Monday, February 18, 2013

Hong Kong, China

It's just a couple of hours on the bus to drive from Shenzhen to Hong Kong, but you have to go through a Chinese departure terminal and a Hong Kong entrance terminal.  Even though Hong Kong was "returned" to China in 1997, it is still treated as a separate country in many respects.  Lots of forms and passport control, but it is (according to our tour guide) much cheaper than flying to the airport in Hong Kong.  We saw many bridges and the bustling harbor as we drove along.
This one looks like the Golden Gate in San Francisco.

We checked into the YMCA Hotel, a wonderful American-style place with SOFT BEDS!!!  It's in a great location in Kowloon, and we had a view of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island from our hotel room.  We went out for a walk along the promenade to see the water and the "Avenue of Stars".
A tourist boat, but doesn't it look authentic?

Bruce Lee and friend

Just like Hollywood's Walk of Fame - Handprints of Jackie Chan

We decided to pass on the offering for "snacks" along the promenade.  It smelled awful!  (I have unfortunately eaten squid a few times--it's like chewing on your ear!)
(That's Hong Kong dollars--7.75=$1 American)

The sun set behind the tallest building in Hong Kong--how pretty! 
We went to dinner at a food court in a mall and had DELICIOUS pasta with seafood and mushroom cream sauce, real bread and some gelato for dessert.  Is this heaven?

We met together with all the BYU teachers who were here for our conference.  They gave us the itinerary and schedule and then we were free to watch the laser light show on the Harbor called "The Symphony of Lights".  Cool!

Hong Kong Laser Light Show

The buildings are lit up like Vegas--so pretty!

We walked around along the harbor and also in a city park.  There is more political freedom here, and we were surprised to see activists demonstrating and handing out pamphlets.

It's a full moon night!

Amazing!  This is carved ivory in a shop window.

The moon peeking through this huge tree in the park.

A McDonald's kiosk where they only sell ice cream!

Chinese animation characters--looks like WOW or something.

The next morning, we were able to go to a session in the Hong Kong Temple--what a blessing!
My grandson, Jonas, said "There's a little golden guy up there!"


After our temple session, we had a meeting with Elder Gerrit Gong of the Asia Area Presidency of the Church.  He quashed all rumors that fly about saying there are Church missionaries in China, or waiting to move into China.  It's just NOT SO! We are here to show a different lifestyle and serve the people. We went for lunch in a mall and saw the HUGE line at the "Smart" store--that's what they call it here since it isn't through authorized channels.  Apparently, a new product was available today.
After all, Hong Kong is the most densely populated city in the world!

They had this line outside the store that went around the mall.

We rode the ferry across the harbor to go sight-seeing in Hong Kong--the island.  (The temple is actually in Kowloon.) 
We saw these three Mini Coopers driving around and around this traffic circle--they have ads on the sides of the cars.  We thought that was an unusual advertising technique.  They never quit!
At the top of Victoria Peak, we hiked the 2800 meter Hong Kong Trail which went completely around it.  I was very surprised at the peaceful, lush forest on this busy, crowded island!  This was the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature.  It was beautiful!  The waterfall is where Elder Matthew Cowley gave a dedicatory prayer for Hong Kong on July 14, 1949.
View toward Stanley


Incredible roots on these rubber trees!

Hong Kong in the foreground--Kowloon across Victoria Harbor

View from Victoria Peak in Hong Kong

We got a kick out of the "doggy WC" along the trail.
This is the huge "viewing platform" at the top of the peak.

We were happy we spent our viewing time AWAY from the crowds that were on this platform.  There is a funicular railway car up the side of the peak.  It was a crowded, long line at the bottom, so we took a cab to the top.  But the line was shorter at the top, so we were able to ride the funicular down.  You get some fun views from here!  It rides on quite a slant.

For dinner, we met all of the BYU teachers at Dan Ryan's Steak House and were treated to a real American-style meal.  The delicious HUGE carrot cake slice for dessert lasted for a couple of days because I took home the leftovers.  We took the subway back to our hotel and it was rush hour.  The subways were JAMMED with crowds and we had to wait for three trains before we could get on one.  You just shove in until you're like sardines!  When in Rome......
We went to the Night Market which is open until midnight, but they were just selling the usual tourist junk so we didn't get anything.  I needed new shoes, though, and found some Sketchers in a mall, but was disappointed they cost $77 American.  I thought things were cheap in Asia!!  But I really needed them, and have a hard time finding shoes that will fit here.  This hotel has a guest laundry, so we were able to get some done.  We got a kick out of the sign in the laundry room.

Next morning, we went back to Hong Kong.
Unusual architecture!  Pretty modern.
A misty, surreal view of the tall high-rise in Kowloon.

We had an inservice meeting with the BYU teachers in the Asia Area Church Office Building, a gorgeous place right on the waterfront in a great part of town.
The multi-purpose building has housing, offices, gymnasium, chapels...all you need!

These videos are shown along the sidewalk for people to stop and watch.

Pretty stained glass doors.

I love this painting of Christ with Chinese children.
We decided to go to the temple again after our inservice lesson.  That was a joy.  Then we went downtown in Hong Kong to see the Nan Lian Gardens, a beautiful, classic Chinese garden in the middle of the crowded city.

How do they make it grow like this?

Pansai plants--originated in China and became bonzai in Japan

Buddhist Temple on the grounds

Lotus ponds

Beautiful bougainvillea
We got a real kick out of the drinking fountain here.  Give them a cheer for trying to teach the public!

Notice how the water is hitting the wall.

This sign means "no spitting in the fountain"
We went to see Les Miserables in the theater that evening--it had Chinese subtitles.  I really enjoyed it.  Never tire of that awesome story.  It was not like the live theater version, of course, but not meant to be.  Bravo Anne Hathaway.  Boo to the cameramen who cut off the tops of so many heads.  And why do you need those mega-close-ups when the screen is 40' high?  Anyway, I cried 4 times.

Sunday morning we went back to the temple to the chapel where we had a District Conference with Elder Steve Toronto of the Seventy.  It was an inspiring meeting and helped us prepare to press forward with steadfast faith!

Next stop:  Guilin, China

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