We were scheduled to leave on Saturday and come home on Saturday, but we had a little issue with our Chinese visas. So my trip started on Tuesday and I still came home on Saturday. Fortunately, Gretchen was able to extend her trip and she got a full week away. Because my visit was now going to be 4 days, we hit the ground running the first day and didn't stop.
We left New Jersey on Tuesday 11/24 at 1:00AM and arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday 11/25 at 6:00AM, local time. After Beth, her husband Andy and oldest daughter Grace, picked us up at the airport, we dropped Andy and Grace off at work and school respectively and headed back to their house. It is an awesome house with lots of space and huge windows. We got to see Sarah (their youngest), meet Ben a friend who is staying with them, and meet Marina their helper. I was so excited to meet Marina because I have heard so much about her from Beth and the kids in the past three years. She was just as sweet and wonderful as they all said. We decided the best thing for Gretchen and I to do was to try and acclimate to HK time as quickly as possible. So after breakfast and showers we headed out for the day.
We took a short bus ride to the subway station and then headed into Hong Kong City. It was so fun to see my suburban friend navigate this big city like a local. We went out to lunch with some of the ex-pat women that Beth has been friends with during her time in HK. It was so nice to meet them and we ate at an awesome Thai place, which had outside seating. The weather was in the low 70s and just perfect for dining outside. The food was amazing! I actually took pictures of most of my meals during this trip, which is not something I typically do but the food was always so pretty.
After lunch we headed back on the subway and took it to Shenzen, China to go shopping. It struck me as funny that we could go on a subway to another country. Shopping was fun but we were both feeling the affects of having traveled for two days and so we were very focused and didn't spend too much time just wandering around.
We got back to Beth and Andy's in time for dinner with the kids. Marina made an awesome Filipino chicken dish that we all devoured. She laughed when I asked for the recipe, but I was serious it was amazing. Gretchen and I did our best to stay up until 9:00 PM but neither one of us was able to...
Day two was another fun but busy day. We were both up early because of jet lag and our systems being off schedule, but that did not stop us. We took the subway to the kids school to see their weekly chapel and see the school that they attend. The school is huge and everyone we met was so awesome. It was a crazy day because it was only a half day and so the middle school was having a pool party.
We then walked to a huge mall and hung out in Pacific Coffee just talking, laughing and catching up. It was a balm to my soul to just sit and be with these dear friends. There are a lot of shopping malls with high end stores in them in HK. It felt like every time we went anywhere, we started or ended at a mall. It was also interesting that we never saw any shoppers in any of these high end stores.
We then walked around the flower market, which was a long road with the most beautiful flower stores on it. It was all decorated for Christmas and looked so pretty. I wanted to buy flowers at every store. We then walked to the bird market, which is something else. I can't imagine that there are enough people that want to purchase birds as pets that they need a whole market, but obviously they do. It was pretty to see all the birdhouses but birds just aren't my thing. We then met Andy back in the flower market to buy their family Christmas tree.
We had lunch at an amazing Vietnamese restaurant and I ordered the Pho. It was delicious and of course, I had to take a picture of it. After lunch we continued with our adventure and went to the ladies market. And no, you don't buy ladies there. It is similar to a large flea market with but with all new stuff. We picked up some souveniers for the folks back home and then took the subway back to the house.
We went back to Beth's house to help them get ready for Young Life Club. Which really means that Gretchen and I took naps and the rest of the family got ready for YL Club. We got to hang out with the 20+ kids who came the the house for club and it was really cool to see. Then at 8:00PM, Beth, Andy, Gretchen and I jumped in the car to go out to dinner at this amazing restaurant called Hutong's. It is on the 28th floor and has the most wonderful views of the HK harbor. The food was authentic Chinese food and Andy ordered us a feast. It was the best! We laughed and talked at dinner for hours, it was so fun to be together. Most of the pictures of the views are from my cell phone, so they don't do the view justice at all.
Since this has become a mammoth post, I'm going to break here and bring you days 3 and 4 in another post...