A Fam(familiarization) Trip to Hong Kong

About Hong Kong · about Awesome Travel Stuff

Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Tourism Board and Regal Hong Kong Hotel joined partnership to host a trip to familiarize staff from selected travel agencies to experience fascinating Hong Kong, Asia's world city!

Canada One Travel was the only invited agency from Manitoba, together with two from Alberta and five from Vancouver, B.C. Although I lived in Hong Kong for 12 years as a child and then a teenager, I expected the experience will be absolutely fabulous and interesting.

Eight participants, representing their respective agencies, embarked on this fam (familiarization) trip to Hong Kong on July 6, 2017. We first met at the Hong Kong Airlines Check-in Counter in Vancouver International Airport. There were happy greetings of old friends and new ones. Soon we boarded HX081.

Hong Kong Airlines

Hong Kong Airlines lounged its first North American flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver, B. C. on June 30, 2017 (http://www.straight.com/life/877851/hong-kong-airlines-chooses-vancouver-launch-first-north-american-route). They have been authorized three more flights to Canada, either more flights to Vancouver or expand to Toronto. Hong Kong Airlines is a young airline which celebrated its 10th anniversary in November 2016. Prior to its North American lounge, Cathay Pacific and Air Canada were the two airlines which flew directly between Vancouver and Hong Kong.

There she is! HX 081 glistening in the Vancouver sunshine

There she is! HX 081 glistening in the Vancouver sunshine

Yuen Kan Wong, Marketing Manager of HKTB was pleased with the HX business class

The lounge on board is great for socializing or simply taking a break from sitting

There are extra leg room seats in

Economy Class, for an addition of Can $120... well worth it for extra comfort for a 13-hour flight

About 13.5 hours later, we landed in Hong Kong International Airport, which is located on the island of Chek Lap Kok. The airport itself is largely built on reclaimed land. For more information on Hong Kong International Airport, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_International_Airport.

iclub Hotel by Regal

From the airport, we were transported to one of Regal Hotel's two brands, iclub Hotel. On its website, it stated, " iclub Hotel is a select-service brand under Regal Hotels International. The no-frills, chic and trendy iclub Hotels are designed for optimum functionality for self-sufficient and tech-savvy travellers." There are four iclub Hotels in Hong Kong. Our group stayed in iclub Hotel Ma Tau Wai, a brand new hotel, which is centrally located in To Kwa Wan area where you can feel the locals' heart beats. It offers scheduled shuttle bus service and easy access to public transportation where guests can conveniently commute to lively entertainment, shopping and cultural districts in Hong Kong.

The rooms are small, only 150 square feet (14 sq. metres) but not unusual in major Asian cities. The cost of some prime properties in Hong Kong is likely the most expensive in the world. Small hotel rooms are not uncommon. Staying in this room gave me an opportunity to experience what it was like living as a minimalist in a tiny house (as those shown in HGTV). It was perfect for one, or two organized people who have similar habits. The room is efficiently designed and has everything one would need when checking into an average hotel North America. Once I unpacked, there was a place for luggage under the bed. The room has a small fridge and a safe in an open clothes closet. The bathroom has a single door which serves as the door for either the bathroom or shower stall, but not both at the same time. Basic amenities include free wifi and local calls, simple continental breakfast, coffee or tea and snack and fitness area.

The wall to wall, floor to ceiling window makes the room feel spacious. While lying in bed, one can see far to the east end of the harbour.

A quaint little park

is close by, making it convenient to go for a morning walk or run; or join the local people to practice taiji.

That first morning in Hong Kong, jet lag got me up very early. The local people were also up and about bright and early. I bought some fresh fruit and a cup of coffee, I walked to the park by the harbour and gazed far out to the ocean. I felt that life was good!

Regal Hong Kong Hotel

For the next two nights, the fam group stayed in Regal Hong Kong Hotel. This hotel is situated in a vibrant commercial and shopping district on Hong Kong island. Its website states that "The Hotel offers smart luxury where international business and leisure travellers are pampered with stylish comforts....."

This award winning hotel offers spacious guestrooms from 23 to 28 square metres, and suites, between 33 to 153 square metres. Their modern and well-equipped facilities allows the hotel to provide unforgettable experiences for group events of any types. The rooftop features a spectacular swimming pool with panoramic views of Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour.

The group posed in the elegant lobby of Hong Kong Regal Hotel

Rooftop pool at Regal Hong Kong Hotel

Victoria Park is a

short walk from Regal Hong Kong

Hotel. It has much improved since the days when I was a

teenager. Many local people make good use of the space for morning exercises

and other athletic activities such as swimming and soccer.

