Ice Cream Castles and Feather Canyons Everywhere

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Mar 08, 2010

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

It's 9 am and we're well rested when Alan picks us up for our city tour. The weather is drizzling and maybe in the 60's- we're definitely in a different climate now. We head toward the Cross Harbor tunnel for our trip to pick up the Tram and our journey through the clouds to Victoria Peak.

The tram ride is loads of fun- quite a steep angle. Beats out the cable cars back home in SF. Then we reach the top. Well, the Peak is there- but it could be anywhere. The tour description promised "you'll be amazed by the spectacular view of the surrounding city
skyline, the world-famous Victoria Harbour and Kowloon, towering
skyscrapers and peaceful green hillsides", but we can't see anything but the clouds. We're misted on- which would have been refreshing just the other day- but leaves me frantically mopping up my lens and trying to auto-focus on the great white background. Fluffy canyons everywhere? Not exactly what I was hoping for with my new wide-angle lens.

We meet back up with Joe and our van (aren't cell phones great?) and head down hill for Aberdeen. We come out of the clouds, but the mist stays with us. Alan takes us to a sampan taxi stand. We have to wait quite a while for a free taxi to come our way. Then it's just J and I for a damp-ish 20 minute cruise around the bay. Of course, the weather doesn't stop us from hanging around the back edge of the roof and madly snapping away- fishing boats as well as house boats with their own bits of garden and guard dogs. And for once we decline the shopping opportunity offered by our female captain. Then back by the Jumbo floating restaurant and our taxi stand where Alan waits for us.

We hook up with Joe again and head out for Repulse Bay. It's mostly snapshots through the windows as we rush along. Then we stop by something rather unique on the beach. I guess I should call it a temple. It's an eclectic collection of colorful religious statues to gods and goddesses that's also something of an amusement park. Incense burning worshipers, picture snapping tourists, waves lapping on beaches, all very happily mixed together.

Our short stay at the Peak has bought us some extra time, so Alan offers a trip to Stanley Market- and more shopping! It's mostly just a narrow village street that's been covered over so that weather doesn't interfere with capitalism. They have a nice collection of art galleries and clothing shops, as well as the usual trinkets. J and I both get watches and try on some dressy silk jackets. I guess I'm not small enough for "Hong Kong Small".

Then we drive on to the Central District- high rise buildings- old and new crammed side by side with the roadway. And then we say goodbye to Joe as we board the Star Ferry for our trip across the bay back to Kowloon. We're dropped off at the Cultural Center where there's a musical event presented in the misty rain. We head indoors to the Serenade Restaurant for a wonderful dim sum meal. Glad to see the carts rolling around so we can visually pick out our favorites rather than try to read the menu. J and I are well prepped. Dim Sum is an SF not-to-miss event as well, and we're both fans.

We end up walking back up Nathan Road to Austin Road to find the History Museum. Alan has given us free passes and the exhibit, The History of Hong Kong is relevant and educational. The best part is the presentation of the 4 main cultures of the original settlers of the area. And a quick stop at the museum shop.

Afterward, we work our way back through the mobs and tailor pimps to our hotel at about 5pm where we relax and begin our final packing. At 7 we head out, in the mist still, just up the road to the night market on  Temple Street. Our first stop is a street restaurant- the Spicy Crab- where we join the international crowd  and have some really good food- spicy pork, garlic bok choy and tomato beef washed down with San Miguel beer- all for 286 HKD. Our "neighbors" are Chinese, German, Indian, and British. This is the real UN. Our Chinese neighbors from Tsingtao, a lovely young woman and her little girl, try out their English on us. We end up trading email addresses- they're on hotmail just like me! Small world, isn't it?

By the time we finish and start walking through the market, the mist has turned to rain. I'm struggling to keep my camera- and me- dry. J is oblivious to it all, as she focuses on the last opportunity for some bargaining- mounds of watches to pick through and a few dainty snuff boxes as well. I guess this is the real UN after all- commerce on an international level. Then back onto Nathan Road and our Starbucks where we buy hot chocolate to go. Back to the room for packing.

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