Hongkong Omake!


Like anything experiencing new it involves tons of learning. Here are the things I observed in HK and Shenzhen:

Rest Rooms

HK parks take pride in their cleanliness that a trip to their restrooms are nothing but annoying. The seats and tiles are clean, tissue is plenty and water and hand drier works.

I have only tried going to the public toilet in Shenzhen and it was new going to a bowl less toilet bowl. Now I know what to expect when I go to Korea, because from what I heard, most of their public restrooms have this.

Escalators

While I've read about the stay right policy in escalators, this is not 100%. It is at the airport; I kept on reiterating this to my group when we're at one but not on the building were we went (Happy Store). I was able to observe locals going to and fro and none of them are as strict.


Money

Their money have different designs unlike ours (dependent upon THE BANK that issues it) so don't panic when they hand you one with a different design. Also, I rarely experience being handed my change with bills that are crumpled or even folded.

In Shenzhen, both at the Bamboo Store and Jade Jewelry store that is, they accept Philippine Peso. Yes. You read it right. I think they are taking advantage of the influx of visitors from our country so they tolerate and even advise this.


Plastic Bags

At HK, they put a cost to plastic bags and by default they'd just hand in your groceries. You can either shove them into your bag OR pay for the bag.


Food Trays

When your food is served on mini trays, do not remove it!! They need it there so you won't spoil their tables and for easy clean up.


Sale Jewelry

Be careful in buying jewelry in both places. If it's too cheap, it's either gold plated only or the materials are not that good.

Airport

Is extremely huge. If it's your first time there, save up a long time before your actual flight as you may get lost. You need the time to find where you need to be.

Hotel

When you book a package deal, make sure that you pinpoint the places you are going to and how far it is from your hotel. Don't be like me hahahah!


I will try to update this with more if I can remember more details. But chao! Hopefully next time I can visit Macau too!



*Omake is extra in Japanese

Hongkong EP16 Pinoys at HK International Airport





We're already there by 4pm, enough for the other family we're with at Shenzhen to make it to their 5pm trip. Ours were still around 10pm so we do have plenty of time, but not exactly enough to know what it is we were doing. I also have 2 goals to do for today which is:

1. Buy my boss the Long Champ bag she wanted (she gave me 700HKD)
2. Meet Mr. Lee for my sister's bag.

First thing we did was find food. Like seriously our stomachs are grumbling for food. We were able to buy a cheap fast food type there (Mcdonalds is under renovation) but I forgot the name though. We spent not more than 500 pesos all in all.

Initially we were at Terminal A waiting on the 2nd floor, right above the agency posts were I'm supposed to meet Mr. Lee. But there is a problem. We could not find were we should get our boarding passes!! First we asked for directions on where to go and the first one we got made us have a really long walk, making my mom furious at where I was taking them. We turned around and was able to meet a Pinoy (who looks like a friendly business guy, reminded me of the pop of one of my old friends) who told us to how to go to Terminal B, the easier way. We took it and not more than 5 minutes we were at the 2nd floor seating in one of their chairs.

Tip: When you find yourself in a similar situation of finding Terminal B, all you need to do is to find the path on the RIGHT MOST part (ground floor) of Terminal A. We initially took the leftmost which is quite a long walk. It meets with the one you will take if you're at the right. 


Finally Terminal B

We finally reached this dreaded Terminal B and were glad to find that Tiger Airways is really here. It's a bit early and boarding passes were not given yet so we are left on our own to roam around. I was also able to meet Mr. Lee (he was a bit late) and get the bag which he said was picked BY someone and took it to Hollywood hotel. Whoever that was noticed their mistake but never bothered telling the guide NOR returning the bag either. Their courtesy extended to JUST LEAVING IT AT THE HOTEL. I could not publish the words I have for whoever did this but I am quite sure that Karma is just around the corner for these types of tourists.

When I was successful in getting the bag, I had my sister check every nook of it to find if it was stashed with drugs. Yes drugs. I am quite aware of how a lot of Pinoys getting tricked by this so we have to take this precaution first hand. She said it was untainted, to everyone's relief.

I didn't get my sister make up (can't find any that's too steep, plus she has hypo allergic skin) so I ended up buying pasalubongs at Mannings. There I met an old woman who knew I was a Pinay just by looking. We chatted, well, most of it was her doing and learned that she lived and settled here for so many years now. She even used her cards to give me as much as 30% discount. Amazing. She also does tours, the unlikely ones mostly to submerge in the actual culture of China and HK. I think it's around 10k for a week long tour and you'd be staying in inns and apartments for the entire duration. This is only open for 20 people so in case you dear reader are interested I will gladly give you her number.

