Hongkong Trip – Beautiful 360 degree Skyline

Visiting Hongkong was in my list for so long, as long as year late 90s and early as Year 2011. We thought of going to Hongkong after our marriage, but couldn’t made it. Why Hongkong, I am not sure, may be because I saw Hongkong in movie”Gumarah” in 1993 or I read about Hongkong when it got independence in 1997.

Next time I thought of Hongkong when I read about opening of Disneyland in year 2005. Well, as I mentioned in my Disneyland # 3 post, we initially planned for April 2013, but we postponed for October, and later it came out as a good decision due to weather.

Well, we booked for Malaysian Airlines ticket for October 8th departure, why Malaysian, don’t you have any direct flight from Bangalore to Hongkong? It is, Cathay Pacific and Dragon air, but Malaysian was offering better deal then other airlines, though flying time was almost double, but we were happy to save some money. Tiger airways fair was cheapest, but journey was about 19 hours via Singapore, 9 hours are better.

So, after a 9 hour flight with a 2 hour stop over in Kulalampur, we reached Hongkong in the afternoon, one of the best part of the journey was that we flew in Airbus A380 from Kulalumpur to Hongkong, it’s a huge double decker plane, seating capacity was more then 450 and there was very little engine noise inside the cabin. Immigration was very fast, they were able to clear 450 passengers within 40-45 minutes.

Their is a big taxi stand outside of airport and Taxis are lined up same as other airports. We hired couple of Taxis for Disney, I asked driver how much time it will take for us to reach there, he stared at me and kept our luggage in the trunk. As we had 4 bags, luggage was popping out of the trunk, driver put down the lid and tied it with a rope – Pic.

I asked him again, “are you sure luggage is safe and will not fell down”, he stared me again much harder, I think I offended him, or he meant to say – No English -. I kept quite for next 20 minutes, he dropped us at Disney, I came out of the Car and started taking out the luggage, driver came to me and said loudly and with a little anger “Moneeeyyyy”, I think I should have paid him before even came out of the car, or, remembering Russel Peter’s comment – Indian and Chinese cannot do business together :)

Airport Taxi

Airport Taxi


So, I have already posted about Disney and Macau, now coming back to Hongkong. We reached back Hongkong on October 12th from Macau via Speed Ferry. Took a taxi from the terminal for our hotel Holiday Inn Express in Causeway Bay which is very close to the Time Square Mall and MTR Metro station.

Hotel is very nice and in the down-town, but rooms were just enough to accommodate a family. Hotel has couple of restaurants and also had complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi. We had Pizza at Pizza Express in Time Square for lunch, they have very good variety and delicious Pizza I must say that.

Amit was carrying a list of places in Hongkong as he did lot of research on must see places of Hongkong, as per his itinerary, we went to Mangkok Ladies Market – lets ladies do their shopping and if time permits, will go to Victoria Harbour to see Symphony of Lights (Laser Show).

He already researched on MTR trains as well route, good for me, so we took MTR for Mangkok Ladies Market. Buying the ticket for MTR is easy, self ticket kiosks if you have change, otherwise you can buy tickets from service counters. As we are smart Indians, we purchased tickets from self ticket kiosks. It took us around 15-20 minutes and changing of 2 trains to reach the market.

I got shocked seeing lot and lots of people on the street after coming out of the station, I was wondering is it because this is rush hour or Saturday or what? And then realized that we are in a Asia and that too a city of China. Well, ladies decided to go for shopping and promised to come back in 2 hours (only 2 hours?? Let’s see).

Me, Amit and kids planned to do windows shopping and roam around in Market. It was Saturday, so market was full of life, lots of crowd, bands on street. We checked few electronics items for pricing, but they were expensive. Food was on my mind while roaming around, saw one restaurant for only sea food, great thing about the restaurant was that it was open from 6:00 AM till 4:00 AM – 22 hours, I forget the restaurant name though.

