Shanghai Surprise and Hong Kong Hospitality: A July 2018 China Family Trip Report - VIDEO ADDED p. 3

Discussion in 'Other Lands' started by CaptainCook, Jul 24, 2018.

  1. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    Saturday, July 21 - Hong Kong

    We woke up and were out the door by 8 am today. We walked over to the Disneyland metro station, which is close to the park entrance. We purchased day passes and then hopped on the Disneyland subway line and took it one stop to Sunny Bay...

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    ...where we transferred to the Tung Chung line and rode it to the end. Coming out of the station, we walked about 5 minutes over to the Ngong Ping cable car terminal.

    We arrived just before they opened at 9 am. We had pre-purchased tickets, and got into the appropriate queue. We had purchased tickets for the glass bottom cable car, so our wait was a bit longer than it was for folks on the normal cars (since there are more of those). But overall the wait was not bad.

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    The trip across the mountains took a little less than half an hour, and was very scenic. It takes you up right beside the airport, and you have a great view of the planes taking off and landing. You can also see out to the South China Sea, and there is a hiking trail that crosses the island under the cable line where you see hikers and runners and the occasional waterfall too.

    Finally we could see the Big Buddha in the distance.

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    We got off the cable car and were in Ngong Ping. It's full of little shops and restaurants, and was not yet too busy.

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    We had pre-selected one place to get a bite to eat before going up to the Buddha, but it didn't open til 10 am. We found another place to get some quick dumplings and smoothies, and then set out to climb the 200-some-odd steps to the top.

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    After the last couple of uphill hikes we'd done, climbing to the Buddha was a piece of cake.

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    It was quite impressive to see close up. We had great weather with good visibility and admired the views down from the summit.

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    After visiting the Buddha, we went back down to see the nearby monastery.

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    After that, we browsed in several shops on our way back to the cable car terminal.

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    I'm sure these were not the best prices Hong Kong had to offer, but the souvenirs we picked up were high quality.

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    We rode the cable car back down the island, and were happy to get a car to ourselves on the return trip (we shared with two other parties on the way up). The line to go up was crazy long by the time we got down around 12:30 pm, which made us happy that we'd beat the rush.

    Next on the agenda, we took the train to Hong Kong station. Upon arriving, our first order of business was attempting to find one of the legendary Tim Ho Wan restaurants for lunch. We knew we were in the vicinity, but we got completely lost in the maze of subterranean corridors and escalators to multiple levels in the subway station. We found the spot on one of those 'you are here' directories, but could not for the life of us get there. By the time we made it, there was a huge line waiting to get into the restaurant. And we had to be at our next stop at 2:45 pm. Sadly, Tim Ho Wan got axed, and we ate a forgettable meal in the subway complex instead.

    At the appointed time we went to Statue Square to meet up with a tour guide from KKDay. The best deal we found on skip-the-line Victoria Peak tickets were part of a group tour. We figured that because we were going up mid-afternoon on a Saturday, it would be busy, and the skip-the-line premium would be worth it. We were right. We marched past hundreds of people with our tour group and were at the peak by 3:30 pm.

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    We let our tour guide know we'd be doing our own thing after getting on the tram to the top, and she was fine with that. We admired the view (luckily we had a great weather day for this), we shopped in the bazaar, and we had a bubble waffle before hopping in line to come back down.

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    The return trip was just as quick, even though we didn't have any more front of the line privileges at that time.

    Once off the peak, we rode the Star Ferry across the harbour to Kowloon.

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    It was a good way to see the city skyline, and the trip was short and cheap (13.30 HKD for all of us on the premium upper deck).

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    By now it was past 6 pm, and we were all starting to drag, but we were at the waterfront and the Symphony of Lights show was scheduled to start at 8 pm. We thought we had to stick around late enough to see this classic Hong Kong show. Well... it was totally underwhelming... especially coming off the Paint the Night parade just the night before! I would totally rate this as skippable.

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    As soon as it ended, we hoofed it back to the subway, and rode back to the Disneyland subway stop. We walked back to the hotel, and all flopped on the beds in relief once we were back in the room. It had been another couple of back to back very long days, and we were wiped out.

    Overall, our impression of Hong Kong was very much that it is 'Asia lite'. It felt a lot like Vancouver (and looked a lot like Vancouver, too). There's lots of English language signage and most people speak at least a few words of a it; there's lots of western food available; toilets are western style; queuing seems to be more of a thing than it is on the mainland.

    Today was our last full day in Hong Kong. Tomorrow we head home. I'll be back with a quick wrap-up of our last day.
     
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  2. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    Sunday July 22 - Hong Kong to Toronto

    Going home day is always a drag, and so it was today. We woke up and glumly packed up before walking over to the Disneyland Hotel. At 9 am, they were offering Tai Chi with Master Goofy for all hotel guests. The tai chi portion of the event was quite short, and there was a photo op afterwards. This was the only time we saw a character in traditional Chinese dress though, so that was fun.

