Here’s what the founder of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong, (1893-1976) said, “I have witnessed the tremendous energy of the masses. On this foundation, it is possible to accomplish any task whatsoever.”
The modern city radiates from its banks and outshines Hong Kong and Tokyo to the point it is getting more difficult to differentiate them. But in 1949, Shanghai had become known as a place of mystery, sin and power. That same tradition keeps Beijing’s ruling party members on their toes. China has transformed but no one wants it to be like the former brand and power is carefully managed.
The wide river front Bund is once again a place of elegant shops and expensive deals. The modern city rivals London and Tokyo, and innovation is clearly no stranger to Chinese engineers. Noel Coward once commented that the Shanghai Club bar was long enough to show the earth’s curvature. In 1930, he wrote Private Lives while staying at what is now the Peace Hotel.
Contemporary Shanghai Bund has many historical buildings that line up along the Huangpu River which is the symbol and mother river of Shanghai. It is also the most important shipping artery. There are night clubs, shops, restaurants and major museums in the central area which is also home to several major museums.
Hongkou, the former Jewish district where refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe lived and the university district of Yangpu which is just a five-minute walk away following the river to the north while the French Concession lines the river to the south.
Among the most interesting neighbourhoods, Jing’an date from the 3rd century AD, the oldest shrine in the city. Slender Huangpu Park curves along the much smaller Suzhou Creek and the Huangpu River which cuts across Shanghai before meeting the great Yangtze River.
It is Shanghai’s place to stroll, read, play music, practice tai qi quan (the art of nurturing the science of power) or just relax. River traffic blends sail and motor in a surprising procession and the riverbank is lined with magnificent old buildings. In fact, we went to Shanghai’s the Bund, the signature promenade of top restaurants and historic buildings.
Walking along the boardwalk, just like we did in front of our condo when we used to live in Saint John and the one in Atlantic City, we indulged in people watching. We also sampled their steamed dumplings stuffed with pork but the one we have at Golden China near Toronto is more to our taste.
The spiralling 4.7 mile-long Yangpu Bridge and the 5.1 mile long Nanpu Suspension Bridge rank among the world’s longest. The European name given to Wai Tan Road (along Huangpu Park) was the “the Bund,” and it represented the most important part and centre of old Shanghai.
The Chinese name is Zhongshan Road (aka Wai Tan and separated into eight sections), and for many, it is still a symbol of colonial prejudice and excess - the Peace Hotel, with its pointed green tower, was once East Asia’s most palatial, but Chinese citizens were not allowed in! The Bank of China is nearly the same height but has no tower.
The pretty Customs Building and the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank are not to be missed. A half- mile tunnel links under the river to the Oriental Pearl Tower. The world’s third tallest broadcasting tower (Toronto’s CN Center Tower is the highest and Moscow Tower is second), the 1500 -foot Oriental Pearl Tower dominates the skyline. The dramatic 11orbs represent pearls. A double deck elevator can take visitors to the 850-foot observation deck where the views are impressive.
Night time lights add colour to the Lujiazui Road (Pudong) structure. Even modern Shanghai hangs on to some long-established elements. The oldest and largest temple in the city, Longhua Temple, features the original Song Dynasty Jialan Zan Sect seven-hall design which is regarded as a prime specimen of Southern Song architecture.
Colonial Renmin Gong Yuan (People’s Park, where retired people come to relax in the early morning), was the Shanghai Race Course for the post-revolutionary Chinese government. It was a despised foreign symbol that destroyed gamblers’ lives, so it was improved and reopened as a park.
Its modern Shanghai Museum, an important collection of bronze art and ancient sculpture, features a fine calligraphy gallery. Established in 1952, it ranks among China’s four largest museums. Ming and Qing dynasty art is included along with terra cotta figures from Qin Shi Huangdi’s (China’s first emperor) Xi’an tomb. The porcelain array ranks among the world’s finest.
