STARTING THE TRANSITION
25 May 2011
If you need a transition time as you move from China back home again, Hong Kong is a good place to be. You hear as much English spoken as Chinese (even by Chinese people), there are lots of American eateries, some of the Chinese TV stations are in English, and "downtown" looks like your favorite shopping area in the States. But still there is no doubt that you are still in a foreign country and in among all the "new," the "old" is very much present.
The first thing I did this morning was to flood the bathroom. You can see that we have a very nice, very large shower. It even has a seat in it, if you want to shower sitting down (even *I* am not that lazy!). To get into the shower, you step over a little tile that is maybe 1-2" high. I was lovin' the shower, washing my hair and just enjoying the feeling of the water washing over me when I realized that I was standing in water that was over the top of my feet. It seemed that the drain was not draining fast enough to let the water run out quickly.
It didn't seem to be a big problem. There wasn't any water on the floor. Apparently, the door was holding it all in because when I turned off the shower and opened the door, water poured over the tile which had been holding it back, and onto the floor. The shower mat was instantly soaked and half of the bathroom had water pooling in it.
Walt later told the people at the front desk, who apologized three times and promised to fix it. It seems to be fixed now, but nobody has taken a shower yet.
This morning we introduced ourselves to another breakfast buffet (chocolate croissants get high marks here). We discovered that they change the rugs in the elevator every day. Last night when we rode the elevator up to the 15th floor, we were riding in an elevator that said "Tuesday," which I thought was a little strange until I got in the same elevator this morning and saw this:
Today was our last outing as a group. In truth, I wasn't feeling well and the last thing I wanted to do was to go on another excursion. But we all followed our local guide, Polly onto the bus.
We first drove to Victoria Peak, the highest point around here. It was actually the only thing I really wanted to see when I was reading up on Hong Kong. The view was said to be spectacular. On the way, we passed a cemetery
Polly explained that people in Hong Kong are buried rather than cremated because Daoists believe that the body needs to return to the earth. The problem is that the government owns the land, so you can't buy a burial plot. You rent it for 10 years. At the end of 10 years, the grave is opened and there is someone there who is in charge of cleaning up the bones and arranging them in a final vessel (usually, she says, in a sitting position).
We continued on up toward the peak, passing many public beaches on the way.
Polly says that the yellow thing in the water is a shark barrier.
We reached the Peak and went to look at the view, which was spectacular even through the haze.
I still wasn't feeling all that great, but we mushed on to the wharf, where we rode in a sampan to see the harbor.
From the harbor, we could see new buildings recently constructed on the hills.
The two blocks I marked there are holes in the buildings. It's a feng shui thing, leaving holes in buildings for dragons to go through. Supposed to be good luck.
(I was really irritated at the woman who sat herself in the front of the boat where she could get great pictures and NOBODY else could get a harbor shot that didn't have her in the way.)
I was feeling a little better by the time the cruise was over and we headed to a jewelry store to watch fine jewelry being made. Hong Kong used to be where everything was made, back in the 60s. But as China began to open up to the west, they began to export things to the west and businesses moved out of Hong Kong and into China, where it was cheaper to manufacture goods. Hong Kong maintains its position as craftspersons and designers.
Our final stop on our half day tour was at Stanley Market, best place for, as Jenna says, "upscale junk." We had lunch at a French deli and then I wandered the shops and bought some upscale junk. Just to say I'd done it.
Everybody and his dog was there.
By the time we got back to the hotel, I could barely walk. I took a nap until time for us to go to dinner with Mike and Char. We chose an Outback Steak house for dinner, then came back to the hotel. Walt and the others went with Jenna to see a light show but I knew I couldn't walk another 30 minutes. Heck, I could barely walk the THREE long halls from the elevator to our room.
I've decided to let the others go off to the Science Museum tomorrow without me. My feet and knees are crying "enough! enough!"