First impressions of Hong Kong


Hong Kong is a very easy country to get into. On the plane, we filled out an arrival card. In other countries, there is usually a customs form as well. We went through a very quick line where they gave us a small paper visa to keep inside our passports. They didn’t take our pictures or scan our fingerprints. Then we picked up our bags from baggage claim and headed out. Very quick and painless process.

There are several airport shuttles to specific hotels and an airport express train that you can take. Because we would also have to pay for Clarissa, it was slightly cheaper to take a taxi directly to our hotel instead of taking the shuttle to several different hotels. So we did something we never do on vacation and took a taxi.

Our taxi driver was excellent. He was an older guy but spoke decent English. We would pass random things and he would give us the history or tell us about the culture. For example, he was telling us that it is normal for an apartment building in Hong Kong to be anywhere from 50 – 100 stories tall (in Seoul normal is 25). He also showed us the bridge you can take to go to Mainland China.

When we got to the hotel, Clarissa said, “This place is beautiful. There is so much to discover! I love it here. Let’s move.” And I am not exaggerating…

We dropped off our bags and because it was already almost 8 PM, decided to take a taxi to Times Square Mall for some shopping and dinner. Dinner was tricky. We tried three different restaurants that all told us there would be at least a 45 minutes wait when we could clearly see that there were tables available.

We did find some fun shops. The Lego Store had a lot of displays. Clarissa bought a Rapunzel set.

There was also an awesome English bookstore called Metro Kids. They had a ton of Usborne and other educational books and games. If I were still teaching or if Clarissa was farther along in her homeschooling, I think that I would have spent a lot of money there.

We found a Studio Ghibli store (read about our visit to a Studio Ghibili exhibit in Seoul here). But it had a different name. It was still fun to walk through. I tried on a Totoro hoodie, but I didn’t buy it.

We took another taxi back since it was after 10 PM. But this is taxi driver was boring and didn’t say a word.

On Sunday morning, we started our usual public transportation using our Octopus cards. I can understand why several people online said that Hong Kong is not stroller friendly. The MTR (subway system) does not have elevators in every station. We get around that… Tim carries the stroller up and down the stairs and I make Clarissa walk next to me. We only saw a handicapped accessible turnstile entrance at one of the stops. Clarissa’s stroller would not fit through the rest. So we would have her walk through and then Tim or I would have to lift the stroller over the turnstile. It made for a more tiring day.

There also seems to be a lack of public bathrooms. At least, I have not seen many in the metro stations. The people seem to be in a rush to go everywhere. They try to get on the subway car before everyone has had a chance to get off and don’t wait for the light to change for the crosswalk.

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