Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hong Kong and Disneyland #3

From Beijing we headed to Hong Kong, one of the world's great cities. It's been a decade since I was last in Hong Kong, but the central part of the city looked exactly the same with its lush green mountains and skyscrapers nestled against the edge of a spectacular bay. It felt astonishingly western after Japan and Beijing.

We had teppanyaki at the hotel''s Japanese restaurant on the first night. This was something we'd intended to do in Japan and just never got around to. Teppanyaki in the US is a really kitschy experience that only barely resembles the real thing. In the authentic version, there is no "show", just someone expertly and carefully cooking your food. There is a great deal of attention paid to details and plating, and much, much less oil involved. And no quasi-racist jokes, of course. 

Carter ordered shrimp and was served the whole shrimp - legs, head, and all. He ate the parts that looked familiar, happily.

We had two full days in the city of Hong Kong, and on the first day we decided to start by taking the iconic Peak Tram to the highest point in Hong Kong. 

It's a spectacular view, but the city is much more polluted than it was a decade ago.

We had lunch at the top and then rode the tram back down.

Carter loves open top tour buses, and so we decided to spend our afternoon riding one that went out to Repulse Bay, the beautiful beach side of Hong Kong.  The weather was gorgeous that day, in the 70s and just perfect. 

We even took a ride on a sampan to see the houseboats and fishing boats.

That evening we went to a fantastic pub with an incredible selection of international beers, and had cheese and fruit and salami for dinner. One of the things Carter has gotten used to doing in the last few months is hanging out in bars with us. Often this is in hotel lounges (otherwise we'd spend every night in a hotel room, which gets old quick), but sometimes we find a pub and sit in a quiet corner. Carter has juice or soda and we have beer and we all eat snacks and hang out. He often plays on the ipad and draws us pictures, and it's great fun.

The next day we spent the morning at the Hong Kong Space Museum.

I'd been there before more than a decade ago, and it was even smaller than I remember. It was still better than the one in Beijing, and Carter enjoyed it. They had an Omnimax theater and we watched a great 3D film there called Space Junk, which is basically about the insane amount of trash humans have put into orbit around our planet.  

We spent that afternoon in the hotel's pool and then went to an Italian restaurant on Hong Kong island for dinner. After that we hung out in the hotel bar and enjoyed the beautiful views of the harbor at night. I tried to take some photos, but none of them really turned out.

They next morning we headed over to the Disneyland Hotel, checked in, and then went to Disneyland!

Hong Kong Disneyland is really interesting because it's about half the size of a typical Disney park, with half the rides. We had read online that it could be really crowded, and we were expecting it to be as bad as Tokyo. Instead, it was nearly empty! It was even emptier than it was on our recent visit to Anaheim.

Even though there weren't many rides (no Pirates! no Haunted Mansion! no Star Tours! no Riverboat!) there was still a lot to do in the park, and the longest we waited for anything was 20 minutes. 

It's a Small World is always a fun ride, because it's slightly different everywhere. I loved that the outside looked like Anaheim's version:

Here was the bit representing the US. Well, that and a scene with Woody and Jessie from Toy Story in what looked like the old west. 

And of course, there was a section specifically representing Hong Kong.

The obligatory castle shot:

Lots of people were taking pictures of themselves holding up the planet in the Tomorrowland sign, so we decided to do it too.

We spent two entire days at Disneyland, and we saw everything there was to see. We rode all the big rides multiple times, and all of the small ones at least once. Carter generally did really well at waiting in lines.I had a notepad and pen from the hotel, and he would sit down and draw pictures while we waited.

In the middle of Wednesday afternoon, the standby line for Space Mountain was 5 minutes. Crazy! In Tokyo just two weeks earlier, that was a two-hour line.

The inside of Space Mountain was cool, though generally this park looks like it was built with a lot less of a budget than any other Disney park I've ever seen. Disney is usually all about the details, and the details here were not quite what you usually expect to see. For lack of a better word, it was almost like a cheap copy of a Disney park. But it was fun, and Doug and I have now been to all the Disney parks in the world!

There were several things about this park that were unique and cool, though. They have a Toy Story-themed area with several cute rides. The whole area looks like it was built out of tinker toys and cardboard boxes, and it's really cool.

There was also an area called Grisly Gulch, the sole purpose of which seems to be to house a really cool roller coaster. It's a bit like Big Thunder Mountain, but it goes backward at one point and then incredibly fast as you're shot out of an exploding mine. Astonishingly enough, there was no Fast Pass for that ride and only a 5-minute wait on the day we were there! 

This park also does pins, so we bought some more to add to Carter's Disney pin collection. Apparently it's just Tokyo that doesn't have them.

Another interesting difference between this Disneyland and others we've been to is a cultural one. I'm not sure that the practice of queuing is quite as important in Chinese culture as it is in Japan or in European cultures. We experienced this elsewhere on the trip too, but it was really clear at Disneyland. There were multiple occasions when people just pushed past us in a line and walked up to the front. We'd read online that this was an issue at this park, and wow, it really was like that. Not everyone did it, of course, but just enough people did it to be shocking.

The hotel was cool and had a gorgeous pool, but it was surprisingly cool and rainy, so we never got to use it.   Here is Carter with a few of the toys he picked up at the park.

He shocked us by eating food that was totally unfamiliar one night! We figured he must have been really hungry. 

After two days at Disneyland, it was once again time to move on. We took a night flight to Mumbai, India, where we would definitely be leaving the cool rainy weather behind. We're currently spending a week at a beach resort in Goa, which explains my laziness in posting. ;-) 


  1. I love reading your posts and find the ones about Disney so interesting! Aside from the States and France, I've not been to the other parks. One day!

    Enjoy Goa; it's a beautiful place to relax on the beach!

  2. Besides Germany, Hong Kong has been my most favorite place. My daughter was 7 when we went and she loved it. She was trying to haggle at the street markets in Kowloon and totally loved the ferries and metros.
    I am glad you shared pics, it brought great memories.