Day 14 Guilin (Con't) and Travel to Hong Kong

Trip Start Aug 01, 2011
Trip End Aug 25, 2011

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What I did
Toured a University, Cavern, Pearl Museum and Traveled from Guilin to Hong Kong

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Good morning

Today is Friday, 19 August 2011 and you guessed it, another moving day. This time it's from Guilin to Hong Kong.  So far, we have traveled 11,200 miles.  Today is nice and cool; probably the coolest thus far.  Our itinerary for today is to visit Fu Bo Hill, Reed Flute Cave, and then to the airport for our flight.  Luggage had to be outside our door by 0930; we are scheduled to depart at 1000.  Our first stop after the boarding the bus was to an ATM.  Everyone was running low on funds and we had to tip Jeff today because he wasn’t going with us to Hong Kong.  So he was all for the stop. 

After the money stop it was on to Fu Bo Hill, a mountain right smack in the middle of town that has fantastic views of the city as well as some unique rock formations.  The only problem, to get to the top, you had to climb approximately 365 steps; and don’t forget the return.  No one got off the bus; we all looked straight ahead at the base of the mountain and then at each other and said "I don’t think so."  No one wanted to tackle that task this early in the morning.  Yuan (our local guide) recommended we visit one of the local universities (it was close by); we all agreed.  It was a short drive to GUANGXI Normal University (school for teachers).  Yuan gave us some information about the college; 1) It is a 4-year University; 2) It cost 4,000.00 USD for qualified students, 10,000.00 USD for non-qualified (probation) students; 3) six students share a room; and 4) the bathroom is at the end of the halls.  We parked at an Art Gallery after riding around the campus a couple of minutes.  Rosalind and the Browns went inside; I and the Janells took a stroll around the campus.  This campus resembled a normal college atmosphere.  The only difference was tourists were allowed on campus; they were everywhere. The three of us later rejoined the group in the art gallery.  No one made any purchases so we loaded up.

Our next stop was the Reed Flute Cave; another strenuous event.  I saw pictures of it in a souvenir book; it looked beautiful.  It was very picturesque with big stalactites and stalagmites with shallow flowing water.  I didn’t want to leave Rosalind alone (although it would be safe), so we decided to stay put.  Local vendors had set up stands near the entrance; they almost attacked the bus.  I got off to take a few pictures and was almost mauled.  Yuan decided to take us to a nearby pearl factory and showroom so we didn’t have to wait for the group to return on the bus.  I would rather stay there and fight off attack than to go to a pearl factory where shopping could be involved; my wallet is beginning to shrivel up in my back pocket!

The drive to the pearl factory took only about 10 minutes.  Once inside, Rosalind and I got a one-on-one briefing on pearls (from cultivation to finished product) from a staff member.  We were then escorted to the showroom for shopping.  It was funny seeing all the husbands sitting at a small bar area drinking while the spouses shopped.  This trip wasn’t too painful wallet wise.  After about an hour and a half, the bus picked us up and we headed to the airport. 

The bus trip to the airport took approximately 40 minutes.  As I mentioned earlier, Jeff (who has been with us since Day 1) was not going with us to Hong Kong.  The reason was the requirement to possess a VISA, and Pacific Delight Tours didn’t get him one.  So, we were going to be on our own for the move.  I was given a sheet of paper with all of our flight and identification information written in Chinese that I was supposed to give the ticket agent.  We said our goodbyes to Jeff and Yuan and entered the International Flight Terminal Area.  I took everyone’s passports and approached the counter.  One side note; this is supposed to be the strictest airport as far as baggage weight was concerned; and we were all alone.  No fear; my smile, courteousness and conversation would hopefully make everything work OK.  And it did!  We checked in nine bags (should have been six); and two were overweight.  We processed through security and proceeded to our departure gate. 

We were traveling on yet another new airline; this time China Southern Airlines.  Our plane was a Boeing 737-800 (3-3 seat configuration).  We departed five minutes early; impressive.  Our flight was a little over an hour; again we were served a meal.  After landing and retrieving our bags, we exited the customs area and were met by Albert (he had a welcome).  We immediately noticed the difference between the mainland China airports and Hong Kong airport. It was cleaner, more western looking and people friendlier.  It was a very short walk to the bus.  

During our drive from the airport to the hotel, Albert briefed us on the upcoming activities and information about Hong Kong.  Some of the key facts include: 1) Hong Kong is comprised of 264 islands; most of which are uninhabited; 2) The three main cities or districts are Kowloon (cow-loon), Hong Kong Island and New Territories; 3) Britain turned over control of Hong Kong to China in 1997; 4) China and Hong Kong agreed to leave everything in place (government, money, laws, etc…) for 50 years; and 5) Hong Kong is now the world’s largest shipping port in the world.  Singapore was previously the largest port (we toured it in 2006) in the world.  Hong Kong people think they’re better than the mainland Chinese people; the mainland Chinese people think the Hong Kong people are snooty.  Mainland Chinese people never mentioned Hong Kong the entire time we were there.  We were told the Hong Kong people will not discuss mainland China either; it’s almost like a standoff.  One other observation is that traffic laws are obeyed here and people are not driving around like maniacs.  There are only a handful of bicycles, scooters, homemade carts, etc… on the streets. But there are taxis galore.

Tomorrow will be our only scheduled tour day.  Albert advised that he could arrange any optional tour(s) if requested the remainder of the days we’re here.  I was kind of dumbstruck with that!  We had such full days of activities in mainland China, but almost nothing scheduled here.  And there is just as much to see here too.   We never got an answer as to why it was like that.  This will definitely be a feedback survey item.

We arrived at our hotel after riding through a part of downtown Kowloon, street markets and residential areas.  Our hotel, Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees actually had things and some areas slanted 8 degrees (check-in counter, door frames to the elevators, glasses and tea pots, plates, etc…  Walking into the lobby and seeing the counter slanted kind of freaked me out initially; standing at it was also strange.  Anyway we successfully checked in and were and on our way to our room on the fifteenth floor.  This is our seventh different hotel room (including the cruise cabin) so far; only one more to go.  The view outside our window was the top of the apartments across the street, the street below and down the local market main street. 

We ate dinner in one of the hotel restaurant.  Sit down for the next sentence.  We are “TIRED OF CHINESE FOOD!”  I didn’t think I would ever say that in my life.  We didn’t even look at any Chinese food items on the menu.  I ended up having some great spaghetti and garlic bread; Rosalind had a burger and fries.  We were back in the room I think about 2100.  Big tour day tomorrow.

Good night!

Lionel and Rosalind   

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