Practically Speaking - Currency: Chinese yuan Shop: 8:30 am- 7 pm Info: www.meet-in-shanghai.net OR lyw.sh.gov.cn/en/ PO: Nanjing Road Browse: Known as Shopping Paradise and the Oriental Paris, Yuyuan Shopping City, Xujiahui Shopping City, New Shanghai Shopping City and Jiali Sleepless City are major centres. Arrival Information: The ship docked at Waigaoqiao Port one of the main ports under Shanghai Port, an hour from Central Shanghai. Taxis and pedestrians were prohibited from the port.
Yuyuan was started by Ming Official Pan Yunduan in 1559 to honour his father; it took nearly 20 years to build Yuyuan (It means Garden of Peace and Comfort). The Pans were wealthy Ming Dynasty landowners. Unfortunately, family fortunes changed after Pan Yunduan‘s death, and later civil conflict further damaged the uncared for grounds.
After World War II, the government started an aggressive restoration project, and the garden re-opened a decade later. The palatial estate features beautiful old buildings and it has long been a central meeting place. Fancifully named landmarks are main attractions.
The winding wall (Five Dragon Wall) looks like a serpent. Thousand Flower Pavilion and the Jade Magnificence Hall which is endowed with rosewood pieces from the Ming Dynasty can be seen. There is also a Lotus Pool with a zigzag bridge and a pavilion in the middle of the lake.
There are more than 30 halls and pavilions in the complex. Jade Buddha Temple (Yufo Si) is one of the most venerated temples in Shanghai. Famous for its two magnificent white jade Buddha statues, the temple was built in 1882 when a Chinese monk named Huigen brought the figures from Burma. There are three richly-adorned main halls, but the best part is the Jade Buddha Tower where the bejewelled white Buddha, weighing more than a ton, is displayed.
Shanghai, ChinaAfter cruising the East China Sea on the 15th, we found the sign: Welcome to Shanghai! on March 16. Shanghai means ‘up the river‘ (from the sea). The river in question is the Huangpo and the city spreads out from its banks Along the waterfront, the spacious Bund is once again a place where million dollar deals are widespread.
Shanghai still swings, but it has a lot more glitter. At first, it was just a fishing village but became a town in 1200 and then an imperial Chinese county. International trade started to develop in the 1700s. Leaders made sure opium kept flowing from India during the colonial years.
The first Opium War broke out in 1850 leaving Britain in control of Hong Kong and the Shanghai ‘concessions’. Big foreign-owned industries were recognized. During the next century the owners flourished while the general population grew poorer leading to a revolution.
Night time lights add colour to the Lujiazui Road (Pudong) structure. Shanghai is one of the world’s fascinating cities, bursting with ancient tradition, culture and modern technology. The fabled port on the Huangpo River has played a pivotal role in the history of Modern China.
After perusing the aforementioned information provided for us by QM2, we were good and ready for our tour. We had an early breakfast so we could make it in time for the tour gathering place at Royal Court Theatre but after an hour of waiting, the Chinese Immigration still had not cleared the ship so we were really late for our tour. It was worth it though because we had an excellent tour guide who told us to call him Benny.
We found Shanghai such a changed city in many respects, compared to the last time we were here ten years ago although in the river front promenade you can still see people doing their tai chi. As practisers of this ancient exercise, we resisted the urge to jump out of the bus and join them.
It took 30 to 40 minutes by bus to get to the modern city with 18 million residents. There are 23 provinces and 5 regions and 4 municipalities: Shanghai, Tianjin, Beijing, and Chongqing but everywhere you can see lots of mountains around.
Shanghai is located west of Yangtze River which is the 3rd longest river in the world which goes to East China Sea (part of the Pacific Ocean). Land is flat the average height being six m above sea level. The western side of Shanghai has lots of lake and we saw that rice has been harvested usually in May.
Late October is the second harvest season. They also plant winter wheat. This used to be farmland and Shanghai has developed quickly. Size of city is 6000 square km. Shanghai has a county called Chong Ming Dao, which is the 3rd largest island. The Huangpu River divides Shanghai’s city proper into two parts: Puxi (west of the river) and Pudong which means east of the river.
First stop is the TV Tower which is the 2nd tallest in the city. The tallest is Jin Mao Tower with 101 stories and has become the 2nd tallest in China. Then he said we would be stopping at the People’s Square which used to be a horse racing course. In 1990 central government shifted focus from Southern China to Shanghai.
