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From Palau to Hong Kong — What a Trip!

Posted by Keith on June 28, 2007 at 3:30 am  

A final Sunset Cruise in Palau

I flew from Palau to Hong Kong yesterday. But the evening before my departure we were joined by many of our new friends on Palau for a sunset cruise aboard The Global Adventure – and what a perfect evening it was!

Our twenty-plus guests included citizens not only of Palau, and people of Polynesian descent, but also of Japan, Ireland, and Sweden, and – of course – the U.S.

Many of these people have made a life on this island paradise. They have met and married spouses across many cultures; and their beautiful children, who joined us for the cruise, looked, as they frolicked on board, like a well-designed United Colors of Benetton ad campaign.

And the sunset was spectacular. It was the perfect way to end our initial visit to the island paradise on which they filmed the TV show Survivor.

I hope you enjoy the photos we took of the cruise. You’ll find them – and many other very cool photos — in the “Republic of Palau” photo alum.

Part of Palau’s appeal – and burden — is that it is not in close touch with the rest of the world. Its satellite-only Internet connectivity is painfully slow – when it works. No daily world newspapers are delivered to the island. There is no way to score a current edition of The Economist or The Wall Street Journal there.

Yet, this contributes mightily to the ease with which relationships are formed, and friends are made. People have time for each other. For example, in the space of just ten days we became so familiar with the folks at Sam’s Tours on Palau that both Captain Wolf and I had no reservations about leaving the ship there under their care while the crew and I headed in different directions for awhile.

Time off for Our Great Crew – and Our Itinerary Through Year-End

Later this summer we will take The Global Adventure to China, after stopping in the Philippines and Taiwan. Throughout the fall we will also visit Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand along the Asian coast. We hope to arrive in Singapore before the holidays.

But two months ago my family had already planned to meet me this coming Sunday in Hong Kong, based on the ship’s initial (and it turns out not-very-realistic) itinerary that I prepared. So I needed to fly from Palau to meet them.

But it all works out: The ship is secure in Palau, the crew has time to return home for a well deserved break, and my family and I will have the experience of a lifetime touring China.

Unfortunately, not all members of our family could make it. We’ll miss my oldest sons Keith Paul and Chris, who both must work, as well as Keith Paul’s family; but this Sunday at the Hong Kong airport I’ll greet my wife Lynn, my daughter Laura and her great boyfriend Mike, and our two youngest sons – Sam and Mac. We’ll tour China until mid July when they return. But I will stay here for an extra week to more fully explore the business and investment climate here.

A sickening Stop in Manila, The Philippines

I changed planes yesterday in Manila. What I saw as we descended toward the airport was simply awful: Within sight of the glistening Manila skyline was one wretched ghetto after another. Squalid tin-roof shacks were heaped upon each other along narrow winding mud paths, garbage everywhere, often floating next to the countless tiny hovels perched along the water’s edge. Nothing approaching a real house existed in any of these places. Shacks, hovels, and lean-to’s were all there was – for miles.

There was nothing quaint or picturesque about what I saw, even from the air. It was some of the worst that humanity offers – all within the shadow of downtown Manila’s staggering wealth.

As we approached the runway I also watched several dozen people – many children – as they picked along the top of a massive garbage dump looking for anything – anything – that might sustain them another day.

I’ll have much more to say about The Philippines when we visit there in August. But suffice it now to say that I felt real anger at seeing – if even for a few moments — the wretched condition of so many in the shadow of so much wealth.

It’s Hong Kong!

While Manila seems intent on sequestering its wealth from the many, Hong Kong is entirely about making as many people as possible – including every man woman and child in all of China were it possible – rich beyond their wildest dreams of avarice.

Since the Opium wars, which began Great Britain’s now-expired 99-year lease on the place, Hong Kong has been the quintessential world-trade gateway to China. While there are many competing Chinese coastal cities now – Shanghai and Xiamen to name just two – Hong Kong continues to dominate the economic fabric of all Asia.

Driving in from the airport I saw the commercial docks here. They are larger than anything I’ve ever seen: Countless hundred-foot-high cranes, their long arms carrying huge counterweights against the loads they deposit and offload on ship after ship as countless vessels enter and depart the harbor.

As I view the narrow expanse where Hong Kong Harbor separates downtown Hong Kong and its sister city, Kowloon, I am unable to count the many and varied vessels passing by. It’s a place of constant motion as the world comes to China, and China to the World; and as if supervising the process the densely packed post-modern buildings of Hong Kong’s intense skyline watch it all.

Yesterday evening I walked along Nathan Street in Kowloon, near my hotel. The place positively explodes in a tumult of people and places buying and selling everything imaginable – and a number of things I never would have imagined!

Today, in one of the shops near the hotel (recommended by local sources) I selected the fabric for, and purchased, two custom-tailored wool-and-cashmere-blend 220-count-fabric suits for a grand total of $1000 U.S. Either suit would sell for $2000 in the states — $4000 in London.

A while ago, I enjoyed my first Cuban cigar – a Romeo Julieta, Short Churchill, purchased for $5 U.S., in the most opulent cigar store I’ve ever seen.

And each time I look up from my computer here in my room on the seventeenth floor of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kowloon I see across the narrow waterway that separates us the entire, absolutely incredible, Hong Kong skyline.

And this is no ordinary skyline. Its daytime impressiveness pales compared to the night when each building puts on a constantly changing neon light show. It is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. It is otherworldly.

If my brief look at Manila brought despair, Hong Kong radiates hope. Even after ten years under the administration of China’s communist government – the anniversary of which it will celebrate with an over-the-top fireworks display across the Hong Kong skyline Sunday night – the energy that is Hong Kong is the energy of Asia’s future.

I have started a Hong Kong photo album here on the site, and will begin a separate China album once our inland trip is underway. I also look forward to offering videos in the days ahead; and I’ll continue my written dispatches as well. I greatly look forward to sharing our experiences with you as we tour China, and hope you will join us every day here at



1 Comment so far

  1. Fred Suess on July 1, 2007 4:21 pm

    Isn’t Hong kong a beautiful city? Having been there a few times, I think if I were younger I’d move there. I’m told a decent apartment can be had for about US$1500 per month.
    For an evening’s dinner, try the “Dumbo” 3 boat restaurant in the harbor. Impressive.

    And wait until you’re in Singapore, if you’re in the market for a fine watch. You’ll do better there.

    The Holiday Inn Golden Mile hotel offers a good buffet in mornings for reasonable prices.


    I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for the tips!

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