Well, sort of..? More so than the previous time I was in Hong Kong, anyway! Since I didn’t stay with M’s family this time, I did have quite a lot of time alone staying in a hostel and navigating around the city by myself.
Again, I planned to meet M and S, especially because now that I’ve graduated, I’m not sure when I’ll next get to see them. So, I planned my itinerary around meeting them, and then filled up the rest of my time with things that I either hadn’t done the last time round, or were so great they made the cut this time, too.
But first things first! Given that I wasn’t staying with M’s family this time, my first order of business was to find an affordable place that was safe for a solo female traveller. A simple google search will give you multiple budget options, and after consulting various blog reviews as well as tripadvisor, I decided on Homy Inn (Union Branch).
Unfortunately, because I booked my trip so last-minute, most budget places were booked out, and prices were all pretty steep. I paid 78SGD/night for a private ensuite room.
Nevertheless, for a private room in a budget hostel, this place was pretty decent. The only drawback is that if you have a lot of luggage, you’re probably gonna have a problem. As with all rooms in Hong Kong, this room was tiny; I could take a grand total of one step before reaching the other wall. I also had to angle my body in a very specific way (or sit on the bed) in order to close the door behind me.
But all things considered, I would still recommend this place! Because despite its tiny-ness, it more than satisfies in most other areas. Security? Check. Free (relatively) reliable wi-fi? Check. Hot & cold water dispenser? Check. Hair-dryer? Check. Towels and soap? Check. Room service? Check. Friendly, efficient reception? Check. They even have a free flow of travel-sized toothbrushes and toothpaste for you available at the reception counter! What else could you possibly need?
Also, the bed was really big for such a tiny room. It took up, like, 75% of the room.
As a girl travelling alone, I didn’t feel like my safety was being threatened at all throughout the five days that I stayed in this place — partially because they have quite good security (a 24-hr security guard, lots of cameras, and security doors), and also because there were lots of tourists in the same building. But everyone has different thresholds for these things; if you’re generally more picky and not used to staying in slightly run-down places, you might wanna spend a little more and stay at a slightly pricier hotel. This is, after all, a budget place.
Homy Inn (Union Branch)
Address: Flat C, 8th floor, Union Mansion, 33-35 Chatham Rd S, Hong Kong
Contact No.: +852 8100 0189
Accommodation aside, the other thing that was really important for me as a solo traveller was, of course, data on the go! So the last time I went to Hong Kong, I used i-Sim, which gave me free data. But to my great sadness, i-Sim was undergoing network maintenance for the month of December, and so I had no choice but to buy a regular SIM card.
I deliberated between the Discover Hong Kong pre-paid SIM (88HKD), and the China Mobile Individual Traveller SIM (68HKD), and decided on the latter. They both provide 1.5GB data for the 5-day option, which was really all I needed. The Discover Hong Kong SIM also supports network in Macau, for an additional cost of HKD40/day/40MB. But I decided that I wouldn’t need data for just one day in Macau, and went for the cheaper China Mobile option. For more information on the various other options, this blog is great!
And finally! Here’s a handy MTR hack that I learnt from S! Okay, it’s not really a hack, since it is sanctioned by the transport department, but still! So this machine that you see is an MTR fare-saver. That’s right! It helps you save money!
As explained by the picture, by making use of this fee-saver, you can save HKD2 on your next MTR ride from the affiliated MTR station on the same day. So this one here is for Yau Ma Tei station, and this machine is situated in the Public Square (across the square from where Kubrick is). For a full list of where these fare-saver machines can be found, refer to the MTR website, here.
Apart from time spent in bookstores and coffeeshops, my remaining time alone was spent mostly visiting some places (mostly food places haha) that I didn’t get to go to the last time — Capital Cafe, Mak Man Kee, Yuen Po St. Bird Gardens — and also catching some of the Christmas decorations around town.
When I finished my first Hong Kong trip in February 2016, I thought to myself: I’m probably not gonna come back to Hong Kong any time soon — I’ve seen enough of it to last me the next five years. But, well. I guess life had other plans. And really, I don’t regret having made this trip at all! This trip taught me two things: first, that if you keep doing something over and over again, you become a lot less fearful of it, and might actually start to enjoy it. I’d said previously that solo travel isn’t really my cup of tea; but having completed my fourth solo trip this time, I think maybe, just maybe, I might be beginning to understand its allure. Secondly, I learnt that there is never really such a thing as “I’ve finished travelling xxx place”. Maybe I’ve done all the touristy things, maybe I’ve done heaps of other non-touristy things, too. But if I look hard enough (given that I actually do see the utility of it, that is), there will always be something new to see or to experience in any given place!
But yes. That is the end of my mildly-gratuitous spiel. Stay tuned for the next installation of Out of Comfort — hiking in Hong Kong with both M and S! 🙂