Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving in Hong Kong – Day 12, November 26

It’s so weird that today is Thanksgiving! It definitely does not seem like at all here. Last night was a bit rough in our room. David woke up crying a few times with a fever, and both he and Lily wet the bed. And of course they were in two different beds. The other two kids slept great though! Our room was up first, and Brian did everything he could to keep David distracted from eating. Once he’s been awake for thirty minutes, he pretty much wants to eat. And that’s a little tricky when you’re traveling. I think everyone was finally up and ready around 8:00. Our plan was to find a Starbucks to grab a quick breakfast and then head to the Star Ferry. There was a Starbucks right around the corner, so each kid picked out a pastry and we had breakfast there. We didn’t want to get them coffee to drink, obviously, so we went to find a 7-11 nearby. They are everywhere, so it didn’t take but a few seconds to find one. Apparently our hotel isn’t in the best area. There were all kinds of sketchy people around the 7-11, and after the kids picked their drinks I quickly escorted them outside to get away from the woman yelling obscenities in English who looked like she was about to fight someone. Nothing like starting our day off with a bang! It was about a 10 minute walk to the ferry. We were amazed at how quickly the giant buses whip around corners with no warning and were very careful to obey the crosswalk signs so we didn’t get flattened.
We arrived at the ferry terminal and were met with people from the Big Bus tour. We had been debating on doing it, and decided to go ahead. The tour also included the ferry ticket so we had to go ahead and buy it then. We needed a bit more money so Brian and my dad ran downstairs to the ATM we had just passed while my mom and I waited with the kids. We waited, and waited, and waited, and could not figure out what was taking so long. Thankfully the kids happily entertained themselves by chasing each other. I finally decided to go investigate, and discovered that the ATM machine had eaten our card! Brian was on the phone with the bank trying to figure out what to do, but he kept getting put on hold. My debit card has a totally different number than his, so we decided to just call our bank and have his card cancelled. We could still use mine to get money. Our hotel actually provides a smart phone to use while we are here, and that thing came in super handy. We mainly used it as a wifi hot spot so we could use our phones. Brian called and cancelled the card and we were on our way again.
The ferry ride was short, but the views were really nice. It’s amazing how many skyscrapers are in Hong Kong! We learned today that the city has 8,000, the most skyscrapers in any city on the planet! I can definitely see that! We exited the ferry and headed to find a red line bus to start our tour of Hong Kong Island. The kids were so excited to sit upstairs and even more excited to get their own headphones for the tour! We found seats all together at the top and our adventure began. The tour took us all over the central part of the island and we saw tons and tons of skyscrapers. We seemed to either be crawling through traffic or whipping around corners dangerously fast! At one point I almost got smacked in the head by tree branches at 30mph! We got off the bus at the Peak Tram stop. The Peak Tram takes you to the very top of the mountain on Hong Kong Island where you can see amazing panoramic views of Kowloon. Poor Caroline almost didn’t make it on the tram! Brian, Matthew and I got tickets included with our bus tour, and the little kids didn’t need a ticket for the bus. We assumed that was also the case with the tram, but apparently it wasn’t! The three of us had already scanned our tickets and gone in, and Caroline was stuck on the other side with my dad. The workers explained that kids had to pay when they were four, so Brian had to go back out and get her one. There was a super long line to buy tickets, but the worker took him right up to the window which was a big help. We were finally all inside! The whole day David was definitely not feeling well, and we were pretty much giving him Tylenol every 4 hours. He is good about taking it now. He had started to feel pretty warm again, so we gave him some right before we boarded the tram. Of course everyone pushed and shoved to get on, the norm in China, but I managed to snag us seats on the right side because I read that the views were better there. I am so glad I saw that tip, because the views were awesome! We traveled up the mountain at pretty much a 45 degree angle and made three stops for locals along the way. I would definitely not want to live there and have to walk up that many steps every day!
