06 April 2017 | St Lucie Inlet, Florida
02 April 2017 | Stocking Island, Exuma
01 April 2017 | George Town, Exumas
30 March 2017 | George Town, Bahamas
22 March 2017 | Elizabeth Island, Exumas
09 March 2017 | George Town, Exumas
04 March 2017 | Thompson's Bay, Long Island
03 March 2017 | Stella Maris, Long Island
02 March 2017 | Long Island
26 February 2017 | Crossing from Water Cay to Comer Channel, Jumentos
25 February 2017 | Double-Breasted Cay to Thompson's Bay, Long Island
23 February 2017 | Double-Breasted Cay, Jumentos
19 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
16 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
14 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
10 February 2017 | Hog Cay, the Jumentos
06 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
05 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Ragged Islands
05 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
Reversing Escalators and Singed Piglets
23 December 2010 | Hong Kong
First order of the day was to go to the American Consulate where I paid US $82 for the privilege of having extra pages inserted into my passport. Then we visited the nearby botanical gardens and zoo, passing by several seniors practicing tai chi. Sad looking orangutans peered through bars at us, reminding us of their happier cousins we met in Borneo.
We then walked to the famous Mid-Levels, a series of escalators and stairways that lead up the steep hillside. In the morning the one-way escalators run downwards to expedite the pedestrian rush hour from upscale upper neighborhoods to downtown offices. After 10 am the escalators are reversed to ease the trek of the uphill-bound. Along the way you can visit side streets filled with yuppie expat restaurants and shops. We hunted in vain for a Chinese noodle shop and finally settled on a little place where we lunched on roast duck and rice. We sat between singed pig carcasses hanging on the walls, and ate alongside Hong Kong business men on their lunch hour.
Next we strolled through a large city park that reminded us of New York's Central Park, with skyscrapers reflected in a lake. Unusual artistic floral arrangements were displayed around the lake as part of an art show. The marriage registry office was located in the park, explaining the many bridal parties we observed having their photos taken. The petite Asian brides looked no older than seventeen, tottering on ridiculous CFM shoes along with their bride's maids. Bored-looking grooms in "rolex jackets" chatted on cell phones while harried photographers tried to arrange the groups.
Next we walked through a huge aviary with exotic birds from all over Southeast Asia. Finally we visited the Tea House Museum before finding our way back to our hotel to rest our weary limbs.
That evening we took the ferry across to Kowloon again, for the best view of the Symphony of Lights from the Avenue of the Stars. Over forty skyscrapers participate in the 20-minute laser and light show each evening, made more spectacular by the many holiday light displays. Do check out our photo gallery (found on the right side of the blog home page) to see the light display along with our captioned picture story of our Hong Kong interlude.
Dim Sum and Museumitis
22 December 2010 | Hong Kong
After a sumptuous Sunday brunch at our hotel, including Dim Sum, we took the ferry across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon. Our plan to visit the Hong Kong Museum of History got waylaid by yet another huge shopping mall, where we admired the lavish holiday decorations and listened to a choir singing Christmas carols in both English and Chinese. The menu of a nice-looking restaurant had a dozen or more variations of bird's nest, so much for Frommer's ...
By the time we got to the museum our feet were ready for a rest and we were glad to sit and watch historical videos sprinkled throughout the exhibitions. We then walked through Kowloon's busy streets back to the ferry. Too tired for dinner out, we returned to the hotel and ordered pizza from room service that we washed down with champagne bought along the way. Well, I guess we did suffer a little jet lag that day.
Hong Kong Honeymoon
21 December 2010 | Hong Kong
What do you do with three days in Hong Kong, and how best to celebrate our anniversary the week before Christmas? Our Frommer's guide describes one shopping center after another, if that's a clue. Mega malls compete with crowded shopping streets in both Hong Kong proper and in Kowloon across the harbor. On our first day we took the historic funicular, built in 1888, up to Victoria Peak for a bird's eye view of the city where 7 million people are squeezed into one the most densely populated areas of the world, many in tall high rises. What did we find at the top but a modern multi-level shopping complex, with a 360 degree viewing platform outside.
Though we had bought round-trip tickets, we decided to walk down the hill along the paved and wooded walkway. Next day our calves reminded us how steep it was! The hillsides have been secured from landslides by poured cement. Holes were cut out for the roots of trees and bushes. Once at the bottom we meandered around downtown and shopped for our anniversary and Christmas gifts: among other things, a Doxi watch and black pearl earrings for me. Burger's gifts were bought the week before in Annapolis: a Luminox watch and an Ipad, which is supposed to be my e-reader if I can get him off his favorite game, Cut the Rope (sigh).
We shopped till we dropped, literally, into a booth at a rather shabby looking Chinese restaurant that was highly recommended by Frommer's. Burger ordered a bowl of long-anticipated bird's nest soup, probably made from bird nests imported from Borneo where we saw the swiftlet nest "factories" in Kumai on our orangutan adventure in September. The only version on the menu was mashed chicken and bird's nest soup, and alas, it was a disappointment, not tasting any different than plain old creamed chicken ... leading us to wonder if, indeed, there was any bird's nest in it, despite the high price.
Photo: Burger eating bird's nest soup at the Luk Yu Teahouse
Heading for Hong Kong
20 December 2010 | Hong Kong
Our two months of "shore leave" in the States and Ecuador flew by, and it was time to return to Halekai in Malaysia. To break up the looooong trip back we stopped over in Hong Kong for three days, where we celebrated our 41st anniversary.
We watched our progress on the screen during the 14 1/2 hour non-stop flight: north over the Hudson Bay, then across the top of Alaska to Siberia and Mongolia, and finally, south over China to Hong Kong. The sun rose over a cloudless sky and we were able to see the landscape far below, vast flatlands of ice and snow with white ribbon rivers and no signs of human habitation (were there polar bears down there?). A few hours later we peeked out again, and it had changed to green checkered fields (rice paddies?) and jagged mountains, then to densely populated cities with smoke spewing factories.
United Airlines has found a new way to increase revenue, offering 5 inches of extra leg room for a fee ($129 per person for our 8,000 mile flight) but our exit row seats gave us unlimited leg room for free. The downside was sitting opposite the galley with the bustling activity of the flight personnel. Three meals were served during the flight, one of them just a bowl of instant noodle soup. The pilot was delighted with our ½ hour early arrival time, a fact he predicted and verified upon take-off and proudly reminded us of again and again upon landing.
Claiming our bags, clearing Customs and taking the train to downtown Hong Kong was a snap, but then we had to join a long taxi queue to get to our hotel, the very nice Marriot Courtyard ($85/night via priceline.com bid).
Recovering from jetlag of the 13-hour time difference turned out to be a piece of cake: our inner clocks were set to morning when we got to our room that evening, Hong Kong time. We fell into bed exhausted, having not slept much the two previous nights, so we were able to sleep through till morning. Sightseeing all day tired us enough to sleep well each night, so we adjusted more or less immediately. I was glad that the weather was cool so we didn't have the double-wammy of time difference and climate to deal with.
Our room was on the 24th floor, overlooking skyscrapers and Victoria's Peak just behind them. The building opposite us, which faced the water, had large reflecting windows. We could look across and see the reflected image of ferry boats and ships going by, through a break between the buildings. Neat!
Photo: Hong Kong skyscrapers with Kowloon across the harbor, taken from Victoria Peak