First, many thanks and love to my mother, who paid for the trip. And food and rides and basically everything.
Second, equal love to my sister, who’ll probably blog about this trip at some point as well. She took most of the pics, and she deserves some respect for bearing with the rest of us who can’t take a decent picture to save our lives.
- Cebu Pacific Air — If there’s one thing you can count on Cebu Pacific to provide, it’s delayed, uncomfortable or delayed and uncomfortable flights. We were already running late from the house because of traffic, but as I tweeted later on, we really had nothing to worry about. The 1640 flight left around 1800 due to air traffic and a late-arriving aircraft. And uncomfortable? Yes. I hate flying in small planes, but it can’t be helped.
Waiting for a flight i knew would be late. Ha ha taking pics. :)—
Jari Monteagudo (@jarimonty) June 08, 2013
- Flying business — After having gone on more than a dozen flights I still do not have a handle on the whole airport procedures thing. I did notice some things in NAIA terminal 3: tax is still high –well, it seems higher if you pay for five people—and security is very, very lax. It was like mall security: a cursory and half-hearted check, nothing more.
- Arrival at HKIA — I was attacked by memories of the Spain 2011 trip –the transfer bus, the bus terminals—were reminiscent of my previous experiences. Fun times.
Right now we’re taking the A21 bus (via Tsim Sha Tsui) to our hotel at Nathan Road.
- Delicious Kitchen — We dropped our bags and fled to the shops in search for food. We came upon many options but eventually ended up in Delicious Kitchen, which brother recommended. The servers there were very friendly. So, yes. I recommend the place.
Time. 0041. It’s kind of sad how I am already so tired of Ate Risa and my sister. Gosh. This is why I prefer travelling in a big group of friends. That way no one is doing a mother hen act on you and you can choose to have a buddy or not. Ah.
Time. 13.49. Time to write! We are currently on our way back from Lantau island.
- The MTR and Citygate — There’s no denying that the transport system of HK is more efficient and cleaner than that of the Philippines. But I really don’t appreciate countries which aren’t very tourist-friendly, or maybe I was just stressed by the indecipherable accent and sentence construction of some HK MTR officials. The Citygate is right next to the station. We ate breakfast at McDo –their orange juice is a bit too natural for my tastes – and then we looked around.
- Ngong Ping 360 — To get to the Big Buddha we rode a standard cable car cabin (which costs HKD135 for a round trip, if I’m not mistaken). The view is incredible: the airport and the planes taking off, the mountains past, the bay… We were amazed to find people walking a path crossing the mountains. Incredible, really, to have such inexhaustible determination. The Buddha town was mountains away.
- Big Buddha — Quite (un)impressively we were able to climb all the way up to the statue. The surrounding village was okay. Fun. Tourist-y.
Question: at what height could you fall to the sea without dying?
- Disneyland — We had no plans of seeing Disneyland; we were too “adult” for the small and kiddie ride infested theme park. My attitude did a 360 the moment I set my eyes on the Disneyland Resort Line Train. Mickey Mouse windows! Absolutely adorable. My excitement built up as the ride went on. I was raised by the prospect of a Downtown Disney. But oh the sadness of finding out that HK Disneyland is so small it doesn’t even have that shopping and dining district. Aaaaargh. But I suppose it was for the best. We would have spent more otherwise.
- Shopping at Citygate — It’s an outlet shopping mall. That is all. (How lovely).
Time. 1754. I am so tired. And so is everyone else.
- The Spaghetti House — We kept seeing this restaurant around, so I guess it’s a seller. It’s quite pricey, but the place was good.
- IKEA — I knew IKEA was big but I didn’t know it was going to be that adorable. I ended up buying some chocolates to bring home to the friendships.
Time. 2035. I am again very tired sigh.
MTR trouble >> My tourist pass didn’t work, so there was a bit of panic and confusion (mainly from me). It got sorted out.
Time. 1655. We’ve been through a lot but we’re still not done.
Time. 1825. My feet are dead. Also, shopping. Café de Coral for their Milk Tea time.
