Hong Kong, the Second Time (tips, ideas and travel guide)

The wanderlust in me kicked in again. I will go out of the country (again!) with another set of travel buddies, my Finance team (the Accounts Payable section). For the past few years, we’ve been through a lot of challenges so it’s high time that we pamper ourselves to go out from our four-corner room and explore the world. Hong Kong was chosen by the majority and to make this a worthy trip, we will include a one-day visit to Macau since this is just an hour away by ferry boat. And though I’ve been both in these two city-states in November 2016, I’m so elated to get back!

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Setting foot again in Disneyland which is dubbed as “The Happiest Place on Earth” is another happy travel for a wanderlust like me.

About Hong Kong

Hong Kong is not a country but a city-state, an autonomous territory in southeastern China. It used to be a former British Colony with around seven million people, making it one of the densely populated areas in the world. Aside from its being a major port and global financial hub, Hong Kong is also a major shopping destination.

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the stunning skyline with studded skyscrapers

There is something so intriguing about Hong Kong that I did not object of what my team chose to explore. From its captivating skyline, the convenient public transportation, classical garden, iconic food, Disneyland, temples, the cable car, the bustling city life and a lot more. Never mind the common down side: the communication barrier and some of its people.

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the excited team! see our happy faces as we all passed series of questions asked by the Immigration Officers and we thanked the Lord for this

Since we belong to the same department, we were not allowed to take a long vacation. We will be squeezing a three-day, three-night getaway to which I will guarantee my team a delightful and worthy trip. I was the one who organized this trip, from itinerary, budgeting and booking of air fare, hotel, ferry boat fare and cable car.

Airfare

It would be a lot of saving to book early for a cheap air fare. As early as May 2018 through wee hours, I chanced to book a two-way promo fare of Php4,320/head on the fourth week of November.

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touchdown!

Climate

Hong Kong is a sub-tropical city with four distinct seasons-warm and humid spring, hot and rainy summer, pleasant and sunny autumn, cool and dry winter. Hot and humid months is from May to September and a mild climate from middle of September to end of February. To skip a humid weather, we chose the month of November. There are occasional rain showers during this month but we can still navigate far because the weather was relatively pleasant.

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the windy moment at Sky Terrace 428

Hostel

Hostels in Hong Kong are small, cheap and not for finicky travelers. Fortunately, I found two affordable rooms at Shanghai Hostel in Chungking Mansions at Booking.Com for P15,854.06 only (3-day, 3-night stay). Since we are six, we are divided into two rooms which are air-conditioned with private bathroom, linen, blanket, hair dryer and with free coffee, water and WI-Fi.

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our room at Shanghai Hostel, Chungking Mansions

Tsim Sha Tsui

Tsim Sha Tsui (or simply TST) means “sharp sandspit” in Cantonese. TST is known as a major tourist hub and one of the main shopping areas in Hong Kong. Many fellow Pinoys (including us) tend to stay in this area because of its easy access to MTR and famous tourist spots like the Avenue of Stars, Clock Tower, Victoria Harbour and Star Ferry terminal. It is also near to restaurants and museums too. Indeed, this is one of the busiest and liveliest parts in Hong Kong.

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the busy TST at night

Klook

I booked our Disneyland, ferry boat to Macau and the cable car tickets to Big Buddha in Lantau Island through Klook, a trusted Hong-Kong-based in-destination services booking platform. I had tried Klook in my second visit in Singapore to which I found it much cheaper and hustle free. I bought our Disneyland tickets for Php3,633.29 only which costs Php4,333 in their website.

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one of our tickets booked at Klook

Transportation

Hong Kong has an efficient, safe and highly developed transportation. They have MTR website where I patiently browsed the fares to all our destinations. Just like what I did during my first visit in this country, we will be riding here all the public transport systems (except the usual taxi cab) from MTR, trams, double-decker bus, ferry boat and the Peak Tram.

