China 2007

Hong Kong

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1 March 2007

My passport with a double entry Chinese visa is in hand (thanks Ed!) and the airline tickets have been purchased.  By golly this trip might actually happen!  I'm getting excited!!!

Looking at the flight logistics getting to Asia, I'm going to fly Cincinnati - Atlanta - Tokyo - Hong Kong.  The Atlanta - Tokyo leg of the trip is going to set a personal record for me with "time in the air", at 14 hours and 25 minutes - non stop.  Hallelujah for Business Class!

 


 

19 March 2007

I leave tomorrow, and I'm getting really excited for the adventure ahead!  Excited for a 4000 km road trip with my dad.  Excited for a new language and alphabet charters I can't possibly expect to figure out.  Excited for the hustle and bustle of big cities.  Excited for the sensory overload of a new culture.

Moving around in a population that dwarfs our own in the "Western world" should be interesting as well.  The United States has 300 million people; in contrast China has 1.2 billion . . . four times as many.  China's population is larger than both North America and Europe combined.  It seems to me that during this next century, as China develops a middle class and an economy that supports it - along with India, another Asian nation with a billion plus people, Asia is destined to usurp the United States and Western Europe as the "hub" of global the economy.  It will be interesting to see this future power house in a developing stage.

I'm also excited for the historical sights.  In many ways I feel as if I'm visiting the "Greece" of the East.  Just as Greece was the cradle of modern Western culture (Influencing the Romans, and in turn the Western democratic world as we know it), China has influenced Eastern culture.  Having seen some of this influence in both Japan as well as Southeast Asia, I'm looking forward to seeing the origins of this cultural influence.  The UNESCO World Heritage sites in particular should be amazing (they never disappoint).

And finally I'm feeling a bit bummed about being away from Elaine, Sierra and Cooper for so long (three weeks).  I'm going to miss all of the daily thrills and battles that go along with being a stay at home parent of a five and three year old.  I'm probably going to miss lap time reading to Sierra and Cooper the most.  I know they will have a great time with family and friends in my absence, but it is tough to give up even a moment during this "perfect age" that we as a family are currently in.

 


 

22 March 2007

Hong Kong

After 38 hours of transit (from my bed in Kentucky to my bed in at the MetroPark Kowloon) I've arrived to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong.  What a cosmopolitan metropolis!  A sort of Manhattan meets Bangkok.  Open-air street markets with everything under the sun for sale.  A financial district with seemingly all of the worlds banks being represented with 50 plus story buildings.  People, people everywhere (7 million +).  We spent the day walking the town, putting in 10 + miles of meandering.  Everything we saw added to the sensory overload of this, the most "westernized" Asian city I've been in.  What a great city!

We were also taken out to the Foreign Correspondents Club for a nice lunch by Andrew Windebank one of the event organizers, CEO of the Hong Kong Automobile Association and a local man about town.  He was full of local knowledge and quite an entertaining  character.

Our original plans for the trip seem to have fallen apart.  Apparently the Hong Kong sponsors have pulled out, leaving the event in chaos.  Deiter Hornig of elomnibus.com, the organizer of the event (and the fellow who was to provide SCM collector cars for our participation ), told us that the cars he promised are not going to be available.  The Chinese collector who was providing cars dropped his sponsorship.  The  Welcoming Banquet that was supposed to happen on Saturday night has been canceled.  Our hotel (which was supposed to be paid for by the rally . . . a.k.a. Dieter) is not going to happen.  To make matters worse, the nine paying participant's cars are all still stuck in Hong Kong customs and the required permits to drive in China are conspicuously absent.  Obviously if the cars don't make it out of customs, the rally will not happen (not to mention the Chinese permits).  "If" the cars make it out of the customs impound by Sunday (3 days from now) and the rally proceeds, Deiter says that the he can partially take care of us on the mainland Chinese portion of the trip (which would include hotels as well as breakfasts/dinners), but at this point he has no way to get us between cities (no cars or bus transport).  In our mind he has lost all creditability, so for all we know he could be blowing smoke up our ass about what he can provide on mainland China.  This has the feel and smell of a con artist trying to string his prey along.  The rally is scheduled to start on Sunday morning the 25th (three days from now) . . . How the storey unfolds between now and then is going to be quite interesting.

We'll give Deiter the benefit of the doubt (what other option do we really have?), as he  scrambles to piece the rally back together  In the mean time we are going to see the sights of Hong Kong and Macau.  This gives us a couple of days to enjoy this great city as well as come up with a plan "B" for touring China (we still have our double entry visas after all).

Click on the thumbnail images to enlarge

Street market

Dried fish vendor

Produce vendor

Gigantic green beans

Mmm - bird flu

Herbal store

Dad

Lamborghini

$645 (USD) fine for smoking in the park

Park

Street scene

Old man

Bamboo scafloding

Shoe shiners

Hong Kong Island from Kowloon

Jake, dad, Andrew and Ed

 

 


 

23 March 2007

Hong Kong

The rally is falling apart.  The more we learn about what preparation has not taken place the more apparent it is that this event is doomed before it starts.  There is no need to get into the details of the many ways Deiter Hornig of elomnibus.com has failed to meet his obligations.  Suffice to say I would feel more angry and disappointed if we had paid him 15,000 Euro plus another 6,000 Euros to ship the car over (which comes to $27,000 USD) and then had our valuable classic car stuck in the Hong Kong customs impound yard.  Detier keeps saying, "I'll have a better idea of the plan tomorrow"  and sooner or later (tomorrow) there will be no tomorrows. 

