Part 2 – Hong Kong in good company

Unlike the 36 hours the first time, I went to Hong Kong (link to the post), 5 years later I had the opportunity to spend 5 days with the best company I could ask for, my son. The path was similar, we took a plane to Shenzhen, and a bus from the airport to Hong Kong. The bus stopped at the border, we needed to get out of the bus, crossed the border on foot, took a bus on the other side, and then we were free to continue our journey. 

We arrived in the early afternoon, our first stop was the hotel. It took me the same time to find the hotel as last time. I wasn’t in the same hotel and this one was in a set of 4 buildings all interconnected and with access to the elevators in a super busy area. 

We stayed in a room the size of a shoebox, it was really small, there was barely room for us in the room. For those who don’t know, Hong Kong has one of the most expensive square meters in the world. 

I didn’t go to Hong Kong just for fun, I needed to solve a bureaucratic issue, the document would take two days to be ready, so we would stay there three nights. After everything was organized to apply for my paper, it was necessary to wait, or rather, enjoy the city.

Bruce Lee statue

We went for a walk along the waterfront, we were in an area a little away from the most touristy part, we accidentally came across the Bruce Lee statue, which was removed from the walk of fame (just like the walk of fame in the United States, but with Chinese actors). It was a small square and with few people around, it was already dark, to my surprise there weren’t so many tourists and we got some good photos.

We got back to the hotel early, I try to go as many places as possible when I travel, but being accompanied by an 11-year-old boy, you have to understand that you can’t do everything your way. Believe it or not, having a grumpy preteen next to you, complaining at every step changes your experience completely. I believe that André is an excellent companion for his age, but sometimes hormones speak louder and it is better to give in than to have an unpleasant experience. 

It was time to head back to the hotel, I think we were still adapting to the weather (much warmer than Guiyang) and all the information around us. We bought something at the convenience store and took it to the room, in case hunger decides to appear during the night. The plan for the next day was to wake up and explore the city, as we had three days, the idea was that the next day was my day to choose where we would go.
We woke up early, had breakfast, walked to where we could take the ferry across to the other side of town. You could have taken the subway too, but it was on my list of things to do in Hong Kong. The human being can be impressed easily sometimes, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I knew it wasn’t one of those tourist boats and for the price, I started to doubt if I had made the right choice. Maybe because I expected the worst I was surprised at how comfortable and fast the transfer was, we liked it so much that, most of the time, we didn’t even think about taking the subway when we had to cross to that side of the city. 

on the ferry
guess who slept very little last night?
Andre and the view from the building

We went to the business side. I had seen on YouTube (yes, I surrendered, it is easier researching certain topics on YouTube) that there was a building you could go up and see the city view and it was free. I doubted we were in the right place, the building looked commercial and we didn’t see any tourists there. We decided to take a chance, it was clear that we didn’t belong in that place of ties and lots of staring towards us. We were in the right place, there was no one else, and we were able to take as many pictures as we wished for. 

I realized that we were close to one of the temples I had been to when I was in Hong Kong by myself, André had never been to a temple until that moment, I thought it was a good opportunity. We walked there, but I was wrong about my expectations, sometimes I forget that we have different interests.

On the way, I told André about my theory of getting lost and he agreed to get lost with me, we started to climb a mountain, which seemed to be the way to Victoria Peak, another tourist spot on my list. I was looking forward to the opportunity to walk up the mountain, we went up for about 40 minutes, there was a small square, where we stopped to rest and decide if we would continue climbing or if it was time to go back.

We decided to go back, or rather André’s stomach decided that we should go back to the hotel. Taxis in Hong Kong are absurdly expensive, we took a risk and opted for the adrenaline rush of walking to the subway station, waiting until arriving at the destination station, and walking to the hotel. We arrived on time.

The air conditioner in the room provided us with a cool temperature that we did not find on the streets, wi-fi available and working, free access to certain sites that in China are not so accessible, were more than enough for André to feel comfortable in that cubicle instead of exploring the city, once again the difference in how I saw the opportunity to travel was present. We agreed to rest for the afternoon, but go out again in the evening.

I hadn’t given up on Victoria Peak, I knew it was possible to go by bus, but to my frustration, after half an hour the only thing we saw was more people waiting at the bus stop. It was getting late, I decided we were going to take a cab, but where are the cabs when you need one? We must have wasted at least another thirty or forty minutes, we started getting tired of all the walk and I was really not wearing the right shoes for that, but we finally found one.

On the way up I told André to avoid looking out of the car in an attempt to feel surprised by the view as we reach the top (something I learned when I went to visit the Palace of Versailles in France). We were doing great until the final five minutes, we both looked and saw a magnificent Hong Kong. 

We arrived at the peak. The taxi dropped us off at the entrance of a mall. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I wouldn’t let myself be shaken so quickly, we entered the mall trying to find a way out. The mall had very few stores, I’m not sure if it was new or if even the merchants didn’t consider it an interesting place to have a store.

