Day 17 - Hong Kong
|Wednesday, April 9: After an unexpected morning of leisure onboard, we started the amazing sail in to Hong Kong. We got out on deck in the front of the boat where we had terrific views.
|Even though we were already spotting highrise buildings, we weren't able to see the main part of Hong Kong Island or Kowloon, so you're looking at the outskirts here.
|We passed this little area which showed that mixed in with the luxury and money, there are pockets of poverty with waterfront views.
|The high rises started getting more plentiful as we got closer to the Hong Kong, and we got our first Maersk win of the day.
|Turning our gaze to our left, we were passing Hong Kong Island.
|It's a sea of skyscrapers for miles along the coastline, and this colorful one caught our eye.
|It's a great vantage point, wouldn't you agree?
|Here's one of the famous Star Ferries that crosses between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
|Let's enjoy some more of the skyline ...
|... and more ...
|... and more. On the hill in the distance, you can see the Victoria Peak Lookout. It was covered in clouds most of the time during our sail in, but occasionally it cleared up. We had thought about taking a train from our hotel to Kowloon, then taking the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island, then walking to the Victoria Peak tram, then going up to the lookout. We changed our mind.
|It's impossible to get a photo wide enough to capture the entire amazing skyline with a standard camera, but we tried.
|Looking to our right, here's Kowloon for your viewing pleasure. The famous Peninsula Hotel is tucked in here behind the very modern waterfront.
|Can it be? Does our tour end here?
|Yes! Finally! At 12:30 exactly, we pulled up alongside the pier, just 15 minutes before our original flight took off.
|Once we arrived, we cooled our heels in the Crow's Nest Lounge at the top and front of the boat. Look -- that's Hong Kong right outside!
|We were in no hurry to leave, because we had comfortable seats, great views, and a power outlet to work on our website. An hour or so later, we were called to disembark.
|We had purchased the transfer from the ship to the airport, even though there was no reason for us to get to the airport anymore. We took in the sights of Hong Kong, but this was the only photo we bothered to take during the city portion of our drive because we were so busy looking at everything. We took another one exactly like it when we returned four years later.
|The drive out to the airport was very scenic, with Maersk sightings a-plenty.
|After a 50-minute drive, we arrived at the new Hong Kong airport. This area is brand new and freshly developed, and it shows. We had heard about the cable car here and were very tempted to ride it. Once we got to the airport, we verified our flights for the next day, and picked up the free hotel shuttle to the Novotel Citygate, a short 5-minute drive away. It couldn't have been more convenient.
|The Novotel is not only in the greatest possible location, as you'll soon see, but it's also one of coolest hotels we've ever stayed in. Let's start with this incredible hallway with very low lighting, lit-up room numbers, and rooms set at an angle.
|We walked into our room and our jaws dropped. Let's do a quick photographic tour and you will love it too.
|The bathroom is a part of the room, separated only by a clear glass column with a mini-bar as its base..
|The shower and toilet are tucked behind frosted glass doors.
|It was a pretty small room, but it felt large with the open floor plan.
|The desk in the corner had a highspeed Internet connection that cost $20/day. We surfed and surfed and surfed later that evening after the slow connection speeds and high prices per minute on the ship.
|This was our view from the windows that filled the entire end of the room. We had already agreed wholeheartedly that we did not want to go back into the city, and that we'd rather stay in the Citygate area with all that it had to offer.
|So, back to the elevator, but first, let's check out the view from the 19th floor elevator lobby, looking out ...
|... and looking down. If only we could have stayed for a week, and lounged by the amazing pool area for days on end.
|Just when we thought this hotel couldn't get any more awesome, we stepped on the escalator in the hotel lobby and found ourselves in the middle of a multi-story mall that went on and on.
|It's a short walk from the mall to the cable car station past highrise apartment buildings.
|We didn't have to wait at all for our ride on the Ngong Ping 360 cable car since it was late in the day. We started snapping photos immediately, starting with this shot of the incredible Novotel Citygate.
|Since we had our cable car all to ourselves, we set up our camera on the opposite chair. Look how happy we are! What was looking like a disastrous, expensive overnight in Hong Kong had turned into a fun, happy afternoon.
|The cable car is a 25-minute ride with seven different segments between eight towers that go up, across, down, and back up.
|First, we crossed from the Citygate area to the second tower across the water, then up the mountain to the third tower.
|We were able to see the entire airport area.
|One of the really cool things about the scenery is that there is a wooden path that follows the entire cable car route. It must be a beautiful walk, but brutal, with the stairs going up and down all the time.
|Now, things were getting interesting. The cables disappeared into the clouds up ahead.
|So, naturally we had to photograph ourselves in the clouds. Of course, that's what it is like every single day of our marriage.
|When we made it to the end of the ride, the final tower was enshrouded in fog.
|We had no idea what would be at the top, but this map showed us that there were shops, restaurants, tea rooms, and attractions galore.
|Everything was very foggy, and that made it absolutely surreal. The pond outside the tea house was lovely even in the haze.
|You can see the fog just a few feet away in this shot of Japanese irises.
|Visibility was very low in general, ...
|... but when we got up close to the shops, we were fine. Yes, this is a charming mountain top in China, and there's a Starbucks here.
|More spooky fog in the middle of the shopping area. We were giddy because it was such a fun, unusual experience.
|Back down we went, section by section by section, until we were out of the clouds and back in civilization again.
|The water in the inlet was so shallow that families were out in the sandbars doing something that may have been digging for clams. We're Midwestern city folk, so we don't know much about this sort of thing.
|Back to the cable car terminal, and on with the rest of our evening!
|The theater at the mall was expecting a Hollywood blockbuster later in the year. Looks pretty familiar to us.
|But then again, so do the Golden Arches. We were all set to get one last taste of Asian McDonald's favorites only to find that the menu in Hong Kong is pretty much identical to the menu in Indiana, so we passed.
|Instead, we selected this lovely Vietnamese restaurant in the Citygate Mall, Deli Viet.
|We studied the menu out front and settled on this dinner for two.
|The servers brought out bowl after bowl of food, every one bigger than our head. We ate ourselves silly.
|Oh! The anticipation! What will the "special dessert" turn out to be? We hope it isn't the "coconut flavoured white glutinous rice w/eye-brow beans" because that sounds disgusting.
|We're pretty sure that's what we ended up getting, and you know what? It was really pretty tasty! Debbie just kept telling herself that it wasn't really beans, it wasn't really beans, it wasn't really beans...
|Back at our amazing hotel, the room had one more surprise for us -- a television aquarium in high-def! What a shame that there's only one Novotel in the US, but if we ever get to Times Square, you'll know where to find us.
Our story ends here, dear reader. You must be exhausted. We were too, but we made it home the next day safe and sound.
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Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy