Hong Kong ~ 1st – 3rd September 2012
Early Saturday afternoon, 1st of September, Flying towards Hong Kong, I’m breath-taken by the blue ocean, green mountains, small boats I can see out of the planes window. Arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport, I collect my checked baggage, proceed to the Airport Train for a 30 minute trip to the city of Hong Kong. I’ve arrived at Kowloon Station, emerging from the underground maze of the MTR subway, walking in the direction I think my hotel is in, the weather is hot, muggy, spitting rain, my luggage after 15 hours in the air is getting the best of me. I pull out the printed map I had prepared with highlighted route, and the Hotel’s name in Chinese, found a convenience store to ask for directions. The checkout girl happens to speak English and informs me I’m only one street away. Victory is almost mine!
Staying at West Hotel on Wai Ching Street, Kowloon. The hotel is in a good location, being 100 meters from Austin MTR station, and 10 mins walking to Kowloon or 5 mins to Jordan MTR stations, which makes it very easy to get around Hong Kong. The Hotel is just off Jordan Rd & near to Nathan Rd if you don’t mind walking. Plenty of shops & restaurants within walking distance too. The twin bed room is clean, quite basic with a very firm bed (think – ‘sleeping on concrete’, making use of the extra quilt supplied I sleep on top of it, along with my sleeping bag), bathroom has a hairdryer, working fridge, air conditioning, kettle and mounted TV. The Reception staff don’t speak too much English, free WiFi is avaliable only in the Lobby or the lounge on the 1st floor.
Refreshing myself with a shower, I’m ready to take advantage of the daylight and walked along Canton Road past the glitz and glamor of the Harbour City Shops (Prada, Dior, Channel – to name a few) and with my mouth dribbling at the handbags and shoes, I continued ahead to Hong Kong Island via the Star Ferry.
Disembarking at Hong Kong Island, I walked towards The Peak Tram which would ascend me to highest viewing platform of Hong Kong the Sky Terrace 428. I was a little lost along the way, a lovely Hong Kong university student helped me retrace my steps and lead me to The Peak Tram, he decided to join me, I spent a bit of time exploring The Peak Towers Shops with him and enjoyed the view of Hong Kong at the terrace. We shared dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, having vegetarian Spring Rolls and Chicken Fry Salad. We took the Tram back down, the dedicated tram bus to the Central Hong Kong Station and a MTR Train to Jordan Station before exchanging emails and saying goodbye, back to the hotel for a good long nights sleep. Tomorrows adventure — Disneyland!!
Sunday morning I could barely compose my excitement! I WAS GOING TO DISNEYLAND! Ready and dressed by 9am, in the lobby using the Wifi, I noticed an Intrepid Information Sheet was on the wall, while reading a lady interrupted me and asked if I was doing the tour also, I introduced myself and said that I would be doing the tour also. Her name was Judy, and partner Peter, both retired they would be joining me for the next 2 weeks. I told the story of my experience of The Peak Tram the day before and how very excited I was to be going to Disneyland. Saying farewell, walked to Kowloon Station, caught the MTR to Sunny Bay Station switching at the Disneyland Resort line, the Disneyland train was approaching.
Within moments I had been teleported from Hong Kong and dropped into USA’s Main Street, just like Disney Magic. Disneyland has Tomorrowland, Fantasy World, Toy Story World, Grizzly’s Land, and Adventure Land. I arrived around 10:30am and stayed until 6pm. The park was clean, English was spoken everywhere, I enjoyed dumplings for lunch and coffee and pineapple bun for afternoon tea. I saw a viewing of The Festival of the Lion King and Mickey’s Philhar Magic 4D were spectacular viewings. It’s a Small World ride is a colourful and vibrant collaboration of the world. Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Cinderella’s Carousel, Mad Hatters Tea Cups, Mountain Railway Mine Carts where my favourite attractions.
