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Hong Kong: Economic powerhouse in transition

How now red cow?

sunny 94 °F
View Preston Family Trip to China on Kwpres's travel map.

We awakened before the crack of dawn on Thursday to head early to Incheon International Airport for our trip to Hong Kong. Since we had an 8:10 departure time, and wanted to allow at least an hour to travel to the airport, and two hours before departure for check-in, that meant a 4 am wake-up.

The girls have been great, but it's also been challenging for youngsters who have never experienced jet lag. And a 12 hour jet lag is the "mother of all jet lags." (90's Saddam Hussein reference) The Seoul bus transfer system is well oiled and our departure from the PJ Hotel to Incheon was as smooth as it can be when trying to help two sleepy children to negotiate the streets of Seoul at 5 am! IMG_0373.jpg

As we have found in many cities on our trip so far, they local and national governments want to encourage tourism, and in Seoul, the bus system to and from the airport is very nice, efficient, and prompt. We boarded the bus from the same drop-off point that had led us to Hotel PJ, and made it to the airport in plenty of time. This allowed us the opportunity for a nice little snack of muffins and juiceIMG_0374.jpg before getting on our second, and unfortunately last, trip on Korean Airlines. I swear, I'd fly with them to Cleveland, if I had to go there! So we say goodbye to KAL...and...

...hello Hong Kong! The airport is on a different island from the main peninsula of Kowloon where most of Hong Kong's famous skyscrapers are located. It used to be only accessible by ferry, but there is now a fabulous express train/bus combination that gets you to the main hotels for us foreigners! We waited in the entryway for the train while Hayley scouted out how we would arrive at our final destination: The Kowloon Hotel.IMG_0380.jpg

The train has only a few stops before you disembark at a busy station where gloved attendants direct you to a fleet of buses. You put your luggage below, put your carry-ons in a holding area on the bus and are whisked downtown like the opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom through the busy streets of Kowloon to a series of stops at the hotels most frequented by tourists. Hong Kong is constantly being rebuilt as older structures are torn down and water, sewage, and transit infrastructure is updated. Bruce found much of it unfamiliar from his visit just 8 years ago.

After getting settled in our two "cozy" rooms, it was off to see the town! We were right across the street from one of the finer hotels in Kowloon: The PeninsularIMG_0181.jpg. I know that because their internet was free; ours was not. So I just let Bruce blog last night and saved this blog for the free internet here in Guilin. More about Guilin in my nightime blog in a few hours.

Our main goal of the day was to get to Victoria's Peak for the storied nighttime view of Hong Kong. That quest would allow us to take in many of the sights in sound in the pursuit of that holy grail of tourism. Alas, it was more pursuit than we had bargained for! We started with a ride on the famous Star Ferry line. We would take it to the other side of the peninsula, closer to the Victoria Peak, take in inclined trolley tram to the top, have dinner, and then take in the sight as the city lights up! It started well enough on the ferry.IMG_0184.jpg It's a nice slow ride past the newer areas of Hong Kong where today's jet set live in penthouse apartments on the newest complexes. IMG_0188.jpg Hong Kong has been trying to manage it's future without losing grip on it's past. It's past is not merely British colonialism, but one of the most important ports of the world. It's also a major player in the asian economic story, and the Hong Kong trading floor's Hang Seng index is watched by as many investors as those who live and die by the Dow Jones or S & P averages. It's now playing a part in China's economic story on the international scene. How that will play out over time will be a fascinating story.

After the ferry ride, we took to walking the streets of Hong Kong to complete our journey to the Peak Tram. Much of Hong Kong's walkways are above the streets, winding through and around office complexes replete with restaurants and night clubs. We also noticed that almost all construction is NOT done with steel scaffolding. The scaffolding is still in bambooIMG_0192.jpg It was confusing, and we got lost several times. It was hot, muggy, and jet lag was an issue. I even turned on my cel data roaming to have Google maps get us out of the mess. Finally, we relented and had a taxi drive us to the tram stop. It was only five bucks. Hmmm...file that away somewhere in my noggin...

The tram is a real mob scene.IMG_0195.jpg You may wait a few hours in the tropical sun before you get loaded onto the tram. But the wait is worth it for the experience of going up the hill...and what you see up top.large_IMG_0384.jpg

It had been such a physically demanding day that we were finding energy a challengeIMG_0200.jpg
and no one really had much of an appetite...except for a taxi ride home and a nice waiting bed. Fortunately, sunset was upon us and we did stick it out enough to get that desired stunning shot of Hong Kong at night from Victoria's Peak.IMG_0388.jpglarge_IMG_0390.jpg

Now, it was time for four groggy traveler's to do another hour long wait to get on the tram going down. None of the taxi drivers wanted to take us to the hotel (too short a drive, but we were again, confused as to directions). I pulled out my iPhone (saved again!) turned on my cel data roaming, and started walking to the hotel. Hayley said, "let's take the subway" and we were able to get on the proper train going the proper direction, popped out of the underground, and complete the final few block to our hotel, and more importantly, our BEDS. We all crashed and looked forward to tomorrow, breakfast, and entering the People's Republic of China!

Tonight...entering the PRC and spending a good part of the day at Hong Kong International Airport!

See you soon from Yangsuo Province and the Moondance Boutique Resort!


Posted by Kwpres 14:46 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged me buildings skylines people children trains

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