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the Tram or Ding Ding will bring joyful and touching moments

The Octopus Card

Octopus Card is the stored value electronic card in Hong Kong. This is widely used for most public transport and purchases in convenience stores, supermarkets, vending machines, fast food stores and more. The good thing about the Octopus Card is that is has no expiration. It can be used again for the next trip. It’s good that I kept my previous card and I will use it in this trip.

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I encouraged my office mates to buy Octopus card so we can have an easy and fast access to MTR stations and convenience stores. It costs HK$150, with a refundable deposit of HK$50.

Food

I allotted an average budget on food. I’m sure we will be eating at Café de Coral, McDonalds and KFC for they are visible everywhere in Hong Kong. But we vowed to feast on Hong Kong’s must-eat dishes like their famous roasted goose and pork, dim sum and noodles. We will not leave the country without trying these dishes. We will bring crackers and cookies for light snack to save us from spending much.

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never skip eating yummy noodles which is one of the iconic foods in Hong Kong

The People

Every country has different culture, beliefs and people. I was already familiar of the locals of Hong Kong so I briefed my office mates on how to deal with them especially the elders because some are not frequent in speaking in English and others do not speak this language. Majority of the locals are Chinese and are Cantonese speakers. It is a must to be patient in dealing with them because some tend to get irritated when they do not understand what is being asked to them.

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a rainy day in Hong Kong during the month of November

But on the brighter side, there are many Filipino workers in Hong Kong and it is a common sight to see them almost everywhere. I don’t worry of getting lost for I am sure we can bump fellow kababayan along the way who will show us the right direction. Anyway, getting lost is part of a momentous travel hahaha!

Electrical Outlet

Every country has different plug systems. In Hong Kong, majority of its electrical outlets uses a three-pronged UK-style plug. I bought a universal adapter in Ace Hardware which costs Php175 (brand-Omni Nano). The standard electrical voltage in Hong Kong is 220 volts AC, 50Hz.

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This is it!

With sufficient money in our pockets, enough rest and a fiery motivation prior our trip, everything was set. Just like my previous out of the country trips, I’m sure this is another unforgettable and worthy experience not only to me, but to all of us!

And we are all so excited for this trip!

Our first day as well as our first night

The Crystal Mover

We arrived in Hong Kong Airport at around 9:00 pm. I discovered that passengers of Cebu Pacific will ride a driver less train called “Crystal Mover” in getting to the next hall. From the arrival area we went down to the train tunnel and boarded in this train. It has a screen door along the edge preventing passengers off the track.

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getting ready to ride in the Crystal Mover

We went to the information area to buy an Octopus Card and together with my office mates we all loaded it with HK$200.

MTR Map

We are equipped with printed MTR maps to avoid getting lost while roaming around in Hong Kong. But in Hong Kong airport, tourists can get a copy of this map and other brochures for travel guide in exploring Hong Kong.

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the map I used during the entire trip

Wi-Fi/Internet

There is a free Wi-Fi available in Hong Kong International Airport throughout all terminals. Just connect to the“#HKAirport Free Wi-Fi” network. No need to register.

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Cityflyer A21 Bus

Buses in Hong Kong are the cheapest way to get and from Hong Kong International Airport. Since we will be heading to Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon side, we boarded the most popular among tourists, the Cityflyer double-decker A21 bus. It is air-conditioned with large luggage racks in the lower part.

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in the upper deck of A21 bus

When we hopped in, we tapped our Octopus card and put our luggage to the luggage area. We sat on the upper deck to enjoy the scenery. I did not worry of skipping our destination because there is an announcement system in English and Chinese located on the upper rear part of the bus where everyone can hear and see an upcoming bus stop being announced by the speaker.

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the bus guide upon exiting the Hong Kong International Airport

The buses run from 6:00 am till midnight with a frequency of ten to twenty minutes. The return route will start from 5:30 am to 11:00 pm.

Our travel time to Tsim Sha Tsui was forty five minutes only. We were on 14th Stop which was the Middle Road, Nathan Road.

