85. Dining Out in Hong Kong

85.  Dining Out in Hong Kong

Our first outing in Hong Kong was to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.  The restaurant is a large double-story boat, requiring groups of us to be ferried out in small boats.  

The Jumbo Floating Restaurant is known for the Cantonese–style seafood cooked and served on board.  It was perfect for us, because Cantonese style is distinguished by lightly cooked fresh vegetables and meat, and sweet sauces.  Even with high-quality food, the ornate dining atmosphere is the main attraction of the restaurant.

The Jumbo Floating Restaurant is located in the Aberdeen Floating Village in Aberdeen Harbor in the southern district of Hong Kong.   There are approximately 500 junks housing 6000 people.  The rise in tourism has increased the demand for fresh fish, and been a boon for the villagers.  Many have moved ashore, and fish on their boats during the day.

The next day we took a young Chinese couple to the hotel next to the Shangra La for dinner.  We were put in touch with them by his brother who was one of one of my students in Hawaii.  He and his fiancee were delighted to have an opportunity to practice their English.  Since the menu was in Chinese, we asked him to make the selection.  He asked if I liked eggs.  Whew!  Of course.  Eggs!  What could they do wrong with eggs?

Here comes the waiter with our main dish — a huge bowl of noodles with an egg perched in the middle, a raw egg, which was slowly coagulating as the heat from the noodles warmed the egg white.  Our new friend stirred the egg into the noodles, and served us. It was fine. I could not taste the egg.

In addition to being the shopping destination of the world, Hong Kong is also a place where a culinary connoisseur could experience an amazing diversity of cuisine from around the world.

84. Hong Kong – Again

84.  Hong Kong – Again

Certainly by Divine provision and protection, Dragon Air brought us into Hong Kong early enough to escape the first winds of the Typhoon that brushed by Hong Kong that night.  This time, we were left on the plane and told to wait, someone will come for you.  I kept saying I could get down the stairs with the others and walk to the terminal – but again, “Wait.”  Everybody left, even the pilots and flight attendants, and we waited.

Eventually, a bus drove out from the terminal, and the whole bus lifted up on a scissor lift to the door of the plane.  It was a people transport with no seats, only grab poles, and entirely empty except for us.  We were then escorted through customs to the front of the terminal where our tour buses waited to take us to the Shangra La Hotel downtown.  Talk about VIP treatment Chinese style!

Our friends who flew in from Beijing later told us they had a turbulent flight and a scary landing in gusty winds.

We had a great time in China!  It was also nice to be back in the familiar comfort of the luxurious Kowloon Shangra La Hotel, where we stayed three years ago.

Another note from the tour packager informed us, that to compensate for our “inconvenience” in being separated from the main group, he had arranged for us to have a room with a view of the harbor.

A notice under our room door advised us of the typhoon alert, and a storm watch center had been set up in the lobby.  Some tours were canceled.

Betty and I chose to enjoy the storm from the luxury of the hotel, and lingered over a two hour lunch overlooking Hong Kong Harbor from the top floor restaurant.  We were intrigued by small sampans and junks sharing the middle of the harbor with huge ocean liners and freighters.  We thought it would be a captain’s nightmare to avoid hitting some tiny fishing boat.  One sampan fisherman was going back and forth putting down a fishing net, then going back to pick it up.  He had to get back to pick up the net before a passing ship went close by.

Our room faced the harbor, so we watched “the busiest harbor in the world” gradually empty until there was not a boat in sight!

Then we sat up late, thrilled by the midnight display of lightning and harbor lights as the storm passed at its peak!



83. Tianjin

83. Tianjin

Our Sunrider convention was in Tianjin, three hours by bus from Beijing.  We passed miles and miles of rice paddies, and other crops growing.  Vendors by the road sold watermelons and bottles of water, and Pepsi.  We saw Kentucky Fried Chicken, and brick and stone huts where farmers lived in little villages.  The roads were good, and there were many trucks, all owned by the government.

The huge gymnasium at Tianjin held 6000 excited Sunders from all over the world!  Lion dancers and acrobats entertained us, and hundreds of Sunriders received awards.  An inspiring time!

We received a note from the tour packager apologizing for separating the Hawaii group from the rest.  We would have to stay in Tianjin overnight instead of going by bus back to Beijing.  “Tough break!”  We would miss the tiring three hour bus ride back to Beijing, and have to stay overnight in a really nice hotel, the Crystal Palace, and then fly to Hong Kong well ahead of the main group.

The Crystal Palace Hotel apparently catered to International visitors.  They had a fantastic American style buffet breakfast.  I had oatmeal, an omelet, and pancakes!

