I accompanied my sister, Kristine, to Hong Kong in August of 2016 to help her move for her new job there. It was my first trip outside the country and so I was excited to get my first stamp on my passport.
The second time I went there was to celebrate the last days of 2017 and to welcome 2018. This time, I traveled with Mom so we can visit my sister and meet her boyfriend for the first time.
On both occasions, I flew to Hong Kong via Cathay Pacific. I love this airline especially when I get to select seats with so much leg space! The crew (both ground and air) were very pleasant people. The snacks they served were also very yummy. Sorry, Philippine Airlines. I still love the asado bun though.
Here are the things I loved about Hong Kong in random order:
1. Banking is convenient.
When my sister opened her payroll account, she just gave her ID and everything else was taken care of for her. Account opening did not take very long even if terms and conditions were discussed with her (something that is not normally done here but is now being required for consumer protection).
Also, I noticed that one bank had machines other than your ATM for cash withdrawal purposes. They had machines for cash deposit (BPI and BDO have those already, thankfully), cheque deposit, and even passbook update! These lessen the volume of transactions inside the actual branch because you do most of your banking transactions yourself! Even on weekends!
As a former bank auditor, how I wished these were widely available in the Philippines too. It would greatly lessen the workload of the branch personnel.
2. They promote the use of reusable bags for shopping.
They sell a lot of shopping bags in big sizes and cheaper prices compared to how much SM Malls (especially the groceries) charged for theirs. They charge you extra for every piece of plastic bag you will need for the things you bought.
Also, shopping trolleys are a thing! I did not have to worry about my sister carrying heavy shopping bags (again, worried about the knees) after I bought her a shopping trolley. It also felt like we were becoming one with the locals since a lot of them used trolleys for shopping.
3. The trains and buses were very, very clean!
While the trains can be packed with people, I did not have any problem about being grossed out by their public transport because they were clean. There were no candy wrappers stuck between seats or stains on the floor from spilled drinks.
The airport is also accessible via train or bus so you do not have to spend on Uber. Do not worry about your luggage. They have special places for them in the buses and the trains.
Depending on where you sit, you may find a charging station inside the train from the airport.
4. Senior citizens are still employable.
I saw senior citizen employees in fast food restaurants and in the train stations. They were very diligent and dedicated to their work. The security personnel in my sister’s place is also an old man, but still quick-witted and agile.
5. Whatever you need, you can get anywhere!
Because rent is very expensive and spaces are small, business establishments often put up several branches instead of renting one very big space. That’s why pharmacies, groceries, fast-food joints, and cosmetic stores are everywhere, making them very accessible wherever you are!
I loved going to their groceries and pharmacies to compare goods that they had over there that were not available here.
6. Food is delicious!
Eating out, albeit a little expensive, is a fun way to enjoy Hong Kong with your friends because they have a lot of restaurants (not talking about fast-food here).
My favorite place for meals is Tai Hing Roast, although I did not like at all that mandarin orange drink they had. The serving was good enough for the price they charged and the food tasted really delicious too!
The funny thing was, when we asked a waiter for utensils, he suddenly reached for the side of our table. We were surprised that it actually had a drawer filled with all the utensils we needed and so much more! The branch we ate in was in Nathan Road, Mong Kok.
7. Public WiFi. Enough said.
Thanks to that, I got to play Pokemon Go (very popular back in 2016) while in a bus.
8. Road and street signs are written in English alphabet!
You will not have to worry about getting lost because you cannot read Chinese characters. Most street and road names are also in English, making them easy to remember. That should not stop anyone from learning Chinese though because it is always fun to learn a new language.
9. They always remind you to take care.
Every time we went to the train station, we always had to take the very long and steep escalators. A recorded reminder was repeatedly played, reminding people to “please hold the handrail” all the time. When we got to the waiting area for the trains, another reminder was played saying to “mind the gap.” They mean the gap between the train and platform.
10. The airport is world-class.
I have no words for how amazing their airport is. NAIA, what happened to you? (T_T)
I am going back to Hong Kong very soon and hope to find more things to love about the place. Any suggestions?