I noticed Amit’s glowing face seeing the dishes in that restaurant. Kids wants to purchase one handicraft item on the street, we tried negotiating for the price with the lady, but we had communication problem, so no bargaining – or – Indian – Chinese can not do business together. Well, ladies came back in 2 hours – surprising, with hand full of bags, clothes for themselves, kids, gifts etc. So, we still had time to go to Victoria Harbour.

Ladies Market

Ladies Market

Handicraft Items

Handicraft Items

Music artists in the Market

Music artists in the Market

Victoria Harbour

We took MTR for some station and walked for about 30 minutes to reach Victoria Harbour, it was a very beautiful view of Hongkong Skyline and wonderful laser show running on buildings was on our mind. Show was supposed to start at 9:00 and we reached almost on time.

We grabbed a place to watch the show, started taking some pictures of the skyline which were not great due to the darkness and I realized that I forget to bring my Tripod which I carried just for this from India – time for wife being sarcastic. Well, we waited – waited – waited for about 20 minutes and there was no sign of laser show.

We asked few people about the show, but no good answer, and then somebody told us that it got over by 8:30. What a big disappointment, few more rounds of taunts, it was 9:30 and all of us were hungry. We tried looking for some restaurant, but none of them serving ea-table Vegeterian food. We reached back Time Square in about an hour and found one Chinese restaurant, he was about to close but allowed us if we order in next 10 minutes.

It was hard to find vegetarian dishes, then we discussed with Chef and suggested to use Tofu instead of Meat in few dishes, he agreed and I also told him now you can introduce a vegetarian section with these dishes. Food was served quickly and it was very good. It was a tiring day, and all were ready to sleep, but what is the plan for Sunday. Well, it was “Ocean Park” Amusement Park in the list for Sunday. We planned to start early as it was a Sunday and that too during a long weekend for Hongkong.

At Victoria Harbour. Beautiful Skyline

At Victoria Harbour. Beautiful Skyline

We started about 9:00 in the morning, took MTR from Time Square to Admirality station and reached their in 15-20 minutes. Their is City bus service from Admirality Station to Ocean Park in every 10 minutes, it was a huge rush, it took us around 30 minutes to board the bus.

We all were very exciting taking ride in a double decker bus, for kids it was first time and for adults it was after a very long time, last time we took a ride in double decker bus was in Delhi and don’t remember when. We reached Ocean Park around 10:00 which was a reasonable time to start in an amusement park and we had about 12 hours to stay in the park as it was suppose to close at 10:30.

A little background on Ocean Park – It is one of the biggest amusement, marine mammal, animal theme park in Asia. Park is divided in 2 parts – Summit and Waterfront. Entrance to park is on Waterfront where you can see Asian Animals, Sea Animals and Summit is for all rides and shows including 4 roller coasters, Dolphin show, Sky drop etc. As Summit is on another mountain, you can take a cable car or internal train.

Aqua City

Well, first we visited Aqua City, see / pictured lots of sea animals, but kids were more interested in amusement park. So, instead of spending lot of time in Waterfront, we straight away went to Cable Car station to go to Summit. It was a wonderful view of Ocean from the Cable Car, as the distance to Summit was about a KM, Cable car took about 15 minutes to reach their.

After reaching Summit, first sight was the biggest roller coaster of Summit was “Hair Raiser”, there was a 120 minute waiting for it, but we decided to take it. Girls were too short to ride in Hair Raiser, so Palkein got an excuse to avoid “Hair Raiser” and took girls for other activities. Ride was amazing but was too short, wanted to take one more time but waiting time was too long.

Now, next ride was – wait – am I going to write about all the rides, waiting, experience, no – let me give a summary mentioning we enjoyed all rides with lots of waiting time. So, Summit is divided in 5 parts – Marine World, Polar Adventure, Adventure Land, Thrill Mountain and RainForest. We visited Marine World for Dolphin Show – this is as good as Dolphon show in Sea World – USA, “The Abyss” – Sky drop – drop from about 150 feet – 20 floors, Crazy Galleon – like Columbus, Flying Swing and skipped few.

