There was an eleven hour layover during my travel back to Delhi from San Francisco. ( I was in San Francisco for the Google Fall Launch. ) The layover was in Hong Kong. Indians can apply for a Visa online – carry a printout. I did that before I left from Delhi for SF. Applying for a tourist Visa for a 14-day single entry is free. Google had arranged a hotel stay for me for the day, so I would have needed the Visa anyway. I was to go to the Marriott at SkyCity, which is about 5-7 minutes by shuttle bus ( bus frequency is every 20 minutes or so ).
I was so confused whether I should check out the city or not. I was tired after the long flight from SF but I had slept on the flight. I wanted to go, even if I had only a couple of hours in the city. After a shower and breakfast, it was already 1000 hours and to catch the 1700 hours flight, I needed to be back at the hotel by 1400 hours. Luckily HK has a superb Airport Shuttle that took me straight to Hong Kong Central. It cost 115 Honk Kong Dollars ( for a return ticket ). At all the tourist touch-points, everyone spoke English, so language was not a problem at all. All the signboards I saw were also in English.
It was hot and humid and I forgot to carry a bottle of drinking water with me. There is NO public drinking water in Hong Kong as I learned to my dismay. Eventually, I figures there was a Four Seasons hotel on the ground floor of the mall I was in and I walked into one of their restaurants and asked for water, which they, luckily, did not charge me for. Phew.
My knee has also been busted for a few months now and walking up and down all those hills in San Francisco hadn’t helped, so I wasn’t really focused on walking around too much anyway.
The train station has various exits one can take to go visit different parts of the city. The heat really got to me and I wasn’t sure if I’d make it back in time, so I stuck around close to the mall ( which is what the train station opens up in to ). I walked till Victoria Harbour, took some photos, walked back, looked for drinking water, found I could get access to the 55th floor of the financial building for free ( except I had to give them my passport to scan and they mentioned they would be maintaining a copy of my information ). Great views though – if you want to do some photography – glass windows with tons of reflections, so be prepared. I don’t know if tripods are allowed.
I had checked-in my suitcase in SF and requested access directly at Delhi – I didn’t want to get into more opening and closing and security for the suitcase. As it is I was worried that although SF airport security had not found anything, HK ( i.e. Chinese ) airport security might. It was my first time in HK and I would love to travel more to China, so didn’t want to give any chance to kick off travel on the wrong foot.
All photos on my phone. #TeamPixel! Pixel 1.
I got back to the hotel on time. Cleared security at the airport in record time and had a couple of hours for duty-free shopping, where I picked up a couple of bottles of alcohol and a bottle of perfume ( more on these later ). And I even tried on a Shangahi Tang dress. Weird for me to associate a “Made In China’ brand with luxury or even “premium”. The MRP of the dress was INR 41,000.
An hour remaining, I couldn’t bear the thought of having to leave the spectacular Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounges at Hong Kong airport! I ate all I could, drank some beer and got on my flight back to Delhi.
Obviously, I hope to go back to HK some day – to partake of all the street food I’ve heard so much about. And get on the trams uphill and go to different parts of HK, away from all the steel, glass and concrete. And hopefully, lots more photographs to add to what will one day be a well-documented #EyesForChina category on my blog!
For more travel features, see the EyesForDestinations category on this blog.