A Travellerspoint blog

Hong Kong

"night of excitement"

Dave and I made it to Hong Kong this morning after quite an ordeal. Our plane was supposed to take off from Tokyo to Hong Kong at 6:30 p.m. yesterday but we found out earlier in the day that a tropical storm named Nuri was heading right for Hong Kong and was expected to hit Hong Kong in the afternoon. We kept checking the status of our flight online and it kept on showing that it was on schedule although other flights to Hong Kong were being cancelled right and left. We even called NWA right before we had to catch the bus to the airport (which takes 2 hours). The rep said that there has been no delays. We get to the airport and go to check in and sure enough our flight has been delayed till 9 p.m. No big deal we find a restaurant eat dinner, hang out watching other planes take off, etc. Our flight ends up taking off just as expected at 9 p.m. but the problem comes when we try to land. The pilot tells us that the winds have not died down enough for us to land in Hong Kong so we are going to hang out in the air for about an hour waiting for the winds to subside. An hour later the winds have not subsided and the plane needs more fuel so the pilot tells us that we are going to have to fly to Taipei to refuel and hang out until the landing conditions in HK improve. Taipei is only a little over an hour from HK so we landed there in no time. Unfortunately the Taiwan gov would not allow us to get off the plane since technically we were not supposed to be there - the jerks! They should of shown a bit of sympathy for us I think. We end up spending over 3 hours sitting at the gate in the plane in Taipei. It was around 2 a.m. in the morning at this point so although the thought of spending 3 hours on a plane sitting still on the tarmac has filled me with trepidation and worry, I told myself that we were actually still moving in the air headed to our destination that takes 8 hours instead of 4, and it worked because I fell completely asleep and woke up hours later. Finally after 3 hours in the very inhospitable country of Taiwan, the pilot tells us that the winds have died down in Hong Kong and a few airplanes have successfully landed and we were going to take off but it was going to be a bumpy descent into Hong Kong. We did experience some strong turbulence on the way down but it was over quick enough. We successfully landed in Hong Kong around 6 a.m. Hong Kong time. This whole ordeal from take off to landing was about 10 hours long. The original flight was 3 hours and 45 minutes. However, we were duly compensated for our unfortunate situation with several gift certificates including $25 off our next round trip flight with NWA. The flight ended with the head flight attendant coming on the intercom and thanking us all for basically not rioting and for showing extreme patience in this "night of excitement." We were just thrilled to be on solid ground again.

Posted by schuckley 02:50 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (2)

Final days in Hong Kong

Hello. Dave here. Our month in Hong Kong is coming to an end. We will shortly be moving onto Japan. We are excited about the road ahead.

The service apartment we've been staying in has been quite nice. Good location, close to city escalator, library, stores, restaurants etc. No internet cafes nearby that we know of though. But the library has 2 hours free internet per day so we've been going there quite frequently. The apartment has a small kitchenette area so we've been making small meals to save money. But we still go out to eat on occasion, usually some place cheap. We hadn't been around western food for a long time so here we've been making up for it. I know its not healthy but I can't tell you how many times we've gone to McDonalds. Its a different experience because there are so many people here and the fast food places are so packed that we usually end up sharing a table with strangers. The food is the same though, and oh so tasty. I don't know if they have this in the states now but here they have a burger called the McPepper. I suppose it is a bit on the spicy side for the Asian palette, but we didn't try it. We've also been enjoying pork and rice which is a common and cheap dish found at most Chinese restaurants here. Our apartment is on the fourth floor and with no escalator the hike up the stairs gets us winded. But at least its helping counteract some of those cheeseburgers and fries.

The only real problem with our apartment is this loud and annoying deep buzzing sound coming from upstairs. It goes off at random throughout the day, sometimes starting early in the morning and going late into the night. It was an immediate wakeup call and prevented any possibility of falling back to sleep. During the day it goes off sometimes about every 20 minutes or so and lasts anywhere from 5 seconds to maybe 2 minutes. It sounded to us like the sound bad pipes make when turned on, but man it was loud. I tried to ask the folks that live above us about it once early on, and even though it was a challenging discussion due to the language barrier I determined that it in fact did have something to do with the pipes, but that they didn't know what caused it. I can't understand why they haven't looked into having it fixed. Not that it would make any difference to them but I don't think they realize how loud it is down in our place. The other thing is that the bed is rather small. Its supposed to be a double bed but we think maybe for smaller people. Its a tad bigger than a US twin bed. To have more wiggle room Lynette switched ends so her head is at the foot of the bed. I've forgotten a few times and turned to kiss her in the morning and gotten a mouthful of toe.

