Friday, January 7, 2011

Vacation and Shabbat

The reason I am so bad at planning vacations is that I second guess myself.  Maybe I should fly out this day ... what if my plans change ... what if the hotel isn't good....  One of my vacation days back home -- the entire day -- was spent researching Hong Kong hotels.  It's not like I didn't already have hotel reservations.  But just in case I was unhappy with the fact that I had to pay for wireless or didn't like the neighborhood, I had to research it all.

The hotel I stayed at this week, the Metropark in Wan Chai, was great.  My second hotel, for the vacation phase of the trip, the Jia, was in Causeway Bay, and while I was excited to stay in a Philip Starck hotel (because design is cool), I realized I really don't want to stay in Causeway Bay, which is where I stayed last time.  It's crowded, confusing, and too far from what I planned to do.  I went to visit and found the hotel to be snooty and not homey. 

So two days ago I opened my spreadsheet (generated from all that other research), started googling, and found a place that was not on my original list.

I canceled the Jia (and had to negotiate away the penalty) and made a reservation here.  The Lang Kwai Fong Hotel (not to be confused with the Hotel at Lang Kwai Fong).  A boutique hotel in SoHo (not in LKF, luckily, which is like North Beach).  Walking distance from everything I want to do.

And it's so wonderful!  The room is the size of a postage stamp and beautifully crafted to feel luxurious and cozy at the same time.  I did have to spend 15 minutes figuring out where to put my suitcase once I unpacked it so I wouldn't have to step around it. (It wouldn't fit: behind the bathroom door; under the desk; next to the refrigerator.  I figured out to put it in the closet on top of the safe.  It just fits.)

The service is so gracious.  And after puttering in my room, there was a knock at the door -- a plate of welcome fruit.  More fruit than I eat in a week: a banana, grapes, an apple, a persimmon, and strawberries.

My view from this inexpensive, well-located, high touch service postage stamp is of Victoria Peak, many of the city's skyscrapers, and the harbor.  I am on the 29th floor, which is quite high because we are partway up the mountain.  The skyscrapers' lights are coming on now, and it's glittering outside my window.  It's been cold and foggy, so there have been no good photo opportunities either from here or from the banks' offices.

And then I think, "Thank God for Jews" and, of course, laugh.  I'm going to go to Shabbat services, as I sometimes do when I travel -- it's perfect for meeting people when traveling alone.  I googled the UJC (United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong), the shul I'm going to, and the rabbi is from San Francisco via Baton Rouge.

To get there, I get to take my favorite form of public transportation here, the Mid-Levels Escalator.  Actually, I don't have to take it because the shul is two exits away -- and that means two blocks.  With having to navigate to and from the escalator, it's probably four blocks away.  But I'll take the escalator anyway with all the commuters.  Since the escalator is one-way, I will walk home afterwards.

The walk will send me through LKF itself, which will make it particularly fun.

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