Arun Narasimhan travels to Hong Kong with his kids and makes globetrotters out of them
My heart is pounding as I am about to click the ‘Confirm’ button on the travel website. After a final review of the page that lists our return airline tickets and hotel stay for one adult and two children, I confirm, charging the amount onto my credit card. Suddenly, doubts creep in — ‘Will I be able to handle these kids given that this is the first time we are travelling without their mother?, ‘What if there is an emergency — will I be able to handle it single-handedly?’ ‘Will the kids be able to enjoy all the activities that I had planned for them?’ Deciding to go with the flow I go ahead with the plan.
Holidaying in Hong Kong with children is a good decision as one is spoilt by so many choices — tourist attractions, shopping, eating joints and children’s activities. Our taxi ride from the airport to our hotel in Causeway Bay is filled with ‘Oooh… look at that’ and ‘Wow, what a view,’ as we make our way from Lantau Island to Hong Kong Island. After quickly freshening up, we decide to explore the place. On our concierge’s recommendation we purchase the prepaid Metro Transit Octopus card that helps save us from queuing up to purchase individual tickets every time we use the transit system. The children hold on to their individual cards, treating them as their own credit cards and are fascinated with the automated turnstiles that allow passengers to enter/exit the stations. My son, especially, beams when I make him the chief navigator for all our trips on the metro and he’s in charge of figuring out which colour coded lines to take to our destination. This way I am able to keep him distracted from the sometimes very long walks between line interchanges.
During our stay we visit various tourist attractions such as Avenue of the Stars (modelled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame) located along the Victoria Harbour waterfront, Victoria Peak (best visited an hour before sundown so one could watch as the city lights come on in their various coloured brilliance), Po Lin Monastery in Lantau Island (where we see the largest seated bronze Buddha statue in Asia), Chi Lin Nunnery, an actual Buddhist place for worship and the Nan Lian Gardens (with ponds filled with Koi fish).
Our day trip to Disneyland turns out to be a complete wash out due to a freak thunder storm but we are able to salvage the day by converting into an indoor shopping day at the IFC mall and reschedule the visit to the park. It is almost impossible to resist shopping in Hong Kong, more so for my daughter who lives to shop for trinkets. The glee on her face when I allow her to bargain for her purchases at Temple Street night market, Chunk King Mansions, and Ladies Street Markets is a reward in itself. A lesson we quickly learn is to not compare the cost of our purchases with nearby stores as our celebration for a successful bargain is short lived when we find out that we have overpaid for almost all the trinkets. My son however decides to simplify his shopping and settles for a touch screen digital watch after scouting several high-end stores. With all the cuisines Hong Kong has to offer, the kids win the friendly challenge of not repeating a cuisine during our entire stay there not knowing that is exactly what their dad wants them to do.
As we disembark back in Chennai, I suddenly realise that all the doubts I had prior to the trip are unfounded and I get the best gift I could have asked for when both the children exclaim, “Epic holiday daddy. We need to do Australia next year for Father’s Day!”