As we considered a tour of SE Asia, we had two popular package choices - a 10 day tour and a 13 day tour - the latter package also included 3 days in Hong Kong and Macau (China). As we wished to add two more countries to our list, we opted for the 13 day tour. So our tour (Jan 20 - 1 Feb) included in addition to the above, 2 nights in Malaysia, 3 nights in Singapore and 4 nights in Thailand.
Our friends and relatives tried to scare us about problems of availability of tasty Indian food in Hong Kong and Thailand. But we had no apprehensions as the tour companies we had patronized so long, have always been catering pretty well to our Indian palates. This time we went wth Kesari Tours - a group of 32, with a Tour Manager. Barring half a dozen, the rest were 50 plus, including 9 senior citizens.
As always, ours was a late night flight from Mumbai, so we Puneites had to leave home in the evening. The flight was of 5 hour duration, we were flying eastwards to Hong Kong, so we'd be two and a half hours ahead - we landed there after 8 am.
The airport looked warm and welcoming with colorful flowers. We freshened up at the airport itself, had our veggie burger and juice before loading our luggage and ourselves in our coach.
Our local guide Gary welcomed us warmly - we had to sharpen our ears and brain to fully comprehend his English tinged with a strong Chinese accent. One important rule that we had to stick to was "no eating or drinking (except water, of course) in the coach".
Hong Kong, known as the Pearl of the Orient is located bang in the middle of Asia. Cantonese, Mandarin and English are the languages in use here. The value of 1 HK Dollar is 8 plus INR.
As we drove around the city, we had glimpses of the skyline including the tallest building, the International Communication Center, with 118 floors,
as well as the bridges and wharfs.
We visited a Jewellery City Shop and took around the eye-catching genuine gemstones. Of course they were expensive and no one was ready to part with their cash - not so soon!
One look at the mall's parking lot made me wonder whether we were at one in India.
We had tasty Indian lunch at Spices
and then we drove past Harbor Tunnel.
Later we took the tram ride to Victoria Peak.
From there as well as from the Sky Terrace,
we could have a spectacular 360 ' view of the city. The weather was pleasantly cold.
We then returned to our coach and drove to Repulse Bay - a nice beach with a difference -
a blend of the modern and the traditional!
The Repulse Bay Mall located bang on the shore , is a recent addition.
In the background stood the elegant building 'Lily' with serviced apartments - a modern architectural masterpiece, complemented by fabulous natural surroundings.
with its array of imposing huge statues of Gods and Goddesses adorning the shore -
There were stringed flowers / garlands adorning the place.
Dinner was at the Indian restaurant 'Curry Leaf' and then we drove to
Regal Oriental Hotel and were happy to check in after a long day.
All that the teeny weeny room had were mirrors on every side - for you-know-why! We had to scan the place to find spots for our luggage! And there was just one plug point, so our cell phones had to line up in queue for charging!
All of us walked through Main Street USA and enthusiastically explored the rides suitable for us in - Tomorrow Land, Fantasy Land, Adventure Land, and Toy Story Land. We enjoyed the 3 D (Mickey's Phillar Magic) and 4 D (Iron Man Experience) shows, Disneyland Railroad, Orbitron ......
'It's a small world' - the boat ride around the globe, described as "the happiest cruise that ever sailed".......
raft ride to Tarzan's world provided glimpses of wild animals ... We wisely kept away from the giant roller coaster and Hyper Space Mountain rides.
During theme park visits, it's good to bear a few tips in mind. Of course the tour guide gives tips about the best and the safest rides and also age-suitable rides. Grab a map, and spend a few minutes, marking the rides that interest you. The popular rides have the advantage of 'FastPass' (FP), a complimentary service you should avail to save time in the queues. Scan your Park Ticket at the Scanning Machine at the particular show gate and get a Fast Pass with a designated return time (say 12 - 1 pm). Enjoy other nearby rides in the meanwhile and return to enjoy the FP ride. Also check out the timings of the shows as you walk around and plan your sequence accordingly. You have to be in queue at least 20 minutes before the show. There will also be boards outside each show about the wait period. It's better to finish your jerky rides before lunch and take it easy just after lunch. Again try to rush about to finish as many of the rides you want to complete and then get set for the scintillating Parade of Disney Characters after making the mandatory visit to the restroom. You should occupy vantage seats (the early birds get the few benches) at least 30 minutes before the Parade and enjoy your well-earned rest as you dig your fingers into the large bag of popcorn and munch them leisurely.
Our tour company usually gives us coupons for lunch at a couple of eateries in the theme park. Usually it would be for pizza / pasta place. But this time it was for a sprawling eatery with options of Chinese / Thai / Indonesian / SE Asian .... delights at various counters, each providing a couple of combos as options but disappointingly, no Indian cuisine! We took some time scrutinizing each counter, eliminating non-vegetarian stuff - we soon felt we had just a couple of options for vegetarians at the SE Asian counter. We couldn't get help from any of the assistants there as they couldn't understand / speak English. We gingerly positioned ourselves in the queue, still wondering what to order. Seeing us Indians in this queue, all other 'desis' too lined up behind us. When we reached the counter and stuttered about our order, we were asked, "Vegetarian?" On our nod, we were told to take the SE Asian bean curry combo. Thankfully we didn't have any other choices for vegetarian meal - so it had to be just that. We needn't have racked our brains through some nerve-wrecking moments for nothing!
We picked up our meal tray and coke and settled at one of the tables in 'India pavilion'. The food looked good - peas-potato curry, black beans, spinach, rice and 'roti'. One bite was enough to realize it was tasty too - in fact it proved tastier as it was unexpectedly so.
Hong Kong Disneyland had two magnificent parades of Disney characters -
one at 4 pm .....
and another at 8 pm with dazzling LED lights - both were spectacular.
We didn't realize that we had spent some ten hours in Disneyland without getting bored for a moment - this speaks volumes about the place kindling the kid in you!
After spending a day in Macau, we returned to Hong Kong and next day we flew to Malaysia.