It's a Small World (afterall)

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Jul 20, 2012

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Monday, July 16, 2012

This morning we got up on a mission to find better room and board.  The Intercontinental Grandstanford just isn't a great hotel that warrants the price.  It's a couple of blocks away from the Intercontinental Hong Kong which I hear is very nice, but the prices were not reasonable there.  It's said that the best views of the city skyline and the nightly laser show are seen from the three pools (one cold pool, one warm pool, and one hot pool) on the terrace of the Intercontinental Hong Kong.  As wonderful as that sounds, it's not worth the $300 per night price tag that comes with staying there.  While the Intercontinental Hong Kong is ranked number 9 on TripAdvisor, the Intercontinental Grandstanford is number 42.  Honestly, there's nothing wrong with the Intercontinental Grandstanford.   There's nothing special about it either though.  And, for a luxury hotel, it needs to have something special.  I paid a little extra to have one of their newly renovated rooms,  but it was just so plain -- by far the most plain hotel room we'd experienced on the entire trip.

So, I got us into the Langham Place Hotel which was ranked number 8 on TripAdvisor.  I had only stayed at the Langham brand one time previously and that was in Melbourne when my Mom and I went to Australia.  I remember it as very nice and regal.  So, we packed up our bags and I went to check out.  I asked them to remove the upcharge for the newly renovated room and they agreed and nicely helped us with a cab to the Langham.  We love the Langham!  It has the most peculiar art throughout the hotel and the service is impeccable  The hotel is attached to a massive, upscale shopping mall with all kinds of eateries and stores.  Also, the hotel sits on the metro station so we'll be able to get anywhere in the city quickly and easily.  And, best of all, they greeted us with a nice cold towel.  We couldn't get a room assigned since we arrived so early, so we left our bags with the bellman and made our way to Disneyland to spend the day.

The Hong Kong Metro System is widely known as one of the world's best.  It has to be good since it's a rather small island and there are so many people here.  There are more skyscrapers in Hong Kong than in New York City. They build up here, not out.  Anyway, the subway was so clean and we paid 20 HKD each for our tickets to the Disneyland stop (that's around $2 USD).  We left the Mong Kok station taking the red line to Lai King (5 stops).  We then exited and got on the yellow line to the Sunny Harbor exit.  After you exit Sunny Harbor, you walk directly across the platform and board the Disneyland Express which drops you at the front gate of Hong Kong Disneyland. The entire trip from the hotel took around 30 minutes.  It would have easily taken 2 hours by taxi.  

Major has been to every Disney in the world with the exception of Hong Kong and Tokyo.  Now we can strike Hong Kong off the list.  The park is almost identical to Disneyland Paris.  It's so clean and it's just a wonderfully happy place.   We've been very fortunate on weather throughout our trip. It just hasn't been incredibly hot -- nothing like what we experience in Texas.  Today, at Disney it was really, really humid.  I'd equate it to very Houston-like in temperature and humidity today.  We bought our tickets (180 HKD each) and entered the park.   The first thing Major wanted to do was ride the Dumbo ride.  I guess the line probably took 50 minutes. I sat and waited while Mickell and Major enjoyed that one.   After that, we had some lunch.  I had the noodles with curry and Mickell had the Shanghai Chicken (which had bones).  It took forever for us to find a seat because we really wanted to eat indoors with the air conditioning.  After we were refreshed, we struck out to Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain.  The fast passes were already taken for the day for that ride, so we went to grab a fast pass for the Toy Story ride before waiting in the line for Space Mountain.  The line took roughly 45 minutes, but it seemed like it moved faster.  Space Mountain was just wonderful.  Major and I got the front car and Major giggled the entire ride.  I must say that all the quick jerks and turns in the dark were rough on this 40 year old body.  I know I'm going to be soar in the morning from this.  Still it's a blast.  After that ride, we head to the Grizzly Gulch, or the mine train.  That line was hellacious!  It was a 55 minute wait, but the problem was that they didn't put enough fans in the lines to keep the air moving.  By the time we made it to the front of the line we were all drenched with sweat.  Major and I again claimed the front car with Mickell being right behind us.  This ride was the absolute best.  It was so fast and, unexpectedly, it went backwards.  We all were thrilled with it -- and we especially appreciated the wind in our face.

After Adventure Land, we went to Fantasy Land to ride It's a Small World.  That ride only had a 5 minute wait.  I just love this ride because the message really resounds with me.  With all the traveling I've done, the world really is small.  I'm always most struck by how similar all of us are around the world and how interconnected and dependent we have become on each other.  After this ride, we go ahead and ride the Merry Go Round and then head to Tomorrow Land to ride the Buzz Lightyear ride and Space Mountain again!  It was nearly 8:40 when we exited Space Mountain and we were ready to goto Mainstreet USA to watch the fireworks show at 9. Unfortunately a thunderstorm blew through and they had to cancel the fireworks for the night, so we made our way out of the park, but not before buying a t-shirt or two for memory sake.

The ride back to the hotel was quick and we were pretty spent, but we were hungry too!  Mickell had gotten the name of a restaurant that was right at the exit of the metro station, so we stopped in to have supper. Major had an egg sandwich and I had some fried noodles with sizzling prawns. Mickell and I both wanted an icy cold beer to cool us off, but this place didn't serve any alcohol. So, we both opted for something called a lime sherbet.  It was fantastic.  It was any icy drink made from limes, sugar, and I guess some lime sherbet.  But, what made it so tasty were the bits of the lime skin/zest that were chopped up in the drink.   We finished our meal and Major and I went up through the mall entrance to go to Haagen-Daas to get some raspberry sherbet for Major. Major had a cone with chocolate and raspberry and then we went to the hotel to claim the key to our room. I was happy to learn that they had already put our bags in the room, so we were all settled in room 2030.  Mickell arrived shortly thereafter with more of the Lime Sherbet drinks for our refrigerator. I was glad that I had used the vacation day for tonight so I could go on to bed and get some rest.  Mickell has a busy day planned for us tomorrow, so the rest will be needed.  We're going on a pilgrimage to see the Big Buddha (of Hong Kong).
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