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    We returned to the Explorers Lodge and again had breakfast in the cafe - more congee, this time with noodles for me. My last Chinese breakfast. Then we made one last stop in the hotel gift shop, and went back to the room to finish packing up in order to meet the 11 am checkout deadline. We brought our bags downstairs and inquired about catching a ride to the airport. The hotel staff put us into a small taxi with our bags hanging out the trunk, which wouldn't close, but was secured by a bungee cord. We were skeptical. But we made it to the airport, bags and all.

    We checked in, went through security, had a bite to eat at a food court and picked up a couple of last minute souvenirs. By the time we boarded around 2:30 pm, it was raining. We had had great weather in Hong Kong, and I was pleased to see that we dodged the rain during our stay. We also saw on the airport information boards that there is currently a cyclone in Shanghai. Again, I'm thankful that that did not happen while we were there! We were fortunate to only have one bad weather day on this trip that seriously impeded our touring (during our Great Wall visit).

    We took off on time, and as of this writing, we are somewhere over Russia, with 8 hours and 43 minutes of flight time left. (Nonstop from Hong Kong to Toronto is 15 hours and 5 minutes total.) We'll get into Toronto around 6 pm and if all goes well, should be home around 10 pm after a very, VERY long day.

    I'm ready to go home now, but we had a fantastic trip to China. The kids agree that they loved it too. It was very exotic for us, while offering comfortable and convenient travel between locations. Best of all was the wide range of things we saw and did - theme parks, mountains, shows, hiking, wildlife, history...

    It was also eye opening and gave us lots to think about. Population control, pollution, government control of information, sustainability - these issues all came up time and again as we made our way around. To see cities home to more people than our entire country, to experience the smog firsthand, to be trapped behind the Great Firewall of China - these are great life lessons that I hope my kids will learn from their firsthand experience and that go to show the value of travel beyond the fun and entertainment.

    We have now crossed 5 of the 6 parks off of the Every Disney Park bucket list. I have no doubt that we will head to Japan in the next few years to complete it. But, it won't be our next trip. Our next adventure will take us to Morocco for spring break in 2019. Disney parks are awesome, but there is a big world out there, and we hope to see as much of it together as we can.
     
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  4. indoshakespeare

    indoshakespeare Reach out and find your Happily Ever After

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    Thanks for sharing ^^
     
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  5. Mandarinma

    Mandarinma Earning My Ears

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    I’ve loved reading your report, thank you
     
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  6. BLTtinkerbell

    BLTtinkerbell DIS Veteran

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    I enjoyed following along! Your trip report was very insightful and helped me plan my trip to Hong Kong. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Happy travels!
     
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  7. bkmanhole

    bkmanhole Earning My Ears

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    Thank you so much for your trip reports, it was great following along!

    When you finally get to the Japan parks - it will blow your mind! :)
     
  8. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    From everything I've heard, it seems that we are saving the best for last. :)
     
  9. BecBennett

    BecBennett Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not happy.

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    Thanks for so much info! It's been really handy to read

    If I get around to booking our October trip we will have been to all parks except Paris. Tokyo is amazing though.
     
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  10. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    I think you've got to do it - you're going to be so close!
     
  11. hellocat2

    hellocat2 Earning My Ears

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    What an incredible journey! Amazing trip report!
     
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  12. wannabee

    wannabee Mouseketeer

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    what a great report. I'm heading to HKDL in September and your report helped a lot
     
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  13. jgl130

    jgl130 Earning My Ears

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    I totally lurked on this whole trip report. Thanks for posting! My family and I are headed to Shanghai and Tokyo this November. Your tip about using Mr. Orange was super helpful. I’ve booked them for Shanghai and Beijing!
     
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  14. BecBennett

    BecBennett Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not happy.

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    I'll race you to see who gets all 6 first :laughing:
     
  15. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    We're thinking Tokyo 2021. So that gives you a few years to get a head start on us! :rotfl2:
     
  16. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    Will repost later.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
  17. Dentam

    Dentam Dreaming of Disney

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    I just found your report and thoroughly enjoyed reading it! I went to China for a two week trip in 2016 and visited many of the same places, though the Panda sanctuary and what followed in your trip were all things I didn't see and would LOVE to. I definitely hope to return some day soon. Thanks so much for sharing!
     
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  18. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    For anyone who's interested - I've finished editing and uploading our trip video to YouTube. The Shanghai Disneyland part starts at 0:55, and the Hong Kong Disneyland part starts at 35:15. Hope you enjoy!
     
  19. Simba001

    Simba001 Mouseketeer

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    Really enjoyed your trip report & your video added an extra touch.

    I was wondering did you tip your Mr. Orange drivers? If so, how much do you recommend?
    Did you tip regular taxi drivers?

    I appreciate you talking about Mr. Orange. It seems like a very organized company with great communication. Thank you for mentioning this company in your report.
     
  20. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    For drivers who were with us for a good part of the day, we tipped 100 yuan. For a shorter transfer, such as train station to hotel, perhaps 10-20 yuan, depending on how far and what we had available. I don’t think we tipped the taxi driver in Beijing who inflated his rate to take us to the theatre in the rain; he was already well compensated!

    There was one driver who refused a tip. The others all took them.
     
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  21. Simba001

    Simba001 Mouseketeer

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    Appreciate this information.
     

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