If you want to impress someone visiting Hong Kong, take him or her to Ozone, the world’s tallest bar.
Many of us were impressed. This visit was a part of Delta Airline’s inaugural non-stop Seattle to Hong Kong flight recently. We didn’t want to leave, even when it was time to go.
Thursday, the Ozone
What I missed in the morning was the delegation’s tour on Lantau Island, at jade market, and on bird’s street. Those were fun places to see. Some delegates bought nice souvenirs.
One showed me that she bought a nice pair of jade earrings at the jade market. The markup was ridiculous, over 100 to 200 percent. Her bargaining technique was, “I have only $100 HK (the original price $280). The bus is leaving. I have to go.” Sold. (One U.S. dollar is about $7.75 HK.)
From bird’s street, Al Hess bought a pretty 10-inch bird’s cage at $50 HK. It is more an accessory than a cage to house a bird. How come I couldn’t think of that when I visited Hong Kong every year? I would love to buy one on my next trip.
I focused on work in the morning inside my hotel room at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, anticipating the thrills of the evening—Ozone hosted by Delta.
Hong Kong’s Thursday morning was Seattle’s Wednesday afternoon. With my iPad and phone, I communicated with my staff before they went to press.
After work, I treated myself to a massage at the Mandarin Spa. It was the best massage I have had in a long time. Our room was booked courtesy of the Mandarin as part of Delta’s partnership. The least I could do was to spend some money to give back. The spa’s relaxation room offered free fruits and delicious detox (ginger and fruits) tea.
Next was seeing my mother who lives in another part of the city. We had to escape to the air-conditioned mall, as it was stuffy inside her apartment. Malls are everywhere in Hong Kong.
At 5:30 p.m., I rejoined the delegation’s bus to go to Kowloon across the harbor, and reached the world’s tallest bar, Ozone, on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, the very top. (Hong Kong has the largest number of skyscrapers in the world.)
Designed by a Tokyo firm, the bar’s view offers a spectacular view of Hong Kong and Kowloon. You can feel like a Greek God, extending your hand and wrapping the skyscrapers in your own hands. Our tour guide Alan Hui said it costs over $100 HK for admission fee to visit its observatory deck on the 103rd floor, but it’s a better deal to sit down, enjoy the view, and drink at the Ozone. And you don’t need to pay for an admission fee.
None of us wanted to leave the amazing view. We were late for a farewell dinner hosted by Delta, at Harlan’s Restaurant at Nathan Road. According to our guide, Harlan’s owner is Jewish. It created an interesting fusion dinner of Hong Kong and Western cooking.
Afterwards, 10 of us abandoned the bus and chose the Star Ferry to get back. One went to the Temple Street night market to shop, which highlights low prices and a variety of fancy products.
On the way to the pier, we saw World Cup star statues in the ferry’s park. The ferry was just a few blocks from the Mandarin. We appreciated walking after eating a big meal.
Friday, last day
My last day in Hong Kong was adventurous— squeezing a baby, abundant shopping, and hosting a big dinner for family.
While the rest of the delegation flew back to Seattle, four of us stayed for one more day in Hong Kong. We went our separate ways.
Rain was pouring, but it actually made the weather cooler. Hong Kong is a city of contrast.
The Mandarin shops and nearby malls showcased some of the most expensive famous brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci. I picked another mall two blocks away, the World-Wide Plaza, a popular place for Filipino maids, which is near the Mandarin (Hong Kong people employ over 140,000 Filipino domestic workers.) It was the first time I shopped there.
At the plaza, prices are so cheap that bargaining is unnecessary. I enjoy shopping in Hong Kong because I don’t have to face the humiliation of going through the girls department like I do in America, just to look for petite sizes. I bought t-shirts for $15 to $25 HK.
After shopping, I headed home to have lunch with my mother and brother at a wonton restaurant. The wonton noodles and bbq pork were delicious. My friend bragged, “There’s no such thing as bad restaurants in Hong Kong, just enter any of them and you will be fine.”
At 1:40 p.m., I took the subway to Kowloon, meeting my husband’s side of the family. My sister-in-law took me to visit our grand nephew, just a few weeks old. There’s something magical about holding babies. I didn’t want to let go until my relative reminded me that I was scheduled to see the new Bruce Lee exhibit at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Shatin, outside the city. (Thanks to Mandarin’s copy of South China Morning Post at the fitness center, I learned about the exhibit.)
Bruce Lee had strong ties with Seattle. He spent his teenage years in Seattle, and established his first martial arts school before he hit Hollywood. This interesting exhibit is filled with original materials. It cost only $5 HK to see the exhibit. Brilliant he was, Lee wrote poetry and his own screenplays. In those days, there weren’t computers. The exhibit displayed his neat handwritten copies of kung fu instructions and fighting sketch for his movies. What a waste that he died at the age of 32!
At 6:00 p.m., I headed back to the hotel. Riding the subway, it took 30 minutes from the museum to get back to the hotel. When I was a child, it would take one whole day for the museum trip, by train, walking, and ferry, because nothing was connected. As I said earlier, Mandarin’s location is perfect for me, in the center of everything.
At 6:45 p.m., my relative, a member of the Chinese Club, just nearby the hotel, suggested that I host a dinner for my mom’s family. My aunt ordered an 8-course meal in advance including live shrimp, live fish, and roasted pork. It made my aunt happy when she took many boxes of leftovers home.
“You want to see my room at the Mandarin?” I asked my relatives, realizing that they were curious what my room looked like. They joked about bringing their clothes, so they could take a bath in the tub.
The bathroom is beautiful, said my mom. I showed her a television set that was installed inside the mirror.
My mother cried when we said goodbye.
Not a dead snake
I was able to maximize the trip and not feel tired because of Delta and Mandarin’s hospitality.
Had I not received the gift of sitting in business class, I would have felt like a dead snake, unable to function the next few days.
When I flew back to Seattle, it took 11 hours. Delta was ahead of schedule in my returning flight. The trip was a chance for me to get to know Delta better, not only as a passenger, but by meeting its people. I am impressed with Delta’s diversity in management. Two Indian Americans are high on the corporate ladder. Originally from America, Vinay Dube is the highest-ranking Asian American in Delta and also senior vice president for the Asia Pacific.
He is stationing in Hong Kong. The other is Ranjan Goswami, a Yale graduate, originally from Hong Kong, who now works in Los Angeles, as vice president in sales for Delta’s western region.
And the significance of the trip, said Tom Norwalk, president of Visit Seattle, was the total commitment of Delta in building an international hub at Sea-Tac International Airport. The enormous size, scope, and potential of both the Hong Kong and China markets for Seattle, are beneficial, he said.
“The tourism impacts of this hub and new service will benefit Seattle and Washington state for years to come… as a city and region – we need to get ready for the increased visitors from Hong Kong and China – through better language translation and speakers to directional (street) signs (in the city).” (end)