O Hai There, Hong Kong

Tian Tan Buddha

This blog is a bit late since I’ve been very busy at work (and I was lazy writing).

I was waiting for this trip for months. We booked our tickets right after our Singapore trip which was about 15 months before the fly date, and at that moment, I was excited for my next trip abroad.

Arriving at Hong Kong, I was astounded on how big their airport is. I think they occupied an entire island for it, it was ridiculous. Like Singapore, they have an internal train system that transports passengers between terminals. That’s how big their terminal is.

I’d like to share you a story when I arrived at the HK immigration line. During the visa/passport check, all my friends were in a breeze at the immigration. They weren’t asked anything or whatever, just stamped their passports and go. Except for me. This Chinese dude totally looked at me like I’m sort of a terrorist or something. Probably because of how I looked, or maybe because of my hair? I don’t know. I totally have no idea why he somehow picked on me to ask a loooot of questions. Before this by the way, in Cebu immigration, I was also bombarded with a lot of questions by this irate lady officer. So I was wondering what is it with my face that somehow attracts (in a negative way) these immigration officers. Anyway, back to the story, the Chinese officer asked about where I’d be staying and for how long. Standard questions. But he was doubtful when I told them I was staying in Mong Kok and he somehow told me he was not familiar with it. Well Mister, not my problem. After that intense interrogation, he finally stamped my passport and let me go. That was really frustrating and at the same time really really funny.

Day 1 (Sunday, Oct 12)

Itinerary: Hong Kong City malls, Causeway Bay coffee shops, art shops, bookstores

We headed to our apartment in Nelson St., Mong Kok. It was a really crowded area in Hong Kong but the place we’re staying in was really nice. We’re 10 people staying at the apartment, and it’s got everything: hot and cold shower, refrigerator, TV and cable, microwave oven, eating utensils, wi-fi and a lot more. Here’s their AirBnB entry: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/449708 . Funny thing about this place, you need to go up by 3’s or 2’s so the security guard in the building won’t suspect we’re renting the apartment. Weird but it was manageable I guess.

Living room photo of our apartment. Click the photo for more info.

Supposedly, we were going to Macau on our first day, but we didn’t have much time because it was already 2pm when we got to the boat terminal.

So we decided to roam around Hong Kong City and visit some coffee shops, bookstores and malls.

Apple Store at Causeway Bay
Inside Apple Store (IFC Mall, Hong Kong City)
Homeless – Art and goodies shop at Causeway Bay (click photo for more info about the shop)
Dead Fred Penholder 🙁 – Photo by Stacey
Causeway Bay ‘scrapers
Louis Vuitton – Causeway Bay
Night shops at Causeway Bay
Cat Cafe Entrance
Shiela and this furry creature – Photo by Stacey
The gang at Cat Cafe
Odina and Rose at the subway. Tired Rose?
That soccer field outside our apartment. This view is just beautiful.

Day 2 (Monday, Oct 13)

Itinerary: MACAU

Getting there involves an hour of crazy, bumpy boat ride. It was windy so the waves was strong and our boat was running fast. I was not able to relax the whole time, but I knew I was safe. Thankfully, the ride back to HK was much smoother and relaxing.

When we docked at Macau terminal, we found out that one of the perks of our “iVenture” card, that was suppose to be giving us a free tour of Macau, was not supported anymore by the travel agency that should be handling it there. They said they don’t have any associations with iVenture for a very long time already. So that pissed us off because it felt like we were scammed.  We’re worried on how we’re going to roam around the city without a guide in a short amount of time. Miraculously, a Filipino guide named Mira was going around the terminal and found us. She offered us a sweet deal for a tour around the city. I suggest you guys planning on going to Macau to have her as your guide. She knows a lot about the place, and she helped us sneak a ride to different hotels and to a lot of Macau attractions, and she’s really friendly.

So piece of advice, don’t get an iVenture Card. (or at least don’t get the Macau free tour offered by iVenture).

