Wandering around the streets on my first day, a realisation dawned upon me. Every sight, every smell, every sound was new, unfamiliar. It was an adventure. But yet, for the many citizens that have resided in Hong Kong their whole lives, would it not be just another day? Mundane, even boring?
For me, my day started in the wee hours of the morning on 21 December. Surprisingly, I wasn’t tired, though I knocked out once our plane took off. Or should I say… SCOOTed off? Hehehehehe…
We touched down at 5.35am and first thing we did was purchase Octopus cards. HK$150 each – $50 for a deposit that can be claimed at the end of our stay, and $100 in value added. A must-have when you visit Hong Kong, and you can get them at any 7-11 store, which is ridiculously convenient since they are EVERYWHERE.
Oh, right. We bought Airport Express tickets too. Originally, they cost $90 per person, but there was a package for families of four and we ended up paying $220 in total. Whoop discount!
At Kowloon Station, there’s a free shuttle service with buses from K1 to K5. Our hotel was Royal Plaza Hotel, so we hopped onto K5, which took us directly to our destination.
The city had already woken up by then, and the roads were beginning to buzz with activity. We were really crossing our fingers the hotel had a room available for us (we could only check in at 3pm and it was only 7am).
ALAS! There wasn’t any… 😦
If nothing better to do, we went on a quest for food. Royal Plaza Hotel stood alongside a relatively new mall called MOKO, but the stores were still closed. Too bad. We walked a little further, and we found a bridge linking MOKO to the streets. And we found this:
They serve good noodles for breakfast! I had a bowl with luncheon meat (didn’t snap a picture, sorry!). Their signature buns seem popular with passers-by. I would get one but the portions of noodles were way too large – our stomachs couldn’t handle anymore.
The waitresses speak in Cantonese and the menus are all in Chinese, so it’s best you come here only if you can understand either one.
We did some more exploring after breakfast but there wasn’t much to see with most of the shop shutters down. Fa Yuen Street is well-known for its street stalls so it’s quite a shame we couldn’t do any shopping. Not yet anyway. We headed back to the hotel and just… waited. For three hours.
But guess what? We got lucky. A family room was freed up by the hotel and we checked in four hours ahead of schedule. Yus. It was clean, had plenty of toiletries (made my mom a happy mom), free bottled water and a cool little ledge by the window where we can dump our bags. For $307 a night (we made a booking through agoda.com but the price may fluctuate), my standards are met.
The jetlag was getting to us so we kind of, just plopped onto the beds and slept till 3pm. XD A little more well-rested than before, we ventured out again and explored the Flower Market (which is really just a small corner on the street with several florists). Then, we stumbled upon this beautiful Yuen Po Bird Garden.
Fa Yuen Street was also coming alive, but we decided to avoid shopping and leave it for another day. It was getting late too, and we had a shuttle bus to catch. We headed back to the hotel and got four Royal Plaza shuttle boarding passes. You have to book at the counter in advance or you won’t get any seats! You can also get SIM cards with data plans from here.
The shuttle bus stops at Prince Edward MTR, Element in Jordan and The Sun Arcade in Tsim Sha Tsui (our stop!).
It took a lot of walking, map reading and persistence before we finally found the Promenade. Lady Luck was not shining on us today. I badly wanted to see the Avenue of Stars. But it was closed for renovations nooooooooo…
At least the skyline of Hong Kong was worth the trip. Wow… I’ve seen it in dramas and photographs, but nothing beats taking in the view with your own eyes.
By the way, if you’re coming here for the Symphony of Lights, don’t bother. I felt disappointed and slightly betrayed.Maybe it’s actually good, but the show was overshadowed by all the Christmas decorations on other buildings. Only three skyscrapers shooting green lasers were extremely obvious. I couldn’t see where the rest of the action was happening 90% of the time. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the effort – it’s difficult enough as it is to organise a lightshow of this scale.
After the show, we pushed through the crowds and made our way to the nearest MTR station. Goodness, why are the stations so huge? And yet, it was extremely packed. I wonder how residents deal with this every single day. It is quite draining. Once I got back to the hotel room and showered, I threw myself onto the bed and I was gone.
Welp, that was my first day in Hong Kong in a nutshell. A nice warm-up. What will happen tomorrow?