24 May 2014

HK Day 2: Part 1

Our first full night in Hong Kong, we slept for a solid 7 hours.  We woke early to sun(!) shining into our room.  Considering that we'd expected thunder showers for nearly the entire trip, the sun and even some slivers of blue sky were a welcome sight.  After packing up, we headed down to the Lobby for breakfast.
The view from our room - blue sky!
The buffet included a delicious variety of foods including veggie curry, sushi, seared sole and a variety of Chinese breakfast items like hot soy milk, congee and shumai.  T enjoyed some of their perfectly ripe tropical fruits for both of us.

T's breakfast

G's breakfast
After breakfast, we showered (that's #5 since leaving DC, for folks at home keeping score) and got ready to begin our first adventure for the day.  We checked out and left our luggage with the bell stand.  We were also permitted to keep the big umbrella provided in our hotel room!  [Hoping that carrying around an umbrella will keep the rain away.]

We found our way across the street to the MongKok metro station and bought ourselves Octopus (read: SmarTrip for DCians) cards from the very kind woman in the booth who spoke perfect English- hooray!  We took the subway 5 stops to Lok Fu in search of the Kowloon Walled City Park.
Helpful signs above each of the doors on the train.
Kowloon Walled City used to be a crazy couple blocks that somehow was left out of the Chinese lease agreement with Britain.  Because it seemed to have no governing authority, it became a self-sufficient area in the middle of Hong Kong.  The podcast 99% Invisible told us that the population density was equivalent to Manhattan if everyone in the state of Texas were to move there....  Run by Tongs (the Chinese mafia), the place was well known for unlicensed dentistry, live wires, and "streets" less than 3ft wide.  Crazy (and dangerous!) as you might imagine, the Chinese government demolished the structure after the British lease of Hong Kong was over.  Curious?  Learn more about it here.

We found the park about 6 blocks from the metro stop.  It is now a beautiful outdoor area with playgrounds, picnic areas and green spaces for people to just enjoy the outdoors.  The only remaining evidence of the walled city is a single gate which must have led into the structure.

Having found the park and taking the requisite selfie, we headed back to the Langham Place.  We collected our luggage and went up to the spa where we were told we could shower and change.  This was a great perk.  I don't know if hotels in the States or elsewhere do this, but the gentleman told us about this possibility at check in so that we could plan!  [#6]

After our refreshing pit stop, we got in a taxi bound for The Peninsula for afternoon tea!  Having been a British colony for more than 100 years, Hong Kong still shows a lot of British influence ("look left" and "look right" painted on the streets for pedestrians - very helpful!).  We arrived at the Pen amidst a line of cars that included 2 Maseratis and a Rolls.  Looking good!  Again we took advantage of the bell stand and checked our luggage to join the 2 hour queue for tea.  And that's where we are now...  It's been about an hour and we can now see the front of the line!  We'll check in again tonight to add photos and tell you about the Disney Hollywood Hotel!

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