We woke up at 5:00 to head to the airport for our 8:30AM flight to Hong Kong. We’d arranged for the hotel driver to pick us up at 5:30, but he wasn’t there. So we took a taxi and gave him a good tip because we had extra Nepali Rupees so why not?
The little Kathmandu Airport was – as expected – a nightmare. They hadn’t even opened the doors to the airport and there were already 75 people in line for the security check. When it opened at 6:20, I went ahead to get in line for seat assignments, while Jon stood in line for the x-ray machine. The men at the desk gave me Exit Row seats, which is what I’d asked for. Unfortunately, as we found out 2 hours later when we boarded the plane, they were not an exit row. They were actually the last row of the front section, which means right in front of the wall so the seats didn’t recline. Bummer! But it turns out that a family of little kids had been seated separately, so Jon and I gave them our row and we sat in adjacent aisle seats.
OK. So this is not exciting stuff for our journal, but it’s a travel day so what do you expect?
Hong Kong International Airport
We arrived at the brand-spankin-new Hong Kong airport at 3:30 Hong Kong time. Jon tells me that the airport was finished in 1997, and it definitely looks it. This place is the epitome of modernization! If it were (much) smaller, I would think it could be a very trendy NYC bar!
We were thrilled to get here, despite the fact that it was pouring rain. Jon has some Marriott points left from the “consulting days” and we’ll be cashing in some of that for 3 days at the Harbourview Renaissance here in Hong Kong. This reservation is one of the only things that has kept us going over the last few weeks: luxury! clean sheets! air conditioning! competent staff! a concierge!!! Ahhhhh……
On the plane, we had mapped out our voyage to our hotel – which would include a ride on the Airport Express train to Hong Kong Central, then a brief walk to the Metro, then a few block walk to the hotel. Unless, of course, if the hotel has a shuttle from Hong Kong Central which we were praying for since the rain didn’t look like it was going to let up. But as Jon went to get us money, I was looking at a map of the terminal which had a list of the hotel shuttles directly from the airport. And – in a lovely turn of luxury and pampering – our hotel has a shuttle! No lugging of the backpacks on various modes of public transport! We are going to be chauffeured! Well, in a bus that is. So we went to the counter and made the arrangements, and were asked to please have a seat and a representative will come and collect us.
Let the pampering begin!
The bus ride was very nice, and took us right through some of the different Hong Kong islands. We’re surprised at how much Hong Kong looks like Hawaii (although, of course, we’ve never been to Hawaii so this is really what we think Hawaii looks like). There are big lush green mountains surrounded by buildings and roads and bridges. At any rate, this place is modern. I found it a bit odd being among skyscrapers and concrete again, but Jon is thrilled to be back in a big city.
The Harbourview Renaissance
The Harbourview Renaissance is lovely!! Marble floors, water falls, a grand piano player with a string quartet. Puh-leeese! Why have we been staying in dives? Oh yeah. Because they’re cheap.
Jon is still a Marriott Gold Member (or whatever the highest level is) so they have given us a room on a high floor and access to the Renaissance Club! And although we don’t have a direct view of the Victoria Harbour, we can definitely see it from our window. Really, who cares? We’re on the 35th floor and can see the entire city! We’re so high up that we might have to start taking Diamox again to avoid altitude sickness! Just kidding, of course.
We were starving so we dropped our stuff in the room, laid out everything that has gotten wet when it was taken off the plane, and took the elevator to the 40th floor to the Renaissance Club for food. Yum!! There was an entire buffet laid out of spring rolls, tuna tartar, dumplings, and little sweet pastries. We chowed down, but as discreetly as we could without looking like starving budget travelers. (Which is exactly what we are, of course).
Out On the Town
After our buffet binge, we chilled out in the room for a while and then headed out to walk around. We are definitely in Hong Kong’s business district, so there are many 2nd-floor walkways, malls, and eateries. In fact, we never went down to the street level until the very end of our trip – we just kept walking around on the different esplanades and through different shopping centers . We stopped into some grocery stores because Jon wants some “manly soap” (although he’s been very good not complaining about how pretty he smells using Dove). Unfortunately, we didn’t find any so he’s going have to continue to use the girly stuff.
Finally, we ended up at the restaurant we had been looking for. We have been craving this food for a good month now, and are thrilled to be in a city that has it. We placed our order with the maitre ‘d and waited. The food arrived very quickly and smelled delicious….
A Quarter Pounder w/Cheese for me. A Big Mac and a Double Cheeseburger for Jon. Supersized, of course!
We took our food to-go and hustled back to the hotel where we could eat in front of the extensive television channels in our room. I know we’re going to get flamed for this via email from all of you. But look: every once in a while you have to mix up all the culture with a good, healthy dose of western capitalism.
We spent the rest of the night in front of the boob tube, lounging around in our courtesy hotel robes and slippers.