Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China

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?

On the dock in Hong Kong at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.
On the dock in Hong Kong at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.
Walking the streets of Hong Kong.
Walking the streets of Hong Kong.
Street view of Hong Kong.
Street view of Hong Kong.
These dolls mark the way up to the Avenue of Comic Stars in Kowloon Park.
These dolls mark the way up to the Avenue of Comic Stars in Kowloon Park.
My favorite doll is at the top!
My favorite doll is at the top!
The Avenue of Comic Stars.
The Avenue of Comic Stars.
7
Ding Ding Penguin follows a family to Hong Kong and turns anywhere it goes into a playground. Its motto is “the world is a big playground!” We can appreciate the sentiment!
8
Two pandas are used as a sarcastic parable regarding the Hong Kong handover back to China. They will not listen to what they don’t want to hear. They mock those who are different, they ridicule the current culture and politics. Cultural re-education!
The Maze in Kowloon Park.
The Maze in Kowloon Park.
One of many fountains
One of many fountains
Pink Flamingos!
Pink Flamingos!
Entering the bridge over the roadway to the Harbor Center Mall complex.
Entering the bridge over the roadway to the Harbor Center Mall complex.
13
Star Cruise’s ship, Pisces, docked at Ocean Terminal–this is where we docked in the past!
Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Roof Deck
Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Roof Deck
Old runway 31 markings.
Old runway 31 markings.
View of Victoria Peak.
View of Victoria Peak.
Looking at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal with roof garden and city view behind.
Looking at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal with roof garden and city view behind.
The Hanger Bar, one floor below the  Roof Garden, on the Northwest End.
The Hanger Bar, one floor below the Roof Garden, on the Northwest End.

Now, we are on our way to Vietnam.

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