The wharf used to be part of the ocean. The place is in sub tropics with 40-50 degrees in early spring. There are four distinct seasons: spring is March till May; Summer is three months from June to September which is hot and humid at 38 degrees C; Autumn is the best season. Rainy season is in winter to early summer. It’s is zero degrees C in the winter but not much snow.
This used to be a small town but now it is an important trading centre. The short history reveals that 1400 years ago, this used to be a fishing village but now it is the richest city in China with two international airports. It has three train stations which can take one 11 hours to go to Beijing. Shanghai to Hong Kong takes 20 hours.
But they’re building something that will take one five hours from Shanghai to Beijing. Then Benny said there were people living here 6000 years ago and then pointed to the Central Bank of China with the sign: the round one means money while the square one inside the round means the earth is flat.
All these buildings have been built after 1990. Now there are 4000 skyscrapers which means each has 18 stories. Shanghai World Financial Centre is the tallest building with 101 floors built in 2008. In 1993, the Jin Mao was finished 468 m high which is 4rth tallest in the world.
Second tallest is in Canada while the 3rd is in Moscow. This one in Shanghai is called Pearl Tower. Beijing talks about politics but Shanghai talks about economics and money. It’s here where people are more-easy going and accepting of western ideas. The 101-floor building was designed by an American and Chinese architects and took nine years. Construction stopped for five years. The 90th floor has a swimming pool.
There are 1.5 million people living in Shanghai. Before there were no tunnels and bridges, just ferries to get across. That’s why some say it’s better to stay here than to have a big house in the city. People used to have to share a kitchen but houses are expensive. The initial payment is 30% which is much when the cost is $20,000 US per square meter.
Now this 88-story building used to be the tallest combined with offices and hotels. The World Financial Building‘s 49th floor has offices; 50-52 has equipment while the 53-87 floors are occupied by the hotel. The 1930 hotel used to be the tallest but now they’re building a 127-story one which will be finished in 2014 called Shanghai Tower.
We then went to People’s Square that shows the colourful past of Shanghai. The bridge was built in 1991 and they have 11 meter lines (subway) with a total length of 400 km. There are 1000 city bus routes which run from 4 am to 12 midnight. There are over 45 thousand taxis.
The tour guide showed us the most expensive houses facing the river at $20,000 US per square meter. He pointed out the Convention Centre Building with the two globes on top with the statue of the 1st mayor of Shanghai. The east to west streets are named after cities and the north and south ones are named after the provinces.
People’s Square is in the very centre of Shanghai. It was renovated in the early 1950s which converted the race course into a park. Nearby is the first museum built by the foreigners in 1868. After 1980 there are 69 museums but our sightseeing tour is too short to see all; it is just like looking at the flowers on a horse back.
Established in 1952, the Shanghai Museum is a world-famous museum of ancient Chinese art. Its present building, completed in 1996, is shaped with a square base and a round top attached with arches like a bronze Ding, indicating the ancient Chinese philosophy of the universe that the earth is square while the sky is round.
In front of the building stand eight imposing white marble statues of guardian lions. Among the one million pieces of collection, there are nearly 130,000 pieces of national treasures, including ancient Chinese bronzes and ceramics. They cover twenty-one categories, such as bronzes, ceramics, calligraphy, paintings, jade and ivory works, bamboo and lacquer wares, oracle bones, seals, coins, and artifacts of the ethnic minorities, the first four of which are among the best collections in the world.
The Shanghai Museum presents the exceptional treasures which epitomize the wisdom and virtuosity of Chinese ancestors: dignified bronzes incarnating the splendour of ancient civilization, beautiful ceramics showing the art of molding, paintings, and calligraphy works executed by the brush, exquisite jades conveying a nation’s character, stately sculptures embodying the glory of history, classical furniture, delicate ethnic artifacts.
This is the place to experience the brilliant history and enjoy the fabulous artistic creation of China. F1 has the Ancient Chinese Bronze Gallery with over 400 bronzes of unique shapes, delicate décor and superb techniques which tell the 1500-year history of the great Chinese Bronze Age from 18th Century B. C. till the 3rd century B.C. Of particular interest here are the Ox-Shaped Zun and the Da Ke Ding.
