Here’s a miscellaneous montage of some of China’s people who I captured with my camera.
People are people the world over.
Cannot believe this is our last day to explore this fascinating country. My knee still hurts, but it’s better when I walk. I don’t think my sinuses are ever going to unplug. (Whine, whine!) Weather was overcast, but again not raining, despite the T1 typhoon warnings of last night.
After another breakfast in the Executive Lounge (it’s going to be hard to give up my two croissants every morning…) we headed out for the Hong Kong Museum of History. We took the subway to the Tsim Sha Tsui station and walked along Cameron Street. Another small-store shopping street, but a little more trendy and less “Chinese.” We took what seemed like a quarter mile pedestrian overpass that nicely dumped us right in front of the Science Museum and the History Museum. Here are some of the sights along the way.
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 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.
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
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
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
We started this very cloudy (smoggy) morning with a relatively short ride south of town to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Da Ci’en Si Temple and Monastery. A short walk through a park led us to the leaning 210 feet tall pagoda – it has a definite list to the right. It was built in 652 AD by the Emperor to house the sacred Buddhist texts that were brought back from India by the monk, Xuanzang.