When I was offered the chance to check out Hong Kong, I hesitated for a full nanosecond. And, just before Christmas, I jumped on the midday Cathay Pacific flight from Manchester and landed in the teeming Chinese metropolis in time for breakfast the next day.
This is the first of three blogs that document my three-day trip. I’ll be reporting on Hong Kong’s attractions and hotels. But first, what’s it like to travel to Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is a bustling city and an independent authority in its own right. It’s a major port and financial centre with a sky-scraping skyline and a reputation just as high for its gastronomy. It had long been on my to-do list.
Non-stop from Manchester
I flew from Inverness to Manchester to catch the flight with Cathay Pacific, the only airline to fly non-stop, with four flights a week.
Once you’re on board, the aircrew make your journey as relaxing as possible. It’s a 12-hour trip, leaving Manchester at noon and landing eight hours ahead at around 7.30am the next day.
Landing at Hong Kong International Airport is an event in itself. As you cross the North Pacific, you’re suddenly aware of a landing strip in the middle of the ocean. This is Chek Lap Kok Island. You taxi down to the passenger terminal surrounded by water, which is slightly surreal.
The airport is an impressive glass-dominated building. It’s spotless, and the efficiency continues as you step onto a shuttle train to take you to airport control.
You’ll complete an immigration form and, instead of a stamp on your passport, will be given a piece of paper that states how long you can stay in Hong Kong. Hang on to it tightly, because you’ll need it to leave the country.
Tsing Ma Bridge
I was met by my tour representative and privately transferred to my hotel. As an independent traveller, you’d most likely take the shuttle bus or MTR (underground train).
The airport expressway takes you past the New Territories, including Lantau Island, which features the world’s biggest Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, and a Disneyland Resort.
I crossed the mile-long Tsing Ma Bridge (longer than San Francisco’s Golden Gate) to Kowloon, at the start of a brand-new day and a brand-new experience. Excitement was beginning to build.
Next: I discover some of Hong Kong’s bustling attractions.