By 8 o clock we were lucky to be the first in line to get the boarding pass, which is to our surprise not on the area where the sign says we go. The entire line actually caters to it, and my mom asking made us get our passes easier. We left another Pinay who was hauling so many bags who are still finding ways how to check in all of it.

Long Champ I found you at last!

Once we got the boarding pass, we proceeded to Immigration. There is only one way after it, and it was the train to pick us up to our gates. But the boarding pass has no gates at all. Luckily we were able to ask one of the guards what to do and he said that this means that we have to wait. What we can do though is to roam around. So we took an elevator and with my handy dandy map, I was able to pinpoint the location of the Long Champ store. As I've said, we weren't able to go to Tsim Hsa Tsui and based on my research, prices here are the same on stores there. My boss had a thing for long handles so I ended up buying it anyway, although much pricier than the short handle one. It was 920 HKD.

We meet again!

When we were just about to get back, we met the woman WHO we met earlier at the boarding pass section and was clearly lost. I don't know what happened but her initial flight was cancelled and she is now on the same flight as ours. She was telling us how she was hauling so many pasalubong she can't take home (check in costs) that she thought of us first, that she's wiling to give us free pasalubongs just so someone can take it. Unfortunately we left her earlier so I think she gave that away to others instead.

Now with her, we went back to catch the train to go the gate as it was announced on the TV. We only have around 10 mins before our flight and it felt like Amazing Race. We rushed to our gates only to find out that our flight was delayed. We were able to roam around a bit, buy a snack and water before the stores closed and waited for the plane to arrive.


The scary pre-boarding stuff #1

So I was going to the cr to relieve myself when I overheard this conversation:

Dad: Tell them, tell them what you are telling me!
Son: (probably 5 or 6, speechless) coughing instead, probably cold.
Dad: (addressing the rest of the family) He was saying how he's going to heaven!!

I immediately relayed this to my sister who recalled Final Destination. We are scaring ourselves with this until I saw something much scarier.


The scary pre-boarding stuff #2

Seating at the back were a police officer and a woman, obviously a Pinay, who was hiding her face behind a handkerchief. She even have a hoodie one time and for some reasons I could not understand (literally, she, the officer and the boarding pass guy were talking in Cantonese) they kept on standing up, going at the area and returning back to the seats again. At one time they sat next to my mom.

Her story was, well, luckily my mom is also an Ilokana, she have never left the airport of HK. The girl could not exactly say the reasons for her demise, and she was firm she have no idea why is being deported. She said that she is going to meet an Auntie here but the story stops there. The woman we were with (the one with so many bags) speculated that the girl in question might have given a different story compared to what her auntie says, causing for her no passage. My mom says also that she got a glimpse of the girl's passport and it looks fake. No one have solved the mystery until the end.  But what she did next surprised me.

I was sitting at the floor, playing with my Ipad when in a quick move, when they passed around my back, I saw her mentioning me to call. The bag woman told me that in my indian seat a paper was thrown my way. It was so scary (CCTV might be anywhere) that at first I hid it in my shoes. I intend to go back to HK and this is something that even though I would like to help, just couldn't do.

In the end, in my own tongue, I said out loud that I don't have any load left. Other than that, I don't want to look like an accomplice, because clearly, the officer didn't want any of us talking to her.

When the plane boarded, she got in first.

Snap back to reality...

After not more than an hour, we have finally reached Clark Airport. It took us a long time to finish immigration (the line is hellish long and primitive). What's more is that the bus that we're supposed to take has already left and the next one to arrive will be around lunch noon. It's just 1 in the morning. With that, we had my father and sister fetch us. When they arrived, I was able to finally sleep, safe and sound on our car.


Hongkong EP15 Shenzhen in a Different Light

While earlier we did saw it's bad points, seeing how the highways are cleaned and devoid of beggars, it kind of look like the best side of Manila. On the way there we had a hard time deciphering the lines of Ms. Lisa that it took us a minute or two to get what she said. I end up becoming the unofficial translator of what I understood from what she said. She smiles frequently whenever she has nothing more left to say, probably thinking what's wrong why we can't decide.



We're suddenly a huge family!

First stop was the Jade Jewelry. Again, no cameras inside were allowed and the mandatory explanation of how to spot original and fake jades and the likes. Our group was entirely small compared to the others and this is the first time we've seen a lot of Muslims and Indians around.

