First day always feels a little scary but exciting trying to figure out everything like transportation (here you have ferry, bus, MTR train, taxi, private driver and one of my personal faves – your feet!). It’s also a learning experience in how wifi/SIM cards work, where to eat and what to eat, what to see and do, etc.
My first day here I was a woman on a mission to find a way to get a visa to the People’s Republic of China. Strangely you don’t need one to enter Hong Kong or Macau or even Taiwan if you are a US citizen but you do need one for the mainland. Why the difference? Well I’m guessing it’s capitalism v communism. It’s expensive to do it here though. Forever Bright Trading Ltd. (www.fbt-chinavisa.com.hk/) charges 2200HK or $282USD so you should get a visa before you leave the US if you can but, if you haven’t, then go to this company as they know what they are doing and are expeditious about it. However, if at all humanly possible, go with a passport that doesn’t have a stamp for Turkey. I’m not sure what the skinny is with this and I got lucky that my Turkey stamp was in my previous passport (by only two weeks by the way – Turkey was the stamp that filled the last partially blank page of my previous passport). Anyway, not sure why but you could run into a problem if you have been there prior to entry into China.
Also, keep in mind HK is expensive so you may want to get in and get out quickly if you can unless you have extra change dangling in those pockets of yours. As for site seeing, I didn’t get much of it today except for the typical walking about the city and seeing HK from a local’s point of view which I typically prefer to tourist highway anyway. The food is better and cheaper as is the shopping and the people. More genuine. More authentic. I found the average every day Chinese person to be kind and very helpful. If they ignore you or put their hand up to their face, it only means they don’t understand you and therefore can’t help you. They are not being rude. Or maybe it means this at least when it comes to me….
Just some numbers and suggestions for you on day one in HK: get an Octopus pass for the bus and trains. It cost $150HK of which $100HK is refundable when you leave. You can add money as you go if you need it. For each stop it has been approximately $10HK which is expensive by comparison to other big cities I’ve traveled to in the world.
The dim sum for about 8 pieces it is about $20USD but I suspect it is much cheaper off the tourist highway where I am currently stuck. The Red Bulls are $20HK each at the 7-11 stores which is like $2.50USD but don’t buy it from the Conrad Hotel as the mark up is over 5 times the price (shame on you Hilton!) Speaking of lodging, the Rainbow Lodge Hostel (www.rainbowlodgehk.com) is $20USD a night as compared to the Conrad which could cause you to file bankruptcy at over $300USD/night. I am lucky because I have a friend/client here for a conference who had an extra room at the Conrad and although while nice and relaxing it feels like I’m at a Hilton in America with the exception of the views from the 60th floor that is.
That’s all for now from Hong Kong.