I'm not much of an xmas fan, so it seemed as good an excuse as ever for one of my mad dash standby trips. I flew out overnight on xmas eve, arriving late afternoon on xmas day.

I'd been to Hong Kong several times on business, but hadn't done much sightseeing beyond a quick trip on the Peak Tram in daylight and a little wandering in Kowloon focused more on shopping than enjoying the sights, but did have a reasonably good idea where I wanted to go.

I took my Brompton across. On previous trips with the bike, I'd used the T-Bag as my hand-baggage, but it's a little unwieldy for riding around while there, so this time took my usual roller-bag plus my much-loved Brooks Moorgate bag. The roller-bag was strapped on top of the B&W Foldon case, and proved pretty easy to manouvre. (The Moorgate has a shoulder strap.)

Both standby and upgrade gods were kind.

Premium wasn't busy, so I was fortunate enough to get two seats to myself.

The aircraft was a shiny new Dreamliner, the first time I'd flown on one. The second most notable thing about them after their tendency to catch fire is the composite construction. This offers a number of benefits.

Airlines like them because they are about 20% lighter than a conventional aircraft with the same number of seats, which makes them cheaper to fly. Passengers get a higher cabin pressure and higher humidity – theoretically reducing fatigue.

They also have huge windows.

The placement of the windows doesn't fully exploit this, however. If they were set lower in the aircraft, you'd have a good view of the ground – instead they let you see more of the sky, which seems a waste. Maybe Boeing was concerned about how nervous flyers might respond to much more visible ground?

The windows also have funky electronic dimming in place of physical blinds. Turn the control down to minimum light transmission ...

And day becomes night.

Very neat.

Despite the distraction of impressively fast wifi, I managed to edit my travel book The Gentle Art of Travel. 37,000 feet seemed an appropriate place to do it. That will be available for download once I return.

As someone who doesn't often do hold baggage, it's a nerve-wracking business waiting for my Brompton to emerge at the far end. But it went through the Fragile process at both ends and emerged unscathed bar another missing piece on an already broken rear mudguard.

I'd found a decent 3-star hotel with a kind of harbour view right by the convention centre, just a few minutes' cycle ride from Central.

The weather wasn't cooperating with my plan to photograph tall buildings – it was a very murky day, with boring flat light, so just a few shots.

I also checked out the ICC building, where the Sky100 observation deck is located. If the weather ever improved, I'd be paying it a visit.

I love having my Brompton to be able to get around a city when visiting – gives me the chance to see a lot of a place in a short time. I downloaded the local OpenStreetMap mapping to my Garmin, which let me find my way around – but Hong Kong really isn't a bicycle city – either on the island or in Kowloon.

I dropped my bike back to the hotel before heading to the Peak Tram. One side benefit of bringing the bike on the trip was I could slip a tripod into the case, which saved me doing my usual thing of buying a disposable one on arrival.

Things weren't going entirely to plan here. The weather was overcast and misty, and when I got to the Peak Tram station the queues were unbelieveable. Last time I did it, I'd had to wait about 45 mins, but this time the queues was estimated at four hours!

I had plenty of time in hand, and there clearly wasn't going to be a sunset, which was when I came up with a crazy idea: walking up.

It wasn't a hot day, but those steps are steep and it's a long, long way! Just over an hour later, much of which was spent wondering where an air ambulance could possibly land to get me into cardiac surgery, I finally made it about half an hour before the sunset that never was.

The queues to the Sky 428 terrace were also long, but it's only about 100 feet higher than the main viewing platform, so I didn't bother. I only had to wait about ten minutes to snag myself a position at the barrier, and dropped the tripod onto the platform on the far side of it.

I only brought a cheap lightweight tripod, so didn't entirely trust it not to collapse. I ran the neckstrap of my camera through the strap of my shoulderbag so that the camera wouldn't go tumbling down the mountain.

The cloud and mist made for rubbish photos but a very enjoyable 90 mins standing and watching buildings dift in and out of view.

Annoyingly, the last time I'd been up to the Peak, it had been in clearer weather – but that had been a business trip with only a little free time, and I hadn't been able to make it for the sunset.

I'd also been able to take the tram that time!

Ah well.

An early sunset meant I had time to head back down, cycle down to the promenade at Golden Bauhinia Square in Wanchai, which I'd been told was a good place to view the Symphony of Lights that takes place every evening at 8pm.

