Home > Cities traveled > Day 0: Hong Kong

Day 0: Hong Kong

April 16th, 2011

There wasn’t a direct (or even remotely close-to-direct) flight to Vladivostok and I was trying to build up miles with oneworld airline carriers so my route to Vladivostok took me through Hong Kong and Beijing. The stop-over in Hong Kong was about 8 hours so I decided to use that time to go see the city, and I had the incredible fortune to have a friend, TW, there who wanted to show me around and had planned my full day itinerary which went something like this:

Walking through a Hong Kong outdoor market

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07:30 arrive HK Int’l Airport, go through immigration, customs and to the Airport Express train. I see a train with Mickey Mouse-shaped head for windows.
09:00 arrive in HK MTR central train station and find TW
09:15 walking tour of HK central, aka “central”, starts. TW knows a lot of the history behind the skyscrapers and most of what I remember is that they’re tall, there is IFR 1 and 2, which was the tallest building in HK until some bank built the next tallest one across the bay in Kowloon. There is some business feng shui thing going on with the Bank of China knife-shaped building. The building with circles that came straight out of the 70’s was the tallest building in HK for a while. The whole time I think to myself that I would be completely lost in about 5 minutes if I had tried to look around on my own.
09:45 breakfast of cantonese noodles and jo (rice porridge of some sort)
10:15 taxi ride through town to the base of the cable car that goes up to HK “peak”. Apparently, in HK, the higher your elevation, the higher your economical status.
10:30 cable car ride up to the peak. This is a very steep ride that goes straight up the hill. At one point, I was leaning over at 45-degrees to try and stand.
10:45 take the escalators up to the viewing deck. There is a mini Disney castle at the base of the escalators. I can’t get away from the Mouse.
11:15 go back downstairs and get a lemon-flavored aloe drink at 7-Eleven in the shopping area at the peak
11:20 taxi back to central
11:35 eat egg tarts at a local bakery
11:45 walk through the local wet market and capture the sounds and smells of fresh fish and produce
12:30 get on the tram heading out of central – we’re having lunch with 2 more of my friends at the Grand Hyatt near Causeway Bay. The crowds are starting to thicken. TW informs me lunch time is coming when everything gets really busy. Some shops don’t even open until noon.
12:50 get off the tram and walk. I’m pretty sticky from the walking and humidity at this point. And it’s not even really hot and humid in HK yet.
13:15 lunch in the air-conditioned Hyatt. I forgot to take pictures of the food but it was good. I had Hainan chicken and tried some of TW’s beef noodle. I introduced my other 2 friends because they didn’t all know each other.
14:30 taxi back to HK MTR station to take train back to airport
15:00 fly through security check and head to gate. I have time to check my email while standing in line. I love free wi-fi and smartphones.
15:35 board plane for Beijing

Thank goodness for free airport wi-fi and for the free local call phones just outside of the customs area because I had no HK dollars nor phone or any other way to contact TW.

I had a 5-hour layover in Beijing and wanted to leave the airport for a while to see what was around the area. However, after going through immigration and customs, I somehow found myself back on the airport tram going back to the International terminal. Signage wasn’t very helpful to me. I decided I was too tired to try and figure out how to get out again so I went looking for the airport hourly hotel in hopes of getting a shower and place to nap. I had to walk past the enclosed smoking lounge to get to the reception area for the hourly hotel but I was greeted by a nice lady who didn’t speak English and a page-long options list with prices listed in Yuen. When I asked the lady how much 50 Yuen would be if converted to US dollars, she pulled out a calculator and typed out some numbers and then showed me the result of “34.154”. I’m pretty sure that there is something funny with her exchange rate so I just say thank you and roam the empty terminal in search of a clock and a place to nap.

I woke from my nap surrounded by Russian-speaking people. At this point, exhaustion has made my line between reality and dream very fuzzy and I go into auto-pilot, hoping that I’m boarding the right plane.

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  1. April 18th, 2011 at 04:13 | #1

    What an adventure, already! Those photos of Hong Kong are really neat — what an interesting place!

  2. Liz
    April 18th, 2011 at 15:30 | #2

    I really like the architecture of the Lippo and Swiss Cheese-looking buildings. The food looks very tasty, especially the custard tart! It’s too bad you didn’t have time to see Joseph. I’m sure he would have loved playing tour guide. Hope you’re having a blast!

  3. Ukey
    April 18th, 2011 at 23:26 | #3

    Sound clip works so well as you planned – maybe more than you imagined how it would work… I felt like I am there at the market with you. Very nice. Thank you!

  4. Yasushi
    April 20th, 2011 at 10:50 | #4

    Food looks GOOD ~ !!!
    How are you, Sandy?

  5. from SD
    April 22nd, 2011 at 06:16 | #5

    Wow! The hot noodle looks yummy.
    I can feel some excitement through your pictures.

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