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Thursday, July 25, 2002, CST

Day 1 Arrival in Hong Kong

 

We landed an hour ahead of schedule at about 5:30am CST.

There was a short line at the visitors entrance, and we breezed right through. Not only were no questions asked, I donít remember any words being spoken at all. Collecting baggage was equally quick. There are some advantages to a 5:30am arrival.

 

By the time we collected our luggage, we were early for our hotel shuttle, and had 30 minutes to kill hanging around the airport. By 6:30am, the airport is jumping. All of the stores and restaurants are open. The new, (to me), Chek Lap Kok airport is like every other big, modern, airport, so it is not much of a culture change. Lorraine was relieved to see a nice coffee place, and the kidís first look of Asia was McDonalds. 10 year old Michael, reports that so far, nothing different about being in a new country.

 

Soon our shuttle came, and we had a scenic drive from Lantau Island across the new Tsing Ma suspension bridges to our hotel.I think the new SF Bay Bridge will look like these?

 

We arrived a little early for stores to be open, so we spent some time napping, checking in, and checking things out. The Metropole Hotel is in the Waterloo district of Kowloon, and is nice enough. A little more Chinese than I remembered Hong Kong hotels to be, but it will be a good transition to the rest of China. They require you to insert your card key into a slot, or else you have no electricity. This made for some interesting experiments before we figured this out. By now, it was 9:30am CST, and getting close to dinner time PDT. I wasnít hungry, but that biological clock said to eat, so we sat down to an American breakfast buffet in the hotel. It was a good thing I wasnít hungry, as the food definitely had a local interpretation. The sausage and eggs were rather oily, but the fruit and breads were delicious.

 

After breakfast, the teenagers, including my daughter, took off, and we never saw them again until dinnertime. About this time, Grandpa made the call to my dadís cousin, for arrangements for our visit to the village. It was good that Chui Sum was friends with Lorraineís mother. Grandpa went to meet his photolab manager, and the other elders went to rest. The rest of us went exploring.We just went up Waterloo, which is a main street, and ran into McDonalds within a block. We looked to see if the teenagers had discovered this yet, but they were not to be found. Later we would find out why.They had grabbed a taxi, and led by Barnaby, had taken off to Times Square, wherever that is. Lorraine and Josephine went straight to the little concession stands, and bought various snacks, and alternated this with diving into shops for a little air conditioning. Not all the stores were open yet, and we went back to the hotel.

 

Back at the hotel, it was time for me to start my cyber adventure, and see if I could get power and internet. The first thing I discovered is that my US to HK adapter doesnít accept the 3 prong, grounded plug of my Dell. I tried plugging my modem into the phone, but I couldnít get a dial tone. 2 challenges, and 2 failures. I tried Patís 220 to 110 radio shack transformer, since the plugs fit better but it promptly sizzled, and smoked. While it was working, the LCD on my laptop was flickering, and this did not look like a viable solution. The dell handles 240, so the adapters without power conversion are better. After some futzing, I was able to jam the 2 prong into the adapter, ignoring the grounding prong, so now I have power.I spoke to the front desk, and they said the phone works for data, and gave me an adapter to try. The HK phone plug is like a cross between and RJ11 and an RJ45. By using this adapter, and dialing 9, just like at a US hotel, I was able to reach the local HK earthlink number I wrote down before leaving the States.

 

For our afternoon exploring, we took a taxi to Tsim Sha Tsui, and Nathan road. This is where we stayed 20 years ago, (our old Holiday Inn hotel was still there), so I was familiar with this shopping district. We went for a ferry ride on the Star Ferries, just like 20 years ago, to Hong Kong Island. I donít remember having air conditioning, back then, but now they have it in the higher priced seats, and it was a welcome relief. The one-way fare is $2.20HK, about 35 cents US$. I think it was a nickel before. By now we were pretty hot, and Lorraine wanted to go to the air-conditioned mall where she spent a lot of time on the last trip. Ocean Terminal Shops is right next to the Star Ferry. In addition to the air conditioning, we also found a floor dedicated to computer shops. Here, I was able to get information on how to solve my power and connection problems. That little RJ45 to RJ11 cord is only good in HK, as China does something different, but I bought one anyway. China also uses a different AC plug, so I bought one of those adapters too. I found a 128 meg smart media card for 380$HK, so I got one of these and that completed my purchases in HK. Pat was looking for an AC adapter, that he forgot to bring for his iPac, but they were a few dollars more than the states, and not a good deal.

 

We tried to bargain for a some pirated game boy games for Michael, but we realized we would not be informed enough for a purchase, without some research from an expert. After Trond educated us, I think we can buy on the way home.

 

I had forgotten about the Hall curse, until Lorraine, Josephine, and Pat (in that order), were lost. From now on, I would be sure to look at the map myself, and carry my GPS, which had our hotel saved on it. Taxis donít stop on Nathan road, because it is too busy, and as soon as we were told this, by a policeman, we were able to catch a taxi on a side street.All of the taxis were red, right-hand drive Toyotas. That yellow cab, I almost got into, was a hiway construction vehicle.

 

By the time we were meeting for dinner, at 6PM CST, some serious jet lag was kicking in, and half our party overslept, and had to be fetched. Michael fell asleep at the dinner table, and I was feeling like a zombie. We decided to ward off the jet lag, and digest by going to one to the night markets. Not the big one on Temple Road, but a smaller one near our hotel. This is where all of the Rolex copies, and pirated game boys are. I was falling asleep while walking, so I bailed and went back to my room. These rooms are too small to accommodate a family of 4, so we got 2 rooms for our family. When I got back, I fell asleep on top of the covers, and just woke up. It is 2AM Friday, CST, but 11AM Thursday, PDT. I am wide awake now, so I guess I am still on California time. As soon as I post this, Iíll try to get back to sleep, as we are checking out tomorrow, and taking a hovercraft to Nanhai, to see the Hall Village.

 

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