye to Howard and Betty last night as they had to leave for the airport at 6 am. Their flight takes them to Tokyo, Japan and then they change there for a direct flight to Los Angeles.

We met Gena, Gene and Christa in the breakfast room. It’s raining outside so photos from the view windows are not too great. We left the hotel at 9 am and our plane left at 11:35 am. Gene and Gena were on the same flight to San Francisco as we were. Christa left about an hour later headed for Chicago so she stayed with the group until we boarded the airplane. Security was intense and we even had a final inspection in the boarding tunnel before getting on the airplane. We’d not planned to wear our surgical masks on the way home but after hearing the coughs, etc, on the plane; we changed our minds and put them on. I had the last four with me and when Gena said they had someone in their row with problems she accepted the last two when I asked if they wanted them. So there were four of us with masks on for the entire trip. Actually, it not only protects you somewhat from germs in the air; it helps keep your nose and throat moist from the dry air in the airplane. I think that I’ll definitely continue to use them on airplane flights. We had four movies back to back: Night At the Museum, Stranger Than Fiction, Freedom Writers, Pursuit of Happiness; they kept us all busy and we were also taking our No Jet Lag pills regularly every two hours. We were bright eyed and bushy tailed for sure during the flight.

We arrived in San Francisco early, went through customs, rechecked our luggage and then had to endure the USA security checkpoint. Wow; what a difference from Hong Kong. Shoes off, plastic bags out, computers and camcorders out, jackets off…but as upsetting as it can sometimes be for people; I like to think that we’re a bit safer than we were prior to 9/11. Found our gate and discovered that Gene and Gena were still with us; their gate to Atlanta was just across from us so we continued to visit while we waited. I plugged in the cell phone and made some calls to let people know we’d made it to San Francisco.

Uneventful flight to Los Angeles, arrived right on time around noon and went to the baggage area for our big suitcases. It took United Airlines an hour to unload our bags. Everyone was furious with the staff and their only reaction was to say that they were shorthanded and couldn’t do anything about the situation. Our daughter Jennifer had arrived just as we landed and she slowly drove around and around the airport until we finally said, “yes, we have our luggage”!

Arrived home where we were met by our two youngest grandchildren and daughter-in-law from San Francisco who were staying at our house. They’d driven down last week for the Easter family gathering and stayed to visit with us. Our son had to be back at work so had flown home on Sunday evening. Monday was spent at Disneyland with their four cousins. So we had lots to keep us moving until we finally went to bed about 9 pm. That was about thirty-nine hours after we left the hotel in Hong Kong; but who’s counting!

[Postscript: Since 2007 our China group has gotten together twice at our home. The first time was Christa's visit to her sister in Los Angeles; all of the California people showed up and we had dinner at a nearby Chinese Restaurant as we reminisced about our trip. Then about a year later; Norm and Nancy came to visit from Iowa and again our California people came for an evening of fun. We've continued to be connected by the magic of the Internet and many of them have enjoyed this journey again with you.]


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