Posted by: 1of10boyz | December 9, 2011

HONG KONG Part 1 – Why and How


Hong Kong has always kind of lived in the back of mind as someplace I had to experience. It got planted there in the stories and experiences of my youth. My father was able to visit Hong Kong as a young man when he was assigned to the USS Los Angeles (CA-135) around 1961. I don’t remember many of the specifics of that WestPac that he was assigned to but I do know that this experience was wild and exotic to that 20 year old Wyoming farm boy.

I think that my father loved the CA-135 probably about as much as I loved the SSN-684, which is to say not too much. He, as I, loved the feeling of belonging to an elite group and being in situations of danger or importance with people you could trust; and being trusted by those same people. Those feelings create a nostalgia that is easily misunderstood by others; we speak with fondness looking back but really do not every want to be back there. His stories of the great buys, exotic people, and beautiful sites were left unfulfilled on my WestPac in 1991. The Sturgeon Class fast attack submarine was never a liberty platform during the Cold War; our role was something altogether different from the role of the 7th Fleet’s Flagship that my Father called home during WestPac 1961.

When we were presented with the opportunity to go to Hong Kong while one of my colleagues from work was there in his hometown; we jumped at the chance to go. The one thing that has always difficult for me when going to these kinds of places alone was not being able to share it with my wife. I have never enjoyed those places alone like I do when I visit them with LaDawna. It is so much better for me when I visit them and have the experience to share with her. I have always visited them with some regret in my previous experiences because I always have thought that she would like them so much.

Since we are going to have the long holiday for Chinese National Day it seems like a perfect opportunity to visit Hong Kong and some of the surrounding locations. We make the arrangements to depart from Qingdao International to Hong Kong via a plane change in Shanghai, Pudong. We are prepared to bring back many souvenirs as we leave with one large suitcase each that is about 1/3 full (considering our plan to acquire “stuff” while we are there it seems like a prudent plan).

We have other motives besides seeing Hong Kong and the surrounding sites for this trip. We have neighbors from Thayne, WY living and working Hong Kong as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we also want to attend the Hong Kong LDS Temple. While living here in mainland China we are part of the Hong Kong Temple District, even though we live more the three times closer to the Seoul, South Korea Temple.

There is much to see in Hong Kong and I really have no idea how to actually schedule time for this trip. I was surprised to find that this location was not identified with any World Heritage Sites. None, Nada, Zip, Ling. There were are and are thousands of guides for what to see and what to do, more sites to see, experiences to have, shops to visit, cruises to take than we would have time in weeks of visiting. Add to it our desire to see other locations like Shenzhen, Macau, and Kiaping, we were just not going to get out to see everything we had on our list.

We were challenged by the availability of cheap airline tickets, the Holiday season in China is not known for bargains that can be experienced at other times. Unless we wanted to leave late on Saturday the airfare on any airline between Qingdao and Hong Kong would be over $1000 USD per person, not something that we were even going to consider. We selected a Skyteam alliance flight with China Eastern because we couldn’t find anything that was Star Alliance. I have learned since that the Dragon Air fleet is a Star Alliance team member. While it was probably a $150 per person more expensive than the flight we had it was a direct flight and we would have been another several hundred miles closer to the next award level on United. I will know better next time. Interesting that the United.com website didn’t list it as a star alliance flight/carrier when we made the reservations.

When we arrived in Hong Kong we were able to get through the airport without too much trouble and were able to locate the hotel help desk and get a ride arranged. We stayed at the Marriott Sky City. I still get Platinum benefits with Marriott which gives me the free breakfasts and concierge level access so we plan on taking advantage of the free breakfast in the morning.

We have learned through the night that the church will be building a temple in Star Valley, WY. What a blessing for those of us that call that beautiful little valley home. We are still speechless as we contemplate this wonderful announcement.

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