The place has a strong smell of incense. Everyone else in the building are long term residents and I think all Buddhists. They pretty much all have a pot of sand in the hall next to their door which they put lit incense sticks into. The scent permeates the stairs and creeps into our room. Its not a bad smell, just very distinct. If we ever smell that particular type of incense back home we will definitely have flash backs of Asia. They also on occasion play very loud Buddhist ceremonial music, and without closing their doors. A few times they've had some type of celebration with lots of people and loud music. I didn't know Buddhists were such partiers. If this was our permanent residence we might have found the loud music annoying, but we actually enjoyed the unique and surreal experience.

Since we were staying here at one address for a whole month Lynette's sister had asked if we needed anything she could send us. At first we couldn't think of anything we needed that we couldn't get here in Hong Kong. But then I remembered I needed underwear. I came on the trip with 3 pair of $15 per pair travel underwear. They are really durable and quick drying. They've held up spectacularly, but I can't find myself able to wash them frequently enough for them to be enough. I bought some in Malaysia and some in Vietnam. Both were supposedly X-large, the largest they had, but that must have been in Asian man standards because they felt like little girl panties on me and cut into my waist something awful. The same was true with the ones I found here in Hong Kong. So I asked Angie if she could send me some Hanes underpants in my size which I will keep confidential. (Don't tell, Angie) We got her package the other day and I can't tell you how happy I was when I slipped them on and they didn't dig into my waist. They were so soft and comfy and fit like a dream. Now that I think of it this might make a good Hanes commercial.

A big tropical storm was headed for Hong Kong yesterday. What we didn't realize is how seriously they take the storm warnings here because of the past experiences they've had with wind and flooding damage. We had a few packages that we had intended to ship out from the post office yesterday. We leave the country tomorrow so we only had yesterday and today to do this. So we got the stuff together and headed out. But we were stunned to find the streets completely baren. There were no cars on the streets and maybe one or two people within site down the street, which was really strange compared to the usual hustle and bustle in the city. It was literally like a ghost town. As we walked we noticed all the stores and restaurants gated up. Supposedly the city had been told to stay home in case of the storm, which we found strange since it was barely drizzling. Of course the post office ended up also being closed, and we worried that it would be closed today as well because that would be the last chance to ship it out before our flight. But that ended up being the least of our worries when we remembered that we had taken our clothes to the laundry the day before and we were supposed to pick them up. At least we could take our packages with us on the plane and mail them from Japan. But there would be no way to pick up our clothes if they were shut down both days. All of Lynette's underwear and socks were there as well as an extra pair of North Face pants I just bought that I'd been needing for the past 6 months. We tried to stay lighthearted about it realizing that it was just clothes and that it could be replaced, but we still felt pretty anxious throughout the night wondering if the place would be open in the morning. Thank goodness it turns out the storm veered to the west and missed a direct hit with Hong Kong. So the weather was not that bad and we were really happy to find the laundry open the next day and we got our clothes. I feel bad for those pour buggers to the west though.

We've done some more sightseeing and here are a few photos from those ventures.
Hkong_templebridge.jpg

My camera's stealth mode is working perfectly:
Hkong_subgame.jpg

Hkong_street.jpg

Hkong_statues.jpg

Hkong_market.jpg

Hkong_koi.jpg

Hkong_fountain.jpg

Here's a better shot of the city escalator:
Hkong_esc2.jpg

We finally made our way over to Lantau island to visit Hong Kong Disneyland. We took a subway then transferred over to the Disney rail which takes you a short distance over to the park. Of course they do it up Disney style with Mickey shaped windows and handles inside the train cars. The park is smaller than the US ones but still a full day of fun. We got there pretty early and stayed until close and still didn't get to ride everything. The rides are all pretty much taken from the US parks but with smome twists to make it different. Which was nice so we weren't just seeing the same old thing. Some of the lands seemed kind of sparce. Especially Adventureland. They only had the Lion King show and Jungle Cruise, oh and the Tarzan tree house. No tiki birds show or even Pirates of the Caribbean! My favorite ride was actually the Small World attraction which was recently added. The twist here was that in the Hong Kong version they've added Disney characters in with all the other figures. I thought this might be a little obnoxious but it was actually rather subtle and we enjoyed trying to pick out the characters. The design of the scenes was spectacular as always.

The Sofie Star enjoys its visit to Disneyland on the other side of the world:
Hkong_disneySstar.jpg

Here's Stitch on the Small World ride.
Hkong_disneysmlwrld.jpg

This is where the Disney rail line drops you off at the front of the park.
Hkong_disneytrain.jpg

They had some beautiful signs and graphics throughout the park, some of which designed by a good friend of mine I might add. Check out this dentist sign with the tooth and the drill. Pretty cool.
Hkong_disneysign.jpg

Hkong_disneykid.jpg

Its strange to see a mountain range behind the castle.
Hkong_disneycastleus.jpg

Hkong_disneycastle.jpg

Hkong_tomship.jpg

Next time we'll be in Japan!

Dave and Lynette
dbuck242@yahoo.com
lschimpf@cfl.rr.com

Posted by schuckley 22:46 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (1)

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