Visited Adventure Land and took rides in “Mine Train” roller coaster, “Space Wheel” – kids took rides 3 times in this, Raging River – slow river ride but a 50 feet drop at the end. Visited Thrill Mountain, took “Hair Raiser” roller coaster ride and skipped rest of them. Visited Rainforest and took “The Rapids” ride, bumpy boat ride and we all get wet due to water splashes during the ride, skipped Polar Adventure section.

Summit has 2-3 good restaurants, we had lunch in Bay view restaurant at Summit, it was serving buffet and had some Vegeterian / Indian options as well. One day that too on a holiday does not seems to be enough to cover each and everything in Ocean Park, but we were still managed to take majority of the thrilling rides and few shows.

We took Ocean Express from Summit to Waterfront and then we left the park on it’s closing, we took the same route back, double decker city bus for Admirality and then MTR for Time Square. This was again a very very tiring day, all were hungry but no restaurant was open around 11:30, we managed to find one McD and a grocery shop, so managed dinner with fruits, breads and Burger.

Fountain in Ocean Park

Fountain in Ocean Park

Aqua Park

Aqua Park

Dolphin Show

Dolphin Show

Ocean Park Characters

Ocean Park Characters

Girls having fun

Girls having fun

Fountain in Ocean Park

Fountain in Ocean Park

Cable Car

Cable Car

Ocean View from Cable Car

Ocean View from Cable Car

Victoria Peak

Monday – planned to visit Victoria Peak – (everything is Victoria – what other name you can find in an English Colony), and some part of Hongkong. A little information about Victoria Peak – It’s a highest mountain in Hongkong on western side and also called as Mount Austin. It’s main attraction is the 360 view of Hongkong city and its harbours. It has a Sky Terrace from where you can watch the Hongkong City, lots of restaurants, shopping arena and people can do a nature walk around the peak.

We again started early, thought will cover Victoria Peak in 3-4 hours and then will visit some other place. We took MTR for Central Station and from their it was a long walk to the Peak Tram Station. Again it was a huge rush due to holiday and it took us almost 90 minutes to board the Tram for Peak. Tram ride was for about 15 minutes and one of the amazing part is the high elevation – about 27 degree as I read.

After reaching their, we wanted to go straight to the Sky Terrace, but one group was lost in the shopping arena and came back in more then an hour, with few gift items, ladies sandles, and Waxed Hands of Kids from Madame Tussade shop of Wax. To reach Sky Terrace you need to take 5-6 level of escalators, once you reach on the top, you get an audio-video device which gives information about all the main buildings of Hongkong City and harbour.

I think I need not to tell that view was amazing as you can see in the pictures, the only thing we were going to miss was night view. Well, we spent about an hour on the terrace, clicking few pictures and listening to the audio about the buildings. As always, I mention about food, their were few restaurants in the Sky Terrace building, but vegetarian food again was an issue, so we found 1 Asian restaurant at the Tram Station level and had a very nice Chinese/Hongkong food.

View from Victoria Peak

View from Victoria Peak

Tram Trek

Tram Trek

It was about 5:00 PM we were leaving from Victoria Peak and we were sure we can not go to any other place in Hongkong and Amit and his family had a plan to visit one of their relatives, for that they have to first go to hotel, pick up some gift, change clothes and reach by 7:30 PM changing 3 trains to reach their relative – poor guy.

So, we decided that, we will go to Victoria Harbour and Amit will go to their relatives. We parted away first time in last 8 days- not a great feeling :( :)and I was little nervous as I have to find the way for Victoria Harbour all by my self. Well, I pretend to being brave and applying my street-map skills, we decided to take train from Central station to “Tsim Sha Tsui Station” and then take Star Ferry to Victoria Harbour as Train would have taken longer time.

All went by plan, though we had to walk long, Ferry ride was very short – just 10 minute ride from one port to another port, ticketing was automated and was very cheap. While going to Victoria Harbour, we found Subway restaurant (food again) and I could see glow on everybody’s face (Vegetarian food!!!) as we were complaining about Hongkong not having any Subway type restaurant.

