To be clear: this trip took place in February 2020.
We booked our flights to Yangon Myanmar 12 months in advance, and at the time we thought that a 16 hour stop over in Hong Kong on the way sounded pretty great! We both adore Hong Kong! We spent the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong for our first anniversary in 2016.
First bit of advice, don’t do as I did.
Our flight from Toronto to Hong Kong left Toronto at 1am, so I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to work 10am- 6pm the day of our flight. Man was I wrong! I worked a full day’s shift, arrived home and almost immediately had to leave to drive the 1 hour to the airport.
We arrived in Toronto at 9:50pm. We checked into our flight, super easy, and then headed through customs to our boarding gate.
This trip was the very first time I had decided to register both Jives and I with the Canadian Embassy in Hong Kong and Myanmar. There had been quite a bit of unrest in Hong Kong, and Myanmar as well. Also, there was a mystery virus spreading in China, and while there had only been 21 cases in Hong Kong, I was afraid (and man did things change quickly in hindsight)!
The Toronto airport was really empty, possibly because of the coronavirus or possible because of the late hour. The flight actually left EARLY!!? That happens?
We had a block of seats to ourselves, and I actually slept on and off for nine hours, not well, but that is insane for me!! It was a 16 hour flight to Hong Kong, and we flew with Cathay Pacific. There vegan food was actually really good for airline food. I always book a vegan meal because I am vegetarian, and allergic to lactose, but this usually means that every meal is the same and pretty bland, but not the case with Cathay!
We wiped down our trays with alcohol wipes and wore a face mask for the entire flight (a practice that is mandatory now, but to be honest I don’t think I will ever fly without a mask again). We had bought medical grade masks (N95) from the hardware store, and they are very difficult to wear for long periods, I have so much respect for the doctors and nurses that wear them everyday, and keep us alive!!!
We arrived in Hong Kong 1 hour earlier that expected, 5:15am. We had no trouble going through customs (but we did have to go through two temperature scanners for coronavirus). We then bought our return tickets for the airport link train (about 230 HKD for two round trip tickets).
All the lines at customs and the train were super short. All the flights to China had been cancelled as well. Australia and the Philippines were not allowing flights from Hong Kong, so those were cancelled as well.
The airport express train took about 30 minutes, and we got off at Hong Kong Central. From here we exited the metro and walked to the Star Ferry terminal. The star ferry takes you back and forth between Hong Kong and Kowloon for about 2.70 HKD. The first machine ate my money, so we had to get help from the attendant. The ferry is one of the top rated things to do in Hong Kong, and has been operating for over 100 years! We disembarked the ferry in Kowloon, and wandered around the waterfront.
We filmed some rap takes for Jives (he was remaking the video we filmed in Hong Kong in 2016). We also bought coffees and two onigiri (seaweed and rice snack from Japan). We sat by the water and had our breakfast. We then walked along the Avenue of stars , which was under construction when we had visited last time in 2016. We say Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee’s hand prints and the iconic Bruce Lee statue in it’s new home, along the water front.
From here we crossed the road towards the Tsim Sha Tsui Podium Park, were the Avenue of Stars had been relocated in 2016. We then headed towards Kowloon City Park, where we explored the aviary, saw flamingos, the hedge maze, and the notorious bathroom from 2016, where a lady had laughed at my butt (for that full story, watch the video above). We then visited the Chinese garden and climbed the little site seeing mountain.
We then found a 7-11 to grab a beer and sandwich from (also I found more medical masks 5 for $58HKD). We sat by the swimming pools in the park and had our picnic.
We then headed to Temple St. and saw a lion dance celebration. The traditional lion costume dressed man was blessing local businesses and eating there fresh green leafy offerings. We watched this procession for quite awhile , and even got a picture with the lion!
We then walked back to the Avenue of Stars for a second picnic, before heading back over to Hong Kong on the Star Ferry again. We then caught the airport link back to the airport.
Our flight left at 10:50pm from a little annex of the airport. The flight was 3 hours to Yangon, we even got more food!
Upon arriving in Yangon, we were told our plan would be checked for coronavirus. A medical official came on board the plane and checked everyone’s temperature. He must have measured one guy with a fever, because our plane was quarantined for about an hour before men in head to toe hazmat suits dragged a guy off the plane. They then sprayed down the entire plane with disinfectant, and then we were allowed to disembark.
We then filled in a special health declaration form with instructions about what to do if we feel unwell.
We went through customs easily, with our visa on arrival prearranged.
We were officially in Yangon Myanmar!