It’s a dreary day here, raining with the prospect of the temperature dropping to freezing by evening. Ah, such is April in Toronto…
It was around this time in 2004 that I ventured for vacation to the other side of the world – to Hong Kong (香港, being the “fragrant harbour” of the title). I have always liked to vacation abroad for my holidays, but the pound and the euro were getting quite expensive at that time, and the airfares and hotel rates in China were really a bargain in comparison. I had also not taken a vacation in a year and a half, and a break was definitely in order.
And I was amazed. It was an Air Canada flight, switching planes at Vancouver, and the headwinds did slow us down on the way over. We arrived at Hong Kong International Airport (Chek Lap Kok, or 赤鱲角) at 7:15pm on 20 April, cleared Immigration and Customs, took the Airport Express to Central, the shuttle service to the Excelsior Hotel at Causeway Bay, checked in, and flopped down on my hotel room bed. At 8:45pm! Something was definitely going right.
The following seven days did not disappoint. Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Lantau, the various parts of the New Territories – I covered them all. And I fell in love with the territory. I returned every year until 2007, adding trips to Macau, Taipei and Shanghai along the way. My admiration for the Middle Kingdom only grew, and it blossomed into several wonderful friendships, leading to my marriage in 2008.
After marrying Jennifer, we went again for me to meet the in-laws in Beijing and Harbin in 2009, around the Lunar New Year. And the adventure continues.