Hong Kong, China; March 10-12, 2010
Mar 13, 2010
|This is a 3 day & 2 night segment (#3) of the 2010 Bonus World Cruise! Journal entry to be entered soon! Some day...........possibly the next sea days after Bangkok-this is how most of this journal has been compiled so far.
Well, after several wonderful days in Bangkok (& Ha Long Bay, Nha Trang & Saigon, Viet Nam)I'm finally able to work more on journal entries & photo editing, uploading & posting.
Sounds like a lot of work; it is! So, the days at sea are a welcomed respite from touring and seminar attending; oh!...the agony!...the fun! So, the end of Segment 3 was welcomed as another visit to Hong Kong, the agony of realizing our Bonus World cruise is half way completed, the end of Debbie's journey with her mom & me and the start of more adventures in some other parts of the world we have not visited. The first few stops will be revisiting a few new ports & "old" ports we have visited before but did not take the same tours or see some of the same sights. Then, we will be traveling to lands we've never been to other than seen in magazines, on TV or in our minds.
Hong Kong was going full speed by the time we entered into Victoria Harbor; the skyline still looked congested with buildings and "urbania" sprawled it seemed, for ever. It was hard to tell if many or any new skyscrapers were constructed since 2008 but I'm sure there has been some change to the skyline profile of Hong Kong. We berthed by 10am and proceeded to see the exodus of those who's segments ended (Debbie was granted a 2 day extension, since her plane was not leaving until the 12th) or travelers who had tours to participate with. We had a tour planned as an afternoon & evening tour that encompassed a visit to the observation peak by tram, a stop to Stanley Market, a tour of a jewelry factory and a boat ride to Aberdeen (harbor & community). Until then, we were gathering our things, thoughts and plans for a successful day 1 in Hong Kong.
We were going to get off at Stanley Market and get a cab back but Ellie & Debbie were getting tired from the touring and thought it best to stay on the bus and get dependable transportation home before" dark, so, that is what we did. We got home, ate dinner & saw the 20:00 (8 pm) "Symphony of lights & music on the Harbor" that occurs, nightly (longer & better on the weekends or 'special occasions'. The show this night was not the best but still was awesome to see lights & lasers on such a large scale. (music is available only on FM radio or a various venues around the harbor--but not blasted out on an open PA system) We got ready for a "fast out of the blocks" day of shopping, tomorrow.
Got an early start by 10:00 to a taxi ride from Star Ferry Terminal Central to "the Ladies" market in downtown Hong Kong, where you could go from street to street & find markets for anything you want to find to purchase or sell. We went to the "Ladies" section that had clothes, bags, watches and the usual tourists "stuff." Boy, can those 2 shop! They lasted all of about 4 & 1/2 hrs! (looking but not buy too much of anything--just looking) It was so crowded by 11:00 am, that we wondered what was it everyone was buying. It turns out that if you're in Hong Kong, you're buying (or selling) something (or at least looking like it). We got our watch batteries changed for 2 watches that quit working (avoiding the high pressure "genuine imitation Rolex" sales tactics of every vendor who had watches for sale).
Debbie wanted to go shopping for something on her own, so, we agreed on a spot to meet back in 1 hr & went on our way up the seemingly never ending cross streets of this section of market. After about an hour, Ellie sat down on her chair & sent me back to get Debbie. Debbie had been waiting for about 20 min.s & worried about her mom being well & said how tired she was (Ellie, also was tired). When the 2 of them got together they said how they had seen a sign about getting their nails done ("Super Nails" or something like that) & vendors who had hawkers out with signs "pushing" the guest (or victims) to the "store." We were persuaded to follow the girl with the sign to "get toe nails polished." We followed this lady to a small side door along the back of the vendors booths & up a cramped elevator to a 2nd floor narrow hall way door that when we looked in had about 6 people lined up, side-by-side getting foot massages ("reflexology")....!!! Well, this did not settle well with 2 American women, who were used to going in a nail salon & being sent to a "massage parlor" to get their nails done even though the employees (& "pusher") protested it did perform nail polishing in a "private room!" I could see that this was the statement (& smell of a dimly lit, cramped room full of men & women-still clothed at this time-) that sent Debbie rushing out of the room and scurrying to get the elevator back to the 2nd floor, pushing Ellie ahead of her & saying "get out of here, now." I know what Debbie was thinking (& Ellie was beginning to laugh at their tired folly of wanting to stop & get their toenails polished in "seedy" Hong Kong), that they were about to be captured and taken advantage of (or worse). At this point, there was nothing I could do (I had stepped in between the staff of the "house/business" and Ellie & Debbie as they headed for the elevator) so, when the elevator finally arrived & they got on (door closed), I took the 3 min walk down to the 1st floor to meet them at the bottom. They had made a dash out the elevator & into the middle of the market by the time I finally got down the steps. I'm sure they did do nail polishing but the dimly lit, close quarters and 2 "private" rooms were the "icing on the cake" that convinced them this was not what it was supposed to be. After a few min.s discussing how not to follow even the most convincing person to follow them to a "back ally" location (even though this was right on the street-on the 2nd-high floor from the ground) we decided to catch a cab and go back to the "safety of the ship." It was a comical ending to a tiring day of shopping for Ellie & Debbie, they were ready for "room service" and getting a little rest before the light show on the harbor at 20:00 (8 pm) tonight. I was not as tired as they were & went out until sundown to take a few pictures of the harbor & Hong Kong life around the Ocean Terminal building & Intercontinental Hotel wharf.
Day 3: Today is the day Debbie leaves us for a 27 hr plane & transfer back to Orlando, Fl. She was supposed to leave around 10:00 am from the ship for a noon flight. Regent arranged a driver & car for her & her luggage to be taken to the airport & assisted getting on the plane. This is a very nice service Regent supplies for their guests but even better for Ellie by relieving her of the worry of her daughter (& luggage) getting safely to the airport and me for the responsibility of taking her (or escorting her) there. Regent really does a fine job of transferring their guests to & from their cruises. The rest of Day 3 was overcast & Ellie was still resting from their "misdirected nail polishing adventure" & shopping day. I could not convince Ellie to go on a Star ferry ride around the harbor (about 1 hr & $7.00) so, I did on an overcast drizzly day, waiting until our ship sets sail at 17:00 (5 pm). I went back to help Ellie "rearrange" the room, after our "roommate" left---it seemed so vacant! (not all that vacant but less in the room than had been before).
We set sail on an overcast but clearing afternoon & really did not want to leave a favorite port as Hong Kong. As we were leaving our berth at the Ocean Terminal, a Star ferry, the "Twinkling Star" got under way at the similar time, pulled out in front of us & almost got sunk. The captain of the ferry seemingly panicked (or wisely decided) upon seeing how far he had crossed our line of navigation & made a reversal of direction back to the Star Ferry Terminal building. It can be debated if he had just kept going if he would have hit us but it appeared he did not have enough speed to miss our mammoth hull without a serious scraping or even getting sunk. I can only say after a long & loud blast on the ship's horn, immediate reversal of engines and reversed bow & stern thrusters, did Captain Dag save the lives (serious damage of) the ill fated "Twinkling Star." Our captain, really did do a great job & shows why it takes so much skill in navigating the harbors of so many ports & knowing how & what to do in so many of each ports situations from years of experience & skill in close or dangerous situations.
The limited damage to one of the ferry's communications masts and our bow getting a scrape about the size of a large dinner plate, we proceeded to "carry on" until the Chinese ports authorities to detain us until the deemed us "sea worthy" to continue on our World Cruise (red tape, literally had more meanings than it sounds).
"Our World, Our Way, No Regrets!"