Hong Kong & Tokyo
We arrived in Hong Kong on April 8th in the evening and took the airport bus to a downtown hotel on Hong Kong Island. The hotel was actually more of a hostel with a single room with four clean single beds and a decent size bathroom. Hong Kong accommodations are very expensive, so this little place was very suitable and cheap for our short four day stay. The next day, we got up early and took the “Tally”, the oldest mode of transportation in Hong Kong. The Tally is a really cool, slim double Decker bus looking thing that runs on tracks like a trolley car. Many of them were colorful, and most of them were painted with the latest popular advertisement. After the short nostalgic ride, we got off and road up the longest out door escalator in the world to the top of a mountain. It really wasn’t very impressive because the escalating stairs were not consecutive and so every thirty feet or so, the stairs ended and restarted with another upward escalator. We had lunch up there and then walked to the Peak Tram that rides further up the mountain, and over sees the Hong Kong Islands. You couldn’t see much because it was pretty foggy that day so we didn’t stay up there long. That night we took the remarkably efficient underground metro train to the Ladies Market to the neighboring Kowloon Island, and to my horror, I soon realized that our shopping days were not quite over yet. The kids spent hours looking at more touristy junk and tried on popular knock off cloths. Lyane even got in the act and bought a purse, while Jessica was not to be out done and bought a Volcom belt buckle.
On our third day, we attempted to find this cheap clothing mall, but downtown was too busy, so we went back to the ladies market for “more shopping”. The next night, we took in the fantastic outdoor laser show, that projects lasers across the amazing Hong Kong skyline, which is accompanied by music. On our final day in Hong Kong, we took an incredible 5.7 kilometer long cable car called The 360 up to a touristy town on top of yet another mountain. It was so high that when we were actually walking around in the clouds. We even had to navigate through the thick fog to find the main attraction, which was a giant Buddha that sat on the peak of the mountain. When we finally found the site and climbed two hundred stairs, it was so windy up there, that little kids were getting blow off their feet. Jessica and Drew got a big charge out of that and started posing for pictures in the high winds. The highlight of the day for the kids was the purchase of the biggest candy floss any of us had ever seen. After the long ride down the cable car, , the kids wanted to go back, one more time, to the massive Night Market to spend the last of their money on cheap cloths.
It was another long night of shopping, and Drew and Jessica really went to town buying, jeans, hoddies, sweaters and more T-shirts. It was so cheap it was hard to stop them. Next, we walked by the famous fortunes telling booths, but we did not participate. After that, we made our way back to the hotel, because we had to get to bed, so we could get up and catch an early morning flight to Tokyo.
We liked Hong Kong and its stunning skyline, but really the city is all about shopping, eating, and obviously business. The tourist component of the city is OK, but I thought a little lacking. They do have a Disney Land their, but it is pretty Mickey Mouse (pardon the pun) compared to the North American ones. The cities transportation options are very impressive and fun to ride. We were proud to say that in the four days we visited, we took every mode of transportation the city offered, including bus, taxi, train, tram, cable car, trolley car, ferry and the subway. The subway the most impressive and is very efficient. Some even travel under the ocean between the islands.
We landed in Tokyo in the early afternoon and we had 6-hour window before our next flight to Hawaii. Downtown Tokyo was about an hour away by fast train from the airport, so we had to decide if we wanted to see it or just sit at the airport. We decided that, we would probably never have the opportunity to see Tokyo again, so we went for it and purchased fast train tickets for $200 bucks for the four of us. It was pretty neat as the modern train speeded down the track! When we got there, it was about 10 degrees Celsius and pouring rain and so we elected to hire a cab to tour us around the city. The first disappointing information we received from our taxi driver was that we were not in city center of Tokyo and it was still another hour away from the train station. However, we were fortunate that it was cherry blossom season and the city was bursting with colorful blossoms everywhere. The driver was a really good guy, and spoke enough English to tour us around. The city was very clean and the people all seemed to be we dressed. Everyone had an umbrella and hustled across the busy streets. He drove us around the Japanese Palace, the legislation Buildings and through a nice temple park. It was difficult to appreciate the sites looking out of a window of a cab in the pouring rain, and before we knew it, he dropped us off at the train station and we were back on the speeding train to the Tokyo airport. That was the fastest $250 bucks I ever spent, but the experience was really neat and we were glad we did it. We all agreed, that Japan is somewhere we would like to return to because it is so different and provides a real cultural experience. The Japanese people are very unique and interesting. Hopefully, one day, we will get back.
Off to Hawaii!