Monday, April 27, 2009

Hong Kong Day 1

After a little pick-me-up of green tea (my first cup of MANYMANYMANY) and shower, my cousins Bill & Suzanne and I headed out into the bright Hong Kong morning. Our plan was to stroll down through the area around the Star Ferry terminal, hop on the ferry, sail over the harbor, and trek to the Mandarin Oriental on Hong Kong Island for a drink.

Linking up in the lobby, we went out to the plaza

Where my cousin, who is one of the funniest guys on the planet,

promptly observed tallest tower looked like it had been pterodactyl-proofed

The plaza was lovely-

And we could watch the Star Cruises ships come and go.

As gambling is illegal in China, the ship acts, much as our "boats" do in the US, as floating casinos. They travel out in the evening, hit international waters, sail around all night, and return in the morning.

Also spotted my first Starbucks sign--

which became something of a vacation joke--I needed all the photos I could find of Starbucks for Captains Voyage.

The ferry was a cinch to figure out. We bought our tokens at the automated stand and hopped aboard just in time.

The ferry used to take 20 minutes, but with land reclamation and faster boats, the trip now only takes 8 minutes. We got a good view of the skyline of Hong Kong Island

the building to the left was dubbed "the duct-tape tower" and signs of bail out money abounded

We met a ferry going the opposite direction

and debarked the ferry to be met with a Subway sign

(I thought the kids would get a kick out of seeing their favorite subs going for $19 until they figured out that was Hong Kong Dollars, not US about US$2.97..

and YES,a Starbucks.

A short walk down the elevated pedestrian walkway--one of the most amazing urban "bits" of Hong Kong- and we were at the Mandarin Oriental

With it's gorgeous interior arrangements

Across the lobby was the Captain's Bar where we toasted Aunty Mame

and I learned one of the reasons the Mandarin was special to "Madam" .

My cousin Merrill--or Bob as he is known to some--so he has now been dubbed "MerrillBob" in something of a family joke- was a Marine in the Vietnam War. When he learned that he would be given some R&R time in Hong Kong...what do you think my "Auntie Mame" and Uncle Robert did? They flew to Hong Kong to meet my cousin. Oh, yes, they did have to wait a few days, camped out in the Mandarin Oriental until he finally got his R&R, and you can imagine the shock and horror on the faces of the hotel staff when a smell, dirty Army soldier in filthy fatigues came lumbering up the pristine marble steps with a duffle bag. Yes, great aunt and uncle FLEW OVER to Hong Kong to "visit" during a WAR....and you wonder where I get it from???? Adventure is just a family trait......

Then it was back across the harbor for a look at the entrance to the Intercontinental with its Rolls

and BEAUTIFUL second story pool and entrance

before we headed north toward the bird park and the flower market. More on that NEXT.