In the late 1970’s I knew this amazing city on the back of my hand. Twice a month I was there for passenger change over, but also refits and renewal of passenger classification. I left in June 1979 … and didn’t go back until March 2015 = 36 years!!!!!
And the foundation of the city and the harbour hadn’t change that much. Some new skyscrapers and the harbour fronts have changed into fantastic pedestrian areas, and new buildings are now blocking the sight for the Peninsula Hotel (that wasn’t supposed to happen).
In the ’70s there was no metro or tunnels connecting the mainland (Kowloon) with Hong Kong Island. Then the Mandarin Hotel was the main modern landmark on the Hong Kong side. And the Victoria Peak viewpoint was more or less just a car park even if the Peak tram was there and has been since 1888.
The old airport, Kai Tak Airport, is now converted into a very exclusive cruise liner terminal. It was amazing to see the planes landing … only one runway and they just stopped a couple of meters from the terminal building. One of the most difficult airports to land on. It closed in 1988 when the new Chek Lap Kok airport opened – the move happened early one morning in just one massive move.
A big chunk of my heart has always belonged to Hong Kong and I’m so glad that my friend Anna Liisa want to come with me after our days in Dubai. It didn’t take her very long before she said: I love this city. The first evening when we had our dinner at a lovely French Bistro.
We arrived very early in the morning … and we arrived at our hotel, Hotel Panorama on Hart Ave (just behind the Peninsula Hotel) around 7.30am. We took a taxi from the airport took about 20 min and cost us 325HK$ – the Airport Express would have cost us HK$220 and then we still would have to take a taxi from the Kowloon MTR station. Excellent service and before you enter the taxi you get estimate fare cost handed to you, our was out about 30 HK$ … but they charge you for each bag.
Taxi is cheap in Hong Kong and it takes quite a while before the taximeter starts moving.
On route to the hotel is where you see how much Hong Kong has grown … the suburbs are near all the way up to the airport now, thousands of high apartment buildings.
The first thing we did after we left our bags at the hotel was to visit the metro and buy our “Octopus” Cards. Our hotel was about 5 meters from N3 entrance/exit (lift) to the East Tsim Sha Tsui Station and Tsuen Wan line.
The young lady at the ticket office asked us how old we are – and I answered: very old. Then she said you can buy a senior card; 70HK$ – 50 for the card and 20 for travelling, but as a senior, it only cost you 2 dollars per route. Fantastic!!!!! The cost for the card we could have got back at the airport on departure, but we didn’t bother .. because we had been travelling so much for those 70 dollars. Normal fare is about 4.80.
After that, we took a stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. This promenade is about 1.6 km long starting from the Star Ferry of Tsim Sha Tsui in the west and ends of the entrance of the submarine tunnel of Hung Hom. It was a beautiful morning and the city was just waking up. We could die for a cup of good coffee, but nothing what so ever … until we reached the end of Avenue of Stars, Starbucks.
Not a fan of Starbucks, but that morning it was from heaven sent … and their coffee is excellent and the same in Macau. Total different from the few cups I had in the US and Europe.
After sitting there in the morning sunshine enjoying the coffee for a good while we made our way back to the hotel through the Hutchison Park about 40 minutes walk.
Back at the hotel, we were at that time desperate for our room, even if it was only 10.30am. The young lady was very helpful. We had now been awake for about 24 hours. We didn’t get the room standard that I have paid for, got a slightly smaller room, but we couldn’t care less. Unpacking and then straight to bed for a couple of hours was all on our radar.
It was two very tired and happy nice Swedish ladies that put that key card into 1003. The hotel is 40-floor high, we were very pleased to have our beds on one of the lower levels.
Our 5 days in Hong Kong had started, we just need to unpack and a good nap.
“You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you.”