Token unpack for me, but major unpack and facial renovation for Janice, although to be fair, quicker than usual as, like me, she wants to get out and about.
Whilst she's "preparing", I am glued to the full height and width window of our apartment and the astounding view. We are staying in the elite Mid Levels. I guess it's the equivalent of Kensington in London. It's occupied by a multi cultural melange of bankers, brokers, analysts and wealthy locals. I am told that a long term rental of a 2 bed apartment will cost 4000 pounds a month plus services.
The daytime view from our apartment on Conduit Road
Mid Levels is on a steep hillside, we are staying on Conduit Road which is wall to wall high rise apartments, our building is pink. Its getting dark and the view out of the window draws me across the harbour to Kowloon and is a mass of lights with the reflective water helping to double the effect. The harbour is reminiscent of the M25 at rush hour. I make out the Star Ferry crossing the 1km waterway, just like I had seen whilst doing my research.
We exit the apartment and in the winding corridor we are hit by the smell of fish cooking. I am not a fish lover so this reminds me that I may have problems in restaurants, how wrong I was.
Down 15 floors into the foyer. A quite scruffy affair with masses of postboxes with mail sticking out and around the reception desk lots of gold coloured waving cat figurines. A cheery grinning concierge runs to open the door for us and here we go, our first forage into a new city.
Our host is waiting for us and we jump a cab and head down the amazingly steep and twisty roads into downtown Hong Kong. I won't dwell on it but I was at the time a little worried about the chance of an accident and whilst we were there, two of Heston Blumenthal's chefs were tragically killed in a road accident. As we knew the late father of Heston quite well this came as a saddening reality check.
It's a shame we have to talk as we both want to concentrate on looking at the street life outside. The first impression is that's its busy, very busy, and that every conceivable ground floor unit is some sort of retail outlet. We see our first laundry shop with mountains of linen stacked everywhere. I guess no one here bothers to do their own laundry.
It takes around 10 minutes to descend into the concentrated harbour side district of Wan Chai where we are now dwarfed by massive high rise office buildings. Most have massive signs proclaiming global brands like Samsung and HSBC. The temperature is nice, shirt sleeve weather although we could feel the humidity slightly.
Our host pays the driver, I notice no tip.
The couple that are showing us around have really thought about what would be the best thing to do on our first night in a new city. They know we are jet lagged so it has to be something low key but with interest.
We enter a large high rise, the Hennessy Building and take the lift to the 31st floor. We are greeting by a young lady in a mandarin collared black cocktail dress who guides us to an open open terrace complete with bar and seating. The bar is the Wooloomooloo and because of the unpolluted and cool breezes, is a favourite haunt of locals and tourIsts alike. The service is chic and attentive. The view across Wan Chai, Happy Valley and Victoria Harbour is astounding. We can't speak, we are too blown away with the vista.
The view from the terrace bar at Wooloomooloo
After a lengthy photo session we are shown to our roof top table and sit down down in comfy chairs savouring the view. The stress and the jet lag evaporates. The memories and grime of the flight are dead and gone.
It's now time to enjoy Hong Kong. But what about the fish restaurants and where is the Apple store!
Insider Tips by locals on things to do in Hong Kong:
Dragon's Back hike but in reverse ending up in Shek-o for Thai food (on the roundabout).
Ocean Park for the sealife performances and the scenic roller coaster.
Walking up the many steps to see the Temple of 10,000 Buddhas.
Hiring a sampan boat from Sai Kung and spending the day on the water. Coming back on shore for a seafood dinner.
Intercontinental Hotel for burgers and the light show.
To eat.....American Peking for Chinese, Che's for dim sum, Metropolitan for European cuisine