Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hong Kong to Boulder

23 February 2008, Hong Kong to Boulder Colorado USA

I’m home and suffering from being in a random time zone. Got home at about 4 pm Thursday after traveling for 26 hours. Went to bed at 8:15 pm and slept until 5:30 am Friday morning. That is 8:30 pm Friday evening in Hong Kong; so I was up all night tonight already when I was sleeping. (Get it?) No wonder I am not doing all that well today or is it tomorrow. I prepared a shopping list and immediately left it home as I went out to the supermarket. The cruise was super, and my couple of days post-cruise in Hong Kong were fun, taking lots of ferries and enjoying lots of Chinese food (did I mention that most menus I saw had a section labeled, "Pig Intestines"?) instead of the good but kind of one style food on the ship. My visit to the "2nd biggest (but still very big as you can see from the picture I took during the few seconds I allowed myself to open my eyes in the scariest gondola I’ve ever been in—why do I do still go in such contraptions especially when it’s windy and it’s rocking and so high off the ground and there’s funny noises and I’m all alone in it…?) reclining Buddha on Lantau Island was a highlight—so to speak—of the visit the Hong Kong.

This was my third visit to Hong Kong (fourth if you count an intermediate stop on a cruise that started from there in 1995 right before the "hand back" to China), my 2nd visit since it reverted to China. It's better than ever as a tourist destination and bursting unlike me with energy. My hotel was in the fantastic upscale residential Kowloon neighborhood of Hung Hom, right on the waterfront with an unbelievable view of Hong Kong island. Each of the two nights I watched the very strange laser show in which most of the skyscrapers on both sides of the harbor seem to be having a multi-color war which results in very strange and apparently random lighting effects on entire buildings on both sides of the harbor. It was kind of like 1.1 billion Chinese people all playing with the light switches (albeit in a very synchronized but meaningless way) in all the offices in each building. (This description doesn't do it justice. Ya had to be there.) The hotel was right at a Star Ferry (all these old ferries' names start with "Star") terminal. I could take one to (Hong Kong island) "Central" for HK$ 5.20 and then back to Kowloon for HK$ 1.20 in less time and a lot more fun than walking for a total of less than US $1.00. The trip to the "Big Buddha" involved two ferries, a local bus (don't ask), and a climb of a lot--really a lot--of steps, then the gondola ride, and the 80 mph train to Waichai on Hong Kong island (to use the free internet terminals in the Hong Kong Convention Center), and then the Star Ferry (another US 70 cents) back to Hung Hom. Cool.

Planning for my next cruise, perhaps some of the Los Angeles to French Polynesia run of Silver Shadow this coming fall. For those who might care, my country count visited (according to the Century Travelers' Club list) is now up to 116 and up to 106 using the DXCC list. The criteria for "counting" a country is going to the bathroom there; flying over or riding through it on a train doesn't count therefore. Marking my space in each new country is usually not a problem.

Thanks for letting me share my trip with you, my old and dearest friends and my new friends from my travels. I have to say that I've met wonderful people from all over the world and value each new dinner companion on the ships. As with most cruises, I find that after a week or so I find one or two couples or individuals who I eat each dinner with and look forward to sharing the report of the day with. Even though (as reported earlier in this blog series) it didn't look like it was happening, I found my new Danish friend a great traveler and dinner companion and met and had drinks and/or dinner plus many fantastic conversations with wonderful other guests and now new friends, from the recently retired 747-400 pilot (and president of an historical aviation museum) to a fascinating inventor of natural hydrogen production, heart monitors (being sold to Garmin), and budding vineyard developer.

All of you, please keep in touch

MB, Boulder Colorado

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