Hong Kong, China: January 2016

First step was getting out of Korea because it kept snowing.

For weeks my friend John and I debated on where we should go in January.  We were moments away from joining another couple of people in going to Vietnam, but we quickly started to realize that they were willing to do some things that we weren’t feeling up to, such as flying some random carrier worse than Air Asia and they had a strict itinerary that they were sticking to, which just isn’t my kind of jam.  For starters I only fly if I can get miles and I also don’t trust random airlines, and I also don’t like having an itinerary on vacations.

With that nixed, we chose Hong Kong because there were still reasonably priced flights 5 days out.  Yet again, procrastination at it’s finest.  So we booked for Hong Kong.

Let me just say that if I was given the chance to live in Hong Kong I’d do it in a heartbeat.  It’s an amazing place.  It’s very modern, plenty of English, cool architecture, but also quite expensive… Definitely not the budget vacation.  Anywho on to the trip!

The trip starts in the Asiana lounge.  Since I’m Star Alliance Gold I get access to international lounges, and we were flying Asiana so we went and hung out in the lounge while we waited for our flight.  You know, get a drink or two and eat their really tasty fried rice.  We also wanted to have a chance to toast Alan Rickman, who had died that day from his prolonged battle against cancer.  Alan was an amazing human being, of course known for his role in Harry Potter but he was of course an accomplished actor.

Anyway so we are talking about the news, which at the time was something dumb that the Donald was raving about (Trump) when the guy next to us said “uh excuse me, I do not mean to interrupt but do you actually think that Trump has a chance at winning the election?”  This began an hour long conversation with Mr. Kim, about US politics, life in Korea, women, and life in general.  We soon found out that he’s an accomplished violinist, orchestra conductor, and all around great guy.  Unfortunately he was flying to the US as his mother had passed away that same day, but we exchanged info because we wanted to hear one of his concerts.  We did end up seeing each other again a few weeks later.  We parted ways and headed to our plane, and once we scanned our tickets we get a call from none other than Mr. Kim!  John forgot his phone charger.  It’s too late to go back, so we thank him and chalk it up to a loss.  10 minutes later, a very angry Asiana lounge employee brings us John’s charger- originally they didn’t want to do it but Mr. Kim guilted them into bringing it not only to our plane, but to the seat we were sitting in.  He guilted them by saying that “this airline is supposedly about customer service, well I’M NOT SEEING ANY RIGHT NOW this guy NEEDS his phone charger! He’s about to travel to a far away country!  You must take it to him!!”  It was hilarious.

Also, Star Alliance Gold gets to board with Business class passengers, and it’s always hilarious to have people glaring at you for boarding first.  Oops.

We had this… girl?  Sit between us on our flight.  Named Tiff.  I say girl because at this point I’m 70% sure she was a she, but I was convinced when she sat down that she was a he, and it’s still a debate to this day… But anyway interesting conversation, she was a 20 year old lesbian who was traveling by herself on a mini vacation.  I forgot what she was studying.  She spoke decent english though and was pleasant to talk to.  Oh and the airplane food sucked so I ate pretzels instead.

We landed in Hong Kong and went through immigration where we found out that they don’t stamp passports anymore which was a MAJOR BUMMER.  So now it’s time to figure out how to get to the hotel.  Apparently you can’t buy an Octopus card (literally what it’s called) with a foreign credit card, so we bought one way airport express tickets to the city we were staying in, Kowloon, only to find out it’s to Kowloon station not actual Kowloon, and that matters because it’s a difference of about 4 miles.  Meanwhile it’s getting close to closing time for the subway and we had to go up 2 stops to transfer to go over 4 stops.  We made it but it was pretty hairy.

We woke up and realized we were staying in a pretty nice hotel, which wasn’t expected actually.  Well it sort of was but all I had to go off of was like 4 pictures on hotels.com (which isn’t a bad site btw, I’d say it’s better than Expedia but who am I kidding- they’re owned by the same company) but anyway it had a super dope elevator.  Well I’d say the super dope part was the atrium which could be seen through the glass elevator, and there was a second atrium underneath the first so when you rode the elevator you went beneath the floor into the second one.  I’m explaining it horribly.

Hotel elevator. #hongkong

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Our hotel was also literally a 3 minute walk from Victoria Harbor.

What trip to Asia would be complete without DISNEYLAND?  For whatever reason we decided it was a great idea to go to HK Disneyland, which ended up being a great idea because apparently Hong Kong-ians don’t wake up early so we didn’t really have any lines to wait in.  Ironically enough the longest line we waited in, which was 15 minutes, was for a kiddie ride I wish I had never ridden.