Time. 2040. It’s been 20 minutes since the mother left us girls at the cashier. She was to look for brother dearest. After paying for our H&M goodies, we looked for them. Everywhere. Update except the fitting room, where they were hiding themselves. Apparently.
Time. 2145. My feet are tired. We’re going to eat at Hing Fat Restaurant.
Too lazy to write properly.
- Maxim’s Food2 — Another restaurant that we kept seeing around. The food was okay, I suppose. (We’re already in the airport).
My mother accidentally bought a Php2000 worth iPad Mini cover because of my fail on-the-spot conversion. Sorry, mother. We shouldn’t have trusted my math skills.
HK Tips and Tricks + Highlights
List of random things.
- Hong Kong is one big shopping central, with residences, business towers, hotels and tourist destinations squeezed in. However, some places, like the Landmark, Central and Harbour City, close early for a shopping district (around 9 pm). But there is no shortage of luxury and ready-to-wear brands in the daytime! Some brands are cheap (like H&M), but others (like Topshop, Cotton On and Zara) are just as if not more expensive than in the Philippines. Muji was definitely more expensive in HK. And as I’ve mentioned before, there’s the Citygate Outlet Shopping Mall. Not all brands actually marked down. Giordano definitely did, though.
- Buy a tourist pass for the MTR, if you’re sure to go on the train lines a lot. It costs HKD55 for a 24-hour pass. Without such a pass, the MTR is not the way to go. Try the buses instead, which are less tourist-friendly (the guides don’t come with a bus line map) but are cheaper.
- Weather preparedness? Bring an umbrella in June, a heavy coat in November, a light jacket in February and sunblock in April.
- Tip on theme parks: they also close early, like, 7 pm early. There’s no firework display or anything [EDIT: According to my sister who’s been to HK Disneyland, there are fireworks at night, but like, at 7 pm just before the park closes]. If you’re set on getting to at least one theme park, I recommend Ocean Park over Disneyland. 1, if you want to go to a Disneyland, go to the one in California. That is the killer theme park. Getting a first taste in HK might turn you off. 2, Ocean Park is less expensive. It costs HKD280 per person, with maybe HKD20 for the express to get there and leave. In contrast, Disneyland costs HKD430. 3, more rides. Definitely. Though I wouldn’t have minded seeing characters in real life.
- Buying water and snacks on a limited budget means looking for a supermarket. Wellcome and other basement stores are preferable to, say, McDo or even 7-Eleven, where goods are overpriced.
- They’re conscientious about certain things that, in the Philippines, are neglected. They’ve got umbrella bags so that you don’t drip around everywhere inside a building. They have automatic soap dispenser everywhere, and not just in immigration (like in the Philippines). Most staircases have those lift devices for those with disabilities/ in a wheelchair. Their toilet rooms are also equipped with soap, tissue and seat cleaners.
- One of the first things I saw after alighting from the A21 bus was the sign saying “Ip Man Wing Chun Assc.” That was the only sign even vaguely relating to martial arts that I saw.
- My sister and I cannot wait for the day that the buses in the Philippines become like the buses in HK. It’s pretty impossible, but. One can hope. Our trains have the same designs as the ones in HK (so they’re different from the ones in Europe), but the stations are definitely better.
- Food in HK is pretty much Chinese food (that’s for Delicious Kitchen and Hing Fat). It tastes fine and authentic and all that. I am still amused by some of the things that are added to the menus of international fast food restaurants like McDo and KFC, Shakey’s and Pizza Hut. McDo has a wrap style food, and black and white burgers. Beware of some “authentic” Chinese restaurants; they put some small dishes on your table that you didn’t order and they’ll charge you for it. There’s a sign that says you have to pay for it, and that it’s not complimentary, but funnily enough the sign was in Chinese.
- By our computations, the cost of the whole trip was roughly Php30000 each person, maybe less. So I guess it’s an okay kind of cost? Definitely less expensive than Europe, and maybe even Singapore.