- Monday, 22 August 2011

Hong Kong: What NOT to do when in transit ..


..Take a transit tour from Airport !

After over 11 hours of flying westward, i landed in HK for transit of yet another 12 hours before flying back to Delhi. It was a wrong choice in first place while booking my tickets- and i realised it only now. With so much time in hand and HK airport being quite a suck up (realised last time on transit of yet another 12 hours), i decided to take a transit tour in the city. I needed an escape from the airport. So i went online and found out interesting tours listed on the airport's official website. However, when tried enquiring, no one seemed to know about them, including the info centres. I anyhow decided to pass the immigration and figure out something once i am out of the airport. And just after immigration, i found yet another tourist info centre and here the lady helped me with one and only transit tour provided by a private company Vigor. It was still 7.30 am and tour starts at 9:30 am. So I decided to rest and eat for a bit.

I went to register my name and looked up the list- there was some Canadian fellow and me, thats it. And by 9:30 am, another couple joined in. So it was four of us in a big full size coach with an over friendly guide.

1. Lantau Link Viewing Platform

It was the first stop and gives a view of the Tsing Ma Bridge, apparently the world's longest rail-and-road suspension bridge. To me it was like watching a skyline of concrete jungle in mid day heat.





2. The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

This could be a nice place to just walk around in evenings or later in the night. But extremely crowded and not to my taste. It has avenue of stars with cemented hand prints of famous actors and celebrities. And you will be pushed to take not one but many pictures by the statue of Jackie Chan- you like it or not.

Soon I realise I am back in Asia- you are pushed to take pictures at every turn, you are told how xyz of HK is same as xyz of America, you are told Jackie Chan is god and that you ought to go and take picture against his statue, and you could also be given description of Oscar of HK & forced to eat dim sums. :)




3. Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour

I had imagined to be riding on some nice modern boat across my imagined picturesque Victoria Harbour for about 1 hour or so. Well, the boat turned out to be old rickety one with over 100 people on board- which was still ok, because this is how ferries are normally in Asia. But what was yet another disappointment was that boat ride last for about 10 minutes and here we were on the other side of the Harbour. There was nothing scenic about this boat ride- all I could see was sky scrapers and advertisement hoardings by the shore in all directions. Perhaps, evening is better time to spend at this harbour.



4. Man Mo temple & antique shops

This is the last stop before our drop off. Its a small ancient temple. It was beautiful inside- it seemed to have buddhist influence on a few things I saw inside- big gongs, incense sticks, muslin prayer flags etc. Just across the road to temple is a market of antique shops and its here I realise I am in china town. I make a quick walk through it without even bothering to stop by any shop and get back to the coach.





5. HK Station in Central

On our way to HK Station- we are informed of famous dim sum shop on 6th floor and that one has to try the dimsums there. And this information is shared with us over 5 times with brief pauses and change of subjects. We are dropped off here and it runs the Airport Express Train from basement and the top many floors are converted into a shopping mall. I am a bit relieved to be here- for I can now find some comfortable coffee shop, cool myself and pass rest of my 3-4 hours.

Just before seeing us off- our guide stretches out his hand asks for tip (something very unusual for me after having been traveling for sometime) – any currency would do, as he also needs his dim sums for the day. I was exhausted with heat and his constant blabbing and was in no mood to tip him. But reluctantly i fished out a 5 NZD note and gave it to him. He yet again directed us to this dim sum restaurant on 6th floor.

The couple said bye and parted ways, I wanted to go sit in a coffee shop but then realised this massive canadian was still behind me. So we decided to go to 6th floor. And guess what- 6th floor did not exist. So we thought of taking a walk on 5th floor- may be we find the famous dim sum shop there- unfortunately not even there. We tried enquiring- no one seemed to know any specially dim sum shop. It was all so weird and funny. We laughed over it and said our byes.

I finally got to my coffee shop and spent rest of my time reading my book, sipping hot chocolate, eating croissants and talking to an elderly litigation manager. Later, took the airport express train from basement- it took flat 24 minutes and you are inside the terminal. And this (and only this) is what i Loved about HK.


Info: 

a) The Vigor tour counter: Arrival Hall, Exit B, counter B12.

b) Tour Fee: HK$ 230. Includes one way ticket on the Airport Express Line from HK Station to the Airport, one single ride on the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central, Air conditioned coach and a guide service.

2 comments:

  1. HK is different. Pity u didn't like the ferry rides and all cuz the charm of HK is that they have encapsulated the ancient with the development of the modern world. MongKok and TST (Tsim Tsa Chau) are great places for bargains. Cheaper than India, trust me. Causeway bay, SOHO and Wan Chai Districts are great for shopping brands (retail) and bars. In your next trip, don't get those "tours" cuz HK's Public transpost is awesome to explore the city on ur own. Tips, i don't think that's a norm in HK cuz I wasn't hassled for it anywhere. It probably cuz the tour guy thought u were a tourist and took u for a ride. There are so many other places to see... It would need a blog of it's own i suppose :P

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  2. Thanks Karan for all your feedback and opinion. I am sure HK is a wonderful tourist friendly place. But this post was about NOT taking transit tours from Airport. It was really a bad choice that I made. And perhaps I need to spend more time there to look at it the way you have seen it. Half a day is not enough, specially if you have landed there after 13 hours of flying.
    But for now, i think i am pretty stuck in my head, I don't want to visit it any sooner. :)

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