Hong Kong merrily on high

January 4, 2010 at 11:34 am 3 comments

*Warning: may contain excessive sentimentality and self-pitying of the worst, least justifiable kind.

Christmas day didn’t start well for us and by 11.30am I was sobbing uncontrolably into my Starbucks coffee. I was plagued by the notion that I should be at home tucking into a fry and racing out the door, one shoe on and one shoe off, after my family on the way to mass. I missed watching their faces as they opened carefully chosen presents; getting massive thank you hugs; taking on my Dad, brothers and sister in the new Wii game; helping Mam with the dinner; and pigging out before falling into a food and mulled wine induced coma in front of Love Actually.

Gary was feeling more or less the same but in a more graceful way. While I was crying hysterically because “the waitress in the shopping centre food court has been ignoring us for 40 minutes now, they’re playing my favourite Christmas song and anyway, who wants to eat stupid ramen and drink stupid Starbucks coffee on Christmas day!”, he tried to comfort me while quietly sighing out his regrets. He missed going to mass on Christmas eve, visiting his cousin Sarah on Christmas morning, his Mom’s sensational cooking and downing a few Irish coffees with his sister and her boyfriend on St. Stephen’s day.

In an effort to create the greatest Christmas ever we had booked into a 5 star hotel in Hong Kong – the exquisite Langham Place, Mong Kok – and up until 11.30am that morning it had been absolutely perfect. The Langham Place was perfect from the outset. The receptionist who was checking us in took pity on us when we walked into the lobby (two strange, dirty, badly dressed backpackers in a sea of Armani suits and Prada dresses) and was very sorry to have to tell us that they had no non-smoking standard rooms on the 3rd floor so she would unfortunately have to upgrade us to an executive suite on the 25th.

So instead of a small bed in a small room in a nice hotel we had a huge bed in a huge room with such features as a 50” flatscreen tv, an ipod dock, a floor-to-ceiling view of the city and a rainfall shower. It also had some of those incredibly useless luxuries that only the most spoilt creatures could ever require such as a phone that could check our stocks and a menu of pillows we could order including one made of 100% Japanese green tea. On top of all that we had a rooftop pool, a sauna, a steam room, a spa and an oriental hot tub.

But somehow, as amazing and fantastic and breathtaking as it all was on December 24th, it was lost on us come the morning of the 25th. The fact of the matter is that Hong Kong just does not know how to celebrate Christmas. Sure the shops play festive music, there are decorations everywhere, the bars offer mulled wine, the restaurants sell turkey and the sacharine sound of children’s choirs rings in your ears – but there is no sense of family.

On Christmas Eve thousands of people collect on Nathan Rd to count down to midnight. They hug and shake hands and dance on the streets and then they go home. At 11.30am on Christmas morning the shopping centre we were eating in was thronged with shoppers, the city traffic was as bad as ever and teenagers were still loittered on the streets. Where were their families? Why weren’t they at home exchanging presents or eating together or visiting relatives?

More to the point, why weren’t we?

Eventually we realised that we had had it wrong all along. Without our families we could never have had the best Christmas ever but we could certainly give having the best regular day ever a lash. So we banned any mention of the C word, donned our fluffy white robes and sat in our huge bed drinking M&S champagne, eating Ferrero Rocher and watching The Grinch on HBO. It was nice but I still broke into occasional hysterics and resolved to be far far away from Starbucks and shopping centres and loittering teenagers at 11.30am on December 25th next year.

More pictures from Hong Kong are available in the gallery


Entry filed under: Travel. Tags: , , , .

View from the top, Hong Kong Touched by a starfish. Hanoi, Vietnam

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. XKaliber Swyftblade  |  January 5, 2010 at 5:23 am

    This was a wonderful read for me… it caught my eye since I was looking up blogs on Hong Kong. There’s absolutely no better place to be than with family! I’d much rather be cramped in a hut with all my family than in a mansion void of those who I love most. Hong Kong is a fascinating place and perhaps different for me is that I have family in HK which makes my Christmas’ there amazing.

    Unlike in Canada, HK places are open 365 days a year, which means unfortunately many people do not get the luxury of having that day off (might contribute to some of the people you see). However, the ideal of Christmas is changing ever so slightly, moving away from the idea of “being with family” on that day. Many teens who are on the street might also belong to parents who are working, so they have nothing to do until later on in the day. If you’ve explored HK, you’ll definitely realize that there’s an abundance of night-life there, considering the time that most people end work well into the evening.

    I’m glad that this little experience has helped but the love of family into perspective… cheers to that!

  • 2. Megan and Boden- Auzzies in Nam  |  January 7, 2010 at 4:01 am

    Hi there kids!

    I feel very futuristic at the moment but cannot wait to see your entry on Old years/New years in the bay!

    Hope all is well, Boden and I are currently in Nha Trang at the beach, and we are freakin loving soaking up the sun.

    We’re heading to Saigon in a few days, we hope you’re having a great time, when you pop into OZ let us know if u need a place to crash!

    Much love

    Megan and Boden!


  • 3. Celina 'look at me, I'm on Ro's laptop' Murphy  |  January 7, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Firstly; LOVING the post title. I’ve taught you well.

    Secondly; If it makes you feel any better I spent Christmas Day with my family, but had to creep off into a room every few minutes to put my head in my hands, recollect myself and curse the ice that stopped me from getting to a shop that sells my beloved Neurophen Plus. Then I lay in bed all night, in too much pain to sleep, wishing I was in Dublin, where I would have been able to walk to the chemists.

    That doesn’t make you feel better at all, does it? Sorry. Eh….Refer to point one again.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Thanks for coming to visit us – stay tuned to watch us argue, punch, kick, pinch and scream our way around some of the most beautiful parts of the world.

Over the next year we will be fighting in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America.

If you are interested in printing any of our work or would like us to write or take photos for your publication, please contact us at -

This blog is featured on

Lonely Planet

This blog was a 2010

This blog is featured on

Most recent Twitter Tweets!

Most recent image

New Delhi, India

Previously . . .

Enter your email address to subscribe to our blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 81 other followers

This blog has been viewed

  • 295,691 times

%d bloggers like this: