I went there twice, with the last visit in 2006. People always ask, why Hong Kong? Now that is an interesting question. Different people travel or take a vacation for different reasons, my first reason was because of the newly opened (then) Disneyland Hong Kong Resort. It is the nearest to where I was and in a language in which I could understand. Previously, the nearest place where I could find Mickey was in Japan.
Another reason was because of the influence of Hong Kong serials on local TV networks. We have been bombarded with them ever since I could remember. Every day during dinner time, the family will be sitting at the dining table with the TV on, sometimes it would be a period piece depicting stories from historical books, other times it would be the cop and robbers series, family dynasties with plot and intrigue and the usual slapstick Hong Kong comedies.
A Cantonese will eat anything with four legs except a table, and anything that flies except an aeroplane.
Thirdly, it was because of the food. There is a saying in Cantonese (I am one, by the way):”A Cantonese will eat anything with four legs except a table, and anything that flies except an aeroplane.” Where else could you find, edible, chicken feet, frog legs, pig ears and jellyfish? If you are the adventurous sort and willing to try exotic dishes a la Fear Factor, then Hong Kong’s abundant varieties of delicacies would be a must-try.
Lastly, the shopping angle. Hong Kong is a shopper’s paradise. From the haggling trade along the various streets around Mongkok and Jordan, right up to the brand names on Causeway Bay and Central. You will find what you’re looking for, as long as you know where. But beware of imitation goods from mainland China.
Hong Kong Disneyland
If you haven’t been to any Disneyland before, then probably this is where you should start. It is probably the smallest as compared to the other Disneyland theme parks around the world, but it is not as crowded though. Try not to visit during mainland China school holidays though.
Disneyland Hong Kong is located on Lantau Island, a short MTR trip on a specific line just a few stops away from Hong Kong International Airport. Do check out the specifically themed MTR trains ferrying tourists and visitors to the theme park. You get your Mickey Mouse silhouette windows and try to grab onto Mickey Mouse’s ears for support.
Language is not a problem, most do speak English since Hong Kong was a British colony all the way until 1997.
Don’t worry about the language factor, Hong Kong was once part of the British Empire and a Commonwealth country before being ‘reclaimed’ by mainland China back in 1997. English is quite widely spoken here, albeit with a Cantonese twang to it but nothing much to require a translator. Just make sure you speak slowly so that they could catch your drift. However, British dry humour will be lost on the locals.
Walking along the main boulevard, you will be greeted by various Disney characters in statue form, ending at a large fountain. On your right would be the ticket counters. Tickets can be purchased on site, online and even at some MTR stations located in Hong Kong.
Tip: You must stay until the actual closing time to enjoy the fireworks show
Please make sure that you are well-equipped to last for a day. Opening times are from 10am till 9pm. You need that much time to try on every rides, watch all the movies and enjoy the parade on Main Street. Not to mention, the must-see event every day just before closing time, the fireworks event behind the castle. Another to-do thing, or actually my pet peeve, try to get photos of all the original Disney characters — Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Pluto. You will get to see others including the Chipmunks, Buzz Lightyear and lifelike Snow White, Cinderella in the flesh!
As they say, Disneyland is as much as for the kids as it is for the adults, who will be pretty excited to see their childhood cartoon characters come to life. There is no age limitation and everyone can find the little kid in them once they step through the gates at Disneyland. Probably it’s that Disney magic!
(to be continued)