Where can my 15 yr old son hang in Singapore and Hong Kong?
March 13, 2007 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Where can a 15-yr old boy hang out in Singapore and Hong Kong?

Dragging my fifteen-year-old son on a business trip to Asia. He's missing a week of school, but gets to spend 3 days in Singapore followed by 5 in Hong Kong.

He'll be on his own, mostly, during the day.

Seeking suggestions for things he can find & see that are fairly age-appropriate and age-interesting, and also any areas or things he needs to avoid. He's of Irish, not Asian, heritage, for whatever that's worth, stand-out-in-the-crowd-wise.

We'll be staying at the Swissotel the Stamford in Singapore and the JW Marriott in HK.

His blog.

Could also use some parenting validation. This is the right thing to do? Pulling a not-great student out of school to spend a week in Asia?
posted by srlbraintree to Travel & Transportation around Singapore, Singapore (15 answers total)
A week in Asia is better than any week in school. Unless he's a genuinely bad student who thinks this is a reward for being bad, it's certainly the right thing to do. The time I spent abroad when I was a kid was really essential to my development -- and I can't really say the same of any given week or two of school.
posted by YoungAmerican at 2:21 PM on March 13, 2007

Sounds like a good idea to me. I'm not sure if I'd let him out on his own though.

You may want to call ahead and ask the concierge at each hotel if they can recommend a "babysitter" or some sort of personal tour guide that would be able to take your son around to some local sights. I assume that money isn't a huge object, but even so, I doubt it would cost that much.

As much as I think 15 year olds are pretty capable, letting him loose in Hong Kong may be a bit much. Some kids yes, some kids no. Either way, the concierge should be able to give you some suggestions about an escort.

Also, maybe buy the kid a suit. Can you still get a fully tailored suit in Hong Kong for cheap? How much growing does he still have in him is perhaps more important.
posted by GuyZero at 2:29 PM on March 13, 2007

taking your kid to hong kong is an awesome thing to do. i had the best time out there with some close friends. and i think you should totally do it.

but i should add that it is an overwhelming place, and you'll probably get the most out of doing things together. there are a lot of worthy day trips, including stanley (infamous open air market), the tian tan buddha is frikkin' awesome, and the hong kong zoo is pretty dope (they have tigers! and yes the wild north american raccoon!). if your kid is independent, he might have fun just roaming the streets! i think HK is safe enough.

there's a part of downtown HK where a lot of expatriates gravitate known as lan kwai, if you're looking for some nice places to eat.
posted by phaedon at 3:17 PM on March 13, 2007

also, beware that most clothing stores in hong kong do NOT have a return policy. and that XL probably means a medium for you. and my last point - i know somebody might argue me on this one - do not buy electronics in hong kong. there are tons of scams.
posted by phaedon at 3:18 PM on March 13, 2007

i think an escort at 15 is silly, but if for some reason you're tempted HKIS would be a good place to inquire.
posted by phaedon at 3:24 PM on March 13, 2007

He'll be fine in Singapore on his own.

I recommend the Singapore Science Centre. It's a bit far away but so much fun!
posted by divabat at 3:59 PM on March 13, 2007

Singapore will be fine for him by himself; it's really easy to get around and nope, he won't stand out. My experience = going there last year as a 20yr old with my boyfriend (also 20) and my sister (15).

I recommend the Asian Civilisations Museum, down on the quay somewhere. He could then walk right around and have lunch on Clark or Boat Quay. Popping over to Sentosa for a look is also something to do, while the cable car ride is fun - and there's quite a cool exhibition there called Images of Singapore. The rest of the place is a bit blah but he can see the Merlion for pure tourist value.
The Botanical gardens might not be his thing but if he is interested in people watching there's a nice cafe there and plenty of places to relax. Hmmm thinking about it, we saw many snakes there, so that was cool! Obviously Orchard
Road will be a great place for people watching & shopping too.

Finally - eating. Just send him out to eat! What's the weirdest (to him) weirdest local fare and eat it. Great interesting times ahead there. We bought 14 different flavours (in a group) of shaved ice desserts and tried every one. Now that was an experience to remember. Look for century eggs, fresh juices and the best Singapore fired noodles he can find.

I think travel experience wins over school this time, it'll be great if he is excited about going!
posted by teststrip at 4:14 PM on March 13, 2007

Hong Kong has a great metro system, which works with an "Octopus card" that you put money on and then just keep waving at the card readers. Once you've got one of these, it's very easy and non-scary to travel around on the metro. The card also works on the ferry to Kowloon and on the tram to the Peak, both of which are recommended experiences.

Having an Octopus card made me much more confident in just wandering around, since I knew I could always just find a metro station and I knew the name of the stop near my hotel.
posted by emilyw at 4:27 PM on March 13, 2007

Yeah, for HK, get the Octopus card.. it works for everything. Send him out to see the Big Buddha on Lantau Island (day trip) - he'll either get lost wandering through bus-MTR-bus-bus connections or get to see a side of the world he'll never see again. There's tons of electronics malls (with porn and pirated software to boot) to keep him occupied wandering around, plus the ferries and Stanley and everywhere in between.

