Day 58 – Day 2 in Hong Kong. The weather remains excellent. Partly cloudy, low humidity, and high temperatures in the upper 60's.
We are docked at the Ocean Terminal in Kowloon. It is very convenient to all types of transportation, and within easy walking distance of several shopping areas including numerous upscale shops on the second and third level of the pier. Larger cruise ships must dock at a newer larger pier constructed adjacent to the old abandoned airport in the harbor. It is several miles from anything. As of today I have not seen another visiting cruise ship, but there are several "gambling" excursion ships anchored in the harbor. Maybe other cruise ships will arrive for the weekend.
Today we have about 200 passengers leaving the ship, I heard that only about 50 new passengers will be boarding. It really makes little difference as there is never a line for anything except occasionally the gangway when it first opens. Even after a show lets out, usually there are only a few passengers waiting for elevators, mostly others like myself that don't do the best on stairs.
We have a new troupe of singers and dancers for the rest of the voyage. They all flew in from London yesterday and I met three of the female dancers last night as they were exploring the ship, for two of them it is both their first cruise and first contract. The male performers immediately went to work as they started costume fitting as soon as they boarded.
My tour this evening is a harbor cruise. Unfortunately after it was too late to cancel and get a refund it was more accurately described as a "booze cruise". Regardless, I will enjoy the harbor at night. The boat is allegedly only a short walk from the ship and only lasts about 2 ½ hours so I shouldn't be too late.
Today I spent about 5 hours walking around the immediate area. Probably many of you have seen similar stores, but I don't shop. There is a neat kids clothing store on the pier that has two entrances. A normal sized door for adults, and a three foot high entrance for kids. I'm sure building codes in America wouldn't permit such a neat idea. I also spotted a Disney knock off store, "Micki House". Similar merchandise but they carefully avoided using the words "Disney" or Mickey Mouse". No, unlike my daughters I did not visit Hong Kong Disney.
Today I splurged on a ferry boat ride to Hong Kong island. The boats looked to be at least 80 or 90 years old of steel and wood construction. The steel work was riveted not bolted or welded. The fare was almost 30 cents US. Of course that was one way, so I needed to purchase a return fare also.
While on the island, I rode the Big Wheel just for my kids. No they wouldn't let me operate it, but as a senior citizen my fare was reduced 50%.
A few other random details about Hong Kong. Carol, her husband and their three children live in a very typical "house". Just under 400 square feet measured on the outside of the walls. A resident pays the equivalent of 7 USD for any hospital stay. They have the choice of being treated by western doctors or with Chinese medicine. That is unless they have an elevated temperature, then they must have western treatment. As a foreigner, if I were hospitalized here my cost would be 49 USD. Currently a high speed rail line is under construction that will connect Hong Kong with Beijing and cities in between. The station in Hong Kong is very close to the cruise terminal. All students are required to study and pass exams in English which is a required language in school.
Our 2 ½ hour harbor cruise time included the 40 minute "short walk" each way to the pier. The cruise itself was just over an hour. Actually it was quite enjoyable, everyone in every building in Hong Kong has lights turned on. Many buildings have extra decorative lights just to make it look pretty. We went around the entire harbor twice. The amount of traffic on the water doesn't subside just because it is night time.
Tomorrow I have an early morning tour via 4 mile aerial cable car to Lantau to see the Big Buddha. I'm going more for the view and the cable car than the Buddha. I'll decide in the morning if I want to navigate the several hundred steps up the hill, at the moment I doubt it.