HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
I alight at Hong Kong International Airport (Chek Lap Kok Airport) which is actually landing on an artificial land mass formed by leveling and redistributing the islands of Chek Lap and Lam Chau. It is connected to Lantau Island.
After the long flight from Chicago I’m too exhausted to indulge in shopping, even though Shanghai Tang, my favorite Hong Kong store, offers multiple outlets in both terminals. Besides, I have time this trip to hit their stores when I explore Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. I love the brand’s slightly kitschy, colorful take on Chinese chic clothing, accessories and housewares.
I’ve spent transit nights in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel on Lantau Island in the past, so staying at the property for this trip is a no-brainer. It’s a five-minute (complimentary) shuttle ride from the airport (Hall B, doors 29/30), which departs every 30 minutes.
As always, the SkyCity Marriott is a surprisingly sophisticated property for being an airport hotel (read: captive audience with little choice). The decor is modern and the service impeccable (they once allowed me use the spa to shower for a late flight hours after I had checked-out). Marriott Gold and Platinum members are pampered with a first-rate concierge lounge and unrivaled breakfast buffet. Half the hotel shows for the happy hour in the lounge, where I’ve met fun fellow road warriors in the past.
Rested, I take the complimentary shuttle to the Tung Chung MTR station. The station is linked to the premium outlet shopping center Citygate, home to luxury stores: Kate Spade, Burberry, Escada, Lancel, Bally, Vivienne Tam, etc. Although the prices aren’t exactly inexpensive, the clothing *is* discounted (somewhat). Again, instead of shopping (there will be time for that later), I ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car up to the Ngong Ping Plateau. The ride offers a stunning view of Lantau Island.
The Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) (shot here from the cable car) and the Po Lin Monastery await me at the end of my 20-minute ascension.
I walk in and around the monastery and monument, playing around with my trusty Canon PowerShot and the dramatic images surrounding me.
A few hours suffice for exploring Ngong Ping.
Tomorrow I’ll return to the Tung Chung station and take the Tung Chung MTR line to Hong Kong island. The Airport Express from Hong Kong International Airport is faster, but I don’t want to deal with the airport again. Catching on to Hong Kong’s MTR train system takes no time: it’s intuitive, well-marked and signs are printed in English.