We shifted gears and spent day two on an organized sight seeing tour of Honk Kong island, and preparing ourselves for a Chinese tour of our design. We're thinking of using the train as a transportation source as we see the Southern/Central provinces then to Beijing over the next three weeks.  Our first thought is to make a bee line for the Western city of Kashgar (via the terracotta warriors in Xi'an), then over the Kunjereb pass (4,800 m) and down the Karakoram Highway to Islamabad in Pakistan, the old Silk Road . . . but that is probably a trip for another day.


Here are a couple of short videos.

Click on the thumbnail images to enlarge

Aberdeen fishing village

Aberdeen fishing village

Aberdeen fishing village

Flowers

Stanley bay

Tree being saved - look underneath

Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

Dad and Jake at Victoria Peak

Kowloon night market

Kowloon night market

Kowloon night market

Kowloon night market

Paul, Ed and Jake

 

 


 

24 March 2007

Hong Kong

***  NEWS FLASH  ***

The "Classic-Car Rally Hong Kong to Beijing" has been officially canceled.  The promoter and organizer, Deiter Hornig,  does not have and can not get the permits necessary for the cars to enter China.

The cars made it out of the Hong Kong customs impound yard late Thursday, but the missing Chinese permits (required to safely take the cars into China) have never materialized and this has effectively killed the event.  The event organizer, Deiter Hornig of elomnibus.com, has walked out.  There was talk that very high, additional fees (what we in the West call extortion) were being demanded by officials to get the permits released so the cars could legally and safely enter China. Also, it was  apparent that Dieter had just lost control, both physically and emotionally.   When Dieter walked out he left the seven participants, there co drivers, their cars and the two SCM teams half way around the world  in front of the beautiful and luxurious Hong Kong Harbor Plaza Hotel in Kowloon with out the option of a Hong Kong to Beijing Classic Car Rally.  In our opinion the fact that he waited until the day before the event was to start to communicate to the participants that the event was at risk was unconscionable.  As my dad and Ed left the group this morning the participants were contemplating there options, legal as well as in Tom Hamilton's words,"how to make lemonade out of lemons".  The Rolls owners already had plans to meet up with the Rolls Royce Club of Hong Kong for lunch and a tour.  Others were talking about spending the next few days touring Hong Kong, Aberdeen and Stanley Bay in their classic cars, others were considering renting a bus and continuing the trip up the coast of China, and the SCM team was putting plans in place to take the train to Shanghai, Xi'an and Beijing, and just a few were licking there wounds and planning to return home. No one is talking about trying to get their car into China to complete the trip as planned.  In Jim Rice's words (the only Chinese resident in the group) "it's just too dangerous to trust the Chinese with our valuable cars at this point,  trying to get the cars in now without the proper permits would only invite further bureaucratic abuse and possibly seizer and loss of the cars".  In addition the financial implications for the participants losses are significant with more than $169,000 in entry and shipping fees paid already paid by seven entrants here in Hong Kong.  The rally's failure will be an expensive lesson for all concerned .

Although my dad and I are very disappointed that this once in a lifetime event (The Hong Kong to Beijing Classic Car Rally) has been canceled, we plan to continue our adventure by making the most of our time in China.  We are going to use the trains to transport us (we have found that it is nearly impossible for a non resident to rent a car and drive up the coast of China) to some of the many archeological and UNESCO World Heritage sites in this fascinating and ancient country.

Here are some photos of some of the cars that were to participate in the rally that never happened.

Click on the thumbnail images to enlarge

Junk

1954 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith and 1951 Bentley MK 6 Park Ward

1958 Mercedes Benz 190 SL

1963 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud

1968 Mercedes Benz 280 SL

1972 Ferrari 365 GTC

1941 Buick Convertible

1918 ALF Simplex

 

 

 


 

25 March 2007

Hong Kong

        THE HONG KONG TO BEIJING CLASSIC CAR RALLY GETS NEW LIFE!

Palace intrigue and a coup reminiscent of Ming dynasties took place this afternoon.  Dieter Hornig was ousted, and the participants took control of the rally.

Saturday afternoon several rally participants met with Dieter Hornig, rally organizer, Andrew Windebank, of the Hong Kong Automobile Club and the permitting agent to discuss how the event might continue.  It was determined that the critical permits and travel visas for the travel in China were in order and properly valued (which had been in question).  No extortion, as alleged by Hornig, was apparent.  It was agreed that all remaining entry fees on deposit and in transit would be turned over to the participants and that Dieter Hornig would no longer be in the rally business.  The HK Auto Club agreed to help the participants in getting into China.  It was then decided that the "New Hong Kong to Beijing Classic Car Rally" would leave HK on Tuesday March 27th and finish in Beijing on April 8th.   Two days from the original schedule would be combined to achieve this new schedule.   Additional changes will require all participants to be responsible for their own hotel, food and miscellaneous expenses.  It was determined that a meeting to include all original teams would be held Sunday morning at the Harbor Plaza Hotel to get their sign off for participation and financial obligation for the new event.  As of Saturday evening all teams indicated they would support the new format and be participating (see photos of the cars on the 24th of March update).  Unfortunately the classic cars that were to be provided by Hornig never materialized for the SCM teams, so regretfully we will not be participating in the new event.

Our plan is to continue our adventure across China via the Shanghai Express train, leaving Hong Kong at 3pm today.  We plan to spend a few days in historic and rapidly changing Shanghai.  Ed and Paul will then start their journey north to Beijing, the Great Wall and then home.  We will head west to Xi'an and the surrounding archeological sights (including the tomb Qin Shi Huamg and the Terracotta soldiers), then on the Beijing and the surrounding World Heritage sites.

 

Links to other reports from this trip

 

Shanghai 1     Xi'an      Pingyao      Shanghai 2      Beijing

Click here to see our original plans for this trip.

Travel links

Trips from the last two years    Interactive travel map

 


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