4 Days in Hong Kong
Being asked by a world airline and their tourism board to cover a 4 days in Hong Kong was charming, a real humbling feeling that we have the recommendation and experience to be trusted with such a task.
Several months of planning go into such a trip and after the logistical complications complete we step in to create the storyboards, scheduling, scripting and plan the shoot – which is also laden with complications and unknowns. None fo the crew had visited Hong Kong before, so it was an adventure for all of us.
The reason for the trip: To celebrate the 40th year Cathay Pacific has flown the Dubai-Hong Kong route. To capture the experience with the wonderful Mahira Abdelaziz was going to be awesome, I’ve personally wanted to work with her for some time now.
Our departure on the 11th October was smooth, the airport slick in operation and the airline welcoming beyond expectation, being a ‘newbie’ to Cathay Pacific my anticipation and expectations of global airlines was on alert and they stood their ground marvellously – economy looked comfortable, but Business was where it was at!
Here’s a video of the first part of the adventure
Upon arrival Mahira looking glamorous, fed the air with presence and we could all feel the next four days were going to be as fun, adventurous and new to most of us, we were all excited to get to the hotel, check in and start exploring.
Day One – Touchdown 4 days in Hong Kong
12:38pm we arrive at Landmark Mandarin Oriental.
Known for their customer service, I had an idea of what we could have expected, but this was beyond expectation (which I didn’t expect), John our concierge had the weathered smiling face that has seen thousands of guests over the 20 year career and the stories he could tell would have made a great read, for now though our interaction was brief, yet poised for a sequel some other time.
A quick change, bite to eat and kit assembly we were ready for our first attraction The Peak Tram and Sky Terrace. This tram built initially over 100 years ago was designed to transport residents to the high altitude residences, yet in 1930 was rennovated as a tourist attraction. The views from this height provides a beautiful panoramic view of part of the island and allowed our tour guide and fixer Renee to elaborate on the details of the history. Apparently those residing here nowadays are referred to as the ‘Blue Blood’. To live here, you must be born into it, to buy a property here (if they ever become available), an application is submitted to other residents and a criteria led interview takes place to ensure you are permitted. Many aren’t – you have to have done something for society, charity and be a true contributor to the greater good of humanity.
Mahira, not shying away from a photo opportunity loved learning about the heritage and it was charming for a first experience (3 hours in to our arrival).
2:18pm – The Peak Tram
The Peak Tram http://www.thepeak.com.hk
We had been briefed about the Junk Boats of Hong Kong, the old Dhow styled vessels with brilliant red sails transporting cargo to the islands, but we had this one transporting us through the sea giving us the greatest of views of the Hong Kong cityscape. Onboard the staff great you with warmth, a drink and a short explanation of the 45 minute journey.
5:45pm – Aqua Luna Junk Boat http://www.aqualuna.com.hk/experience
6:31pm – Light Show at Central Pier
Mahira smelling the ‘neon bouquet’, walking through the plaza to see the technicolour display with great wander!
7:02pm – Time for dinner at Spice http://spice-restaurant.hk
There are a spectrum of eateries as you can imagine, the Hong Kong Tourism Board had lined up several options of places we must visit, allowing us the chance to explore additional gems of this bustling, confusing, chaotic yet organised city. Spice at No. 1 Knutsford Terrace hosted a great Asian meal which helped conclude a memory filled day.
9:45pm – Day One done
It’s been a long but awesome day, a walk back to the Mandarin Oriental leaves us with a wanderlust adventure and we’ve been here less than 24 hours – captured some great footage and have a few more stories to tell. Until 10am tomorrow…
Day Two – Let’s Explore 4 days in Hong Kong
10:06am We leave the hotel bracing ourselves for a long day, there is so much planned, I’m confident we’ll fit it all in, but that’s the eternal optimist talking not the Director.
Today was designed for exploration and defined the word wanderlust, starting with a exclusive VIP tour on a tram that’s being transporting commuters for over 60 years and narrates the perfect inner city story.
