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Hong Kong
May 14, 2017 - May 17, 2017

What an exciting time. Traci and I would be traveling to Asia for the first time. My co-worker Bob generously offered to take us to Washington Dulles Airport for our flight to Hong Kong via Tokyo. We flew ANA (All Nippon Airways), a Japanese airline of which I had never heard before this trip. Traci and I were initially assigned seats that were not together but the nice lady next to me agreed to change places so that Traci and I could sit together on the 12.5-hour flight to Tokyo, Japan. Despite being in the middle seats of a 2-4-3 configuration, we had a pleasant flight. The flight attendants were so polite. During the flight, we watched movies, slept, and ate. The food was different than what we are used to but was good in most cases. There was also a self-service area in the plane consisting of rice snacks and soft drinks in case we got hungry or thirsty between meals. We had an interesting flight path. It went over Alaska and Eastern Siberia before landing at Tokyo Narita Airport.

Meals on ANA flight (Japanese airline)

 

 

We had a 3-hour layover in Tokyo before our 6:30 PM flight to Hong Kong. Traci used that time to check her personal emails and work emails before eventually taking a nap. As for me, I walked around the airport and then bought a delicious bowl of beef udon noodles and boiled egg. Fortunately, there were plastic forks available at the eatery. I never did master eating with chopsticks throughout our entire trip.

It was about a 4-hour flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong. There was a cool channel on our seat entertainment system that allows you to see what the pilot sees. I turned to that channel as we were coming in for our landing. The runway lights made it look as if we were watching a video game.

I know this might sound strange but the first thing I noticed about the Hong Kong airport was how clean the floors were. They were so shiny it looked as if I could have glided the length of the building.

Going through customs was quick and easy. The only questionable moment was when we were leaving the ‘Nothing to Declare’ baggage claim area. There were many people exiting this area without being stopped for questioning but for some reason, an officer zeroed in on Traci and me. He asked where we were coming from and then wanted to see our passports. We complied and he let us go. Hmm.

The local driver that Marathon Tours had arranged to meet us was standing outside the baggage claim area holding a sign with our names on it. He did not speak English. He led us outside to his van. It was quite humid outside even at 11 PM.

Drivers in Hong Kong drive on the opposite side of the road than we do in the States. As we rode along, I was surprised by how much English signage I saw. After a while, the signature high-rises and skyscrapers of Hong Kong came into view. It was midnight when we arrived at the very elegant Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel. There was no problem getting checked in as the front desk personnel spoke fluent English. There was a letter waiting for us from Marathon Tours indicating the meeting time for our half-day Hong Kong Island tour on which we would embark in the morning.

Welcome to Hong Kong!

 

We took the elevator to our room and went through our ritual of me standing in the hallway with our luggage until Traci finishes photographing our room. What a nice room it was. Slippers and robes awaited us along with fresh fruit. The bathroom had a rainfall shower that falls from the ceiling. Electricity converters were present in the room so that Traci could charge her mobile devices. We had complimentary Wi-Fi. China blocks certain websites such as Google and any of its products (Gmail, Google Voice, etc…). We were able to access Facebook but even that got blocked in certain parts of the Mainland. At least two complimentary bottles of water were provided each day since we were not supposed to drink the tap water. We had to use bottled water to brush our teeth. One thing that surprised me with the room was that despite all the modern appliances, the alarm clock was the old school type that you needed to use dials to set. We set it in addition to scheduling a wake-up call from the front desk.

Our Room at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel

 

 

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