Zara’s first impressions upon exiting taxi in front of HK hotel: “It smells like pancakes.   I hate pancakes.”   Considering the panoply of smells we are likely to encounter on the streets, I feel a pang of worry. Luckily, her perspective improved from that point on.

We woke up early (thanks jet lag) and were out and about before 7am only to realize that it was Chinese National Day and mid-Autumn festival (apparently HK’s holiday equivalent of Thanksgiving in terms of importance) and coffee shops were closed until at least 8.  We finally stumbled upon a coffee shop chain in the Central Business District just as tempers were starting to fray.  A donut and babyccino for Z and coffees for us improved everybody’s mood.  We took a quick jaunt through the adjacent Hong Kong Park and then headed to the famed Victoria Peak tramway.  It did not disappoint.  The ride to the peak was short but impressively steep and our early morning start meant crowds were still relatively light.  Although the skies were cloudy, the views were impressive in every direction.  It truly is stunning.  Vancouver is the closest comparison, but a pale one.  We walked up one of the roads at the top to another small park where Zara happily frolicked in her first Chinese playground.

We ate a delicious lunch outdoors at the lovely Lookout Restaurant.   Service was a little lackadaisical, but the experience was otherwise great. And then we heard somebody calling our name and an old friend from SF who moved to HK 8 years ago is walking towards our table.  7 million people in Hong Kong.  Busiest holiday of the year.  We know one couple in the entire city and we run into them (with their parents and kids). What are the odds?  (Well, don’t ever ask that question around Jonathan because it won’t be a rhetorical one.)  We hope to have the opportunity to come back through HK for a proper visit.

Next planned stop was the Big Buddha, so we took the MTR out past HK Disneyland to Lantau Island.  Unfortunately, by the time we got there it was mid-afternoon and the lines snaked around in the hot sun. I made an executive decision that standing in humid heat with a jet-lagged 5 1/2 year old for over an hour would not endear us to anybody.   So now we have yet another reason to return to HK.

We took the long MTR journey back towards Kowloon so we could take the ferry across the bay to the Central Business District.  Zara’s jet-lag manifested itself by her putting on a dance show for bemused passengers on a crowded train.  The ferry ride across the bay was stunning.  We then made our way on foot across the CBD to an English Pub.   It was after 6 and we were all fading.  Zara didn’t even last until they brought the dinner.