A New Millennium
December 31, 1999 - January 1, 2000
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As noted at top we had come to HK partly to welcome in the year 2000. Gerry is sure that the new millennium won't start until 2001, but since everybody was making a big party of it this year, we decided to attend. Our plan before arrival, which we carried out, was to go up to Victoria Peak well above Victoria Harbor (neither yet renamed by the new Chinese authorities) and quietly observe the festivities and events from there. Loud and alcoholic parties are not for us. We've tried them and the noise interferes with what we really want to do: communicate and ruminate.
So we went up just before dusk — in fact just in time to see the sun set in the west over Lamma Island — and walked the 3 km circuit on Lugard Rd around the peak, starting on the front side watching the lights coming on in Central and Kowloon. By the time we were back it was definitely night. We went indoors in the new shopping and restaurant complex at the top of the Peak Tram. We were both a bit sad to no longer find the nice old revolving restaurant of our days in HK. We had brought Jan's sister Joan and husband Mick here on their visit and have since eaten at a handful of revolving restaurants in high places throughout the world, but we had a soft spot for this one. But times change and so must we. We should have known there would be crowds and lines at the restaurants, but we didn't think about that in advance. Well, we braved them, got a bite to eat, and then relaxed until midnight approached.
About 23:30 we set out on Lugard again planning to be over the harbor just before mignight. By now it had cooled considerably and we had to wrap ourselves against the diurnal return of winter. We reversed direction, this time going along the back first. About ten minutes before the striking hour we stopped above a 50 story building that had a giant digital clock counting down the remaining seconds. There we waited to see what would happen. Gerry had been hoping, not so secretly, that all the doomsayers about the Y2K bugs would be right and we would witness from on high the mother of all blackouts.
But it wasn't so. The world continued. From far below and well down the path, we could hear faint noises of the new year. And to the east, over in Happy Valley and above the race track we saw tiny puffs and lights that were fireworks. Near us were three Germans who worked in HK; we chatted with them a few minutes, declined their kind offer of Champagne, and went in from the cold, relieving Jan..
Being fuddy-duddies we might have gone off to bed then, but that wasn't practical. There wouldn't be a ferry back to Lamma until 7:30 in the morning. Without too much regret we went back to the shopping complex to observe the crowd and get some more food. In fact the crowds were so large and the trade was so good that many shops were open well after midnight. Jan took the opportunity to buy herself a Chinese embroidered dressing gown.
Around 5:00 in the morning we took a hike down the hill into Central. The trip is more than 1000 feet down and about 2-3 miles. As we descended we gradually left tree- and vine-covered slopes and entered urban Hong Kong. We went from feeling we were in a wide open world, looking down at the tops of office and residence blocks to being hemmed in by the same blocks townering above us. Along the way we passed the zoo and botanical gardens, two more places which you might think seven weeks would be enought to revisit, but they weren't.
At the bottom, in Central, the crowds had been anticipated to be so big that almost all streets had been closed to vehicles and, to avoid crowds colliding, many of the streets had been made one-way for pedestrians. When we got down there were still large remnants of these crowds, although it was 4:00 a.m.or so. After finding a comfortable place to sit and read in a hotel lobby we finally went over to the terraces by the ferry pier and waited for dawn. We were rewarded with two excellent photos of the sky dawning on the new millennium.
Slowly, after about an hour of sitting quay-side, the sky grew light again, the new day, the new year, and the new millenium had begun, and we went off to the ferry and eventual sleep.