Saturday, November 18, 2006

Junk boat junket

Well actually it wasn’t a junk boat (a traditional Chinese fishing boat) per say. It was the HSBC boat, along with speed boat, row boat and banana boat, rented by good friends. And it wasn’t a junket. It was a birthday cruise and our first all day on the water extravaganza. We left Queen’s Pier (on Hong Kong Island) around 10 am and returned around 5pm. A mid- November day, we all wore swim suits comfortably. It was wet and wonderful and fun day to be in Hong Kong with new friends who definitely feel like old friends.

At the start of our trip, we (or rather the boat’s crew) navigated through Victoria Harbor. Awed by the skyline, we stared at buildings that were just beginning to put Christmas decorations up. We turned around to see the hull of a huge Danish sea- tanker apparently about to mow us over. But all was a trick of the eye, and the tanker was actually anchored and floating high without cargo. And for parity’s sake right next to us on the other side was a single fisherman boat.

After journeying out for about an hour, we anchored off a beach on the far side of Lamma Island. Despite a huge power plant nearby, the spot was idyllic. We played and swam around the boat with a couple of us doing a "girls' jump" off the top deck of the boat (maybe 15 feet up). Tori answered the moms’ challenge with a 5 3/4 year old girl jump from the very same height. Royce, wisely, did not jump and Adam, unwisely, slipped from the top deck down to the bottom deck (but thankfully emerged with only a bad bruise).

When we returned to Queen’s Pier at the end of the day, we were surprised to see huge crowds of people around the pier. As Queen’s Pier is right across from City Hall we first thought it was wedding season. We later learned that we were some of the last people to use Queen’s Pier and the next door Star Ferry Pier. Both Central piers were to be torn down the next day (November 12) as part of a land reclamation project along the north shore of Hong Kong Island. Despite popular support for the long standing piers, both will be relocated to new piers further out on newly reclaimed land. While we have not been in Hong Kong long enough to feel a cultural attraction to the old piers, we were dismayed to see the new piers involve a much longer walk, and therefore a slight obstacle for us and the kids to get our ferry rides in. But somehow we will persevere. Days on the water in Hong Kong are worth it.


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