Hong Kong now requires electronic pre-authorization before travel for Indian passport holders. At the time of writing this post, visa on arrival was valid.
When I saw the requirements for visa on arrival for Hong Kong, it looked easy. You needed a valid passport with two blank pages and that was pretty much it. Like everywhere else a return ticket and hotel bookings help in getting the visa. My travel agency advised me to carry 2 passport size photographs, so, I carried it. As I was traveling with two kids I was a bit apprehensive about everything. However, the kids managed to sleep in the flight by twisting and turning at impossible angles. I managed to watch my movies as usual!
We arrived early in the morning without any adventures! The kids were not too cranky but I was! As I started following the sings for immigration, we reached a point at which we had to board a train. This was a first for the kids. They were quite surprised and excited.
When we managed to find the visa on arrival queue after getting down from the train, it was not too bad. Maybe because of the early morning arrival, we missed long queues. I also liked the fact that the immigration staff was concerned about the speed of the queue and would direct you to the relevant counter.
I asked the kids to behave at the Hong Kong immigration counter or we would be sent back home. At New Delhi they were all over the counter, almost trying to climb on to it. When our turn came they simply asked for the passports, they did not ask for any photographs. Once again, I had all the documents in my hand but I was not asked for anything. The man at the counter simply asked me lift up Chhavi as he could not see her. They put a small white square ticket in our passports and we were off! The best part is that Hong Kong gives free visa on arrival, there is no visa fee for tourists.
It was only while going out of Hong Kong I realized that they do not stamp the passports! Now what a lovely thing to do, that surely saved me at least one fresh page of my passport. As this was the first trip abroad for the kids, they simply have the IGI stamps!
So it was that easy to get a visa on arrival at Hong Kong Airport for me!
For the sky watch today, I am putting up ten pictures, 8 from my travels in 2014 and 2 from the backyard. You might have seen those pictures in some previous posts but I was tempted to put the eye candies in one place!
10. A Sunset in the Backyard
I usually reach home after the sunset, except for the peak of summer when the sun sets quite late. This evening I was lucky, the sun was yet to drop over the horizon. I clicked it from my balcony. One day I am going to see more sunsets rather than commuting through them!
9. Mandvi Beach, Kutch Gujarat
I went to Kutch in January in 2014. It was a solo, last minute trip. I was so fed up with the hotel prices in Bhuj that I settled for staying at Devpur Home Stay. That was such a blessing as Krutharthsinh Jadeja ji fixed all my subsequent itinerary. It was because of his recommendation that I ended up at Mandavi and enjoyed the sunset at the beach.
8. An Evening in Hong Kong
This year I took my niece and daughter on a trip to Hong Kong. The kiddos were quite fascinated by the Victoria Harbor. They were so engrossed that they did not notice that I was clicking pictures. I am going to take them out again but next year.
7. A Para-glider in Srinagar
This was before the devastating September floods in Kashmir. I was there in June. I was getting out of Srinagar on September 7 as well, when Jhelum breached its banks. I hope J&K would recover from the disaster soon.
6. A Beautiful Sunset at Monsoon Palace, Udaipur
There are some sunsets that get itched in your memory. The sunset at the Monsoon Palace in Udaipur falls in that category. It was such a beautiful evening, the sky had just the right amount of clouds so as to make the evening beautiful without overwhelming the sun!
5. Misty Mountains, Paro, Bhutan
This was a morning shot. I usually open the curtains before I go to sleep. Around the time of sunrise I opened my eyes to see if there was something worth getting up. The mist had gobbled up the mountain range and re-drawn the shape of the mountain! It looked like someone had repainted the landscape. I went to the balcony to click a few pictures and then I went back to sleep again! That is how I approach sunrise photography!
4. The Beach at Maafushi, Maldives
The trip to Maafushi, Maldives has been such a joy. I loved this lone coconut tree which was reclining at such an impossible angle towards the sea. I clicked many photographs but I like this one the best.
3. Batal, Spiti
Mountains have been giving me only clouds, mists and rains since June 2013. Batal, Spiti was also going the same way till the clouds parted for a while in the evening. And that was the only time in this whole trip that they showed any mercy to me!
2. Sunset at Maafushi, Maldives
Sunset at Maafushi was a magical time. It was a pleasure to be out on the beach and enjoy the sea. Sunsets became all the more special. I always thought Maldives would be beautiful but I never thought it would be so beautiful.
1. Construction Work in the Backyard
Sometimes pictures happen in the backyard as well. I was trying to click the sun peeping through the construction site but it was not giving me anything worthwhile. Then decided to go for the silhouette.
I became aware of the ‘dress code for women’ phenomenon because of my own travels. Gradually, I started doing such posts myself. There are two reasons for it, one I enjoy clicking the pictures immensely. Two, after reading the posts while searching for information and coming back from my trips to the same places, I thought, some authors were stating their personal opinions much more than what women were wearing in those countries. Now that is so natural, we all have opinions. So for the dress code posts I take a slightly different route. I click pictures of women and try to deconstruct the dress code via what I saw them wearing.
