A Few Hours in Hong Kong
A tale of two 7-hour lay-overs...
En route from New Zealand to the Czech Republic, I had a 7-hour layover in Hong Kong...
With a valid passport, US citizens are allowed to stay in Hong Kong for up to 90 days without a visa, so I hurried through customs, grabbed a city map at a tourist information desk, changed $40 USD into about 300 Hong Kong dollars (click here for current conversion rate), and hopped on a fast train to Hong Kong's Central Station (cost: 100 HKD).
The trip is advertised as taking 23 minutes, and it makes two stops before reaching Hong Kong: one on Tsing Ye Island and one in Kowloon. The sun was setting over the open ocean, and the city was lit up, so I hurried out of the Hong Kong Central Station, around the General Post Office Buliding and hopped on a 7-minute ferry bound for Kowloon (cost: about 2 HKD).
Just to the right of the ferry terminal is the Kowloon Public Pier, so I scooted through the bus station area, and past the Clock Tower and found about a hundred people gathered to watch the sunset. There were several photographers there, many with Nikon F5 and Canon 1v bodies on stout tripods, as well as a few guys with medium format gear (and of course, a zillion tourists of all nationalities with point-and-shoots flashing away). I didn't have a tripod in my carry-on camera bag, so I balanced my F100 on handrails and ledges as I snapped away (note to self: carry the mini tripod from now on).
After the sky was black, I roamed around the tourist shopping area of Kowloon for an hour or so, then took the ferry back to Hong Kong Island and hopped back on the fast train to the airport and waited for my plane to depart for Munich.
I was in Hong Kong long enough to have to eat, and I wandered into a small restaurant that looked clean and nice. Most of the menu was in Chinese, but a few things were in English, and I ordered the "Vegetable Fried Rice". I think I paid about 30 HKD for my meal, and another 25 HKD for a Diet Coke (I'm sure I paid "tourist prices"). Anyway, when my meal came, I was surprised to find ot that hot dogs are considered vegetables in Hong Kong. It was actually pretty good, but not at all what I expected.
I hopped off my plane from Frankfurt, stood in line for 30 minutes to get through customs, changed money, bought a train ticket, and headed into Hong Kong.
This time, I was headed to the "Peak Tram" to get a higher visual perspective on Hong Kong and Kowloon. I decided to walk to the tram instead of catching a taxi, so I weaved my way among the towering buildings and across the lovley parks that dot downtown. It took about 15 minutes to reach the tram station thanks, in part, to bi-lingual signs and one helpful English family. The tram cost 30 HKD for a round-trip ticket. The ride is short and steep, and arrives at a tourist mecca high above the city. There were gift shops, restaurants, photo booths, fine art stores, and even a Hagen-Das ice cream shop.
Unfortunately, the weather was hot and overcast, so the views were less than spectular, but it was still pretty impressive. After looking over the city for 15 or 20 minutes, I wandered over and got some ice cream, and helped a small girl retrieve her balloon from a nearby tree that it had gotten tangled in a few feet above her and her father's reach.
Returning to the bottom of the tram, I walked back through the city to the train station, and took a train back to the airport to catch a place to Auckland.