Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport is both large and well organised, meaning that reclaiming our luggage and heading out to the bus terminal to catch the City Flyer A11 service to North Point only took a matter of minutes. Rather than taking the Airport Express train from where we would have had to change onto the MTR at Central, the bus offers a door to door service as the North Point Bus Terminus is just across the road from our hotel. Being early, traffic was light and within less than an hour, we were checking in to our hotel at 9.10 a.m. The helpful staff at the Ibis Hotel, North Point let us have our room immediately which enabled us to enjoy an hour’s rest followed by a refreshing shower before setting off out. Our room on the 24th floor had splendid views across the harbour and although rooms are compact, they are well designed with everything needed for a pleasant stay.
Our first stop was to an ATM for some Hong Kong dollars so that we could buy two Octopus Cards from the MTR station for use on transport, these can also be used to pay for other goods and services if required. Hopping on the Island Line of the MTR to Central we took a look in the gleaming, high end International Finance Centre (IFC) Mall which has a viewing terrace overlooking Victoria Harbour on its Podium 3 Level.
It seemed a long time since we’d eaten breakfast on the plane so we stepped into a branch of Café de Coral where we tucked into Chinese Beef Ribs and cups of coffee for lunch. Continuing our walk, we strolled through the narrow lanes of Central where wet markets and designer stores happily rub shoulders. Looking up, we marvelled at the sight of builders working on bamboo scaffolding, at every turn there is so much to absorb.
Soon, we had arrived at Statue Square where we paused for photos before walking across the elevated walkway towards Central Pier. Dozens of people were crowded on the bridge, peering over to watch a film set in progress. We didn’t find out what the film was but it seemed to be Ninja related.
It’s my 5th visit to Hong Kong and it’s a necessity on my first day back to cross Victoria Harbour on the iconic Star Ferry as this must surely be one of the most beautiful yet inexpensive journeys possible. For the best views try and sit on the right hand side of the ferry between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui (TST). Passengers can sit on the upper or lower decks, the upper have windows which can be opened for taking photos or better still, if the weather is good, the lower deck has open sides making it easier for photography.
On leaving the Star Ferry, we strolled along the TST seafront passing the old clock tower, the only remaining part of the Kowloon Railway Station. Just at the side of the clock is a large viewing platform offering spectacular views of the harbour and a perfect location to view the Symphony of Lights which takes place each evening at 8.00 p.m.
Our stroll then took us alongside the famous Peninsula Hotel and onto Nathan Road for some window shopping. Nearby is Kowloon Park, a haven of tranquillity amid the hustle and bustle of city life. This urban park stretches for quite a distance and features a lake with flamingos and several fountains. Feeling weary from our 8 hour time change we then headed back to the hotel for a little rest, setting our phone alarm so that we didn’t sleep too long.
By 7.30 p.m. we were feeling re-energised and ready for dinner which we ate in a small, family run restaurant on the Kings Road that I’d visited on my last visit and has a homely atmosphere coupled with delicious food. Finishing our meal we strolled along the road as far as the Fortress Hill MTR station where we could see the old trams rattle along amid a sea of neon lights and crowded streets.
Feeling drawn back to Victoria Harbour we took the MTR back to TST where we gazed at the awe inspiring night time view of the harbour, our cameras clicking constantly. Near the Clock Tower, we viewed a temporary art installation entitled ‘Super Pools’ with constantly changing lights that people could jump on, it’s part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival.
Returning across the harbour on the Star Ferry we sat on separate rows so that we both had uninterrupted photo opportunities. It was then back to the hotel by MTR after a fun filled first day back in beautiful Hong Kong.