We (I mean MY family, but I think the other family were able to buy a Pi Xu) have refrained from buying anything other than tea, which we got for a bargain after the father in the other family posed my mom as "another wife". You see they have a buy 2 take 1 promo so it was a chance to pay much less. I would have bought a small Pi Xu too but I don't want to drain my entire stash.


Not from the jewelry outlet, but this is what a Pi Xu looks like. It's a pair when bought, one attracts wealth and the other controls the flow. 


Story telling at Happy Train

She offered us a chance to go inside the Windows of the World with food but we ended up not getting any because it would be much more expensive to our companion family. If I remember correctly she was saying it would cost us around 1K per person, much less than Disney. What's unfortunate with this is that none of us came prepared about this that even though I still have some for the 3 of us to use for the entrance fee, we can't simply afford leaving the other family behind. What we had though was the Happy Train. It cost us around 90HKD (oh I wish this is correct) which goes around the park, giving us an overview of the place.


There's not much to see though, mostly trees and a few few stories high monuments, but the trip only highlights how it would be amazing to really go in the park. I wish when me and Reagan tries this trip again we'd be with a group who would be willing to go in.



My extremely soft purchase at the Bamboo Shop

Like the rest of the trip, introductions on the applications of bamboo on different mediums are put into demo one of which was this amazing scarf like something. I haven't managed to know what's it called but being an all in one of sorts made me extremely happy getting one. Heck it can even be a dress!


The one in the middle is filled with charcoal that is for indefinite use to eliminate smells on the ref and the only maintenance is once a year of sun bathing this item.

Going back to HK

After this we were ushered to the terminal to pass immigration to get back to Hongkong. The actual terminal is not the actual immigration but after we pass the inspection, we looked for the shuttles were supposed to be in. It took us a long time finding ours (communication barrier mostly) and the fact that they used the word 'bus' made us more confused. What was waiting for us however were a bunch of extremely new vans. By this time we have to separate into two once more, us going with another family (a couple) who were already waiting for us. We have not bid Ms. Lisa a proper goodbye but I think in spite of not giving in to her requests of spending time at Windows of the World, we made it up to her by giving her a good review and extra tip. Goodluck to her career!

The driver had us prepare for the immigration forms on the van and simply had to pass our papers to the immigration officer. Looks a lot like your normal toll gate, but much more strict. I've never seen so many cameras pointed to a car before but this is for me much more better than actually looking a local in the eye. Remember the last time I was with an officer? Yeah, that.

Hongkong EP14 Siopao at Green Tree Inn


My family only gets 1 room unlike the 5membered-family with 2 rooms. Both are given too far apart. They wanted to change rooms with us but my mom declined. What's more something odd just happened to our room.



Charades with the Manager

The door of our bath was locked, well it wasn't at first but then when my sister closed it shut, it came on locked. Probably the safety was ready that time and no one noticed. She hurriedly went downstairs (she have to take the blame since she's the one who closed the door in full and accidentally locking it from the inside) and asked for a key.

What came instead was the manager who she claimed could not understand her plain english and her charades. We motioned the locked bathroom door and I was surprised that instead of getting the key he was actually picking the lock! But after a few futile attempts he also gave in, fetched a key from somewhere and finally unlocking it. Again, I don't think he have noticed our thank yous.

The actual room

Was quite small. The beds are too near the TV table and nothing much for the view. What's more is that we can't seem to make the aircon work and it was a bit hot when we woke up. 



Sorry we've already ruined the beds before I was able to take pictures


The bath had the same all around dispenser of shampoo, conditioner and body wash as it was on our previous stay. This is so convenient for big families since we won't have to worry running out of soap. I wonder how much we're saving by staying here but you can really see why this is a part of a budget package. Not complaining much, but it would have been nice if the aircon was more cooperative :-D

Siopao for breakfast??

We slept early and was out of the room even before our designated time for breakfast (around 8am) so we get to have our food early on the dining area.


I wonder how it was possible that they're also serving rice but there is no way I will get some after seeing the offering. There are actually a lot of siopao varieties available I began to be suspicious on the differences. I did pack up on carbs so I won't get hungry for the rest of the day, but never went back for more. 

I also find it odd that water is not served. There's coffee and probably tea but the Chinese signs on kettles with undistinguishable color I rather not take risk. I tried asking for one and what's surprising is she handed me hot water. I simply took it for the effort she made of getting it from the kitchen. 

