April 2007 - China

Well the morning didn’t start off that well but now that I am in Hong Kong, at the Four Seasons, looking out onto the harbour, drinking champagne, you can find me one very happy little camper.

Check out proved a 15 min confusing exercise this morning in Shanghai which subsequently made us 15 mins late in leaving the Hotel. Thankfully there was not too much traffic, but once at the airport we didn’t know if Hong Kong was considered an international or domestic flight. Unlike Sydney, they are both in the same building (a definite plus). We went to domestic first only to find out that we needed to go to international. After checking in, there was no mention of having to fill in customs forms or departure cards, so when we went through customs, us and about another 20 people were quickly trying to fill in their cards whilst holding our laptops ready to go through security. We get to the otherside of customs only to find out that we need to now fill in a departure card (why couldn’t they do this in one place?), so out came the passports and boarding passes again as we are juggling everything trying in vein to be organised.

Next was the metal detectors and as per normal in China I beep for no reason, but I wasn’t the problem, it was two “glass” bottles in my bag. I could account for one, but the lady was insistent I had two, so I pulled apart my bag, because I realised she was probably looking at the Terracotta Warrior in my bag. After looking at the warrior they seemed satisfied, funny that Mum and Dad were both carrying Warriors too and they weren't asked to unpack their bags.

I can now rant all day about the inefficiency at Shanghai airport. Firstly we thought we needed to go straight to the gate at 10am for a 1030am flight we thought we would be cutting it fine if we were to stop in the lounge. So we got there and everyone’s waiting at the gate, nothing happening. We wanted to use the bathroom, but the bathroom is downstairs which means you have to pass the desk that says, “Do Not Pass, Until Boarding Time”. Everyone was doing it, so we followed. Downstairs was a very confined area, with little or no space to breathe because the floor was covered in young Americans wanting to be first on the plane. So we headed back upstairs, 1030 passes, no word about delays or boarding times, no idea what is happening. Shortly after we have two pre boarding announcements, but it was another 10 mins before we boarded. What a relief that Business Class was asked to board first, although we had to fight through the line of people waiting at the gate and because they were downstairs they did not hear the announcement about Business Class boarding. After making it to the front of the line we ended up being some of the first people on the plane. Today, this ticket was worth it’s weight in gold.

The flight was fun playing with all the gadgets in the new plane, food was average except for the Ice Cream for dessert, but the whole morning soon faded away with us arriving in Hong Kong.

Now this place oozed efficiency from the word go. It was such a change to the morning. We were taken straight up to our room overlooking Hong Kong Harbour where the Guest Relations Manager had a great chat with us about all things Hong Kong. A fair way into the conversation she said that we must be fans of Four Seasons, because the reservation had been made from FS Sydney, she was quite surprised to find out that I worked at FS in Sydney, even more so when I said I was IT. She thought I was going to be a ‘secret shopper’ and I ensured her she had nothing to worry about, I am completely switched off (I had to do a report in Shanghai because I was using comp nights).

It’s about 15 years since I was last in Hong Kong and I don’t remember much, and I’m sure most of what I remember has changed. For example I thought from our Hotel we would be looking straight onto Kowloon when in fact we are slightly towards the outer harbour, not that this is a problem. Sitting in the lounge chair of my room I can see all the comings and goings, including the trusty old Star Ferry, which was first on our list of things to do.

Our Hotel is linked to a lovely new Shopping Centre, SCORES! But we didn’t spend long there, we headed straight for the ferry which has not changed since the first time I came here bar the new terminal on the Hong Kong Island side. After cruising across the Harbour I needed to attack the traditional Maccas from our first trip to Hong Kong. Since my brother and I did not like Chinese food at that point in time we lived at this McDonalds store and even though it has been refurbished, it was still fun to have a meal there.

Next we went to the Sheraton Hotel, Kowloon which is where we stayed the first time. They have also refurbished and from what we can figure out they have moved their lobby off the ground floor to the second level (it has been a while). Next we walked a bit down Nathan Road, then back to the harbour and around the Intercon. It’s great to see Hong Kong again, there are just buildings from the corner of one eye to the next. I’m a big fan of the Bank of China building and now there are so many buildings around it. It's not the same. I will need to get up close and personal with it again soon, maybe it was just from far away that it didn’t hold what it did for me the first time I saw it. Still one of my favourite buildings, regardless.

We finished off the afternoon walking through the shops on the Ocean Terminal. We were trying to buy something in order to have a bag to put all our maps in, but it wasn’t until the end of our shopping that we (and by that I mean me) made our first purchase. As we made our way back to the Star Ferry Terminal, night had fallen and Hong Kong was alight and absolutely spectacular. This city is cool and so interesting to look at. I feel like I have plenty of time to get out there and experience everything Hong Kong has to offer!

After returning from our Star Ferry/Shopping/Sites our room amenity had been changed from a small 3 pear amenity to a full fruit bowl, with chocolates. I could not help but laugh and as we got ready for dinner the door bell rang and a bottle of Champagne was delivered. It’s moments like these in the Four Seasons you can’t help but feel very special. Not wanting to let the Champagne come to room temperature it was decided we would drink it upon our return from a light dinner. I had a another delicious meal, this time tomato, rocket and buffalo something (not mozzarella, it tasted similar but had the consistency of ricotta) I can’t remember.

So here I am all up to date with my blogs, finishing off my champagne enjoying Hong Kong harbour. Oh yes, this is the life.