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Hong Kong – Day 0 – Travel Day

Months of planning for the Hong Kong travel video shoot have led to the big day. These days, I find going through airports and flying an inconvenience at best. However, I still get excited when the travel day arrives.

I love travelling to East Asia and to Hong Kong after an absence of 21 years was a real treat. I have always planned on Hong Kong to be my very first travel video in East Asia. My visit to Hong Kong in the Spring of 1996, taking in the sights, ambiance and especially the food, have left a lasting impression on me. I was finally going back!

Calgary - Hong Kong = 11 thousand kilometers, give or take.

My travel itinerary for the day called for a pre-dawn flight leaving from Calgary (YYC). A 1+ hour flight, followed by a stopover in Vancouver (YVR) for several hours, culminating in a ‘short’ 12.5 hour flight to Hong Kong (HKG). A LONG day indeed! Air Canada was my carrier of choice.

The early morning flight to Vancouver was quite empty. Flying to Vancouver on a clear winter day, during the morning ‘golden hour’ of light, over the Rocky Mountains, is a sight to behold.

Vancouver International Airport has been voted the best airport in North America, 8 years in a row.It is a very nice and convenient airport although it feels slightly dated compared to the new generation of airports. I would bet that a ‘freshening’ of the airport will happen in the near future.

Vancouver International Airport: International Departures Duty Free area

I arrived at YVR early in the morning, just as the local shops / eateries were beginning to open. Passing through an airport when it’s not busy is always a plus. I made my way to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf international lounge, comfortably spending the next few hours waiting for my connection to Hong Kong.

Air Canada operates the Boeing 777-300ER on the YVR – HKG route, their largest and most congested aircraft in the fleet. This is due to the popularity of the route, partly because many Canadians have immigrated from Hong Kong and live in Vancouver / Canada.

AC-777-300ER: By Brian from Toronto, Canada (Air Canada 777) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I was expecting a packed plane. It was. When flying economy, I usually upgrade to a preferred economy seat with more leg room. My seat upgrade was a wise decision. It has made my half day spent at 36 thousand feet much more comfortable. A friendly passenger neighbor, who did not reek of BO, helped as well.

Air Canada - Flight entertainment screen

Air Canada’s new economy seat, the ample leg room (one of the few places where being vertically challenged is a bonus), in-flight entertainment, power outlets and offered meals during the flight, have made this economy class experience a pleasant one. The route’s popularity and low taxes and fees contributed to the relatively cheap flight ticket (760$ USD +-).

Air Canada : New economy class seats. Shot before the plane completely filled up.

Due to a late departure from YVR and air traffic around HKG, the plane touched down just as darkness crept in. Seeing Central Hong Kong, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon from the plane window, in all their illuminated glory, brought a big smile to my face.

I made it to Hong Kong!

Hong Kong International Airport was a hive of activity that evening, although the efficiency of the airport staff has made passing through customs and border control quick and painless.

After picking up my 2 large checked bags and 2 carry-on bags which arrived in one piece, I proceeded to the MTR Airport Express. The comfortable and convenient 20+ minute train ride (lots of luggage space) swiftly made its way to my first proper destination in Hong Kong, Kowloon Station.

I have just managed to catch the last free shuttle bus, stopping at various hotels in Kowloon. Another surge of excitement temporarily reduced my fatigue as the shuttle bus made its way through the crowded streets of Kowloon.

Even though I have had a good idea of to what to expect when arriving in Hong Kong, it was exhilarating to ACTUALLY be there. 15 minutes out of Kowloon station, the shuttle bus dropped me off at my hotel, the Dorsett Mongkok.

Hotels in Hong Kong are expensive so a compromise had to be made. Comparing the local Airbnb offerings to the hotels made me choose the hotel option on this trip.

The Dorsett Mongkok was ultimately chosen because it offered the best overall combination I was looking for in terms of amenities, location and price. You may read my review of the hotel here.

My room’s location, on the 26th floor, gave the final jolt of excitement of the day. Looking out of the window and seeing the iconic Hong Kong pencil skyscrapers,  as well as the hustle and bustle of the city below, filled me with a sense of awe of being in a futuristic mega city. No wonder classic science fiction films such as ‘Blade Runner’ were heavily influenced by Hong Kong’s cityscape.

A heavenly session under the rain shower, followed by unpacking and preparation of the camera gear for the next day (official 1st day in Hong Kong), have finally led to one of the finer moment of my journey, crashing on the oh-so comfortable bed.

My 11 thousand kilometer journey around half of the world has come to an end. With the room’s curtains fully open to the cityscape outside, I was out like a light.

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