We got up late – 7:30 for DH and 9:30 for me. Now that we are no longer on our China Spree tour, it’s getting harder to “get up and at ’em.” Once awake, I went to breakfast right away with DH, as he was famished, waiting for me. After a nice breakfast buffet in the dining room at the Shangri-La, he went for a stroll to Nathan Road. Lots of approaches by fake Rolex watch salesmen and Indian tailors to make him a suit or shirts. I showered and packed. Barely made it out of the hotel by noon (because of me). We took a cab to the Conrad Hilton, which is on the other side of Victoria Bay, on the Hong Kong Island side. Another traffic jam getting through the tunnel – will it ever end? Cost HK $107.
Nice surprise when we got to the Conrad – we got upgraded to the Executive Floor room. Two large twin beds and Executive Lounge access – no problem. Love this Diamond status – just have to figure out how to keep it! The view was fabulous. Although we looked directly at the Shangri-La hotel (not the one we had stayed at earlier, but the other one in town), on one side we could see Kowloon and the Harbor, and on the other side we looked up towards Victoria Peak. Doesn’t get too much better than this. As time went on, I became fascinated by the various reflections that would appear on the façade of the Shangri-La. If I got too close to the window though, I started to get vertigo.
We went up to the Executive Lounge for diet Coke for DH and tea for me, and a bite for lunch. They have a kind of Jasmine tea bags with an English and Chinese label on one side and Russian on the other. Interesting…
About 2:30 we left for the Man Mo Temple. We took a cab there, as we were afraid it would be uphill from the Metro (MTR). We were right. The cab was HK $35 ($5 US) – well worth it.
The red and gilt Man Mo Temple was cool. It was built in 1840 and is one of the oldest and most famous temples in Hong Kong. It was dedicated to two gods; Man (the god of literature) and Mo (the god of war). Coiled sandalwood incense was hanging from the ceiling just like the pictures in the guidebooks. Each coil can burn for weeks. Hanging from each coil is a red tag with the worshiper’s prayer – often wishes for good health and good grades for the kids..
In addition to the coils, worshipers could light a lantern and send their wishes to Heaven that way.
Good thing that I like the aroma of incense, or this could be a very intense place. Another hazard of taking these pictures – occasionally the ash from the coils fell on my head. What I won’t do for a photo!
A few other interesting things about the Man Mo Temple. In an adjacent room, along one wall appeared to be memorials for those that have departed this life – don’t know whether their remains are there or not. The red ones are vacant, and the stone ones have people’s pictures and an engraving with their name.
Of course statues were plentiful. This appears to be an Emperor or Empress from the headdress. These statues in a side chapel are the equivalent of our saints for specific causes.
A bell and drum towards the front allowed worshippers to call attention to the Heavens for their specific request. So I rang the bell and beat the drum 3 times for Dr John and 3 times for Mother. The bell was particularly loud.
Next door to the temple was a little shop where I got some little charms based on our birth years – one for me (Rat), one for DH (Tiger), and one for a friend (Boar). I also got a hanging bell with a smiling Buddha on top and hanging red tassels – all blessed by the monks of course.
Leaving the Temple, we went down Ladder Street and down a zillion stairs, as that’s the way our map (which was very good) said to get to the closest MTR. So glad we taxied up – these stairs would have killed us. The street is certainly aptly named!
We stopped off at a delightful teashop along Ladder Street and I bought some tea. The shopkeeper poured some white tea for me to sample – two cups actually. I was tempted by a carved bamboo tea scoop – had carved dogwoods on the handle – really lovely. But a little expensive at HK $1,800 ($250 US). The name of the teashop is Lock Cha Tea Shop. I found out later it’s the best tea shop in Hong Kong – who knew?!?
After our tea break, we walked down a few more streets crowded with local shops and antique stores. Passed by lots of unusual smells and sights on the way to the MTR. Lots of locals.
We found the MTR station with the help of our trusty map. Got out at Admiralty Station (the closest to the Conrad) – at 4:15 the crowds were just starting to build. We could see the pedestrian overpass over the main DingDing Street (officially Queensway Street) – the locals call it DingDing Street as the electric double-decker trams (1904) that go “ding ding” run along this street. We finally figured out how to get to the pedestrian overpass by a series of escalators and shopping malls. After we went through the overpass, we entered right into a very plush spacious shopping mall called Pacific Place and we started to pick up signs for the Conrad. We strolled by very, very upscale shops, turned right, and found ourselves at the elevator bank for the Conrad. Home again!
See the little Conrad sign in the upper left in the picture below? That was our only clue we were one the right track —
Except for a couple of flights of stairs in the Admiralty Station, it was an easy walk, but somewhere on the escalators or moving sidewalks, I twisted my left knee. The escalators in the MTR areas are exceptionally fast, and they freak me out. So I hold on to the railings with both hands and that torques my body sideways. At the bottom they literally throw you off so you land pretty hard coming off too. Not good.
About 5:20 we headed up to the Exec Lounge and got prime seats next to the window. Dinner was fine – not the endless variety of the buffets we’ve gotten used to, but good nonetheless. The price is certainly right! Free wine until 7:00 and endless jasmine tea.
Our plan was to hang out until 8:00 in these perfect seats for a great view of the light show. Just before it was time to start, one of the waiters told us we couldn’t really see the light show from the Lounge – the angle was all wrong. By then, it was just a few minutes before 8:00 so we stayed, and sure enough, we didn’t see anything we hadn’t been seeing all evening.
It’s supposed to be cloudy and rainy tomorrow, so perhaps we’ll see the Hong Kong Museum of History since that would be an inside activity. We haven’t had rain this whole trip, so I guess we’re due.
So to bed. I miss my little wicker basket with jasmine tea, but I suppose I’ve had enough tea up in the Lounge to last me. In the wicker basket’s place, my little Conrad bear was there to welcome me.