Arriving in Hong Kong
This is Part 4 of my Christmas in Hong Kong series. If you’d like to start from the beginning, you can choose one of the episodes below:
Ok, now on to the blog!
Arriving in Hong Kong
Christmas in Hong Kong: Part 4
Recap: My flight to Hong Kong was at 8:00AM. I had to get to the airport 2 hours early, at 6AM. The airport was 1 hour away. I had only slept ~4 hours the day before, but that would have to be repeated tonight. I went to sleep at midnight and woke up at 4:30AM. I packed my suitcase, and left the AirBNB.
Downstairs it was still completely dark and deserted. This was after all, a quiet residential part of Shanghai. I looked 20 minutes for a taxi until I gave up and decided to ask the AirBNB apartment doorman for help. Somehow just as I was asking him a taxi drove right by us. He hailed it down for me, told the driver where I was going, and I was off.
I wanted to sleep in the taxi, but I was so worried the fare would be more than I had in yen that I was fixated on the meter, clutching my chest the entire 45 minutes to the airport. Luckily at 5AM the roads were clear, and the driver was very fast. I paid him the fare and entered the Shanghai airport.
My favorite airport is and always will be Incheon Airport in Seoul. There’s a reason it was rated the 3rd best airport in the world last year (just after Singapore and Tokyo). But Shanghai’s airport is quite nice, as well. The staff is polite and the check-in process is very fast. I distracted myself in line by playing around with the SNOW app on my phone.
Once inside, I bought my co-teacher a Shanghai magnet, and looked around at the various shops and restaurants. I was so tired that I wasn’t hungry. But I thought these mochi were so cute!
I bought a snack for the plane and tried to sleep at the gate, then it was time to fly.
It was a drizzly, miserable day in Shanghai. The best kind of day to take off in a plane and rise over the clouds.
As soon as I sat down it was nap time! I time-lapsed the take off and dropped my phone half-way because I was falling asleep. 😂
Once I was high up over the clouds I started getting peckish.
My favorite snack in China are these…. uh…. I don’t know what they are.
I really wouldn’t call them that. In Korea they’re supposed to be fishcakes, but in China they’re twice the size and meat flavored. I have no idea what’s in them. They’re kind of the texture of…… Man, this is hard. Maybe really, really dense….. Nope. I’m just going to say it.
Plastic. It feels like you’re eating really delicious meat plastic. I’m so sorry. Oh oh, maybe chicken nuggets before they made them 100% chicken breast. Maybe spam!! I don’t know, but basically they’re the same flavor of 99% of the food in China. Similar to the flavors they use in Chinese lamb kabobs in Korea (양꼬치, yang ggochi). And I LOVE THE FLAVOR SO MUCH! I think it’s cumin and chili pepper, but don’t quote me on that.
Lord, I did a terrible job describing that. Get back to me on that one.
After snack time I knocked back out and before I knew it we were landing in Hong Kong!
I had visited Shanghai before, but never Hong Kong, and I was starting to get that immense excitement from visiting a country you’ve never been to before.The airport was very clean, smelled good, and even just walking towards customs the advertisements on the walls were getting me pumped. The ads in an airport are your first preview of a country, and the ads in Hong Kong were all art, technology, and health related. My kind of place!
There was a beautiful Christmas display right when you entered the Hong Kong airport, and I was definitely feeling festive and merry. I wanted to take a picture with it, but after two flights and the chaos that was Shanghai I didn’t quite feel ready for my closeup.
First stop in the Hong Kong airport? You might have guessed it by the last 3 chapters. McDonald’s! I could already tell I loved Hong Kong’s taste in food:
- Good sign #1: The McCafe was huge and separate from the main McDonald’s.
- Good sign #2: The McCafe had gingerbread lattes.
- Good sign #3: The strangest thing of all was that on the McCafe menu there was straight up toast. Just. Toast. You could order two thick slices of “honey toast” at McDonald’s with cream cheese or jam.
Call me crazy, but my favorite food in the world is just plain bread. I had a feeling Hong Kong and I were on the same page.
I sat down with my toast and started organizing my money, maps, and using the airport wi-fi.
As I was sorting my things and starting my toast four Koreans sat down around me. Two women around my age who were on a trip together, and a mother and her high-school-aged daughter. The mother started asking the two women questions about using her phone in Hong Kong, and then started praising them to death, saying they were gorgeous and looked like actresses or models. It was true, they were very beautiful. They kept thanking her, all the while video calling every man they knew, to let them know they were in Hong Kong on vacation. The high school girl was so shy and embarrassed. She kept whispering to her mom.
