12 hour flight to Hong Kong? No problem let’s do this.
Long haul flights are not a problem for me, I’ve done a great number of them already. Airports – love them, flying – don’t mind it. Leaving my nearest and dearest for a few years is the thing that worries me the most this time round. But I sucked it up, through the tears and goodbyes and trudged on that plane. My trip got off to a fantastic start when I got to my row on the plane – empty. I got myself settled in the window seat and waited to see who would be sat next to me. As people continued to trickle in, time was passing and no one had sat next to me yet. I refused to get my hopes up until I saw the plane physically moving… but then it did, and I was buzzing: no one was sat in my row! I had a whole 3 seats to myself. First class? Who needs it, I have my own seat bed right here baby. One of the easiest long haul flights ever, after watching The Greatest Showman and Pitch Perfect 3 , I slept the rest of the way – and almost missed breakfast because of it! When I opened my eyes everyone was munching away on breakfast. I asked the flight attendant if he had any full englishes left and he said no sorry, I was gutted as I wanted one! Then 10 minutes later he popped back with one in his hand. Lucky me, I got the last one, just!
Arriving in Hong Kong airport and getting through immigration etc was fine. At baggage claim I grabbed a trolley to chuck my gigantic turtle shell onto (my backpack; it’s green, so it pretty much makes me look like a teenage mutant ninja turtle) and head out to find the bus that takes me to the road my hostel is on. Being the hyper-organised, OCD plan-a-holic that I am I knew exactly where to go and exactly what bus to get, how many stops, how long it would take etc. I know I know – crazy alert. First I headed to customer service to pick up an Octopus card. This is very similar to a London Oyster card, in that you put money onto it and can use it for the trains and buses. Only with an Octopus card you can also use it in some restaurants, shops and vending machines etc. It’s extremely handy. When you leave Hong Kong you just return the Octopus card, get your deposit back and they refund any money not used on the card. Perfect!
So I found my bus and got on, a very polite gentlemen who spoke good English helped me put my backpack on the luggage rack as only the top one was free and I am not a weight lifting bodybuilder so I cannot lift that s**t up over my head quite yet. The buses on Hong Kong are so much better than ours in the UK (this seems to be a common theme – everything is “better” than stuff in the UK). They have little screens with all of the bus stops on and it tells you which station is next and when you arrive at stations etc. So, I knew exactly when to get off, thank god.
Now came the tricky-ish part. Finding my hostel. For my 5 nights in Hong Kong I was staying at Urban Pack Hostel in Kowloon. Now in Hong Kong they have sky-scraper-esque buildings everywhere called “Mansions” which are basically blocks of apartments etc. My hostel was in one such Mansion, with no signs anywhere, and the entrance to which was tucked in-between shops. So, finding it on Nathan Road – an extremely busy, crazy, hectic road (think Oxford Street London), was difficult at first. I had downloaded offline Google maps for Hong Kong as I obviously would have no internet, so I put it in there, but this still doesn’t really help as it only gives you driving directions when offline, no walking directions. So trying to figure out which roads to take and what side the building was on was fun and games with my big backpack on. Eventually after walking the wrong way for a bit I figured out where it was and headed up in the very old and slow lifts to reception.
The hostel had a few apartments on different floors of the building all over the gaff, so this was more fun and games to come. The guy at reception showed me where everything was and then took me from reception on the 14th floor to my room on the 5th floor. The lifts were a joke, by the way let me just mention. One of the lifts only went to even numbers, the other lift only to odd. If a lift was going up it would go all the way up before coming back down to your floor and visa versa. So sometimes I would wait like 10 minutes before a lift even arrived. LONG.
My room was an all-female dorm made up of 4 sets of bunkbeds. I was given one of the top bunks, and a fair sized locker to stick some of my stuff in. At first I climbed into my bunk and just chilled for a little bit as I was pretty tired. A couple of the girls came in and out, I spoke to one girl from Russia who was quite nice, she told me what she had done so far and I told her what I planned to do.
Eventually I got peckish so I headed back out into the chaos in search of food. I say “search”, I actually mean walk across the road to the McDonalds that I saw earlier. I was knackered and wanted something easy and familiar to start with, so I got a cheeky double cheeseburger meal. One thing I have come to notice in Asian countries – salt is not something that is readily available in sachets or on tables that often, you have to specifically ask for it if you want it. Strange for a salt-addict like me, in Japan everything is salty enough anyway, but in Hong Kong I was in desperate need of salt! After my food I got a second wave of energy, so I decided to walk down to the Harbour and watch the famous Hong Kong light show. I followed Google Maps down to roughly where it was, wandered around the wrong way for a bit again, then saw a crowd of people gathered around this stone steps area and assumed they were waiting for the light show too, so I sat down there and took in the outstanding night time view of the skyline. It was SO pretty!
The light show was cool, it was basically just laser lights shining about up into the sky. There was supposed to be music with it but I don’t know if that is only from the opposite side of the harbour or something as there was no music at all on the side I was on.
After this finished I made my way back to the hostel to sleep. Easier said than done. The time difference of being 7 hours ahead, meant I slept for a couple of hours then woke up around 2am and could not get back to sleep. I then had a mini breakdown because of the exhaustion and kind of wanted to go home already… but once I woke up in the morning and was ready for Hong Kong Disneyland I soon settled into the travel life and began immediately enjoying my experiences!