Hong Kong and Back

Just popped out of Taiwan and got my real visa in HK. This will probably be the last time that I go to Hong Kong this year. For some reason, I spoke a lot of French, which was refreshing. I hate (that’s a strong word) always talking English or the little Mandarin that I speak. I wouldn’t mind speaking German with some Germans. I got to get out more. I don’t hate speaking English, but I like speaking different languages.

To see some more HK photos, click here. I’ve integrated most of them in some posts.

Hong Kong hasn’t changed. Still expensive. The visitor’s visa is more expensive than last year, 600 HKD ($77 USD, this includes a 50% surcharge for express service, same day delivery). The best way to get to the airport from Taipei is to hop onto the HSR (high speed rail for all of you ingrates!). I used to take the bus, which took about 45-60 minutes depending on traffic. It’s always harrowing to be stuck in gridlock while you have to get to a flight.

So best way is to get onto your scooter, park it at the bus station or HSR station, and hop onto the HSR. HSR to Taoyuan costs $3.20 (105 NT). In Banciao and Taipei, we are lucky. The HSR stations are at the same place as the train stations. Other cities aren’t that lucky. They tend to be out in the boondocks. Overnight scooter parking $0.61 (20NT). Shuttle bus from HSR station to airport proper is $0.91 (30 NT). The bus from Taipei to the airport costs $4.10 (135 NT). Prices are the same, but it’s in time that you really win with the HSR. You just need to time yourself with the departure times. The HSR to Taoyuan takes about 9 minutes. Then, the shuttle bus takes about 15 minutes. So if you are on a tight schedule, this is the way to go. It sucks that the HSR train doesn’t go directly to the airport, but hey, it’s a lot faster.

The Chung Hwa Travel Service at the Lippo Center (aka, the Taiwan visa office) was annoying as ever. I waited for two hours, from 9AM to 11AM to get served. There were 19 people in front of me. I thought it opened at 9AM, but I guess I was wrong. It was 8AM. Funny, their website said 9AM, though this might have been for other types of passport holders.

Ah well, I read a book and waited. I knew from experience to be well prepared. I had different documents with me in order to get the visa, just in case. Naturally, it’s best to take the originals with you, as they might ask to see them. It can take between 30-45 minutes to do this. I usually get this done in 15 minutes, because I have prepared everything in advance, including filling out the form.

Another great travel tip for one or two-day stays or layovers in Hong Kong. Just take the Airport Express and purchase a same-day return ticket. It will cost you $13 (100 HKD) for that. The great thing is that you can still use this ticket the next day, if you purchased it late during the evening. I found that even 8 or 9PM is enough to use the return ticket the next day.

I didn’t feel like exploring or going to HK Disneyland, which is one of the things I meant to do in HK, so I just bought a book I haven’t read, The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton, and read for a few hours before I collected my passport and took a plane home.

For short stays, I recommend the Hong Kong Hostel, 3F 47 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, exit E Victoria Park. It’s very clean. It’s a bit more expensive $13-$30(100-300 HKD), but it’s clean. Really clean.

Other Visa and HK posts

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ranjitwithkinginbehand.jpgI'm Range, your host. On the menu, photos, art, stories, entertainment and reviews. Links, maths, education and social issues. I'm in Quebec (Canada) or Taiwan (R.O.C.). Follow me on Twitter.

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