Last Christmas, I wanted to give my family a special experience, one that went beyond driving through the tiny leafy lanes of Bandra, peering into beautifully lit homes, and sipping on some hot chocolate in a cafe in the neighbourhood. I wanted my children to have a Christmas that they would cherish for years to come.
I toyed with choosing a destination within India, but then decided to treat the whole family, especially the kids by taking them on their first ever overseas trip. Unanimously my husband and I decided on Hong Kong as it ticked all the boxes that we looked for in an ideal family destination. What we didn’t know was that it would end up surpassing our expectations beyond measure. We contemplated booking our tickets using the JPMiles we had collected over the year but instead decided to use them to treat ourselves later. We had religiously been using our JetPrivilege memberships while eating out and shopping over the year, and silently the JPMiles had added up.
Finding the right hotel and one that the kids like, is a prerequisite for a happy family holiday. We browsed through the list of partner hotels on the JetPrivilege website and picked the Hilton Garden Inn and earned JPMiles A short walk from the Mongkok MTR station, the hotel looked comfortable and was located conveniently to explore the city.
While Hong Kong is known for its mild winter weather, it was still colder than what the children were used to back in Mumbai. I knew being adequately prepared for the weather was an absolute must. We had some warm clothes but I knew they weren’t enough to go through a trip to Hong Kong in the winter. This is where our JetPrivilege account came handy once again, through which we shopped for warm clothes online, and also earned some more JPMiles. Now not only did we have our dream holiday all booked, we were all ready for it!
The trip began on a high note as we used our JPMiles to upgrade our seats from Economy to Premiere Cabin. The kids’ joy knew no bounds as they explored the extra comfortable seats, and surfed through the list of extensive inflight entertainment options, all this while being served popcorn and juice thousands of miles up in the sky. They were convinced Santa had come calling earlier than usual that year.
Hong Kong was as pretty as a postcard picture. Tall skyscrapers rose towards the clouds, hugging the ocean on one side and the hills on the other. It was a magical time to be in the city as it was all spruced and lit up for Christmas.
Santa wasn’t done with us yet, and on checking in, we were upgraded to a suite that offered splendid views of Hong Kong’s scenic harbour. The kids were ecstatic as they ran around the spacious room exploring its nooks and corner, deciding on where they should make their den.
Planning a holiday is as much fun as actually going on one, and choosing what we wanted to do in Hong Kong had turned out to be a family activity that we all enjoyed. I had plans to explore the brightly lit night markets once the kids were asleep, and my husband wanted to spend some time photographing Hong Kong’s iconic skyline, but during the day the children and their agenda took precedence over everything else. While browsing through the JetPrivilege website I saw listings for things to do in the city and there were some fabulous offers up for grabs. Not only that, booking these tours on the website meant further adding to our collection of JPMiles.
Hong Kong Disneyland alight with fireworks. Photo by AFP/AFP/Getty Images.
Spending a day at Ocean Park featured right up on our list of places to visit. In fact it’s one of the top attractions in the city, and we were lucky to have purchased tickets beforehand saving us a lot of time. Ocean Park is a zoo, aquarium and a mammoth theme park all rolled into one and it can be overwhelming at first. We were all prepared as we had picked what we wanted to see and experience. At the Grand Aquarium we squealed in delight as we walked under a 5.5 meter dome with a wide acrylic viewing panel that allowed us to see 5000 kinds of fish. The kids were excited as they were able to spot animals that they had been studying about in their science class. For variety we next made our way to meet the most popular residents of the park, the pandas. At the Giant Panda Adventure enclosure, we saw red pandas as well as Ying Ying and Le Le, the stars of the park. Having had our fill our walking around, we took the cable car up to the summit enjoying unhindered views of the ocean and hills.
It was fascinating to see how quickly the kids were growing up picking and choosing places based on their interests, driven by what they had studied, read or heard about. Noah’s Ark, an attraction unique to Hong Kong made the cut because the children had heard the tale at school. Located on Ma Wan island, exploring the exhibits and activities at the Ark was a fun family day out. I wasn’t sure if my husband would get a chance to sharpen his photography skills on this trip, but he certainly mastered shooting children, as the kids posed with their favourite animals from a total of 67 life-sized sculptures spread across the Ark Garden.
A visit to Disneyland was saved for Christmas Day, and what a day it turned out to be. The kids had seen snow but never experienced a snowfall. They knew a visit to Hong Kong wasn’t going to fulfil that dream and so they didn’t complain. My husband and I knew what happens at the end of the Christmastime Ball, a yuletide musical extravaganza that we were meant to watch, but kept it under wraps with much difficulty, as we went through the day exploring the park. During the show the children were thrilled beyond measure as they saw their favourite Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale sing and dance in their finest holiday costumes. But it was the finale of the show, when the soft white flakes began to fall and carpet the entire scene white, that the kids jumped out of their seats in absolute delight. Watching them with their broad smiles and twinkling eyes, had made all the planning and the effort worth it!
We left Hong Kong with a lifetime of memories and looked forward to sharing our stories with family and friends. Having had their first taste of an international vacation, the kids were eager to know if they would have to wait for long for their next trip, as they knew going abroad was a special treat. What they didn’t know was that, all along our JPMiles collection had been growing as we went through the trip eating out and shopping for gifts to bring back home. Unknowingly we had already begun planning our next family adventure.
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