Dave's China/Bali Page

September 9-24, 2009

As evidence to how long I had been wanting to go to Bali, my Lonely Planet edition was from 2001. From what I could gather it seemed like a trip best done with a girlfriend, perhaps staying a few days in a luxury boutique hotel around Seminyak for a few days, hiring a driver to see some sights, and maybe a couple days on a beach in the northwest.
When I saw there was a group trip for Bali I thought what the hell and decided to go ahead with it, and then added on China to it since I was "in the vicinity" and had as a plan seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors and pandas, which I was really jonesing to do.

I started booking in December 2008 nine months out, about as far out as allowed, since I was likely bored. Got the main flight using frequent flyer miles for a pretty good deal, going into Hong Kong which is a city I wanted to see again.

In February becoming unemployed made actually going on this trip very ambiguous since it was so far out. I would lose a fair amount of money on the inter- Asian flights I had booked were I to cancel, in addition to the ton of time I had sunk into planning.
In July I thought I had a good job lead and was close to canceling, so paid the tour group some extra money for a cancelation option. But the leads would fall through, and I would end up going ahead with the trip, but having to book my Bali hotel room on my own.

So a long time coming, with a lot of back and forth.

9th Wednesday- fly all day

Used 90k Delta frequent flyer miles
Continental #1573 Austin 7am to Houston 7:58am

#510 Houston 8:55am to Newark 1:31pm
#99 Newark 315pm to Hong Kong 705pm next day

I sat by Air Force Reserve pilot Howie, who was on his way to the Philipines to pick up his bride.
Had a steak for dinner, and for another meal fried rice with a fortune cookie.
It was incredible- we had over 300 movies available on demand at our seat. I watched "The Pianist" which was set in WWII Warsaw, which I had visited in winter of 2007. Funny enough the director Roman Polanski is now in the headlines.
There was also an electric plug at the seat, so I spent some more time editing down the Africa pics.

10th Thursday- arrive Hong Kong

$1 = 7.75 Hong Kong Dollars

I was excited to be back in Hong Kong, which I had been to briefly in January 1999. I felt an energy here, and loved that they had public transport- about $20 for the Airport Express train to Hong Kong Station, then an included shuttle bus that would drop me off right at the hotel.

I had a proud moment when I not only communicated to the bus driver where my stop was (easy) but also the stop of the white American business guy who when the driver didn't understand "convention center" he repeated louder "CONVENTION CENTER"- hmmnn, for some reason the driver then looked at me with a look like "well, that didn't help." Because I had looked at the route map I pantomimed that the guy was seeking the stop after mine.
Fun stuff.
And yes, a lot of us react like mister business guy did when we are tired.

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel, 46k points
#53 of 226

I really loved my room- I got a free upgrade to one with a view, and it had a rainfall shower head which made showering one of the best parts of the day.

Indicative of how the weather would suck for most of the trip.

I was only here for two nights, so rallied to go up Victoria Peak to get some night photos of the skyline.
I knew taxis in Asia were inexpensive but thought Hong Kong would be more like New York- flag fall was only 18 HKD, so for about $3-4 I usually got to where I needed.

This is around 10pm, so the tram up was empty except for me and two Japanese girls.

I don't believe the Sky Terrace existed the last time I was here.

Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful skylines in the world.

With the nearby storm it was extremely windy up there and very hard to get still photographs.

Tram back down was a lot more crowded- chok full of Chinese folks!

Then I had dinner in the lounge- excellent fish'n'chips.
These lounge singers vaguely reminded me of the New York Bar singers in Lost In Translation, one of my favorite movies.
There was even a very attractive woman at the bar by herself that offered to give me a massage- people are so friendly in this town!- but I was content to go to bed.

11th- Hong Kong

The view from my room

Here you see the famous Star Ferry

It was raining all morning, so I really felt like just staying in the room.

I rallied to visit the pool, but it wasn't worth getting in. At least there was one other crazy person out there that had the same idea.

It was now about noon and I still hadn't eaten, so I got a recommendation from the concierge for a good noodle shop.
Again communication was done without any English here, so I felt like this was another accomplishment, managing to go native. I'm glad I'm not allergic to anything, as then this would be a much riskier/difficult proposition.

Then it was a taxi to the ferry station, where I had to wait a little while for the next one.

Loud group of teenagers.

The skyline almost looks fake, like something you would see at Universal Studios.

Lantau Island

This guy reminded me of my dad and Albert
The one on the left is thinking "I have absolutely no idea what's going on right now"
While the one on the right is saying "One more step, and I swear I'll cut ya!"

So it was about an hour to get here, then another hour on the bus.

Tien Tan buddha
"The statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It is one of the five large Buddha statues in China. The Buddha statue sits on a lotus throne on top of a three-platform altar. It is surrounded by six smaller bronze statues known as "The Offering of the Six Devas" and are posed offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. These offerings symbolize charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary to enter into nirvana.
The Buddha is 34 metres (110 ft) tall, weighs 250 metric tons (280 short tons), and was the world's tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha prior to 2007. It reputedly can even be seen from as far away as Macau on a clear day. Visitors have to climb 268 steps in order to reach the Buddha...
The Tian Tan Buddha appears serene and dignified. His right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction. His left hand rests on his lap in a gesture of giving dhana. The Buddha faces north, which is unique among the great Buddha statues, as all others face south."

8pm harbour light show- A Symphony of Lights
I wasn't that impressed by it.

Avenue of Stars- Bruce Lee statue

Peninsula Hotel
A cool thing to do is to have a drink at the top floor bar, but I didn't make the time for it on this trip.

Intercontinental Hotel lobby
Wow, stunning views here. I was meeting up with a fellow traveler I had met at the buddha- Evan who lived in Stamford, CT, a sales guy that was in town for an aerospace convention.

We headed to some nightlife area where I had pad thai for dinner. I remember Hong Kong being incredibly humid and we were sweating.

For some reason, on almost all of my trips one of the first nights usually turns out to be the big going out and drinking one.

I believe we are seen here with Sophie from Sweden and her best friend Angel from Taiwan, both now living in HK.

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