Review: How to make the most of a single day in Hong Kong

View from above Hong Kong

View from above Hong Kong - Credit: Archant

We were only in Hong Kong for a day, but this was enough to whet my appetite for a return, writes Andrea Powell. For a start, the drivers were so polite! One advantage of a cruise ship tour meant that where others had to walk, we got to use the bus up the steep hill to see the Big Buddha - and I was impressed to note how our slow bus gave way to every car behind it. From someone who has spent endless hours on the old A12 to Lowestoft and the A140 to Norwich crawling at 20mph, I could not help thinking how great it would be if we adopted a similar idea here!

From the peak - Hong Kong

From the peak - Hong Kong - Credit: Archant

As for our time in Hong Kong – it was fabulous.

The Buddha was indeed, big! And Golden. And definitely worth seeing.

Then we were onto the tram and some spectacular views of the city.

And before we left, as ever, there was time for shopping.

Shopping on Hong Kong

Shopping on Hong Kong - Credit: Archant

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I’m not one to usually be interested, but the intricate embroidery, soft silks and bright colours – all at such cheap prices, left me hooked.

There will definitely be a day’s shopping pencilled in on any return visit!

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Hong Kong is another of those destinations often used as a stop-over. But I was fascinated by all this ‘Special Administrative Region’ of China had to offer.

Man Mo temple, Stanley Market and maybe even a day at one of the other outlying islands, would be good in future. And then there was the visit to Hong Kong Disney I did not have time to fit in. I was more than a little intrigued by the thought of America meets the Far East. And I also missed out on Macau, the gambling capital!

Inside the temples

Inside the temples - Credit: Archant

But back to our sail away.

Due to our late arrival (fog in a previous port had cut our visit here from two to just one day) we’d missed out on our planned harbour cruise the previous evening but not to be defeated, the Captain had told us that morning that he was seeking permission from the Hong Kong Harbourmaster to depart two hours later than scheduled - at 8pm - to coincide with the nightly Symphony of Lights Show: “At the stroke of 8pm, these 44 buildings erupt in coloured lights, laser beams and searchlights to perform a synchronised 13-minute display set to music and commentary.”

Hubby and I had ringside balcony seats and were looking forward to a beautiful evening meal taking in the sights of Hong Kong harbour as we gently sailed away with the show lighting up the harbour.

OK, so we had not splashed out on the extortionate (although I’m sure it’s still worth it) charge for the full ‘Official Waiter’ service you could get on-board, but rather – well, yes you’ve guessed it, it was actually Hubby who had the job of serving – as well as enjoying the views.

The sky scrapers of Hong Kong

The sky scrapers of Hong Kong - Credit: Archant

But hey, it would still be great. And we would be saving ourselves quite a lot of money (OK, so I had already spent it buying up Hong Kong earlier in the day).

Arriving back on board, we heard the Captain over the tannoy. Apparently, we had met resistance to our plans to stay in the harbour to watch the lights show. Efforts were still being made to gain the necessary permissions but at this time passengers should prepare for sail away in just 20 minutes.

Hearing a commotion in the corridor, I poked my head out of the door to be met by a (small) stream of people heading towards the stairs, mumbling about ‘not good enough’ and ‘promised in the itinerary’ and so forth. Did we have something of a mutiny on our hands? With a knowing grin, I returned to my own cabin to await further developments.

This one was not over just yet!

The harbour at night

The harbour at night - Credit: Archant

And sure enough, a few minutes later, a further announcement. “We have tried all avenues available to us in order to delay our departure to see the Lights Show. There have been diplomatic efforts at a very high level to the relevant Consulate but to no avail. The Harbourmaster has advised that we must leave on the Grounds of Health and Safety. We have no further details but due to this advice we are left with no alternative but to cast off and leave immediately.”

And there you have it. Health and Safety has been rolled out as an excuse for many things. But this was really something. And ‘diplomatic efforts’ – what did that mean? I could just see Barack being awoken in the early hours at the White House with a call from some chap in Hong Kong asking if he would telephone Hu Jintao, his counterpart in China, to see whether 2000 cruise ship passengers could get a couple of hours longer in Victoria Port to watch a Lights Show.

Well, maybe not quite that high a level. But clearly a few important personnel had been involved here. And usurping them all was the confident Harbourmaster. He was clearly having none of this and ‘slapped the Ace on the table’. Health and Safety prevents it.

Whilst disappointed, Hubby and I took a far more pragmatic approach than many of the disgruntled passengers we saw returning to their cabins.

Big Buddha

Big Buddha - Credit: Archant

This would clearly be ‘a talking point’ for a few days!

As for us, well at the stroke of 8pm we were munching into cheese and biscuits as we gazed into the open seas, with the only speck of light being another cruise ship sailing nearby. Not to worry, at least we avoided an international diplomatic crisis – over a Lights Show. And I’ll just add that to the ‘Must-Do’s’ next visit…

Andrea Powell is owner and Managing Director of Idelo Travel in Ipswich. Contact: 01473 231181.

Big Buddha

Big Buddha - Credit: Archant

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