We agreed with the kids that we would meet up at the Peninsula Hotel at 10.00am for coffee and they were true to their word meeting us on the dot just as Hilary was photographing Ted sitting by the fountains outside the Peninsula. Just a quick word about this place, it was THE place to be seen in while the UK were the leaseholders of Hong Kong, all the celebrities stayed there especially the political leaders of the world and today it is known as THE place to have High Tea around 4.00pm in the afternoon. A strict dress code is enforced for tea so we would have failed yesterday on two counts,
1. We were too late
2. We were in violation of the dress rules viz. sneakers and jeans
However breakfast is a different matter and when we rolled in through the doors, held open for us by a traditional bell boy dressed all in cream and complete with little hat, we were greeted effusively, directed to a nice table and generally treated like royalty. For all they knew we could have arrived in the Rolls Royce that was parked outside the front door. The entrance foyer is massive and leads off to shops such as Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, Armani and Cartier – we disdained to use those shops and walked past to our breakfast table. Hilary and I had already availed ourselves of the free breakfast on board the Oriana but the kids hadn’t eaten so we just ordered tea and coffee while they looked at the menu. The tea arrived in silver pots and was complete with tea strainer and holder while the coffee cups were the size of soup bowls; alas the coffee pot was much smaller so the coffee cups were not exactly overflowing. However the quality of the tea and coffee was excellent and it wasn’t long before Nathan’s omelette and Jess’s French toast arrived and was consumed. The bill wasn’t horrendous and it gave us one more chance to just sit and talk and enjoy each others company. We briefly went back to the kid’s hostel so that they could pack the book and the Ribena we brought over as gifts for Jess and while we were waiting for them to come back from their room Hilary bought some silk scarves and a blouse and not to be outdone I bought a solid blue silk shirt and a small boxwood hippo.
The plan was to do a lot less walking than yesterday so we made our way to the Space Museum across the road, now that sounds simple but nothing is simple in Hong Kong as there is so much building work going on that pedestrian diversions are commonplace. Street underpasses usually have some form of beggars in them, often one limbed people or Buddhist monks whose only means of support is from donations. They are hard to resist and most of our spare change ended up in their bowls. We got to the Space Museum to find it closed and there was confusion as to whether it would open at 11.00am or 12.00am so we decided to give it a miss and headed back to the Star Ferry for a quick trip to Hong Kong Island and there the walking started again. Nathan has a knack of knowing where things are in a city and he susses them out in record time so we spent most of the rest of the day following ‘The Man in the Red Shirt’ which so happened to be one of the two rugby shirts that he bought yesterday.
Determined to avoid the shops we looked in the arty section and saw some wonderful paintings and then found a shop selling items hand carved from mammoth tusk. We loved every one of them but realised that they were way out of our price range and then up a side street we found a little old man selling silk by the yard. Jessica’s keen eye spotted a piece that was shot with gold which changes to red and Hilary was going to buy just a yard to cover some books but the man showed her that he only had 4 yards left just enough to make a dress. I did the bargaining and we beat him down from $200HK to $130HK (about £13), probably more than we could have paid but we were both happy with the deal. However time was against us and by 1.00pm we were on the Metro travelling through the tunnel between the island and the mainland so that they could retrieve their bags from their rooms and we could get some lunch. Nathan found us a nice Indian restaurant inside a tiny shopping area (I hate to call it a mall because it was really a crowded undercover market) and by 2.00pm we had ordered our meals and sat waiting, and waiting, and waiting and waiting and finally by 2.25pm the meals turned up as Jess and Nathan got more and more wound up about missing their train to the mainland. They wolfed down the main course, had the Naan bread wrapped in take away foil, hugged and kissed us goodbye and dashed to the Metro while we leisurely finished our lunch.
Then it was our turn to find our way out of the maize of tiny market stalls back into the streets of Hong Kong and back to the ship. We window shopped most of the way and continued to resist the cries of “Copy watch sir? Copy handbag Madame?” and “I make you nice man’s or lady’s suit, you want shirt?” These people hound you outside every shop all hours of the day and night and it does get very tiring to keep saying “No thank you, no thank you”. You can’t blame them for trying but it is very trying for me. By 3.30pm we were back on Oriana having a nice cup of tea and storing up our energy for one more possible assault later on if we decide to go out and see the laser light show again – commentary in English this time please! I will definitely leave the Oriana at least once more as I am planning to go back to the wireless point area of Ocean Terminal again so that I can post this blog free of charge. I was probably on line for 45 minutes or more yesterday as I used the time after blogging to download some much needed updates to Vista and to my protection programmes which means that I saved at least £10 on ship’s internet charges. We have to be on board by 11.00pm tonight and even if we go ashore again I can guarantee that we will be in bed by that time let alone being on board. That’s it I will let Hilary tell you about Nathan and Jessica’s new addition to their family….
Tiz I. When we were sitting in the Peninsular Hotel having breakfast I pulled Ted out of the bag to show Jess and tell her how he has had his photo taken in all the ports of call. Jess thought this was a really neat idea and decided to do something similar. We talked about what they should have, a gnome, a bear, a doll or what. Nathan thought a troll would be too scary and a doll would not be his choice so they settled on a panda. After breakfast when we went back to their hostel to leave the Ribena and book we found a really cute panda in a pink silk shirt which Jess fell in love with – so Fafu Fu (fat and happy) became a part of the family. She has already had her photo taken with her friend, Ted, with the famous skyline of Hong Kong as their background, holding her metro ticket in her lap whilst on the metro, and she also sat in the life belt of the Star ferry boat and had her photo taken. Fafu Fu already has enough photographs of herself to start her own album. Jess managed to arrange the fastening on her bag so that it would serve as a ‘holder’ for Fafu Fu and I said that I would see if I can design a proper sling to hold the little bears. If I can figure out how to make a sling I might even be able to find a market for it as we have met a huge amount of people who travel with mascots – some are dolls, some are bears, some are gnomes, there all sorts of mascots out there. At the thermal springs in New Zealand we met a honeymoon couple who travelled with the lady’s rag doll from childhood. There are none so strange as folk they say – and we are two of them! We have had the most fantastic two days in Hong Kong. Having Jess and Nathan with us has been a large part of that. I really love this city – this really surprises me as I usually hate big, noisy, crowded high rise cities. This place has a magic like no other place (city) I have ever visited. One day I must return. Now Sam is fast asleep on the bed, he has done pretty well for nearly 70 but his feet, legs and back are hurting him as we seem to have been moving continuously for the past two days – it has been wonderful – now for rest time. Tomorrow we are at sea so we don’t have to get up early or rush around for anything so it is a perfect opportunity for us to get back into the rest and relaxation mode! Before I go I want to say – To Hayley well done you, to get the student loan paid off so quickly is brilliant and how exciting that you are going back to get your masters degree – what a talented girl. We are so pleased that you can stay a while after we get back that is great news. Last night we had two messages – one from Hales and one from Sharon, both were absolutely super and I thought ‘how lucky am I to have such a great family and friends’. On that note I had better finish for today so take care everybody and God bless.
OK posting early tonight for as Hilary says I am totally cream crackered; we have already decided not to go down to the laser show, we may watch what we can see of it from the side of the ship and we have also decided that we won’t go to dinner in the dining room tonight and that we will settle for the Conservatory or the Al Fresco instead. Enjoy the pictures and we will blog tomorrow assuming that the ship’s internet is up and running.