Hong Kong - June 2018
As soon as school was out, literally that afternoon, the kids and I headed off to Bali via Hong Kong. We'll only be stationed in Japan for two years, so we hope to see as much of Asia as possible. Mark would be joining us later in Bali so much to my trepidation, we were on our own! (I used my Fuji XT20 and my iPhone for all these images.) Our two-day itinerary: Evening arrival in HK, stay in Royal Plaza Hotel / Day 1: HK Disney / Day 2: NGong Ping 360 Cable Cars, Big Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, explore the Goldfish market and dinner at the harbour with City Lightshow! / Day 3: morning flight to Bali!
We arrived in the evening and found our way to Royal Plaza Hotel in Hong Kong Center. Royal Plaza is considered 5 star but like many hotels in Asia we've stayed at, was dated and would probably be a 3 star in the states. But it was one of the few that had a family room for 4 people, and it was comfortable, space-podish, (1990's modern), and had a varied breakfast buffet, plus it was right next to the mall. The next morning we took a shuttle to HK Disney, which is MUCH smaller and less crowded than DisneyWorld. We were in an out in about 6 hours - riding most of the rides and seeing all the sights. Everything was wide-open and relaxed, the longest wait for a ride was 15 minutes! It was beautifully landscaped and maintained - an easy and relaxing day! The garden of illusions was a big hit too.
HK Disney (and the international airport) is on Lantau island, about 40 minutes by taxi from Hong Kong centre across the harbour. I found the Chinese taxi drivers fair and honest, but not nearly as friendly as the drivers in Taiwan. We found another taxi the next morning to take us back to Lantau Island to the NGong Ping 360 Cable Cars. Always a frightening experience for me, but thrilling for the kids! The boys are great travellers, but too many buildings and museums and the grumps come out. So we try to mix culture with fun as much as possible.
The Big Buddha, or Tian Tan, is made of bronze and one of the largest seated statues in the world! It seemed to be a popular tourist destination and religious site. The weather and view from the top was gorgeous, and we took the time to wander through the Po Lin Monastery at the base of the Buddha.
Lantau took the morning. Once back near our hotel, we explored the streets of Hong Kong proper. Though we stayed near the Ladies Market and the Flower Market, we only had time for the Goldfish Market, a street dedicated to all things fish-pet! Hong Kong markets are crowded and bewilderingly hard to keep track of small children. Thank goodness Reis is old enough to hang onto Knox while I indulge my photo-fetish! Certain food smells, to us westerners, were a bit strange and off-putting and I couldn't quite figure out what it was. We smelled the same scent in the Taiwan night markets. Like any big city, buildings were dated and most needed a good power washing - shops are tucked into the bottom levels and people have no problem crowding in! The streets generally were clean, with many foods, shops and sites labelled in English. I felt safe, and other than a few arm-pinches for me and Knox (blondes are a good-luck omen to the elderly, I think) we were just part of the crowd.
After our market adventure, we grabbed a taxi to the harbour for our nighttime bay view with dinner at Aqua Roma! I found it by literally typing in "restaurants with best view in Hong Kong" into Google search that afternoon, and made a reservation. It definitely lived up to it's reviews and I don't know which was more exciting to the boys - the nightly laser light show or the huge dessert platter. The kids had fun finding the buildings on the HK dollar bills.
The next morning we took a few more shots and grabbed the shuttle back to the airport. It was a packed two days and I felt like we got a great feel for Hong Kong. One regret - we didn't feel like searching out any local Chinese food, other than eating Asian fusion. I guess I was a bit intimidated to venture out myself with the boys and try to find something. It's such a great travel hub that I'm sure we'll be back again. For now, on to Bali!