Sunday, June 08, 2008
At last, Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a quick jaunt from Manila, less than 2 hours and so we decided to hop over for our memorial weekend vacation. Right after we moved here we met some great people, the Wrights, who live in Hong Kong and thought we would be able to see them, hit Disneyland and fill the rest of our time with the sights of the city. I can happily say we did all of that plus more.
Nate had his cell phone stolen before we even left the Manila aiport, not shocking, but a little frustrating considering all of our hotel and travel info was stored in his little "cannot live without" contraption, but we persevered through that one and were able to remember the street name our hotel was on. Only because it was Leighton and well, you know, we lived in Layton. Lucky us!
Our hotel, a recommendation by numerous people, was in Causeway Bay and fantastic. It was very small but gave the illusion of space with lots of glass and mirrors. We arrived late Friday night and were exhausted. Lucky for us, the hotel had a whole book of restaurants that delivered and being starved for Mexican food in Manila, we found the most authentic TexMex delivery and had it delivered and have craved it every day since. Saturday found us up and at it touring and shopping around where we bought out the local Ikea. We traveled back to the mainland and made our way to Nathan Road to a tailor shop for suits which of course called for a photo op.
pointing out what we wish the law was in Manila, NO public urination.
Showing us how to pray at a Buddhist temple.
Holden was thrilled to ride on the various modes of transportation including the MTR (the line to Disneyland has mickey mouse ear windows and fairy dust), the ferry, the gondala and of course the taxis where the steering wheel is on the wrong side and they so obviously drive on the wrong side of the street...British influence! He, of course, was able to sleep on every mode of transportation taken.
The following day, after we scoured Stanley market for trinkets and finds including a variety of baby clothes, in both pink and blue, we met up with our friends Jon, Eva, Felicity and the newest Wright, Jason and their friends, Michael and Vergie, for a day of extreme hospitality.
They took us to the yacht club where we had the most delicious bbq and the kids, all 5 of them, had a great time playing. Afterwards we went to what we thought was a street fair and some street fair it was, Beerfest! The kids took their turn with the band, Nate Jon and Eva were all in a balloon shaving contest and you would think, being the only bald one who shaves his head Nate would have won that one, but he didn't, Jon with his full head of hair did! It was so great to spend time with them and hope to catch up again next time they make it to the Philippines!
Monday was Holden's day in Hong Kong. But first, we made him join us on the 30 minute Ngong Ping gondola ride up to the Tian Tan Buddha, the worlds largest seated bronze Buddha. The view from the ride was spectacular but we got there so early that the Buddha which was an amazing sight, was still pretty much covered in fog.
Afterwards we headed to Hong Kong Disney! Holden was thrilled and we all believe it is the happiest place on earth. Even through the humidity which readily melts cotton candy on the spot and sporadic heavy rain, there is nothing better than seeing your child so happy he kicks up his heels. We rode Buzz Lightyear a record number of times and stayed through the night fireworks.
We arrived back late to the hotel and packed up or things to head out the next day, or so we thought. We had A LOT to pack after buying so many things at Ikea and the such and were not able to find a box large enough for all of our purchases. Considering the 5 shelves and table I insisted we buy were all pretty large, it's an understandable problem, no? Ah, those nesting urges! Luckily we were able to use 3 rolls of tape and 4 boxes to fashion one large box that fit everything and the dirty clothes! It was quite a sight, but coming from Manila, people with boxes are never given a second glance. As you can imagine, Nate was not completely thrilled, but he knows in the long run it usually works itslf out. What a blessing to have such an agreeable husband!
We made one last stop at the tailor to pick up a shirt that had to be remade and we were off to the airport with no time to spare. We arrived within our limit but were denied access. ARGH! They allowed another man to board, but I think they saw my gerry rigged box and thought NO WAY lady. At first, we were ok with the situation, we could take the train back into the city, shop around a bit and catch the next flight but when we found out the wanted us to pay $100 USD per person for a re-booking I was flaming mad. There was no way I was going to be ok with that considering we were there within the time listed on our tickets. Of course, all of the Philippine airline agents had made their way on break and with no cell phone we were unable to call customer service. We turned on Nate's laptop to check out other flights and it had about 10 minutes worth of battery with no outlets in the entire Hong Kong international airport. Insanity I tell you, we were present day cave dwellers with our box and no access to a phone or internet, it was so pathetic it was laughable.
It was time to think think think. We threw our box and other luggage into an airport locker hoped on the train and tried to remember where the closest Starbucks was, because thank heavens for Starbucks, they always have outlets and wifi. In we flew and while Nate went around the block to find an adaptor for the outlet Holden took a nap with sucker in mouth and passport in hand.
When we finally got enough power in the computer to power it back up, the wifi was down. Hmmm, not our day! We went across the street and schlepped to Shangrila thinking how smart we were to leave our box at the airport, sat in the bar and got online to book another flight home and a hotel for the night.
There is another airline in the Philippines that always has really good deals. I went onto Cebu pacific's website and found 3 tickets home for 2,800 (that's about 63 USD) you may think that is too good to be true, but I am telling you, the rates on this airline are always a good deal, so I didn't think anything of it. Right as I was about to click pay and confirm I realize it is not in Philippine pesos it is in Hong Kong dollars which would have been more like 360 USD! Oh how great that one would have been. Can you see how this is going?
We booked a hotel room, talked to the airline customer service and convinced them to waive at least half of the fees. Spent the evening in retail therapy at H&M and Toys R Us and caught the same flight home the following day.
We were at the airport in plenty of time and guess what....the flight left 30 minutes early. WHEN has a flight you were on EVER left early? Yeah, well, at least we were on this one.
So between the negatives at the beginning and the end, Hong Kong was great but I need another vacation. Maybe to the beach this time?