On this floor they also have the Ancient Chinese Sculpture Gallery with about 120 statues that cover the development of Chinese sculpture art from the Warring States to the Ming dynasty. The Buddhist sculptures show how Buddhism confronted and harmonized with Chinese traditional culture over the history. The Stone Statue of Bodhisattva is impressive. The first exhibition hall and the multimedia studio are also here.
F2 features the No. 2 Exhibition Hall, Zande Lou Ceramics Gallery and the Ancient Chinese Ceramics Gallery that traces the 8000 years of Chinese ceramics history from the Neolithic Age to the late Qing Dynasty, presenting over 500 pieces from famous kilns.
F3 features the Lingtuxuan and the Chinese Painting Gallery that shows scrolls by masters from Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. These are displayed in the showcases by the long corridor flanked with flying-eaved roofs and low balustrade, unfolding the glorious history of Chinese painting.
Paintings that are featured here are the Hermits by Sun Wei and Lady with a Fan by Tang Yin. At the Chinese Seal Gallery from the Western Zhou dynasty till the late Qing dynasty, Chinese art of seal carving underwent great changes in form and the message that it carried.
This gallery houses nearly 500 seals which are among the best of their time like the Gold Seal of Gui Yi Di Wang. The last gallery in F3 is the Chinese Calligraphy Gallery that shows the beginning with the inscriptions on oracle bones and bronzes, to the age of bamboo slips and stone steles, about 70 masterpieces, including those by Wang Xizhi and Wang Xianzhi (father and son), render the infinite representations of seal, official, running, cursive and regular scripts.
Poems of Duojing Lou by Mi Fu are featured here. There are six galleries at F4. Among them are the No.3 Exhibition Hall, the Display of Ancient Silk Road Coins and the Chinese Currency Gallery that shows a constellation of over 3000 pieces covering the history of the birth and development of Chinese currency. The ancient silk road coins record the economic history of those ancient nations along the silk road.
Then there is the Chinese Ming and Qing Furniture Gallery where there are about 100 pieces of furniture that exemplify the stylish simplicity of Ming style and the delicate magnificence of Qing style. A Ming-style reception hall and a study, together with a set of furniture models unearthed from a Ming tomb, represent the household life of centuries back.
The Ancient Jade Gallery shows over 300 pieces of jade, including the mysterious pieces of the Neolithic Age and the sophisticated ones of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The display shows the significance of jade in Chinese culture.
The last one on F4 is the Chinese Minority Nationalities’ Art Gallery where more than 600 exhibits including costumes, embroideries, batiks, metal wares, bamboo and wooden works and masks, display the technical virtuosity and artistic creativity of China’s ethnic groups. All information of the museum is also available on the Shanghai Museum website: www.shanghaimuseum.net
Shanghai can be regarded as one of the best cities in the world. To think that they just started building skyscrapers in the 1990’s, this is quite unbelievable. And they’re continuing on with the expansion. They already have the largest container and the busiest port in the world.
It seems like from the start when they planned this, they meant to equal or better the best in the world. They want to have the tallest skyscraper, the best transportation modes. Their museum and the People’s Square are impressive. The way the Chinese move, behave and dress there contradict the fact that the country is communist. Of course we do not know the inner core of their society.
The financing of their skyscrapers come from the Government of China and foreign investors from North America, Japan and Europe. Our tour guide who only studied English in the university has an excellent command of the language. And did we mention that Shanghai is known as the Paris of the East?
We arrived back to the ship late for lunch so had to eat buffet on Deck 7. The formal dinner was open seating and after that we saw the movie Slum Dog Millionaire and it was everything as good as the report we have been hearing about it although we didn’t like finding out how cruel people are to each other.
Late this evening, we cleared the Channel as we said tzewe or mintzowe (farewell) to Shanghai which is leading China into the 21st century. Then we headed out to the East China Sea towards Taiwan. We were really sailing away to Hong Kong, a distance of 796 nautical miles. Knowing 1 nautical mile equals 1:15 statute miles, quick do the math and see how close it is.