Shanghai Hostel in Chung King Mansion

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as we were guided by this direction in Nathan Road

I was already told about the crowded situation of the ground floor of Chung King Mansions and I relayed it to my office mates prior my booking. They did not object where to stay for they are sure, we can handle every situation, may it be good or not. Our hostel is located in Block E, 5th Floor in Chung King Mansions. From where the bus stopped, we veered to the left and crossed the street. Chung King Mansions was easy to find.

From the main entrance, we were instructed to turn right and walk few distances to Block E. We boarded a small elevator that fits around six to eight people only. Upon reaching 5th Floor, we searched for Shanghai Hostel but were instructed by a staff to go the reception area on the 3rd Floor for room validation.

Our rooms (2 triple rooms) were both located on the 3rd floor. When everything was settled, we put all our bags in our room and we set out for dinner. Since the elevator was small and always full, we decided to take the exit. We discovered it was a bit scary to go down in an empty passage so we walked fast until we reached the exit.

First dinner

It was already past eleven p.m. and McDonald’s was the only open food chain store and the nearest to Chung King Mansions that will satiate our hunger. 

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and so we were hungry and tired, but then, when you are in a company of cheerful team, everything will be whisked off…

Our dinner was late and we were all famished. Though we were so tired and sleepy, we had a lively dinner while sharing our funny experiences in the airport down to our room. We only had few hours to sleep because we will wake up early for our first day adventure in Hong Kong. We will go to The Peak and Disneyland.

I had been to both attractions but I want to visit The Peak again. I will skip the rides in Disneyland because I will be exploring tourist attractions which I did not visit yet. My friends Dayleen and Amie who were both based in Hong Kong will be my buddies.

We went back to our rooms to rest and sleep for few hours.

And to get ready for our first day tour.

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All Hands Beach at Subic Bay: We want to go back!

Before the year ends, my family is itching to go to the beach. A dear friend of mine recommended All Hands Beach in Subic. We seldom frequented beaches in this town because we prefer to swim in Batangas which is known for its sparkling white beaches and rich marine life. But to our surprise, we were mesmerized of the stillness, clean and clear waters of All Hands Beach. It is so safe to swim because the shoreline has gradual sloping depth. It has no adjacent residential areas and rivers that is why it is away from pollution. And with this, we want to go back!

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this is the colorful beach area of All Hands Beach

Trivia

All Hands Beach is one of the 3 swimming areas of the United States Navy when they operated their U.S. Naval Air Station at Subic Bay, namely Dungaree Beach, Officer’s Beach and All Hands Beach. All Hands comes from the Navy term “all hands on deck” which means everyone on deck, all ranks on deck, everybody on deck.

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kids and adults are enjoying the slide in this aqua inflatable

We left Manila at 6:00 am and had a stop-over in Shell of Asia along NLEX for breakfast and another in Puregold Subic Duty Free to buy some grocery goodies. It was almost 11:00 am when we arrived in All Hands Beach. I was so glad because the sun was hovering in the sky, perfect for a happy beach escapade!

Shen is still enjoying the water till morning

Shen is still enjoying the water till morning

We paid for the Beach Package: SBMA entrance fee of Php150 and the beach bundle Php450 for a total of Php600. This is a sunrise to sunrise stay which includes free use of the aqua inflatables, bamboo huts & nipa sheds with ceiling fans, WiFi, siesta beds, charcoal grillers, floaters, basketball court and beach volleyball court. There is no room in this package, but we can sleep at open nipa cottages or in tents which has designated area. We chose the latter.

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time now to go home with another happy family beach getaway

Since it wasn’t a peak season yet, we were able to get a nipa shed near the grilling area and comfort room. It has a provision for bags and other belongings in the ceiling and has a wide space to lay our sleeping bed.

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the rooms

Bringing of food and water is allowed (no corkage fee). We brought rice, viands and drinks. We ate our lunch by noon time and took a nap afterwards. We dashed to the water late in the afternoon. Before dinner my hubby grilled pork liempo. After we ate, we packed up and went to the tent area and pitched our tents.

