Day Twenty-four May 5th 2011 The split: Hong Kong or London!
It's all beginning to fall apart! Today we split... Two of our tour group were not with us. They were on their way home to the UK. With a very long flight ahead of them they left Sydney, at 1300, for the London flight via Singapore.
Charlie and I along with the rest of our travel group had an early start for the 1145 flight to Hong Kong. The check in went smoothly and, apart from a slight but quickly resolved missing bag problem for one of our group, all went well.
Good for us but not so good for the airline, the flight was half empty so we could move around and take more space. It was still a long eight hours 40 minutes to Hong Kong, and the meals weren't anything special. Landed safely at 1745. A long walk to the immigration at,
what was then, HK's new airport, a long wait in a long queue there, but finally we got through and picked up our luggage, met Shuman the local guide for our last stop on the holiday.
A little under an hour saw us checking in at the Harbour Grand Hong Kong Hotel, at that time a new property to the north east of Hong Kong Island. It would be our home for three nights. Because of its height it has fabulous views west over Causeway Bay; with Hong Kong island to the left (south) and Tsim Sha Tsui (the southern tip of Kowloon) to the right (north). First impressions of the hotel were great with the plush foyer and friendly staff. Check in was efficient.
Our hotel room was on the 37th floor and was neat and small, but well furnished, comfortable, spotlessly clean and modern. Mineral water was provided. We had fabulous sunset views as mentioned above. The bathroom was lovely with full height glass window (and privacy blind) to the bedroom.
We did not eat dinner in the hotel so cannot comment on the restaurant food as we wanted to explore the area and there are a number of restaurants nearby on the main street to the left of the hotel. If really stuck for something familiar to eat there are a couple of Starbucks, Burger King and McDonalds around the corner too. We ate breakfast each morning at the Harbour Cafe in the hotel and this was very good....
The hotel is just over 5 minutes walk left to Fortress Hill MTR (subway) station (blue line) and the main street (Electric Road) where trams and buses are plentiful; of course a taxi may be hailed easily from the lobby. We found the MTR easy to use and handy for getting back to central Hong Kong (4-5 stops).
The hotel is located on Oil Street, named presumably after the garage shops there which service cars, bikes and machinery. Some people may not like the idea of a 5 star hotel being next to these but, to be honest, we loved it, found it quite quirky and found it fascinating to watch the mechanics at work night and day. It felt very authentic and real to us and not contrived and gentrified. We also liked that the hotel was a bit away from the hustle and bustle of Central.
Hong Kong is a fascinating place to experience. Everyone turning a buck at every corner. Full of hustle and bustle but we felt very safe. There’s so much to see and do but I’ve tried to condense it down to My Favourite 8 Things to Do in Hong Kong
Road km: 13 Air km: 7371
Day Twenty-five May 6th 2011 Hong Kong Tour!
Another good breakfast and we were off on the city tour with Shuman. We weren't long out of the hotel when there was a minor contretemps with a local truck. Barely a scratch, in fact only one wing mirror (from our bus) had become detached, but it looked like a Major Incident was brewing. The two drivers began bawling at each other, a traffic cop appeared, and then another.... After about ten minutes stopped in the middle of the four lane highway during HK rush hour, it was all over and off we went. An entertaining interlude and a good insight into Hong Kong.
First stop was Aberdeen for a sampan ride around the harbour. This was great fun and just how I had imagined it with houseboats, fishing boats and luxury yachts side by side. This was short but fun, the Cantonese speaking pilots not delivering much of a commentary!
Next to the Jewellery Factory for a quick talk, a shop and a drink. Onwards to Stanley and its famous market, lots of stalls selling lots of stuff. With a little less than an hour there, only enough time to look around and buy a few things.
The coastal scenery was great, some of the beaches looked very attractive, but no time to linger because we needed to get to the Peak. This world-famous vantage point, Sky Terrace 428 (named because it's 428 metres above sea level), high above Hong Kong, has terrific views across the city and harbour. Earlier on it had been shrouded in mist, but when we arrived it was much better, albeit still somewhat hazy as you can see from the photo below.
After 45 minutes or so here, we descended on the Peak Tram, the preferred mode of travel for over a hundred years. Down the incredibly steep track, back to Central.
After a short wait for our coach, we were driving back to the hotel for a free afternoon. A very good little tour. With some ideas and maps, we set fourth to explore this exciting city on our own....A total joy. Every alleyway has something going on. We stopped our meandering several times and just soaked it all in….sights, smells and sounds.
Road km 48
Day Twenty-six May 7th 2011 Hong Kong free, or a day at the races
Full free day for all! Eight lucky punters in our group had a day at the races, an excellent tour to the ShaTin race track, VIP area, lunch, drinks, a flutter or two! Horse racing is the only legal gambling in Hong Kong, and the atmosphere at the races reaches fever pitch.
Charlie and I decided to go shopping in Harbour City. I needed a pair of trainers after trekking around Australia for a month. Wow what choice!!! About 15 pairs later I settled on a great pair and left the Mall happy.
Day Twenty-seven May 8th 2011 Home!
The mother of all early starts today... We were shaken out of slumber at 0345, pulled on some clothes and, bleary-eyed, boarded our bus for the airport. The long journey home was beginning.
Check-in at Qantas, then the oh-so-long 13 hour flight back to London and our 1 hr 25 minute connecting flight to Dublin. But with meals, snacks and movies, plus some sleep to catch up on, it wasn't really too bad.
Landed Heathrow 1340, tired but happy after seeing the Very Best of Australia (with Singapore and Hong Kong thrown in). I checked if we could get an earlier flight to Dublin....and as luck would have it we were put on standby for the very next flight.....and got back home safe and sound. All was left was to unpack all that dirty laundry. Oh well......
We really enjoyed this holiday and took home many happy memories. There were long days and short days, hot and dry days, cooler and wet days. All the cities/ towns and their hotels were completely different but so comfortable and most were very pleasing to most, most of the time! We had excellent coach captains, guides, and very friendly and helpful local folk.
I would do it all again in a heartbeat!!
Road: 42 Air km 9648
Bucket List Items Ticked Off in the above Blog post
Number 57 - Continents - Asia
Number 58 (3) - Countries - Australia
Number 59 (10) - Hotels - Harbour Grand Hong Kong, China
Number 60 (8) - Cities - Hong Kong, China
Number 80 (3) - Tall Buildings/ Vantage Points - Sky Terrace 428, Hong Kong
Related Blog Posts
Blog 4 - London/ Singapore
Blog 5 - Perth, Australia
Blog 6 - Uluru, Australia
Blog 7 - Alice Springs, Australia
Blog 8 - Adelaide, Australia
Blog 9 - Melbourne, Australia
Blog 10 - Cairns, Australia
Blog 11 - Sydney, Australia
So have you been to Hong Kong? What do you remember most about it?
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My name is Mary and this is my bucket list blog ...having survived a near-death experience. I hope it encourages you to "live your best life". See how I'm completing my own bucket list items. And let me know how you're getting on with yours!