Yin and Yang

By LOTTIE BOGGAN,

The dinging telephone was like an electric shock. I jumped awake but it took me a couple of minutes to realize where I was and come to my senses. When I did pick up the phone it was hard to understand the message. 

“Velcome to Hung Kung. This is your six o’clock vake up kull.”

It took three tries before I could even swing my legs over and get out of bed.  Edrie Royals and I were on a group tour of China and Japan. Back home, making plans for our trip, we had scheduled an early morning city tour on this, our first day. It made perfect sense then, but after long flights and hours of missed sleep it was hard to get moving.

After a shower and breakfast, a short while later, even though our legs were shaky, she and I checked out of the hotel we’d spent our first night in. Soon we were with our group on a bus wheeling through the busy, traffic-jammed streets of Hong Kong filled with people, shops and restaurants, on our way to Victoria Peak.

Our guide said that Hong Kong was once a simple fishing village but it was hard to think of it that way. The many-laned, winding streets were well laid out and engulfed by tall modern buildings on either side. It was a surprise to see that many of them had wash hanging over the balconies. There were streams of well dressed people and I noticed that overall there was a polite civilized air with the drivers. I heard not a single horn blowing.

Hong Kong, is sometimes described as the Pearl of the Orient. And I thought, what you don’t see from this ride are the centuries-old temples, winding, unseen alleys and the stories they could tell. That’s when I felt the yin and yang, of the old and the new. A hidden world of fragrant lotus, teahouses, mah-jong players, opium dens, and fire-breathing dragons.

 

Soon our bus pulled into a parking area filled with rows of numbered buses and packed with other sight-seeing vehicles. Our group was able to keep up with our guide and each other by following a sign she held high in the air. We headed toward a tram, the 120-year-old funicular railway that departs from Garden Road and goes up to the top, Victoria Peak.

Once we lined up, waving a camera on a stick close to my face, someone stepped in front of me. Being from Mississippi and polite, I moved back.

Then I recognized her, a person whom I had already encountered at the Hong Kong airport, when she had shoved me aside and blocked the passageway taking pictures of herself. “I don’t believe this,” I said to Edrie. “Here she is again. Miss Selfie. That lady I told you about. It doesn’t take long to size some people up. She seems to think, ‘I’m the queen. You’re my court.’ “

Queen Selfie and her cowed looking spouse pushed on ahead of Edrie, me and several others.

“I feel like returning the favor, shouldering in front of her, stepping on her toes, and saying, ‘Excuse me, dahlin’,” I said to Edrie. “But I’m from Mississippi. That explains it.”

Edrie and I stared at each other for a moment. “Let it go,” she said,”We’re on Holiday. We’re here to enjoy ourselves.”

That’s not what I wanted to do, but as my grandmother would say, ‘you mind out now’. So, Edrie and I found our seats and rode the tram to the highest point on Hong Kong Island, the Peak - a place visited by millions of tourists every year. I read somewhere that Hong Kong has the best city skyline in the world. From here we enjoyed spectacular views and got an overall feel for the city. Looking down from this famous vantage point, you see gleaming skyscrapers, the harbor and surrounding islands.

 

Our group went from Victoria’s Peak on to the sun-drenched Repulse Bay, a crescent shaped stretch of sand, which is gifted with crystal clear water, broad beaches and a calm sea surface. Repulse Bay has a relaxed resort feel and is one of the most beautiful beaches in Hong Kong. Thousands of tourists flock here to enjoy their vacation. It is a place where world class super deluxe villas are scattered; in other words, some rich and famous folks.

Once again we loaded the bus. Our day wasn’t over, there were more sights to see. At the end of this day we would soon be aboard our ship, the Celebrity Millennium and begin sailing the East China Sea, visiting parts and places unknown.

The rest of China waited.