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Go east, young man!

Started: 2012-12-15 14:50:18

Submitted: 2012-12-15 15:43:24

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator prepares to head to East Asia for something resembling a family vacation

In one week's time I will be in Hong Kong. In exactly 168 hours, it'll be early Sunday morning on our second day there. I expect we'll be fighting jet-lag (which, I expect, will be so much more fun with a three-year-old), so we'll probably be waking up trying to figure out what exciting sights to see.

So here's the plan: Early Thursday morning (Mountain time) our plane leaves Denver for Los Angeles. After a couple hours in LAX, we board a 777 for a twelve-hour flight to Tokyo. We fly west, following the sun across the Pacific Ocean, probably touching Alaska's Aleutian islands. We cross the date line, so we land in Tokyo on Friday afternoon, and catch another five-hour flight along China's eastern cost to Hong Kong, finally landing in Hong Kong late on Friday evening. Our hotel (in Quarry Bay, in a residential neighborhood on the north-eastern side of Hong Kong Island) has a shuttle bus running from the airport, so we'll catch that and try to settle in late Friday night (local time; we'll try to ignore that it's Friday morning back in North America).

Great Circle Route: DEN-LAX-NRT-HKG

I expect we'll spend much of Saturday, our first full day in Hong Kong, attending to local logistics as we try to recover from jet lag. I'm planning on getting local SIM cards for our phones so we can do different things and still coordinate with each other (and I'm not subject to Verizon's exorbitant $2/minute international voice roaming rates). (The downside is that I can no longer receive calls on my US mobile number, which could theoretically be useful if someone who knows only my US mobile number wants to call me. This would actually be a good use-case for DSDA (dual SIM, dual active), which has become the bane of my existence at work for the past six weeks. I could use both my roaming SIM and local SIM at the same time, and pick which subscription to use while making voice and data calls.)

We'll spend a total of ten days in Hong Kong. We've been collecting ideas on things to do, but I don't think it makes sense to plan everything out in advance, since I'm not absolutely sure how much we'll be able to do on any particular day, especially with a preschooler. We're definitely going to take the Peak Tram to Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island, and take the Star Ferry across Hong Kong Harbour. I'd like to visit the giant Buddha on Lantau Island (and the cable car leading to it). Kiesa thinks we ought to take Calvin to Disneyland. I'm once again entertaining the idea of trying to get a tourist visa for the People's Republic of China for a day-trip to Guangzhou.

On New Year's Eve we leave Hong Kong for Taipei, arriving a couple of hours before the new year begins. Taipei interests me as a democratic China, having successfully emerged from the tutelage period suggested by Sun Yat-sen into a relatively-free multi-party democracy. I'd like to live somewhere in East Asia in a couple of years, and Taiwan sounds like a good place, so this is something of an early fact-finding mission to see what the country is actually like on the ground. (Taiwan is the world's best source for oolong tea, which is right at the top of my shopping list.)

After two weeks in East Asia, we begin our journey back home on Friday, 4 January with a flight from Taipei to Tokyo, then a long flight from Tokyo to Seattle, and a relatively short flight home to Denver. (Since we cross the date line heading east, we leave Tokyo on Friday afternoon (local time) and land in Seattle on Friday morning (local time), so it appears that we land before we depart.) We have the weekend to recover before heading back to our day-jobs on Monday.

I am not quite sure how this will all work out, but I expect it will be a fantastic adventure we'll never forget. (Whether we'll want to forget it remains to be seen.)

Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.