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one of the cute cottages of the resort

Night swim

It was a wonderful night to stay on the water. It was warm, clear and calm. It was so safe to swim because the water gets deeper gradually. We had a fun time sliding in the inflatables. When we got tired of sliding, we stayed in one inflatable and chatted with new friends. Because there was no one in the water anymore, we saw black fishes swarming near our area. But when we dashed to the water again, they swam away from us.

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it was so nice to embrace the serenity of the beach at night

We were the only ones left on the beach so we exclusively owned it to ourselves until 10:00 pm. Near us was a life guard riding a kayak. Indeed it was so safe to swim even at night. It was so soothing to embrace the serenity of the place where we could see the sky full of stars. We had a great time and I wouldn’t trade the happiness I was feeling right at that moment because my family was enjoying much.

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We rinsed and changed to sleep wears. But we did not want to sleep yet. We went to Coffee Bar fronting the beach and ordered hot choco. But since it wasn’t available, we were served Milo energy drink. While sipping this drink, we savored the moment looking at the water which was illuminated by the beach lights. It was so relaxing. The soft sound of the friendly waves was soothing. Again, it was so wonderful to embrace the night time solitude with my family.

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choco break after a fulfilling night swimming

Sleeping time

We were joining other groups in the tent area. It was so nice to meet new friends while we were pitching our tents. I was so excited to sleep again inside a tent near the beach. It’s good that it wasn’t hot inside because there were ceiling fans. We were told it was so safe to sleep in this area. But of course, it pays to be vigilant so we kept important belongings safe. And with that we had a good night sleep.

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the tent area in the morning

Mornings at All Hands

It’s time to pack up by 6:00 am. But Shen still wanted to swim. We ate our breakfast in our table and after we ate, Shen head off to the water and Pao played basketball. Me and my hubby went for a morning walk along the shore. We were given until 9:00 am to fully enjoy our stay in All Hands Beach.

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there goes the happy Banana boat ride

Happy Us

Though our stay was short, we fully enjoyed immersing ourselves to the water. Resort cleaners were visible everywhere that’s why all areas in this resort are clean and well-maintained from the comfort room, grilling areas and the shoreline. They have a well- supply of bathroom tissues. With our worthy experience in this resort, we all want to go back!

here is the rate of the activities of the resort

here is the rate of the activities of the resort

Tips:

1) Rooms are quite expensive that’s why we chose to sleep on tent.
2) Infants are free of charge. Child below 3 years old is charged Php450.
3) They have restaurant which serves Filipino cuisines.
4) There is an Anticipated Mass every 1st, 3rd, 4th Saturday at 7pm and Healing Mass on every 2nd Saturday at 4pm
5) No corkage fee on food and water.
6) No pets allowed.
7) No fishing.
8) This resort is also a nesting site for marine turtles from October to February.
9) Staff are nice, courteous and friendly.
10) Comfort rooms are clean and with pleasant smell.
11) Enjoy resort’s water activities like Kayak, Banana Boat, Jetski, sliding on inflatables and swimming.
12) Relax, enjoy your coffee or chatting with your loved ones at the Coffee Bar which has free Wi-fi and is open 24 hours.
13) Glass-bottle beverages and electric cooking equipment are not allowed.

All Hands Beach is located between the Subic Bay International Airport and the Subic Container Terminal. This is accredited and recognized by the Department of Tourism of the Philippines.

Contact Info:

Landline: (047) 250 2270
Globe:  0917 457 3978
Smart:  0918 413 5251
Sun: 0922 826 2934
Email: allhandsbeach@yahoo.com
San Bernardo Road, Subic Bay Freeport Zone

See their Room Rates and accommodations here.

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Family beach getaway at Masasa Beach, Tingloy Island, Batangas

As I turned 46, we diverted the usual family beach getaway by being a kid again at Gingerbread House in Alfonso, Cavite. But my brother wanted to swim and so I recommended Masasa Beach in Tingloy Island, Batangas. Just last summer of this year, there has been much bustle about this beach and I was curious to find out for myself what this raving is all about.

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the unique and beautiful Tawil Rock Formation as we passed by during our island hopping

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