At this point we were informed that Hong Kong dollars were available at the currency machines with 1US$= 7.17 HKD. We were also advised that all nationalities not in the list of those not required to have Vietnamese visa have to apply for one regardless of whether they planned to go ashore or not. The cost is $25.
We navigated our way through the Taiwan Strait on March 17 and as we passed the Island of Taiwan and China, we did our usual activities. Gun, the hostess, (we don’t know why she’s called Gun because she’s such a pretty little thing and peace-loving at that) practised us for the Talent Show.
Lunch was better because we were assigned to a better section. The talent show turned out okay. At night after dinner, we went to see the variety show which featured Scotland’s premier singing sensation Kaitlin Carr, multi-instrumentalist Kenny Martyn, and vocal group.
It also featured Rommel a Filipino who does cabins and won the talent show and $1000. He was given a standing ovation by the audience. Then we went to see the movie ‘Commitment’ but it was not good so we left and did some work instead.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick was a Romano-Briton and Christian missionary who is the most generally recognized patron saint of Ireland although Brigid of Kildare and Colmcille are also patron saints. There are stories about St. Patrick including showing the shamrock to the Irish people designating the three-leaf clover as the three persons in one God.
In another story, St. Patrick walked carrying a walking staff made of ash wood that he pushed into the ground wherever he was evangelising. At Aspatria (Ash of St. Patrick), it was said his message took so long that the staff took root before he could move on.
The most famous legend is the credit attached to St. Patrick of being able to banish snakes from Ireland although post-glacial Ireland never had snakes. It was suggested that snakes referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids. Canonization during those years was done on a diocesan or regional basis that when a holy person died, the local church just affirmed him as a saint so St. Patrick was never canonized by a Pope.
Despite this, Christian churches declare him as a saint in heaven and so he is widely venerated in Ireland and everywhere else. Saint Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17, the day of his death. It is celebrated both in and out of Ireland as liturgical and non-liturgical holiday. It is observed as a celebration world-wide.
We received notification that QM2 was buying back the excess Chinese Yuan at the Purser’s Office all the way to March 19. The currency machine does not recognize this currency. The buy back rate of exchange is CNY 7.24 = 1USD.
We got ready for Hong Kong by reading the materials QM2 sent to us via the March 17, Daily Program: “To know yet to think one does not know is best. Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty.” - Lao-Tzu (6th century BC), Legendary Chinese philosopher. Tao-te-ching, bk. 2, ch. 71 (tr. By T. C. Lao, 1963) Hong Kong Central & Wan Chai District.
Hong Kong, as the buying and selling capital of the world, was founded on opium trade. The first pioneer settlers in Hong Kong are thought to have come in the 3rd millennium BC, but in the beginning there were only nomads or just people wandering around. Most people think only of Hong Kong Island and a small portion of the Kowloon Peninsula, but the territory also includes many other islands like Cheung Chau, Lantau, and Lamma - there are more than 266 islands in all.
The first settlers are believed to have arrived in the 3rd millennium BC, but for the early part of its history, Hong Kong saw only nomads. At the time, there was no impetus to create a port because there was nothing to export and no ships for pirates to attack.
During the period of China’s great emperors, the growing community flourished as sea trade developed. Like many ports, it eventually drew pirates and minority groups. Large groups of people from present-day Guangdong Province migrated south in the 1300s.
When the British Empire appeared, opium flowed liberally - mostly from Indian poppy harvest. During this time, an effort was made to encourage addiction among the population and prolong the need for continuous foreign presence.
Hong Kong may be a small territory, but it is filled with remarkable spots. We went to the outstanding Hong Kong Museum of Art. The centre features a compilation of fine Chinese art, and Man Mo Temple, the oldest and the most beautiful temples - also at the complex - is a typical Taoist shrine devoted to two deities: Man - who was in charge of literature and Mo - a war God.