Hong Kong Tourism Board http://www.discoverhongkong.com/ca/index.jsp

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is a government-subvented body tasked to market and promote Hong Kong, and to enhance visitors' experience once they arrive.

http://www.discoverhongkong.com/ca/index.jsp This is a must-visit site when planning to go to Hong Kong. As they played host to our group of travel agents from western Canada, they did a great job in setting up a well balanced itinerary for us. The following are some highlights of the guided tours that we experienced.

Yau Ma Tei Cultural Playgroun Tour -- "We make you a local with Hong Kong Stories and Snacks" wwwhohogo.com.hk

First was a fully guided walking tour of busy historic Yau Ma Tei district in Kowloon. Ho Ho Go tour guides took us to explore the hidden gems of the area. We visited historical buildings, learned about Chinese traditions and sampled light refreshments.

The old pumping station enhanced by the mosaic on another building behind

Hong Kong is full of contrasts -- traditions are important to Chinese people. There are many specialty shops with interesting traditional merchandise in this district.


was a joy visiting the fruit markets.

The fragrance of some of these exotic fruits could be smelled several

blocks away. They are imported from Hong

Kong's neighboring regions


of Fly & Sea Dive Adventures modelled in a traditional wedding gown, hand

embroidered in gold and coloured threads. Traditional wedding practices were

also explained to us

360 Lantau Sunset Tour

Ngong Ping 360 is a great way to explore Lantau Island, the same island where Hong Kong International Airport is located. We started with a 5.7 km cable car journey in the crystal cabin which took 25 minutes to complete. Its glass bottom offered us the breath-taking view of the lush green rolling grassland and slopes of Lantau Island right under our feet. We were in awe with the vast deep blue South China Sea spreading out to the horizon. Just before we completed the cable car ride, the majestic Tian Tan Buddha came into view. We got off the cable car near by the culturally themed landscaped Ngong Ping Village, where we immediately felt we travelled back in time when the pace of living slowed down.

After strolling around Ngong Ping Village, we visited Tai O fishing village with stilted houses and took a boat ride to Tai O Heritage Hotel for our sunset dinner. We concluded our first busy day with a brief visit to admire the rising moon on Cheung Sha Beach, one of Hong Kong's longest.

Crystal Cabin is equipped with a glass bottom -- if you are a bit afraid of height, try to look far ahead, otherwise you would feel queasy.

The famous Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island

TramOramic Tour -- one must do what

the tourists do.

After a delicious dim sum breakfast and transferring to Regal Hong Kong Hotel, we boarded the sight-seeing tram. The tram is the slowest mean of transportation in fast moving Hong Kong, however, this is the best way to see the busy activities on the streets. Our tram ride started just outside Regal Hong Kong Hotel, from Causeway Bay to Sheung Wan.

A slow and relaxing tram ride to see the sights and hear the sounds of Hong Kong island

A pleasant surprise as the tram turned a corner

Old Town Central

The Central and Sheung Wan area was where the story of Hong Kong began. The British navy landed at Possession Point on January 25, 1841 when Hong Kong was a quiet fishing village. Over a span of 150 year, this humble settlement rapidly grows into one of the major financial centre with over 7 million people. This walking tour led us through many oldest streets of Hong Kong. The booklet Self-guided Walks in the Heart of Hong Kong published by Hong Kong Tourism Board is an invaluable resource.

One of the many murals of street arts in Old Town Central

Man Ma Temple in Old Town Central, where some Hong Kong people continue to engage in religious ritual

New Territories Cultural Experience Tour

The New Territories is the rural area of Hong Kong, which is the area north of Kowloon Peninsula, borders with mainland China. The century-old villages and temples offer many stories of rural Hong Kong, and people's belief/ superstition value system.

A store piled high with dry goods that are special ingredients used in many treasured dishes

Which wish will the lucky god bless? Pick mine! Pick mine!

Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery Nan Lian Garden is situated in Diamond Hill in Kowloon Peninsula, occupying an area of 35,000 square metres. This is a classical garden, connected to Chi Lin Nunnery, which offers serenity in the mist of urban hustle and bustle.

The Lotus Pond

An oasis in the heart of the World City to relax and contemplate

Hong Kong Harbour Sun Set Cruise

One can never get tired of looking at the harbour in Hong Kong, any time of the day..... always charming, always stunning!


clock tower behind us used to be part of the train station, which was used as the

symbol of Kowloon Peninsula for many


One last look at my beloved Hong Kong Harbour before we were bussed back to Regal Hong Kong Hotel where we were treated to a 10-course banquet, studded with award winning dishes from the hotel's kitchen. Mine was exceptionally special because it was all plant-based, with dishes that stood up to the meat counter parts.

Our return trip took 12.5 hours to arrive Vancouver International Airport. It was an unforgettable trip for all. The remarkable experience will be happily shared with clients and coworkers.

For information on Hong Kong and its neighbouring regions, call Donna Tsang, Asia Desk Manager at 1.800.668.6889 or your favourite Canada One Travel Agent.

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