Monday, August 27, 2012

Hongkong 香港

Finally! My trip to HongKong on national day. Had booked my ticket during tiger roadshow sale so i got a very good price of return $197. Unbelievable right. Felt a little sad not celebrating Singapore birthday but needed to utilize every holiday I have to its maximum period- just by taking 1 day Friday leave I managed to get 4 days of holiday.Because this is my 2nd trip there (1st being with family) my entry might not cover as many touristic places, but more of the places people bring me to.

Hong Kongis one of two special administrative regions (SARs) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), the other being Macau.Under the principle of "one country, two systems", Hong Kong has a different political system from mainland China.Under Chinese rule, Hong Kong would govern itself, choose its own leaders, control its own economy and maintain its own legal system. (Before the recent 'issues and squabbles' that appeared on the news, I had always thought Hong Kong was a country on its own, and I was not aware that it was still under the ruling of China considering how successful it has been as a financial hub.)

Having to wake up at 4am for my 640 flight and only slept at 2am, I was literally floating. And I realized while queuing that I had not purchase luggage space. (My bag had not much things in it, but it was not a very small casing) Thankfully no one stopped me at the custom and I went through, however worrying if it could fit in the small overhead compartment of tiger. But God is good! The passage personnel told me that tiger is overload and they need to store my bag in the storage of tiger and hurriedly gave me a tag without explanation. ( at first I was worried that they were going to charge me) I looked at the tag on board and realize it said it will not be seen as a check on baggage and suppose to collect immediately on arrival.
Upon arrival out of window I saw my luggage being thrown around and then dragged away. So what's with the collect immediately ? No one to ask I prayed and hope to see my bag at the conveyor belt. Hurried my steps past the customs- oh! Relief! My bag was there. Thank you tiger for saving me all the trouble and not charging me extra!

Day 1
Okay enough of all these drama. Upon arrival in hongkong, via instructions online for my hostel - comfort hostel which I booked along at 9f/37 Patterson street ( just a short walk away from mtr causeway bay) , I took bus a11 which would arrive directly near the hostel. Such a wonderful experience. Free wireless. ( for a tourist, thats such a great feeling because we can contact our Friends and give update via wassap along the way and also research for last minute information ).

Walking up and down the street of Patterson Street, I couldn't find it because in my mind a hostel usually has big signs and it is on the building. However I found this was Hongkong. Comfort Hostel now renamed Hongkong Hostel was in a building with a security guard and that looked like some office and reception and was on the 3rd floor. (just find it by its blk no. 37) I wouldn't know there was a hostel if I didn't try my luck and go in. The hostel is fantastic- free wifi everywhere; air conditional room; own toilet and in the middle of central- for a 3 bed female dorm it just costs hkd 159-180 per night.  It's safer to book it online via 'hostelworld' according to the receptionist.

Quickly made my way down to the nearest cafe 茶餐厅and I realize Hongkong is quite a costly place to live in. At that moment, I wondered could I get something to eat at $2.50 like in Singapore?
The Egg Luncheon sandwich with a complementary milk tea in paper cup which I had called cost me 24HKD ($3.90). Maybe because it was air-condition.And rent was high. And it was in central.

So I quickly reviewed my iphone map and made my way down to meet my local hk friend whom we got acquainted during our mexico exchange. We met near her office place at Tin Hau. * Impt to have a map in your iphone, so it does not seem you are a tourist!