Wandering with a map is a definite way to spend a few days in HK. It's very self-contained and hard to get yourself stranded (or bored) due to the way the city is built.
posted by kcm at 4:32 PM on March 13, 2007

srlbraintree, for what it's worth, my mom took me on business trips with her around Europe and Asia and let me wander around by myself during the day for weeks at a time, and I always totally loved it. If your son is the curious type, he'll do just fine, especially in those cities. Get him a cheap unlocked GSM cellphone and just pick up prepaid SIM cards in each city, so he can always call the hotel or you if he needs help. If he has a digital camera, have him put together a photo essay of whatever he's seen during the day when he's back at the hotel at night—it'll be great to a) go around with a goal in mind, even if the day's events are unplanned, b) have something to show off at school when he gets back, and c) a record he'll appreciate when he's older!
posted by lia at 6:22 PM on March 13, 2007

If your son is a truly bad student I want to second YoungAmerican's advice that you not take your son out of school for this, or that you turn the trip into an incentive for his being more disciplined in his studies. In our department meeting last week we discussed why it is that the worst students are always the ones who take the most days off, especially near the crucial beginnings and ends of long vacations.
posted by msittig at 7:47 PM on March 13, 2007

I was 15 when I accompanied my dad to Hong Kong, Tokyo, and South Korea, spending about three days in each. This was 3.5 years ago. I was alone the entire time (my dad was in meetings all day, and we had dinner together once or twice total). It was an incredible experience for me, and it was a huge part of my decision to defer college for a year to travel through Asia and learn Chinese.

Before I went, I had never been outside the U.S., I hadn't learned any "survival" Japanese/Chinese/Korean, and I didn't have ANY plans whatsoever. I had read a lot of weblogs/travelogues written about in Japan, Seoul, and Hong Kong, though. I began each day just walking around each city and taking the subways to interesting neighborhoods. I might have bought tourist maps in each city, but I can't remember. In the end, though, I found that the traditional tourist attractions didn't interest me much, so I just kept walking all day and taking buses to random corners of the city. I had just bought a new digital camera, and I took about 800 photos total, to document my trip.

Your son is really lucky to have this opportunity. I can't speak to your specific situation, but I know the reason I had such an amazing time was that my parents a) trusted me completely to go out on my own and b) didn't make me tell them where I was going (I wouldn't have known) or come up with a "trip plan" ahead of time.

That said, here's what I loved about HK (I've since been back several times):

HK: Take the Star Ferry in Hong Kong, and also go to Lantau Island and up to see the big Buddha statue. Go to the Ladies' Market near the Mongkok stop (it's not just for women--it's an amazingly lively market). Go to the observation deck in the Bank of China building (it's open to the public). Go to Victoria Peak (A MUST-DO!!!!). Go to Stanley Park on the south side of the island. Go to the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront at night to see the most amazing skyline view ever. Check out the New Century Mall (right by the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, near where the Star Ferry lets out). Take the double-decker buses on Central just randomly, with no destination in mind, to see the sights.
posted by jbb7 at 12:11 AM on March 14, 2007

msittig: huh! Could it be because the worst students don't feel motivated by school so they decide to spend more time outside of it, rather than them being out of school leading to their bad grades? In primary school I was often away for longish periods of time (either following my family around or just being randomly ill) and I was always ahead of the class.

This trip can be a learning experience for him. Singapore always has something going on in the weekends, perhaps something educational. (Also, their textbooks are of very good quality and are actually quite entertaining.) If you go to science centers or museums, he'll get to learn quite a bit - probably a lot better than what happens in school.
posted by divabat at 3:31 AM on March 14, 2007

Trip to Asia > 1 week of school. Doesn't matter whether the student is doing well or not. A week of class is insignificant in comparison!

Poor schoolwork from a good kid means either the kid isn't too bright (it happens), or the kid isn't motivated, which may be the fault of the school. I looked at his blog, I doubt he's dull :-)

Travel is motivating. Discovering the world can give a guy a reason to work harder to acheive new-found goals. Alas, it could have the opposite affect, discovering that school seems that much more irrelevant. (good, smart kids sometimes have the worst time dealing with school drudgery!).
posted by Goofyy at 4:11 AM on March 14, 2007

IAAD (I am a Dad) and, looking at your son's blog, he's really excited about the trip. I think it's going to be great for him.

From his blog: I will also have some time to get ahead in my reading for English class.

Looks like he's not going to forget he's a student in a week. I would also suggest you talk with his teachers and, with him, figure out a project he can work on about his trip, perhaps a slide presentation for one or more of his classes. I bet his classmates would be excited to see what he did.

One week of school: important. One week in the Far East with Dad: priceless. My dad worked for Lockheed's infamous Skunk Works so any time he traveled overseas it was on a "secret mission." I envy your son.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 9:47 AM on March 14, 2007

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