We exited the tram into a gift shop. Just like they do in America, they make you walk through a gift shop at every attraction. We really had no idea what to do when we got off, but we decided that finding a bathroom might be a good idea. Once that was taken care of we started going up escalators because that’s what everyone else was doing. We figured there had to be some sort of viewing area somewhere. I think we must have gone up 8 escalators (which David is no longer afraid of by the way!) and we finally saw something called Sky428. We thought we had to buy tickets to go up there, but Dad just used his tram ticket and they let him in. So we all followed suit! We got up to the top and the views were just incredible. They gave everyone a free audio guide and the kids of course were all over that. I have no idea what the audio guide said, because mine didn’t work. But Matthew kept pointing out a building and telling me that he was listening to information on it right then. I just enjoyed looking at everything. After taking some pictures and writing love notes at the giant heart they have up there we were all freezing and wanted to go back inside. It’s so funny – in Chengdu it was a little chilly and they turned off any source of air conditioning anywhere. Here in Hong Kong it’s actually pretty cold and windy, and everywhere we go the air is on full blast! There’s no way to get warm! At this point it was lunch time so we started heading back down the escalators to find some lunch. We tried to go to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. but there was a 40 minute wait so we nixed that. It seemed like our other options were Chinese, Japanese, and Burger King, none of which sounded appealing. Then we happened upon a wood fired pizza place and decided to try it. Of course it was also freezing in there. A salad bar was included with our entrees, and I was so happy to eat a salad again! There was a dessert bar too which also made me happy. We only ordered three entrees for all of us (the kids shared a pizza) and the waiter made sure to tell us that only three people could get the salad and dessert and they didn’t allow sharing. That didn’t stop me from sneaking some bites of chocolate brownie and black olives to my kids though! Everyone felt better after some lunch so we decided to head back down the mountain and complete the bus tour of the island. We found the tram, and we also found a gigantic line for it. It was still pretty windy and the kids were definitely cold, so mom and I took them to find some shelter while the guys waited for a bit. David really wanted to go into a restaurant and follow a bird that he had seen, and didn’t like it when I didn’t let him. He started one of his fits so I quickly told him to stop crying in Mandarin, lifted him to his feet, and made him walk with me. He definitely wasn’t happy with me, and showed me that by letting go of my hand and going to my mom. Oh no, we aren’t playing that game. My mom refused to take his hand and pointed at me, and he started to cry again. This time I picked him up and cradle carried him inside. I tried to distract him and make him laugh, but he still didn’t want to hold my hand and started to cry when he couldn’t hold Baba’s. I again told him to stop crying in Mandarin, held out my hand, and he reluctantly took it and walked with me. We found a little train for the kids to climb on so we did that for a few minutes. Then we went back out to check the line progress. They had moved quite a bit and were about to be on the inside of four lines of people so we hopped back in with them. It was still a pretty long and boring wait. David and Lily both wanted to be held, and we all took turns convincing them not to cry and holding them. Finally we boarded the tram! Lily was on my lap and was literally falling asleep sitting up. David was looking pretty tired too. Lily passed out on me, and I carried her out and onto a green line bus. She then proceeded to sleep on me through the entire tour of Aberdeen, Stanley, and the rest of the Island. To say that my arms and back hurt would definitely be an understatement. The views on this side of the island were just as beautiful. This side was much less developed and had several harbors. Every building was built with tons of windows to maximize the water views. A few of them were so narrow that they looked like they could fall over in a strong wind!
The other place that we wanted to get off the bus was in Aberdeen for the sampan tour. A sampan is an old boat that people use to get around the harbor and fish. Many people actually live on boats in the harbor and it’s like it’s own little fishing town. We climbed aboard our little boat and started our tour of the harbor. About two minutes in dad realized that he didn’t have his wallet. The last time he saw it was at lunch. We spent our 25 minute tour checking and double checking our bags and pockets to make sure that it was indeed missing and to figure out exactly where he had it last. We think that it probably fell out of his pocket on the bus we just left. There was a bus waiting when our sampan tour ended so we got on and headed back to the central station. My dad tried to ask the driver if he could contact the other bus driver, but he didn’t really speak English. When we got back to central he headed up to the Big Bus office to see if anyone there could help him. They gave him a number to call and took his number in case anything turned up. We are not optimistic.
We took the ferry back over to Kowloon where we started. It was already 4:30! The last bus tour of Kowloon begins at 6:00, so if we were going to do it all we pretty much had to go back and get on. The stop was on the same road we had walked earlier, and with a little help from a local who saw me holding a map we arrived there at 5:10. The bus worker told us the bus would arrive at 5:30 so we crossed the street and walked to find some snacks for the kids at 7-11. We made it back, and sure enough the bus came right on time. It was now dark and definitely chillier so we decided to sit downstairs in the bus for this tour. Too bad they still had the air on and it really wasn’t warm! We made it through about half the tour before everyone was self-destructing and ready to get off. Both my parents have an awful cold and were freezing even more than the rest of us! We walked back to our hotel for the night. Brian helped my dad take care of cancelling all of his cards since he had hardly any voice left, and then we ordered room service to feed the kids dinner. We are all so ready to fly home tomorrow! And I’m sure I’ll change my mind at about hour 6 of the long flight, but I don’t even care that I have to be stuck on a plane for 13 hours. Just get me home!!!!  

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