Spending our time untethering the mind, getting the fidgets out, exploring the in-between ideas, and learning kintsugi.

Six hours layover at Hong Kong airport

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Central skyline during a Hong Kong layover, click for more

Central skyline during a Hong Kong layover, click for more

Here I was again, stuck at yet another airport in the middle of a San Francisco-Delhi trip. My last long layover was a twelve hour one at Bangkok when I had managed to sneak away to the city. I had the urge to get away again – in a decade of hopping between San Francisco and Delhi, I had never had six hour layover at HKG before.

A little effort yielded information about a pre-packaged transit tour. A little more research into visa requirements and transport options, suggested an easy free form tour. Here is what happened.

Upon arrival at the airport, I cleared the immigration. No additional fee or paperwork was needed. I found my way to the arrival lobby. Here, I kept my carry on luggage at a locker facility (called “Left Baggage”) for HKG $55, bought a round trip ticket for airport express for HKG $100 to Central and hopped on the express. Within an hour and a half of getting off the flight, I was in Central. Easy-peasy…you know what I mean if you read my trials in Bangkok!

Central is the financial district of Hong Kong with the tall towers and endless shopping opportunities. July is hot in Hong Kong and frequently brings rain and typhoon. I had just returned from Delhi’s heat and mugginess and was not really planning to be out and about in more of the same. My plan was to get off from the station and walk into a mall and stay indoors for as long as possible.

Breakfast at Pacific Coffee Company at IFC mall

Breakfast at Pacific Coffee Company at IFC mall

I had picked up a tourist map of Central at the airport but what came as a pleasant surprise was that I didn’t have to get any of that muggy air into my lungs if I didn’t want to. Airport express landed me at the basement level of IFC mall. I started the day, along with the office crowd, with a light breakfast of muffins and coffee at Pacific Coffee Company.

This mall is like any high end mall but has rooftop gardens from where one can admire the elegant tall buildings and see a bit of the normal city life which I did. It turned out, it was breezy outside making the heat bearable. I had noticed various pedestrian skyways going away from the mall and found one that led me to the piers. From here, I had a wonderful view of the skyline of Central and adjoining islands. If I had more time, I would have taken a ferry ride as well.

During breakfast, I had planned out the lunch spot. I had previously jotted down some lunch ideas based on NYT recommendation. At the airport’s tourist information counter I had also picked up a booklet containing celebrity endorsed local restaurants. After reviewing the options, I had settled on the Michelin starred Lei Garden located right at the mall – recommended both by NYT and this booklet.

The highlight of the trip was indeed Lei Gardens, located on level 3 of the mall near IFC tower one. Here I lunched on clear chicken broth, dice sized crispy duck pieces, garlicky scallops and the house special lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice. I even brought the leftover sticky rice back to San Francisco and enjoyed it over lunch.

If you plan on taking the trip to Central using airport express, give yourself 3 hours to get in and out of the terminal, and at least an hour for a chowdown. If you choose to stay at the airport, like I have on many occasions, you can always stay at the transit lounge or else enjoy window shopping and eating handpulled noodles.

Here are some more photos from the trip. Click on one to see the entire gallery in hi-def.

Central from the pedestrian skywalk off IFC mall

Central from the pedestrian skywalk off IFC mall

H1N1 at IFC mall roof top garden

H1N1 at IFC mall roof top garden

Garlicky scallops at Lei Garden

Garlicky scallops at Lei Garden

Related links:

  1. 12 hours at Bangkok airport (more)

Written by Som

August 13, 2009 at 6:11 am

One Response

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  1. […] for Airport express back to the airport. If time permits, you can have a Michelin starred meal at Lei Gardens at the IFC mall. Otherwise, eat dinner at Maxim’s outpost at the […]

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