It was early December and we were now in Hong Kong on the third stop of our trip around the world. Having been in Qatar we decided that it would be cool to continue flying east. It just made sense, especially since Hong Kong did not require a visa and there was space available on the flights. It was like it was meant to be! We arrived at the huge Hong Kong International Airport, 8 hours and 9 time zones later. We followed the well-marked signs for the Airport Express Train that takes you into the city. The Airport Express train was easy, clean and fast. It runs every 12 mins and takes only 25 minutes to get from the airport into Hong Kong. Before we left the airport we purchased an Octopus card. That way we were set once we would arrive in the city. It allowed you to go on and off the metro, buses, trams and ferries; even some taxis and stores. It’s a kind of smart card. I highly recommend it.
Everything was fast paced with walls of people. Due to its dense population there was no such thing as personal space. Stay together and hang on to our kids became the motto. In the MTR station, they really do push you on and off the trains. Notice the neatly uniformed employees with white gloves to help direct foot traffic. We definitely weren’t in Kansas anymore Toto. My husband had been to Hong Kong before which helped a bit.
Luckily we found our hotel, the Harborview Hotel in the Wanchai district and settled into the smallest room I had ever been in. On the bright side, we had a fine view of Victoria Harbor and could watch the junk (traditional Chinese fishing boats) sail by. We always try to venture out of the hotel for food, so off we went. Not being really sure where to eat, turned into, not really sure what we were eating! It said chicken, but It was some sort of green chewy meat. Needless to say, we ended up going to bed a bit hungry that night!
The next morning we opted to have breakfast at the hotel buffet, in case we did not have better luck finding food than the night before. I really am not a picky eater, but by now we were all pretty hungry! Once recharged, we grabbed our Octopus Card and boarded the double-decker bus to Stanley Market. There are many ways to get from Central to Stanley Market, but my recommendation is the double-decker bus. Sit upstairs and in the front of the bus for the best view. Hong Kong is actually made up of 250 islands, so there was water everywhere. We had a beautiful view of the mountains and ocean.
Standley Market was not overcrowded with people and that old fishing village was quite picturesque. There were many good restaurants right along the water. Peaceful actually. After lunch it was time to head back to Wanchai District.
On another outing, we took the star ferry to Kowloon. We headed straight to the Ladies Market, a shoppers delight on steroids. They had lots of shopping, shopping, shopping! It was totally overwhelming for this novice shopper! It had one stand after another all selling similar merchandise. They were all pleading with you to come see what they had to offer. Bartering over the price is a way of life here. Not being used to haggling over prices, I got so caught up in it, that if they didn’t agree with me, I would sometimes just walk away. Then in hindsight after converting it from HK$ to US$, I realized how little the difference really was. Its high pressure sales all the way.
After all that shopping, I was looking for some peace and wanted to see a Buddhist Temple. We decided on the Temple of 10,000 Buddhas. It was located about a ½ hour train ride out of Hong Kong; this area is known as one of the new territories. It had taken longer to get there than planned, no surprise. Now we had to climb up over 400 steps to the main temple. There were gold-colored statues of different Buddhas all the way up the path.
We climbed as fast as we could as the temple closed soon. It would have been a let down if it closed right before our eyes. We made it in time, totally exhausted, but we made it. It had a nice lookout point above the city.
Sorry for all the photos, but there were 10,000 Buddhas in all shapes and sizes after all. With that off the list, we headed back down into Central Hong Kong.
At night Hong Kong had a symphony of lights show at 8 pm. There were 44 buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbor, with synchronized lights, music and fireworks. Something in between Las Vegas and NYC, with an Asian twist. The reflection in the Harbor made it very dramatic.
When the show was over we headed over to check out the grand Peninsula Hotel. This stunning 5 star luxury hotel just celebrated its 85 anniversary. They are famous for their emerald-green Royal Royce, high tea and outstanding service, just to name a few.
Then something totally different caught our eye. The scaffolding around the city was all made of bamboo. We watched as the workers climbed up, building it as they worked. They had ties hanging off their belt and quickly added another row. No OSHA rules here. It was fascinating to watch them.
Just because it was night, does not mean the shopping stops in this busy city. So off we went, this time to Temple Street Night Market. It had everything, clothing, antiques and everything in between.
On our last night, we went to the Soho escalators. It is the worlds longest covered escalator. We found out the hard way, that it was not just escalators; but steps too. We went up and up and up. Really, no kidding, it went on and on and on. Lots of restaurants and bars along the way. It was alive with activity.
Now it was time to head home. We were running late the next morning and had to HURRY to make the flight back to the states on time. We grabbed our boarding passes at the ticket counter and hurried to the gate. The agent was running with us yelling, “Huh-wee, one fastat, u muss one fastat“. Finally, in the gate area I looked at the boarding passes. I noticed it said row 51. Of course, I thought that must have been a typo. They meant to write row 15. Much to my dismay, we were in the last row of coach for the 15-hour flight to Chicago. On a positive note, We did have 4 seats together. I wouldn’t say the time flew, but we survived; watching movies, sleeping, eating, drawing, reading and just people watching.
Once we arrived in Chicago, we flew through customs and immigration; boarded the bus back to the C Terminal; through security again and on to a flight to Orlando. We got the last seats. After arrival the kids could not be woken up – they were totally exhausted. We decided on a hotel by the airport, ordered room service and slept better than we had ever slept before! We weren’t home, but we had made it back to the states. It had been a long trip, approx. 46 flight hours, but totally worth it.