Tramoramic Tour – a “must do when in Hong Kong”
I’m not usually an advocate for guided tours as you lose the ability to get lost and wander the streets, find yourself, look up and see something extraordinary. However, this is a “must do when in Hong Kong”.
Here’s a production interlude: When filming a production of this scale with so many incredible subjects to film, it’s so important to keep the story a focal point during filming, post-production and keep the emotional connection to the subject matter. Great shots are somewhat easy to find, if you have the right kit, crew and eye for detail. But my approach of “tell your audience nothing show them everything” is vital to our style.
OK, back to the story at hand:
1:37pm We sat for a fantastic traditional goose meal from one of the many Halal restaurants in Hong Kong – for our Muslim readers, finding Halal food can be quite a challenge when travelling, but Mahira and our crew were pleasantly surprised with the range of available options. It’s not as easily available as one may like, but there is a real focus on developing Halal options for the rise in Muslim tourists. Quick research and you’ll be offered results to suit your beliefs.
Mahira Abdelaziz – taking the Hong Kong streets with style
2:48pm Destination Causeway Bay, for a series of shopping, walking, exploring and this was the start of an overload of shapes, colours, patterns, smells, sights and sounds – a complete sensory experience. You’ll see from the video what Mahira thought of the afternoon. Sugar Cane Juice from Peel Street, the escalators taking you to the mid-levels of Soho, ‘illegal’ street art, shopping and super-sized pizzas. You can follow Mahira’s journey on instagram @mahiraabdelaziz.
6:10pm The highlight for most of us sat nestled on Aberdeen Street at a place PMQ (Police Marital Quarters), previously a residence created to house Police families of Hong Kong – more recently it’s now an art house and providing an opportunity for small creative businesses to show and sell there wares. It is amazing – we did spend several hours there filming, shopping and even celebrating an awesome concept store opening called Stockholm @stockholm_hk.
Day Three – Find Yourself 4 days in Hong Kong
8:50am Time to leave the hotel for a 40 minute drive through to the East of the island for a hike up to Kowloon Peak – a steep climb (in the car) leads us to the apex of the mountain with magnificent views of Kowloon, harbour and in the distance Hong Kong Island. The wind was unsettling, but we still managed to get out the drone for some epic filming of the mountain and the vistas (you’ll see from the video!).
10:27am Destination Stanley Bay to shop, see the sights of the bay, Blake Pier and to have a spot of lunch at Ocean Rock Seafood and Tapas. It was about a 45 minute car journey from Kowloon Peak, great scenery on the way! Stanley Bay and Murray House are steeped in culture and history – originally located in Central Hong Kong the main building ‘Murray House’ named after the British Soldier and Politician Sir George Murray, was deconstructed and rebuilt where it stands today – a 160 year old restored colonial building and one of Hong Kong’s iconic landmarks.
12:49am Fishing with the locals, OK, we didn’t actually manage to fish with them as they were seriously fishing to catch nothing more than ‘amuse bouch’, it seemed like a relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon, the ‘fisherfolk’ were deep in their 60s and had stories to tell. One of my favourite photos were taken of the trip so far. Capturing the smile of a local who loved us being there to film their everyday lives. A real life-moment captured on and off camera.
Fisherman at Stanley Pier
1:26pm We headed for lunch and then off to the acclaimed market, a hustle of a place offering various souvenirs, bags, clothes and home wares a typical street market but very traditionally Chinese in ambience. The people are so friendly and if you charm the shop owners discounts can start with an immediate 50%, leading to 70% so get your own hustle on!
3:04pm Life goal accomplished! Personal blog interlude: Every destination I venture I love finding the chance to play the guitar and sing a few songs. I’m far from good, but I love it. Since my time living in London I wanted to busk, but couldn’t find the courage to ask a professional busker to ‘have a go’ as I didn’t want to disrespect their profession, nor embarrass myself. Today was different, the busker openly loaned me his guitar , mic’d me up and allowed me to play a song. This charade gained some impressive crowd attention and as the passersby stopped to listen I played a song and ticked off a huge bucketlist item. This personal life memory will be engrained with a smile, that I ‘rocked’ Hong Kong (and earned my predecessor a few extra dollars).
