Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hong Kong

This is a trip recap of my quick jaunt to Hong Kong in December 2016.
I wanted to go see a friend of mine who was living there temporarily, plus meet the people he had told me so much about.  Also, I've flown through there but never left the airport and it seemed time to check out this famous city. Another perk: it's highly recommended for solo female travelers - that's me!
Chocolate Chip Cookie preparation
Rule #1 - don't show up empty handed for someone's birthday!  I made Andy some Chocolate Chip cookies the night before and took them in my carry on so they'd be intact when they arrived.

Leaving my apartment 4AM
I flew from DC to JFK (New York) and on to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.  I love that airline and because it was relatively empty, we were free to move about and sit wherever we liked.  I had an entire row to myself!  Perfect for stretching out, though admittedly I was too excited to sleep.
On board
Once I arrived and made it through customs, I found my friend Andy and he skillfully navigated through the airport to the Taxi line and got a taxi to my hotel out in New Territories.  I really liked the hotel and the location was super convenient to the subway line.  One bonus: the hotel like many others in Hong Kong has these loaner cell phones that function as a wifi hot spot as well as allow you unlimited free international calls to US, plus they have maps and all the things a traveler would need!

I was a bit rummy at this point but I gave Andy his presents and then we headed into the city, to Hong Kong Island, so I could meet my Hong Kong twin, Laura.  We had a nice dinner at a restaurant in the IFC tower and I got my first introduction to all the amazing buildings and lights of Hong Kong!  Oh wow, just being in the airport does not give you a taste of the city at all!  
Laura was just wonderful and I was so delighted to make a friend so quickly.  We had a number of things in common and hit it off right away.  It was a wonderful welcome to Hong Kong!
With Laura

I wanted to bring one home as a souvenir!  Sweet twin babies!
Sunday I went to church there and was able to meet several people, from all over Asia it seemed! It was very nice.  That was the day I got to meet the legendary Alvin!  He became Andy's instant friend and sidekick and I think we all fell in love with the little imp!  Sunday evening, I got to have dinner with Alvin and his brother and sweet parents.  I took the boys Seattle Seahawks t-shirts so they could be Seahawks fans just like Andy.

Two peas in a pod

Guess which one is Alvin?
Monday was the big walking day.  I wanted to see all the various markets.  Hong Kong is fascinating because they will have entire themed market streets, so first I went to the bird market, then I turned the corner onto the street which was lined with vendor after vendor selling flowers.  Across the way and around another corner, I encountered the goldfish market, with everything you might need to assemble and stock your home aquarium!
Ready to conquer Hong Kong



Ornate birdcages at the Yuen Po bird market


 

Enjoying the flower market. Imagine - christmas trees in Hong Kong!

My favorite: the stationery and pen stores!
 With all that walking in so-so shoes, it was necessary to make another pilgrimage: Reflexology!
One divine hour!

Originally my plan had been to have High Tea in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel, but it was fully booked for a private event.  The second option of having it in a restaurant around the corner wasn't nearly as appealing, since I wasn't entirely going for the food, so I bought "tea for two to go" downstairs and headed out.
 

Andy had to come into down for something so we met up that evening for him to show me The Peak, the MUST SEE experience in Hong Kong.  Due to the time of year I visited, the visibility isn't the greatest, so we went up there for the dusk/evening view.  I got to ride the famous Star Ferry from Kowloon side to Hong Kong Island, getting oriented to all that, and for a moment it felt like I was in Seattle!


Hong Kong Island with classic boat

We took a bus to the Peak, which was an adventure itself!  It's so nice to have a "local" as a guide!
My trusty guide



Remember that Tea to Go I mentioned?  It made an appearance ... paired with Starbucks :-)


 
We didn't really plan to be twins in our Patagonia jackets! haha
So The Peak was incredible, the lights on the buildings in Hong Kong are unlike anything I've seen.  I'd say they definitely have an edge over the lights in Singapore.  It was really fun to be up there.  Hong Kong is small, yet big. Hard to explain it but I enjoyed it.

Tuesday: more walking, more sightseeing, and that evening, a special dinner with some cruise passengers who were coming through Hong Kong.  I got to meet even more people over a very authentic Chinese dinner.   For those of you who know me, I am a rather selective eater.  It was way beyond my comfort zone but I did my best to eat...something!
A simple card saying "Chicken" would have sufficed but oh no, they just stick the head on the platter

Kathy T


Confession: when I went home I ordered two kids burgers and fries from room service!

Goodnight Hong Kong, from my hotel window
Wednesday:
One of the things on my To-Do list was to find some real Tai Chi action going on.  Well it took getting up really early and some adventures finding my way out of the massive TST subway station, but eventually, I found it!
TST waterfront Tai Chi
After that, I hopped the Star Ferry for Hong Kong Island and did some sightseeing there before finding my way to the famous Midlevel escalators.  They run downhill from 6AM-10AM to help people get to work, and then from 10AM until close, they run up up up up uphill!  Thank goodness! Hong Kong is a steep city!

 

The Connect Four building
Of course!
  
On the Midlevels
See how far down behind me they go?

 
After finishing up these adventures, I met Andy to go to the Twins' house for some time with more friends.  They were just too cute for words!




There were more market walks and scenes to enjoy and then the evening ended with special time at Laura's place with the other WA visitors.  
Red! Happy me

Ladies Market

So happy to have found my twin

Views from Laura's part of Hong Kong




Goodnight Hong Kong... until next time!

Sunday: 4.4 miles, 6 flights of stairs, 11,044 steps
Monday: 11.5 miles, 12 flights of stairs, 24681 steps
Tuesday: 7.7 miles, 16 flights of stairs, 20,630 steps
Wednesday: 7.3 miles, 12 flights of stairs, 18,503 steps





















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