Anyway, when we finally drived around the city, I realized that Macau is so beautiful. It’s more cleaner than Hong Kong, and much more organized. Every sign there is in Portuguese, and the infrastructures are very European. It was really nice roaming around the city. There was a lot of people when we went there though because it was a holiday in Hong Kong, and probably a lot visited the Macau for a casino getaway. But that never stopped us from braving the crowded areas just to get to places and take photos.

At Grand Emperor Hotel – Gold bars at the hotel lobby — Photo from Stacey
Senado circle. See that crowd? That’s not usually like that on a weekday.
Shiela’s fountain shot
Local goodies – Chinese cookies
Famous Macau Landmark – Ruins of St. Paul Church
Shiela tried the Turkish Ice Cream tricks. It was so fun to watch. If you wonder what it is, watch the video at the bottom of this post or you can google it.
Pork/Beef Tapa Shop
Macau Tower
This giant diamond at Galaxy Hotel
Twilight at The Venetian – Seriously mindblown by this
Group photo
Macau Skyline from the Macau Tower
Goofing around with Poy and Shiela
Poy’s SOP shot with a lion
Our Macau Guide’s contact Info

Day 3 (Tuesday, Oct 14)

Itinerary: Ocean Park, Tsim Sha Tsui (TST)

You can’t visit Hong Kong and not go to Ocean Park. It’s a default tourist destination of the country besides Disneyland. Although we never went to Disneyland thinking we were old enough to go to the place. But in the end, I regret not going there. Seriously, who visits HK and not go to Disney-fucking-land, and not see Mickey-fucking-Mouse? Whew, gosh I finally let that out.  So let’s not talk about that anymore. Haay.

Anyway, Ocean Park is huge. I thought the place was just a big-ass oceanarium with animals and other things in it. But it was more than that. It’s not only a zoo, but it was a freakin’ theme park. I’m kinda surprised that they have a lot of rides there. It was really cool, and the place is definitely not only for kids but for everyone. I really enjoyed myself while I was there. 🙂

The Ocean Park
The Red Fox / Firefox
And of course, a Panda
One of those crazy rides in the park
Thinking Ol’ Skully
Dolphins jumping at Sea of Dreams show
Thank god for zoom lens I was able to capture this awesome moment when my friends rode this coaster.
Probably the looooongessst and highest escalator in the world
Oh, they also have cable cars there, and also very high and very freaky. But this view is amazing!
Cable car shot with Shiela and Stacey
Migo/Miga palit namo
SOP TARDIS, I mean, Phone Box shot with Doctor Who fans.
Whovian #1: Pam
Whovian #2: Me
Whovian #3: Odina
SHARKS!
and Penguins!
Odina and her cool, white friends
Sunset view from the park

After a long day at the park, we went to Tsim Sha Tsui to watch the Symphony of Lights at the Boulevard of the Stars. They have a great view also of Hong Kong City there. While we didn’t really enjoy the said show, the city skyline was really breathtaking. I can just imagine myself just watching the view all night, savoring every moment of it. The view is just spectacular. If not for the crowd that was watching the silly show and blocking my view of the city, I would’ve stayed there and just take pictures.

And of course the Hong Kong Skyline

Day 4 (Wednesday, Oct 15)

Itinerary: Museum hopping and food trip around Hong Kong

My friend told us to go to this Michelin star restaurant and try out their affordable food. Yes, ‘Michelin’ and ‘affordable’ might not go at the same sentence more often, but this one is really highly recommended. So we went there on foot since it was, according to our map, near our area. It wasn’t. I think we passed couple of blocks before getting there. It wasn’t really tiring though because we also had the chance to walk around the city. After hours looking for the place, we finally found it. The restaurant is called Tim Ho Wan at Olympian City Mall, and they weren’t kidding when they say the food is good. It was divine! Especially their specialty, the pork bun. Seriously, the best thing I’ve ever eaten. And lo, it was only HKD 19 for the 3 buns. Affordable, right? I was not a fan of some of the food though, but most of them I like, and definitely that pork bun changed my life. Hahaha

Tim Ho Wan (Michelin Star Restaurant)
.. and it’s famous Pork Bun. So yummy!
Full and happy. (Shiela, Roy, Terence and Me)

After that, we went to some museums in Tsim Sha Tsui. It was my first time in a big art museum (Hong Kong Museum of Art – TST) and it was really nice. We also went to a space museum (Hong Kong Space Museum – TST).

