International TravelWining/Dining

ASIA 2014 … FIRST STOP: HONG KONG

And we’re off … yes, it’s that time of year where April 15th has come and gone so the hubby and I hit the road for our annual Post-Tax-Season vacation.  First stop? Hong Kong!   And, in answer to your next question, yes … have been to Hong Kong on a previous trip to Asia in 2004, but not the other cities we will be visiting which will be the subject of future blogs.



My cubbie on Cathay

Personally I believe it is ideal to board a plane at “bedtime” and arrive early a.m. at your destination, especially if there is sufficient time for sleeping.  In this case, our departure was midnight on Cathay Pacific with a 6 am arrival.  Of course we left Monday and arrived Wednesday, but that time is made up on the return.  Stocking up on OneWorld miles is the key to scoring those business class seats on Cathay.  Indeed, the airline deserves all the kudos accorded …. the “cubbies” in business class allow for fully flat beds with comforter, pillow and non-stop food choices.  Wouldn’t say the 14.5 hours “flew” by, but were certainly comfy.

 

Arriving in Hong Kong at a rather ungodly hour is made so civilized by invoking one of life’s great privileges:   Pre-arranged transport to the iconic Peninsula Hotel in one of their Rolls Royce Phantoms (they have a fleet of 14, all in “Peninsula Green”). 

Good morning!

 



 Even before setting foot in the car, two other staff have already greeted us while taking care of the airport details and collected our luggage.   Did it cost more than a cab?  Yes.  But life is short.  Pretty sure the last time I set foot in a car like this was on my last trip here!  I could get used to this … but rather doubtful in this lifetime so savoring every moment …

Your chariot awaits …
Peninsula pool — so glad I brought a suit

Trying to acclimate time-wise is always a challenge so didn’t do alot except browse around the hotel area and visit highly-recommended Sam’s Tailor on Nathan Road. 

A suit for the hubby and a crisp white shirt for moi — more to follow if the results are as expected.  It is impossible not to be aggressively “pursued” on the street with offers of fake Rolexes, fake designer purses and the like .. well, folks gotta make a living, but please.  Should just wear a sign that says “No thank-you!”  Another sight was the vast tons of folks from mainland China in the jewelry stores, three deep at seemingly every counter! We were told they come here to buy gold …

First full day we had a fitting at the tailor and then took the hydrofoil to Macau, China’s answer to Las Vegas. Macau, like Hong Kong,  is a special administrative region; from the mid-16th century until 1999, it was administered by Portugal.  After a brief 60-minute trip from Kowloon with Passports in hand, we arrived in your basic monsoon! 

 

 

Off to the Sands Hotel in Cotai central where, quite unlike Vegas, this is all about the gambling.  We were kind of surprised at the lack of food options (VERY unlike Vegas).  However, the Cotai strip has the Venetian, two Mandarin Orientals, a Four Seasons, etc., and the ubiquitous luxury shops.  The casinos are busy 24/7 and packed with mainlanders.   After returning to Kowloon and drying off, it was off to the Hong Kong side for a very elegant and delicious dinner at Man Wah on the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental with a gorgeous view …
 

Selection of champagnes and whites at Man Wah .. but should have asked how much beforehand.  Ouch.

We did our best walking around the streets here on our next day but honestly it feels very much like Bangkok and I did not remember it being so humid.  After browsing around the flower market and open-“air” stalls, get me to an indoor mall! 

 

Your guess is as good as mine!

 

Delish’ spring rolls at lunch

After a final tailor fitting – the suit would be waiting in our room after dinner but my (now five) shirts will be shipped home – we decided on Italian for dinner as one can only eat so much Chinese food no matter how delicious! Isola is a contemporary and happening restaurant in the gorgeous and very luxe IFC complex of shops, Four Seasons Hotel and office towers in Hong Kong central.    A good choice for the last evening here … and now it is Saturday morning, April 20, a few hours before departing for Beijing.   We are thrilled with the great news from home …