On our last leg of the trip, we find Hong Kong to be the antithesis of our South Pacific voyage. The high rises are so high, we are literally above the clouds. Far removed from a barter economy, we are in the heart of capitalism, even in a communist country. Shopping malls for luxury goods are everywhere and filled with people. The mall below the Ritz Carlton is called Elements, and its quadrants are named Water, Wood, Metal. A huge, colorful horse's head for the "year of the horse" orients us to the middle of the mall. We descended further and made our way to the metro so we could go across the harbor to Hong Kong, since many of the surface roads are closed today (Sunday) for a marathon race. Once on Hong Kong Island, we went to Hollywood Road to do some window shopping at the antique stores. We had lunch at an American sandwich place where a lot of students hung out. I saw a chihuahua dressed in a cow suit.
We had dinner at Hutong with a panoramic view of the harbor. At 8 pm, there was a "symphony of lights," when all the Hong Kong skyscrapers put on a light show. But the spectacle wasn't all that spectacular from where we sat. We were expecting more of a fireworks type show with a grand finale or something that never materialized, though we did enjoy the patterns and laser lights we could see.
On Monday morning, the clouds started lifting and we saw the window washer swing past as he cleaned our side of the hotel. We set off for Dim Sum at the Luk Yu Tea House on Hong Kong Island. This time we took a taxi and walked into a charming restaurant decorated with tiffany glass, white tablecloths, and private booths. Many business men, some retired, were already at lunch, and I noticed several had red envelopes for new years' gifts for the waiters and dim sum ladies.
From there, we took the Star Ferry back to Kowloon and found a tailor Barry heard about from some people on the ship. We spent a lot of time going through books of fabrics and the owner took very precise measurements. We're going back at 7 pm tonight for Barry to try a first fitting. We walked half a block from the tailor and found a camera store. I was interested in one lens for my camera that goes from 18-200 instead of having to change from my regular lens to a long lens. The salesman certainly had what I was looking for, and then he showed me the newer version of my own Sony NEX 7 with an even sleeker lens. In the end, I bought the sleeker lens (especially when he lowered the price several times), but I resisted another salesman who wanted to sell me a Fuji Fstop magnifier or amplifier or something. I was totally out of my depth by then and ready to go back to our hotel for a break.
We leave tomorrow morning for San Francisco. Because we cross the date line, we will arrive in San Francisco two hours earlier on the same day that we leave Hong Kong - always a mind-boggler crossing the date line. We expect to return home tired but so enriched by our journey. Papua New Guinea, especially, raised so many issues - how untouched by western or eastern civilization it was until the 20th century, how complex and symbolic the kula exchange has been for generations, how the crocodile dominates in the lower Sepik culture. And learning about the Wallace Line was an unforgettable insight into how our earth has grown and its species have evolved. We traveled on the ship for over 3500 nautical miles in two weeks and seemed to bound across millennia in time.