Next day, at the gate of Dragon Air for check in, I told the clerk we had requested wheelchair assistance.  She made a face, and said, “We don’t have a wheelchair.  Let me see what I can do.”  It was wobbly, but it had wheels, so I was wheeled to ground level by an attendant, and told to wait.  I keep insisting that I could climb the stairs, but the attendant said, “wait,” and disappeared.

We waited — and watched the other passengers climbing the stairs to the plane parked some distance away.  Finally, a wheelchair transport van arrived, and took me to the cargo entrance of the plane, where the van telescoped up and I was loaded on the plane with the cargo!

Hong Kong again! This time to sit out a typhoon, and enjoy other unique experiences.

Join us next week for more…

82. Climbing The Great Wall of China

82.  Climbing THE GREAT WALL of China

At the bottom of the steps leading up to THE GREAT WALL, I waved at Dale, for help.  I grabbed the back of his belt, and we began walking up with me balancing with one hand on the side of the wall.  At the first tower, Dale and Debbie took off, and I stood alone.  I looked at the steel step ladder leading to the top of the guard tower, and wondered, “Have I  come far enough?”   Then I remembered the words of Pian, saw my chance, and climbed the ladder!  I stepped out on rough stones and gazed at one of the great wonders of the world, THE GREAT WALL of China!

From the top of the tower we had a magnificent view in both directions.  Guard towers were spread out about every 100 yards, and interrupted the ant-like flow of thousands of people from all over the world, including hundreds of our fellow Sunriders.  Then the sun broke through the haze to highlight our incredible experience!  Betty took a picture of me from below, then climbed up to join me.

Time to leave, and the ladder was jammed with people.  How would we get down the ladder?  Two portly Japanese tourists loaded with cameras and bags were jockeying to get on the ladder.  As one man started down the ladder, he said something that the other did not like.  The second man followed down the ladder and started a fight.  Security guards intervened, but for the moment, the ladder was empty, and Betty and I got down easily.

There were no Sunders in sight, and I was having trouble negotiating the steeper walk down with my cane, but help was nearby.  Betty motioned to a couple of security guards that I needed help.  They grabbed my arms, and helped me all the way back down to the foot of THE WALL.  Betty took a picture of me being helped by the guards on THE GREAT WALL of China!

Our bus driver Pian was horrified when Betty shared about her taking a picture of the guards helping me down THE WALL.  “You did what! They didn’t take your camera?  You could have been arrested!  You never take pictures of the police!”

Another day with an amazing experience of climbing THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA, one of the seven wonders of the world!  We had some Divine provision to make it up and down the tower ladder, and guards standing by to help me walk down the steep incline to the bottom of THE WALL!

81. Going to THE GREAT WALL

81.  Going to THE GREAT WALL

We liked being in the front seat of the lead bus of our eight bus convoy on the way to THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA.  Pian was our driver again.

Maneuvering through traffic of bicycles as cars – we were glad to have a police escort that led the way with sirens wailing, flashing lights, and policemen waving their arms out the windows.  Radio-alerted police stopped traffic at intersections all the way for forty-eight miles!

At one point the lanes ahead were full, so the police car crossed over into on-coming traffic waving to oncoming traffic to merge into one lane.  What an exciting ride!

Part way there, we passed a tourist souvenir store, then discovered we were supposed to stop there.  The police waved us through a U-turn — all eight buses, and back to the FRIENDSHIP STORE.

The store had some amazing things for sale.  Paintings, huge vases, sculptures, and life-size figures.  A ship carved out of green jade was an example of the craftsmanship of the Chinese people.  This store catered to well-to-do tourists!

We could see THE WALL from the bus as we approached.  THE WALL snaked up the ridges and along the top of the mountains and disappeared in the haze in the distance, miles away.  Guard towers commanded THE WALL every hundred yards or so.  THE Wall is 4000 miles long, took 300 years to build, 200 years before Christ, when ancient Greece was flourishing.

At the base of  THE WALL, I left my walker at the bus and took my cane.  I looked at the steps leading up to THE WALL, and the steep incline up, and wondered how I would get up since there was no handrail?

Next week: Climbing THE GREAT WALL for an amazing experience!

80. Forbidden City, China

80 – Forbidden City, China

FORBIDDEN CITY!  This walled city in the center of Beijing was the home, (and prison) of the emperors of China after it was built in 1400 AD, until the Japanese took over in WWII.  The massive walls of FORBIDDEN CITY dwarf the Great Wall in height and thickness, and the huge buildings of wood and stone are built without nails — before Columbus discovered America!

There were 9000 rooms spread over 178 acres of land.  Fully occupied with the royal family, concubines, guards and attendants, there were 10,000 people living inside.  No commoner was allowed to go in, and no one who lived there was allowed to leave.