Waking at 6.30 am Monday morning, its my last whole day to myself in Hong Kong before I join the tour group at 6:00 pm tonight. I ate breakfast I’d purchased at the bakery in my room and got ready for a day of exploring.
While using the lobby’s WiFi I ran into Judy and Peter again this morning, informed them of my fun day at Disneyland and my plans for the day. They also were deciding what to do themselves, after a quick chat I left the hotel on foot heading towards Nathan Road. Stopped at the first Starbucks I found to enjoy a Vanilla Latte Coffee, and continued on my way, walking and walking, and walking…. 30 minutes later down Nathan Road I found where the markets are …. they don’t start until midday I find out after asking a local policeman. I planned to visit the Nathan Road market for sport shoes, ladies cloths and electronic…. I will come back in the afternoon. Not overly interested in walking back to the hotel to get my Hong Kong Pocket book for ideas of what to do with a few hours, I walked into the Mong Kong MTR station and jumped on the first train… heading in the wrong direction of my hotel. Thinking I may as well stay on the train and switch lines, I would go visit the Cable Car icon I saw at the end of the train line yesterday when going to Disneyland, Cable Cars are fun right?
Cable Cars are fun! 30 minutes of traveling over 5km the cable cars glide through the air at a steady pace with beautiful 360 views. I traveled up with an elderly couple who were visiting their son and daughter working and living in Hong Kong, and a Singapore mother with her children visiting their father who works in Hong Kong. Half way up I spot something odd in the distance. ‘What is that?’ I ask the elderly couple, ‘It’s the Big Buddha’. I was in for a treat! Having decided that a day trip on a bus tour would take up to much of my time in Hong Kong, I’d decided to give the Big Buddha a miss and do it another time, but here today, I find out the cable cars are a short stroll down a pathway to the Big Buddha and I have to climb the stairs to the top to reap my reward!
Departing the Cable Cars, saying goodbye to the people I’ve met, burst of excitement in my steps ‘I’m going to see the Big Buddha!’ I said allowed to myself. I think I am a pretty fit person, with a head-cold I began these holidays with, the steps to the top had me huffing and puffing, it didn’t help being a hot humid day. Catching my breath at the top I run into Judy and Peter. They’ve already had a look around and are about to descend the stairs, Judy invites me to lunch with them, I accept saying I will take some pictures and be down shortly, they wait for me at the bottom. I’m excited to get a chance to spend time with them both as they appear to be an interesting couple, I’m going to be spending the next two weeks in their company, it’s a chance to get to know them.
Judy, Peter and I take the same cable car down to the Sunny Bay MTR Station and order sandwiches at a local shop. There is a shopping mall situated next to the Station I want to have a look around it, I let them know I’ll meet them again tonight at the Welcome Dinner at 6pm at the hotel.
The Shopping Centre is as big as Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall’s Myer Centre, except the shops are all discount factory outlets and everything is on sale, I spent a fair bit of time scoping the shops out, before telling myself that I can spend only 1000 Hong Kong Dollars today. The Guess store was first on my list of places to look around and spent 550HK$ on 4 Guess shirts. I visited a few shoe and handbag shops, deciding to leave before I run out of time, I still have the Nathan Road Markets to visit on the way back to the hotel. Another quick MTR Train ride back to Mong Kong MTR Station and I’m in a mist of markets with Nike shoes, Apple Products, Camera’s, Dresses, Shoes, Handbags, iPhone cases, Souvenirs and more to browse and purchase.
With a new dress purchased at the markets I make my way back to the hotel via the MTR arriving at Jordan Station. Switch rooms as today I start sharing with my new room-mate Laura. I shower and change into my new dress and chat with Laura about the last few days when she arrives.
Laura and I are introduced to the two remaining members of our group Russell and Bea, and tour Leader Richard. Richard organises the paperwork and answers our questions before leading the group to a Hong Kong Noodle restaurant where we order and share our first meal together as a tour group.
It is the beginning of a 2 week adventure together!