THE first time I set foot in Hong Kong was in the early 1990’s. It was still the era of the “biyaheras,” retailers who journey to HK and bring home stuff to sell in boutiques or straight off the sack bag (decades before Balenciaga made its version).
The demand for the destination gave rise to chartered flights from Davao to HK. The direct link was economical and cuts travel time. It proved profitable for the biyaheras and travel agents, most especially during the sale seasons.
I took the longer way though, via Manila. Shopping straight from the source was more exciting. Stores along Tsim Tsa Shui, Causeway Bay and Canton Road were busy, pedestrians toting shopping bags crowded the sidewalk. The city was indeed a shopping capital.
Giordano was the hot local brand. At the high-end shops I got to scour the racks of brands I only saw on magazines—Dolce & Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, Christian Lacroix, etc, and I got my hands on my first Gucci belt, a reversible one, which makes it worth my money.
No Disneyland yet. Ocean Park and Victoria Peak were the go-to spots, where you can have photos plastered on plates. That was the “in” thing, what memories were made of.
The biyahera era soon ended so did the chartered flights without me availing of a trip. The succeeding trips to the city were still taken via Manila route. The place got too expensive to visit.
When I revisited HK early in the decade, it was in the company of good friends. I finally got to visit Disneyland and enjoyed the best rides ever—It’s A Small Word and Tea cups. This time the priority was dining over shopping. It was fun.
Believe it or not, after several trips there I haven’t explored HK to its fullest. To do that won’t be a problem now. The place it easier and faster to reach with Cathay Dragon’s direct flights. Regular flights, not chartered. What took so long for an airline to finally service this route evades me. Perhaps we have the Davaoeño president to thank for. This side of the country is getting the attention it needs.
Hong Kong is as exciting as the first time I set foot on it. The areas seem the same yet so much has changed—and changing to everyday. Hollywood Street is getting a facelift, new buildings are rising, old structures are repurposed, and farther from the city center communities are rising, train lines are getting longer. Tourists still shop and shop Chanel, Prada and Louis Vuitton like there’s no tomorrow, and Michelin stars are falling on restaurants across the city.
In the most recent visit, Hong Kong Tourism Board took me to areas familiar and new, pointed me to new restaurants to try. It was another episode of why I should be back for more.
Indeed I will. Would you be able to resist Cathay Dragon’s $150 Davao-HK-Davao deal at this weekend seat sale event? I know I can’t.
Going to HK? Here’s a couple hotels you should stay that offers a view of the iconic Victoria Harbour: Marco Polo Hong Kong hotels and dine at the Italian restaurant, Cucina; and Kowloon Shangri-La and dine at its Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant, the Shang Palace.
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