We could see the highest point on Hong Kong Island from Queen Mary 2 but they say a visit to 1800-foot Victoria Peak is a Hong Kong must which we did on an earlier visit with our daughter Roevel. We rode the (built in 1888) tram to the top. The Peak Tower was restored in 2005. The station is behind the Hilton Hotel on Garden Road. We walked around the Peak for stunning views. The Central District is truly the place for spectacular views because it is built on such precipitous ground.
One of the city’s most unusual commuter routes, the half-mile series in the Mid-Levels Escalator Link is one of Hong Kong’s most unusual commuter courses. It brings workers from the Mid-Level district to Central in the morning and carries them back at night passing the remarkable green Jamia Mosque, Hong Kong’s oldest place of worship. The route also passes through the trendy Staunton Street.
Walking along one of the small side streets we took a quick look of the Chinese custom that energizes the modern city. The Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware was built in 1846 and is the oldest standing colonial building in Hong Kong. It displays 500 pieces of invaluable Chinese teaware dating from the 17th century. The other lavish home was the official residence of the British Army Commander until 1978.
Lei Cheng UK Tomb at 41 Tonkin Street is Hong Kong‘s oldest monument. It has four burial chambers that date from the 1st century. It took more than 200 years to construct it. The museum at the site displays the terra-cotta artifacts found during the excavation.
Aberdeen fishing village was named after Lord of Aberdeen, who was the mid-1800s British Foreign Secretary. There are floating restaurants, like the Jumbo which is really interesting more for atmosphere than food. How true this is for we had dinner there on a previous trip and found there was nothing from our experience to write home about. Ap Lei Chau Island (the world‘s 3rd most densely populated), at the harbour’s outer edge (across the bridge), is famous for junk (ship) builders.
Practically Speaking - Currency: Hong Kong dollar Shop: Nathan Road (“Golden Mile”), Stanley Market. Hong Kong has several night Markets Buy: If you can think of it …. Hours: 10 am- 7 pm Night markets open later Info: HKTB office on the Star Ferry concourse (turn right as you leave Ocean Terminal) PO: 10 Middle Road. (Kowloon)
Transport: There were plenty of taxis, but the MTR (underground) is clean and fast. Arrival Information: The ship anchored off Hong Kong Island. Tenders operated to the Central Piers on Hong Kong Island. We saw the Star Ferry service operating to Kowloon from the wharf
Tsim Sha Tsui: (Kowloon) - The amazing Hong Kong Museum of History is where one can learn about Hong Kong. The multi-media effects make you feel you’re right there while the event is happening. Brilliant! The Hong Kong Story is a good overview of local development.
Archaeological finds recall 6000 years of history along with a fine pictorial history of the city. The companion Museum of Coastal Defense describes the tactical significance of Hong Kong harbour.
Integrating harmony in the minimalist design, Chi Lin Nunnery (35,880 square foot) is a Buddhist refuge. The compound with seven halls and temples is contemporary in design but the Chi Lin Nunnery was built in Tang dynasty style. To hold it together, traditional wooden pegs were used with not a nail in the whole structure.
Modern gadgets have long been the fascination of Hong Kong residents so the Science Museum showcases technology and innovation. Tourists are frequently amazed to see new inventions that the rest of the world has yet to see.
There is also a Space Museum which science fans will be delighted to visit and it is located opposite the Peninsula Hotel where waiters appeared OCD when we dined there the year before, straightening our cutlery when they became a wee bit not aligned, and they called us by name. One can go shopping at Kowloon’s Golden Mile or just walk along Bird Street. There one can see owners out for a walk with their feathered pets.
The Kowloon Peninsula is attached to the New Territories to the north which ultimately connects with Mainland China across the Sham Chun River (Shenzhen River) which is the natural border between Mainland China and Hong Kong. Hong Kong covers a collection of 262 islands in the South China Sea with Ap Lei Chau or Aberdeen as world’s most densely populated island.
The name Hong Kong means “fragrant harbour”, so called for the fragrant incense and wood products that were once traded. Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula are separated by Victoria Harbour, the narrow body of water which is one of the world’s deepest natural maritime ports.
Since reunification with China, Hong Kong has been a Special Zone, run according to a “one country, two systems policy” to help make the transition easier and to keep the economy booming. Some residents who had made Hong Kong fortunes went to other parts of the world just before the 1999 event.
