George Peach (University of Hong Kong)
I was particularly nervous on the night before my flight, thinking about every possible scenario for my journey.
Could flights be cancelled? Would Hong Kong airport be closed? Would Hong Kong be plagued by endless protesting? Would I lose all my things at baggage claim? Would I enjoy my time in Hong Kong? Would I want to return to the UK straight away?
All these fears could have come true, and wouldn’t have been the end of the world if they did, but were hard to ignore before my massive adventure. Yet, on the morning of my 18-hour and 5-minute journey to Hong Kong I was filled with excitement, which was incredibly welcome.
Leg 1: Birmingham to Dubai
7 hours and 5 minutes after leaving Birmingham airport I had landed in Dubai. Dubai airport was particularly impressive, with the number of shops and restaurants staggering. I’m sure it could take an entire day to explore just the airport. With an intense need for food and drink, and a lack of storage (and money), the Nike and Rolex stores would have to wait… I didn’t have the energy for any exploring of note, but enough time to chance across a line of palm trees either side of the travellators. This should be mandatory at every airport worldwide…
A change of departure gates, paired with a 30-minute delay were the only things of note during the 2-hour 50 min stopover (3 hour 20 min at this point).
Leg 2: Dubai to Hong Kong
8 hours and 10 minutes after leaving Dubai I had arrived in Hong Kong. Hong Kong airport felt very efficient from the start. A tram (actually called the Airport Automated People Mover) took me to customs and baggage claim. All the guards inside the airport were incredibly polite and helpful, and spoke excellent English to help my various queries. In particular, a guard at the taxi rank guided passengers to the different numbered taxis for various locations around Hong Kong. The apprehension of an extra charge for luggage and potential miscommunication of my destination, mean that Uber was my preferred option. The guard let me know to get the Uber from one of the terminal car parks rather than the taxi rank, so I had to haul my suitcase back inside the airport.
Travel to accommodation
A bus would have been the cheapest option, at about $20HKD (about £2) – 10% of the Uber – but I was concerned about the luggage capacity and needing exact change. I would later find out that there would have been enough room for luggage, and tickets could be bought at a desk in the airport. However, my delay and being in such a new place meant I wanted to be at my accommodation as quickly as possible, so was probably still worth it.
The Uber drive itself provided an amazing first impression of Hong Kong. A hot and humid downpour had greeted my arrival to Hong Kong, but by the time the Uber came it had cleared. The Uber driver described this as his favourite type of weather as it made the air much cooler and left an incredibly blue sky. The immense mountains against the sea greeted the road winding from the airport to mainland Hong Kong. Tall skyscrapers and apartment blocks filled the view between the mountains, showing their immensity.
Once I got out of the Uber and walked towards my accommodation I was greeted by a cacophony of noise and lights, which was both overwhelming and instantly took my breath away (or was that the humidity and traffic?). I am staying in an AirBnB right in the centre of the tourist district Tsim Sha Tsui, which is an amazing location. This is temporary for three weeks, hopefully giving time to get off the waiting list for halls…
Luckily, for me, all my initial fears did not materialise. All in all, it has been an amazing start to my time in Hong Kong and I am really looking forward to making a start at the University of Hong Kong!
M goi 唔該 (Thank you in Cantonese)