We packed few sandwiches and went straight to the viewing area in the hope of Laser show. Again, weather was excellent and so the view and again I forgot to bring the Tripod. Well, we were lucky, laser show started at 8:30 PM and lasted for 15 minutes. It was nice seeing lasers coming from many buildings and making some figures over the buildings on both the sides with nice music and commentary in English.

How was the overall experience – it was OK kind off, I think we were expecting a lot, anyway, we were satisfied that we did not missed it and mentioned to Amit that they did not missed much. We took the same route back to hotel, Ferry from Victoria Harbour to Tsim Sha Tsui Station to Central Station to Times Square.

We reached back hotel around 11:30 and Amit also reached back hotel around the same time. It was about 12:00 and birthday time for Amit’s daughter Pehel – kids did a little prank on Pehel that everybody forget her birthday, but she had a surprise with a cake which we arranged in the morning.

Hongkong Skyline

Hongkong Skyline

Hongkong Skyline

Hongkong Skyline

One thing I forgot to mention about the cars in Hongkong, majority of the cars are German like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Porche, Ferrri, Lambourghini, very few Toyota and hardly Honda. You can see Ferrari in very different colors like Pink, black, white, blue other then red and yellow. Their was one street having only German Car showrooms.

Vacation was coming to end, we had a 4:00 PM flight on Tuesday. We had some time in the morning, so we went to nearby vegetable and food market, spent some time watching few different kind of vegetable and fruits and live sea animals.

Market was very clean. As we roam around the market, we noticed lots of pharmacy shops, selling herbs and some herbal medicines, wanted to get some information about those, but again had language problem. Hongkong also has immigration while you leave country.

We reached early at the airport so we had enough time at the airport for duty free shopping and my favourite topic – food – it was again Pizza Express and here I broke my Non-Vegetarian Fast. Return flight was fine with layover of 2 hours in Kulalumpur, reached Bangalore past midnight.

Overall trip was excellent, Hongkong is not cheap in any thing, kids had lots of fun and learning about international travel, different modes of transport, and me and Amit were happy with 8 bottles of duty free grocery :)

 

Vegetable Market

Vegetable Market

Live Sea Food

Live Sea Food

Vegetable Market

Vegetable Market

Jacky Chen on the road

Jacky Chen on the road

7 Comments

  • Ashok Sharma says:

    very good post,beautiful details,nice photos.well done my dear,variety of experience in such small period of time.

  • Thanks a lot Ashok for liking the post and kind words. Time is always short whenever you go on vacation, but we were glad that we were able to visit majority of the places we planned for this trip.

  • Anupam Chakraborty says:

    Hi Upanshu

    Nice detailed post.

    What are the options for vegetarians? Not even Veg. chowmein!!! Then surely yes, Indian and Chinese cant do business together.

    If not English, what is the language in general with foreign tourist?

    Thanks

    Anupam

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Pretty comprehensive log Upanshu. You and your friends seem to have a lot of fun, all through.

    Never been to HK except during layovers at the airport and that makes me remember that the waiting lounges can be a bit noisy, just like Chinese also love to talk a lot. I also noticed a lot of VWs and other German makes and very little Toyotas and Hondas. That could be to do with the historical event where Japan was not very nice on China.

  • Thanks Anupam and Nandan for liking the post.

    Their are options for Vegetarians and depends on location to location, you also need to negotiate as well. Pizza and Subway are their and I believe some Indian restaurants must be available. As I mentioned in my Disney post, they has Indian Veg Thali and in Ocean Park they had Veg Curry and Rice for Vegetarians.

    For language, I found main issue with street vendors and taxi drivers, sign language and object based language works, other places it was fine.

    I am not sure about China vs. Japan as you could see lots of Toyota and Motor Bikes were also Honda / Kawasaki etc.

  • Great Write up Upanshu.. Hongkong has been on my wishlist since long time

  • Thanks Shrinidhi for liking the post. Do plan to visit during October – March, best season, plan on Macau as well whenever you go there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.