But this time in Hong Kong, I was the only adult traveling with two kids. So conscious photography seriously took a back seat, it actually took a severe beating! All the time the attention was focused on the two brats and what they were up to. So, for the dress code for women in Hong Kong I have to use accidental pictures. What I mean is that I was clicking a general scene and then I cropped those pictures to give you a sense of what women were wearing in Hong Kong.
I clicked this picture at the Disneyland Hong Kong. It was a hot and humid day. The attire reflected the climate. It was common to see shorts, t-shirts, capris etc all around. Even in the shops and malls, the scene was quite similar. I guess you can’t go wrong in Hong Kong with all your western attire.
The brat in the foreground, in the picture above, is Chhavi. Everyone was in a rush to go to the Disneyland! Short blue dress, red shorts and pink capris, all looked good. I guess the trick was to wear cotton as it was a hot and humid day. After that any dress was fine.
In the city too trendy western attire was the norm. I clicked this picture while I was waiting to board the tram to go to the Peak. The wait time, you guessed it right, was 60 minutes. You can once again see that short and western attire in cotton was pretty much the norm in Hong Kong.
I visited only one beach in Hong Kong, the Lido Beach. It was at a walking distance from my hotel, The Royal View Hotel. It was a quiet beach and we had a great time. Swim suites were the norm but I surprisingly did not see many in a bikini. It is not to say that no one was wearing them, but more women were in shorts or swim suites.
If you are traveling to Hong Kong I guess your packing is going to be uncomplicated, western wear is very common. Cotton is the fabric of choice particularly if you are visiting in the hotter months.
I usually don’t bother much about hotels when I travel alone or if we are all adults. But with two kids in Hong Kong I was worried about everything. More so when both are brats and I was the only adult on the trip. I was going with Makemytrip and they booked me with the Royal View Hotel. I checked their reviews on Tripadvisor before leaving and my feeling was that we would do fine.
In between my booking the trip and traveling to Hong Kong I was invited by Makemytrip to travel to Bhutan. In Bhutan I mentioned that I have booked a trip with them to Hong Kong. Unknown to me they put in a word with the staff of the Royal View Hotel. So, when we arrived I was greeted by their sales manager Rita Leung. They had also upgraded my room to a double bedroom suite on the 11th floor. I got a cake and wishes from the manager of the hotel. Of course ,the kids loved the attention and the soft toys they got from Rita. To this day they miss her. So, first of all I have to say a big thank you to the Royal View Hotel and Makemytrip for making my kiddos first trip abroad so wonderful.
After the trip I realized that having a double bedroom suite was a big plus. That way kids had some space to play and call their own, whereas I too had a room to unwind. Of course they took the master bedroom and I had the kid’s room! Next time if my pocket can afford it, and I am traveling alone with the kids, I would go ahead and book a double bedroom suite!
Location: The hotel is located on the Castle Peak Road which is about 20 minutes from Disneyland. As the main focus of my trip main was Disneyland, it suited my purpose. The hotel shuttle takes you to Tsuen Wan which connects you to the metro. They charge 10 HK dollars per person for the round trip on the shuttle. Tsuen Wan has a big shopping mall as well which we explored on one occasion. This area is otherwise far away from the Victoria Harbor.
My Room: The double bedroom suite was huge. It was amply supplied with tea. The bathroom had a good shower and ample amenities. We had a balcony too. The house keeping staff was prompt in making my room. The hotel has about 688 rooms. As it was summer vacation time in Hong Kong the hotel was full.
The Breakfast: The hotel provides complimentary breakfast to the guests (at least that was my deal) and they have a decent spread which had continental, and Chinese. My tip to you is to avoid 9.00 am if the hotel is full. We went here at 9.00 am on one day and we had to wait to find a seat. Whereas we went at 9.40 am twice and we were fine. The breakfast was up to 10.30 am when I was staying there.
The Swimming Pool: The hotel has a big swimming pool where the kids had a great time. When they would let me swim I too enjoyed it. But as Chhavi doesn’t know how to swim as of now, she would continuously demand my attention. Vasu can swim well and would be mostly on her own! The pool was fairly large, you could see people seriously doing their laps. There was an indoor Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room attached to the pool area.
The Lido Beach: The Lido Beach is walking distance from the hotel. Even the kids could walk to it easily. After playing for hours, they could walk back without any trouble as well. There is another beach close by but we would never find time to check it out.
Other Amenities: The hotel as a spa and a gym as well but I could not sue it as I was too busy managing double trouble. The good bit was that mostly they would get so tired by the end of the day that they would fall asleep quite early!
The Royal View: Since the kids would fall asleep early, I could take out my tripod and play! This was the night view from my balcony. It was indeed a royal view! I would take a cup of tea out there and watch the lights while the kids were sound asleep!
Overall, for my needs the hotel worked out perfectly well. A big thank you to the hotel staff, to Makemytrip and particularly to Rita Leung for making my kids so happy!