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Published: October 25th 2014
Where the heck are we?
We have seen the Aleutian Islands, Japan’s cities of Kushiro, Kanazawa, Fukuoka and Nagasaki. Traveling north, we traveled to Jeju Island, Incheon, the DMZ and Seoul, South Korea. Across the Yellow Sea to Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai and now…after two days at sea we have woken up at 6am to watch the ship come into Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong (SAR) China. The Captain opened the doors to the bow (where passengers are not usually allowed) so we headed out of our cabin to take a look. They had coffee and “Hong Kong Star Ferry Rolls” on the deck waiting for us. We understand that the same rolls change names depending on the port. Hong Kong rolls become, Singapore rolls, become, Sydney rolls, etc. ;-) Nevertheless they were delicious. As we left the South China Sea we were all packed up and ready to go. This will be our last port on the MS. Amsterdam and its Grand Asia Tour. We are getting off here in Hong Kong.
Unlike Shanghai, where you take 3 hours to come up the Huangpu River, the city is close on both sides; Hong Kong’s Victoria
Kei, Our Marriott Driver
Between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island
Harbor is huge and protected from typhoons. On our right is Kowloon Island and on our left is Hong Kong Island, where we will be staying. We can see lots of boat traffic and many ferries going between the two islands. This is an overcast and misty day but as we get closer to our berth on the Kowloon side of the harbor, we start to see cars and pedestrians making their way to work. Both sides of the river have tall buildings but the Hong Kong side has more skyscrapers. As we get closer we can also see, in the midst of the high rises, our J.W. Marriott hotel which will be our home for the next 8 days.
We dock right next to the Star Ferry terminal. Since our ship is only 55,000 tons we are able to “park” in the most fantastic places. We passed by where the larger ships like Princess have to dock and it is about an hour away from downtown Hong Kong.
As the Captain announces that we have cleared customs and can disembark, we head for our cabin to grab our bags. We are expedited, and
In the elevator
TV showing our hotel, in the elevator
can get off when we want to as we are carrying all of our own luggage. We leave the ship and start following signs to “baggage claim” where we are hoping a driver from the Marriott will be waiting for us. There is some confusion as we come to a waiting area for luggage as the Chinese guide who is helping everyone does not understand that we already have our luggage ;-) Once we clear that up, she says, “Oh, oh…come with me” and she makes a path for us through the throngs of people who are waiting for luggage. Works for us ;-) Just as we emerge from the sea of humanity, there is a tall, good-looking, Chinese man in a black suit holding a sign which says, “Jean Petty” and asking if that is me…yea! He is in a hurry as he has parked the Mercedes Benz in an illegal place, so we pull our bags and follow him down the dock. Peace descends as we slip into the leather backseat of the lovely car. There is a South China Morning Post waiting on the seat along with water and a “World Destinations Guide” on our way for
our enjoyment on the way to the Marriott ;-).
Traffic is somewhat congested this morning and our driver has to take a tunnel under the harbor that is further than the one he would normally take. A many of you know who have been following the news in Asia… specifically Hong Kong… students are protesting a number of issues here and have some “tent cities” set up across major thoroughfares in three parts of the city. This is causing re-routing of buses and car traffic. It takes us about 45 minutes to do a 30 minute trip… not bad. Our driver tells us a number of things about the city, and then discretely calls ahead to the Marriott to let them know we will be arriving in a few minutes. When we arrive the bellman whisks our luggage away, a young Chinese woman in a Marriott uniform greets us at the car and escorts us to the lobby where another woman has our reservation in hand and goes over it with us to make sure that everything is correct. Whoops, they have us in a smoking room… with many apologies, 2 seconds later we are being assigned
Mall attached to the Marriott
a different room. She guides us to the reception desk where yet another woman begins the check in process. This takes maybe 3 minutes. She tells us we have use of the 33rd
and 34th concierge floors for breakfast, afternoon tea, cocktails, Hors d’oeuvres, evening snacks and refreshments of coffee, tea, soft drinks, and fresh juices all day ;-) Works for us ;-) We also have personalized secretarial services we can use, and there is a housekeeper on call at all times. We just need to push a button and she will be there…LOL What’s not to love.
The lovely lady at the front desk walks us to the elevators, pushes the button for the 29th
floor and tells us our luggage will be in our room in just a few minutes. OMG, we walk into our room with spectacular views of Hong Kong, Victoria Peak and Hong Kong Harbor. The windows are at right angles to each other so we have full on sweeping views of the city. The room is spectacular also. Our luggage arrives with “Michael” who is genuinely helpful. After putting away a few things we go out to explore.
Hong Kong Park
At the Waterfall you can walk into! ;-)
The Marriott is attached to the largest upscale mall in Hong Kong, Pacific Place. We take the elevator to the lower level of the hotel, turn left and there before us is a 5 story, glittering array of Prada, Chanel, Valentino, Jimmy Choo, Diane von Furstenberg and on and on and on. There is an AMC theatre where they have a special line for “American Express Platinum Card” members.
Since it’s getting toward noon, we started looking for a place to eat. We have been eating so many good meals on the ship that it’s time to slow down…maybe… on the lower level there is a Whole Foods- like store but imagine it on steroids. The store is huge and sells fresh meats, fish and anything else that can be butchered. Also, pre-packaged fresh food to have for lunch or take home. Everything is soooo fresh and looks wonderful. Since we don’t have a place to cook we look for something simple for lunch…voila a hamburger joint ;-) and ordered a hamburger fries and a coke about 10 US dollars. Delicious ;-)
Time to venture further out into the real world. There were signs that pointed up escalators to Hong Kong Park so we started up. 4 long, fast escalators later we emerged across the road from what looked like a really pretty park with trees and shrubs so thick you couldn’t see very far. We crossed the street and wandered finding lakes, streams, museums, fountains and lots of office workers having lunch (can you say KFC J) benches. Hong Kong Park is similar to Central Park in New York only lusher.
Finding our way back… through the park, through the mall and to the entrance of our hotel… we were pretty proud of ourselves LOL. Successful day 1 ;-) Hong Kong.
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