It’s always weird and kind of funny to me when I see Koreans abroad. After living in Korea for 3 years and studying the language, it feels weird that Koreans can see each other across an airport and connect instantly, while my history in Korea is completely invisible. I seem like any other foreigner. I feel like I’ve run into people from home, too, but they have no idea.
I couldn’t help smiling because the group around me was so funny and cute, but they had no idea I understood them. The toast was completely terrible (what a let down), but I still had a huge untouched slice and an unopened cream cheese packet left. I offered it to the mother and daughter in Korean, and oh – the shock on their faces. The mother instantly wanted to start a long conversation with me, but I had to go buy my SIM card and get to my AirBNB. I said goodbye as politely as I could, and left them still in shock.
Buying a SIM card and train ticket was easy and seamless. There were English signs and workers everywhere. When all else failed – monkey see, monkey do! I followed the crowds and ended up on the express train straight to downtown Hong Kong. The train was quiet and comfortable.
To be honest, I knew very little about Hong Kong before my trip. I knew it was a Chinese island that had been colonized by the British. I knew there was amazing food, shopping, and sunsets. But I had no idea how beautiful the country was. The whole island is beaches and mountains, and in between the beaches and mountains is amazing architecture, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. As we sped across the island my jaw dropped as I took in the view.
The Hong Kong subways are easy to navigate, clean, and have lots of fun shops and restaurants. I was really surprised by how many Japanese stores, bakeries, and advertisements were everywhere. To me, Hong Kong felt 65% Chinese, 15% American, 15% Japanese, and 5% Korean. It was the most equally mixed culture I’d ever seen, and since I loved all the cultures involved, I was already in love with Hong Kong.
I exited the subway and as tired as I was, I wanted to run around with excitement from the novelty of it all. I had never seen, or even imagined a city like this before. I felt like I was in China if China was Japan. Or if Japan was China. Basically imagine Harajuku if you changed the language and food to Chinese. But the people didn’t look Japanese or Chinese. Closer to Chinese, but their style was its own unique Hong Kong blend of China, Korea, Japan, and America. I felt like I was in the mixing pot of Asia.
My phone died before I could find my AirBNB, so I had to find the closest cafe to charge my phone. I ended up in a very cute cafe on the 5th floor of a tiny shopping mall that was just like a Korean shopping mall: A maze of very narrow halls with tiny independent clothing stores. I could have been in Daegu or Dongdaemun, except instead of Korean fashion it was a mix of Japanese and Korean styles.
The cafe I went to had amazing pancakes, waffles, and milk teas. I didn’t want my first meal in Hong Kong to be pancakes, so I bought the most interesting drink I could find, “egg white milk,” and charged my phone.
At first I thought maybe I had just bought Hong Kong eggnog, but No no no no. As I stirred with my spoon I felt something on the bottom, and realized there were full chunks of…. I guess egg whites? But they were so sweet it almost tasted like candied egg whites. Whatever it was, the hot drink was delicious. The chairs were swings(!), so I swung as my phone charged and sipped my tea.
After drinking and charging my phone I got in contact with my AirBNB host and made my way to the apartment. I was tired, but more than anything just wanted a shower.
The AirBNB host was an ANGEL. I can’t recommend him enough. He had been waiting to meet me at the subway, but because my phone was dead I hadn’t known. He gave me the keys to my room, chatted up a storm with me and the other tennants for a good 40 minutes, gave me lots of great advice about Hong Kong, and left me to unpack. I was so excited to finally be settled, I actually unpacked my whole suitcase, hung all my clothes up on the hangers, and laid out all of my make up and skincare. I rarely unpack, but this was going to be my new home for the rest of the week. My blogging headquarters.
The room was very small and didn’t have a view, but the location was ideal and it was very cheap. I showered, put on my new sweatshirt, and did my make up for the first time since starting my trip. Then I packed my bag for another nighttime adventure!
Are you ready for a nighttime adventure in Hong Kong? I am! There’s so much to see… And to eat. 😉 Next time in…
Late Night Dimsum in Hong Kong (coming soon!)
If you’re visiting Hong Kong and interested in the AirBNB I stayed at, you can check it out here!: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/22313239
Have you ever visited Hong Kong? Do you want to? Let me know in the comments down below~
See you next week! ^^