After breakfast, I tried to buy water from 711 but contrary to what Ms. Lisa said, they didn't accept my HKD. Guess there will be no water drinking for the rest of the day then!

Ms. Lisa and the driver arrived around 9, we were checked out and we were off to the City Tour.

Hongkong EP13 Shenzhen First Impressions


Sometimes thinking so much would cause you...

The instruction was, once you see which platform the train is supposed to board on what location, (there are two stations at the very end) you simply have to follow the time. Which we did but the father of the other family kept insisting that the train that came was not the train we should catch. We girls (he's the only guy on our group) were insisting this was really our train but he kept on looking at the new schedule. In the end he gave in and we all went in for the 45min long ride.

Immigration again

We have not filled in those immigration forms that all 3 of us were held up on immigration to fill those out. When we were writing (few foreigners that time) a girl of probably European descent was near in tears asking for a pen (she hasn't prepared her forms too) saying she have to catch a meeting that is just a few minutes away.

I wonder whatever happened to her because when we stepped out of the border she was still at the immigration.

It's a lot like Manila...

Contrary to HK, going out into Shenzhen felt a lot like Quiapo with less people. The overpass we used have old steps and faint overhead lights that it made me a bit scared. It's even late at night and stories of Mr. Lee about pickpockets made me worry more. The difference between borders is so hard not to miss. Well lighted areas is one.

What topped it off is how when we were in HK, all coaches were new while the van we used are kind of old and resembles our shuttles here in the Phils.

The ride to our hotel was a chance to observe China and it was not jaw dropping as it was when in HK. The stores and roads are modest at most. If it weren't the signs, you would not believe you are somewhere in Manila.


I have read how tour guides/hotel keep tourists' passports but this time we got ours due to the insistence of the father of the family we're with. I wonder why there's a need for this though, because communication is extremely hard that going TNT is not a sane option. Also to note is that the sim I was using suddenly changed networks and become Chinese. I was not able to call Mr. Lee because of this.



My family only gets 1 room unlike the 5membered-family with 2 rooms. Both are given too far apart. They wanted to change rooms with us but my mom declined. What's more something odd just happened to our room.

Charades with the Manager

The door of our bath was locked, well it wasn't at first but then when my sister closed it shut, it came on locked. Probably the safety was ready that time and no one noticed. She hurriedly went downstairs (she have to take the blame since she's the one who closed the door in full and accidentally locking it from the inside) and asked for a key.

What came instead was the manager who she claimed could not understand her plain english and her charades. We motioned the locked bathroom door and I was surprised that instead of getting the key he was actually picking the lock! But after a few futile attempts he also gave in, fetched a key from somewhere and finally unlocking it. Again, I don't think he have noticed our thank yous.



Hongkong EP12 Draining Energy at Disneyland

When everything seemed so so normal...

After everyone had their fill, we then went back to the bus to take us to Disneyland. But this was AFTER we have learned the mystery of:

1. Why the photographer was insistent on taking each and one of our photos.

2. Why the photographer grew missing when we were at the Jewelry outlet

3. Why HE suddenly appeared at the Happy Store and join us at the bus.

More tour information was provided by Mr. Lee but to my dismay, they began selling stuff. Boxed keychains and plates of our pictures. It's irritating that this 'technique' totally got my mom who was so willing with indulging with pictures that I can't simply not buy them and they're not cheap at all! It's so so pricey :-(


Mid level Victoria Peak

Finally, Disneyland!

Specific instructions were given to us once we're on the park, and that is we have to go back immediately after the fireworks. We have at least 15 minutes till we reached the parking lot for our next destination. What's worrisome is that the driver will not wait and no show only means that you are on your own after that.

It was indeed a long walk from the parking to the arch and I sort of forgot to time how long it took for us to walk. Everyone was in festive mood all of a sudden.


I now understood the reason for the 2 day pass because you can't simply finish them all in a day (again) but here are My Top 3 Disneyland Picks


3. Philhar Magic

Offers 4D Disney show (see times on the brochures at the park, we got ours near the gate AFTER the one with the tickets). It's a delight to the senses!



2. Small World

When I was roaming around (I left off when they were waiting for the train) I saw the sign and I could not believe my eyes. Star City used to have this, but this is much much more! Love it!


Kay liit nga ng mundo!