For some reason, only the Kowloon side was playing that evening. It probably looked great on a clear night, where spotlights and lasers would shine high up into the sky, but on a cloudy and misty day the lights dispersed very rapidly.


A local friend, David, who was rude enough to be away while I was visiting, recommended the crystal cable-car from Tung Chung. Sadly, Sunday was even cloudier, and also raining, so there didn't seem too much point in that. The forecast for tomorrow was better, and I had time to do it before my overnight flight home, so I pencilled that in for the following day.

The Space Museum was closed for refurbishment, so I decided to devote Sunday to food and tea. This is always a winner in Hong Kong, and I wasn't disappointed.

I'd originally planned a visit to Sky100, but again, there seemed little point given the weather. I went instead to the Temple Street Night Market, which was great fun. A delightful mix of standard market fare (iPhone cases, Bluetooth speakers and the like), tourist tat and bootleg DVDs. I managed to avoid buying anything.

I'm a part-time pedestrian, so looks like I'm in the right place.

Ok, I managed to avoid buying anything except some more spicy crab – happy now?

There is no shortage of street food places to tempt the hungry visitor – or even one who's already eaten too much.

There's a wide selection of tasteful souveniers available from the stalls, each hand-made by an individual artisan using only traditional methods.

It was all in the best possible taste.

Watches are also in plentiful supply. I contemplated trading in my Apple Watch for these fine examples of what the well-dressed young market visitor is wearing this season.

Bootleg DVDs ranged from the latest Hollywood releases ...

To Chinese cultural documentaries.

Or is the one on the right an airline safety video? Ladies, when using the slide, please remove all high-heeled shoes and clothing.

There was also all the standard market fare, from handbags to Bluetooth speakers – oh, and Apple Watch nightstands now.

A bit of the Hello Kitty thing going on too.

Go a few streets one way, and you're on Nathan Road, where the electronics and camera shops have been joined by upmarket jewellers and fashion brands since I last wandered along it.

While one street the other way was full of pawn shops and massage parlours, a few of which appeared genuine (reflexology and the like), while the majority looked a little less so, as mini-skirted young ladies tried to whisk passers-by inside to sample their wares.

A quick hop on the metro home, pausing for the obligatory overpass shot shown at the top of the page.

Tomorrow's overnight flight departed at 23:55, so I'd set an alarm to attempt online check-in. Happily, it allowed me to do so. Even better, it had looked like my return flight would be at the back of the aircraft, but it appeared this would no longer be the case.


I'd given myself the indulgence of booking the hotel for Monday night too, despite the fact that I'd be leaving that evening, partly so I didn't have to worry about packing until it was time to head to the airport, and partly to be able to grab a shower and get changed. I'd got a very good deal, so it wasn't too extravagant a move

The forecast had suggested sun from 8am, the clouda returning by 11am, so I set an alarm to wake early to head first to the cable car and then to Sky100.

But neither was to be. The sun remained hidden away, and the cable car webcam showed the hillside shrounded in mist.

The Sky100 webcam didn't appear to be online, but it wasn't needed: I could see the waterfront across in Kowloon from my hotel room, and that too was still completely grey.

Clearly views were not on the agenda, nor was photography. I opted for a walk along the waterfront, covering the same ground as in my earlier cycle ride, but at a more leisurely pace. That and more food, of course. It was an enjoyable way to spend the day.

And then it was time to pack. I packed the Brompton first.

I then had a bath, got changed and packed away my own things. On both airport trips, I'd taken the hotel shuttle, expecting to be sharing my ride with others, but both times ended up as the only passenger.

I Skyped with Sophia from the lounge – a frustratingly short distance away, but working so unable to join me – and then headed to the gate. The flight departed on time, and 11-hour flight but landing at 5am local. My aim was to do a little writing and then sleep to put me back roughly on UK time.

We hit some quite bad, and unexpected, turbulance about 90 minutes into the flight. It was pretty serious: I lost about half my wine!

I wrote until 5.30am HK time, which was 9.30pm UK time – it seemed like a reasonable compromise. I then settled down to sleep, and only woke when they switched on the lights for breakfast. It's not often I feel halfway human at 5am! Though my iPhone seemed a little more bleary-eyed ...

More cooperative weather would have been nice, but a very enjoyable visit all the same. Now I just need to burn off some of those calories ...