I’d never been on a Helicopter before, skydiving, abseiling, zip lining, yes, but never a Helicopter. I guess the reason was I always thought it would be over priced and over rated. But then I came to Hong Kong.
From the moment I arrived into Kowloon from the Airport the atmosphere of the city attached itself to my soul and swore never to leave. Those bright lights, that view from Victoria Harbour, the energy, the skyscrapers. There is no denying Hong Kong is the most electric city in the world. I was already addicted and I wanted to see it ALL.
So I did. I wandered from Kowloon to Hong Kong and back again most days, I looked up, I looked around, I never stopped looking. I loved just staring at the skyline. But there was one thing in particular that caught my eye. Every few hours or so I would see a helicopter breaking through the clouds and hovering above the skyscrapers. I imaged a celebrity was in town, or a rich banker had come to the city for a meeting. Of course I never imaged it could be a tourist attraction, something available to us all?
Entering the Peninsula Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui felt like walking into a different world from the outside crowds and bustling streets. The building itself is truly impressive and the fact I was going there to ride on a helicopter gave it some what more of a unique feel. One of the pilots, Engin, came down to the reception to greet up and take us up to the top floor of the Peninsula. It was the kind of elevator you got in that made your ears pop and your stomach flip – in a good way. There was no denying what you were about to see before you was one of the best views of Hong Kong. And I hadn’t even got in the helicopter yet.
After a short 10 minuet safety briefing (video) in the waiting room on the top floor, it was my time to fly. It was the last flight of the day and I had just been informed that my pilot would be Asian movie star Michael Wong who was a huge celebrity in Hong Kong that sometimes joined the Heliservices staff for flights.
Walking ( well more like a walk-run) on to the Heli pad I completely let myself imagine I was a celebrity about to get rushed away in my private Helicopter. However, I am sure I resembled more of an excited kid who had been told there was candy on the other side.
We were handed ear protectors and fastened in and the door was closed. It was about to happen.
Luckily for me I seemed to have chosen one of the clearest days Hong Kong had had for a while and could already see both Hong Kong island and Kowloon perfectly from the top of the Peninsula. Or so I thought…
As light as a feather, the helicopter began to float from the ground and slowly began to raise above the concrete. I couldn’t remember a moment I had felt more excited yet completely humbled at the same time. Moving away from the helipad and into the open skies I could not believe what my eyes saw in front of me.
A city of 7 million people, that boasted the most skyscrapers in the world, set on an island with surrounding hills and mountains: all from the perspective of a bird. The site was truly magically. There and then I knew I would never see anything like it again, there would be no city as beautiful as Hong Kong on a summer’s day.
We headed over to Kowloon and watched as the buildings got lower and the mountains got higher. Green was now filling my lens with hints of blue ocean and historic attractions. Hovering over the New Territories makes you realise really how much Hong Kong has to offer – from the concrete jungle to lush forests in only a few minutes.
A circle back into Victoria Harbour and I knew that meant the 15-minute ride was up. I realised I hadn’t stopped smiling the whole time. The flight back was perhaps more exciting than the way there. You start to recognise landmarks and buildings you see every day, but from the above. I could see boats leaving the harbour and buses racing around. It felt like the ultimate sanctuary.
I have been living in Hong Kong for 4 months now. I can honestly say that Helicopter ride was the best thing I have done in the city. Friends that have been here years admitted they had never done it and after seeing my pictures were on the next bus over. I understand why they hadn’t done it though, like I first said, we seem to think a helicopter ride is unobtainable. For the wealthy or famous. But when it comes to Hong Kong everything is possible.
The views I saw up there rival them all. I love the peak, sipping a drink on a rooftop bar or even taking a ride on the Star Ferry, but there is nothing that can prepare you for what this helicopter ride will do to you. You will fall in love with the city. And never want to leave.
Prices start from HK$1959 for a 15-minute experience through Klook. Book here.
All photos by Sarah Richard