1. Jungle River Cruise

I'm no swimmer so I was kind of scared that the boat will tip off but it was an amazing experience. We experienced the place AFTER the parade so it was about sunset, adding to the 'illusion' of the authenticity of the ride



While my sister and mom was indulging themselves with the train, I was held up watching the parade (I wasn't able to check the time though) and it was just luck when I stumbled upon it. So when it was done, I panicked that my family is not where I left them. It's unfortunate that none of our phones actually work so I have to stay where I last saw them. Alas, they came to my relief.

We stayed up until the fireworks but was not able to fully finish it because we were much more worried being late. I am so thankful that I'm with them because my sense of direction is much more worse when I'm stressed. We were able to spot some of the guys we were with the bus earlier and we went with them, half running.

When we reached the meeting spot, we were separated from the rest of the group who are going to stay somewhere else. We shared the bus with a few other families together with the family who we will go with to Shenzhen. We were about to go but a certain family actually had all of us wait for their entire family, one of them even much later. Rolls eyes.

When we were dropped off however, an unfortunate surprise happened.


Me buying the expensive sim a blessing in disguise...

When our stuff were pulled out of the bus one by one, we were shocked to learn that my sister's bag is missing! The driver who knew very little english and was a bit of a snob suddenly succumbed to tiny bit of smiles for the inconvenience. He told us to call Mr. Lee so he can call the driver's boss so they can find where did the bag go.

When we're inside the station I had a long conversation with Mr Lee (language barrier it seems) and he was shocked the bag is missing as well. He asked why we haven't checked and I told him, which is true, that the driver just insisted that the bags are already loaded and he didn't allow us to check. Since it's already late and no one can find the bag, he just said I call him when we reach China.

Happy Birthday To Me!





Wow. I'm now 26. Amazing!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Last year I had a lot of firsts:

My first trip abroad to Hongkong

My first time on a plane

My first time to Ilocos

Me and Reagan's first year (Officially that is)
(Also the first time I received flowers evar)


Experienced:

Learning a new language (Japanese)

Going to the Mind Museum

Amazing year of concerts: The Fray, James Morrison, Megadeth

Watching Cirque de Soleil (less off of my bucket list!)

Had my hair permed


Discovered

A new hobby in the form of polymer clay

Amazing books and authors: (Pinterest full list here)

David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, currently reading Number9dream)
David Levithan (Lover's Dictionary, Every Day)
Haruki Murakami (IQ84)

A nice new bakeshop: Tous Le Jours

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I have a lot of plans for next year but who knows! None of them above I have planned which made it all so wonderful. Have a happy new year to all of us!


Hongkong EP11 Free food tasting at Happy Store




Before they leave us to Disneyland, they took us to a small store in a building I've no idea where. It's a small retail shop that offers pasalubong: food, bags, shirts.

They also have unlimited free taste of food which Mr. Lee was promoting endlessly to consume because food at Disneyland is quite expensive. I'm not really fond of food tasting that much it felt cheating*.



I bought Almond cakes and some other boxed food (Rice Crackers I would gladly buy in bulk but I don't know how to carry that huge of a pack) I can take home. Later when I come home I will realize how I've not bought enough for everyone. I wish none of my office mates remember I was on vacation haha!


Tip: They are aware of the pasalubong hoarding so they do offer free shipping to hotel. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to try it out, because by this evening, we will travel to Shenzhen.


* Or so I believe. A friend of mine told me that these kind of shops sell goods notches higher compared to when you go the the actual market. I guess that answers the question why HK tours don't offer tour to local markets because they are taking you somewhere instead.

Hongkong: EP10 Pacman & Jewelry Factory Outlet


Our entire group was ushered in to their orientation room where someone (I forgot her name) discussed to us the process of creating jewelry and their award winning designs. At that point it felt like it was some ambush of sorts and if it weren't for the entire group going, I might have been hysterical.

In that same room they also have a wall dedicated to popular people who frequent their store, one of which was Pacman. She said he has been a regular customer ever since he was still a nobody up to the time he can basically afford anything. I doubt though that he (Pacman) was 'that' poor because no one goes to HK just to buy jewelry and not able to afford something.



I promised not to buy any jewelry from the store but I ended up getting my mom a bracelet (200HKD) and myself an 18k gold plated zodiac sign pendant (450HKD) which I have no intention of buying in the first place. I rarely wear jewelry so I think this would end up being stowed away in a safety box for a long time.


Update: The magnetic bracelet I bought my mom was just gold plated so it tarnished easily. I think she blames my dad who is acidic (he used it for a while) to have 'erased' the gold on the band. 

