March 11, 2012 – Day 1 Hong Kong
Hong Kong has been one of the major targets of this trip for us. From a distance, in the news, in movies and on television, it has seemed a place of excitement and mystery and we have been very anxious to experience the city.
Hong Kong consists of Hong Kong Island, plus some land on the mainland of China, Kowloon, and the New Territories. Formerly a British Colony, it was turned over to China in 1997, and is operated as a special administrative territory of China.
The ship docked on Kowloon, which is on the mainland, north of Hong Kong Island. With Hong Kong harbor intertwining around the area and given the amount of movement between Kowloon and Hong Kong, the ferries run constantly back and forth and the number of people utilizing them is huge.
These people have mastered mass transit. Whether it is ferries, buses, taxis, or the subway, they are fast, safe, clean and inexpensive. We were able to move around the area easily despite the language barrier. The people, while not speaking English, were very helpful and went out of their ways to assist anyone who appeared to need help. Unlike some of the places we have visited there was never any “pickpocket” risk.
As soon as the ship cleared customs we left to visit the island of Lantau, home of the “Big Buddha”. We jumped on the Star Ferry for a quick ride to Hong Kong. After some local help, we boarded the subway for a trip to Tung Chung seven stops on the subway (one stop past Disneyland). We then took a cab the Big Buddha. The mist and fog shrouded many of the things we wanted to see, including the Buddha, which is located at a monastery, atop a hill – 330 steps up!
After visiting the Buddha, we headed back to the ship for a quick stop and then took off on foot to visit some of the shopping places within walking distance – if you can call six miles “walking distance”. This really is a shopper’s paradise, from Nathan Street to the Jade Market – Sally thoroughly enjoyed herself.
Marchers – protesting Chinese control of Hong Kong
We had dinner in a Chinese restaurant near the ship and viewed the nightly light show from the deck of the ship, before turning in.