My wife and I just came back from Hong Kong a few weeks ago. It was the 13th week of protests for the extradition bill in Hong Kong if I remember correctly.
Prior to the trip, we were actually quite apprehensive about the trip and was actually thinking of cancelling it. Right up to the last minute, I was still texting my Hong Kong friend, Louisa, asking about the situation and was assured it was still safe to visit Hong Kong.
The thing I worried most about was actually what's going to happen at the airport, most specifically are there going to disruption to flights and public transport.
Security at the airport has increased ever since the day of the sit-in where all flights were cancelled. Protests are now no longer allowed at the airport by order of the law. Only passengers with valid flights documents can enter the airport. When we arrived at HK International Airport, it was actually quite empty, relatively speaking compared to the previous two times we were in Hong Kong.
As a precaution against disruption to public transport, Louisa had helped us booked a private car (HKD 240). It turned out Airport Express was closed that day but taxis and buses were still running.
We arrived on Monday along our ride to our hotel, the driver told us that coming to Hong Kong on weekdays is the better choice. Bigger protests tend to happen on weekends. The driver's mum was stuck at the airport for seven hours the day before we arrived. The roads were blocked on Sunday and Airport Express was also closed due to protesters throwing things onto the track. We were incredibly lucky to arrive a day after.
We reached our hotel, Novotel on Nathan Road, without any incident. Along the way, we could see that it was business as usual in Hong Kong at all the places we visited, namely Central, Causeway Bay, Jordan, Nathan Road and Wan Chai.
In fact, over the four days we were there in, we only saw a small group of protesters, and they were on the other aisle at the Central Ferry so we were not even able to see their faces. But otherwise, we didn't see any protesters on the streets or even on MTR trains.
That's the thing with news and social media, they only report when things happen. Mundane things like daily life is not going to be reported.
The photos and videos you see of protesters every single day on the newspaper websites is not totally reflective of what's actually happening in Hong Kong. Protests are usually concentrated in selected areas. Hong Kong may be small, but it's not that small. Protests are not happening on every street. Police are not shooting tear gas everywhere.
We didn't visit many places for this trip as this was our third trip to Hong Kong.
We did go to many places recommended by Louisa to eat all the good stuff. It was a relaxing trip, and definitely very safe. You can always go to SCMP website to find out where the protests are.
Big thanks to Ben, Alvin, Rob and Louisa, friends of the Urban Sketchers Hong Kong, for hosting the dinner!
Rob and Louisa actually said that this is the best time to visit Hong Kong now as the China tourists are staying away. Rides at Disneyland are way shorter and you don't have to jostle with those China tourists with their rolling suitcases on the street. Some hotels are also discounting their prices. Too bad we booked our hotel months in advanced, otherwise we could have saved up to 50%.
We didn't book our accommodation through Airbnb this time, but we did went for an Airbnb Experience, which is basically an activity organised by a local. We went on a sampan dinner with two other tourists and the two HK hosts of the activity. At least it was something different from eating at restaurants or the usual food places.
Would I go back to Hong Kong again? Oh yes of course, but only if I have more leave.
Check out my trip videos below: