I have been to Hong Kong many times, and there is always a new construction project, or an extension of the subway rail network to check out.
The new high-speed rail link between Hong Kong and Guangzhou in mainland China opened in Sept 2018, after many years of delays.
Unfortunately my American passport is not much help to get me into the new train and across the border! Aargh. I would need a confirmed itinerary/ formal invite for a visa, which takes FOUR business days. I will be gone by then – and it’s too much effort for a jolly ride, anyway.
It was well after 1 am this morning when our delayed flight finally left Perth, and the flight arrived an hour late into Hong Kong this morning as well.
I took the Airport Express to Hong Kong Island, and the Marriott hotel’s front desk checked me in – even though it was barely 10 am! So I could take a little catnap before going out into the city for a bit.
Our time is running short here at the resort by Geographe Bay.
There is a nice walk & bike track that runs along the beach. For me, it’s hard to just walk, though, and not stop and investigate the sounds and glimpses of the exotic birds in the bushes.
The five of us – my brother & his family, and I – packed up the SUV and made our way down to the town of Busselton on Saturday. We are going to stay there, on the southwestern Australian coast, over Christmas.
On the way there the car’s temperature gauge reported 42°C/ 108°F! .. but the high temperatures at the coast should be much more moderate, in the order of 27°C/ 80°F.
It was 5 hrs from Tokyo to Hong Kong, and 7 hrs from there to Perth, due south from Hong Kong.
I made it in to Perth late on Tuesday night. The passport checkpoint is automated: a machine scans the picture page, and then a camera takes a face picture. I am sure while all this is happening, the computer runs a database & records check, and that a human will show up if everything does not check out!
I am at Ueno Station, on my way to Narita airport to catch the Cathay Pacific flight to Perth. I had planned to take the local subway (the Ginza line), to get here, only to find that my station of departure at the hotel, was closed until 5.40 am. (Then how come the train schedule showed its first train departs at 5.18 am? Oh well). So I just took a taxi here.
The Tokyo Skytree is the tallest freestanding broadcasting tower in the world. The lines for its public observation decks were short today, and so, up I went. The view of Mt Fuji in the distance, blanketed in snow, and floating above the clouds and the Tokyo skyline, was wonderful to see.
It was finally time for me to try one of the other express trains (besides the Narita Express that I had taken several times to and from the airport). I picked the Nozomi (のぞみ, meaning ‘wish’ or ‘hope’) Super Express – the fastest of the fast bullet trains – running on the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen lines.
The ride to Shin-Yokohama station towards the south of Tokyo Bay takes only 20 minutes. We started out in Tokyo, made a quick stop at Shinagawa station a few minutes later, and then the Super Express could express itself and pick up speed.
I went out to Shinjuku Station today to Tokyo’s skyscraper district, west of the station. I took a little break after lunch and went back early in the evening, to take a few pictures of the billboards and neon signs.
Man! There is a lot of people out and about on a Saturday night – what a surprise, right?
First on my agenda today, was to buy a train ticket to get me back to Narita airport in a few days. Since the first Narita Express will not get me there early enough, I have to take the Skyliner Express, which runs out of Ueno Station on the Keisei Line.
Then I ran out to the Yodobashi Camera store in Akiba. I love that place! LOL. Just beware: the store’s theme song will stay in your head, long after you had left. Its words are set to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and sung in an animated voice: Marui midori no Yamanotesen (‘The round green Yamanote Line’) Mannaka tooru no wa Chu-ousen (‘What goes through the middle of it is the Chuo Line’) Shinjuku nishiguchi eki no mae (‘In front of the west exit of Shinjuku Station’) Kamera wa Yodobashikame ra! (‘[For] cameras it’s YodobashiCamera!)’
Finally, I walked around the Ginza shopping district a bit, to watch the streetlights come on, and storefronts get lit up, as the sun was setting.
Whew – I made it into the Marriott Courtyard here at Tokyo Station. The flight on All Nippon Airlines was uneventful*, as was the express train ride into the city.
After that, I had to work a little to make my way to the hotel with all my luggage. The express train platform is five floors down from street level, deep under the sprawling Tokyo Station complex.
*I forgot to take my large camera out of my big bag as I checked it in. So I fretted that the camera might get damaged by the baggage handling process, or frozen while in the cargo hold .. but it seems to have survived just fine.
I made it to the airport. We will board in 30 mins or so.
It’s great to get to this point! Just to get packed up and the house taken care of before a long trip, leaves me frazzled. But now I can relax a little.
It was a beautiful first day of fall here in Seattle, with puffy white clouds in a blue sky and mild temperatures (65 °F/ 18 °C). I went down to South Lake Union for just a bit, and took the streetcar and No 8 bus back up to Capitol Hill.
Fall has started, and the cruise ship season is winding down. (The last sailing from Seattle is Oct 10). Friends of ours left on a cruise this afternoon from the Smith Cove cruise terminal. Bryan and I went there to wave them goodbye – but we could not get quite close enough to the pier! We settled for views of the cruise ship departures from the Elliott Bay marina.
Hmm .. I see The Economist has given Vienna the nod as the world’s ‘best city’ to live in. (Melbourne had been at the top of the list for seven straight years). No American city made the top 10 .. but of course: Seattleites scoff at the notion that Vancouver is better than Seattle. That number 6 pointer on the map should move south to just below the Canadian border!