Thursday, October 2, 2008

Big Honkin' Hong Kong




















After a pleasant morning at the People's Park in Chengdu, including some great lemon tea and jasmine tea and biscuits at a tea house by the lake, we took the high speed taxi to the airport, where, at length, Thai airlines informed us our flight to Bangkok had been canceled. (We had confirmed earlier in the day). But the young woman who broke the bad news also got us re-booked via Hong Kong and spirited us through the usual ticketing, baggage, and other hurdles. So I am writing this now from Gate 42 of the international terminal in Hong Kong Airport. Our passports won't show it, but we have been to Hong Kong. The international terminal here does not appear as large as Beijing's, but it appears to be servicing more aircraft; big international aircraft. And the mall, largely duty-free, is similarly very large, with every up-scale brand known. Gucci's appears to have its own wing. Vicki has been shopping for an hour now. I happen to know they take USD as well as HKD and who knows what else. They have been doing capitalism here for a while and it is truly international, judging from all the different costumes one sees. Anyhow, barring another delay, we'll soon be off to Bangkok, overnight, and then on to Kathmandu tomorrow morning. Mark

Vicki adds:

October 2, Hong Kong

We are supposed to be in Bangkok and I hope we will be in 3 more hours. Our hotel called to reconfirm our flight this morning but when we got to the airport it had been canceled. We were momentarily panicked as the flight to Nepal leaves tomorrow. However, the nice women with Thai Airlines rebooked us through Hong Kong. Big, fancy international airport with the stores I always shop at: Gucci, Ferragamo, Coach, Burberrys, Versace, many so expensive I've never even heard of them.

Our morning was nice as we walked over to a park in Chengdu with an artificial lake and gigantic outdoor teahouse. Many families boating on the lake—paddle boats, rowboats, electric motorboats. I had a stupendous lemon tea and Mark jasmine—comes with a huge thermos of hot water so you can keep adding water. We were immediately assaulted by two men wanting to clean our ears and give us neck and shoulder massages—passed on the ear cleaning (Mark will post a picture of their implements) but did get the massage. Very nice.

We are seeing far more 2-3 children families here. In rural China (heaven knows what that means with 100 cities over a million) 2 children are allowed, and all the 54 official minority groups can have as many children as they want. In total they only make up 8% of the population. I also found out that if you have a girl first and you or your husband don't have any siblings, then you may have another child. If you don't fit into one of those categories you have to pay an enormous sum to register the child (like a birth certificate) and also you have to pay for all their schooling from kindergarten on.

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