HK Disneyland has Toy Story Land which is different from the others… It also has a vastly different jungle cruise which you would think would be exactly the same but it’s not, it’s quite different and frankly better.  Side note, do you think ride operators eventually get bored?  I think they do.

Since we were only there for the weekend, we left Disneyland and headed to Big Buddha, which for a long time was the biggest Buddha statue in the world.  It isn’t anymore.  To get there, you have to take a cable car ride that goes for 25 minutes or so.  Plus there’s a super long line.  Oh by the way speaking of which, we bought our tickets ahead of time because supposedly it makes a difference, and it was really a wonder of technology that I was able to book it through my phone and pay via paypal.  TECHNOLOGY.

 

We got stuck in the gondola thingy with the most obnoxious Vietnamese people on the face of the planet.  First of all Vietnamese is not the most enjoyable language to listen to, and second of all they were so loud I think my ears started to literally bleed.  Plus it’s a small gondola, recipe for opening the door and jumping out.

We hiked to Buddha, he was chilling on top of a mountain, and walked around a bit, smelled some incense, then headed back to the hotel to rest our feet.  (each day we averaged 30,000 steps according to my fitbit)

Side note, walking around you always seem to run into these just… Massive apartment buildings.

From the hotel we jumped over to the Ritz Carlton, which boasts the “highest bar in the world” which I don’t necessarily believe given the fact that the building is only 118 stories, and is missing a few because Chinese people are super superstitious.  So we get to this bar and it’s super “trendy” and we couldn’t sit at a table apparently so we sat at the bar, and had a couple of drinks that I guess they’re known for their mixology but hey, it doesn’t do much for me because I’m more of a simple individual.  An absinth shot or two later…  ANYWAY like, $130 later we left.

We obviously couldn’t eat at the Ritz because well, it’s the Ritz and I’m not a billionaire so we went to Ruths Chris instead.  Kind of ironic because it’s pretty expensive (I think after the exchange rate it came out to like $300) but what’s even more ironic is we went to a steakhouse in CHINA.  Why not Chinese food?  Well because steak doesn’t grow on trees in the great country of Korea and we were both craving cow.  Super nice place though.

The next day we decided to go to Macau.  Why, you might ask?  Well they have about a billion ferries going there every day and everyone says “Oh wow you need to go to MACAU” well let me tell you that maybe you don’t need to.  Although I chalk our lackluster experience in Macau up to the fact that we didn’t research it AT ALL so we didn’t know where anything was or what to do, but that’s besides the point.

So you take a ferry to Macau.  It’s like a hydrofoil type thing that goes pretty fast.  So in a little over an hour, you’re in Macau.  Macau is the gambling capital of Asia, so once you get off the ferry you hop aboard one of the billion busses that take you to any casino you want to go to.  So it’s an easy way to get around, just go to the nearest casino to where you want to go… So we went to the Wynn.  Talk about a soul-less, heartless place.  Usually people are drunk and having fun in Vegas, right?  Well it seemed like everyone was chained to a table waiting for their turn to die so we decided to leave.  Instantly upon leaving it was as if a dark cloud was lifted and it stopped raining and the sun came out.  That literally happened.  (it was rainy that day)

We went by this St. Somebody’s church ruins which was pretty cool.  So apparently Macau used to be under Portugese rule.  Do Europeans not have anything better to do other than take over and piss on other people?  The British used to own Hong Kong, Portugese Macau… Sad.

So it was time for lunch so we hear about a “fishermans wharf” so we eventually find our way over there through some fluke, and stumble into a restaurant with literally nobody in it and we eat there.  Holy guacamole it was awkward.  The dim sum wasn’t too great either.

We board the ferry and head back to civilization, AKA Hong Kong.  Upon arrival we took a taxi to some shopping area, and walked around for awhile.  I also found a couple of model shops, so that was cool.

We eventually made our way back to the hotel and made reservations at a chinese restaurant (finally) which was Michelin rated for their roast goose.

You really don’t need to know anything about the restaurant other than “Oh my wow this is amazing”

We later walked down the street and had an extremely overpriced drink at some random bar that happened to be a Korean fusion restaurant.  We have an inside joke going that Koreans follow us everywhere (which is true) and it was funny that the only bar we go into is Korean.  But yeah it was so overpriced I think my kidneys still hurt from that punch.

On our last half day in Hong Kong we made our way to Victoria’s Peak, which is the famous overlook that looks out over Hong Kong.  We timed it perfectly so we didn’t have to wait in line.  This also just so happened to be the only clear day of our trip.  Haha

From the peak we headed back to the hotel, checked out, ate some dim sum, and headed to the airport and flew home.

I WILL be back to Hong Kong.  Amazing place.

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