Others were more positive in the future, restored businesses and in a reaffirmation of Hong Kong’ entrepreneurial spirit, new industries arose. Lots of people live in the tiny province, yet proficiency and order are engrained. Hong Kong Disneyland is a popular new attraction, and don’t miss the nightly Symphony of Lights along Victoria Harbour starting at 8 pm!
Hong Kong is often portrayed as a city where East meets West. You can see the proof in its education, street culture, economic infrastructure, and the legal system. There are traditional Chinese shops that sell shark fin soup, Chinese herbal medicine, and Buddhist paraphernalia but you can also see the latest Hollywood blockbuster shown in theatres, MacDonalds, a British-style pub, and a Catholic church.
Chinese and English are the official languages. Although British rule has ended, western culture is truly embedded in Hong Kong and works well together with the traditional philosophy and practices of the east. They have a Hong Kong Cultural Kaleidoscope Program from October 20, 2010 to March 2011 for which we were advised to experience the unique Hong Kong culture.
Someone described Hong Kong as a kaleidoscope of life and rightly so because it is a city with such diversity one can see both old and new traditions intermingle. It really is a fusion of East and West molded by a unique experience.
Hong KongWe continued our way to parallel the Coast of China and made our way towards the Hong Kong Pilot Station. By March 18, we’re back in Hong Kong and we didn’t see any change from the last year we were here. We have been here so many times before that it felt like coming home. In fact the last time we came to this city of towering skyscrapers was last year when we toured seven Asian countries. But we went on the tender for 35 minutes anyway to explore the place. Lucky us the ifc mall where we were told to expect the unexpected was just across the street and we were able to find Pacific Coffee and accessed all our emails. There’s also an ecco store here where we were given a copy of the catalogue. We checked out their prices and they were expensive but I think we found something for Volha.
On March 19, we had an early breakfast because Roger planned to have Dim Sum onshore and we had to do some shopping. We got a map and followed it to City Hall. We did find City Hall’s Maxim Palace through the help of a friendly Jehovah Witness.
But the wait to have dim sum was one hour and we rode it out since we ate at the same place twenty years ago and wanted to make a comparative study. We wanted to check it out last year too when we were here but we were on a cruise with Jacqueline Boog and Bob Beelt (such nice people) and didn’t have much time.
This time though, we sampled their fare but it was not as good as before. We thought it would be better because the wait for a table was long - over an hour but it was fun nevertheless. We found it lacking a bit although they they did add a few chandeliers this time around. It was an expensive dim sum at $60 and it was not as good as what we had in Toronto which costs six times less.
As we took the long walk back to QM2, (it was a good thing we had the stamina and good health to do all we did because as Ray’s Quote of the day said “… everything else is a bonus.”), we saw an advertisement on the dazzling harbour side living where the monthly rent is $9990 HK or $1400 US at 7.14 exchange rate.
We arrived back at the ship with plenty of time for the open seating dinner and were able to give the tip for Albert since this was his last day to serve us. We said zai jian or byebye to this city of bustling commerce which is now under the “one country, two systems policy” on March 19 to sail for Nha Trang, a distance of 684 nautical miles.
Hong Kong, a classic example of East Meets West with gleaming skyscrapers dwarfing fresh food markets and small temples, also enjoys a high degree of autonomy in all matters except in defence and foreign policy at least until 2047.
Then we saw the movie Red which stands for Retired Extremely Dangerous starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, and Ernest Borgnine. Roger found it good because it was action-packed but it was not Evelyn’s cup of tea.
We were not ready to retire yet by this time because we had to go over the visa requirements for Vietnam, our next port of call. QM2 applied for a visa for all the nationalities that required one. Apparently Canadians are not exempted so we would have to pay $25 for processing of our Vietnam visa because whether we planned to go ashore or not, we had to have a visa.
The processing cost for the Vietnam visa was not much compared to the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian visas that cost us a total of about $600. Others say the reason was political. A Brazilian said that it was because Brazil’s application for something was not granted by Canada. Some remarked they would not go to those places again.