Guest blogger Tim Parenti reports for the Heinz Chapel Choir as they tour China...
Well, not really mainland China, per se. But Hong Kong works, too.
Days 12, 13, and 14 – Saturday 9 through Monday 11 May 2009
What better way to end the tour than with a big chunk of largely unstructured time in Hong Kong? Having been a British colony until 1997, Hong Kong is extremely western when compared to the rest of our experiences in mainland China. Upon arriving at the hotel early Saturday afternoon, many of us went straight to places like Pizza Hut, where my group of seven easily spent HK$502 (US$64.77) on lunch.
And so now I'll have a story to tell about when we spent five hundred dollars at Pizza Hut. Only once I get the incredulous looks will I mention that I mean Hong Kong dollars.
On Sunday, we dad have a little bit of a structured time. We spent the large part of the morning taking a bus tour around Hong Kong, to the market at Victoria Peak (which was conveniently the starting point of a charity walk that morning) and to the beach at Repulse Bay. We then spent the afternoon at Stanley Market, where many of us scoped out some last-minute deals for family's gifts and others had a leisurely lunch (I had very British fish and chips this time, no imitations). Afterwards, many of our members enjoyed the vibrant nightlife of Hong Kong.
Monday was almost completely free, and so many went out into the 31 °C (88 °F) sunshine back to the beach. I got a bit burnt in places (as is inevitably the case), but it'll be tolerable. I took care not to burn myself in places that would be inconvenient on a long flight home the next day. After a whirlwind tour, Hong Kong was most certainly the place we could kick back and relax, and so we did.
Our final event was a buffet dinner at the hotel, followed by a time of reminiscing about all of the memories we've made together: The first of what will likely be many story-telling sessions in the months and years ahead.
Apologies there aren't any pictures, but I wasn't going to miss out on relaxing myself! They'll certainly be online in the near future, and if you keep watching this blog, you'll be quick to know when they are.
And so this morning (Tuesday), we had our wake-up call at 05:30. Right now I'm doing my final packing, getting ready to head home, as we leave for the airport within the hour at 07:00 HKT. Our departure will be bittersweet, but we'll have so many memories of the times we've had — good and bad, funny and embarrassing — in China.
Coming up: Our homeward flight departs Hong Kong International Airport at 09:30 HKT and is due to land in New York City 15 hours, 40 minutes later, at 13:10 EDT. Personally, I'll be on another flight back to Pittsburgh later on, due to arrive at 17:58 EDT, where my father will take me home. It'll be a long day, but we'll be reflecting on memories the whole way home. And that will make it be worth it.