Traveling to Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an energetic melting pot of the western world and the Far East. There’s no city quite like it. I don’t think it’d be out of bounds to call it a gateway to modern Asia in fact. A British colony until 1999, it is now considered a Special Autonomous Region of China, who allow the Hong Kong government a bit of freedom in handling their own affairs.
Hong Kong consists of a few different parts: Lantau, Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, and the New Territories. Lantau is and island to the west and contains, among other things, Hong Kong International Airport, Disneyland, and the Tian Tan Buddha (also called the Big Buddha). From the airport, you can either take taxis out to the myriad destinations on Lantau or hop on public transit to the rest of Hong Kong.
When I got to the airport, I took advantage of Cathay Pacific’s Arrivals lounge to shower up and grab some caffeine. It was morning the day after I left and I was jetlagging like whoa. The public transit system uses a card called an Octopus to travel with, sort of like an Oyster in London or the…whatever it’s called…in NYC. You can pick up the cards at the airport and it really makes everything pretty easy.
I took the airport train into Kowloon, which was a nice and relaxing 30 minute ride. I exited at Kowloon station in a mall and made my way out to the humidity…I’m sorry, out to the street. Kowloon has the prodigious shopping area called Tsim Sha Tsui and many of the higher-end hotels. It’s easy to get lost in the labyrinthine streets, but I eventually made my way down to Victoria Harbour, which cuts between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island (see above). The easiest way of crossing the harbour (spelled Britishly) is by taking a Star Ferry. Star Ferry runs large boats back and forth across the harbour for an absolute pittance, it’s really nice that they don’t charge what they could get away with (10x what they charge now).
The first thing I think you’ll notice about Hong Kong are the absolutely enormous amount of skyscrapers. Everywhere you look, skyscraper.