We got up a little late today – about 8:00 and then it seemed to take us a while to get organized. We had breakfast about 9:30 and ran into our China Spree group there – guess they were getting a late start as well. We said our good-byes again. We didn’t head out to the subway until almost 10:30. Now that we know how it works, it’s not as intimidating, although it’s still a long walk to get to our train in Tsim She Tsui. We bought an “octopus” card to avoid buying individual tickets each time. This multi-use card requires a HK $50 deposit for each card (we need two) and we put HK $70 on each card. What you don’t use, you get back, along with your deposit. We both qualified as seniors.
We had to change trains once, but it went smoothly. Unfortunately it was another long walk to the Turbojet ferry terminal. We bought our tickets for the Turbojet (hydrofoil) to Macau, but they told us we could not have confirmed seats until 1:30 – it was now only 11:20. We were not too happy! However, she told us we could “stand-by” for an earlier sailing and maybe get on. We went to the departure area and, as luck would have it, we got on the next ferry that was leaving. Only had to wait about 15 minutes – much better than 1:30!
First some trivia about Hong Kong — Kowloon means “nine Dragons” – after the 8 mountains that separate mainland China from the Hong Kong peninsula, and the ninth for the Emperor. Hong Kong means “fragrant harbor” – for the incense that fishermen used to burn here as an offering to the gods.
Victoria Peak Funicular
We started this bright sunny beautiful day with a bus ride to get to the funicular tram to the top of Victoria Peak. (Our bus in HKG was an actual small bus – not the typical vans we’ve been in, but a real small bus.) The tram (built in 1888) was very steep in places and not so much in others – it averages a 27 % incline. I had pictured it as being the same incline all the way up. Here it is coming into the lower station. Continue reading
We slept in a little this morning before leaving for the Shanghai airport to fly to Hong Kong. Pam and Sandra went shopping – man, they are energetic! We used to the time to repack and get a little organized. We all met Rocky at 11:30 for the ride to the airport. Got there in jig time, but took forever at the ticket counter, as line was miles long. Going through security, Pam was stopped with fingernail polish in her carry-on. Even though less than 2 oz I guess this is a no-no. She elected to have them retrieve her checked bag, rather than throw it out. Our flight ended up being delayed and so she had no problem getting there in time. We didn’t land in Hong Kong until 4:30.
William was our Hong Kong guide. The van (more like a small bus) ride ended up being another traffic jam nightmare. Apparently, a neon sign was going up on a high-rise building in downtown Hong Kong when the workmen dropped one end. The police then cordoned off the street, which just happens to be the main thoroughfare into town and where we have to go. We arrived at the Kowloon Shangri-La around 7:00. Two and a half hours!
To read my account of our travels in chronological order, you have to read from the earliest post forward. To get to the first post of our China Adventure click Adventures in China which should take you to the first post for China. After you get to the bottom of that post, below the “Related” Posts, and below the little tags (but before the “Please Leave a Reply”), you should see Next Post – Getting To China. Click on this to take you to the next post. At the end of each post you should see the “Next Post” as well as “Previous Post” if you want to reread a post.
On the other hand, if you are only interested in a particular place in China, use the “Categories” section to the right of the posts and click on a particular city or sight.
I hope you enjoy travelling with me.
We met up with our van and our guide, Rocky, at 9:00 to drive to Suzhou (pronounced Sue-Joe) and Tongli (a water town – the “Venice of the East”). It was about an hour and a half drive to Suzhou. Not so much traffic today as it’s Sunday. And the skies are pretty clear and sunny.
Our first stop in Suzhou was the Garden of the Master of the Fishing Nets. This garden was begun as early as 1140 AD, but had fallen into disrepair when it was overhauled in 1785, and it’s bones remain about the same as then, although it has been “improved” by each subsequent owner.
The first stop this morning was going to be the Shanghai Museum, but when the driver pulled up, the line to get in was miles long, so we went to the Jinmao Tower first instead. It’s in the Pudong area on the east side of the river. The van went under a really long tunnel under the Huangpu River to get there. Not crowded and the day was clear – probably the best day we’ve had. Jinmao Tower is designed as a modern adaptation of a traditional Chinese pagoda. It has 13 distinct tapering segments, with high-tech steel bands binding the glass like an exoskeleton. We zipped up to the 88th floor on a very fast elevator (45 seconds to the top) – my ears popped a couple of times. The view from the top is pretty spectacular. Continue reading
We had to be at breakfast at 6:30, so we got up at 6:00 – no time for showers this morning. Off the boat by 7:30 (once again the first ones off the boat and our own guide for just the six of us – gotta love it!) for our tour of the Dam Project. Very heavy smog today – worst we’ve had.
First we drove through the “resettlement village” of Sandouping that was fairly attractive. The public landscaping is very beautiful and no trash at all along the sides of the road. The architectural detail of the apartment buildings themselves was better than we’ve seen elsewhere – perhaps the government did this on purpose knowing that tourists would be coming through. Continue reading
Got up early this morning (6:45 am) to see the first of the famous Three Gorges, Qutang Gorge, which we entered at about 7:15. It’s billed as the most dramatic of the Three Gorges. Lots of early morning haze, so pics will be iffy. The sun was just coming up.
This section of the Yangtze is very sparsely populated – only saw one tiny village and it was accessible only by boat. Can’t imagine how it must have looked before the dam flooded everything. It’s quite dramatic as it is – sheer cliffs plunging right into the water. The spectacular scenery only lasted about 20 minutes though. Continue reading
After a good sleep in the gently rocking boat, we had a nice buffet breakfast, but nothing like the spreads we’ve been used to. Very foggy/smoggy again today. Can’t see much – only the very near hills . I went for a massage. Got cheated out of 10 minutes – supposed to be 80 minutes long but I only got 70 minutes. OK massage – a lot of brisk rubbing over the same areas; guess this is for circulation – no deep tissue. Continue reading
We left the Shangri-La Hotel at 7:30 am bound for Chongqing airport. We expected to be overtaken by the Australian Prime Minister who was also staying at the Shangri-La (can you believe it!), and run into a traffic nightmare. Police were already lining the streets and highways at all intersections. But thankfully we managed to stay ahead of her.
We boarded our China Air flight without problems at 9:30. On the plane we were joined by at least 60 other China Spree travelers who were on several different (non-luxury) CS tours.
We had a bit of a problem on landing, an hour later, with retrieving our luggage. We took a wrong turn and ended up at the wrong baggage area. What a goat rope! A young lady baggage attendant told us to go outside security and proceed to “6”. Baggage area 6 ended up being in Terminal A (we had gone to Terminal B) and turned out to be a quarter mile walk away and outside the buildings, all the while toting our carry-ons. Since we had left the secure area, it required several of us to re-enter through security to secure our luggage. We were having a bit of an issue explaining this to the security guards, but fortunately our guide, Merry, showed up and we got through. We hoped aboard an almost identical beige van to the ones we had in Xian and Guilin and off we went into town.
Chongqing has 33m people (8m in city center) and is smoggier than Beijing. Very, very smoggy as a matter of fact. It is the world’s largest metropolitan area, surpassing Tokyo. Continue reading