Thursday, 30 April 2015

Caroline vs. Hong Kong (Arrival)

Waiting at our gate at Narita Airport

Leaving rainy Tokyo!

Hong Kong Island skyline from the ferry to Kowloon

Sunset in Kowloon

Back in February Clem and I took a vacation.  UTokyo (and most Japanese schools) have a major break in February and March, as opposed to the conventional May/June - August summer break most North American schools get, so we took the opportunity to leave Japan for a couple weeks.  Our first stop was Hong Kong; Clem had been once before, but this was my first time.  I was excited to see someplace new, and to hang out with some university friends I hadn't seen in a while.

We left grey, rainy Tokyo early in the morning, and were in sunny, humid Hong Kong by early afternoon.  Once through customs we stopped at an airport information centre to change our Japanese Yen to Hong Kong Dollars, and get sim cards and train tickets into town.  The sim cards ended up being great value: a five day connection with data capability for only $80 HKD each (roughly $12.50 CAD).  I wish it were this easy to get sim cards everywhere else in the world!  Getting to Hong Kong's Central Station was also really easy, as the airport is directly connected to the city with the Airport Express train, which is part of the MTR, and not that expensive: only$100 HKD (roughly $15.50 CAD) for a round trip ticket.

Once at Central we picked up Octopus Cards (Hong Kong's transit pass) and headed down to the ferry terminal to get across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon, where we were staying.  The ferry ride was quick, and offered a great view of the famous Hong Kong skyline.  It's also part of the Hong Kong transit system, so it is very cheap to use.  Once arriving at the Kowloon ferry terminal, our hostel was only about a 7 minute walk, including time spent dodging the people out in droves to enjoy the weather and take part in pre-Chinese New Year activities (read: shopping).

We stayed at one of many small hostels in Mirador Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui, which, to be frank, I did not love.  I was expecting a small place since Hong Kong is the most densely populated city in the world, and even though it was decently clean we still got what we paid for, i.e. not a lot.  I've stayed in some pretty crazy places around the world so I have a pretty high threshold for what I'm able to deal with, but I was just not happy at this place.  The location of the hostel was great and the owner was a lovely woman, but next time I'm in Hong Kong I might splurge a little more, and maaaaaaybe I might get a room with a window wand walls thicker than paper.

After checking in and doing quick outfit change, we escaped from Mirador Mansion and went to a nearby mall for a much-needed snack and cup of coffee.  Once our bellies were satisfied, we left the mall and walked along the Avenue of Stars, checking out some of the statues on the way.  Unfortunately there were so many other tourists milling about that I wasn't able to get any photos of them - so I just snapped the skyline instead.

Once the sun was setting we headed back up into TST and met our friend Vanessa for dinner.  We ate at Chicken HOF & Soju Korean (also known as Lee's Fried Chicken), which was just one in a line of Korean restaurants along Kimberley Road.  We ordered way too much (delicious) food, drank a giant pitcher of beer, and caught up on our lives.  After dinner we went right back to the hostel and straight to bed, after a long day.

xx, C.

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