Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 1 in Hong Kong

Typical Hong Kong street scene: note the monk on his cell phone

We flew out of Singapore early in the morning on October 1st (meaning we had to wake up at 5:30, too early as we were up until 1 am the night before). Beyond a bad experience at the Jetstar check-in counter, the flight was uneventful and we cleared customs by 1 pm.

Unfortunately our friend's flight (he was flying Cathay Pacific) was delayed 3.5 hours. We were supposed to meet at the airport, but once we figured the delay out (took about an hour), little R was getting pretty tired, so we decided to head for the hotel on our own. Hong Kong has an express train which runs from the airport to Central station on Hong Kong Island (where our hotel was), so we took that, and then a taxi as we weren't sure exactly how to get to the hotel (our friend was the one with the directions).

We stayed at the Lanson Place Hotel, which our friend selected (B and I stay in budget hotels unprompted). It was quite nice and had a lot of amenities, like a kitchenette, a nice gym, and in-room cocktail delivery service. The kitchenette seemed like a good idea, but actually wasn't since you can get fresh, delicious food any time of day or night for like $4. Things I liked about the hotel: good views; that all the taxi drivers knew where it was; the location; really effective air conditioning. Things I didn't like: internet access was pretty expensive (it should be free!); somewhat snooty staff; rather unappealing public areas. Overall it was fine if not fantastic: since I don't really care about hotels it wasn't a concern for me.

Our friend eventually made it to the hotel, and after little R and I took a nap, the four of us ventured out into the city. We ate the first of many delicious meals at a little hole-in-the-wall noodle place full of locals, and then walked a couple hours to the Peak Tram station, marveling at the immense crowds and sheer urban density of it all. Little R marveled too: it was really cute to watch her staring at all the tall buildings in wonder.

Then we took the Peak tram. It's an incredible experience and definitely a must-do. The tram was built in 1888 and goes up a 27 degree hill, creaking along on the original tracks. The views are spectacular. Once we reached the top, we found a place to watch the National Day fireworks (Oct. 1st is the Chinese Fourth of July). They were absolutely amazing, the best I have ever seen (which is appropriate as fireworks were invented by the Chinese), and watching them with the Hong Kong skyline in the background was very special.

We left before the show was quite done, as it was really crowded up there and standing in line for hours to return home did not seem appealing with a baby. But then we realized that there was a walking trail down to the city, so we took that! It was almost empty (Chinese people hate all forms of exercise), and wound through the subtropical jungle, down steep hills with great views all the way. It was so much fun! Then we took a taxi back to the hotel.

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