Last week we took a much needed trip to Hong Kong and Macau. It was both fun and interesting to travel to Hong Kong with kids! Joel had a trip to both places already planned, so we tagged along. He had traveled so much in the last month that I think he needed some family time.
We arrived in Hong Kong with kids in tow and took the ferry over to Macau. I have traveled quite a bit in my day, and normally I am pretty good at navigating around a town. I’ve even stayed in Hong Kong before! This trip, however, I spent a lot of time lost. My first mistake was that I didn’t realize the direct ferry to Macau from Hong Kong airport is BEFORE immigration. Of course, I figured this out only after passing through customs and immigration. It didn’t help that the kids were pulling on me and distracting me throughout the airport. I had traveled alone, Joel was already safely in the hotel missing the drama. Because of this one teeny little mistake, my journey from the airport to Macau took three hours instead of one, and cost me an extra $50 plus effort. We took a taxi from the airport to the main ferry terminal, and took the turbojet to Macau. Wow, it was a lot like Vegas! Don’t make this same mistake when traveling to Hong Kong with kids!
We stayed at the Banyan Tree, which was amazing. It was full of Thai furnishings and was truly a luxurious stay. The Banyan Tree is part of the larger Galaxy Casino complex, and there were shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and even a gorgeous rooftop pool and garden complete with a sandy wave pool, sprinklers for the little ones, hot tubs, a butterfly garden, and Japanese style gardens.
The first day we explored the hotel, had a fabulous brunch at the hotel, and did some shopping. The second day we took a free shuttle to downtown and saw old-style Macau with its Portuguese influence. It was really an interesting blend of cultures, and a far cry from the casino. Not surprisingly, there were plenty of shops you’d recognize from your own neighborhood mall, like the Body Shop. Sigh. When did chains take over the world?
The third day we went back to Hong Kong and stayed the rest of the time at the Renaissance Harbour View. While you wouldn’t call it luxurious or amazing, it was fine for our purposes. The downside was the rooms were not very family friendly. They had a two single bed option or a king option. We opted for a king and a rollaway bed for Kate. We crammed it into the space between the bed and the window, so it was almost like one big family bed. Oh joy!
The first thing the crowd wanted to do is go to Disneyland. I have a confession to make. Those of you who do not know me well may not know this, but we are a family of Disney geeks. We just love Disneyland, Disney World, and even their vacation resorts. It was only fitting that we should spend not one, but TWO days at Disneyland. In fact, had they bothered to sell three day tickets, we probably would have gone back for a third. We would have run out of things to see, though.
This was our third Disney resort. We have also been a few times to Disney World in Orlando and more times than I can remember to Disneyland California. We were annual pass holders. Hong Kong Disneyland is like Disney lite. It is missing the really marquis items, like Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan and the Matterhorn. The only thrill ride is Space Mountain. For a four and six year old, however, it was heaven. They got to see Mickey’s Philharmagic, which they had forgotten in the three years since Disney World. The HK version of the Jungle Cruise was actually pretty good, with better animatronic animals. Had we been able to understand our cruise director it would have been better. It’s a Small World was considerably smaller. There were even some new rides and an entire kids area devoted to Toy Story, with a slinky dog ride and an army parachute drop.
Unlike the US Disneys, HK Disney hasn’t done much to improve the food for children, and quite frankly, the food was one of the reasons I didn’t want to go back. After two days of schlepping around Disneyland in the rain, with hungry cranky kids hyped up on sugar, I couldn’t do it again. There were no yogurt power packs, no decent pizza, and no real options for Western families. It was very Asian oriented, and probably rightly so. However, Disney is Disney and we expect at least a pizza when we are there. The only pizza kids meal had bell peppers and corn on it. I had to scrape the veggies off for the kids, and they still wouldn’t eat it! What a waste. I don’t think the kids ate anything except for lollipops and fruit the entire two days we were there.
On our third day in Hong Kong, we went to Ocean Park. It was really quite lovely, a great place to visit in Hong Kong with kids. It wasn’t new and “perfect” like Disneyland, but it was a lot like Fairyland in Oakland, CA, kind of an older 50s style park that had been updated somewhat. It had rides, an aquarium, Pandas, a goldfish exhibit, and an old style Hong Kong streetscape where the kids could pretend to be fruit vendors or bird market vendors. The food was again horrific, some of the worst Asian food I have had in the nine months since we’ve been here. I think I’m a little spoiled by Singapore’s foodie culture. The park itself was nice and easy, though. That evening we went to the Peak Tram, because it is an experience you have to tick off, and we had dinner at Bubba Gumps, because quite frankly, I needed something with a taste of Louisiana. As a family we have always liked to do walking tours of places, and despite the fact that it was 11 pm by the time we finished our dinner, we decided to walk back to our hotel, from the top of the Peak Tram to the Harbour. As nutty as it sounds, the walk was quiet and peaceful, and we got to see an area of Hong Kong that we wouldn’t normally see. The walk took three hours, and we crashed in bed the moment we got back.
Our last day we decided to visit the bird market and the flower market. My favorite was the bird market, which is an excellent thing to do in Hong Kong with kids. I guess it started a long time ago with old men getting together in a square to admire each other’s birds. Now it has expanded to be sellers of bird ware, such as cages, seeds, feeding dishes, and of course, the birds, as well as dozens of Chinese men and their birds. The kids absolutely loved it. I had been there before, and had regretted not buying one of the decorative bird cages. I am now the proud owner of my own hand carved rosewood bird cage. I got two fake birds to go with it. Gorgeous!
Overall, we had a great time on our trip to Hong Kong with kids. We all saw new things and enjoyed the visit a lot. I wonder where we’ll go next?