Saturday, May 09, 2009

Hong Kong - 4 Night 5 day stay

I was visiting Hong Kong after almost 20 years. During these two decades, Hong Kong underwent a change of ownership. One of the finest hotels that I have stayed so far, Hilton was demolished soon after a year of my last visit. New airport replaced the old one taking away the thrill of watching aircraft navigating through tall buildings - so close that you could almost see people brushing their teeth - or seeing your aircraft almost kiss the sea waves only to land on an air strip. I had lovely memories of Lama Island, Ocean Park, Stanley Market and open bus tour of Kowloon.

This time, I was aware that I had lot of new things to see. Frommer book came handy for planning the things. Agoda helped me to book a hotel through internet. With Akshta around, we had to slow the things. Lantau Island Buddha statue, Disney land and Peak tram was automatic choice. I wasn't sure about Macau but left it till we arrived in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong must be one of the few countries left in the world to allow India nationals to get visa on arrival and that too at no cost. Like KL airport, one needs to take short train ride to come to the luggage belt. Immigration was swift despite fear of swine flu. We were lucky that our hotel at Garden View didn't get any visitor from Mexico. I could imagine the plight of guests at Metropark hotel who were quarantined for almost a week ruining their stay. Garden View at McDonnell road was value for money. Being at height on way to peak, it gave a great view of Hong Kong city. Next door supermarket solved Akshta's milk issue and saved money on fruits and beer.

Our schedule turned out well:
1st day: Ride Peak tram to see Hong Kong night view from the mountain top followed by dinner at vibrant central area.
2nd day: Coffee at Starbucks in Kowloon followed by travel to Lantau Island to be with Giant Buddha.
3rd Day: Walk along the Hong Kong harbor, take turbo jet to Macau and spend a day in Macau. Return to Hong Kong, take a ferry to Kowloon and witness Hong Kong light show.
4th Day: Spend full day at Disney land.
5th day: Rummage Kowloon streets to do shopping, take airport express to Hong Kong airport.

In twenty years, Hong Kong has changed significantly. HSBC monstrous design building which was the landmark building then, is now dwarfed by many that are sprouted up with innovative designs. MTR – underground subway is still a backbone and it’s nice to see it gets connected to every part of Hong Kong. Buildings in Kowloon now have worn out looks but are smartly hidden by numerous signposts of brands. Topless bars at Kowloon are no longer visible; their place is now taken by Giordano, Sasa brand showrooms.

What would be Hong Kong after 20 years? I can't conjure the description but think of possibilities. Hong Kong has 250 islands. Bigger ones have been put to money spinning mechanism like installing largest outdoor Buddha on Lantau islands, Creating huge and fancy new airport and second Disney land in Asia. Now it could be turn of smaller islands. Resorts with water sports, Casinos and gaming centers may pop up. Hong Kong with 7 million resident population attracts 30 Million tourists a year. India with 1 billion populations attracts 5 Million tourists. A food for thought for ' Incredible India'.

For 50 year after handing over of Hong Kong and Macau, Mainland China would treat these two territories as One Country with two systems. Hong Kong and Macau have their own currencies, immigration laws and investment, trade policies. Could India have worked on similar lines for Goa and Kashmir? Another food of thought for ' Resurgent India '.



Anonymous vpadiar said...

Good review!! Want to go to Hong Kong sometime. Though I’ve heard you can pretty much cover everything in 2 days.

11:29 AM  

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