The first time you land in Hong Kong it hits you. The smell. And it’s wonderful. Tropical warmth, flowers, busy streets, Chinese spices. It all mixes together in a scent that, for the first time traveler to Asia, just reeks of adventure.
The other thing you notice right away is that coming to Hong Kong is like visiting Tomorrow Land. The high-speed train whips along from Shek Lap Kok airport to downtown Kowloon, among some of the world’s tallest apartment towers, rolling green tropical hills, and the ocean.
We’re so happy to be here. After months of preparation and planning, we’ve finally started our trip, but only after nearly missing our flight.
First-time traveler lesson number one: Air travel itineraries are always scheduled using the standard, metric TWENTY-FOUR HOUR format. This is important. You’d think that after all the political campaigns, events and tour schedules that Karen has planned and organized over the years this little fact would be ingrained.
But alas, apparently no.
Karen does all (or most) of the itinerary planning for our travels. So when she read the ticket – “Departure Feb 4 1:45 Arrival 7:30 plus one day” – it didn’t register that 1:45 was actually 1:45 AM. As in, shortly after midnight. Scott had started asking questions about why the times didn’t seem to add up. He had flown to Taiwan just a few months earlier, so was confused that the departure and arrival times were so different from that earlier trip. Scott asked, “Does it say 01:45 or 13:45?”
Karen read the time verbatim off the ticket: “01:45.” Uh, oh.
We realized our plan for a leisurely breakfast with Scott’s dad Sunday morning, then carefully packing before heading to the airport was suddenly totally, drastically wrong.
We were having this chat in the car driving from Maple Ridge back to Scott’s father’s house in downtown Vancouver. An hour away. It was 10:30 PM Saturday. We hadn’t packed, we didn’t have a ride to the airport, and our plane was leaving in three hours…
But it was the best thing that could have happened. After weeks of goodbyes, suddenly there was no time to dawdle and fret about missing home and friends and family. Now the only thing to focus on was putting the pedal to the metal. We sped home, grabbed our bags, stuffed them with our clothes and gear, woke up Scott’s dad and told him he needed to drive us now, not tomorrow. We arrived at the airport with just enough time to board our flight and head off to the other side of the world.
We flew into Hong Kong amid a humid, foggy Monday morning at 7 am and we couldn’t see anything of the city on the approach. We just suddenly emerged from clouds and were already on the ground. Once we got downtown, the weather was beautiful and sunny. Like the perfect mild Vancouver summer day. Only it’s February. And the smells are completely different. Tropical flowers, warm humidity, incense, traffic, Asian cooking, all combined. It’s amazing.
We had a few hours to kill before our hotel room was ready… so we wandered around the city buying fruit from street vendors, walking through Kowloon Park, and getting coffee at Starbucks.
We will be in Hong Kong for 5 days, so after a good sleep we’ll set out to explore. We currently only have 5 days planned for Hong Kong, but we have no set timeframe to stick to so we may stay a little longer if we decide. Then we’ll make our way over land to mainland China and on to Vietnam. For now, we are pretty excited to be in this energetic city.