Monday, March 12, 2012:
We arrived in Hong Kong yesterday. We had experienced rough weather for the last day, as we headed north-east through the South China Sea; a strong north-east wind had built up the sea and swell, consequently our passage was ‘bumpy’ at times.
On the bridge at 4 a.m., mainly there to assist the 2nd Officer, Sean, in the challenging ‘traffic’ situations when approaching one of the world’s busiest ports. Cargo ships, container ships and bulk carriers were everywhere and the situation complicated by the fact that there are 2 entrances to Hong Kong harbour, one which goes round the west side and another, which goes around the east side of the island. We were bound for the east entrance, the Tatong Channel and consequently had to cross those ships entering and leaving the west channel. The weather, apart from rough seas was abysmal; low cloud and rain hampering visibility and to top it off, the temperature was around 12C/55F, not what one would expect for Hong Kong…
We entered the routing system at the eastern end of the Tatong channel and embarked our pilot on time, at 6 a.m., the dawn was doing its best to break, hampered by the overcast skies. It did not seem to hamper our guests though, the decks were crowded as we entered what must be one of the most magnificent harbours in the world; towering skyscrapers reaching (literally) the clouds, boats of every size and description scurrying across and through the channels and lights, there are lights everywhere; one can almost feel urgency and excitement of the city.
We berthed on the Ocean Terminal, the cruise centre at 7:30 and our guests had started disembarking by 8, ready to enjoy the shopping, sightseeing and ‘flavour’ of Hong Kong. Markets galore, Bird market, Ladies market, Stanley market, Night market, to name but a few. Where we berth is actually alongside a massive shopping mall, (doom for any husband on board :-)). As soon as one is off the gangway, one is confronted with brand-name shops, 3 floors of them and stretching for at least 1/2 a mile. Tours to places such as the ‘Peak’, (the Beverly Hills of Hong Kong) are hampered by the low cloud, the Peak being ‘socked-in’ with mist, however this doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of 2 days in this vibrant city.
At night, for those on board, there is what is called the ‘Symphony of lights’; every skyscraper in Hong Kong and Kowloon are linked together and display colourful arrays of laser lights in unison, even in the gloom it is an awe-inspiring sight. For those ashore, the hustle and bustle continue with market stalls everywhere, street-side kitchens pop up out of nowhere and streets are pedestrianised to allow the people unhindered access, my words cannot do it justice.
This evening we sail, back across the South China Sea, destination Nha Trang, Vietnam on Wednesday.