20th September 2014, Saturday
School was out for the week (recess week), and I took it as a reason for a much-deserved family trip to Hong Kong. The 4-hour flight to Hong Kong was quite bearable, and upon landing, we took a bus down to the heart of Hong Kong to meet our landlord (who was found via airbnb). Also, thank god for the Octopus Card (which holds a stored value) that can be easily used to navigate the country by means of public transport.
Apartment (Yau Ma Tei)
The great thing about our apartment was that it was very conveniently located near the Yau Ma Tei train station and along Temple Street– which hosts one of the many night markets in Hong Kong. The real disappointment, however, was that it was TINY! The photos posted on airbnb were deceiving; in the sense that it looked spacious. Ironically they even advertised that it could house up to 6 guests. In reality, there was hardly any room for the 4 of us.
The entire apartment was about the size of the master-bedroom of my place back at home.
Once we were more or less settled in, we took the train down to Central Station. From there, we walked to the Peak Tram Lower Terminus. And then, we learnt about the clutter of Hong Kong the hard way. The first thing we noticed as we were approaching our destination was the incredibly long line. There were easily hundreds of people queuing to purchase tickets for the tram ride up to The Peak lookout. We only managed to get onto the tram more than an hour later. In the meantime, we were subjected to pushing, elbowing and way too many invasions of personal boundaries. (This awful predicament shall resurface at multiple points during the entire stay.)
The tram was similar to the one I took in Wellington, New Zealand. However, this one was distinctly more steeper. I was inclined at a solid 45 degree angle for most of the ride.
At the top, we first had dinner before proceeding to the Sky Terrace. From which, we were offered this amazing view of the Hong Kong skyline:
21st September 2014, Sunday
Ngong Ping 360, Lantau Island
We arrived early at Tung Chung Cable Car Terminal (at about 9.30am) to purchase two-way tickets for the cable car ride across the Lantau Island. Tip: arrive early and buy the Crystal Cabin for the shortest waiting time.
The 25 minutes-long cable car ride provided us with an amazing view of the greenery. Also given that it was the Crystal Cabin, we could spot specks of people trekking across the island as well.
Upon exiting the Cable Car Terminal, we entered the picturesque Ngong Ping Village. There were many quaint shops and cafes.
And yes, even Starbucks. Thank you globalisation!
After exploring the village, we took a stroll towards the Giant Buddha Statue overlooking the island. And then we painstakingly climbed the rather long stairs for a up close and personal time with Buddha.
Thereafter, I coerced my family into taking the peaceful Wisdom Path en route enlightenment.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any wiser– primarily because I couldn’t read Chinese.
With half the day gone, we made our way back to the Tung Chung. The first thing we noticed as we left the cable car, was the long line of people. We thanked buddha for not having to go through that in the morning.
The rest of the day was spent shopping. I’m not going to delve much into the details. So, here’s a simple list.
- Citygate Mall (walking distance from Cable Car Terminal) – largest designer factory outlet mall.
- Langham Place (Mong Kok) – affordable retail outlets like H&M.
- New Town Mall (Argyle Centre, Mong Kok) – cheap clothing and accessories catered for women.
22nd September 2014, Monday
Amazingly, we’ve never had the privilege to experience Disneyland as children. So, my dear mother finally fulfilled the childhood yearnings of her children at such a tender age of 25, 24 and 21 respectively.
Disneyland was fun in general. But I guess it lost some of its charm to four (mostly) adults. The rides were not as impressive as I had anticipated. The interesting thing we caught was the flashy Parade at 3pm – also where you will realise that Disney characters are apparently bilingual.
At night we travelled back to Mong Kok Station and found our way to the famous Hong Kong Night Markets. We went to the Ladies’ Market– but don’t be fooled; there were many things catered for men as well. The stalls essentially stretched across the entire street. So be prepared for the Hong Kong clutter I’ve mentioned several times now.
Also, be prepared to buy many items for a steal. But then again it’s relative and entirely up to your bargaining skills. They usually mark up the prices for tourists.
What worked: quote them a much lower price. They will try to find a middle ground. Don’t give in too quick! Just tell them it’s okay and walk away slowly. More often than not they will call you back, defeated. Otherwise fret not, many of these stalls sell more or less the same stuff.
24th September 2014, Wednesday
Hong Kong Airport
We checked out from our apartment early and made our way to the airport. I would thoroughly recommended using the Airport Express Train line – primarily because of the Express Check-In service. You can literally check in your luggage and collect your boarding pass at the train station (as opposed to the airport). Our flight was at 2.55pm but we checked in as early as 9am thanks to this service. Travelling thereafter was so much more convenient.
Pro Tip: The Airport Train line is much more costly than regular public transport, at $100HK per person per trip. By luck, I was at the information counter and the customer service officer provided us with a cheaper ticket alternative. Instead of using our Octopus Card, we directly purchased tickets from him for just $250HK (group pricing).
Anyhow, we spent the rest of the morning in the Airport departure hall area itself. The ladies shopped while I used the free Airport Wifi to kill the time. We were almost late to our departure gate– thanks to the confusing design of the terminal.
But thank god we made it 5 minutes before final call.
Relieved and happy to return home.
Download: Jefferson's HK + Macau Itinerary