Here’s a miscellaneous montage of some of China’s people who I captured with my camera.
People are people the world over.
There are 56 nationalities in China; the Han comprise 92% of the population of 1.4B. Christians comprise 2% of population. Communist Party members 6%.
The two major rivers in China are the Yellow, in the north and the Yangtze, in the south.
There were 500 emperors who reigned in China; 83 of them lived in Xian (surrounded on three sides by mountains and one side by the Yellow River). Continue reading
After final packing and breakfast once again in the Lounge (my last croissants), we departed the hotel uneventfully. The hotel bill was HK $83 for DH’s one beer around the pool, plus HK $3,500 for the hotel itself. No traffic this morning and the taxi sped right along. Got to the airport in about 40 minutes – it IS a long way to the airport. Can’t imagine what you’d be facing if there were heavy traffic – it would take you hours.
We got all checked in and went to the very nice, but very crowded, United Lounge. We could have had a complete breakfast there – there was a huge spread.
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
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!
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