Hong Kong, “Asia’s World City,” possesses a bustling, modern, stylish yet traditional culture from both the Chinese and English. With only 36 hours to experience a bit of this unique metropolitan city, we saw only a glimpse. We saw the rough parts of the city as well as the fancy parts. A layover isn’t enough time to get the full experience, but we conquered what we could.
Not knowing what to expect from an international city, with an event always going on and because we were just there for a layover, we thought ahead and booked a hostel at USA Hostel in Kowloon. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money because we would only be sleeping for a few hours, so we booked the cheapest room. Kowloon is known for shopping, but with our experience, we would advise never to stay in that area. Hong Kong is definitely more diverse, which makes the city unique, but which also brings about a cautious mindset. Of course, we were there only from 12:30am to 5:00am. The hostel was in a place called Mirador Mansion, which was a building with shops on the first floor and apartments and hostels on floors two through 16. As we made our way to find our hostel, we felt as if we always had to watch our back. The hostel did not look like the pictures on the Web site. Thankfully, we met up with friends and only slept there for two hours. Lesson learned: “You get what you pay for.”
We woke up just in time for the Airport Express train to start running. Twenty-four minutes later, we were at the International Airport. Luckily, this airport has a lot of unique services, which are open 24 hours! One, for example, is that is has a “Plaza Shower and Relaxation Lounge.” You can pay to relax in the lounge and take a shower by the hour, or you can just pay for the shower, which is what we did. It’s a little on the expensive side, but definitely worth it after a restless night.
Despite the bad experience with our hostel, we got to see one sight that Hong Kong is known for. We took the Peak Tram to the top of a mountain to see Victoria Harbor at night! Even though it was a bit foggy, the skyline was still beautiful. It was so beautiful, that we missed the last tram ride down the mountain and had to take a taxi, which was an experience in itself. The driver was really friendly and spoke English really well, so we learned a lot about Hong Kong in just a 15-minute cab ride.
On our way back to Korea from Vietnam, our second layover in Hong Kong was a much better experience. We paid a little extra money to stay in a nicer place. Although, we didn’t stay there for very long either. We took advantage of that Saturday night and met up with a good friend’s brother, who was born in Hong Kong, lived in the states and went back to Hong Kong to work. He showed us the nightlife and glamorous life that the Chinese in Hong Kong live. Everyone is so unique in their own way, from their style, the way they talk and where they are from. We met people who were born in Hong Kong, born in the states and living and working in Hong Kong and even people from Pakistan who were living and working in Hong Kong. It’s truly an international city that can claim to be “Asia’s World City.”