If you saw the movie, “The Last Emperor,” you’ve seen part of it.  Now it is a museum and a tourist challenge.  “Challenge” because this square mile complex has great elevated buildings, “halls”, for the throne room, banquets, quarters, and gardens, and courtyards, requiring near athletic ability to climb steps and hike!

My preparation for the trip paid off!  I had purchased a 3- wheeled walker Instead of relying on my cane.  Pushing the walker, and with passing Sunriders helping on stairs, I maneuvered my way up and down, and through the mile long complex with little difficulty!  A magnificent experience!  I have walked where the Emperors of China walked, and stood before their throne!  I marveled at the architecture and ornate buildings, and chuckled at a conspicuous out-of-place hand painted sign — “NO SMOCKING”.  (Yes, that’s the way it was spelled)

The last place we stopped to rest was at the end of FORBIDDEN CITY in the Emperor’s gardens. The gardens were a beautiful and peaceful place.  We sat under large gnarled trees in cool shade, a welcome respite after hiking in the sun across the massive courtyards.  (One lady fainted from heat exhaustion)

Our bus arrived and we took the short ride back to the hotel. An exhausting day, but amazing experience!

A once in a lifetime experience!  We walked where the Emperors of China walked, and saw where they lived — THE FORBIDDEN CITY!

79. Tiananmen Square – China

79.   Tiananmen Square

Our bus tour took us first to Tiananmen Square, a huge open square surrounded by political buildings, with a large portrait of Mao Tse-tung at one end.

A young woman with a tiny yellow flag said, “Follow me,” and disappeared with our group into the teeming crowd of people.  They were going to walk a mile to the next attraction – FORBIDDEN CITY.  We told Pian, our English-speaking bus driver, that we would have to stay with the bus.  There was no way we could keep up with the group.

An official stepped on the bus, and announced to us, “You must stay with your group!”  Pian spoke to him in Chinese, and he left.  Plan got off the bus, and spoke to a man in uniform, who gave him a piece of paper.  Back on the bus, Pian asked, “Have you suffered to come here?”  Thinking of the long tiring flights from Hawaii and Japan, we replied, “Yes.”  His response was, “You have suffered to come this far, you must suffer some more to see what you came to see.”

He then drove Betty and me on narrow streets marked NO BUSES to the entrance of FORBIDDEN CITY.  He pulled in near to the huge gate and parked under a sign, “No Parking.”  (We were praying we and Pian would not be arrested.)  Plan reassured us that the paper he got from the officer would protect us.

While Betty and I waited in the air conditioned bus for our group, we got acquainted with Pian, and learned some Chinese history and culture.  Pian was a “retrenched” English teacher, who could make more money driving bus than teaching, because during the Red Guard Cultural Revolution in 1966-1976, teachers were not favored.  His daughter was in college studying a subject she chose because she was more certain of passing the test to get into college.  It was not the subject she preferred.

Plan said while he understood each individual word, he was puzzled by a billboard he had read, “LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT”.  “Could you explain it to me?”  Not only could we explain it — we were living it!

Our group finally arrived an hour later, sweating and sunburned.  The young woman with the yellow flag said, “Oh good, you are with the bus.  Just stay on until we meet you at the end.  FORBIDDEN CITY is a mile long.”  Plan winked at us, and we followed the group through the gate.

Up next – an incredible adventure touring Forbidden City!

78. Beijing – China

78.  Beijing – China

When the Chinese government would not let Sunders come to the United States for the annual International convention, Oi Lin Chen said, “If they cannot come here, we will go to them.”

Betty and I did our rest stop in Hawaii again, where we connected with the Hawaii Sunriders.  Being part of the Hawaii group later proved to be a serendipitous bonus!  Then on to Beijing, a city of eleven million people and eight million bicycles!

We stayed at the CHINA WORLD HOTEL, a new luxury hotel with a touch of old world elegance.  The checkin desk in the lobby was up a flight a stairs, which I could not navigate with my walker.  So the porter led us through a service entrance and through a maze of storage areas and the kitchen to an elevator.

We arrived in the lobby while a full symphony orchestra was playing Viennese waltzes in the lounging area.  We discovered we could get to a balcony overlooking the lounging area to enjoy the string quintet that played in the lobby weekday afternoons before dinner.  The food at the hotel was fantastic!   The food was served family style on a turntable in seven courses.  I never knew there were so many different kinds of mushrooms!

Betty and I luxuriated in the huge spa, heated pool, and exercise room.  In the exercise room, an attendant came up and struck up a conversation in her limited English.  “You must be very wealthy,” she said. Hmmmm — I felt rich, but I told her I was just “average” in the United States.

