My husband, Kevin spent five years of his childhood living in Hong Kong. He and his family always spoke about it with such fond memories. Kevin’s mom passed away this past April, and it was her wish that we take a family trip back to Hong Kong. My father-in-law VERY generously took us on the trip of a lifetime in her memory. So, during the week of Thanksgiving my father-in-law (Rich), my sister-in-law (Kelly), her fiance (Julien), my husband and I all traveled to the last of the Far East!
I had never been to Asia before, so I was nervous and excited because I did not know what to expect at all! First of all, the plane ride was ROUGH. It was about 24 hours of travel to get to Hong Kong. If you are flying to Asia, be sure to wear comfy clothes and pack some toiletries (toothbrush, deodorant) in your carry-on. My knees were sore from sitting for so long! But the long flight was SO worth it.
We stayed at the JW Marriott Hong Kong – one of Rich’s favorite hotels. It was one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in. We had a harbor view room, so the sights of the South China Sea and the many buildings were such a luxury! The bathroom was enormous and came with a shower and a jacuzzi tub along with a robe and slippers. We were also served welcome tea upon our arrival – what a treat! But the best part of the JW Marriott Hong Kong, hands down, was BREAKFAST! Holy cow! I woke up early every day just to run down there for the buffet. Is it ridiculous to say the breakfast may have been a trip highlight? Probably. But I’m saying it. I LOVED THAT BREAKFAST. There was authentic Chinese food, American food, a smoothie bar, pastries, and the list goes on.
We arrived in the early afternoon, but after so many hours of travel, we needed a nap! We woke up for an early dinner and walked over to the Peak Tram. This tram is a railway that takes you to the upper levels of the island. The views from the top of are out of this world.
One thing I realized right away was that I did not pack for Hong Kong correctly. I should have packed more short-sleeves! Hong Kong is pretty tropical – it was also humid. So in November it was in the 70s and 80s! The nights were cool, but with all of the walking we did, short-sleeves were important for during the day.
For our first day, we went back to the Miskewicz stomping grounds in Repulse Bay. We visited their old apartment, Kevin’s old school, the American Club and their family’s church. We also spent a couple of hours in Stanley Market. Stanley was my favorite part (aside from breakfast) about Hong Kong. It has tons of little shops and restaurants and is located very close to the water. Rich even took us to his old watering hole, Smuggler’s Inn to have a beer! We used the public bus to get to and from Stanley. The bus was affordable, clean and easy to navigate. Since Hong Kong was a British territory until 1997, everything is in English and many people speak English. I will say, Hong Kong is very hilly and those drivers made me a little nervous whipping around the corners of the cliffs, but we made it everywhere safe and sound!
For the next day in Hong Kong, we went to see the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island. This was the tourist attraction I was most excited about! This experience is a must-have if you visit Hong Kong. When the Miskewicz family lived in Hong Kong, the only way to Lantau Island was by bus. When we went, we took cable cars over the water! If you are afraid of heights, just don’t. But look at the lush views!
That evening we went to Lan Kwai Fong for dinner/drinks. We took the subway. Again, very to easy to navigate through, but it is EXTREMELY crowded, so if you plan on taking the subway, you need to be okay with not having much personal space. Lan Kwai Fong had many bars, restaurants, and neon lights! This was a happening place to be!
Another trip highlight was the Mid-level escalators which we experienced the next day of our adventure! It is the longest covered escalator in the world! Basically, if you were to live in the Mid-levels, you would commute to work by way of escalator! How funny (and awesome!)
Above: View Coming Off Mid-Levels
On the same day as the Mid-Levels, we took the Star Ferry to Kowloon. For 26 cents! Kevin loved the ferry when he lived in Hong Kong, and he really enjoyed our ride this time around. In Kowloon we went shopping for pearls and stopped inside the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong lobby (wow!). The night views of Hong Kong from Kowloon were INCREDIBLE.
On Day 4, we took a day trip to Macau. To put it simply, Macau is the Las Vegas of Asia. Macau is a former Portuguese territory so there are a lot of European influences in the architecture. To get to Macau, you must take a ferry from Hong Kong. The ferry ride is about an hour and costs about $20 USD. The ferry was a struggle for me since I get pretty motion sick, especially since we had to go below deck for the ride. It was rocky! I persevered, but I was pretty woozy! Bring some Dramamine or motion sickness bracelets if you suffer from this ailment! My favorite part about Macau was the Portuguese Egg Tarts! I tend to be a little weary of street food, but I made an exception. So delicious! We spent most of the day going through all of the casinos including the Grand Lisboa, Wynn, and MGM Grand. The ruins of St. Paul, iconic in Macau, was also a neat photo-op, but aside from a quick look and a photo, this tourist attraction is a really quick one.
For our final day in Hong Kong, Kevin and I spent some time on our own and went back to Stanley to do some more shopping. We also enjoyed tea that evening at the JW Marriott on the Executive Floor (thanks for the access, Rich!).
Hong Kong was more than I ever expected it to be. I loved it. It was so beautiful, modern and clean! Isn’t it funny that when we make assumptions about a place before experiencing them, they are usually wrong? I had no idea an Asian city could be so Western. I could see myself living in Hong Kong someday, and I will CERTAINLY go back. Kevin and I are so grateful to his mom and dad for this amazing trip – what a priceless memory for all of us.