Travel is exciting yet stressful if you are a Mumma of a 4 year old. Thoughts like how will the kid survive without you and how will you cope-up with this separation will keep eating you. But kids are way more adjustable than we think they are. My 4-year-old amazes me this way every single time.
Recently I have been asked to go on a business trip to US, again I had mixed feelings and doubt that how we both will survive for these 2 weeks. But somewhere the little girl in me was so happy as she will get to live her wanderlust again.
Due to last minute flight bookings I ended up with 9 hours of layover in Hong Kong. Me being me, I didn’t want to spend those precious 9 hours lazing around at airport. I wanted to go out and explore the city a bit and with some research I was able to find what could be the ideal itinerary for the limited time I had in a new country.
After a bit of crying (more crying from my side than the kid) I started to the airport on the planned date. Flight was delayed by 30 mins, but I was confident on the execution of my transit travel plan. For all of you who have not been to the Hong Kong airport before, its big but not so big as the Dubai airport, so no mad walking rush. But always keep 1-1:30 hours in hand for immigration process as these big airports get very busy on weekends.
for Indian passport holder Visa on arrival is not available in Hong Kong any more, you must fill the pre-arrival registration form beforehand and take the printout of same with you. This form asks you to fill few basic information about you, please make sure the data entered by you in the PAR is matching with the data on your Passport. And this PAR is free of cost, so make sure to fill it though the government site and not via any agent site which asks you to pay money for same. In the immigration process you will be asked for this form and the passport, the officer will match both and give you a small form to fill again (name and passport number) and if all the data matches and the immigration office is satisfied you get the go out to the city.
I wanted to take shower before going out in the city, so I went to the plaza lounge in the airport. It’s in terminal 2, you can use your visa priority lounge card here, that’s what I used, but they do have few more card tie ups too. The shower room in the lounge was very clean and specious. After the shower and a cup of coffee in the lounge I was all set to hit the city. I had one cabin luggage with me which I didn’t wanted to carry around, so I left it in the clock-room. This is also in the terminal 2 and charges 12HG$/hour. Near to that you have the information desk for buses as well. I had plans to go to the Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) and experiencing the Cable car ride.
To reach to big buddha from Airport, there are multiple ways available (bus/train/taxi). I decided to take the bus till Ngong Ping 360station and take cable car from there. I took bus number S1 from airport and after 6 stop (almost 10 mins) reached Ngong Ping 360 station. It was just 3.5HG$, please keep exact change if you are buying tickets in the bus as the machine don’t give back change. When I was starting from airport, it looked like a bright sunny day and soon after I sat in the bus it started raining heavily. I had done my homework before, so I had an umbrella in my handbag. But I felt totally disappointed when I reached Ngong Ping 360 station only to find that they have closed operations of Cable cars for few hours due to thunderstorms warning. I had 2 choices, to wait there for few hours till it starts again or take a bus and go to the big Buddha. I picked the later as I had no time for waiting and I am so glad I did decide to take the bus.
In Hong Kong all the sign boards have English along with the Chinese script, so you can still make your way through the city without using the google maps. After 7-8 mins the BUS S23 arrived at the station which took me to Tian Tan Buddha. In the bus, there were many other visitors like me who changed their cable car plans and took bus due to rains, so something common to talk about. I met another Indian engineer who was there on his business trip, so I got company and a hand to click pictures (yes the selfish me 😜)
After getting down from the bus its 10 minutes’ walk towards the Big buddha. The walk way has few warrior sculptures and few shops for souvenirs. And after climbing some 100+ steps we reached to the big Buddha statue, this is a 112ft tall bronze statue, Buddha sitting on lotus. The view from top was scenic, lots of greenery and water body. Though it would have been great if the sky was clearer. By now the rain stopped and I was able to see the cable cars moving again, happy me.
Near to Big buddha there is a small Montessori, we paid a visit there. It melted my heart to see small cute kids praying there, I missed my son. The Montessori architecture was very beautiful and colorful. So many colors were used on the wall and ceiling, still they all looks so calm and complete together. I also bought few souvenirs, which did contain fridge magnets too (my favorite thing to bring from any place I visit)
I still had 3 hours left to my connecting flight, but I was almost done seeing this place, hence made my way to the Cable car station. Cable car ride is available in 2 options, standard cabin and the cabin with crystal (glass) bottom. I will suggest do try crystal bottom cable car, it’s one of a lifetime experience, must do! This 25mins Cable car ride took my breath away every time I tried to stand and look down, nice adventurous experience still very-very safe.
After the ride I was back the NP260 station and same S1 Bus took me back to the airport. So, I was back well within the time, and still had 2 hours in hand. I collated my bag back from clock room and it was in same condition as I gave it in, safe option.
In totality I loved the small sneak-out tour of the city I could do in the limited time I had and got to get a glimpse of the city and witnessed it’s iconic tourist attraction. Again, little homework before my trip helped me in many ways.
Lessons learnt, never ever go with the paid tours, they charge more. With little research you can do the same in half the money. Juts be confident and explore!