Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hong Kong: A vacation from our trip

I know there are some out there wondering: isn’t the whole damn trip you’re taking one big vacation? Aside from the daiquiri delivered to me poolside today, not really. A vacation is going somewhere nice, getting rest, having things made a little easier than they are at home and perhaps reconnecting with your family. What we are doing is making travel into a full-time occupation, and like any job you have your good times and your bad. As you all know, we’ve had our struggles in China and have lived to tell the tales. China was a country where our job as travelers was especially hard, and the usual challenges of getting a place to sleep, and navigating the language, the customs and the streets were difficult enough to be considered traumatizing. But our time in Hong Kong has allowed us to recharge our batteries and be a little less vigilant than we’ve been in months.

Our ten days in Hong Kong have been filled with a bit of sightseeing but mostly treating the entire time like one very long weekend. We’ve savored eggs benedict at the Flying Pan in Central (our first since leaving Milos!), shopped for old maps at Watti’s, experienced dim sum in a restaurant that seats 1000, rode up and down and up and down the world’s largest escalator, splurged on high tea at the Peninsula Hotel, commuted on the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor, rode a hydrofoil to Macau, took the tram to the Peak, watched the huge fish in the world’s largest aquarium and rode Space Mountain ride four times at Hong Kong Disneyland. Okay, maybe we did cram a lot into a week, but we never felt rushed, and we spent plenty of time browsing in bookstores, reading and watching TV. We’ve found Hong Kong to be a fun, vibrant city which has retained much of its international feel even after the handover in 1997.

A mural in the post office created out of thousands of stamps

For geography buffs out there, Macau is actually a different country than Hong Kong, an hour away by high-speed ferry. Like Hong Kong, it became a special administrative region of China when it reverted from Portuguese rule in 1999, but it retains its individuality by having a different currency (the pataca) and language (Portuguese). We spent a day in Macau visiting the excellent Macau museum, which the three of us found totally engaging, and lunching at Os Gatos, where the Slaughter-Masons dined eight years ago! George & Sally, the food was wonderful there, especially the caldo verde.

One of Dylan’s “goals” is to visit every Disneyland in the world, and since we suffered through the one at Tokyo we thought we should probably make an effort to come to the new one that opened in Hong Kong on September 12th. Newspapers have been filled with horror stories of inefficient management evidenced by two hour waits to check into the hotels and three hour waits for rides. Hong Kong Disneyland is far smaller than any of the other Disneylands and there has been strong criticism of Disney for filling up the park with 30,000 people, because many believe that the park cannot handle that capacity. Although it doesn’t take much time to try the few rides, we managed to pass a pleasant five hours watching a number of stage and movie productions! We were efficiently and politely checked into the Hollywood Hotel, where we soaked in the pool (this is where the daiquiri comes in) and watched fireworks from our dinner table. Perhaps some of the problems with Disneyland had to do with ironing out the “first month” kinks as well as the volume of travelers over the National Day holiday (when we were in Xi’an), but we have had a fun time visiting. Note that we wouldn’t make it a destination, but it’s great if you’re passing through! Tomorrow we continue on to Bangkok Thailand, our sixth country in this crawl around the world.


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