For almost thirty years, we’ve been gathering in Hong Kong for a mid-year conference and retreat. Once again we welcome you to one of the great cities of the world. From a breathtaking skyline to bustling markets to peaceful beaches, Hong Kong has it all (not to mention a hotel with clean sheets and hot water).
We want this conference to be an enjoyable experience for you. We’ve worked hard over the years to come up with a schedule that balances work and free time, that allows us to conduct necessary business while helping you recharge your batteries. I hope you feel like we’ve struck the right balance. As you prepare for the conference, please look through the other documents in this file: they contain an agenda, Amy’s Top Ten list, and a series of other useful maps and associated information. Please print and bring along any hard copies you’d like to have. Please also remember the following:
- The program will pay for your hotel Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. The hotel will be happy to provide you the program discount for any other nights you’d like to stay at your own expense. Please coordinate any extra nights with the Malans.
- The program will cover breakfast at the hotel on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning, as well as lunch on Friday. Other meals will be at your own expense. We’ll be happy to direct you to inexpensive restaurants and grocery stores in the area.
- We will be going as a group to the temple on Friday morning and a local branch on Sunday morning. Please remember your recommend and your church clothes.
Amy's Top Ten
- Victoria Peak Tram: the quintessential Hong Kong experience has been ferrying wealthy locals and tourists up the peak for over 100 years. A trip up during the day allows for a walk around the peak circuit; a trip up at night provides a dazzling view of the lights below.
- #6 Bus to Stanley: the south side of the island is much less crowded and dotted by beautiful beaches, but the real reason for this trip is the bus ride across the island. Sit up front on top of the double-decker bus for a white-knuckle ride. Once there, enjoy the town of Stanley with its market, temples and museum.
- HK Parks: despite the staggering number of people in HK, there are beautiful green spaces to enjoy: HK Park and Zoological Gardens on the island, and Kowloon Park and Nan Lian Gardens (a relatively new recreation of classical Chinese garden) on Kowloon. Take a break from the crowds and enjoy the greenery.
- Mid-levels Escalator to SOHO and the Sun Yat Sen Museum: HK boasts the longest outdoor escalator in the world. It moves down in the morning taking people from the mid-levels to work and reverses and runs up the rest of the day. Explore Soho (south of Hollywood Road) for antiques and great restaurants and take time to visit the old Church headquarters building at Kom Tong Hall (7 Castle Road), now housing a museum dedicated to Sun Yat Sen
- Walk the Promenade: the constantly changing skyline of HK is best viewed from the Kowloon promenade. Watch the Star Ferries sail back and forth, walk the Boulevard of Stars (kind of like the Hollywood walk of fame dedicated to Chinese actors and actresses), and have a front row view of the nightly light show across the bay. The new promenade running between the Star Ferry Terminal and the Convention Center on the Hong Kong side provides a beautiful view back to Kowloon and a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch.
- Ferry to an Outlying Island: there are dozens of islands surrounding HK island, and some of the larger ones make a great day trip. A relatively short ferry ride will take you a much less crowded, more laid-back atmosphere.
- Europe in Asia—Macau: before Macau became synonymous with gambling as the Las Vegas of the East it was the Portuguese headquarters in China. The remaining buildings of the old city, including the ruins of St. Paul’s, are reminders of a different time in China. A hydrofoil trip takes less than an hour, and a half-day makes an enjoyable trip. Make sure and take your passport.
- Ride the cable car to Buddha: a cable car ride to visit what is reputed to be the largest sitting Buddha in the world provides spectacular views of Lantau Island, though it’s not for those with a fear of heights. For an added treat (?) dine on a vegetarian meal at the monastery.
- Ride the Star Ferry to Central: the fleet of Star Ferries has been plying the waters of Hong Kong for a century. It’s still the best tourist ride you can buy for a quarter. For architecture buffs, Central is the location for some of the most famous modern architecture in the world, including buildings by Norman Foster and IM Pei. It’s also home to some of the last colonial architecture left in HK, including the Legco building and the old Bank of China.
- Markets: I know there are markets with better prices in China and the thought of shopping may make you wince, but markets are a fundamental part of the HK experience, so prepare yourself and dive into the madness of the Night Market or the bargains to be found at Stanley Market, Ladies Market or the many other neighborhood markets all over HK and Kowloon
- Or, our personal favorite: put on a good pair of shoes, find a good map, and go exploring. Don’t worry about getting lost, you can always find somebody who speaks English and you may just find something that ends up on the top ten list next year!
YMCA Hotel Notes
- There are good laundry facilities (7th floor) at the hotel. The tokens (2 for each machine) need to be bought at the front desk, laundry soap is included, both washers and dryers available.
- Chinese laundry, Sun Wab Kiu Dry Cleaners, is a block away at 43–49 Hankou Rd. All your wash can be done in two or three hours, 50–75 HK. It will be delivered back to the hotel for an additional 20 HK.
- There is also laundry service that can launder and press within one day for a reasonable fee.
- Although the electric current in Hong Kong is the same as China, the plugs are not. Please ask the floor maid for an adapter (if all you need is the plug change) or a transformer (if you need current change as well). Hair dryers are standard in all rooms.
- There are two eating places at the hotel: the restaurant buffet (where we will have breakfast) and the restaurant on the main floor, which is less expensive. However, know that we will be in the heart of Hong Kong and many restaurants and shops are within easy walking distance of the hotel.
- Internet service is available in the rooms.
- The subway entrance is within a block of the hotel. The ferry to Hong Kong Island is less than a five-minute walk from the hotel. Buses are all over the place.
- If you find a fruit basket in your room, enjoy. It is a welcome gift from the hotel.
The legal tender in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD), which is pegged to the U.S. dollar (USD) at the rate of about 7.8 HKD to 1 USD. Coins are issued by the government, but three commercial banks (HSBC, Standard Charter Bank and the Bank of China) are authorized to issue banknotes. Coins in circulation include 10, 20 and 50 cent pieces as well as 1, 2, 5 and 10 dollars coins. Banknotes include 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 dollar notes. Banknotes vary in design and color according to denomination. Although currency exchange booths dot the city, the best rates are available from the extensive network of ATMs.
Hong Kong is well served by inexpensive public transportation. The extensive and efficient subway system is known as the MTR. It is clean, safe and easily navigated. Prices vary based on the length of the ride, and tickets may be purchased at any MTR station. As an alternative to carrying a pocket full of coins, you may want to consider purchasing an Octopus card. The Octopus is a rechargeable and contactless “smart card” used on most forms of public transport (bus, minibus, ferry, peak tram, tram, and MTR trains), as well as settling payments at all major convenience stores, such as 7-11. The card requires a refundable 50 HKD deposit, after which you may put as much money as you like on the card. There is also an Elder Octopus card for those over 65, which further reduces the cost of transportation (the Star Ferry is free!).