2018 HAL World Cruise
Thursday & Friday, March 8 & 9, 2018
We will, I am sure, always think of Hong Kong as a beautiful, vibrant, cosmopolitan city. But it’s changing before our very eyes.
We noticed the first changes last year when we tried to find my favorite bookstore haunts only to discover many of them had been forced to close when both the owners and employees started to go missing. We read later that a few folks were reported to be in mainland China. And earlier this year, we read in the NY Times that one bookstore owner had escaped and returned to Hong Kong only to be found dead shortly afterwards. It’s a scary thing to contemplate. The biggest and best bookstore was Page One in the huge shopping complex attached to the Cruise Terminal. I had shopped there in 2016. Last year, it was no longer evident a bookstore had existed there. Today, a different sort of store takes its place.
Next, when we went to visit Optical 88 in The One shopping plaza, we encountered another difference. Two years ago, they had created a new pair of designer glasses for me using my own doctor’s prescription. They did it overnight and charged me about ½ of what it would cost in the U.S. Today, there is no overnight service. It will take, at least, three days or more. We never got around to discussing price but I wouldn’t be surprised if the price is higher now, too.
Of course, the biggest change visible to a cruise passenger is the dock we are assigned to use. Before, we would dock at Ocean Terminal. Last year, we docked at the new cruise terminal located on the site of the old Hong Kong Airport and then moved during the night to awaken at the Ocean Terminal. Ocean Terminal is right next to the Star Ferry Terminal; attached to one of the biggest malls in Hong Kong; near the Metro station; and within walking distance of shopping and attractions and taxis. A perfect location! Unfortunately, it is no longer available to us. We are now stuck at Kai Tak with an interminable walk from the ship into the terminal; another interminable walk out to the shuttles, buses or taxis; and an even more interminable drive into the city. No Metro. No ferries. No attractions. No shopping in the terminal. Only one well-hidden restaurant/bar. Dismal and disturbing.
So, we walked the miles for a taxi and after a 20 minute drive arrived in Kowloon. Our plan was to visit Kowloon Park; walk over to the mall and do some shopping; visit a pleasant café and then head back to the ship. We did it all, but not the café. The lovely little bistro style café I remembered was no longer there!
On day 2, we wisely decided to simply stay put!!! We did spend a couple of hours in the Kai Tak Terminal. Strolling across the roof garden, we worked our way over to the one and only restaurant/bar for snacks and a beer. Then we retreated to the ship and awaited the sail-away. I don’t know when we’ll next return and I wonder what we’ll find when we do?
Now, we are on our way to Vietnam.