What is a journey?
A journey is not a trip. It’s not a vacation.
It’s a process. A discovery. It’s a process of self-discovery.
A journey brings us face to face with ourselves.
A journey shows us not only the world, but how we fit in it.
Does the person create the journey or does the journey create the person?
The journey is life itself. Where will life take you?
– LV commercial
Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan weekend getaway where east meets west. It is a major business and cultural hub and a shopping paradise for many.
We got caught up with wedding planning, that we set aside our honeymoon plans. It was only 3 days after the wedding that we booked an impromptu trip to Hong Kong. We snagged a round trip flight via Cebu Pacific for Manila – Hong Kong for two, priced at P 19,718. Fees, taxes and surcharges not included.
We find Hong Kong a good destination for our first out of the country, backpacking trip together. Prior to our travel, I researched for places to see, budget allocations and accommodations. We don’t have a particular Hong Kong itinerary though and agreed to just visit the places we are able to go without stress during our visit.
Good thing one of our friend’s mom is staying in Hong Kong. She arranged for us a very cheap accommodation. It’s a boarding house, no frills, where we were able to rent one room, out of the 3 bedroom apartment. Shared kitchen & bathroom. Just a few minutes walk to the MTR station. It was never a problem since we are out most of the time, but if you’re honeymooning, and would prefer a fancy room, a hotel is a right place which probably costs double of what we paid for.
Day 1 – January 8
Our flight is 5:40 AM at NAIA Terminal 3.We were at the gate at 3:30 in the morning. It was a smooth flow at the check in counter. Although the immigration officer sounds intimidating (as usual). I wonder why they are all grumpy. It kind of affect the excitement you feel. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone greets you with a smile, just like they do with foreign visitors?
A little kwento, when I came back in the Philippines after two years, the immigration officer who inspected me is also stiff. I felt like I wasn’t welcomed at all.
Anyways, back at the airport, fees collected are:
- P1,620 per pax for Travel Fee
- P750 per pax for Terminal Fee
Again, I felt its a total ripped off. See my post about Boracay Getaway.
We still have an hour left before boarding. We haven’t eaten breakfast yet as we want to have the first taste in Hong Kong. Ferdie couldn’t help but order a cup of coffee at Seattle’s Best to kill time.
The flight from Manila to Hong Kong is 2 hours. Both countries don’t have a time difference but the weather, mannn it’s freezing out there!
The disadvantage of having to fly with low-cost airline like Cebu Pacific, is that they don’t offer free meals on board and no lcd screens in front of you. This is in exchange with the all-year round promo fares. Just get over your boredom and go ahead and entertain yourself by checking out those cotton-like cloud formations during your flight. As for us, we have to catch up with sleep.
Around 8 in the morning, we landed safely in Hong Kong International Airport. We will be meeting Nanay, our friend’s mom, who will show us around and direct us to our accommodation.
If I remember correctly, we filled out a Hong Kong Immigration Form which stated where we will be staying and date of our arrival and departure. Checking out was rather easy. We also collected tourist maps and guides from the airport, its free.
On the way out, we bought our Octopus Card. It costs HK$150 each and has stored value of HK$100. It is quite useful in paying for MTR (Mass Transit Railway), buses, ferries and even in convenient stores and fast food restaurants.
We got our first encounter of public transportation in Hong Kong when we ride the double decker bus going to Tsuen Wan. The trip was fun and we were able to sightsee while the bus made few stops.
At 10 AM, we were having breakfast at where else? KFC! lol. Spent HK$60 for 3 pax. The breakfast meal is composed of one chicken, sausage, bun, coffee and soup. We didn’t like the soup. There’s a whole tomato in it that it tasted sour. I guess Chinese like tomatoes so much, because I of the generous servings in different restaurants we’ve dine in.
After a quick breakfast, we went to a nearby store to buy a sim card for HK$38. We then headed over to our accommodation just across Tsuen Wan MTR station. We met a few Filipina boarders there.
