It is 10:28 Monday night Hong Kong time and I am in my hotel room! Door to door travel time was a mere 21 hours!
The journey over on United 869 was uncomplicated but very long. We boarded on time, but sat on the plane at the end of the jetway for almost two hours waiting for late connecting passengers to arrive. We took off at 2:30 PM on a beautiful warm May day in San Francisco.
14 hours and 45 minutes later, we landed at Hong Kong. The local time was 7:45 PM on Monday (lost a day crossing the dateline). Interestingly, the sun did not set for the entire trip, as our route followed a northern arc just south of Alaska and the Aleutians. I'm sure I annoyed my fellow passengers by periodically raising my window shade as we flew over Japan. It was clear and sunny, and I could make out Tokyo, Osaka, and interesting looking volcanos below. No Godzilla though. We also flew over the northern tip of Taiwan.
By the time we landed in Hong Kong--five movies later--it was finally dark out. It's about 80 degrees and very comfortable here. All the signs are in English, and the City is truly bilingual, so traveling is a snap.
Getting from the airport to the City was easier than it is in most US cities. There were the usual queues at Immigration, a short wait to pick up the bags, and no lines at customs. Did the whole thing in about an hour. As soon as you walk out of customs, you're on a platform for an express train to Central Hong Kong. It takes about 25 minutes to get Downtown, about 20 miles away. From there, I jumped in a taxi to my hotel....another 1o minutes. For my first two nights, I am on my own and am staying on Hong Kong Island. Wednesday morning I will be leaving here to join the rest of my group over in Kowloon.
The short cab ride from the train station to the hotel was GREAT! The City is really spectacular---sort of like Manhattan meets Las Vegas. I was only catching glimpses, but mostly I saw lots of amazing architecture, tons of street activity, and neon EVERYWHERE! The hotel is nice and comfortable, and is pretty much the same sort of place you'd find in New York (small room but has everything--even Q-tips and free in-room wireless!) I have the TV on now, but the only English language channels are BBC, CNN, and Discovery.
Tomorrow is my big walking day--should be a good day for it.