Hongkong EP09 Boat Ride at Aberdeen Fishing Village



After an hour, we were taken to the Aberdeen Fishing Village which offers a non compulsory ride towards the village at a cost of 50HKD per head, 25HKD for 11 yrs and younger. Mr Lee told us that this is not part of the package, hence we still have to pay on our own. We instantly grabbed the opportunity since we won't have nothing to do if we tapped out, besides, i think the price is already reasonable.

Also on the port is the Jumbo Floating Restaurant where our guide tells us you pay for the decoration not the food :-P. Looks amazing outside so I assume you really pay for the ambiance.


One of the unbelievable things in this experience is how the water doesn't smell. There's not even trash as well so it wasn't hard for me to decide to join the boat ride. And speaking of boat rides, they strictly impose no overloading. It's just too convenient that cops are just nearby haha!

Other than going round the village and some photo ops for the floating restaurant, there is nothing else you can do but just look around. I've read online before how there is nothing to see in the village and they're probably right but being in a new place I guess that seeing the place at least once sheds off mystery as what's not and in there.

TME: The ABCs of the New EDSA Bus Scheme


So it's been days since the implementation of the new bus route scheme in EDSA. A lot of people hate it but I maybe one of those who agree to this. It does add to the confusion but don't we all have a time to adapt to this?

It must be my fault that I was not aware of it up until the last minute but to me this is a good news. Here are a lot of pros I love about the scheme:

1. I come from Cavite every single day of work and a bus not stopping on a particular bus stop deters more passengers which result to more chairs available for me in the morning. 

2. Less stops means you arrive earlier too. For example, I can take Bus A and skip Ayala which is seriously filled with so much bus not to mention there's a dreaded intersection too.

3. Less congestion in one particular stop which translates to less noise and air pollution while waiting.

As part of the campaign, we were given flyers on which bus goes where. Here's a copy:

 I keep a copy in my wallet just in case :-)

Like any new innovation, a person who is so used to something, more or less abhors change. They are the ones who hate to adapt to what is new, and would not be talked of sense. This new scheme is no exception, but hey, everyone who has traveled elsewhere has to adapt to traffic rules, right? Why are we an exception? I hope this goes permanent! And can they do that to MRT as well? I rarely go by train but it will surely lessen the number of people by coach AND it means the train will be more efficient because for it to work they need a time table to follow. More discipline is always good!

Hongkong EP08 Mr. Lee's geological brother at Avenue of the Stars

Mr. Lee kept on repeating how he is related to Bruce Lee which I think everyone missed when he said 'geologically speaking he's my Older Brother'. He showed us the only sculpture of all the actors who have stars on the avenue which is of Bruce Lee and pointed out the famous ones.




I saw Jet Li's, Michelle Yeoh's Chow Yun Fat's but not Andy Lau's!! Too bad it must have been some place I haven't been :-(. In here also is where Mr. Lee's photographer companion (who is handsome btw) was also insistent in taking pictures of all of us which my mom was so happy indulging; to my demise later on.



Mr. Lee also said how every night (or was it on weekends) the avenue is also a good place to hang out for due to fireworks and light show. Something we should go back to.

Avenue of the stars is walking distance to Tsim Sha Tsui so I know when to go to when I decide to do a DIY back.

A few minutes before we finished the tour, the rain started pouring much worse again, just in time when we've settled on the bus.

Hongkong: EP07 Mr. Lee and his City Tour


I mistook the directions Vincent gave us so I had us all 3 go back to the hotel lobby. It was convenient that he would also fetch other visitors here as well so it was a relief on my part. If not we'd be so doomed as he said he looked for us there ::phew::

The waiting is a bit agonizing because there are just too many people talking, particularly the Chinese. One family's father who we guess are going on the same tour (thank heavens for stickers) was not even keen in discreetly remarking how it felt like we are in a bird cage.

Mr. Lee was late but he said he was stuck in traffic he haven't anticipated. He consoled us by singing a Tagalog song which he prides as one of his skills none of the tour guides have. He also knows bits of Tagalog which added to his appeal and he's really entertaining. He also gave us a lot of information about HK and it's huge difference with China (to emphasize for us 3 who were the only ones going there).

One of the marvelous thing about is that, well, look at him. How old do you think he is?



Well, I thought he was around 30s, my sister and Reagan said around 40 but you know his real age? 65 (turning 66 probably in a few days/weeks because he said he is Capricorn). His secret? Well, Tea.

Later on we will see him once more, only AFTER something happened.

