We are back from three days of short vacation to Hong Kong. I took the Shenzhen route and paid the price of a really long travel time. Here’s a brief look at the trip highlights.
For those unaware Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China despite being a country of its own. What this means is that you get visa on arrival as you hold Chinese RPs or you are a Chinese citizen. We arrived in Hong Kong via the Luohu port near the city of Shenzhen in China. That translates to a flight to Shenzhen, an overnights stay, one hour journey from Shenzhen airport to Luohu port, nearly an hour of immigration formalities and another hour of travel before you can reach Tsim Sha Tsui area of Kowloon in Hong Kong. Yeah that’s really as arduous as it sounds. The other simpler way is to come to Honk Kong airport, complete immigration and take a forty minute bus ride to the same place!
Having wore ourselves down we decided to keep day one to the minimum. We visited The Peak by MTR (that is the Hong Kong Metro) on day one and at a nice time too. We got to see the view of Hong Kong both by day and by night, but I’ll say the night view was more attractive. We started for Kowloon but this time via the ferry. We were late for the famous light show. We hunted for a good Indian veggie restaurant, but luckily didn’t have to search for long, before calling it a day.
On day two we visited The Ocean Park, Hong Kong government’s direct competition to Disneyland. The park is huge and so was the crowd. The park is separated into two sections – one for children and the other for adults. There are two ways to get from one section to the other – the Ocean Express and the cable car. On both ways we found the former to be a saner option – thanks to the ridiculously long crowd for the cable car.
We hardly went for two rides but we found the street performers like the balloon maker and the puppeteer to be more fun; also noteworthy were the stage performances happening every now and then. Shows like the Dolphin show or the Spectacular Sea Jelly are way too crowded. We managed to see the later and did not like it that much. Perhaps the Dolphin show would have been worth the wait.
We spent some time at Times Square before rushing to Kowloon to see the light show, but we were unaware of the parade building up for Chinese New Year celebrations. In a matter of minutes the crowd of few tens of people became a few hundreds and we were unable to find way past the crowd. End result – we missed the famous light/ laser show that we were so desperate to see!
On the last day we went to see the Big Buddha temple in Lantau Island. But we planned it in such a way that we won’t have to take the Luohu route again. We dumped our baggage in Hong Kong airport and took a bus to the cable car that leads to the Big Buddha. But the crowd there was unbelievably long – probably around two hours of wait time. So we took the bus up the hill which was okay too.
The Big Buddha was more than just big – it was simply beautiful. My telescopic lens found some really good use at last and I was happily clicking away at the splendid and benevolent looking God. Even the path leading to the statue from the entrance is quite nice. We then went to the section of the temple where people were offering prayers before queuing up for the cable car.
The regular cable car is frequent but the queue time was again close to two hours, but the not so frequent crystal cable car had a shorter queue – something like half an hour. But it cost us fifty percent more. But the ride in the cable car is really nice. You get to see good views of not only the Ngong Ping plateau but also good view of the Po Lin monastery as well as Hong Kong’s large airport.
We headed to the airport from where we took an expensive ride to Shenzhen airport in a mini van. Despite the fact that the flight was scheduled at 11 PM, we had a lot of travelling to do before we reached the airport and that is where the trip via Shenzhen hurts the most, though it is the more economical choice as compared to directly flying to Hong Kong. For example, it is sad to know that we missed the famous Hong Kong firework show the evening we left all because of this travel!
Hong Kong is a tourist spot; you can see the streets teeming with hoards of tourists from various parts of the world. But in spite of this:
- We could not find one decent English-speaking cab driver or person when we needed the most; for example, no one could understand we were in a hurry to see the light show even when we showed the location on a map!
- There was very little crowd control no matter where we went – be it the amusement park or a cable car ride or the regular metro.
- Lack of tourist information booths in some of the most prominent spots really hurt! We can see there is a place to be visited and we have a map, but no one can tell us the timing of the show – that’s very bad.
- People seemed pestered at the slightest touch when we were in any crowded area.
But in a way Hong Kong is a good location for shopping, for veggies like me and does have a variety of entertainment to offer (albeit it being muddled and slightly unorganized). Maybe if we visit again we will be in a better position to judge our itinerary – may be!
Some pics to remember Hong Kong the way we saw it: