Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Harbor Town

One thing that Hong Kong bests pretty much all comers in is a stunning skyline.  My first evening there I pretty much did nothing but stroll along the Kowloon promenade and admire the island from afar, watching the day turn into night.  (And, okay, look - unsuccessfully - for a Starbucks.)
I don't know whether or not it has anything to do with coming from way the hell in the middle of the US, thousands of miles from a coastline, but watching the water is fascinating to me.  Unfortunately I haven't lived that many places that have a good waterfront.  Bahrain and Ras Al Khaimah each had a corniche, but I never spent much time on either (although the Hilton beach resort in RAK was fantastic). 
The promenade in Kowloon (which includes the "Walk of Stars," which, again, didn't impress me that much), was bustling, and made for some great people watching.  I found that the wall behind the Hong Kong Museum of Art was just the right height to sit on and had a non-stop breeze blowing through, which I desperately needed on that first night.
On my second full day I found my way to the Star Ferry pier and bought a ticket to the Hong Kong side.  The Star Ferry has been running across the harbor since 1888 and is number one on the "Top Ten Most Exciting Ferry Rides" list as published by the Society of American Travel Writers. 
I am an American and I write about travel, but I have no idea by what criteria they were judging.  While my trip to Hong Kong and back on Star Ferry was comfortable and pleasant, I wouldn't call it exciting.  (If you want an exciting adventure, I suggest the ferry from Aqaba, Jordan to Nuweiba, Egypt.  Hoo, buddy, that's one that will stick with you for years!)

My last night in Hong Kong I went on another boat - the Grey Line harbor cruise.  I had to make my way to the other end of the Kowloon waterfront, to Hung Hom pier.  It was around 7:20 when I got there for my7:45 boarding (better early than late), and although the sun had set everything had a bluish sort of glowing quality.  I had to laugh a little at the guys fishing, in spite of the "No Fishing from Pier" signs, and had to wonder about what they were hoping to catch.  I'm sure the water is clean and the fish are healthy, but then again, I always find water in China sketchy, and in spite of the fact that it's open to the ocean, there are a LOT of people in Hong Kong.

The harbor cruise made me wonder what those cruises my family goes on are like.  The main cabin was a big room with a buffet at one end and a Filipino band (I think - aren't all cover bands in places like this Filipino?) at the other, and tons of tables scattered in between.  The food was fairly bland and involved a lot of seafood, so mostly I just ate fruit and marshmallows dipped in the chocolate fountain.  The band accompanied the "Symphony of Lights" performance, which is supposedly a big deal in the world of light shows, the world's largest, but since this is the first light show I've ever been, I've never been to a light show.  Not at the Pyramids.  Not at Petra.  I watched the sparklies on the Eiffel Tower for a few minutes, but I was far away at the top of the hill in Belleville, so I don't suppose that counts.  So I didn't know what to expect.
I might not have known, but I'd hoped for fireworks.  I'd seen pictures with fireworks being shot off the sides of the buildings, and that looked cool as shit, but there weren't any fireworks last week, and this has left a bad taste in my mouth for light shows as well as cruises.  The light show was kind of neat, but it's hard to work up that much enthusiasm when nobody's blowing anything up.

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