SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 2009 – 65/79 - HONG KONG
We have to be out of our suite by 8:00AM so we are up at 6:30AM to do our final packing. Fifteen minutes late, as usual, we vacate the room and take our luggage to the steak house for storage while we eat breakfast. Our waiter, Alvin from the Philippines, and our assistant waiter, Francisco, from Goa, India, are in charge of accepting the luggage for storage and we are glad to see them as it allows us a chance to tell them goodbye one more time. They are nice young men!
After breakfast, we gather our luggage and take a taxi to the Intercontinental Hotel. What a delight to check into such a first class operation. They have our name by the time we are out of the cab and the front desk is waiting for us with our paperwork ready by the time we walk up to the desk. It is only 9:30AM and our room is ready! We are not in the room, one overlooking the harbor and Hong Kong,more than five minutes, when our luggage arrives along with a package sent by our daughter and cups of hot tea.
After a few minutes to get our bearing, we head up Nathan Street to HSBC bank to convert our foreign currency. Remember all that Wan (₩) we got in Incheon? The bank takes our Wan, our Yuan and our Australian Dollars but refuses our New Zealand Dollars. We wonder why that is the rule and are told, “policy.” Anyway, we change most of it into Euros and get some Hong Kong Dollars.
Back at the hotel, we exchange $100US for Hong Kong Dollars at $7.75HKD to $1US, a good rate. Then, we catch a taxi to the Star Ferry Pier. It is not far, but we don’t want to abuse Carolyn’s knees. The fair is $18HKD or $2.32US. We pay him $20HKD and we head into the terminal to buy our tokens for the ferry. The Star Ferry has to be one of the great transportation values in the world. It costs $2.30HKD one way. That is $0.30US. Once in Hong Kong, we are staying Kowloon, we catch a taxi to Stanley, on the other side of the island. The cabbie is a mad man, the traffic is awful, construction is everywhere and we fear for our lives as we make the 20-minute trip. It cost $120HKD or $15.73 and we gladly pay it to get out of the cab alive.
Stanley Market is much the same as it was four plus year ago but there don’t seem to be the great deals of the pastAll we buy is a nightgown for a granddaughter. We only found one that would fit any of the three of them. We explore the newly developed waterfront area,including the “Pickled Pelican” pub. There is a huge new shopping area next to the old Market with eating places and more up scale stores.
We then catch another taxi to Victoria Peak. Last time we were here, it was socked in and we want to see the view. Traffic is horrible on this Saturday and there is more construction or repair but we finally make it and see the view down into the harbor.We can see our hotel, the Tahitian Princess and the impressive skylines of Hong Kong and Kowloon and the New Territories.
We take the tram down for a cost of, I think, $22HKD each. It sure beats riding a taxi down and only takes a few minutes.At the bottom, we take another taxi back to the Star Ferry terminal at “Central” and ride back over to Kowloon. By now, it is after 4:00PM and we catch our breath in our room before heading to the “Club Floor” of the hotel for tea and a snack. Club Floor access is one good deal in this hotel. It includes breakfast, tea with sandwiches and sweets, cocktails and great nibbles to go with your cocktails.
At 8:00PM, the Hong Kong Tourist Bureau puts on a light and laser show over the harbor and we find ourselves a good spot from which to watch out on the Avenue of the Stars in front of the hotel. The music and light coordination is impressive as buildings on the Hong Kong side are involved with changing colors from the first floor to the top and some of the buildings are 40+ stories tall. It is fun to watch! With the light show over, we head to the Harbor Restaurant, in the hotel, for a very expensive order of tempura and a hamburger. The total runs $605HKD or $78US but that beats the $588HKD per person for their buffet! This is a lesson learned. Tomorrow, we will make an evening meal from the wonderful food choices during our free cocktail time on the Club Floor.
Our room is very comfortable and the bed is even more so. By about 10:30PM we have called it a day.