The first of a series of diary posts for our trip to Hong Kong

We flew with Air France; firstly a short hop from Manchester to Paris, then the main flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to Hong Kong International. Relatively uneventful until the landing in HK. Catering was typical airline fare, although with some rather unusual radish sandwiches offered on the Manchester connecting flight. Then 12 hours through the night to HK. Quite comfortable aboard the Airbus A380 double-decker, with our sleep only disturbed once by the mad Chinese woman who screamed “Wooooo” in her sleep at three in the morning, and woke half the plane up. Our landing was delayed for a while by a tropical storm moving across the island, and when the plane finally made its approach we could still feel the storm’s presence, with the immense A380 being thrown around the sky in the last few minutes before touchdown. There was a big cheer and a round of applause once we slowed enough to taxi off the runway! Due to the time difference (currently 7 hours because of British Summer Time) it was late afternoon when we landed.

Some essentials purchased straight away from the arrivals hall: our Airport Express cards from the MTR desk, allowing three days MTR (Mass Transit Railway, or ‘underground’) plus return trips on the Airport Express itself; a Tourist SIM card from the 1010 outlet in the arrivals hall; and a couple of ‘Sold Tourist Octopus‘ cards. These cost HK$39 each non-refundable, and can be pre-loaded with credit (I chose HK$200 each, about £20). What a brilliant idea the Octopus cards are – you can use them to pay for trains, buses, trams and ferries; goods in many local convenience stores; and food in many of the eateries and food shops. At the end of your holiday, any unused credit can be reclaimed.

Once through the airport, we used our Airport Express cards to get a free shuttle bus across to our hotel booked in advance through Booking.Com, the Ibis Hotel Central & Sheung Wan. What an amazing find that turned out to be! The price looked extremely good against the competition (although no breakfast included), and the pictures looked typically clean and functional like so many modern budget hotels. But the view was stunning! We had requested one of their side harbour view rooms, on a high floor, and this is what we saw on arriving in our 28th floor room…

View of Kowloon from the Ibis Hotel
View of Kowloon from the Ibis Hotel