Flying from Narita airport in Japan, Hong Kong is a 4-5 hour flight, plus additional time getting to their airport, which added about another 2-3 hours from my residence.
I packed my things the night before and when it came time to head out, I hopped a taxi to a nearby hotel that was part of the Tokyo Disney Resort group. From there I'd jump aboard a bus to the airport, a peaceful jump onto the freeway that winds itself through small towns and rice fields. Arriving at the airport, the efficiency and businesslike manner of the Japanese is evident in rapidly cleared lines and a clean, lovely airport that has always felt surprisingly quiet and spacious in my visits. This would set a very stark tone against the congestion and visual chaos of Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated metropolitan areas in the entire globe. It's an entirely different world, even from it's neighbours. Such a visually lush city, there's no way I could even possibly come close to capturing every photo opportunity. I long to revisit the city to discover what new hidden gems, what chaos, what beauty I'll discover this time around. Here's a collection of sights from my first day of my first trip to this gorgeous little world.
My trip to Hong Kong was as much a matter of practicality as it was providence. Part of my working agreement with the company was that I get so many days of vacation per year, every year, and when that time came to renew in 2013 I hadn't really contemplated deeply where on earth I should go.
One of the office translators, Akemi-san, suggested I try Hong Kong. Not only was the food exceptionally good and quite cheap compared to Japan, but our company had offices there and could arrange for me to enter Hong Kong Disneyland for free. It's not too often a girl gets offered a free entry to one of the Happiest Places on Earth, so why the hell not?
After working in a Disney park for over a year by this point, I certainly didn't want to pay to get in...
Due to the nature of my employment inside of the park, I wasn't considered an actual employee of Disney, which meant that we got none of the perks our Disney-employed-peers got, such as free entry after hours or employee parking. I found out about the employee parking the hard way, after riding my bike to work and finding a note affixed to my handle bars when I went to retrieve my bike later on, and a very uncomfortable security attendant trying to explain the situation to me despite the language barrier...but I digress.
Free entry into Hong Kong Disneyland and some seriously amazing food in Asia's World City?
Sign me up!
One of the first things you need to be aware of when traveling to Hong Kong is that the taxis operate on different pay scales. If I remember correctly, these brightly coloured cabs are the more affordable option, while the stylish black taxis will run at a higher rate from the very beginning.
TV screen in the back of the headrest inside the taxi cab as we depart for Mongkok. I opted to stay in the Harbour Hotel there, within walking distance of the Ladies' Market. Given the choice between the more ritzy Hong Kong island side of things or this, I preferred the more authentic-feeling option.
I left a review on Trip Advisor, which was;
Positive: the bed was bigger and a lot cozier than I had been expecting. Location is awesome, for my preferences, anyway. Close to a station, a short walk to the Ladies' Market, lots of restaurants nearby, interesting local culture and vibe, easy access to transportation and easy to get to from the airport in a taxi...
Neutral: the view from my room was pretty ghetto..not ideal, but for me interesting. I think I heard a guy getting attacked by a dog late my first night...when I looked out my window I saw a horde of people hanging around the patio of the apartments across from me. Laundry was hanging out and the buildings were stained and moldy looking...
Negative: not a "classy" area...could get loud at times... easy to get lost..."
The view from my room...
It's definitely got character, right?
Even though my review was only 3/5, I'd be happy to stay in the hotel again. At $40-50 per night, it wasn't terribly expensive but still attempted to maintain an appearance of class. Like I said in the review, my room was primarily a base to store my belongings, catch a nap and a shower before heading back out into the fray. It was conveniently located within walking distance of a metro station so getting around Hong Kong was easy and convenient.
Vending machine in the hotel lobby.
View from infant of the hotel. From here I ventured out into the Ladie's Market, taking in the sights and sounds of the busy scene.
Durian! $18HK is about $2US.
I stopped for some crispy chicken and to catch my breath before exploring the Fish Market that evening. Check back tomorrow for more photos!