Hongkong: EP05 Quickie at Cafe de Coral


Earlier, we were advised by Vincent to come down for breakfast and check out as early as 645. We went out much more earlier than that, 630, and he was right in the influx of people. Our itinerary tells us that this same evening we will be going to Shenzhen so we need to check out.

We haven't requested for anything (other than the adaptor) so check out is a breeze and I got my deposit (500 HKD) back.

After our check out we headed to where our breakfast was served: Cafe de Coral.

Tip: If you are also staying in this hotel, do a left, the alley near the garbage cans (yeah, so far no one cares about this) which is quicker than the right turn (what we first took).




While waiting, we saw the rest of the visitors, most of which were Pinoys. Later on we would see plenty of them and even go around in the same bus. 

Simple yet flavorful at Cafe de Coral

We were given 3 vouchers which have 3 options on them, all served with toast, choice of tea or coffee, egg and your choice of meat: sausage, luncheon meat and some other meat I forgot. It's a fastfood so you need to go to their food counter to have your food served.

Noticeable is how quick everything was. They create your meal as systematically possible so you won't get hungry too long.


It was very simple yet I would have loved to come back. For a fast food, it's not that bad at all. And the prices are reasonable even if you want to go on your own, less than 50HKD and you're good.

Tip: They serve your food on little trays. Do not remove your food from it because it makes their cleaning easier. Our office cafeteria follows the same suit so it was next to a habit already :-)

Hongkong EP04 Wind Burns and Egg Puff at Ocean Park





After we were dropped off at our hotel, our IT for today consists nothing more than Ocean Park. We waited for our guide to take us there and he left us on our own. The travel time was approx 45mins.

We haven't had breakfast and we are already hungry. We went to the first restaurant we laid our eyes on, Neptune Restaurant.

So you mean this is waiting, AGAIN?

So we went in and took their lunch sets. Meal includes soup, your choice of main dish (sirloin, fish, pasta, etc), tea or coffee, and dessert (Haagen Dazs ice cream or tropical fruit). The ambiance is a bit formal and they have us seat next to the aquarium.

The food is okay, like eatable okay but to my dismay does not, to me, live up to how much I paid for and expected from it. The price is truly steep, 198HKD per head (+compulsory 10% service charge) which I disappointingly regret when I step out. The serving is so puny. What's more, the food just takes forever to be served. I was done with my pasta before their food came (fish and beef). I would have understood meat but fish? And my ice cream! I thought it 's going to be served in a glass with shavings and toppings and everything but in its' cup? Really? Where did they ever ordered my ice cream from that it took forever to come?





I forgot I'm in an ocean park

With all the things you CAN do on this park, no wonder anyone who came here will attest that one day is simply not enough to finish it all. The park is divided into two, there's a lowland and highland part. Lowland have exhibits, the aquarium, kiddie park, provisions for animals: panda, fish, birds, etc. There's also Old Hongkong which is my favorite.  Highland have penguins & rides which is surprisingly flocked by all ages. Theme parks in the Phils. rarely gets any attention to anyone older than 30 so I find it really amusing that I am in line with them.



Due to the number of people (even though there's regular light showers), my sister and I were only able to take 3 rides. After that time too, my face started to show signs of wind burns and my lips started chapping. Too bad I left out lip balm on my toiletry stash :-(.

There are two ways to get to and fro the highland part of the park, there's the cable car and the train, the latter we weren't able to experience due to the line being too long already when we wanted to go down.

Save up food money in Old Hongkong



If I've only known that they have small food stalls here, I should have suggested going here the first time. Our dinner consisted of:

3 Pork Curry with rice (2x) and prata (1x) -- 50 * 3
3 bottles of water--20 * 3
1 order of egg puff -- 20
1 order of Korean grilled squid -- 30

Total 260HKD

Tip: Before leaving the airport (look for 7 11) or before going to the park, you are allowed to bring one bottle of water per person. This would save you a lot because outside the park water can cost as less as 5 to 6 HKD.

Pork curry is a bit weird but okay (there's some taste I can't describe so I said weird), but unlike in Neptune, the serving is enough for 2 people already (especially if both are light eaters). And also, if you are familiar with prata, you may be disappointed. I've always been vocal about my love for prata but this time it made me really sad. It was too hard and bland I wished I should have gotten the rice instead.


Egg puff is extremely the opposite. It's so soft and chewy it's not hard not to love it the first time you put it in your mouth. I also enjoyed the squid and the smell is terrific.



We were advised to wait for our guide out in the entrance and being the paranoid parrot that I am, I called him. He said he'd be there and I realized from there how they didn't liked to be called at all (well, he didn't say but it felt like it) and when they said they'd come, they really will, and on time. Far too different from Pinoys who needed reminding, argh.

