Hong Kong, Here I Come!
I didn’t get to Hong Kong till much later than expected. The original plan was to take the Airport Express train from the airport to Hong Kong Island, a roughly 37 Km ride, and then take the complimentary shuttle provided by the hotel. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t work out due to a 5 hour flight delay. By the time I arrived at HKG it was 3am, well after the Airport Express had closed. Unlike the airport back in NYC, there were no taxis to be found either. The airport was a virtual ghost town, aside from the passengers on my flight, most of whom seemed to have rides! I must admit, I was pretty stressed out and worried about how I’d get to the hotel. Luckily, the airport staff stuck around to make sure we weren’t stranded.
As we were walking through the empty hallways of the airport, it dawned on me that it would probably be a good idea to have some cash on me. I stopped at an ATM to get some money out. But as I was mid-transaction, I blanked on the exchange rate. Then the number 75 popped into my head… I vaguely remembered a 1 to 75 exchange rate, so I entered 7500, thinking I’d get roughly 100 USD. As soon as I hit enter, I suddenly snapped out of my travel fog, realizing that was the exchange rate for Japanese Yen! The exchange rate for Hong Kong Dollars was 1 to 7.7; I had just taken out the equivalent of 1000 USD!!! Thankfully, the ATM was smart enough to know that was ridiculous, and declined the transaction. I was then able to withdraw a more reasonable sum of money. Phew!
Back to the transport debacle, the remaining passengers and I ended up waiting in a seating area for another half hour or so. The staff members then directed us towards different buses. I found a seat and crossed my fingers that I was on the right bus! About 30 minutes later, the bus made a stop. I had assumed there was only one stop, but only two other passengers got off, while the rest remained seated. Unsure of what to do, I asked the driver and the two passengers if they knew if the stop was close to the financial district, but none of them seemed to know what I was talking about. Since the majority of people had stayed on the bus, (and since the first stop was completely deserted), I decided to get off at the final stop, which ended up being about 15 minutes away. Sure enough, everyone else got off at that stop. I saw a taxi across the street, and made a beeline for it (that cash came in handy after all!). I was relieved when the driver said he knew exactly where the hotel was, which, as it turns out, was much closer to the first bus stop. So we basically backtracked the route of the bus. But at least I found my way, eventually. I was so relieved when I arrived to the hotel, around 5am. Needless to say, I was exhausted after such a long day, and basically passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. But I managed to get a couple hours of sleep and rallied for a day of sightseeing the next morning. More on that next time!