I wanted to watch the light show from Victoria Peak but, of course, I wasn’t the only one who had this idea. The observation area was very crowded, it was necessary to wait to take pictures and from the sites where it was possible to have the best view of the city André and I didn’t even consider trying. We found a good spot to watch the light show and enjoyed it.

Hong Kong from Victoria Peak
Hong Kong from Victoria Peak

It was time to go back, anyone who has been to Victoria Peak knows that there is a tram, the queue to get it was huge. André stood in line for a while, I went to Burger King which was in the mall and we had dinner while waiting for our turn to take the tram. We had time to eat, create expectations, complain about waiting, plan the next day, get tired of waiting, and finally, it was our turn. The descent was not very remarkable, perhaps because we waited too long or tiredness spoke louder. We returned to the hotel, after all, the next day would be the big day, the most anticipated one of the trip.

We woke up early, had breakfast, and took the subway, this time we were going to move away from the city center. I believe that Disneyland is the dream of many children, at least it was the dream of this child who writes to you.

inside the subway car on the way to Disneyland

Hong Kong’s subway system is 218km long and has 155 stations. There is a specific line for Disneyland Hong Kong, the car is decorated with different Disney characters and you feel there even before you arrive. We were early, which gave us enough time to buy the tickets, and in no hurry to observe all the details that the park offers even before the main gate. 

Disneyland Hong Kong
Jedi training

Map in hand, Iron Man, Star Wars, Jedi Training, it all seemed perfect. My phone rang and the news was not good, the document had not been accepted and I needed to go back to town before resubmitting for approval, so I would have to extend my stay in Hong Kong for at least two more nights.

You know when you find yourself in the place you always wanted to be and you can’t enjoy it anymore? That was the feeling I had while watching André was having his Jedi training. Luckily, while André wasn’t around I had enough time to get my head together, take pictures and react rationally. 

Star Wars – R2D2

I explained to him that we would have to leave the park at that moment, I believe that no one wants to receive such news, but his reaction surprised me. Before leaving I explained the situation to one of the employees, they stamped André’s wrist and mine with a stamp that is only possible to see under black light and said that we could go back.

We went downtown, solved what we needed, I rescheduled the flight and we went back to Disneyland. I’m not sure how long it took, when we got back it still took a while for us to enjoy it again, leave the worries about changing plans for later, but we managed to go to all the attractions we wanted and were open and take pictures with some characters and have fun. We arrived at the hotel exhausted, as we were supposed to feel. 

Disneyland Hong Kong

The next day we didn’t explore the city, or rather we explored shopping. We packed our bags and moved to another hotel, there was a convention taking place that weekend and we couldn’t find any available rooms in the hotels close to where we were. New hotel, new clothes for the overstay, I needed to study, and with the budget more than blown we ended up spending more time at the hotel and looking for different tour options. 

Before going to Hong Kong, André and I researched together for some options, we saw that every day, there was a ceremony that consisted of a cannon firing, I had not included such an attraction in our plans, but now it was possible.

The next day it was a series of unsuccessful attempts to find what to do. We went after the cannon, but we got lost and we didn’t even hear the noise, we went after VR or escape rooms to do it, but we didn’t find anything that was in English. To not say we didn’t find anything, there was a small but tasty restaurant next to the hotel. Little victories need to be celebrated.

The fact that I was spending more time in Hong Kong, having to complete my assignment for the course I was doing, bothered me, but seeing André quite comfortable in the hotel, watching movies or cartoons on his cell phone was a relief. 

ceremony

The next day we went after the cannon again, this time by another path. We spotted the so precious and old-fashioned object, at first I thought we were at the wrong place again, there were few people and I wasn’t so confident that there was such a ceremony or if there was any other cannon in the region. Soon, more people began to arrive and a little before the time scheduled for the start of the ceremony, it was possible to see two people in uniform entering the exclusive area for employees.

The ceremony took no more than 10 minutes, for those who have never seen a cannon fired, it is interesting, but looking to the side and seeing your son dazzled by what he was watching is priceless.

ceremony

It was our last day in town, we got lost a little more and ended up coming across a sports-themed restaurant. As I didn’t know when we would be back, after everything we’ve been through, it was time to treat ourselves.

sports-themed restaurant
food at sports-themed restaurant

The next day it was time to go back, document ready and in hand, train, border, Shenzhen, subway, airport, plane, and finally home.

Hong Kong is a special place, despite being extremely expensive. Of course, it is possible to find affordable and even free options, but food and accommodation are still expensive compared to China. I believe that Hong Kong is a good start for any foreigner coming from a European or American country before entering China because it still offers us the comfort of being able to speak English in many places and has some cultural aspects that we are used to or have seen in films. 

I had two completely different Hong Kong experiences and I’m sure if there was a third time I would do my best to visit different places, but one thing I’m sure of: it’s much better when you’re well accompanied.

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