Traveling to Hong Kong
Ironically, traveling to Hong Kong was never on my travel list, I had wrongly assumed, anything to do with Hong Kong was an expensive adventure, far from the reaches of my limited budget. Back in early November I missed a great price on traveling to Barcelona, Spain for just $550 round trip by a few days, the frustration of missing out on that trip, which was on my travel list, spurred me to look closely for other great travel opportunities. Round trip airfare to Hong Kong soon followed, at the very exciting price of $565-ish, a quick check on accommodations and I soon discovered that I could do four days in one of the most expensive cities in the world for under $1000!
Once the trip was cleared by the Mrs, I booked the flight and hotel rooms, Hong Kong here I come!
My trip officially started on February 16th (2016) at 6:30 am when we (the Mrs and I) hit the road for a short drive to the Dublin, Ca Bart station where I would then proceed to the San Francisco International Airport. As with all things very well planned, we got out of the house a bit late, ran into some frustrating traffic delays on the way to the Bart station, causing my stress/panic level to rise uncomfortably high.
I planned to arrive at the airport with a couple of hours to spare, before my 12:00 pm flight, but found myself with only a short 2 hour window left when we arrived at the Bart station. Traveling on Bart rom the Dublin Bart station to the airport is only about one hour, with multiple Bart station stops and getting checked in at the airport, which I hadn’t been to in many years and was uncertain how all of this was going to transpire when I got there, I was starting to think I wasn’t going to make my flight.
I’ll spare you the details of getting to and on the flight, but obviously I successfully achieved my objective with several minutes to spare!
Flying to Hong Kong is an adventure in itself, with 13 hour flights, 3 airports to navigate, security checkpoints, and language barriers to overcome, it all went surprisingly smooth. Total air travel time spent was 18 hours and 30 minutes, not including my trip to the San Francisco International Airport, 13 hours from SFO (San Francisco International Airport) to Incheon International Airport (Seoul, Korea), a 1 hr and 40 min layover, then a short 3 hr and 40 min flight to Hong Kong International Airport (Hong Kong, China). Don’t let anyone kid you about long distance travel, it is exhausting and can easily cause some disorientation if you don’t take care of yourself during the flight and layovers. (I’ll share some tips in a later post to help you get through all of this easily.)
Once I arrived at Hong Kong International, I then had to navigate the train station process to my hotel in Kowloon, a relatively easy process for anyone as clueless as I was getting off the plane. After clearing emigration, I got in line to pick up an “Airport Express Travel Pass” which gave me two trips to and from the airport into Hong Kong and three days unlimited travel while in Hong Kong. This is a version of the famous “Octopus” card that everyone uses to ride on the trains, buses, pay bills, and make purchases with, very similar to a pre-paid ATM card.
The airport express train station is conveniently located in the Hong Kong airport, giving you direct access to their vast network of train stations located throughout the greater Hong Kong area. Riding the Hong Kong train system is refreshing, everything is well maintained, clean, clearly signed in both Cantonese and English, no garbage or graffiti, no need to fear of anything other than sleeping through and past your station exit. My train ride took about 35 minutes to reach my destination at the Olympic station in Mong Kok, Kowloon.
Unfortunately, it arrived close to midnight and I still had to walk several blocks to reach my hotel.
Walking anywhere at midnight is always a risky proposition, well, certainly in many of the areas I have visited in the United States, I never once felt any concern with walking several blocks to my hotel. The streets where well-lit, though confusing to navigate in my travel hazed condition, people still walked the streets, shops were still open and several were closing up for the night, no one thought twice about me walking around with a duffel bag slug over my shoulder. 15 minutes later I had arrived at my hotel, safe but tired and ready for whatever sunrise brings me!
Hong Kong Day 2 – My adventures in Kowloon, Hong Kong.