Friday, February 03, 2006

Hong Kong Phooey

We just had the weirdest experience. David and I were coming back from dinner and I saw a sign in the MTR (the Hong Kong subway system) advertising "Happy Foot Spa" right in the basement of our hotel, the Regal Kowloon (today we moved to the CCAI group hotel--we're official now, folks!) So, on a lark (and dogs barking) we scampered down the steps and discovered a sign for the spa and a hostess lady dressed in a floor-length satin gown (okay, that was already kind of odd) guarding the door. A sign next to her advertised various treatments, including "Foot Reflexoghlogy." I approached her, smiling, and asked "How long is the foot treatment?" To which she replied, "Only for men, not woman."

Um, okay. We skedaddled. It's weird, because foot massage is advertised all over town, and right from the get-go it sounded ooky to me. I have been making jokes about fronts for prostitution, but then we started walking many miles a day, and I thought, hookers right in the hotel? As David and I fled, I yelped "And why IS it open until 3:00 a.m.?"

Today was interesting. This morning we learned that we will be very well supervised by our CCAI guides. ;) One of them literally inserted himself between me and the concierge, of whom I was politely requesting a luggage hold until our room was ready. When I gently explained I had the matter under control, he began repeating "9:00 lobby, Bus Number One!" I guess his experience suggests that some of his charges need very simple and specific guidelines. ;) Later, our main guide seemed to find me a mite crazy when I said we had gone to Victoria Peak today. "We are going tomorrow!" she scoffed. "I know, but we wanted to take the hike--I'll bet we're not doing that," I explained gently. "Twenty minutes!" she said. They run a tight ship!

Our new room is a special upgrade, but the bed is very hard, and David actually said "Ow!" when he tried to flop onto the shiny gold couch. We do have a cool view of a lot of blinky lights adorning the neighboring buildings. David showed me that the lights picture Santa on a magic carpet, surrounded by frolicsome puppies. It is the Year of the Dog now, y'all. :)

We had a little tourist crapcake today, interspersed with some loveliness. We traveled the well-worn groove to the Central District via ferry, and then took an open-air double-decker bus around a few roundabouts (the traffic system is very British) to a theme-park style station for the Peak Tram, which has been in operation over a hundred years. It is a funicular that grinds up an incredibly steep incline to Victoria Peak, and it's shiny and red and very cute. The video promotions in the station feature Jackie Chan alternately hanging from a balloon and dancing on top of the tram with a huge smile on his face. That guy gets around here. The line for the tram was very long and slow and I was hot and cranky and getting pushed from all sides. The ride was more of the same, and I didn't really get to see the view that everyone was "ooooohing" about on the other side. At the top, we were belched out along with hundreds of other lookie-loos into a sort of square anchored by two tall buildings--one was a mall, teeming with excitable people and reeking of fast food, and the other was a wok-shaped building, deeply under construction, and ringing with the dulcet tones of jackhammers. I was starving and needing to pee, and said to David, "Victoria Peak is crapcake." But luckily I had read my trusty guidebook and as soon as we'd eaten a strange-ish lunch in a cafe overlooking the demolition, we took off at a brisk clip down the Peak Circle Trail, and man oh man, was that great.

Almost instantly we were plunged into a tropical oasis of low-hanging ferns, India rubber trees and lots of other green-ness, and the path was paved and flat and mostly in the shade. It was a warm day but not muggy, apparently a rarity in Hong Kong, and in a short time we'd outpaced most of the hordes. After that it was paradise. For over an hour, the views to our left got more and more amazing, until we were almost gasping at the full scape of every land mass in Hong Kong spread out beneath us. Definitely worth all the aggravation of the trip, and the walk was so relaxing I forgot I was tired. Feeling a bit daring, we hopped on a local bus for the trip back, and David napped while I checked out the Wan Chai and Admirality districts from the top of the double-decker.

When we finally got back to the hotel, we were almost too tired to drag ourselves to dinner, but the prospect of our last hamburger called and we were powerless to resist. ;) It was yummy, if you were wondering. ;) I wanted to write tonight because tomorrow we have an early start with our travel group tour. We will actually be riding around on a chartered bus all day, and it's a testament to how tired I am that it actually sounds appealing. I'll fill you in on the details when I can.

Next Entry


Anonymous said...

Stunning photos in the last couple of messages!
Thank you again for taking us along, warts & all, on your fascinating journey. It has come alive for me.
Best, Gail

Anonymous said...

We are just amazed by your incredible journey. We think of you often and can't wait for your reunion.

Give Jarrah a big hug and kiss from us. Tell her that her "extended" family can't wait to meet her.


Mary said...

Hi Sam!

Boy, I sure wish I could type as fast as you, and think as fast as you! Your post was super funny! We really missed you yesterday, but are glad to have said good-bye to our colds! I am sure the babies are going to give us all new ones, anyway. We are having a great time traveling with you guys! Just think, only two days to go. I am getting scared!!!



Anonymous said...

Hi Sam and Dave,

I am hooked with your stories, big or small, you are such a good writer, with a big heart. I am glad that you find happiness and peace in Hong Kong. Time and space keeps changing, but something never change, things that we hold too dear to our heart, that is the desire of becoming wonderful parents, and Jarrah will love you for that.

Yinghong and Christopher

Anonymous said...

Wow, David, loving your pics! Of course I have all kinds of uber geeky photo questions for you but I'll save that for when we visit in April ha ha. Meantime, I am enjoying feeling like we're there. Sam, you really make the days come alive. What a lucky girl, that Jarrah...