Nearly 3 years ago we went on a long weekend trip to Hong Kong and I expected much of the same. (read about it here) We decided to go back since it was an easy trip for a few days and also take in Macau to do something different. We flew into Shenzhen, just across the border since it was cheaper than flying directly to Hong Kong, especially since we booked the trip so late. Last time we did and it was an easy transition, so we didn’t hesitate to try again. This time there was confusion as we asked for the bus. We started to ask the right questions and then determined the metro now comes to the airport instead of a short bus trip to bring us to the station. The metro was still under construction last time we were here, but now is quite extensive. If you plan on doing this cheaper alternate consider the time it takes. At 29 stops from one end to the other of the metro line to reach the border you are looking at just over 1 hour of transport (only to the border!). We luckily got a seat and travelled light, so the journey was easy enough. Once we arrived at the border crossing we had to find our way through some crowds, construction and confusion. Things were not readily marked and if they were it may lead you to a deadend of construction. Taking our time we figured our way and easily crossed into Hong Kong. It was now well after lunch and few options were available on the Hong Kong side in comparison to the rail/metro/boarder hub on the mainland Chinese side. We grabbed a yummy snack of meat pies, egg tarts and a curry chicken pastry. After our snack we just made a very crowded train into Hong Kong. Another would come along shortly, but it was getting late into the day and we were anxious to get to our destination.
Another long metro ride and a few connections later we arrived in the MongKok area of Hong Kong. The metro is clean and vast. It is also well marked and easy to navigate. MongKok is on the mainland or ‘New Territories’ side of Hong Kong. According to a recording at the Peak, MongKok is the most crowded place on earth. We were soon to see why. We arrived at our station and exited the subway into a wall of people that we had to swim upstream to make our way to the street. This is what I expected in China… the crowds, the bright neon signs, in every space you can see, overwhelming your senses so you don’t know where to look. The noise and jostling of the crowds as we tried to navigate our small luggage to a place where we could stop and try to get our bearings was difficult. It was a feeling I can’t even begin to describe. The energy and excitement along with my senses being overwhelmed and crowds of people almost made me feel a part of a movie, or an out-of-body experience. Maybe too many movies and expectations of this is what China is like was finally a reality gave way for the strange sensations.
We had no idea what street we were on, so we walked to a main street to no avail. No street signs. John asked a shop owner and they pointed us right. John asked a tour bus driver who pointed us straight on. John said the tour bus driver would be a good choice, so we went straight. Both were correct, but we went straight on. Later we discovered some streets are marked by signs on the side of a building; very difficult to notice when there are so many signs and lights everywhere. We followed our map that had only major streets listed and had to ask again. We were heading in the right direction. When we got to the end of the road we thought we had to go right, but we were meant to go left. Referring to our map again we figured out the error and back tracked the one block and made our way to our hotel. The hotel was away from the crowded pedestrian markets and very nice inside. Our room was tiny, but clean. It also included free internet, which we discovered from our last trip is not always included due to high costs. We paid a little extra to have breakfast included each day too. We were close to the action, but away from the noise. We were all set to go and explore. Our first day was almost gone with all the travel time. We were tired and hungry so set out to explore a bit of the area, have a bite to eat and turn in early so we would be fresh for a day of adventure tomorrow.
Stay tuned to find out more….