Our first night here we stayed in the Novotel Citygate hotel, which is on Lantau Island. This turned out to be a good choice for us because we both were tired by the time we checked in at 2130. We enjoyed a delectable dinner with a superb wine (the single bottle of wine cost more than both our meals combined and we savored every drop). A great first night to start this trip! We enjoyed a corner room on the 19th floor with lovely views. After a leisurely morning we decided to check out early and skip the tourist attractions on Hong Kong's Lantau Island. We could see the cable car from our hotel window and decided that the winds were blowing far too hard for us to consider doing that ride today. The wind was howling! Soon the rains started and that killed all interest in doing any sightseeing today.
The other tourist attraction that we skipped was the Tian Tan Buddha statue. also known as the Big Buddha. The Tian Tan Buddha is located near the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island and symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and religion. It is a major center of Buddhism in Hong Kong and is a popular tourist attraction. The statue is 34 meters (112 ft) tall and is formed out of 202 separate pieces of bronze. In addition to the exterior components, there is a strong steel framework inside the statue to support the heavy load (280 short tons) and wind pressure. Construction was completed in 1997 and costs were estimated to be up to $68 million. It was the tallest seated Buddha statue until 2007, and reportedly can be seen from as far away as Macau on a clear day. Visitors must climb 268 steps in order to reach the Buddha, although the site also has a small winding road to the statue for vehicles to accommodate the handicapped.
Rather that do the tourist thing in the crappy weather, we found the Tung Chung station of the MTR (subway) beneath the Citygate Outlet shopping mall and headed to the Hung Hom station in Kowloon. This involved switching from the gold line to the purple line and was really simple. We eventually found the Intercity Passenger Services Centre and picked up our tickets for the T100 overnight through train to Shanghai on Saturday. I spent a LOT of time researching for this China trip. Visitors from outside the country can reserve Deluxe Soft Sleeper accommodations, a 2-berth sleeping cabin with private toilet (a most important convenience IMHO). Tickets can be reserved up to 60 days prior to date of travel. One cannot reserve seats if in Hong Kong, but can do so before arriving here. Deluxe Soft Sleepera are the most preferred accommodations and sell out quickly. I reserved our cabin on the first day allowed to do so. We did not want to have to sit upright in a hard seat all night (and share the communal squat toilets at the end of each train car). If the tickets were not collected by 24 hours before our scheduled departure on Saturday, they would be forfeited. You do not pay for the tickets until you collect them at the Hung Hom station in Kowloon. Whew; check that off our list of things to do.
Another short ride on another MTR line and we emerged at the Mung Kok East station. My research had indicated that we should be able to walk through a shopping mall complex and arrive at the Royal Plaza Hotel. Worked like clockwork. For some reason that escapes us, the hotel upgraded us from the standard room I had reserved to a deluxe room, which is almost like a small apartment. The attached shopping mall provided a place to window shop out of the rain. Eating lunch was slightly messy because they gave us chopsticks only. Mine was easy enough because it was chicken breast and rice, and it wasn't a problem using the chopsticks to break the whole chicken breast into small pieces. Bill's lunch was more difficult because he had a whole pork chop with rice, and it isn't possible to tear a pork chop into smaller pieces using just chopsticks. He isn't proud....just wait until it is cool and pick it up with your fingers. Oh well, that is why I carry a pack of moistened hand wipes when we travel. Found a supermarket on the top level of the mall and bought beer, Diet Cokes and bottled water for the hotel room.
After walking until we were tired, it was back to the hotel....where Bill spent the the afternoon on the computer and I slept. Gosh, I hope I am not getting sick; but I feel very tired and feel cold. At least I know that I did not have fever last night because all arriving passengers pass through a body temperature scan at the airport and I was fine. Hopefully, I just need to catch up on more sleep and am feeling cold because of the rainy weather. We are more accustomed to the heat of the equator.
The rain stopped and we hit the streets at 1800, just in time for all the little kids to get out of school. They have different schools hours here, that is for sure. We walked Prince Edward West and turned toward Bute Street. Lots and lots of small sidewalk and street vendors and we enjoyed street shopping for several hours. Saw hundreds of things that would have been so cute on our grandbaby Damien, but resisted the urge to purchse baby things that we would have to carry around for 3 weeks. Did find a handbag for me that should work well for living on a boat.
We bought a pizza and were back in the hotel room before 2200. After we each took the first bite and set our mouths on fire, I picked off all the tiny cross-cut fiery red peppers. These tasted like habenero peppers! After the pepper removal, the pizza was fine. Guess this is a local taste because we didn't order any peppers on this pizza. Beer and pizza in the hotel room. Exciting people, aren't we? We had wanted to watch the nightly light show across Victoria Harbour on the skyscrapers on Hong Kong central, but the weather was still too yucky. It is so hazy and dreary that it looks like fog. Here's hoping for better weather tomorrow.