My son Jayant’s MBA graduation ceremony at the Chinese University of Hong Kong gave us an opportunity to visit Hong Kong again. While viewing the airline prices to Hong Kong I figured that I could add one more destination at no extra cost. And so Japan got added to the trip! Our plan now was extended to include Tokyo- Osaka- Kyoto and Hiroshima.
And so the veteran travelers, Malati and I set out on yet another journey to the Far East – The journey to Hong Kong and Japan began with a midnight Cathay Pacific flight from Hyderabad. The Hyderabad Interim Departure Terminal(IDT) now looks much better organised and the passenger management has greatly improved since we took our last overseas trip a few months ago. Mercifully they have now done away with pre -check in baggage screening. Still nowhere near international standards but as long as it has the interim tag I guess we have to bear with it.
After a five hour flight we landed in Hong Kong International Airport – our second visit in six months. Immigration was a breeze and this time I was more confident of the Pre -arrival registration (PAR) document.
Indian passport holders are allowed an easy entry with prior registration – a rather simple process on the Hong Kong immigration department web site- except for the warnings that the data needs to be exactly the same as that in the passport – and oddly enough the airline also has a responsibility of checking the same. On my last visit the PAR stated my birth place as Chennai while it was Chennai, India on my passport. This “mismatch” was spotted by the alert airline and needed managerial approval to board the flight.
After a longish walk from the arrival gate a short train ride got us to the passport control. We got through immigration in a breeze notwithstanding my apprehensions of some unknown error in my PAR. This time we chose to stay on the Island in Sheung Wan close to Jayant’s digs and headed to the city by the Airport Express. This is a very convenient and quick way of getting into downtown Hong Kong and Kowloon. I had my tickets pre-booked from Klook.com at a considerable discount from the regular fares. The Airport Express station is a short walk from the baggage carousel. One can also buy spot tickets from the counter at the airport. As there are no ticket gates at the airport we walked directly walk directly onto the train.Trains are frequent and run every twenty minutes.
In less than 30 mins we were at the Hong Kong station where you need to scan your QR code to exit. A complimentary bus shuttle was also readily available to take us to our hotel in Sheung Wan. And on the return journey we used the same QR code to enter into the city check – in area and reversed the process to the airport for our onward journey to Japan. The QR code however did not work very smoothly and the turnstile gate needed a nudge to open.
Do remember that the Airport Express station is known as Hong Kong station or simply Airport express station and not to be confused with Central station which is colocated. The city check-in at both Hong Kong and Kowloon stations is a great facility for travelers and when used in conjunction with the Airport express and a bus shuttle makes for a very convenient and cost effective option. The airport shuttle dropped us right outside the hotel on Jervois street in Sheung Wan. A quick check in at the hotel and we headed next door to the Moon Thai which is the Michelin recommended Thai restaurant at the Holiday Inn Express. We were lucky to walk in to this restaurant without reservations for a sumptuous meal of Thai rice and curry. The restaurant lived up to its recommendation by Michelin and the vegetarian version for Malati made the meal all the more memorable (do check out my review of Moon Thai at Tripadvisor ).