Along the alleys close to the building of her work place, she brought me to a wonton noodles place. Its famous for its noodles. Done my research about the 捞面 Lo Mien. Its some sort of dry noodles with sauce. I felt that it was okay. Perhaps because my expectations were high, was a little disappointed. Felt that it was a little dry. But the noodles were good. QQ and just nice.And a plate of noodles cost 37HKD. Okay. Hongkong's food is not cheap. Maybe the street food might be *Hope*
Still craving for good food. I prance around the alley in search of food. And hidden there, sells great po lo bun ! (my friend tells me its sold out bu afternoon.) No wonder! Gosh! Delicious specially when its hot. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Yummy! And this was cheap. Only 3 HKD!
Since my friend had to go back to work, Bid farewell and agreed to meet again before I leave.
The best way to explore an area is either by walking or cycling since I did not have a bicycle, I walked from Tin Hau till North Point. My main intention was to find out more local street food - I found the vanilla egg ball ( which I love to buy from PS Singapore) that was hidden at a side alley (of the street in the picture below). Only spotted it because I saw a long queue. - But of course, if you have sensitive noses, you can smell it from afar.

Spent close to 4 hours walking there and after that back to causeway bay. My feet felt so sore from all the walking. But managed to immerse myself a little in the Hongkong culture. I like the ads on the buses. And their number board. Gives the olden street culture feel.

And also the buildings. The colors are so bright and happy. But I can see how small the houses are. (Just have to compare the size of the exterior with our HDBs) But I like the colors!

With 6pm approaching, I made my way to Central 中環站 to meet my Singapore friends who were based in Hong Kong. My image of Central is lots of bars and restaurants. All on the streets of Lan Kwai Fong. Recommended by my friend we went for dinner at a place in a very dark alley that was called Brickhouse 20A D'Aguilar Street. We were in the waiting list and had to wait for an hour or so. Imagine that! The food was more American- Mexican so.. not really to my taste. Personally found the corn cob with cheese and lime and also their ceviche nice. Oh the tacos, just a note to those who don't know spanish and orders the whole set of 5 flavors : Lengua is tongue. So remember to change it if you are not a fan. This place is expensive. For 4 persons who ordered 2 sets of 5 tacos, 1 corn cob, ceviche,1 set of chip and salsa and 3 drinks, it cost us around 640HKD.

Finishing our meals and chats at around 11pm. We ended our night at around midnight at a pub that has Thai Disco music (which my friends drank again because it was ladies night). And at that timing, there were still so many working people on the streets. Don't they need to sleep? Is the same back in Singapore? The best thing in Hong Kong for night owls, their mrt only stops at 1am. Wonderful right? Well, but I guess if all is drinking, its the taxi that you take.
 Day 2.
 My HK friend decided to bring me to a nearby island. Keeping me in suspense, she told me to meet her at Tung Chung MRT Station 東涌 . I made sure I had my breakfast the Hongkong style. Macaroni and Luncheon with my hot milk tea. It was simple and delicious.
After a long MTR ride, finally reached the destination. Alas, it started pouring. We decided to take the bus there and take shelter at the island there. Here we go!Tai O Fishing Village on Lantau Island! It took us around an hour and cost us each around 12HKD. You can tap your Octopus card!
Arriving there, it was such a splendid change of scenery away from the city feel. ( My feeling when I leave Singapore for Malacca ). Quickly we were accosted by a few local men who told us about the short boat trip to see endangered pink dolphins. I looked at my friend and went " really?" While I was being skeptical about it, she told me since we are here, lets just give it a try after all its only 20 HKD per person. Boy, was I right. (heard that you really can see the dolphins if you come at the right time) But well, it was a nice tour around the island and they stopped us at the other part of town where Tai O Heritage hotel. 

 Even if you are not staying in the hotel, take a look around and take this glass elevator down to the shores. Its nice!
 Once you are out of the lift and you walk a little, smell the air - the prawn paste (Hei Bi) smell. This indicate that you are nearing the village. Here's their self-made prawn paste. Heard its good when fried together with vegetables!
  The actual Hei Bi (Small Prawns) 


   And the reason why people visit this island. The Fishing Villages. Such a worthwhile view. We also spent some time talking to the fishermen which was interesting insight. They shared their thoughts on recent developments and its impact.

