26 Feb 2008
Hong Kong has certainly been my gateway to adventure many times, but usually by way of the airport. On a round the world ticket – a oneWorld Explorer – I’m allowed four flights within Asia, and as oneWorld’s main Asian member is Cathay Pacific, based in Hong Kong, it means I get to fly through their hub. Some trips, I’ve flown into Hong Kong International three times in three days, each time from a different direction.
Only once have I actually left the airport, and that was to join a cruise, the final leg of a round the world voyage on the P&O ship Aurora. My first cruise, a 30-day whopper. Oh boy, was I looking forward to it!
Our adult children would stay behind to mind the house and pets, but we splurged on four days as a family together in Hong Kong before shunting them back home. That was a lot of fun; we just have to say “Peking Duck” to recall one particular adventure.
The female side of the family headed off to Shenzhen for shopping, my son holed up in the hotel room to catch up on sleep and cable TV, and I found my way downtown to watch the ship come in.
The Star ferry ride across to Kowloon – where the cruise ship terminal is located – has got to be one of the ferry bargains of the world. Not quite on par with the Staten Island Ferry for price, but for spectacle and action, far superior.
Victoria Harbour is always bustling. Ferries, ships, small craft, junks, tugs, warships; there’s always water traffic. And the backdrop of towering buildings against the green mountain beyond is jaw-dropping. Especially on a clear day, which this wasn’t.
I had the docking time and made sure I had a good spot well in advance, but Aurora was running late, and every glimpse of a new vessel emerging from the haze – sometimes I couldn’t even see the far shore! – was a disappointment.
Eventually, something large and white loomed into view, and my heart began beating a little faster. My home for the next thirty days!
Two cute little platforms dropped from the bow as she turned towards me, and sailors stood ready with lines, heaving them across to bollards on the terminal. There were onlookers with welcome signs, curious passers-by, and probably a few passengers such as myself, admiring the dramatic sight of their ship arriving.
She was to stay in port for a day and a half – presumably to allow time for passengers to get suits made in the many “done-in-a-day” tailors, or to take an extended trip to see the Great Wall – and I had another day of anticipation before I could board.