Hi Guys and a happy Tuesday to you! I can’t believe it is only the second workday of the week. For some reason this morning I persistently thought it was Wednesday till this very moment. For all those worried about how I am doing, guys, I am doing great. And thanks so much for the positive feedback on yesterday’s blog post. It made my year.
I had noticed that since my trip to Pakistan got postponed, I didn’t have any blog posts with travel tips for my readers. So I decided to do a little digging in my past and discovered there are two completely separate trips I haven’t covered on the blog.
Both of those trips coincidently were what I consider “layover trips” made on separate trips to Pakistan. For those of you who are confused about what “layover trips” are, let me clarify my definition for you. Layover trips are literally trips you take when you have a long layover in between connecting flights. They usually last less than a day (max 12 hours) and are a perfect opportunity for a short sightseeing jaunt in the town. There are numerous airlines and private companies that take passengers suffering through these insufferably long layovers on day trips. Trust me there is little flexibility, but you get a nice introduction to a new culture. I highly advise to do a little research before you buy a ticket with a long layover planned. Yes, tickets are cheaper than direct flights, but sometimes visa requirements, your family preferences, kid’s age groups, and other safety alerts are factors that need to be considered too.
The very first layover trip I took was when I was returning to Pakistan from my grand California trip in 1991. At the time, our move to good ol’ America was not fully planned yet and we were just visiting family. I don’t remember much about planning that trip because I was so young, but I do remember my older sister and mom choosing to fly Singapore Airlines so we could see Singapore on the way back. Our layover was over 8 hours longs on purpose. This way we saw the highlights of the entire island/country before heading back to Pakistan. Singapore Airlines has a great program for their passengers staying long layovers in Singapore. To get more information, I have gone through the trouble of finding day tours through Singapore Airlines (See HERE). Since I was so little I had vague memories of the sights I saw, but I do remember it was one the most well-manicured, clean, and friendliest places ever. There are other faint images of merlions scattered everywhere (I think this is because at the time I had never seen anything like these mythical creatures-it was my first Asian trip after all). It was a fascinating trip for me!
Hong Kong 2005
I researched and researched for layover excursions aka transit tours (in Hong Kong) through Cathy Pacific and totally failed. However, I did manage to find some independent companies that take you around Hong Kong from the airport. That was the case back in 2005 as well. This time around it was my brother and I going to Pakistan FROM USA. Our layover at Hong Kong Airport was about 5-6 hours long, which is the minimum requirement for you to leave the airport in the first place. For these independent travel companies, you have to leave the terminal, but don’t worry, they are pretty easy to spot as they are right at the exit of the airport building. Please make sure you take your passport and carry-ons with you. After we booked the excursion (I don’t remember the name, but I did find other tour companies with the same itinerary– See HERE), we were escorted to a double-decker bus that took us around the island state/country.
Hong Kong was a very cool place for us to see. It is what you would expect from an Asian country-crowded, fast-paced, and on rare glimpses a touch of history in the midst of chaos. There was a walking component as well where we walked around Central Hong Kong and saw shops, stores, restaurants, and hidden in all these modern businesses were temples sacred for the entire community. It was super humid and I remember switching between putting my fleece jacket on and taking it off because I had the chills from a cold. One of the most common sights to see outside central Hong Kong are the high-rise apartment buildings. They are everywhere! Another thing I remember noticing was how green it was, which is understandable given the temperate climate. And statues of Buddha were everywhere and are much revered.
Guys, by no way I am recommending to sight-see your bucket list countries this way. If I could go back to these countries, I would have participated in cultural activities such as theater, shopping, food, and temple ceremonies. I missed all these important components in these swift excursions. But, if you rather kill time with sightseeing and learn something about another country in the process (instead of browsing through a novel in the waiting area, which you can do on the plane; or checking out the artwork in the terminals, which is perfect for a short layover), I would highly recommend that over anything any day. Please check visa requirements before you go anywhere (I know as Americans we forget about that); the last I checked (and this was in 2005) you don’t need a tourist visa for transit or layover travels at either of these places. But, times have changed and so have the laws so please plan accordingly. Lastly, count customs and immigration lines before your departure as an input in your timetable. Happy Traveling!!!