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Thursday, June 03, 2004

June 3, 2004-Arrival In Hong Kong

Arrival in Hong Kong, June 03, 2004

We arrived in HK on Thursday. Now it is Saturday morning. I am typing, and Judy and Carol are both still asleep. The "Wow!" factor of this place far, far, exceeds anywhere we've been. We've planned this stop for over five years, and have so much riding on it, that now that we are here we are feeling pretty overwhelmed. It seems that we must be junkies for this kind of thing though, because we are always doing it: always landing in this foreign country or that, with barely a clue where we are or what we are doing, knowing little of the language, and instantly getting this feeling that we have really done it this time; we're never going to figure out this place. But then we start to cope. In Hong Kong so far, we have completed our check-in and clearance, have a temporary mooring in the city (will move to suburbs in a week or two), temporary membership in Royal Hong Kong YC, a few hundred HK$ in our pockets, new phone numbers, and have been exploring some of the neighborhood. I found a street I recall from the 60's. It could be a different one but it feels right.

To clear in we stumbled ashore right into the busy streets of central Hong Kong. A rabbit warren of shops and crowded streets with overhanging neon signs, double-decker busses, and 40-story high-rise apartment buildings with bamboo laundry poles sticking out next to soaring, futuristic, office buildings and 5 star hotels. We rubber-necked continuously, just about got run over, and couldn't make heads or tails of the vague directions we had: "Go to the MTR and take a train to..." Then a train station appeared before our eyes and we went underground and got more lost, but we got on a train and by some stroke of luck it was the right one. When we got off four stops later, we really got lost. We wandered around for two and a half hours, with our poor tired feet getting sorer by the minute, following first one and then another set of confusing directions (the office had moved), mostly in Chinese, but somehow we made it to Port Control just as our feet were giving out completely. There some 10-15 busy immigration guys barely gave us a second look, but one nice fellow issued us a clearance and stamped our passports. Cost: Zero. Education: Just started.

On the way back, a harried tourist ran by towing a suitcase on wheels, and asked us for directions to the Macao ferry, and we knew the answer! Like a local expert, Judy pointed the way and as the lady thankfully hurried off we cracked up. Somebody asked us for directions in HK, what a hoot.

There is a collection of sampans tied to the guest pontoon here in Causeway Bay, where the yacht club is, and where WINGS is moored, with a look right out of "The Sand Pebbles": Each one is twenty five feet of fat, low, cluttered, overhanging, canvas covered, swaybacked teak, bumping side by side with more like it and with a few dozen battered punts, (fiberglass dingys) floating nearby. There are dogs barking and filth in the water, and a toothless old Chinese lady is organizing some buckets and cleaning supplies on the dock. She, and the other people living in these sampans do boat maintenance for the moored yachts. To clean the yachts they fill their punts to the gunnels with fresh water, a kind of floating tub, and they drive out to the yacht and use a pump to run a hose. Very quaint...or is it? When we first arrived we walked by the sampans and their maintenance punts. Glancing inside one sampan I saw a lady watching a flat screen TV and typing on a notebook computer. Three sampans down a small generator purred and some extension cords looped between boats. On a post I saw a Wi-Fi antenna. Things aren't what they seem.

The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club is nice. It is an up-scale joint a bit like Seattle Yacht Club with efficient staff, mahogany paneling, soft carpets, and about 200 Lexus and Mercedes sedans in the parking lot. They welcomed us, gave us a shower key, and imprinted our credit card.

So, we're getting settled bit by bit, and we know we are in for the adventure of our lives. Stay tuned.

Fred & Judy, SV WINGS, Hong Kong

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