Notes From: Hong Kong

For the next leg in the trip around the world, we took a five hour flight over the East China Sea and landed in Hong Kong aka The City of Skyskrapers. For this flight we took the airline HK Express because it had direct access at the right time. (In all of our flights, we don’t have a single one that flies overnight. None of us sleep well on planes but also a day time flight can be part of the travel fun.)

Hong Kong and China

You might be wondering, “is Hong Kong it’s own country or is it part of China?” The answer is yes. There is so much to unpack in that question and the answer depends on who you ask and who is nearby to listen to their answer and so many other things. In short, Hong Kong has its own money, its own passport, and many freedoms but all roads eventually lead to Beijing.

For our own records, we consider that we went to Hong Kong…and China. 

Speaking of Money

When you go from country to country, the math on money can get a little confusing. For the most part, you don’t have to worry about actual cash. Nearly every country we’ve visited takes Apple Pay and credit cards. That’s not the issue. 

In each country, we learn a quick little equation to do the math in our head on how much we’re spending. 

While in New Zealand and Australia, it was pretty easy. Their dollars were about 2/3 of a US Dollar. 

10NZD -> (take two thirds) $6.80

In Japan, it was similar but we had to move the decimal point three  to the left and then take about two-thirds again. So, 1000 yen was about 6 or 7 USD.

1000 yen -> (two to the left) 10.00 -> (take two thirds) $6.83

Hong Kong got a little more interesting. You have to take the number and divide it in half three times. 

1000HKD -> 500 -> 250 -> 125USD

None of these were an exact science, but it was close. There are also apps that do this easily, but when you’re in the heat of a purchase with a no-patience store clerk, you have to get an idea quickly.

The good news is that the US Dollar is strong in all of these countries and throughout most of the world so prices have been very good. 

Hong Kong Saints

Arriving on a Saturday night, the next morning we got up and took the trains to a chapel to attend sacrament meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The members of the congregation were incredibly welcoming despite our limited travel wardrobe. A number of the younger people had served missions where they learned English and they were eager to translate for us. (Personally, I prefer no translation when traveling. I know the meeting flow well enough to know what’s going on. I really prefer to observe the body language and interpersonal communications more to “see” what they are saying.)

The church was located directly across from the temple and you could even see it through a second story window. 

It was a nice way to start our trip. 

Hong Kong Disneyland

Despite all the Disney time in the last country, we spent a couple days at Hong Kong Disneyland as well. We’re not Disney Superfans by any means but we like to see the different parks throughout the world. Since they are all a little different, it lets you experience rides for the first time again which in some ways can bring back the magic…a little. 

In short:

  • the brand new World of Frozen was very neat and the technology on the rides was incredible.
  • Big Grizzly Mountain was really, really fun and was at the top of all of our lists. 
  • Whether in English, French, Japanese, or Chinese, the Jungle Cruise jokes hit the same…like a wet paper towel on a school bathroom ceiling.
  • After a week in the very polite Japanese Culture, this Disney and culture in China was very much “every mouse for himself.” I’m happy to have two big boys to have more weight to throw around when needed. We’ll consider attraction lines for our “sporting event” in this country. 

Hong Kong City

Similar to New York and New York City, there is Hong Kong and Hong Kong City. (In a further parallel, there is even a Times Square in HKC.) We were happy to escape Disneyland and spend a full day exploring this massive metropolis. 

The transportation was easy. They have Octopus trains below ground that are very, very long. Unlike many metro trains in the US, the cars are not divided by doors so you can see from one end down to the other. (See above) It’s awesome to watch as the train turns corners and shows up in the angle of your fellow passengers. (Will walked from one end to the other because Will likes that sort of thing and it entertained the rest of us.)

There is also a tramway similar to the rail cars in San Francisco. These double decker trams are constantly running the full length of the island and are very convenient. We hopped on one and rode it through the whole city and exited on the last stop, a fruit and fish market in a local neighborhood. You learn a lot, and smell a lot. 

We enjoyed a chinese meal and then took the ferry back across Kowloon Bay and set ourselves up for the famous Hong Kong laser show. 

Each night at 8PM (barring any typhoon warnings), the whole city coordinates for one of the biggest city laser shows in the world. It was impressive to watch as the city and soundtrack lit up the sky. (Note: Vegas NYE and Independence Day are more impressive with the coordinated fireworks but this city does it every single night so they get points for that.)

Farewell China

We enjoyed this time in the Pearl of the Orient. It’s just a dip of the toes in China but sometimes that’s enough. Back to Hong Kong Airport…

Notes From” is a series where I share observations from recent adventures. You can read more of these in the “Notes From” category.