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March 11, 2006

Our trip to HK begins with a startling revelation: our car’s inspection is overdue by 5 months. This is the car that my parents will keep at their house in FL, and we need to get it inspected prior to driving it down there.

But we failed the inspection because of a faulty EGR valve. Ugh. It’s a Saturday and we’re supposed to drive to FL today, so we need to find someone open to fix this. The only place that’s open and has the parts is the Chrysler dealership, so $1,800 and 6 hours later, all the repairs are finished. But now we have to put about 100 miles on the car and let it sit overnight to reset the oxygen sensors. So we’re starting our adventure late and on an auspicious note. Fortunately, our great friends John and Karris let us crash at their house and use their car—thanks again guys!

We passed inspection and drive 6 hours to Jacksonville, FL. Crash for the night, then another 4 hrs. to my parents place. Great to regroup and get the last minute stuff. At 3:30pm on Wed, our adventure begins with a 1 hr. car ride to the airport, 2 hrs. in the airport, 5.5 hr. flight to LA, 2 hr. layover, and a 15.5 hr. flight to Hong Kong.

In case you’re not keeping track, here are the totals so far:

Car transport: 11 hrs and 650 miles

Air transport: 21 hrs and 9445 miles

The flight from Orlando to LA was a breeze. The seats were tiny (Boeing 737), and I think they actually shrunk a bit during the flight. But for a full flight with kids that were past their bedtime, it went very well.

The flight from LA to Hong Kong was brutal. Again, the kids were just about perfect. The plane was about 50% full and we were in a 747-400 plane with 4 seats in the middle. Unfortunately, there were not available seats for us to stretch out so we had to try to sleep next to each other. All the seats had the small TV’s in them so we were able to watch 15 hrs of movies. Surprisingly, Aeon Flux isn’t that good…

Regardless; 15 hrs in any sitting position is tough and adjusting to the 13 hr. time difference is proving a challenge. We’ve done all the time-zone adjusting tricks out there—light, adjust watches to the destination city, and maintain destination city sleep habits. Apparently whining and complaining the entire flight does not aid in adjusting to the new time zone—who knew?

We arrived in HK Friday morning at 8am. No problems with baggage claim, immigration nor customs. Caught a 45 min taxi ride to our hotel which is beautiful.

HotelView (62K)

Complete with a bidet-enabled toilet. I spent quite a bit of time testing that and I feel refreshed and spring-clean.

Toilet (25K)

We planned on a short 2 hr. nap that quickly turned into a 4 hr. snooze. Ooops. So that’s what alarm clocks are for…. Quick dip in the indoor pool, dinner, several games of pickup sticks, and bedtime. We all wake up a little after midnight, but catch up on some more sleep around 2am.

Some things about Hong Kong that you might not know:

  • Population density (17,121 people per sq mile) is second only to Monaco (41,970 people per sq mile). Lot of high rises here. For perspective, the US has about 79 people per sq mile. Not a lot of high rises in Cary, NC…
  • In July of 1997, the British officially returned control of Hong Kong to China, and it became a Special Administrative Region (or SAR) of China.
  • Population is 6.9million people on a land mass of 403 sq. miles.
  • The currency is called Hong Kong Dollars and at the time of this writing, is 7.76 HKD to one US dollar.

Now we head out for Bangkok, Thailand tomorrow (Sun) at 9am.

Lessons learned:

  • For the rest of our flights, our baggage has to be less than 44lbs. Both of our checked bags are a couple pounds over that so we’re gonna buy a small third bag to transfer some weight.
  • In LA, we were at a weird terminal that did not have any food or drinks, even bottled water. So we’ll plan better and always get snacks and drinks prior to getting to the airport.
  • Security remains a hassle. We were searched in Orlando, but that might have decreased our time in line.
  • Toothbrush, chapstick and hand cream are all good things to bring on planes.
  • Although we did not bring this, I also recommend large quantities of alcohol to dull the pain. For me or the kids, either one.
  • HK dollar is about 8 to 1 US$. That means you have to divide everything you buy by 8. I quickly found out that my “dividing by 8” skills are sorely lacking, so this is good exercise.
  • Peeing in public pools is not good etiquette regardless of what country you’re in.

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Nicky Rousseau

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