Sri Lanka Bound, but first Hong Kong



Hazy Hong Kong from the Peak Tram

Katy and I had a couple weeks blocked off to travel for a medical rotation for her residency; unfortunately that fell through,  and we were forced to come up with a plan b of where to take a quick vacation. Our requirements were beach, inexpensive, not guaranteed to rain everyday, and having airline award seats available. Our long list got narrowed to Sri Lanka which actually has two opposite monsoon seasons for different portions of the island.


Katy getting crushed in Catan on the plane

Katy enjoys getting passport stamps in her passport, and when she discovered we could have a Hong Kong layover from 7am to 8pm she jumped on that option. We were able to find business class award tickets from DEN to LAX to Hong Kong on American Airlines and then Cathay Pacific to Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Caffeine boost needed

We arrived in Hong Kong about half an hour early after a 15 hour flight and breezed through customs and immigration, dropped our bags off, got Hong Kong dollars, and visited a priority Pass arrivals lounge to change and freshen up in less than an hour and caught the express train downtown. The only pouting came when Katy discovered they do not stamp your passport in Hong Kong, instead electing to just keep electronic record of your visit. I am actually traveling on an empty passport since I realized that I did not have enough room for the anticipated number of stamps I would accumulate over the next 18 months and didn’t want to have to worry about getting a New Zealand Visa in a second passport so I renewed early.

Since Katy loves all forms of novel transportation, our first stop was the Peak Tram. We decided to wander there in not the most direct fashion with a stop for some coffee on the way. We both thought that the topography of Hong Kong was very much like San Fransisco, hence the need for a tram to go up the hill.


The Peak Tram. The floors are scalloped to prevent people from falling over with the steep incline.

We then decided that we were starting to feel a little peckish and started ambling to Tim Wan Ho, one of the cheapest Michelin Star restaurants for some dim sum. To be fair the original one has closed down a couple years ago, and it has since sprouted into a small chain, but it has still maintained its Michelin Star unlike some other dim sum restaurants.


Assorted dim sum


BBQ pork buns, they were pretty amazing

We got there just in time and only had a 20 minute wait, but by the time we left, spending less than $30, the line had just about tripled. The BBQ pork buns were my favorite thing and Katy’s was the “slippery thing with shrimp”.


Good thing that total is Hong Kong dollars which is really just 30USD

Katy learned that we could take the Star ferry to Kowloon, and so of course that become our next non negotiable objective. We were lucky it was not a weekend so the fare was $0.40, and we didn’t have to pay the $0.10 weekend surcharge.


Katy buying a custard

We then started to feel a little tired and started to wander around Kowloon with no clear objective in mind, discovering along the way the flower market, the jade market, a traditional Chinese temple, and an otherwise nondescript neighborhood where every shop turned out to be a pet store (which Katy also loved).


By the time 330pm rolled around we found ourselves probably a 30+ minute walk or multiple subway rides coupled with 10 minutes of walking to get back to the airport express station. Both seemed insurmountable in our state of tiredness so we called an Uber. $4.50, ten minutes waiting, and 10 minutes in the car, and we were magically deposited at the airport express entrance to the station, win.

It took less than 10 minutes to go through security and immigration, and we were on our way to the Cathay Pacific lounge to take a glorious shower. I realized that of the 4+ lounge options I had not picked the giant flagship one, and before we were completely depleted of momentum we strolled down there.

We departed on our final leg, a 5 hour flight to Colombo. Cathay Pacific breaks their business class into two sections, and we had elected to sit in the smaller back one. We were asked to move to the front one, since we were the only people in the back section, so we missed out on having our own cabin. The front cabin was still less than half full and the service was great with multiple people memorizing our names. I was exhausted and passed out shortly after entering the plane and after dinner which seamed like assorted meal number 7 of the (nearly 48 hour long) travel day.


Hong Kong like Beijing is a mix of older buildings just like the movies butting against skyscrapers and Prada stores

We hit the easy button and spent an extra $3 to have someone with a sign meet us at midnight at the airport and deliver us to our hotel. We unfortunately discovered upon arrival to our hotel that the power was out and was expected to come back on in 2 hours. Did I mention Sri Lanka is hot and humid (during our decent is was 52F at 9,000 feet…)? Luckily for us the power did come on about 3 hours later and awoke us both from an exhausted sleep when it did.


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