He left us on the bus with a couple who are booked in a different hotel. From there I realized how lucky they were to be on a much better position than we were as our hotel is, as I've said earlier, simply too far from night market :-(

Hongkong: EP05 Mr. Lee's City Tour and Disneyland

Hongkong: EP03 Rambler Oasis Hotel





On the way to our hotel, I can't stop but be amazed at the largeness of it all. Buildings are just too tall compared to what I've seen here in Manila and their sky ways are too high up I think I gasped when I realized how high we were off the ground!




HK being surrounded by mountains make me compare it to Baguio only so so much in an extreme scale.


The view way up high...

The lobby of Rambler Oasis Hotel is at the 5th floor and we were dropped off at their parking area. I guess they've reserved much of their floors for parking because guess what floor they gave us? It's just the 30th floor! I don't even think I've ever been that high up in a building ever!

Tip: There are 3 of us but we were advised by the driver to ONLY give two passports for check in as it will incur a separate charge. 


The room they gave us is decently spaced, 2 beds, cable tv, bath tub. Not bad for an inexpensive hotel.


The view from top is nothing to be desired though, because we are near the port so all we can see out of the building are ships and cargo. I'm not complaining, but if you really must have a breathtaking view, go pay more for other hotels instead. Another disappointing factor is how the hotel is so far from the city proper that my plans of sneaking out to go to TST is already jeopardized as it is not near for a taxi and I can't find the nearest MTR station :-(



To note also, that sockets are the 3 pin type so you may need to request to borrow (for no charge) an adaptor. I've read through online that this is normal at all hotels so don't fret your gadgets would drain juice when you're here.

After lunch time, we were already picked up by our tourise guide named Vincent who gave us instructions how best we can enjoy the park. Again, my ears are still adapting to their English so It was really hard keeping up.

The ride from our hotel to the park was around 45 mins long and like as if the weather is mocking us, it started to shower :-(

View from hotel (outside of our door) at night


Hongkong EP04 Wind Burns and Egg Puff at Ocean Park

Hongkong: EP02 Bye Philippines, Hello Hongkong!


 

Out of the plane, we headed to the immigration area* where we wrote our arrival papers while on line. Tiger Airways should have provided us those paper prior landing but they were out of it that time so we ended up rushing writing our details.

When it was my turn it took me a long time to realize that the guy behind the immigration counter was asking for my hotel details. I think he got too annoyed and remarked how I could not answer a very simple question. If I was a bit braver I might have insulted him for his accent but 1. that's too juvenile, and 2. not my country.



All 3 of us have never been to HK before and even though my mom have her own share of airport knowledge, none of it prepared us once we went out of the arrival area. There's too much people and we have no idea where to go next. We walked aimlessly finding for a clue. Only with a strike of luck (I guess) that I saw the poles in Hall B bearing our stickers' name. (Later when I was reading our document papers at the very bottom of the paper, there was an instruction there where to go :facepalm: )




Tip: If you decide to go with a travel agency, both Halls A and B have these poles where names of agencies are posted for you to see. The name of the agency that meets you there may be different than the one you booked with. Consult the documents that were provided to you.


We were greeted by Rebecca (Stay Asia) who explained briefly our IT, handing us a copy as well. I even bought from her a sim with load because my ever so reliable network provider DIDN'T WORK AT ALL when we landed. It's too expensive, 98 HKD, but seeing that I have no choice, I bought it anyway. It comes with 150HKD load and is valid till next year. It's not a waste though because I was able to use it later on.**

After all of that, we were escorted out of the terminal and took us for check in in our hotel via bus.



Hongkong: EP03 Rambler Oasis Hotel Review


*If it's your first time, don't worry you won't miss it.
** By our second day something unexpected happened.

TFT: Things You Would Not Like To See Out of Your Cabin Window

In line with my first trip abroad and first time flyer, my mind was filled with different thoughts. For one, unlike when you are on land, you always have the option to just get off when you want to, especially in an emergency. When you're in a plane however, you are forced to accept the reality that there is only one option. Down. But other than that, there are also things that you would dread seeing out in your cabin window because for sure, you are so doomed.



5. Sky scraper





4. Your captain (and crew) with parachutes on.





3. Missing wing






2. Another plane approaching towards you





1. The Depth of an Ocean





*Disclaimer: None of the images are mine. Photos are linked on their own respective websites.