The Wrong Way to do Hong Kong with kids
I know there is probably no wrong way to travel, although hostile, rude tourists come to mind, but we certainly did not do Hong Kong Island the right way.
In case you are not familiar with Hong Kong, the area many of us think of as Hong Kong is actually a series of islands, one of which is actually called Hong Kong Island and what we associate with that iconic skyline. We were staying in the New Territory, also known as Kowloon Peninsula, which runs off of mainland China. The Star Ferry regularly runs from Tsim Sha Tsui by Harbour City over to the Central District on Hong Kong Island. The fee to ride the ferry is nominal and only takes about 10 minutes.
The boat ride over was delightful. Dek was able to stand on a bench and look out the window at all of the boats and view the buildings of Hong Kong. I got some good shots of the skyline and Mike was able to close his eyes for a few minutes. It had been another early morning for us all.
The Plan or Lack There Of
We didn’t have much of a plan when we reached the island. That was our first mistake. We took a look at the map and headed in a direction. Even though I had done tons of reading before we left for our trip and I had a list of places we could visit, we didn’t actually purposefully head to any of them. What were we thinking?
We started walking towards Hong Kong Park and the Peak tram. Dek was getting fussy, so I strapped him into the Ergo, hoping he would pass out fairly quickly. No such luck there either. It was hot in the Ergo and he wanted to see what was going on.
As we wandered the streets, we noticed that there were large groups of women sitting on flattened cardboard boxes on the sidewalks. Some had even built up small walls. Others were sitting on low walls or curbs. According to Insight Guides: Hong Kong, this was a gathering of Filipina maids on their day off. They all had food laid out and were enjoying a meal with friends. A few men were sprinkled in here and there as well. I was somewhat familiar with this since I had just seen a special on the Travel Channel that also highlighted this Sunday phenomenon. It was intriguing to see in person though.
Dek had finally fallen asleep by the time we got to Hong Kong Park, so we headed to the Walk Through Aviary. There were a number of beautifully colored birds and also a lot of people. We didn’t stay too long because the birds were a bit noisy and Dek was started to stir. It was fun to see the families out and interacting with the birds and each other though.
Mike and I decided we did not want to go up to the Peak (2nd mistake). We just wanted to wander the streets and see what was around. Well, apparently you can’t wander the streets of Hong Kong, at least not where we were. We kept getting diverted through office buildings and shopping malls. By the time we actually found the street and an interesting area to walk around we were all hot, cranky, hungry and tired. We were almost to the Wanchai Ferry Pier, so we decided to head back to Kowloon, grab some food and take a nap at the hotel.
What a mess! We only had two full days to spend in Hong Kong and we had wasted most of one aimlessly wandering around. Had we just gone left instead of right when we got off the pier, we would have seen the Central to Mid-Levels Escalator, which looked like an awesome place to walk up and wander, with shops and food on either side. This is when planning and sticking to a plan comes in handy.
I still can’t believe how much time we wasted and how little we saw. I’m kicking myself even now. Next time we go, I have a definite list of things to see and I will know how to get there before we get on a ferry. I also think we will spend a few more days at the end of our trip in Hong Kong so we are not so jet lagged and can actual make good decisions.
We will listen to our friends advice and go to the Peak, see the 79 foot Big Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery, go up the escalators and visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. There are monkeys at the monastery for crying out loud. Wild monkeys! Why didn’t we go!?
I guess looking back, this was a lesson in planning for me. I have never been a good planner once we land in a foreign country. My job is all about planning, so I like to leave things flexible when we travel. However, there is flexible and then there is just plain wasteful. In this case, we wasted time and energy, when we could have seen a little more and expended less time and frustration doing it. Live and learn right?