A Layover in Hong Kong

The iconic Victoria harbor skyline glistening in the dark sky,
Hong Kong’s junk can only steal the show.
Tall building, proud brands always propped up
Ready to mesmerize the curious and the bold!

Obvious streaks of Asian culture and life
speaks well of the world’s other side,
truly proclaiming Hong Kong as Asia’s world city
— the past, the present, and the future.

That brief stopover in Moscow was a canapé from big mother Russia for me, but on this flight, I more likely look forward to our layover in Hong Kong. A full-day layover, I’d get to have my very first glimpse of this fascinating city before we reach Manila en route to Boracay Island for our New Year celebration.

Located in the southern part of China, Hong Kong is used to be a colony of the British Empire from 1842 until before the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. The British resumed its control after 1945 until the territory was returned to China in 1997, under the Sino-British joint declaration. Under the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. The country retains independent executive, legislative, and judiciary powers, except foreign relations and military defense.

Hong Kong actually is made up of many islands. The Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories, and over 200 offshore or outlying islands (the largest of which is Lantau Island) constitute Hong Kong. In a fairly small area, there are over 7 million people living in Hong Kong. This makes it one of the world’s most densely populated cities. Due to this lack of space, it also makes this city into the world’s most vertical city full of skyscrapers.

Being the most important trading location in Asia, Hong Kong is one of the busiest harbor cities in the world. After London and New York, Hong Kong is also the third biggest international financial center.

That’s Hong Kong for me and you!

With the tropical sun lingering in my mind, I was playfully imagining the thick layer of snow in front of our house quickly melting away by the time we’re returning back. We’re indeed excitedly looking forward to spending our holidays in the tropics, leaving the bitter cold weather and snow in Switzerland.

Then the captain’s announcement woke me up from my slumber. He somewhat reminded me that we would be staying in Hong Kong for a while.

We arrived in another sophisticated airport that I must say, would be my next favorite one. Big panoramas, airfield views, diverse food and drinks to offer, service quality, good retail mix—all these add up to a sheer sense of the international vibe.

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Heading Moscow and Brussels. See you again. HK!

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From the airport, we took the metro, which was quite fast and efficient by the way. Then we hopped off at the station where we met with friends, who’d be playing hosts for us on that day. Thanks to their utmost hospitality, we’re able to freshen up, leave some heavier stuff (sayonara for that thick winter jacket and long boots for the meantime), have a warm sumptuous lunch (Asian of course, how I miss you!), and stroll around the buzzing city of Hong Kong.

I wasn’t expecting that much and it had actually done pretty good for me. Hong Kong made me feel how much I miss this hectic, colorful, diverse and upbeat city life.

hong kong tsim sha tsui clock tower

As we were walking towards the ferry pier, the first noticeable landmark we passed by was the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower in Kowloon.

Built out of red bricks and granite, the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower peaks at 44 meters and is topped by a 7-meter lightning rod. The top of the tower can be reached by a wooden staircase located within. The interior of Clock Tower had previously been open for a visit but is currently closed for maintenance. The clock tower is located near Victoria Harbour at the foot of Salisbury Road. The tower has been listed as a declared monument in Hong Kong since 2000.

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Here’s the signature view of the Victoria Harbor, looking afar from Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier station.
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Previously known as Hong Kong Harbor, Victoria Harbor is a natural landform harbor situated between the islands of Hong Kong and of Kowloon. The bay itself is the largest harbor for China, the third-largest in the world, and amongst the world’s busiest.

Victoria Harbor is obviously a crowd favorite due to its panoramic night view and skyline; and its permanent light and sound show The Symphony of Light,” which is also the world’s largest.

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We’re heading to the city center…

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Hoping to see Jackie Chan in live-action as well, what wishful thinking!

…and we finally arrived at where the real Hong Kong action is!

Jet lag started to hit me so we returned back to Kowloon. I immediately dozed off to regain a bit more of waking time for our next shorter flight.

Before that then, I left Hong Kong with a short note. “I’ll surely come up with a better itinerary next time, so I can spend more time to explore. I want to enjoy what this truly modern city has in store.”

My Travel Notes


We drove from Switzerland to Belgium to spend Christmas with family and friends over there. Afterward, we flew from Brussels to Moscow and switched for another flight to Hong Kong.

From the airport, we took the most convenient way to reach the city—the MTR or the Mass Transit Railway of Hong Kong. I have a geeky infatuation over metros, and this one in Hong Kong is an amaze ball!

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Photo credits:

We didn’t take the symbolic “junk,” the term formerly applied to traditional Chinese fishing boats now refers to any motorized pleasure vessel (or you can also call the remaining one, the authentic Dukling). To cross between Hong Kong island and Kowloon, we took the equally charming Star Ferry.

hong kong dukling

We stayed in our friends’ flats during our layover in Hong Kong.

Obviously, in our first layover, we strolled around the city, with hubby as my default tour guide (plus, our hosts too). Just so you know, hubby resided in Hong Kong for some time before he moved to Shanghai, and later then to Geneva.

Actually, returning to Geneva, we also had to stay in Hong Kong, overnight this time. From Manila, we arrived in Hong Kong at dinner time and stayed out in Happy Valley with friends. No photos were taken, we just had fun!

Then the next morning, we met another friend for a fancy brunch, before we took our home flight en route to Moscow back to Brussels then Geneva.

Did you know?

For me, what makes Hong Kong the most pleasurable place for a layover is their in-town check-in service that you can conveniently get in Hong Kong’s selected MTR stations. It’s amazingly so good!

It wasn’t really a well-planned layover and I wasn’t expecting much. I just wanted to go with the flow and see how it goes. It turned out well for me. I enjoyed it so much. Next time, I will plan it well and spend a bit more time enjoying this vibrant city. So, here’s my list of things to do in Hong Kong once I get my chance again!

  • Eat dim sum. I love dim sum. I wish I can get a bite or two from the Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan!
  • Hit the street markets, daytime or at night!
  • Eat at a dai pai pong. These are open-air stalls serving cooked food.
  • Ride the ding ding, Hong Kong’s trams.
  • Explore Victoria Harbor waterfronts and the skyline at night.
  • See the view from Victoria Peak.
  • Gaze upon the Big Buddha.
  • Visit historic temples.
  • Shop until I drop!

Do you have a Hong Kong layover story to tell? What’s the best thing to do in Hong Kong within a short stay?