Me busking at Stanley Pier – bucket list accomplished
3:12pm Time to travel back to the Hotel. Unfortunately, it was short lived as Mahira saw a series of shops and simply had to go! There was no stopping her, literally salivating at the chance and it was some what empowering, how something (men take for granted) inspired someone so. We chose not to film this as the militant manner of which the next few hours were going to play out weren’t in line with the story we were trying to tell. However, apparently it was a success.
7pm Dinner at the Ritz. Coming from Dubai we are ‘spoilt’, blessed and empowered to live a life well travelled, the aspirations of being greater are engrained and you become accustomed to the finer things in life whichever I believe is a great reflection and encouragement. The invitation of a dinner at Ozone in The Ritz Carlton was possibly a taste of the Dubai luxury – and it surpassed expectations – the views were sensational. Truly. In fact, if it is your first time to Hong Kong I personally recommend this being one of your first ‘must dos’. Reason: it’ll give you a landmark introduction to where everything is located in relation to where you need to explore, if I’m allowed to through in a simile is was like a live 3D map of the city.
10:27pm Day Three concludes with a complete WOW.
The incredibly luxurious Ritz Carlton
Time for ‘the magic of TV’ moment – The plan was to film Tung Chung, NP 360 and Mongkok however, due to a Level 8 Typhoon warning we were all advised to stay in the hotel and not leave. However, not being one for nodding to the norm – I started exploring the city by foot to see what we the ‘fuss’ was about. Personally, it was strange. Very bizarre indeed. The streets were baron, void of life, I wandered for around two hours before I saw another person – maybe this was a lot more serious and I was taking it for granted?! However, I still managed to explore, get lost (and very lost at that).
The sea had the energy like it wanted to swallow the world, the streets hungry for footstep and the people that I eventually did see were on a mission to get to safety. Filming postponed for today – time to catch up on the edit!
Day Four – Not Long Left 4 days in Hong Kong
8am – The typhoon warning is still at Level 8 yet we have work to do, Mahira still needs to shop which fortunately Hong Kong offers a lot of opportunity to fulfill. We head out a little before 8am to ‘hunt’ down the perfect location for an ‘intense blitz’ (local experience) shopping spree. Streets around Soho, Central and ICC deliver a fantastic opportunity for this. So we took full advantage of it (and I mean full).
11:12am Time to check out of the Mandarin Oriental with a fond longing, that type of wish you weren’t leaving but comforted that you’ve accomplished a lot and maximised your time. We head to the airport, which was a 50 minute drive (without traffic), excited for the Cathay experience homeward bound. After a swift check in (a little excess baggage) and an incredibly fond experience of Hong Kong we were destined for The Pier (business lounge), Mahira looking as fresh as she did 4.5 days ago took advantage of the ‘Quiet Room’ for a pampering whilst the rest of us sampled the delights of the freshly made noodles – an unexpected gem of the trip and not what one usually expects from an airport lounge. Cathay again delivered beyond expectations.
Summary: Hong Kong should be on your bucket list – if you enjoy city trips – four/five days gives you the chance to explore the major attractions and still have time to get lost wandering the streets. But (and this is important) the want to return again to explore, discover and appreciate the balance of what you couldn’t get through. There is more to do, and you know you’ll enjoy it!
Price points: Similar to Dubai.
Shopping: Tax free.
Traffic: Very busy (but organised).
Walking: This city loves it.
Transport: Easily available.
Markets: They love a hustle!
People: Service staff are friendly, taxis/general workers are there to do a job, not entertain.
Casing point: Say yes to everything and go explore.
Thank you for reading and taking the time – if you have any questions of the trip or would like the finer details please do contact email@example.com.
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Have a wanderlust day!
Adam Ridgway (discover my 4 days in Hong Kong adventures @ajridgway)
Part of the Travall World team.