Our room as expected is small with a double deck bed, a/c and a small table. The lower part of the bed can sleep two people. So, we will still be sleeping together. =)
After fixing our things we decided to explore the city. Let the adventure begin!
We planned to see the Tian Tan Buddha at Lantau Island after a peek of how huge it is from the plane. So off we go to MTR to ride the train going to Tung Chung Station.
Here is the map provided by HK MTR:
The HK train map is pretty easy to understand especially because I had experience commuting in Singapore that shares the same train management as in Hong Kong.
All tourist spots are accessible through the train and bus stations but we prefer the train even if it costs more, because its faster.
In Tung Chung Station, and evident in other stations, there are several signpost for landmark directions. Each stations have several exits, so its good that we have our map on hand. We sought the direction going to Ngong Ping 360 or the Cable Ride. Passing through Citygate Outlet Mall along the way, where a good number of signature brand shops are located.
Cable Car Station is outside the MTR station and will take a few minutes walk. Take the escalator behind Citygate Outlet Mall. We paid for Enlightenment Package at HK$159 each which includes round trip Ngong Ping cable car journey, entry to walking with Buddha & Monkey’s Tale Theatre.
I was a bit hesitant because of my fear of heights, but I couldn’t passed up this once in a lifetime opportunity. Oh boy, I think its the longest cable car ride in my entire life. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. We passed above the oceans and hills of Hong Kong. Its a beautiful ride and a must-try when you visit this land. From the cable car, we also get a good view of the massive Buddha structure seated at the mountain peak.
The strong wind made our cabin sway a bit. We were only 7 inside and we were told that on peak days, they allow it to be full, while some passengers stand through the whole journey.
Of course, I was relieved when we landed safe and sound. It was a good 30 minutes ride. We forgot about the camera near the end of the line, so we don’t have any picture perfect souvenir at the cable car.
The view from up there is breathtaking as well as in Ngong Ping Lantau Station. The sun is shining through, but its freezing cold.
The giant Tian Tan Bronze Buddha is seated on top the hill. It was completed in 1993. From the cable station, we still have to trek the road going to the foot of the 268 steps stairway.
Ferdie’s feet were already aching. He had a minor accident the day before the wedding where he lost his balance and fell badly at the hotel stairs. More than a week had pass and its not healed yet.
I told him to just wait for me and not to climb the stairs anymore, but he was insistent. We might not be able to visit Hong Kong again and this chance is hard to miss. So off we go to the journey of 268 steps.
We were glad we took the challenge. We were treated with a spectacular 360 degrees view of surrounding mountains and the blue seascape of Lantau Island. It was freezing cold but the lovely view is inviting so we took few snaps here and there. Aside from the giant Tian Tan Buddha, there are also a smaller bronze Buddhistic statues surrounding it which looked like they are offering something to the Big Buddha.
A refreshment store is available within the area where you can buy snacks and drinks to quench your thirst from the hike. There are also three rooms below the Big Buddha: The Hall of Universe, The Hall of Benevolent Merit, and The Hall of Remembrance. Too bad, we weren’t able to explore those areas. I think it was Hall of remembrance where photos of the deceased are displayed and where prayers are offered.
We didn’t stay long, because we still have to catch up with the showtime for Walking with Buddha and Monkey’s Tale Theatre.
We passed by Po Lin Monastery and were able to witness the ceremony. It is one of those inspiring moment where you get to learn more about the culture and religion of one’s country. There were few people who lit incense.
We move on towards Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car station and checked where the theatres are located.
Walking with Buddha is a short interactive show that features the life of Siddharta Gautama and his journeys on becoming a Buddha. It is quiet an enlightening experience.
The Monkey’s Tale is more of an animation for kids, but we did enjoyed it too.
Time Check: 3:50 PM. We’re off to have a late lunch but we’re still clueless on where to head next.
Only four of us were inside the cable car ride. The wind was crazier than ever that made the ride a bit scarier.
