Trip to Asia 5 December to 23 December 2019
Days 4 and 5
So sitting here in the coffee shop on the ship docked in Halong Bay Vietnam and going back to the two previous days in Hong Kong and at sea.
The last day in Hong Kong was a delight with a trip to the Peak which sits above Hong Kong this involved going back to Hong Kong Island from where the ship was berthed in Kowloon. A trip which meant a taxi drive from the cruise terminal to the Watch Tower based at the ferry port for Hong Kong island.
Once again a smooth embarkation process followed by a pleasant 15 minute sail to Hong Kong Island and the financial heart of the territories. The rout to the base station for the tram to the summit of the Peak, takes you through a succession of interconnected walkways and flyovers which wend their way through a succession of shopping malls and hotel lobbies to the base of the hill. On the way you pass a strange social phenomenon, which is various gathering points for domestic staff from the Philippians, who gather together in social groups to share food, converse and sell wares. In various locations between the ferry port and the base of the hill there are literally thousands of these people all using the one day off ( Sunday) to get together and maintain and make new friendships.
So, after the maze of walkways and flyovers it was a relief to get to the base station of the tram which goes up the side of the mountain to the Peak and quite a climb it is but with fantastic views all the way up.
The views from the top were exceptional looking down over the financial district of Hong Kong and over the straight to Kowloon, Of course at the top there was a shopping mall and a Gordon Ramsey Resturant ( you just can’t get away from these Scots in Hong Kong) which served a very decent late lunch.
Back then to the ferry port and the return trip to Kowloon and a taxi ride to the ship. I have sailed quite a few times with Celebrity and they are indeed beautiful ships, however one of the things that separated them from other lines is the on-board prices they charge, which are extortionate. A capachino is $6 including the mandatory tip which is 20%. A bottle of Heineken is $9 including the tip. They do full cruise drink packages to which are added the 20% gratuity. The gratuity on its own is more than the base cost of the drinks to the company. It really is a case of a captive market being exploited. On Sunday evening before we weighed anchor, we had what turned out to be the longest and most confusing safety drill I have ever been through( and I have had a few of them ). Generally, all the members of staff demonstrate the procedure for putting on a life jacked but in this case only one person did it meaning that probably 75% of the people in that crowded room did not see how to do it.
Now it is normal practice to instruct people to head straight to the gathering point in the event of an emergency but first retrieving any warm clothing and medication from the cabin usually a life jacket also, but in this case they instructed every one who were not in their cabins to go straight to the gathering point whereby they would be issued with a life jacket and “medication”. How the hell they are going to be able to do that I do not know.
The views as the ship left Kowloon of Hong Kong were memorable
This is a photo of a strange contraption beside one of the pools on the ship and it reminds me of a Witches chair used in the 17th century in Scotland to determine whether a lady was a witch or not. It was a perfectly logical process and worked every time, The procedure was that the accused lady would be strapped into a chair which was then suspended over a body of water. The chair was them lowered into the water and remained there for some time. Now when the chair was hoisted out of the water and the lady found to be alive then she was obviously a Witch and truly guilty whereupon she would be burned at the stake. If the lady drowned then she was of course innocent. Pretty straight forward. It is reassuring to see that this ship is equipped for all eventualities.
I will leave Vietnam for another day as that country deserves special consideration.