After almost half an year’s preparation, we finally got on the trip to China. Our first stop is Hong Kong, then Beiijng, Datong, Huangshan, Shanghai, Suzhou and at last Hangzhou. Both Hong Kong and Shanghai are featured by their skyscrapers and modernity, while Beijing, Datong and Suzhou have amazing traditional Chinese culture, and Huangshan has wonderful natures.
Let’s start recalling the trip with this videos.
Starting from Amsterdam, we flew with SAS flight, with one transfer in Stockholm. The Stockholm airport is quite small. It’s unbelievable that the free wifi in the airport lasts only about 15 min, and the connection was slow and unstable.
Transfer in Stockholm Airport. All the gates are separated as small halls, and you need to present the passport/ticket before you enter the gate hall to wait for boarding. Personally I think this is not efficient for controlling the flow, (un)fortunately it’s not a busy airport so it’s works well here.
If you need any food or drinks, get it before the custom check. There are several shops for food and drinks, however, after the custom check, there are only about three cafes where you can find food or drinks. Surprisingly you can find “Chinese food” here, 13.5 euros for 12 dumplings, it’s not that expensive as Scandinavian standard, but the food doesn’t taste good.
For the flight from Stockholm to Hong Kong, SAS has very nice airplane (333). The seats are very spacious, even for the window seats there won’t be any problem getting out to the aisle. Another big plus for SAS is that it provides wifi on the plane. The price is 19 USD/ 15 EUR, or 3000 EuroBonus points.
The price for Wifi is quite acceptable, for instance when you travel with economy seats, you get 4500 points for a while flight from Copenhagen to Shanghai, which means half of the journey you get free wifi. The wifi is free for EuroBonus Diamond or Gold, and SAS business or SAS plus members. However, when it comes to the food and drinks, SAS flight offers only one soft drink, and for the other/extra food or alcohol you need to pay.
SAS has very spacious seats, which is a big plus for this flight. It provides two meals, one main meal and one light meal. The main meal serves at half an hour after the departure, while the light meal serves at around 2 hours before the landing. The main dish is chicken and potato, the side dish is plain salad. It’s funny to see that they only serve one drink for each meal, for alcohol and extra drinks you even need to pay. Compare to the other airlines this is very stingy. In a word, the food is not good, so it’s suggested to get some food before the flight if you have a hungry stomach.
1. Hong Kong 香港 – The fragrant harbour
Hong Kong as a special autonomous entity of China, has very friendly visa policy. For most people you can stay 7 days or more without visa (the duration depends on the passport). During the flight you will get the forms from the attendants for the immigration check.
The immigration check was very efficient. We arrived at 7am, in the immigration check there was already a line, but it takes only about 25 min to get through the immigration check and pick up the luggage. The airport is huge but it’s very easy to find the way. No wonder Hong Kong airport is one of the most efficient airport in the world.
After arriving, our first task was to find some cash and get a transportation card, Octpus card. As a financial center, Hong Kong has lots of big banks. In the airport you can easily find Bank of China, HSBC, Standard Charted and City Bank, etc. where you may withdraw cash easily. Octpus card is an IC card, with which you can use for public transportation and also fast stores like 7-11. It is available right after you get out of the airport, cash and card are both available. Price differs from each package(we took the card with 3 day free Metro, and one way Airport Express). Airport Express is a fast train going to the city, with only several stops. From the airport to Hong Kong station (Please do not be confused. In the city center which is called central, there is a station called Hong Kong station, from here you can take metro to everywhere in the city).
Tim Ho Wan restaurant (添好运 means Add Good Luck) is probably the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world. It’s a dim sum restaurant chain in Hong Kong, serves only a few kinds of food, all of them are very nice. The most popular one is the buns, it’s Chasiew pork filling buns with very crispy skins. The radish cake is with dry shrimps is also delicious, but it’s fishy smell might be annoying for some people. The restaurant is quite busy, there will be always a line for it, normally it takes 15 to 20 min to get a table, but it’s definitely worth waiting. The price is approx. 50 HKD/per person, which is very cheap in Hong Kong.
Bird and flower market. You can find lots of flowers here. This kind of bamboo is very popular because in the Chinese culture there’s a saying of “going up on every step”, which is exactly like how the bamboo grows up. It’s a indication of being better especially for fortune’s sake. The flowers are quite expensive, and the shops might looks a bit messy here. For the bird market, there were actually only very few birds shop here, so if you want to see birds, the zoo might be a better place to go.
Hong Kong is also famous for its title as “shopping heaven”. As a special economy entity, Hong Kong benefits a lot from its duty free policy, which makes lots of products much cheaper than anywhere else. For instance the an iPad Pro with a case and pencil costs 600 euros, while in Europe you can not even afford a single iPad Pro. Hong Kong is also a city where all the famous brands have their debuts, that makes it the title of “shopping heaven”. You can find big shopping malls everywhere, with all the brands you can imagine. One thing you may find different in Hong Kong or some other Asian countries is that all the shopping malls aim to be a one stop mall, and you may find shops, grocery stores, electronics stores and restaurants in one mall.
The Peak is the best place to see the view of the whole city. You may take the beautiful tram getting there, while in the tram you may have the view of the city. However, the tram has a very long line so you might not want to take it. Another method is by bus. The double floor buses also have a good view especially on the front seats of the top floor. Keep in mind that Hong Kong is left driving place, so take the left seat when going down to view the city. It is even a bit scary going down, but has very pretty view.
These lamps at Dudley street are the only remaining gas lamps in Hong Kong. Everyday day at 8 pm these lamps will be lightened up, which is a strong reflection of the old time of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is an autonomous administration city, which means it doesn’t always have to follow the media control in mainland. In a positive way it has more freedom, however you will also find lots of fake stories which shall never been published. There are some books gossiping about Chinese leaders, and for instance this shop even highlights they have all kinds of these books.
Jade Garden restaurant – the breakfast is served in a very traditional style, providing a large variety of dim sun dishes. The waiters are trolleying the food and you can pick up from each trolley whatever you would like. After picking up the food, the waitress will leave you a stamp, with this you can go pay the bills. The food is very nice, while the price was a bit high. We have spent around 420 HKD for 4 person, a bit pricy for breakfast.
In every subway station there’re always very long escalators. The escalators are going very fast in Hong Kong, and in case you are not in a rush, stand on the right hand so that other people can walk by you if they are in a hurry. There is a chance you will be pushed away if you stand on the left blocking the way. You can also find lots of shops in the station, shopping happens everywhere in Hong Kong (read as Hong Kong makes use of every space to do business)
Big Buddha in Nangping
The plan for today is to go visit the big Buddha in Nangping. Nangping is close to the Hong Kong airport, the easiest way to get there is by metro and get off at Tong Chung station. The cable cars going to the Big Buddha can be easily found after arriving at Tong Chung station.
To be continued…
If you have any questions about this trip, you are welcome contact me by xmontheway[at]gmail[dot]com