So, here I am in Hong Kong, the Dorsett Hotel in Mongkok. It’s a short distance from here to the ship at the Ocean Terminal. Now first know, if I mess up, it’s because I have been traveling for 24 hours just to get here. Also, I do have pictures, and I will post them as soon as I get to the ship and can add them.
PHL to ORD
I still do not know why PHL always winds up on every list of America’s worst airports. I have never had a bad experience at PHL, I have always found it to be full of reasonably priced food options, and you can literally walk from any gate to any other gate without going outside or boarding at team. BOS and JFK have always been two of my least favourites.
Anyway, it was a quick shuttle ride from PHL to ORD (Chicago O’Hare). I sat next to two women, who appeared not to travel often. Both very nice, but they had no idea what the airplane mode on their iPhone was for, or that they could use the free headphones to listen to the video being shown. But it all went well. Then we got to ORD.
If you have never been to ORD, it is vast, has underground empty concourses to get from one terminal to another, and virtually no waiting rooms for you to sit. A Boeing 777 holds more than 200 passengers, but there were waiting room seats for MAYBE 50. Ok, so no seats in the gate area, I figured I would grab a quick bite and have a seat. HAHA…good luck! Unlike PHL, which has abundant table areas with their food areas, ORD has none; nope, not a counter or chair to be found. Ok, back to the gate area to sit on the floor and eat. But at least I had President Obama welcoming me to Chicago every five minutes over the PA. Boarding was easy, and then the flight began.
ORD to HKG
I like the Boeing 777. We can always complain about things, but I like choosing my own entertainment and watching my flight path.
I sat next to an incredibly interesting guy. Don’t ask me his name, we just talked a nice portion of the flight. He was about my age and on his way back to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where he had escaped at the age of twelve in a boat. As he explained it, back then, being “middle class” was a very poor and hard existence. Also, several members of his family had been sent to jail for very minor things. His older brothers had escaped before him, and made it to the US, where they claimed refuge status. Then came his chance.
He told me how, when he boarded the small boat with about 90 other people, he thought it would take about a day to reach Malaysia, it took many days. He explained how the boat was very old and rickety, and other similar boats had sunk. But, hungry, thirsty, and tired, they made it to Malaysia, and he eventually made it to the US to be with his brothers. They then sponsored their parents to come to the US. He now lives in Fargo, North Dakota with his wife and two daughters. He wants to take them to Asia soon, but he spoke of how expensive that would be.
I asked if he would have any trouble getting back into Vietnam, since he had fled. He explained that back then, when someone was known to escape, they just completely erased your name, no record of you. Now he travels on a US passport, and they leave it be. I thought to at was pretty interesting.
I crossed the international date line and practically reached the North Pole for the first time. That was pretty neat. I felt like calling Sarah Palin and telling her that I could see her house, and Putin’s house at the same time from my plane. You don’t realise how big the Baring Strait is until you are over it. You see this little slip of water on a globe, but then you see it. It’s not a quick jump across.
I will say one more thing about the flight, if you think that a child will get tired of crying and screaming after a few hours, GUESS AGAIN! Almost the entire flight! Man, we have to build a sound proof area for parents with little ones like that. WOW!
HKG to Mongkok and the Dorsett hotel
HKG is a very modern and nice airport. They are polite, and expect respect. They will remind us un polite Americans to remove our hats while indoors and approaching immigration officers, they will quickly pick up after we slovenly throw our trash on the floor.
Immigration made quick work of entering me. I am a bit disappointed that they don’t stamp the passports here. Instead, they give you a slip of paper with your Visa on it. I’ll affix it to a passport page when I get home. The Taxi ride HKG to the hotel was about HK$240 (about US$31). The driver didn’t speak a word of English. But that was fine, we were able to communicate with the hotel reservation slip.
Driving through Hong Kong is like being in a combination of New York and London. That’s what the Brits built here. It has a New York hustle to it, with all UK style roads, signs, cars, electrical outlets, everything. The one thing that Hong Kong has more of than New York…tall buildings. The Brits had such a concentrated area that, after the fall of the Chinese Empire, they could only go up, or build new islands.
Upon check in at the hotel, I was upgraded to a suite on the 22nd floor. It’s a nice room, New York style small suite: living room, bedroom, bath. They also have these cool switches by the door for privacy and room cleaning service. No door hang tags. Not bad for US$146!
Speaking of Do Not Disturb signs, it’s time for me to get some sleep. Francis arrives first thing in the morning, so I want to be ready to greet him. I’m so looking forward to doing this trip with him. I can’t think of a more fun person to travel with than him.