Doing a bit of exploring, we found an escalator at the end of the lobby that gave access to a huge underground shopping mall.  I thought I’d give it a try, but at the top of the escalator, I let go of the walker, and it went bouncing down by itself. Fortunately, no one was on the escalator or at the bottom, so no one got hurt.  A passerby helped me down the stairs to reunite with my walker.

Traveling with Sunrider gave us the opportunity to experience a taste of luxury!

77. Hong Kong

77.  Hong Kong

In Hong Kong — Kowloon actually, we stayed at the luxurious Shanga La Hotel overlooking Hong Kong harbor.  There was a huge gold tapestry at the end of the lobby, and huge floral displays.

Hong Kong is actually an island, across the harbor.  There was a choice of crossing by ferry boat, underneath in a tunnel, or by bridge.  Somehow, we managed to go all three.  One trip was to see the smiling Budda, a huge statue of a sitting Budda where Buddhists come to burn incense.

Jan took us on a walk from the hotel to shop in the shops in Kowloon.  I was a little intimidated by the crowded narrow streets with tiny alleyways branching off between buildings.  I walked near the curb to be as far as possible from the alleyways so no one could grab me and pull me into the dark ally.  It was incredible to see the bamboo scaffolding up the sides of high-rise buildings.

Lunch at the restaurant at the top of Victoria Peak was fantastic.  The view of Hong
Kong harbor and Kowloon was stunning.  The salads and desserts were on buffet tables, and I discovered they had milk custard like my mother used to make.  I ate a lot of milk custard!

The man in the rooster suit “flew” above the stage as below him the dragon twisted and weaved, and two “monkeys” tumbled onstage.  It was the Year of the Monkey in China!   The crowd of 6,000 + Sunders from all over the world roared its approval!   The air at the Hong Kong Convention Center was charged with excitement as Sunrider Directors from the United States & Canada, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Tailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Holland, etc. listened to inspiring speakers, and watched elaborately staged presentations.

The audience itself was a rainbow of colorful jackets.  Distributors from each country were seated together in their section – America and Canada in red, Australia in green, Japan in purple, Europe in yellow, etc.

Each speaker was translated into English or Chinese, and simultaneously in five other languages through headsets.

The high point of the evening, was the heartfelt talks by OI Lin and Tei Fu Chen, owners of Sunrider.  Oi Lin, born and raised in Hong Kong, whose parents were street peddlers; was full of emotion at her home-coming.

We were touched to tears by Tei Fu when he spoke words I will never forget!  “You have seen the roots of Sunrider (the gardens in the mountains of Taiwan.)  but without America there would be no Sunrider.  The free enterprise system has allowed Sunrider to prosper.  Free enterprise is the hope of the world!”  There was a pause of silence as his words were translated into the many languages.  Then the whole place erupted in a roar of applause and wild cheerIng as they stood to their feet to “honor” the US & Canada Distributors seated together on the main floor.

76. Taiwan

76.   Taiwan

We arrived at the Taipei,Taiwan airport late at night, and were surprised to be met by a few Sunrider leaders and  Tei Fu and Oi Lin Chen, owners of Sunrider.   They informed us that we would stay in Taipei that night, and our luggage would be sent on ahead for tomorrow night, and to take out only what we needed for the night.

Next day, for three hours, our tour bus crept up narrow hairpin curves into the mountains of Taiwan.  We passed through a tiny village with waving shouting people, and fireworks exploding.  We later learned that it was Dr. Chen’s home town.  (Local boy makes good, huh!)  At the top, we walked down a long “avenue” of flags to the Sunrider pavilion where we were treated to displays by the villagers of crafts and games and tea making.  While the Chens led the group on a walking tour of the gardens, I watched two men in the pavilion processing mountain tea by hand.

The view of the valley below was magnificent, with a focus point of the elaborate village Buddhist temple standing grand against the sky.  Someone asked Dr. Chen what they would do if bugs got on the plants.  His response, “I guess we’d pick ‘em off.  Healthy plants do not attract bugs, just as healthy bodies do not attract disease.”

That night, back in Taipei, we had the first conference meeting at the huge Taipei multiple “gymnasium” — 5:00 to 10:30 PM.  It was February 22, the same day we left Hawaii on the trip.  We had crossed the International Date Line.

The biggest impression of our time in Taiwan, was the people we met and shared food with.  Everyone had a different story, but overlapping, because Sunrider whole food botanicals had changed their lives!  Some stories were heart warming, some were miraculous!  And, we certainly got a chance to “check out” the Chens up close, and see where they came from.

I think the tour packager forgot to schedule much sleep time, because we were up early and off to Hong Kong for the second part of the conference.  All I knew about Hong Kong was that it was a British Protectorate, on the edge of China, and was a global shopping destination.