Day: June 15th, 2006

Hong Kong civics lesson

Thursday, June 15th, 2006 | All Things, Family, Travel

First full day in Hong Kong got off to an early start. After a traditional Hong Kong breakfast at the hotel of vegetable & pork vermicelli soup and glutinous rice dumpling, E. met us and the three of us took the hotel shuttle into Wan Chai. There began our six hour mini-tour of the Hong Kong government offices.

Although not the primary reason for the trip, one of the things Dad had hoped to accomplish this week was to register for a new Hong Kong identity card. First introduced in 1949, the cards were used to identify native Hong Kong residents from the influx of mainland Chinese into the relatively prosperous British colony. The credit-card sized ids, both then and now, grant a host of privileges not available to outsiders.

Hong Kong Identity Card

In the 1950’s, the cards were constructed of laminated cardboard; today they’re embedded with microchips that hold name, birthdate, gender, residential status, and the digital template of both thumbprints. We had booked an appointment online through the Registration of Persons Offices website, so once there, we were ushered in immediately to start the paperwork. To his credit, the clerk was seemingly unfazed by the “classic” nature of the card we brought in for replacement.

Two hours (and that only because their system suffered a temporary crash — unrelated to us, we’re pretty sure), a digital photo and two thumbprint scans later, we were set. Armed with Dad’s new interim Certificate of Identity, we proceed on to Phase II: the Immigration Department four floors below to apply for a Hong Kong passport. More photos, more paperwork, more photocopies, pay at the “Schroff”… Done. Because we produced a ticket showing an impending outbound flight, we were able to rush the new passport for Monday pick-up.

While most of this was going on, I was able to wander the Hong Kong Convention Center next door to snap a few photos of the very hazy Hong Kong Harbor.
Hong Kong Convention Center (3)
Hong Kong Convention Center (1)

Hong Kong Convention Center (2)

Yes, the day was just as steamy and dreary as it looks.

Phase III: To Shau Kei Wan for a visit to China Travel Service to apply for a Home Visit Permit. The travel documents, used in conjunction with the Hong Kong ID, allow the holder to travel into China without a visa and to speed through the notoriously long exit/entry waits at the Hong Kong border.

From the Shau Kei Wan area markets:

Hong Kong Fruits (1)

Lychee and durians


Three government ids in six hours. Not bad for a half day’s efforts.

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