SOP Hong Kong background shot
Paintings at the Hong Kong Art Museum
Goofing around this disturbing, free to lie down coffin
Odina and the artworks
HK Space Museum
Space Shuttle cockpit replica
The Impossible Astronaut

We went to Yau Ma Tei to look for an old theater, and unexpectedly found a Hobby and Toy Museum there. So we went inside and I was amazed by the action figure collection they have. From Marvel Superheroes to Justice League to Doctor Who to Spice Girls. They have everything you can think of.

Toy Museum at Yau Ma Tei
They have Doctor Who toys!
Justice League
We also found Waldo
Gundam

Then we went back to Mong Kok, grabbed something to eat, and did some night shopping at the area.

Ducks and geese hanging around
Mong Kok Night Market

Day 5 (Thursday, Oct 16)

Itinerary: Ngong Ping, Lantau Island

The island was near the airport, so we had to travel by train for 45 minutes to get to the cable car terminal in Tung Chung. The cable car ride was 30 minutes long. We drove past by the foggy mountains so it was a bit chilly, and we have  this cable car with transparent glass floor so we can see how far we’ll fall if ever it happens. Yeah the ride was a bit scary but you immediately forget about it when you see the view of the mountains and the forest. It was just majestic.

Poy very anxious about this ride
Going up the mountain
Ngong Ping 360

Arriving at the village, you will see this super big buddha (Tian Tan Buddha) sitting on top of the hill. The entire place is a monastery (Po Lin Monastery) but they opened it to the public to meditate and learn more about the Buddhist culture. It was also a photographer’s dream to be in this place. There’s just a lot of things to shoot, and the place is just unreal (the temple, the buddha, and the view in general). It was a nice getaway after the noisy bustling city we just experienced the past few days. This part of the trip, the Lantau Island experience, was the place I really did enjoy the most.

Buddha sitting in the fog
The Tree of Good Luck
The Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha
Warrior pose
that view though – just incredible
Odina’s tourist pose
Going up the hill to the buddha
Few more statues at the top of the hill
Group photo
and another one 🙂

After spending the whole day at Ngong Ping, we head back to the city and had a food trip once again. We went to a place where they say has the best milk tea, and then we just roam around the city since it was our last night there. We also did a last minute shopping for pasalubongs back at Mong Kok.

Best Milk Tea in town – Lan Fong Yuen
Egg tarts

Day 6 (Friday, Oct 17)

Bye Hong Kong, now heading back to Cebu.

Overall, it was a really awesome trip. I get to experience Hong Kong and the beautiful places we went. My feet was sore even on our second day, but that really didn’t stop us from walking around the city and explore.

I’m also thankful we have friends  that speaks Mandarin. I could never experience Chinese food and goodies, and bargain at shopping things if it weren’t for them. I tried speaking Cantonese there but they don’t seem to understand me, such fail. Haha! Thank you to my friends for coming with me (Poy, Shiela, Pam, Terence, Odina, Stacey, Rose, Ador, and Roy), it was really fun travelling with you guys.

I love Hong Kong, and hopefully I’d be back there and finally visit Disney-fucking-land. OK, let’s not talk about it. I’m still sensitive about it. Nyahahaha

I also put a small video of our trip. Though it wasn’t really able to cover everything, it’s still something.

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So next year I’m excited too. Another trip abroad, and to my most favorite Asian country. I just love their food, movies, music, the people and their culture. I can’t wait to be there and just have another wonderful experience.

See you Seoul, South Korea (October 2014)

1 thought on “O Hai There, Hong Kong

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