We were in high spirit as we started exploring the North Batan, the prelude in our Batanes tour. But prior this trip, I just couldn’t contain my excitement that I had several sleepless nights imagining our close encounter with the rolling hills, the well-manicured grasses, the vast expansive view of the sea and the lighthouses. I prayed that our three-day stay in the island province will promise a very memorable escapade considering our month of visit is January, a month where rain frequents Batanes.
When you are on a trip with high-spirited travel buddies, you feel like time runs so fast. So what you will do is to soak up the remaining vacation vibes and savor every morsel of time. For our last day in Hong Kong, me and my office mates (Team Finance) will visit a traditional village in Ngong Ping area in Lantau Island. We will immerse ourselves in a relaxing tour where the natural environment, custom and culture of the island are still richly preserved. We will start our exciting trip in riding the crystal cable car. And so here we go!
This is our second day in Hong Kong and the top two tourist attractions that highlighted our trip are the The Peak and Hong Kong Disneyland. I was so elated to get back. But as much as I want to frolic on rides and attractions in Disneyland again, I will only bring my office mates here for I will explore other notable places in the city which I did not visit yet. I will spend another worthy escapade with my two friends, Dayleen and Amie who are both working in the city.
Since I was the one who organized this trip, I was hoping that my Finance team will get the same satisfaction and happiness I gained during my recent trip here.
We woke up as early as 4:30 am to take a shower so we can beat the 6:30 am call time. Dressed in comfortable clothes and with happy faces, we were fetched by Amie at Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. Dayleen was waiting for us at Central Station. It’s good to see these cheerful ladies whom I shared happy memories in my first visit in Hong Kong. But before the anticipated getaway, we will be eating our breakfast at Cafe de Coral in Admiralty Station.
Café de Coral
Established in 1968, Café de Coral is the largest Chinese fast-food store in Hong Kong. It has a selection of food varieties from Western cuisines to Chinese dishes. When we got there, the queue to the counter was already long. But we did not wait for years because they have a pretty quick service. And I was impressed. Hong Kong is really used to fast-paced life. We ate fast and were glad that our bodies were fueled up for a much needed energy we will be needing for the day’s getaway.
The Public Transport
As I promised to my office mates, we will be riding all known public transport in Hong Kong (except the usual taxis). We already tried the A21 bus from the airport and the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) which is the major public transport network serving Hong Kong. Now, we will be riding the Tram.
And because this is the first day that we will be exploring Hong Kong, we were like a pre-preschoolers so excited for a field trip.
Our happy touring in Hong Kong officially started.
The Hong Kong Tramways (Ding ding in local)
Though this is my second visit here, surprisingly, my heart was still filled with anticipation and excitement when we boarded the colorful double-decker bus, the Hong Kong Tram or simply “Ding Ding” in local. This is one of the oldest public transportation in Hong Kong and the cheapest at HK$2.30 only.
For me, one of the best ways that I really feel Hong Kong and its culture is riding the Tram. Its been running along the Northern Coast of Hong Kong Island since 1904. Meaning, it witnessed how the old city transformed to what it is now.
We tapped our Octopus Cards and savored the 3-minute ride. Though it was fast for we hopped out to the next station, (the Cotton Tree Drive station), I felt my Hong Kong trip was already complete. Now, we will be heading to The Peak.
We took a leisure walk passing tall buildings and nice walkways in getting to Victoria Peak or simply The Peak. This is a “must visit” destination and one of the major tourist attractions in Hong Kong. There are two exciting things to do at The Peak. First is to take the thrill ride at the Peak Tram in getting there. Second, feast your eyes with the panoramic view of a magnificent skyline and the waterfront that will surely take your breath away.
The Peak is the highest point in Hongkong towering in an elevation of 552 meters (1,811 feet). Visitors will surely enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Hong Kong.
* The ride at the Peak Tram *
I did not book our tickets through Klook since its earliest schedule for the day is 11:00 am. It was too late for our next getaway. We paid for a package rate of HK$99 which includes Peak Tram Sky Pass (Return), Peak Tram (Return) and Sky Terrace 428. It was past 7:00 am and there were only few visitors were queuing at the counter.
For me, the best and most unique ride in getting to The Peak is through the Peak Tram. As we embarked on a steep incline, it looks like the buildings were leaning. I realized, riding again in one of the oldest and most famous funicular railways still gave me a thrill. Our trip ended in upper terminus inside the Peak Tower. It is a large shopping complex located in Victoria Gap where it offers dining, shopping and entertainment events.
* The Sky Terrace *
The major attraction of the Peak Tower is the Sky Terrace 428, the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong which is located at the top level of the building. Its captivating wok-shaped roof is designed by British Architect Terry Farrell. It has a 360 open-air viewing deck where visitors can enjoy the panoramic vista of a stunning skyline, the surroundings islands and the harbor.
Aside from shopping and fine-dining, other attraction to visit at the Peak Tower are MadameTussauds Hong Kong and Madness 3D Adventure. We did not get inside here as we opted to take a refreshing walk at Fool Pavilion where we enjoyed watching beautiful landscape.
The Peak Tram Lower Terminus7:00 am to 12:00 midnight / Monday to Sunday & Public Holidays
Peak Tram Historical Gallery7:00 am to 12:00 midnight / Monday to Sunday & Public Holidays/(852) 2522 0922
The Peak Tower10:00 am to 11:00 pm / Monday to Friday
8:00 am to 11:00 pm / Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays / (852) 2849 0668
Sky Terrace 42810:00 am to 11:00 pm / Monday to Friday
8:00 am to 11:00 pm / Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays / (852) 2849 0668
Madame Tussauds Hong Kong10:00 am to 10:00 pm / Monday to Sunday & Public Holidays/(852) 2849 6966
Madness 3D Adventure10:00 am to 11:00 pm / Monday to Sunday & Public Holidays
The Peak: 33 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong
Hong Kong Disneyland
I was so happy to set foot again in Disneyland which is dubbed as the Happiest Place on Earth”. It is owned and managed by Hong Kong International Theme Parks, the largest theme Park in Hong Kong followed by Ocean Park. It has seven theme parks namely: Main Street, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, U.S.A., Mystic Point, Toy Story Land and Grizzly Gulch.
I can’t help but smile reminiscing my solo adventure in this theme park. Though I was alone that time, I enjoyed frolicking on rides and attractions. But there were moments I felt sad because I was wishing my family was with me. Anyway, I promised myself I will not get inside Disneyland again without them.
Dayleen, Amie and I set out to our separate getaway for the day. And we started it at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
Location: Penny’s Bay, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Next destination: Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Ten Thousand Buddhas, Choi Hung Estate, Nan Lian Garden, Chi Lin Nunnery and Wong Tai Sin Temple
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While my office mates will take delight in a fantastic adventure in Hong Kong Disneyland, me, Dayleen and Amie (my friends based in Hong Kong) will bring me to other famous places in the city which I did not visit yet. I felt somewhat guilty because my team will miss this opportunity. But as what has been said, Hong Kong is not complete without Disneyland so I want them to fully enjoy the rides and attractions in this theme park. Anyway, we will be visiting Macau on our third day and Lantau Island on our last day.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 guide in exploring Hong Kong.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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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