A quick stopover in a chilly Hong Kong, full of Christmas cheer (and, of course, Disney).
Our original schedule had us spending Christmas and New Year in Thailand, then making our way down to South Africa by the middle of January. But as the festive season began to approach and we were without family, a snap decision in a hotel room had us searching for transfers and flights, furiously hunting down deals in a bid to cut this section of the trip just short enough to spend Christmas in South Africa with family. The most agreeable route had a connection through Hong Kong, which we extended into two days.
From the early morning on our first day we wandered tirelessly its massed streets, its steep and terraced roads throbbing with the interminate hum of the city, whose smells of cooking and sounds of traffic permeate everything.
Aboard the famed Star Ferry — an attraction in its own right — we made the short trip across Victoria Harbour and explored the shores of Kowloon, looking back over the endless enormity of “Asia’s World City”. Dodging the throngs hoisting phones in the air to take selfies with Bruce Lee’s statue in the background along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, we wandered inland to take a look at Shanghai Street and a few other sights before making our way back to Central.
At a Staunton Street bar in the Soho (South of Hollywood) area we watched the evening go by, as businesses shut for the day, some of them for the holidays and wanderers like us, workers, and revelers settled in for a few drinks under Christmas lights.
After a visit to The Peak, whose panoramic views over the endless city are staggering, we visited — albeit quickly — the crazily festive and festively crazy Lan Kwai Fong district, a narrow maze where rowdy crowds spill out onto the drunken sidewalks, a tight corner of Hong Kong where the brash drink with the rich, the young with the energetic, the loud with the even-more-loud. It oozed with a vibrancy we didn’t have left in us after a full day of sight-seeing and walking several miles up and down Hong Kong’s fascinating streets, so we called it a day much, much earlier than anyone else in Lan Kwai Fong, and rested up for the next day’s compulsory activity.
Being married to Megan means, among much else, being married to a lifetime addiction to Disney. And when you’re only a short train ride away from a Disney park, and when that park is literally on the way to the airport, there is very little that can stand in her way. very few defenses I could put up.
So we strapped our packs on, walked through Hong Kong’s streets for the last time, checked in to our flight (from the center of town! — one of the absolute best things about this already very great city) and boarded the Disney train. Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch, Main Street, and whatever else comprises a Disney park, we did it all in one very exhausting (but to Meg, exceedingly delightful) day.
Evening fell, it was time to say goodbye to Disney, goodbye to Hong Kong, goodbye to Asia, and get on board our flight to South Africa, where we would arrive with a day and a half to spare before Christmas…