November 2008

At the end of our first day in Hong Kong we’d seen Victoria Peak, Stanley Market, and been for a boat ride in Aberdeen, then boarded the cruise ship to watch the light show in the harbour. The Diamond Princess then anchored in the harbour and an announcement was made that a tender boat service would run throughout the night from the ship to the shore for any passengers who wanted to explore Hong Kong on their own.

You don’t fly half way around the world to then skip out on a nighttime exploration of Hong Kong in favour of on board entertainment so we had some food early then headed down to the tender boats. A large group of people were waiting which was what we’d expected but they suddenly turned and parted as one to let us through; it turned out that everyone there was a member of the crew and passengers had priority. It also turned out that hardly any passengers from the ship got off at all. So much for not passing up the opportunity to explore Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Night Adventure

We took the boat across to Hong Kong Island, then jumped on a ferry to head across to the mainland where, after a bit of a wander around, we headed to the Temple Street night market. It was here that I was looking to get a new lens for my camera. At the time I wasn’t that experienced with photography and all I had was a kit lens on a Canon 350D. We entered an open-fronted store and sat down with a group of Chinese men who initially laughed at my lens, told me not to get the EF-S wide angle lens I was after, then recommended a wide angle EF-mount by Tokina instead as it would be compatible with a better camera body if I upgraded. To be honest we were starting to feel intimidated but the lens was tested and worked nicely and the price was right so we bought it and left. Outside, we had planned to walk through the market a bit more but my wife suddenly became aware that one of the men from the shop was behind us. Because he’d seen where I was keeping my wallet me wife placed herself in the way and mentioned it to me; we became worried and decided to “throw off our tail” by turning left three times. This worked – probably because there was a totally innocent explanation and the guy was simply heading the same way as us – but we decided we’d had enough and wanted to get back to the cruise ship.

We headed down to where the Hong Kong ferry had dropped us off… only to discover they stopped running after midnight. Nobody had mentioned that to us. We needed to get back to the tender boats on the island and were considering having to get a taxi to take us through the tunnel when we bumped into a Dutch family who could obviously see we looked worried. They handed us one of their maps and told us to follow them because there was a last train running shortly. Thus it was that my wife and I ended up running through the streets of Hong Kong in the early hours of the morning, following a Dutch family, heading to the train station. We worked out how to use the ticket machine just in time for the train, boarded, took it to the island, walked down to the tender boat point, then gradually tried to return to a normal temperature as we waited for the boat. Back on board we had to shower and took advantage of room service to get some bourbon, coke, and sandwiches. A stressful night, but an experience I’m glad we had.

Day 2

I started the day by trying out the new lens with pictures of Hong Kong harbour from the ship.

My wife and I decided to take the tender boat to the island and the Hong Kong ferry across to the mainland for the second time in not many hours.

We’d elected to explore the place on our own rather than taking up the offer of an organised excursion. We found out that a lot of people had chosen to hit the market but, of course, we’d done that overnight. Instead we headed down to the Hong Kong Space Museum (cheap entry, lots of fun things to examine and even play with; we enjoyed this a lot) and then walked along the Avenue of Stars, which included stars of people we’d heard of – Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Sammo Hung, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan – and a large number of ones we hadn’t.

We didn’t have a huge amount of time in Hong Kong because of our late night adventure and subsequent late (for us) getting up so we wandered around a bit more on foot, enjoying the gloriously clear skies before making our way back to the Diamond Princess in plenty of time for its departure.

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