We wanted to sample Chinese cuisine and find good bargains too so we headed to Nathan road. What’s funny is that there is no English translation available in some restaurants. We searched until we found this small restaurant. The poster has English words, so were good. Dinner costs us HK$90. It was not a late lunch but a dinner instead at 6:30 PM.
We explored the surrounding night market and pass by Hong Kong’s nightlife at Lan Kwai Fong road. We got bored and decided to check out Mongkok Night Market.
Bargains here and there. It was truly a shopper’s paradise. We scored a table runner at HK$50 each and souvenir HK T-shirts at HK$100 for 5 pieces. I was set to buy the ceramic egg doll, but we lost our way finding the stall which offered the best price. *sad* Lesson learned, amidst the sea of bargains, grab the first one you think offers the best value off your money. Chances are you’ll never find it again.
Our feet were aching so we stopped by Mc Donald’s to grab our coffee first and discuss our travel itinerary for the next days.
At passed 9 PM, we call it a night and find the nearest MTR station to take us home.
Day 2 – January 9
10:40 AM , We had breakfast at Yoshinoya, just a block away from our accommodation. Again, its freezing cold outside, I have 3 layers of clothing beneath my red jacket. The Yoshinoya power breakfast is appetizing at HK$19 each. It got our loyalty award that during the rest of our stay, it was our first choice to start the day.
Since its Friday, we decided to take advantage of the weekday promo of Hong Kong Disneyland. We got our One-day ticket at HK$295 each. They have slightly higher rates on Saturday and Sunday.
It was pretty easy going there, we used the MTR to Disneyland Resort. We were wary though, that our Octopus Cards are losing credit, so we dropped by the cashier at the MTR to reload. To top up the card, a minimum of 50HKD is required.
Off to Sunny Bay Station where the gateway to magic is located. We rode the MTR Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Line from there, and it was fun. Its not your ordinary train, because the windows are the shape of mickey mouse’s head. The safety handles are mickey mouse inspired too. There are statue gallery of Disneyland characters, separating the seats. We were like kids, transferring seats here and there for photo ops.
A few minutes later, we reached Disneyland. Again we were dazzled by the posh station. Seriously, this trip has a magical effect. It makes me feel giddy and excited. Just like a kid.
There’s a long escalator going up which created a sense of excitement on what lies ahead.Then finally an arc that welcomes you to Hong Kong Disneyland charms you to go inside instantly.
Now, I believe in magical element this place hold. We enjoyed every moment of our stay. We even waited in line to take photographs with Minnie and Mickey, Goofy, Donald Duck and the rest. There was a High School Musical, Chinese version and a boat ride to the jungle. But what I’m drooling most are the expensive trinkets and souvenirs.
It was a small world indeed when we bumped into Ferdie’s friend. They made a stop in Hong Kong and decided to tour before going back to Dubai.
At night time, we waited for the fireworks at sleeping beauty castle. It wasn’t grand but It was beautiful.
At quarter to 8, We were off to the MTR station going home. We made a stop at a food stall near our accommodation to sample some fried delights for dinner.
Day 3 – January 10
Its getting harder to wake up with this weather. Moreover, shower and freshen up. The water heater is working but our body is just numb to feel any warmth in it. Arggh. I heard its 10 degrees Celsius outside.
The day I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. What’s the best thing to do in Hong Kong? You bet it’s shopping time!
From my research, Causeway Bay is the shopping district of Hong Kong and a haven for signature brands and local products as well. The rent here is regarded as one of the most expensive in the world. Among the shopping complex are Sogo and Time Square. Be aware though as it is one of the most crowded area in Hong Kong. Did I mention, we lost each other?
I am eager to tour Ferdie around Ikea since we need some furniture for our new home. Somehow we lost each other at the busiest street of Causeway Bay. When I got in Ikea, he was already there checking out some dining piece.
He was surprised that we spent about 4 hours inside Ikea Store. Well, it’s his first time and I should take him again so he’ll get used to it. lol.