  For those who have been following my blog, how can there be a lacking of food! We put everything that we can grab into our mouth and it was not as expensive as in Hongkong. We ate till we felt like we were exploding.
Many local Hongkong people purchase dried sea food or fresh seafood back. 
 Nearing 5pm, we made our way back to Hongkong for a dinner venue. More food! We decided then on Mongkok - aiming for the famous fishball noodles and the claypot rice!

After all the food, to digest, we walked around the area.

1 Fa Yuan Street (花園街): This one is famous for shoes and sports clothing and street food.

2 Ladies' Street (女人街): This market is found on the Tung Choi Street (通菜街)- full of clothes and bags and fake Rolex watches

3 Sai Yeung Choi Street South (西洋菜南街): A famous street full of shops and shopping malls selling computers, cameras and all kinds of gadgets

4 Temple Street (廟街):The Night market (which to me was a tad disappointing. Its like the Pasar Malam in Singapore)
5 Portland Street (砵蘭街): This street is a famous red light district in Hong Kong with many massage parlors, KTV bars and of course prostitutes.
Along the streets, we also found this lady writing words with salt. And beside her was a message that read : I am _________, 9 years ago I gave birth to twin girls with a defective heart problem. Because of the high hospital bills, my husband walked out on us. I am now a single mother trying my best to make a living. Thank you for your support and may peace be with you. 
- You would think how come Hongkong allows such kind of 'begging' on the streets. My friend explained that it was only allowed in that area. And I'm thankful she is using art rather than some other deceptive ways ( like in china where they hold a baby, or.....)
Missed some of the places because I plan to visit again probably with some friends.
Here's the info :

Ocean Park Hong Kong
The theme park is subdivided into two parks, the Waterfront and The Summit. The Waterfront is where the kid's ride and attractions are while the summit is where the thrilling and adventurous rides are. You also get to see Giant Pandas, sea creatures and more.
From Admiralty MTR Station or Central Pier No. 7, look for the bus station located at Exit B and go on to Citybus Route 629. The bus fares are HKD 10.60 for adults and HKD 5.30 for children (aged 4-11). It will take around 30 minutes to reach the park.

The Peak
Here you can see the unobstructed view of Hongkong Skyline. Up there, there is Madame Tussauds which consist of Wax icons of famous Hong kong people.
From Central Station, if you decide to go on foot take J2 exit, pass by a park and walked along the Garden Road. Follow the signs directing to the terminal. In about 15 minutes, we were able to reach the Peak Tram Lower Terminal. 
If You decide to take a bus to get to the terminal. From Central Station, ride bus 15C located near Star Ferry Pier 7.
The Peak Tram round trip ticket costs HKD 40 (HKD 28 for single trip). You may also purchase Peak Tram Sky Pass that includes Peak Tram round trip ticket + entrance fee to Sky Terrace 428. This costs HKD 65. 
Hongkong Disneyland 
The park is subdivided into 5 parks, Main Street USA, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and the new Toy Story Land
Take MTR to Lai King Station. Upon arriving at Lai King change to another train going to Sunny Bay. Then change another going to Disneyland Resort. Train to Disneyland is quite different from the other trains of Hong Kong because of its Mickey Mouse like handrail and window.

Symphony of Lights
This is a powerful rhythmic display of swirling, kaleidoscopic patterns of lights and laser beams dancing lively across the Harbor signifying the story of Hongkong. It is staged every night at 8:00 p.m.
Broadcast of the soundtrack is in different languages: English on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; Mandarin on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; and Cantonese on Sunday.
The best viewing locations of this nightly spectacle are along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront between the Avenue of Stars and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the promenade at Golden Bauhinia Square in Wanchai, and from sightseeing ferries in the Victoria Harbour.  

Avenue of Stars 
This place features celebrity hand prints, movie memorabilia and other popular milestones, and celebrate those that made Hong Kong the 'Hollywood of Asia"
From East Tsim Sha Tsui Station come out from Exit J.  

Enjoy Hongkong! 

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