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!
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.
There is something so intriguing about Hong Kong that I did not object to 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 downside: the communication barrier and some of its people.
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 airfare, hotel, ferry boat fare, and cable car.
It would be a lot of saving to book early for cheap airfare. 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.
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 the middle of September to the end of February. To skip 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.
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 bathrooms, linen, blanket, hairdryer, and with free coffee, water, and Wi-Fi.
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 of Hong Kong.
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 to 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 on their website.
Hong Kong has an efficient, safe, and highly developed transportation. They have an MTR website where I patiently browsed the fares to all our destinations. Just like what I did during my first visit to 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.
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 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 on this trip.
I encouraged my office mates to buy Octopus card so we can have easy and fast access to MTR stations and convenience stores. It costs HK$150, with a refundable deposit of HK$50.
I allotted an average budget on food. I’m sure we will be eating at Café de Coral, McDonald’s, 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 a light snacks to save us from spending much.
Every country has different cultures, beliefs, and people. I was already familiar with 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. The 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.
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 about 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 journey hahaha!
Every country has different plug systems. In Hong Kong, the majority of its electrical outlets use 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.
This is it!
With sufficient money in our pockets, enough rest, and a fiery motivation prior to 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 at Hong Kong Airport at around 9:00 pm. I discovered that passengers of Cebu Pacific will ride a driverless train called “Crystal Mover” in getting to the next hall. From the arrival area, we went down to the train tunnel and boarded on this train. It has a screen door along the edge preventing passengers off the track.
We went to the information area to buy an Octopus Card and together with my office mates we all loaded it with HK$200.
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 guides in exploring Hong Kong.
There is free Wi-Fi available at Hong Kong International Airport throughout all terminals. Just connect to the“#HKAirport Free Wi-Fi” network. No need to register.
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.
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 about 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.
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
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 to 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 a few distances to Block E. We boarded a small elevator that fits around six to eight people only. Upon reaching the 5th Floor, we searched for Shanghai Hostel but were instructed by staff to go to 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.
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.
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 at the airport down to our room. We only had a 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 a few hours.
And to get ready for our first-day tour.
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