We were able to bring home few goodies and after grabbing some make-up at MAC Cosmetics shop, we are back at the MTR station to head home.
By 8 PM we meet up with Nanay to stroll along Tsuen Wan district. We went into the nearby mall to shop for few more items.
It was nice to walk outside at a cold weather. Its chilly but somehow therapeutic for our tired bodies. It especially helped our stressed out soul from wedding planning. The best medication prescribed: R&R (Rest & Relaxation).
An hour later, with a plastic shopping bag in tow, we went back to our apartment. We managed to grab some street food. Some are yummy but the other tasted much of monosodium glutamate, which I’m not fond of.
We called it a night then.
Day 4 – January 11
Our day started at 10 AM. We had breakfast at Yoshinoya and discussed our itinerary for the day.
We went ahead to MTR station and ride the train going to Central District. We plan to try Hong Kong Peak Tram and see where it will take us. From Central District, its a few more steps to go at the Garden Road Peak Tram Lower Terminus where tickets are sold. We get to enjoy a walk in the park and a quick visit at St. John’s Cathedral. The tall buildings along Central district glistened as the sun came out in full radiance.
We soon reached the The Peak Tram Lower Terminus and bought tickets which cost HK$48 per person. It includes a return ticket via Peak Tram and an entrance to Sky Terrace.
As it was a Sunday, many tourists and locals are already waiting in cue for the peak tram. We were lucky to snag a seat at the left side of the tram, which isn’t a good choice since the spectacular view is on the right side.
Its a short ascend going to The Peak. I guess the highlight of the trip is going up the Sky Terrace. Its the highest viewing platform in Hong Kong that offers a panoramic 360-degree view of seascape, landscape and skyline of Hong Kong.
At the Peak, we passed by Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It is the house of over 100 wax figures of internationally known personalities. Too bad we’re on a limited budget and time, we weren’t able to mingle with the stars and celebrities. Well, there’s always a next time for a kiss with Brad Pitt and a red carpet experience with Marilyn Monroe.
Further up is an exit that lead to Sky Terrace. It is a wide expanse of viewing deck with coin-operated binoculars available for everyone. Professional Photographers are up for business to get you some picture-perfect moment.
After making rounds and taking photos here and there, we decided to explore the grounds of the Peak. Shortly we cued for the tram going down.
Upon reaching Lower Terminus and walking back to the MTR, we chanced upon some direction going to Hong Kong Park which is only a few blocks away. We went ahead and searched by foot. Glad we did, Hong Kong Park is a walk on nature and has been open to the public since 1991. We were amazed with the artificial lake & waterfall. We’ve also seen the enormous Olympic Square.
We noticed the park is popular for Newlywed Pictorials. There are also newly graduates wearing their toga on tour with their family.
After a quick trip at the park, we had a late lunch at Cafe De Coral. Time flies by past as it was already 2:30 PM.
Later, we headed to Tsim Sha Tsui station. Passing through New World Centre, we are greeted by a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour Waterfront. We had enough time to catch the sunset at the Avenue of Stars from the promenade. The promenade stretch is quite long with hand imprints of more than 100 outstanding professionals of Hong Kong’s film industry from the early 1900’s to 1990’s.
Star Ferries carrying tourist passengers add more charm to the harbour backdrop. Hong Kong’s Skyline is best viewed here from sunset to moonlit where A Symphony of Lights is being played every night. It is a must watch synchronized light, audio and pyrotechnic show that lights up the Hong Kong Skyline for about 15 minutes.
We call it a night early as the weather gets even colder.
Day 5 – January 12
Our flight going home is at 8:25 AM. One of the boarders is in the same flight as ours. She requested that we help her in the airport in case she exceeded the baggage limit. So we did, since our baggage are less than our maximum allowance.
Our flight is on time and we arrived safely back in Manila.
Special Thanks to Jen’s mom for being a great host.
Still on a Disneyland & Ikea Hang-over…